reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline
When the Enterprise studies a remote area of space, probe after probe disappears. Some do eventually reappear--one to 500 parsecs from their point of origin--but most are totally lost. While there seems to be no explanation for these disappearances or reappearances at unusual distances or in directions that do not correspond to their trajectory, the Enterprise crew tries to make sense of the anomalies that cause all this. However, when the Enterprise slides into one of these anomalies, the crew find themselves in unfamiliar space at least 5,000 parsecs from the area they were exploring. Worse yet, the anomaly that took them there seems to have totally disappeared.
Since the crew is seemingly unable to return home, the only logical thing to do is to explore their new surroundings and hope to find those who might have built these "doors" in space. However, each planet they visit gives evidence of a massive war sometime in the far distant past; any life that may have at one time existed has been totally destroyed.
To complicate matters, the Enterprise is host to Doctor Jason Crandall, a Federation observer, who is there to observe the workings of the new sensors that have been installed on the starship. However, he is not happy to be marooned in an unknown area with few prospects of returning home. To make matters even worse, the Enterprise comes upon two warring factions, the Hoshan and the Zeator. Despite the attempts of Captain Kirk to stop this war, the Enterprise soon becomes the target of both.
When Doctor Crandall is unsuccessful at arranging a mutiny on the starship, he resolves to do his best to get back at Kirkeven if that means destroying the Enterprise, which he comes close to doing. It soon becomes a race against time as a crippled Enterprise tries to find the way back to known space with both the Hoshan and Zeator in pursuit.
While the novel does offer a strong plot and much intrigue, the action often seems to drag as the Enterprise visits a multitude of destroyed worlds. The ending also seems a little too convenientwho would guess that an earlier group also marooned in this sector of space would come to the rescue in the proverbial nick of time?
In addition, Captain Kirk seems to be somewhat out of character at times. Its hard to believe he could be so trusting of Crandall so many times and also accede so readily to the wishes of the Hoshan and Zeator as they plan to meet. What happened to those famous "command instincts"?
However, despite these couple of shortcomings, there is still plenty to recommend the novel which should provide a good read for most.
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