01/02/2004. Contributed by Pauline Morgan
pub: Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster. 297 page paperback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK), $ 6.99 (US), $10.50 (CAN). ISBN: 0-7434-0074-7.
check out website: www.simonsays.co.uk and www.startrek.com
Little did Gene Roddenberry realise the phenomenon he would unleash upon the world when he completed the pilot for the original Star Trek series back in 1966. Not only have there been the spin-off series, vastly expanding the original universe but there are models, toys, games and a plethora of books.
The first books were produced from the original scripts by James Blish, followed by those based on the animated series. But fans wanted more.
There were fanzines and, later, websites. Now there are well over 400 books, many of them original novels. Mike Barr has been a fan from the beginning.
Gemini is an adventure featuring the original crew of the USS Enterprise and could easily have been an episode of that first series. Here we see the starship approaching the planet of Nador when it is attacked.
Nador is a world hoping to become part of the Federation, having become unified and peaceful. The Enterprise is arriving for the final vote and if all goes to plan, to take part in the ceremonies.
Nothing, however, can be expected to go smoothly. There is a faction that doesn't see Federation membership as an advantage and from the time of the Enterprise's arrival, there is a concerted effort to kill the planet's rulers, the conjoined twins Abon and Delor.
These attacks are arranged to make it look as if some of the agitators are Federation citizens and after one attack, whilst the Princes are visiting the Enterprise, Medical Officer McCoy is forced to separate them in order to save their lives. A complicating factor, as far as Captain Kirk is concerned, is that his nephew Peter, keeps getting involved, apparently on the wrong side.
Each of the books in the series is written to strict guidelines but there is scope for the imaginative author within them. Here, the characters are easily recognisable as those portrayed in the TV series, including the sniping between McCoy and the Vulcan First Officer, Mr Spock. In some of these books, greater insight of characters is gleaned from the unfolding story. In Gemini, though, nothing new is added.
While this adventure falls neatly inside the parameters of the series, as a straight SF novel for the uninitiated, it has flaws. Just as within the time allotted for a programme slot, there is no opportunity to explore the complex politics that would exist in a real situation.
Here, too, they are very much simplified. If an aircraft carrier, was sent as an observer of a free and fair referendum, for example to join the EEC, the captain would not be expected to take a mere handful of men ashore to sort things out if they turned nasty. Instead, we have a novelisation of exciting television.
As long as you don't look for sophistication and deep philosophical insights but rather treat it as a bit of escapist fun and a few hours of light reading, it has done all it intends.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA