Friday, May 13, 2016

Trek Novels - Star Trek: Enterprise - The Good That Men Do

Say, remember Star Trek: Enterprise’s “These Are The Voyages…?” If you do, don’t fret and break out into hives. Here, have a Snickers. For those who don’t know, it was the last episode for the show. It was a really bad way to end the series, in my opinion. If you’re curious, don’t watch it and see what I had to say about it. If you want the short version, it unceremoniously killed off a cast member, treated the regular cast like extras, wasn’t well-written, and was just a bad grab at ratings. It may have one or two good qualities, but it’s definitely on the list of worst Trek episodes ever.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one who doesn’t like this episode. You can go almost anywhere online and see folk go off on this episode. Since the Star Trek franchise puts out these novels a lot, you know someone would have to tackle this thing. In 2007, Star Trek: Enterprise – The Good That Men Do was released.  It was written by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin. Both writers have done their time with the franchise in novel form and in comic form as well. This was the second book in a line of relaunch books for the series. They even worked on books that were spinoffs to the TV show, Roswell.

Star Trek: Enterprise – The Good That Men Do
Writers: Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin

BRIEF BLURB: In the early 25th century, in series of Section 31 documents are released to the public. A couple of old friends peruse the documents which contain the true events of what happened to Commander Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker.

The story actually starts out in the early part of the 25th century on Earth. Nog visits Jake Sisko in Louisiana with startling news on just-released documents from Section 31, a secret Starfleet black-ops group. The ones that intrigued Nog the most were ones about the signing of the Coalition Compact which began the Federation. It turns out that the official records (what we saw in “These Are the Voyages…”) were heavily altered and that these events actually took place right after the incident with Terra Prime. This gets Jake intrigued and they spend the whole time looking at what really happened.

We then flashback to early 2155, a couple of weeks after the incident with Terra Prime. While the Enterprise is on Earth getting stuff ready for the signing, Trip and T’Pol are on Vulcan burying their genetically engineered child, Elizabeth. Meanwhile, The Romulans are working on creating warp seven drive. In order to speed things up, they reinstate Valdore (Brian Thompson’s character from Season 4). They also use the Orion Syndicate to acquire more Aenar from Andoria for their automated drone-ships. Luckily, Shran, an Andorian, is around to see most Aenar get taken by the Orions. They also take Jhamel, an Aenar female he’s in love with.

When Trip and T’Pol return to the Enterprise, Shran and another Aenar, Theras, come in a ship and inform them of what happened. Trip knows the Romulans are involved and Archer relays the information to Starfleet Command. Unfortunately, Starfleet wants more proof and the Enterprise back at Earth for the signing of the Coalition. Since the Romulans are a threat, Lt. Malcolm Reed decides to put Trip in contact with Harris from Section 31. Trip and Harris talk and it’s decided that Trip will go deep undercover in Romulan space. In order that to happen, Trip needs to fake his death for a cover-up. The events of his death from the “These Are The Voyages…” are played out and it was all set up by Section 31. Only Archer, Phlox, and Reed know the truth.

Trip leaves the Enterprise and is eventually picked up by Phuong, a Section 31 agent. They head to Adigeon Prime in order to get reconstructive surgery and fit in as Romulans. They know of a high-ranking scientist named Ehrehin who was working on the warp-seven project. He was taken by a Romulan dissident group called the Ejhoi Ormiin, so Trip and Phuong have to go get him. They find him on a planet in Romulan space. Trip realizes that the Romulans plan to attack the Coridianites, a race who’s plans on being a part of the Coalition.

While all of that is happening, the Enterprise is tracking down the kidnapped Aenar. They find out that the Aenar were moved to a Romulan ship and taken into their space. Against Starfleet orders, Archer takes the crew into another part of Romulan space. Back in Romulan space, Trip and Phuong try to escape with the scientist but the Ejhoi Ormiin find them, kill Phoung, and capture Trip and Enerhin. They force Ehrehin to give them the schematics for Trip’s life. Suddenly, their base is attacked on Valdore’s forces. Trip takes the opportunity to escape with the doctor in a shuttle. Trip relays a message to Archer about the attack on the Coridianites by using the codename “Lazurus.”

Meanwhile, Archer finds the Romulan ship that has the captured Aenar.  They try transporting the Aenar over but the ship erects some sort field to make that impossible. They also get attacked by other ships. Luckily, they can transport over there, so a group of them (including Shran and Theras) go over there and get them out. Unfortunately, Theras stays behind and sacrifices himself. Later, Archer gets Trip’s message and warns Starfleet and the Coridianites about the attack. Unfortunately, it’s useless as a cloaked Romulan vessel does a kamakazi run on Coridian Prime’s dilithium resources and succeeds. Trip finds out about the attack. Ehrehin knocks Trip out and uses an escape pod. He does promise to not help the Romulans achieve Warp Seven and the Romulans later find him in a catatonic state.

To much surprise, the Coridianites pull out of the Coalition because of the incident. The rest of the races start to worry but Archer does one of those rousing speeches to keep it all together. Trip returns to Earth trying to pass off as a Vulcan and meets Harris. Harris lets him know that Trip is still needed with the situation with the Romulans. We then see the signing of the Coalition Compact as described in the Season 4 finale. We still don’t get Archer’s rousing speech though. This time, Trip is there and lets Archer and T’Pol know that he is still around. The documents end with Trip heading back to Romulan space and the Romulans still planning for war. The story ends with Jake and Nog wondering about this new information.

Of all of the retcons I’ve read, this is probably the better of them. I really enjoyed this book. While I do have a couple of criticisms about it, it was pretty good. First off, this really feels entrenched in the world that was set up in Enterprise’s fourth season. The writers took what was given there and just went to town with it all. We have our main crew as well as some familiar faces returning. It was also nice to see Section 31 being decent guys this time around. I thought everyone was in character and I also liked it has a somewhat of a downbeat ending. It was also cool to see Jake Sisko and Nog here even though I’m not sure if they were needed.

I thought the way they handled the Romulans here was pretty good. While we only got an inkling of them on the show, we see them get to go all out here. While they do lose their scientist (sort of) and the Aenar, they do get a victory in getting the Coridianites to drop out of the Coalition. Plus, it’s the Romulans, so you know they’re just getting started. I liked that we got to see Shran again as well. He even got a bit of a happy ending with him. I also liked seeing the events of “These Are the Voyages…” from a different view. The writers even slag off on the finale and that was funny to read.

I will say that it’s not completely perfect though. While I did like that Nog and Jake are in it, I do wonder why that framing aspect was needed. We even didn’t get a reason on why these events were covered up though Nog and Jake throw some reasons around. I also thought that the book didn’t need a lot of the references that alluded to past episodes. A few were nice, but they did go overboard with them. They also tended to repeat a lot. I think I got the idea on the Terra Prime incident the first time, guys. I also thought it did drag for a little bit at the beginning. Other than those things a couple of small things, this was good.

Overall, this was good. If you were a fan of Enterprise or Star Trek in general, check this out. It helped make sense of an unfortunate bad finale and it was a good read as well. While I know the books in general are considered to be non-canon, I’ll take this version of the finale over the real version. The writers have gone on and continued to do books in this relaunch, so I may check some of these out one day. I know one of them centers on the Romulan War. Well, I think it’s time to get out of space for a bit for something else. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and know that what Worf said about some Romulans is a true: “They are without honor.”

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