While the Enterprise is on the way to Tyrtaeus II to help restore that planets data base, it discovers a strange object in a nearby asteroid belt. Although it is determined to be artificial in nature, it matches no known design and causes much speculation by the bridge crew; however, no thought can be given to investigate it until work on Tyrtaeus II is finished.
Soon after their arrival at the planet, the strange object which Spock has continually monitored seems to change direction; if continues on its new course, it will burn up in Tyrtaeus sun. Although the inhabitants of the planet are renowned for their practicality, they also have become curious about the object which they see as a threat to the stability of their sun. Before long they have decided to send Myra Coles, one of the planets two rulers, with the Enterprise to explore the alien object and determine its danger to their planet.
As the strange artifact plunges toward the sun, the Enterprise tries to change the objects course through the use of tractor beams. However, no matter what the Enterprise does, the object quickly returns to its original coursestraight toward the heart of the sun. Soon Sulu, Janice Rand, an ensign, Coles aide, Mister Spock and Captain Kirk are beamed into the object in hopes of finding a way to change its course. It isnt long before all but Spock are assailed by feelings of dread as they seek to find a way of turning the object from its deadly course. Despite the negative feelings emanating from the object, its up to Kirk and Spock to find a way to change its course before it is destroyed in the sun.
Probably the best way to describe this story is to use the word "predictable." While Sargent and Zebrowski are well known writers in the realm of science fiction, this story is a long way from their best. While the object is of unique design, its nothing that far out of the ordinary. And most readers will guess where the negative feelings are coming from long before Spock does.
In addition to an all-too-familiar plot, the characters also seem to be more "type characters" than rounded characters for which the readers can feel empathy. For example, Myra Coles whole purpose for being on the Enterprise seems to spout feelings of gloom and doom as opposed to being an observer for her planet while her aides presence seems to serve as a counterweight to her views. Even the Enterprise crew members seem to lack any substance in this novelthey do not feel like the "real" people weve come to know.
And although much space is given to present the practicality of the inhabitants of Tyrtaeus II, that information really doesnt advance the plot any; more time should have been spent on plot development than civilization description.
In short, if a predictable plot and characters without substance are your thing, then this novel might be for you.
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