Abode of Life
reviewed by Randy Landers
Talk, talk, talk.
While certainly this description can be a blessing for a vignette and a potential flaw for a short story, it's a fatal flaw for a Star Trek novel.
The Enterprise is on an exploratory mission when the starship is caught up in a gravity-wave, and is propelled to a star with a single planet located in between two arms of our galaxy where it needs repairs to its engines. Fortunately, this planet is inhabited by an intelligent humanoid species. Unfortunately, the civilization is in upheaval over a class struggle between the Guardians (the keepers of the Faith that they are alone in the universe), the Proctors (the military/police force) and the Technic (the bourgeoisie/intelligentsia/scientists). Fortunately, James T. Kirk and his landing party beam down and try to see if they can get the local Goodyear dealership to make repairs to the Enterprise. Unfortunately, they talk about stuff. Lots of stuff. Lots of political stuff. Lots of class stuff. Lots of Captain's Logs. Lots of Prime Directive agonizing. It goes on for quite some time.
Finally, we learn that the star is about to go nova. Fortunately, the Enterprise is there to launch two photon torpedoes into the star (one into each pole) which may or may not stabilize it. Unfortunately, they talk about it. Fortunately, it works. Unfortunately, they talk about it, then they bring aboard representatives from the three classes. Fortunately, they decide to put away their differences and face reality that they are not alone in the universe. Unfortunately, they talk about it. And talk about it. And talk about it.
The only action in the story occurs when Spock gets his hand shot (McCoy takes seven hours to repair it!) while beaming up members of the Guardians back to the Enterprise (did I mention they talk a lot about the Prime Directive?). They talk about changing their government to include the Technics, and they talk about joining the Federation.
Overall, the story is absolutely boring, if not oddly reminiscent of Star Trek: The Next Generation. While they're clearly dressed in the ST:TMP uniforms, the story is during the original five-year mission, but it truly looks as though long-time science fiction writer and model rocketry innovator G. Harry Stine (Lee Correy was his pseudonym) was channeling Gene Roddenberry. Kirk even compares himself to DeSoto and Cortez. Geez. Skip this one, unless you really like reading about people talking and lots of lengthy log entries for our favorite captain. 210 pages' worth, in fact. On the other hand, it's perfect reading if you can't sleep at night...
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