Thursday, May 22, 2014

Trek Novels - Star Trek: The Return

They couldn’t leave it alone, could they? I guess I can’t blame them. Kirk’s death scene in Star Trek: Generations was pretty sub-par if a little ironic. He died under a bridge instead of on one. That sucks if you really think about it. You’d think that comic books and soap operas are the only places where one can come back from the dead. Well, Star Trek did with one iconic character, so it might as well do it with the other iconic character.  In 1996, James Tiberius Kirk was resurrected in the pages of Star Trek: The Return.

 So, if anyone is going to bring this iconic character back from the dead, it might as well be some Canadian actor named William Shatner. Yes, Shatner has actually written some scifi novels and some of them are related to Star Trek. I’ve read some of the other Trek books he’s written on. He teamed up with known Trek authors Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens to write this tale. I vaguely remember seeing this book in stores when it was out. I believe I got my copy at a Waldenbooks in the 2000’s. So, this is a book that involves Romulans, the Borg, Picard, and Kirk pulling off a Spock-like resurrection. Should be fun!!!

Star Trek: The Return
Authors: William Shatner assisted by Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens

BRIEF BLURB: The Borg and a group of Romulans form an alliance in order to take down the Federation. They plan to kill Captain Picard by sending a resurrected James Kirk to kill him.

We start out on Veridian III a month after the events of Star Trek: Generations. Commander Riker and some crew members are there trying to salvage what they can of the Enterprise-D. Ambassador Spock is along with them since Kirk is also buried on the planet. Suddenly, their site comes under attack from an unknown ship. The ship is revealed to be a Romulan cruiser and they take Kirk’s remains to a hidden base. At the base, it’s revealed a sect of Romulans have allied with the Borg in order to destroy the Federation. The Borg use their nanotechnology in order to resurrect Kirk. Salatrel, the granddaughter of the Romulan commander from “Balance of Power,” uses a lot of techniques in order to turn Kirk against the Federation.

Elsewhere, Picard, Doctor Crusher, and others are on a mission to retrieve a Borg vessel. They know that the Borg are trying to invade again. At an assimilated starbase, Picard and Crusher are able to sneak aboard the cube by using some trickery. Unfortunately, the rest of their people don’t make it. The cube heads to the hidden base. Meanwhile, Kirk goes around the quadrant and tries to get information on Picard from Worf, Data, and LaForge. He even beats up Worf in a fight… I’ll get to that later. Kirk was supposed to kill them, but he doesn’t since he notices that something is off with his memories.

Those three along with Riker, Counselor Troi, and Spock end up on Deep Space Nine still befuddled by Kirk’s resurrection. Spock leaves and heads back to Romulus to dig up more information. Not only does he find out about the Borg/Romulan alliance, he also gets himself captured and taken to the hidden base. The Borg try to assimilate him, but it’s revealed that he’s already assimilated. On Deep Space Nine, a disguised Kirk tries to interrogate Riker but is caught in the act. After they knock him out, Doctor Bashir does some tests on him. It’s revealed that the implants that Kirk has is slowly killing him. Since Bashir has no experience in removing the implants, Riker and the crew board the Challenger and head to the starbase where Picard and Crusher were located.

When the Challenger makes it to the starbase, they find the USS Monitor, a Defiant-like ship. The crew find out about Picard’s and Crusher’s predicament. Bashir, assisted by Data, does what he can in removing the implants. Luckily, he gets some untimely help from a really old Leonard McCoy… yes, he still lives. After Kirk revives, he and McCoy catch up on things. Soon, two small Borg vessels come out of a transwarp conduit. One has Spock and one has Picard and Doctor Crusher. Spock and Picard believe that one another is in cahoots with the Borg. When Kirk sees Picard, the brainwashing takes effect and the two get into a long fight.

Their fight ends on the Holodeck where everything is pretty much revealed. Spock’s connection to the Borg is a result of the mind-meld between him and V’Ger long ago. The Borg were the race that modified the probe. In order to finally remove the effects on Kirk, Spock does a mind-meld on him and Picard at the same time. In order to keep the Borg/Romulan invasion from happening, the Enterprise crews board the Monitor. It gets dubbed the “Enterprise” for the heck of it. The new “Enterprise” heads to the Borg homeworld via the transwarp conduit.

When they make it to the Delta quadrant, they end up facing Salatrel’s ship. Through “The Awesomeness of James T. Kirk,” the Enterprise is able to defeat Salatrel’s ship. They also find the Central Node which when deactivated will sever the Borg Collective. The only problem is that whoever severs the link will die. Kirk and Picard transport to the homeworld. Kirk decides to risk it all by getting the ship to snatch up Picard and by deactivating the Node. The complex explodes when the Central Node is deactivated. The crew leaves saddened by the lost of Kirk. Still, Spock feels that Kirk is still out there alive.

Now that I’ve re-read this book, what do I think of it? I really liked it. While it does have a couple of faults, it is a good read. First, the story itself is really good. It’s really a melding of old and new Trek. We have the crew from the TNG and the main three from TOS. We also have some of Trek’s best villains: the Romulans and the Borg. We also get a crapton of references to the movies and the TV shows and I mean a crapton. The characterization of everyone is pretty good. Everybody acts like they should for the most part.

The book also has some twists you really don’t see coming. One example is the whole V’Ger connection. I also thought it was cool we got a little bit of Dr. Bashir here too. The villains for the most part were okay. I did like Salatrel as she did her best to brainwash Kirk into turning against Starfleet. The Borg were the Borg but they really didn’t do too much. The whole Borg/Romulan alliance in itself is kind of interesting. I mean, it’s rare to see the Borg be allied with anyone. You’d have to be crazy to do that!

While there is a lot to like about the book, I also had some issues with the story. Basically, it all has to do with “The Awesomeness of James T. Kirk.” It’s like we have to get reminded that Kirk is like the greatest man of all time. He’s an awesome fighter, and awesome pilot, and an awesome master of disguise. Mostly everyone takes a back seat to Kirk. For example, his fight with Worf was pretty one-sided. A man in his 50’s beats a Klingon in his prime. That’s a little fishy to me. Yes, Worf was fighting some beast before Kirk fought him, but come on. His fight with Picard was cool and what not, but did we really need to see these two duke it out?

I also had to be reminded of Data’s emotion chip again. There’s a part of Data having another emotional breakdown. I tried my best to skip that part, but I wanted to read this  book again. Luckily, it’s just those few pages. Also, you’d have to be a fan of Trek in order to read this. There are so many references that I pretty much lost count. The authors do their best to explain some of the references though. The book also just ends with little resolution. I guess that’s because it’s Kirk story. Oh well, it can’t be too perfect, can it?

Even if it’s not perfect, this book is good. If you’re a fan of Trek, check this out. I don’t know if I’ll look at the rest of Shatner’s Trek novels. I’ve only read a small number of them. Well, I guess I need to do something that comic-book related since comics usually show up here. I’ll see ya next time.


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