reviewed by Randy Landers
While charting black holes and stellar masses near the Galactic core, the Enterprise manages to rescue Thomas Clayton, a Starfleet washout who now is an independent scout for the Federation. Amazingly enough, Clayton is aboard a Starfleet shuttlecraft from the starship Rickover which disappeared some two decades earlier. Clayton is completely insane; he has explained he is doing his god's bidding. While beginning an investigation into this mystery, the Enterprise is suddenly drawn into a Dyson sphere where they encounter a Klingon ship.
After a brief exchange of hostile words (their weapons don't work), Kirk, Uhura and Sulu beam down and encounter the only remaining inhabitants: short, plump, white chimpanzee-like humanoids. After befriending Ola by stopping her from becoming a carnivore's dinner, she takes them to her village of Tumara where they are soon joined by McCoy and Spock who are forced down to the planet's surface by the deranged Clayton. Spock is increasingly of the opinion that Ay-nab, the sun of the Dyson sphere known as Lyra, is a superintelligent being. There is also a rather odd and unnecessary sub-plot of Uhura meeting her father, one of the crew of the Rickover who are now little more than zombies whose souls Ay-nab feeds.
Eklund does a good job of telling a science fiction story. There are a few errors here and there (the Enterprise is a Constellation-class ship, for one, and Spock uses too many colloquialisms for a Vulcan), but overall manages to craft a credible world. The theme of a star being an intelligent being is not new to Eklund, and harkens back to his Nebula-award winning novella (co-authored with Gregory Benford) and later revised novel If the Stars Are Gods... The theme wasn't even new to Star Trek. In the Gold Key comic book, Star Trek #30, the story, "Death of a Star," has a similar theme. A dying star turns out to be an intelligent lifeform as well. And both Eklund and the folks at Gold Key have two common ending: in both tales, the star saves the crew of the Enterprise.
Its a good novel, and a thought-provoking one at that. And be sure and check out that comic book as well!
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