define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', true ); Reading Star Trek

Review: Gold Key 3: Invasion of the City Builders (Sept 1968)

Invasion of the City Builders

Gold Key comics tend to break canon in a few details, like ordering ‘Rockets On’ to sail away, and placement of planets on “distant” galaxies. Because of this, they usually are rejected away from all canon. Memory Beta just ignores the whole galaxy reference and takes it as a system.

This one is also mildly good; it has a good sci-fi believable plot and it combines it with a bit of adventure. Unnecesary risk-taking in the part of the crew also. I can’t get over the fact that even with a 400+ crew and even specialized “security” crew, the senior officers are always putting themselves in danger…

CHRONOLOGY:

STARDATE: 20:14.6
PLACE: Alpha Z-21, Planet Zarta at the “Edge of a Distant Galaxy”
EXPLORATION: First contact with unnamed humanoid species
ALIEN TECH: Cities and machinery made of “Unknown Metal”

Review: Gold Key 2: The Devil’s Isle of Space (March 1968)

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Curiously, the first Gold Key comics where actually not that bad, with a bit of science fiction speculation mixed with a good amount of adventure. Characterizations are faulty in most cases but at least they get the idea of what each character should do.

On this second comic, the plot is not that bad, although it again degenerates quickly into space opera, just another action adventure. Even so, it’s mildly entertaining and again, could be fitted into a typical episode.

 CHRONOLOGY:

STARDATE: 19:03.4-19:04.5
PLACE: OUTER FRINGE OF GALAXY NABU, Belt of Uncharted Asteroids
EXPLORATION: Encounter Prison Asteroid & First Contact with unnamed alien species

CREW:
CREWMAN: FOSTER
SECURITY: KENT

Chronologies: TOS 6: “The Man Trap”

STARDATE: 1513.1

DATE: 2266

PLACE: Planet M-113

CREW: 

SCIENCE: DARNELL

YEOMAN: JANICE RAND

SECURITY: GREEN

ENGINEERING: BOBBY

NAVIGATOR: BARNHART

DARNELL, STURGEON, GREEN & BARNHART killed by alien.

DECKS: Deck five crew quarters

SHIP ROUTE: STARBASE on Caran 4

REFERENCE: Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet

You can read “The Man Trap” transcript here.

Review: Gold Key 1: The Planet of No Return (July 1967)

The Planet of No Return

Well, I guess I’m reviewing the Comics too. The earliest are the Gold Key comics (well, the first really in comic-book format, there are some newspaper comics also, and I’ll post them up those later) which are very mediocre, not really getting into the Trek spirit, but instead just make up some space opera adventures, put in the characters and let them plough through. No characterization, no story arches, no real enemies, just the adventure-of-the-week.

This first one, is not that bad, I actually like the “ultra-hostile-planet” theme in science fiction, where even the plants are overtly voracious. This ones go so far as to “infect” the crew and “mutate” them into plants. Even so, Kirk gets over-responsive and KILLS the whole planet. A bit overdoing it, and I would court-martial him for not respecting the native life-forms! But oh well, this barely gets acknowledged as being part of the Star Trek universe, and you could barely get it to be part of the ‘printed’ canon…

CHRONOLOGY:

STARDATE: 18:09.2
PLACE: Galaxy Alpha (?) Planet K-G
EVENT: Destroyed all life on planet due to overly aggresive plants. Lost 1 crew.
CREW:
YEOMAN: Janice Rand
SECURITY(?):Hunt (+)
SECURITY(?):Dean

Chronologies: TOS 5: “The Enemy Within”

TOS 5: “The Enemy Within”:

CREW:
 GEOLOGICAL TECHNICIAN: FISHER
 YEOMAN: JANICE RAND
 NAVIGATOR: FARRELL
 
TECH: Technical problem with transporter can generate 2 psychological different persons

PLACE: ALPHA 177
DATE: 2266/stardate 1672.1.
EXPLORATION: Specimen-gathering mission

REFERENCE: Saurian brandy. Origin: Unknown
 
DECK:
  CREW’S QUARTERS: Deck twelve (Janice Rand)

You can read “The Enemy Within” transcript here.

