reviewed by Diane Doyle
This novel takes place between the movies Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, but closer to the latter. The Enterprise sends Spock and Chekov in the science scout shuttle Cousteau to meet with Federation personnel at the science outpost on the mostly water covered planet Akkalla. While the planet is a Federation world, it is a troublesome world whose government verges on authoritarian. Plus, the Federation has had no direct contact with the science team assigned there; only having messages relayed by the Akkallan government.
However, the Cousteau never does arrive at the Akkallan science outpost, according to one of the scientists stationed there. In response, Admiral Kirk contacts the Publican of Akkalla and asks permission to search for Spock and Chekov. Because laws about foreign access are so strict, their request is denied. The Publican claims they can search their own planet. Kirk and a team eventually beam over to the scientists' outpost where the scientists report where they have found a new life form, one that had been believed to be extinct. They had reported this news to the Akkallan government which had upset the government so much that they could no longer meet with the native scientists, without permission and without a government official present. Meanwhile, the Akkallan scientists are convinced that the Federation is in league with their government.
Kirk encounters the Preceptor of the Collegium, Llisa Kkayn while they are both waiting for an audience with the Publican. At first, she is hostile to Kirk, but eventually the captain learns the real story of the world from her. He learns of the treaty between the Akkallan government and the Chorymi race where the Chorymi were given permission to harvest life from the fish and share the proceeds. They learn of the government's attempts to harass the scientists. Llisa and Kirk become allies by the end of their discussion, now that the captain realizes how corrupt the Akkallan government is, and she realizes that he can help her in her objectives. By the end of the novel, they learn more about the ancient secrets about life in the oceans of Akkalla and how it relates to the ecology and life cycle there.
Weinstein's book is well-written and well-researched. Interestingly enough, this novel was inspired by a brainstorming session between Leonard Nimoy and various other writers prior to Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home, including Weinstein; hence, the ecology theme involving aquatic creatures. There is no shortage of suspense and action. There are great interchanges between Kirk and McCoy. There is a meaty role for Chekov as he and Spock journey on the Cousteau and are captured on Akkalla. There are many scenes involving Llisa Kkayn and her estranged father, which are instrumental to the final resolution of the plot. The novel includes a bridge to events that are depicted in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.
Overall, this book is worth reading, especially for fans of Chekov and of aquatic life forms.
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