Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Buckshot: Star Trek: The Shatnerverse

As I recently wrapped up William Shatner's latest Star Trek trilogy, I thought I'd do a little background/review post of all of his Trek writing thus far. So click through for some science fiction geekery of the highest order.

First, a little background for those who may be unfamiliar with the novels that make up the "Shatnerverse" of Star Trek continuity. The three trilogies take place in their own "side universe" if you will, where Captains Kirk and Picard are adventuring side-by-side.

Odyssey: Ashes of Eden, The Return, Avenger

How is this possible, you may ask? Shatner's stories (co-written with the husband-and-wife duo of Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, no strangers to Trek writing themselves) hinge on the events The Return, the second novel of his first trilogy. It picks up following the events of the film Star Trek: Generations. After Picard buries the late James T. Kirk and leaves Veridian III following the defeat of Soran and the crash of the Enterprise-D, the Borg resurrect Kirk to use him as a weapon/sleeper agent against the Federation. Dr. McCoy (still alive and kicking at over 150 years old thanks to futuristic medicine) and Dr. Bashir of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine manage to remove the Borg tech, and Kirk and Picard become fast friends as they set out on new adventures.

It's a real hoot to see Kirk, McCoy, Spock and Scotty (also both running around in the Next Generation era) interacting with Picard, Data, Worf and the rest. The first three novels are not direct sequels to each other, but rather a loosely-connected series that sets up this new status quo for James T. Kirk.

The Mirror Universe Trilogy: Spectre, Dark Victory, Preserver

The second threesome of novels brought back the alternate universe introduced all the way back in the Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror." This time around, Kirk, Picard, & Co. find themselves battling the tyrant ruler of the mirror universe, Tiberius. Having somehow found a way to stay alive well into the TNG era, Tiberius is the mirror version of Kirk himself. This trilogy is a lot of fun, and one I plan to re-read at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Totality: Captain's Peril, Captain's Blood, Captain's Glory

I recently finished the latest trilogy, Totality. This series begins with Captain's Peril. While on shore leave, Kirk tells Picard of a little-known adventure during his first five-year mission captaining the Enterprise. The story doesn't directly affect the murder mystery plot of the novel, but comes back into play in the second installment, Captain's Blood. While investigating an assassination in the Romulan Empire, Kirk becomes aware that the Totality, the enemy he faced nearly a century prior has returned to threaten the United Federation of Planets. The trilogy wraps up with Captain's Glory. We finally learn the true origins of the Totality, which are interesting if a little cosmically trippy. It's really not giving anything away to Kirk prevails in the end because, hey, he's Jim Kirk. But the manner in which he does so is pretty clever in my opinion.

Are the books masterpieces of literature? Of course not; they're Star Trek novels for crying out loud. But as I said before, they really are a hoot. The only problem I have is that I keep picturing Kirk as William Shatner looks now, when I'm sure Kirk would be in a bit better physical condition due to his continuing Starfleet service. But that's my fanboy problem, I'll deal with it.

I've recommended the Shatnerverse novels to Hooper on previous occasions, and I think they're a great read for anyone with a mild interest in Star Trek. The novels reference events from the films and various television series, but aren't so heavily bogged down in Trek continuity that new readers should shy away. In fact, Shatner's latest trilogy, Star Trek: Academy might be perfect for casual fans. It takes place when Kirk and Spock are just young men starting their Starfleet training. The first installment, Collision Course, comes out in paperback next month.

If you're into Trek, I also recommend any of the novels by Peter David, including Vendetta, Imzadi, and Q-Squared. Also recommended is the Q-Continuum trilogy by Greg Cox: Q-Space, Q-Zone, and Q-Strike.


1 comment:

Mandar Malum said...

I read "The Return" and "The Avenger" I enjoyed them very much!