The Unsettling Stars
Captain James T. Kirk and an inexperienced crew take a repaired USS Enterprise out of spacedock for a simple shakedown cruise. When a distress call comes in, the Enterprise must aid a large colony ship of alien refugees known as the Perenorean, who are under siege by an unknown enemy. But Kirk and his crew will find that the situation with the peaceful Perenorean is far more complicated than they bargained for, and the answers as to why they were attacked in the first place unfold in the most insidious of ways.
Reviewed on 24th May 2020
Eleven years after the 2009 Star Trek film, the first spin-off novel aimed at an adult audience has finally appeared (it was written back then, but then shelved by the publisher for a decade).
I’ll admit, it took me a little while to get into. I’m not usually a big Original Series reader, but thought that I’d have to give this a go given I’ve seen the three contemporary movies. For the most part, it feels like a good fit for the parallel universe characters we saw in their first film outing, although Scotty felt off, and there were some aspects of the inside of Kirk’s head that I wasn’t convinced gelled with the version of him in my head.
I think I struggled on two other related counts. Alan Dean Foster is a noted writer of numerous genres, including Science Fiction - and this felt a little bit too Science Fictiony for me. Almost a bit too old-Trek-novel too, and not quite fitting with the tone I feel I get from most modern Trek novels. He’s also a fan of describing aliens - and this also doesn’t connect with my imagination in the right way - I’m much more connected I feel to thought and emotion than physical, visual description, and I think Foster perhaps is wired the other way.
The plot is fairly solid, although perhaps a bit too simple in places. Perhaps this is by design, hoping to attract a new audience as did the 2009 film - but to me it felt like some events were too obvious coming, and some twists thus fell flat.
I’m interested to see what the second book from the same situation comes out like later in the year - that one is by David Mack, whose Trek novels on the whole I have personally found more targeted at my tastes.