“Though Hell Should Bar the Way” written by Greg Cox from Star Trek: Enterprise Logs

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[Edit:  Originally published October 8, 2016]

Enterprise Logs is a short story collection, each story is from a different Captain, starting all the way back with the two very real Enterprise ships that existed during the Revolutionary War and World War Two. However, they story I’m looking at is the first Star Trek Captain of the Enterprise. Captain Robert April. 

Captain Robert April’s story deals with my absolute favorite part of Star Trek lore, Tarsus IV. The Enterprise, being the fastest ship in the fleet, is on route to deliver relief aid.

In a relatively unsurprising turn of events, the Klingons are trying to stop the Enterprise from reaching Tarsus IV, motivation is speculated but never explicitly given. A space battle ensues, with the Enterprise ultimately victorious, though the Klingons are merely disabled, not destroyed. The Enterprise then continues to Tarsus IV, only to arrive too late. Kodos has already wiped out half of the population. 

It’s very interesting to see a story about Tarsus IV that isn’t from Kirk’s perspective. All the Star Trek media I’ve consumed about Tarsus IV so far has been. Jim does get a mention in this story, as Captain April is friends with George Kirk, Jim’s father. But it’s only at the very end. 

Like any good Star Trek story there’s an emphasis on peace and hope. Captain April is not fond of Starfleet needing military capacity, but he also does understand necessity for it. Space is dangerous, and the Klingons give a prime example of that.

The whole collection is quite excellent, and I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Related Reviews:  Star Trek Academy: Collision Course

What really happened on Tarsus IV? A Comparison

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[Edit: Originally published September 9, 2016]

What really happened on Tarsus IV? Aside from, of course, a famine and the execution of 4,000 people. What canon gives us limited, but if you delve into the wonderful world of Star Trek books, you can find more detailed things about Tarsus. In William Shatner’s Avenger, for example, the famine was cause by an act of eco-terrorism. However, the books seem to fall into the territory of apocryphal canon, which in my opinion is just fantastic, because it leaves room for multiple interpretations and you can pick and chose what you want to go with. 

I want to focus this review specifically on two books. The Autobiography of James T. Kirk “edited” by David A. Goodman and Star Trek Academy: Collision Course by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. 

Collision Course was published in 2007 and has a take on Kirk’s experiences with the genocide that reminds me of a lot of the Tarsus IV fanfiction I’ve read. Which sees Kirk leading and trying to protect a group of children. He tends to be more successful in fanfiction than he does in Collision Course. In Collision Course, Kirk is offered the chance to help Kodos (round up and get rid of stragglers) in exchange for a place on the no kill list. Initially, he agrees as it’s not fully explained to him. When he fails to follow through, he (and the children he’s trying to save) end up hunted by someone who’d been a friend of his.

In The Autobiography, published in 2015, Kirk is safe from the outset and remains that way. Kirk only witnesses the execution because he’d snuck out of the house in the middle of the night with Tom Leighton, whose parents were on the kill list, and Tom had wanted to see where they went. That’s also how Tom gets the injury to his face when they’re spotted by a guard.

Tom Leighton is not mentioned by name in Collision Course, though there is mention of the Leighton Farm. 

Brace yourselves cause it’s about to get a little gross. How the colonists are killed is also different in both books. In The Autobiography they’re hit with what I assume are phasers and turn to dust which is then swept up and there’s nothing left. 

Collision Course is significantly more graphic about it. “Instead of life there was death: four thousand bodies crisped by laser fire. A week after the colony’s revolution, they lay blackened, bloated, unburied.” It seems like life on Tarsus in Collision Course has fallen into more of a disarray than it does in The Autobiography.

Perhaps the biggest difference in post-Tarsus Kirk between the books is his opinion of Starfleet. In The Autobiography, Jim’s reaction to Starfleet’s arrival with assistance is a happy one. That’s what he wants to do with his life. It’s that moment that he decides he wants to join Starfleet.

In Collision Course it’s the exact opposite. Kirk is very angry at Starfleet. They came too late. Kirk was nearly killed and he saw many of the children he was trying to protect killed. Collision Course Kirk is heavily traumatized by what happened on Tarsus IV. It’s not clear in The Autobiography just what level of trauma Kirk suffered, but it seemed generally less than what was in Collision Course. 

