01/09/2007. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy
pub: Simon and Schuster. 627 page paperback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK), $ 7.99 (US), $10.99 (CAN). ISBN: 0-7434-9168-8.
check out website: www.simonsays.co.uk and www.startrek.com
Writer David R. George III decided to celebrate forty years of 'Star Trek' by writing three novels, one each about those landing party favourites, McCoy, Spock and Kirk. He chose to pin the novels onto the episode entitled 'City On The Edge Of Forever' by Harlan Ellison, using that as his starting point. This is the first in the series and tells the tale of Doctor Leonard McCoy.
Actually of two McCoys. The book opens with an overture in which Doctor McCoy saves the life of Edith Keeler in 1930s New York. McCoy had leapt back to 1930 using the Guardian of Forever in a frenzied state after an accidental drug overdose. In this overture, Kirk and Spock are not on hand to prevent him doing so, as they were in the television episode. Now he is recovered but not quite sure how he got here. Having saved her life, he stays at Edith's mission and helps out, sure that his buddies will come and rescue him somehow. However, this McCoy is in the timeline where that didn't happen, the one where Edith Keeler's activities as a peace crusader kept the USA out of the war until too late.
Then, in Chapter One set in 2267, the real McCoy and his friends arrive back on the Enterprise having completed their mission as per the TV episode and let Edith Keeler die. Captain Kirk is maintaining a stiff upper lip, though only Spock knows it as only he was there when James T. fell in love with Miss Keeler, a process aided by the fact that she looked like a young Joan Collins. Christine Keeler was probably more fun but Edith had a good heart. Shortly thereafter, David R. George narrates the episode where Kirk's brother dies when a sticky amoeba thingy attacks the residents of Deneva, driving them mad. Spock and McCoy become concerned that the Captain has not really gone through the grieving process properly. Meanwhile, McCoy has relationship difficulties with Ensign Tonia Barrows, the sweet young thing who was his companion in the 'Shore Leave' episode.
In alternating chapters, the book follows two timelines: McCoy in the 1930s slowly giving up hope of rescue and deciding to get a life and McCoy in the 2260s proceeding through the Star Trek chronology. In the timeline we know, several incidents from familiar episodes and, later, the films are narrated. The story is largely about his relationship with Tonia Barrows.
Meanwhile, the McCoy stuck in past has a life to live. He decides to leave New York and heads south where he settles in a small town with nice people and an old country doctor who does freebies for the poor folks, a feed store, a big mill and some good ol' boys and a nice woman. McCoy is disturbed by the fact that he seems to have changed history because America isn't going to war but the story is mostly about his relationship difficulties.
About halfway through, the book suddenly springs to life! The Klingons attack the Guardian of Forever and the Enterprise is hard pressed! The bridge crew are attacked! It was brilliant! I thought the book had taken off at last!
I was wrong. The love stories resumed. There was a Science Fictional bit about the effect of time travel on certain energy readings in both personnel and materials but this disappointingly turned out to be a complete red herring and irrelevant to the plot.
If I pick up a 'Star Trek' novel, I like to read about space battles, aliens, new worlds, Science Fictional ideas and grand adventure. The love interest in 'Star Trek' was, is and should be minimal. It was mostly an excuse for Roddenberry to dress pretty girls in minis and pull in adult male viewers. However, this is only my opinion. There is a fan base that simply adores the soap opera elements of 'Star Trek' and I imagine they will like this book.
I didn't hate it. George III goes in for the kind of realism in which tiny details are boringly described but the writing was clear and consistent. I don't doubt many fans will enjoy it. However, it was a character led novel rather than a plot led novel and I, primitive beast, like a ripping yarn.
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