Chronologies: TOS 4: “Mudd’s Women”

TOS 04: “Mudd’s Women”:

CREW:
NAVIGATOR:
LT. JOHN FARRELL
MEDICAL ASSISTANT: CONNORS
CREWMAN: BOBBY ABRAMS
CREWMAN: JOHN FARRELL
SECURITY: VINCI

SHIP: (MUDD’s SHIP): small class J cargo ship
EVENT: Enterprise encounters Mudd’s Ship and is destroyed while trying to escape.

DECK: Deck twelve: Captain’s quarters

ALIEN/DRUG POWER: Drug makes “women have a mysterious magnetic effect on” [men]

TECH: Ship’s power is is “fed” through ‘lithium crystals’. This would change to the most extensively used ‘dilithium’ crystals, and the energy generation will be by ‘matter/antimatter mixes’.
TECH: Normally power could be fed through ‘by-pass circuits’, housed in a ‘converter assembly’, to avoid passing through the ‘lithium’ crystals.

DATE: 2266
EVENT: Ship’s dilithium’s crystals are damaged, changes course to replenish from a mining planet.
SHIP COURSE: RIGEL XII

Other EVENTS: (by references)
EVENT: Colony Established
PLACE: Ophiuchus 3, most probably an earth establishment.
COLONY/PLANET: Open Sea Planet, Sea Ranchers
COLONY/PLANET: Helium experimental station.
COLONY/PLANET: Farm planet with automated machines
REFERENCE: “Saturnius harem girls”. Unknown location!

PLACE: Position, fourteen hours out of Rigel 12. We’re on auxiliary impulse engines.

PLACE: RIGEL XII
EVENT: Replaced ‘lithum crystals’

SHIP COURSE: Unknown

You can read “Mudd’s Women” transcript here.

Review: Mini Comic 2

MiniComic2

Mini Comic 2:

REVIEW:
This is a surprisingly good ‘mini’ comic. All of the comics of this era (the Gold Key) are awfully bad, with cliched space opera plots: Crew battle hostile monsters in unknown planet, or crew encounter ghostly aliens, or crew is captured for a ‘museum’, etc.
Although being very, very short, and the plot being a bit simple, it’s a bit intriguing on what makes the crew mutiny on the Captain.

I don’t exactly remember if this was taken from the gold key or was done independently. I’ll check back later.

Even though comics are left entirely out of canon, I will include them inside my chronologies.

DATE: Unknown, 2266 is supposed.
PLACE: Beta II
EVENT: Kirk is injured by a local beast.

SHIP COURSE: Unknown
EVENT: Message to give Omegan Embassador passage home.

SHIP COURSE: Unknown
EVENT: Omegan Embasssador boarded
SHIP COURSE: Omegan system.

SHIP COURSE: Deviation ordered through a B-Gamma Maelstrom, “Nightmare Pool of Space”

EVENT: Crew mutiny and depose the Captain, which turn out to be a Klingon “duplicate”.
SHIP COURSE: Return to Beta II

EVENT: Captain rescued from Klingons.

SHIP COURSE: Unknown, course probably set to Omegan system to deliver embassador.

Review: 1968 Mission to Horatius by Mack Reynolds

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Mission to Horatius has been billed as been a “Young Adult” novel, and as for the descriptions and text narrative, it does seem very superficial, almost stereotypical of the characters. McCoy is grumpy, Scotty has engine problems and the ship desperately need R&R. So what else is new? Well, Sulu has a pet rat, it seems there needed to be a pet somewhere…

There has been a distress call received from Horatius and the ship was sent to investigate. The mission was divided into investigating three planets, the first two of which were absolutely boring: the first still in the stone age (called “Neolithia”, unimaginatively taken from the geologic age “Neolithic”). The second one, called Mythra (guess from which word it’s derived), is a place of rampant religious beliefs; and the third planet is “Bavarya” (full of barbarians?), tends to raid it’s neighbors continously, is apparently the source of the problem.

Oh, and the ship’s crew is affected by a space sickness called “cafard” (in the long tradition of having the ship affected by a disease), so everyone is pressed for time.