Do I have a preference? Yes I do. I have to say I favor Shatner’s interpretation. I think it also helped that I got to see Kirk struggling with life post-Tarsus through a whole book, instead of just a few pages out of The Autobiography.

Related reviews: The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, Star Trek Academy: Collision Course

Star Trek Academy: Collision Course by William Shatner

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[Edit: Originally published September  7, 2016]

This book is prime Star Trek shenanigans. I don’t really know what I was expecting of a young Kirk as imagined by William Shatner. I tried not to have many expectations because I really wanted to like the book. Thankfully, I did not have to worry because the book was a joy from start to finish.

The book starts with 17-year-old Jim, Jim’s brother Sam, and Jim’s girlfriend Elissa stealing a Starfleet car. After this we meet 19-year-old Spock, who is pawning a forgery of an artifact to a woman in a strip club (and lying like a pro).

Jim and Spock’s first meeting, which happens at the aforementioned strip club happens because Jim needs to make a distraction so Elissa can escape (they’re being pursued). Jim decides the best way to do this is to trip someone passing by the table he’s seated at. This plan fails when the person he tries to trip is none other than Spock. He then throws his drink in Spock’s face and tries to punch him. The two of them are then arrested.

After many more shenanigans both boys are sentenced to serve either two years in a penal colony or two years in Starfleet, they both choose Starfleet, it’s a carefully played decision to get both boys into Starfleet to keep an eye on them because the reason Jim stole the car was to clear his girlfriend who’s being court martialed over stolen dilithium. The stolen dilithium turns out to be part of the same theft ring that Spock had been trying to uncover when he’d pawned the forged artifact.

Shit happens, and then Jim and Spock plus three midshipmen are piloting an Enterprise (which is still undergoing refits) and manage to stop the thief ring, which may or may not have connections to Kodos the Executioner.

Yeah, there’s another highly important point about the book. The story is interspersed with Jim’s flashbacks to his time on Tarsus IV. He blames Starfleet for not helping sooner and spends much of the early parts of the book trying to prove Starfleet wrong.

For as much as the book is shenanigan packed, there are solid reasons behind many of them. Even though many of the decisions Jim makes seem, as Spock would say, illogical, heavily traumatized teenagers tend more towards emotion than logic. It’s a very good story and I’m very glad William Shatner was the one to tell it. I do think I favor the backstory that Shatner has given Kirk (particularly with Tarsus) than I do some of the other Star Trek apocrypha books I’ve read. Of course, one is not more canon than another, but the ability to pick and choose between what you want to accept is nice. This is definitely a good book to read if you’re interested in reading about Kirk’s time on Tarsus IV.

You can find this book here.

Related Reviews: The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, Star Fleet Technical Manual

Snaps:

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The Autobiography of James T. Kirk edited by David A. Goodman

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[Edit: Originally published September 3, 2016]

As much as this is a work of fiction, if you want to get the most out of it, you can’t read it like it’s a work of fiction. And you can’t imagine it written by David Goodman, if you do, things get lost. You can of course analyze interpretations of the characters by the author, but that wasn’t my intention when I picked up this book. 

Kirk’s autography, covers his life up until just before his death. He’d completed the manuscript not long prior. There’s a forward by Leonard McCoy and an afterward by Spock. In the middle there are some glossy pages that have pictures and artists renditions and photos of items. The picture from Kirk’s year book at the Academy, his ID card from Tarsus IV, and an unsent letter to his son David, are some of the images featured. 

The book itself struck me as having a focus on Kirk’s relationships. Romantic, family, friends. Particularly, the relationships that didn’t work out so well, Ben Finney, Carol Marcus, and Will Decker to name a few. That’s not to say the good relationships aren’t shown, but it feels like the Kirk that was “writing” this book, had a lot of regret and guilt about his life and relationships. He even says at the end that he did have difficulty fostering relationships during his life. 

Here’s the thing about any autobiography, no matter how factual the author tries to make it, they’re going to be biased because they’re writing about themselves. In the forward McCoy makes a point to state that he thinks Kirk is the greatest hero who ever lived and that he has to be the one to say it because he knows that Kirk won’t. 

That said, it’s a really fun read. It takes an in depth look at Kirk’s life, how Kirk sees his life and the people in it. 

