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Sondra Marshak & Myrna Culbreath

reviewed by Randy Landers

Captain Kirk has been ordered to take Ambassador Gailbraith and a contingent of New Humans to Zaran, a planet recently unreachable because of a zone of mysterious disappearances. While passing through this Marie Celeste sector, Spock detects a one-man spacecraft on the surface of Cephalus IV, a marginally habitable class M planet.

All the meanwhile, Gailbraith and his New Human associates have been taking over the minds of Kirk’s crew, bringing them into the Oneness they want to bring to the galaxy. Gailbraith even touches Kirk’s mind while saving him from drowning in the ship’s swimming pool.

Uhura detects a signal from a Free Agent, a sort of 007 Federation super agent to whom every Starfleet and Federation vessel must answer. Kirk and Spock beam down to the surface of Cephalus IV and rescue the Free Agent Sola Thane in a scene which has so much dialogue and discussion that it’s almost laughably reminiscent of all the battles from Dragonball Z wherein the characters talk to and threaten each other as much as they actually fight. It’s totally distracting, quite unbelievable, and so typical of much of the rest of this book.

James T. Kirk is a man of action, not of incessant talk, especially when action is needed. This is not to say Kirk is not a deeply introspective character (we’ve seen that he is), but he knows not to be so self-absorbed during a crisis. Unfortunately, the authors do not seem to understand that. In every battle, crisis, physical confrontation, they go to extremes to have Kirk and Spock and Sola discuss every single possible nuance of the infinite permutations of the situation.

The resolution doesn’t exist. The characters just agree to part ways, although it could be said that Gailbraith actually experiences character growth. The solution of a Kirk-Spock-Sola triangle seems unthinkable to our heroes, and one can’t understand all the sturm und drang of the physical and metaphysical crises because it’s all lost in extraneous dialogue.

It makes for a very sorry read.

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