Faces of Fire
Michael Jan Friedman
reviewed by Randy Landers
While on its way to Alpha Malurian VI to settle a dispute that threatens to erupt into a religious civil war, the Enterprise stops by the Federation research colony on Beta Canzandia III to perform its annual physical exams. Doctor Carol Marcus is one of the leaders of the science team there working on a terraforming project. Kirk takes the time to visit his old flame while Doctor McCoy meets her young son, David, who he quickly realizes is Kirks son. Promising not to divulge the boys identity to Carol, McCoy returns to the Enterprise which is about to depart for Alpha Malurian VI. Spock, however, volunteers to remain on Beta Canzandia III to help the terraformers fine-tune their newest device, a ray generator that increases plant growth.
While the Enterprise is en route to Alpha Malurian VI, knot-headed Klingons invade the planet to determine whether or not the device can be used as a weapon against the Klingon Empire. The scientists are rounded up, but fast action by Carol Marcus saves all but one of the colonys children from detection. Spock, too, manages to escape the Klingons notice, taking the device they seek with him. While the Enterprise is busy putting an end to the religious conflict, Spock and the children form a resistance group and thwart the Klingons efforts. When finally about to be captured, one of the Klingons betrays the othershes under secret orders from a high-ranking Klingon to keep the knot-headed Klingons, including First Officer Kruge, from capturing the device and using it for their own purposes.
The Enterprise returns in time to save the day, and the Klingons leave the planet in haste. Once back on the Klingon homeworld, the Klingon who betrayed the others is himself forced to commit an honorable suicide.
In all, this is one of the best efforts from Michael Jan Friedman. The books is well written, reads easily, and while the writers at Orion Press saw events as occurring differently, it is a terrific look at how the events could have happened. The only thing that I found implausible is the resentment David has toward James Kirk at the end of the novel; it seems forced and contrived to fit the emotions we see David Marcus have in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.
All in all, I give this book an A, one of the better pro-novels published.
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