This might as well have been a western and a ship at sea, when writers focus more on the adventure than on the science fiction. It barely passes as an adventure tale, and it reads very shallow at points, like everybody is just doing their job dispassionately, as there is no big emotional involvement. It’s nice to read a bit with familiar characters, looking into strange worlds, but it’s executed badly.

Also, rare on Star Trek books, there are line-drawn illustrations, which are very basic, like the minimum for a “young adult” novel.

Reynolds does not seem to have put much of an effort, just toiling out another story for a then yet inexistent market. It really does not engage much the reader, although it does not lose you (a big problem on later novels).

I would recommend it only to know the first original novel, but the “youngification” makes it lose a lot of it’s appeal. Space opera had gone out of style, but this type of novels fall easily into it.

Chronologies: TOS 3: “The Corbomite Maneuver”

 Some episodes really do not add much information about the Universe. There are a few crew changes though. 

CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: DR. LEONARD MCCOY
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: LT NYOTA UHURA
HELMSMAN: HIKARU SULU
NAVIGATOR: LT DAVID BAILEY
SCIENCE OFFICER: CLIFFORD BRENT
SECURITY: BOBBY ABRAMS
LT COMMANDER: HADLEY
CREWMAN: HARPER
CREWMAN: HARRISON
CREWMAN: ED LESLIE

DATE: 2266
PLACE: Unknown
EXPLORATION: CHARTING STAR MAPS

EVENT: FIRST CONTACT: Met BALOK from FIRST FEDERATION.

ALIEN POWERS:
  SENSORS: “exceptionally strong sensor probes everywhere able to scan electrical systems and engines”
 
CREW: (429) LT BAILEY is received by First Federation as cultural exchange.

SHIP: FESARIUS of FIRST FEDERATION

You can read “The Corbomite Maneuver” transcript here.

Review: 1970 Spock Must Die! by James Blish

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By word of Frederic Pohl, who edited the Bantam novels, “I didn’t really pay much attention to Star Trek“. But James Blish had noticed that the biggest checks he had ever gotten came from his previous Star Trek novels. They were starting to collect some fan stories, which would later appear as “The New Voyages” series of anthologies, but Blish started on writing original novels, even if Bantam and the editores did not think they were anything warranting much attention.

The first adult-oriented original novel written, it tries to get into the later common habit of killing off Spock. (So much in fact, it was later a big plot point on a movie, and his “resurrection” the whole plot on another!)

Here, the Enterprise is sent ot monitor the Klingons, who was apparently seen breaking the “Organian” treaty. On trying to do some “experimental” use of the transporter, Spock is divided in two selves. This whole double self is not the same type that what was done in the “Evil Kirk” episode (“The Enemy Within”), but what I consider to be a very creative, and real good science fiction. That’s a breath of fresh air, as some other novels are just a bunch of tedious space opera. This part of the novel is actually quite enjoyable, where the crew tries to figure out the “mystery” of this double Spock.

It laters does pick up some adventure/action scenes, and to be honest, I was fairly bored and did not pay a lot of attention, but basically the whole thing is that “a Spock must die”. The Klingons are just there to be used as part of the scenery, and the novel breaks a big part of canon at the end (or at least, makes it impossible for a lot of other stuff to happen). This was readily ignored by every other writer. In fact, I think a big problems of the novels is that only the original author carries ‘canon’ between their novels: all others revert back to what was established by the TV episodes. I hope that later on, on more modern books, events are cross-pollinated between novels and authors; it would really enrich the Trek universe.

The last action scenes and the resolution are a bit anti-climactic, but I think the whole explanation of what happens to Spock is really nice and very well done.

Blish understands very well that personalities of the characters, and plays them well, even though some parts of the prose are a bit tedious he carries it off very well. There is an overly fascination with the Spock character, but this is only because of the attention people were giving to him.

This novel is quite nice to read, and some of the best in the early writings. This style of writing is easy to digest, low on description, high on action and not very challenging, but it covers it’s purpose: get a Star Trek novel out there with some good science fiction mixed in. I can easily recommend it, but I know there are a lot more that are much better.