reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline
The Enterprise once again finds itself short of supplies and having to pass up shore leave due to orders to head for Rimillia, a planet on the brink of destruction. When Captain Kirk breaks the news of the change in destination to Dr. McCoy, he outlines the situation as "Rimillia needs our help. Theyve got a major terraforming project thats stalled at the most crucial time. Their chief scientist has been kidnapped by extremists, and some of the equipment has been sabotaged. Theyre on the verge of civil war over it. They need our help now, not next week."
When the Enterprise finally makes it to the planet, Kirk and the crew soon find that the terraforming project is the focal point for all the planets problems: Rimillia is unique in that it does not rotate on its axis. That means that half of the planet is always in the dark with temperatures too cold to sustain life, and the other half is always in sunlight and too hot to sustain life. Because of this, theres only a narrow band on the planet where there are temperatures suitable for humanoid life, and the population has out grown that area.
A majority of the population has voted for a daring solution to the problem: Theyve installed impulse engines all over the planet with the goal of using them to cause the planet to rotate. However, as the time approaches for the actual rotation to begin, the planet is on the verge of civil war as the majority of the people have come to believe their planet will be destroyed. In addition, the scientist who has managed to install all the impulse engines on the planet and synchronize them has been kidnapped by one of the many groups opposed to the rotation project. His assistant is one of the remaining few who know how to set the machines in motion, and even he has a few secrets. With Scottys help the project proceeds, and it isnt long before the Enterprise crew finds out exactly how deep the fear of the project and the extent of the sabotage actually run.
While the book seems to be another "Captain Kirk and the Enterprise to the rescue" plot, the set up of the story is unique, and Oltion spends much time detailing both the mechanics of a planet that doesnt turn and a civilization that has actually gotten use to such a world. In addition, the author has managed to give us a different twist on the age old conflict between the rich and the poor because if the project is successful many of the lines of class distinction will be blurred for the rich will no longer occupy the best locations.
Not only is the planetary set up unique, the characters are well drawn and fully developed. Other than the Enterprise crew, the characters in many Star Trek novels are flat with little chance or capacity for growth; that is definitely not the case in this novel as most of the characters seem to have the capacity to be more than they are; in the end, it is their actions that ultimately provide the solution.
If youre looking for a unique planet and a story with more than a few twists and turns, then Twilights End might just provide those along with a good read.
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