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TOS: Constellations, edited by Marco Palmieri Book Review | SFReader.com
TOS: Constellations, edited by Marco Palmieri Genre: Star Trek Publisher: Pocket Books Published: 2006 Review Posted: 2/1/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
TOS: Constellations, edited by Marco Palmieri
Book Review by David Roy
Have you read this book?
2006 is the 40th anniversary of the entire "Star Trek" phenomenon. Much like the last couple of years, which have had anniversary anthologies for various Trek franchises, Pocket Books has now published one for the Original Series. Once again, editor Marco Palmieri has chosen from the stable of current Trek writers as well as some up-and-comers to put together a very nifty group of stories that holds your interest throughout. While some are certainly weaker than others, I can honestly say there isn't a bad story in the bunch. All of the stories take place during the original five-year mission, and few of them are "sequels" to episodes, trying to explain a discrepancy, or anything like that. I found that refreshing, actually, with continuity references kept to a minimum.
Probably the best story in the bunch is the last one (except for the TokyoPop Manga story that ends the book, but that story is actually a promo for the comic anthology) is "Make-Believe" by Allyn Gibson. It's about what Star Trek is to us regular people, not a story about Kirk & Spock. A young boy, whose father has been killed in Iraq, has lost himself in the fantasy world of Star Trek, even going so far as to throw a fit when his teachers try to take away his action figures. Something is going on inside his mind, something that his harried mother, who doesn't understand neither her son's nor his father's interesting in all this sci-fi stuff, can't quite figure out. When she finally does, though, maybe both of them will begin to heal and be able to live again. This is almost a warning story, in a way, telling us not to lie to our kids when we don't know what's going to happen. It can have great and horrible effects if you're not around afterward to discuss it. Gibson does a great job with this one, and it definitely brought a tear to my eye. One political statement (though understandable, considering it's uttered by the mother) seemed out of place in the rest of story about emotions, but that's the only thing that came close to marring this beautiful story.
Another wonderful story is also near the back. "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" by Jeffrey Lang. This story is an outright comedy, and it's a pretty funny one too. The Enterprise is near the end of the five-year mission, and it's starting to get really stuffy, no matter how good the air filtration is. McCoy's beginning to go stir-crazy, wondering what he will do once the mission's over. But first, Kirk convinces him to accompany Scotty to a conference while the Enterprise goes to investigate something, and their trip back to the Enterprise is priceless. They find themselves on Deneb (the home to the Denebian Slime Devil) where a local shady character tries to ingratiate himself with a disgraced Klingon by capturing the legendary "Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock." With alcohol flowing everywhere, you know chaos is going to erupt, especially when the mistaken identities become known. This story was enjoyable from beginning to end, and while the local thugs aren't that interesting, the rest of the story easily makes up for them. I loved the conversations between McCoy and Scotty about what's going to happen when the ship returns, and the Klingon is just priceless. You won't be able to help grinning.
Most of the other stories are also quite good, though they all have either a minor problem or just aren't as good as these two. However, there were a couple weaker ones. "Chaotic Response" by Stuart Moore is probably the weakest of the bunch. Spock has been the victim of a Klingon Mind Sifter, and his thoughts are in chaos. He keeps flashing back to his childhood but can't seem to bring himself out of the coma that he's in. However, the Klingons who had kidnapped him in the first place are still buzzing around, and the Enterprise is heavily damaged. McCoy enters Spock's mind to try and draw him out, and then, when Spock reacts badly to it and almost dies, both Kirk and McCoy do it. Will they save Spock in time to help the ship before the Klingons destroy them? While I loved the "logic game" that Spock played in his childhood, the rest of the story didn't do much for me. It was fairly standard "Klingons are the evil bad guys, and we have to do something before they destroy us" storytelling, and I didn't find the exploration of Vulcan logic within Spock's mind to be that interesting. The characterization was fine and the storytelling was ok, but it didn't hook me at all.
The book begins with an interesting introduction by David Gerrold (writer of the episode "The Trouble with Tribbles") where he talks about the history of the show a little bit, the effect it's had on popular culture as well as scientific advancements (who could have foreseen how much like communicators some of our current mobile phones look?). He also mentions each story in the book and tells what the main theme of each story is. While I did find this list intriguing, it would have been nice to leave that determination to the reader. Even so, it's a nice way to start the book, and it's the beginning of a wonderful anthology that any fan of Trek fiction (especially the Original Series) needs to pick up.
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