Present Tense

Book 1 of The Janus Gate Trilogy

L. A. Graf

reviewed by Diane Doyle

This novel is the first of the Janus Gate Trilogy and primarily takes place immediately after the mission to Psi 2000 that was depicted in the episode "The Naked Time." Fans recalling the ending of that episode recall that the Enterprise escaped from their predicament there by being thrown backwards in time by three days. After discussions with Spock, Kirk orders the ship to journey to planet Tlaoli where they had left several geological teams to explore the world, figuring the ship can do the least possible damage to the timeline at that destination. Once there, Kirk learns from Geologist Fisher that one of the survey teams is missing, and he feels the Enterprise is also in danger since the ruins of several starships were found on that world.

Accordingly, Kirk leads a rescue team consisting of Lieutenant Uhura, Medic Diana Wright, Security Officer Yuki Smith, Geologist Zap Sanner, Ensign Angela Martine and Ensign Pavel Chekov, who had been assigned to the ship only three months earlier. Once the rescue team beams off the ship, Spock and Sulu notice that an unknown force is pulling the Enterprise closer to the planet surface. Due to difficulties with the transporter, Sulu, Spock, and McCoy take a shuttle down to Tlaoli. While the rescue team is in the caves, they deal with dampness and increasing coldness. Their travels involve several misadventures, including when Chekov falls off an icy ledge and is later found, very water logged and confused. Chekov and Kirk later seem to disappear. Events eventually lead to the discovery of an alien transporter device which cannot only transport across space but also across time.

Many of the characters on the survey teams are ones seen in various episodes, including Geologist Edward Fisher, Lieutenant Tomlinson, Lieutenant D’Amato, Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas, Lieutenant Karl Jaeger, and Lieutenant Boma. Several scenes hint of the developing romance between Martine and Tomlinson later portrayed in "Balance of Terror."

The story is engaging, replete with much action and adventure. It is especially a delight to fans of Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov who are important characters in the novel. Fans see the emotions of Sulu after fellow crewmates keep teasing him about his swordsmanship antics shown in "The Naked Time." They also see Chekov who still gets lost on the way to his quarters and has a hard time believing he was picked for a rescue mission. Since the novel is the first in a trilogy, it is not self contained and ends with a cliff-hanger.

The one criticism of this novel is that it does not agree with the synopsis described on the back cover of the book but that is an error more likely attributed to the editorial staff at Pocket Books rather than the author.

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