David Dvorkin

reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline

Only 14-1/2 hours from Starbase 17 for R & R after a difficult mission, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise come upon a Klingon vessel deep in Federation space and in need of emergency help. The Klingon ship Mauler appears to be trapped in a magnetic-ion storm of some sort, and Kirk decides to attempt a rescue of the crew. When the Klingon captain refuses any help from Humans and asks Kirk to let them die, the Enterprise captain is determined to obtain at least one of the Mauler’s crew to find out why that vessel is in Federation space. Since the storm makes it impossible to transport any Klingons without their cooperation, Kirk and a security team beam over to the Mauler to accomplish their goal. No sooner do they materialize on the Klingon ship than the storm increases in intensity, and the Mauler disappears with Kirk and the security team still on board.

When Kirk awakens hours later, he finds himself in a Klingon sickbay surrounded by individuals calling themselves "New Klingons." They insist that he is not a prisoner but an honored guest—a guest on a Klingon base that is one hundred years in the future. It isn’t long before an unknowing Kirk becomes part of a Klingon plot to attack Earth while Spock tries to unravel a threat to the Federation from inside its ranks.

While this story does a good job of holding the reader’s attention, it also presents some inconsistencies, especially in Captain Kirk’s character. The normally bold, questioning captain appears all too willing to believe the elaborate Klingon deception, not realizing that he is actually a prisoner. Even when Dr. McCoy points this out to him later, he totally rejects the idea. The author does make an attempt to explain this credulity, but it is not totally successful: We’ve seen Kirk in somewhat similar situations before, but in those previous situations, he has always continued to question what he sees and never totally believes the tales he’s been given.

There are a few other spots in the novel that stretch the story’s believability. One of these is when the Federation responds to what appears to be a Klingon invasion force: It is a little difficult to believe that Spock would be placed in charge of the Federation fleet since his rank is considerably lower than most of the other ship commanders on the scene. Again a reason is given for the Federation decision, but it still seems more likely that he would be asked to be an adviser instead of the actual one in command. Another stretch occurs as Spock attempts to find out the true nature of the magnetic-ion storm that has claimed the Mauler: It is a little unclear as to how Spock first comes to focus on Elliot Tindall as part of a Klingon attempt to attack the Federation. And after a reread of this novel, it appears the Klingons have been working on their plan for some time; one can only wonder where they have stored all the "historical" tapes to carry out their goal.

Despite these few weaknesses, the story is a good read with plenty of suspense to keep the reader engaged in the plot. A little additional explanation would do even more to increase the novel’s impact.

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