Some of my personal favorite moments:

  • How McCoy gets the nickname Bones. He (temporarily) amputates Gary Mitchell’s arm with a phaser, leading to Kirk calling him “sawbones”.
  • Kirk, McCoy, and Spock’s first meeting. It’s great, McCoy gets a little drunk and Spock’s a little shit, and they’re all on a shuttle headed to Earth. 
  • McCoy demanding makeouts by insisting Spock shake his hand before Spock leaves the Enterprise. 

I also found myself more intrigued about Kirk’s time on Tarsus IV than ever. I know there are different thoughts about exactly what happened on Tarsus IV and Kirk’s reaction to it. I’ve sought out some other Star Trek novels to see how those discussions of Tarsus IV compare to what’s in this autobiography. (I don’t have them yet, but you can expect to see a Tarsus centric review in the future.) I’m especially interested in the books that William Shatner has written that involve the matter. 

You can find it here.

Related Reviews: Star TreX, Star Fleet Technical Manual, Star Trek Academy: Collision Course, Tarsus IV: A Comparison

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Star Fleet Technical Manual “complied” by Franz Joseph

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[Edit: Originally published August 24, 2016]

I love manual type books. They’re just absolutely fascinating to me. When I was in high school it was guides to Vampires that had me hooked. Now it’s Star Trek. I don’t understand as much in some of the Star Trek manuals as I did the vampire ones but that doesn’t make them any less fun. 

The Star Fleet Technical Manual is truly a spectacular book. And if some of the reviews on Amazon are anything to go by, this book was the first book of the “worldbuilding” type. Other non-Star Trek books that might be comparable are books for the Harry Potter franchise, such as Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Books that are explicitly stated or can be presumed to exist in the fictional canon of the story.

The book starts out with two memos, once from the United States Military Forces and one from Star Fleet Command. In these memos you learn that the contents of this technical manual are part of an unknown and accidental transmission. That this information accidentally got sent to our time and that’s why we have this book. However, the transmission was not complete. You will find as you go through the book that there are quite a few pages “missing”, because of course, there are things that we as people in a past time should not know. 

After this, you get the Articles of the Federation followed by the Treaty’s for the Klingon and Romulan wars. The Treaties were short and I read them in their entirety, however, I have not as of yet, finished working my way through the Articles of the Federation. There’s a lot of jargon and legalese that makes it bit of dense read. Fascinating, but dense. 

The rest of the book has much less text. You have flags for the various groups and orginizations, you have the official font of Star Fleet, the uniform color code. Sections for Command, Science, and Engineering, filled with blueprints and specs for everything from Star Fleet Headquarters to various types of ship, to phasers and anabolic protoplasers. They even have uniform patterns. One for men and then three pattern options for women, two general designs and then one that’s specifically for women in the sciences (for an example of the last one check out what Christine Chapel wears in TOS).

The uniform patterns are probably my favorite part of the book and I had the one for the men’s shirt enlarged so I can make my own. I’ve also found myself examining the details of the medical deck rather closely for writing purposes. And I haven’t been able to get over the fact that the Enterprise has jacuzzi tubs since I saw that on the blueprints for the officer and crew quarters. 

It’s very informative and fun even if you don’t always understand all the jargon.

You can find it here. (My advice is to buy used, it’s an old book and can get pricey if you’re looking to buy new).

Snaps: 

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Star Trek/X-Men: Star TreX written by Scott Lobdell

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[Edit: Originally published August 17, 2016]

Star Trek meets the X-Men. Spock takes Wolverine out with a Vulcan nerve pinch, Gladiator punches the Enterprise, and Drs. McCoy get a bit confused. 

This was so much fun to read. So much fun. I enjoyed every moment cover to cover. It was fantastic. 

The X-Men and a Shi’ar ship go through a rift and wind up in the universe of Star Trek. It’s the usual combination of Space Problems that result in time/dimension travel and general fuckery. Rifts, massive Psionic energy clouds, and the Shi’ar Empire.

Also Gary Mitchell (Star Trek) meets Proteus (X-Men) and almost goes Dark Phoenix. Well, Proteus resurrects Gary Mitchell (deceased as of the very first episode of TOS) cause he wants to fuck shit up and thinks that Gary Mitchell would make a suitable host body given his circumstances. 

Some of my favorite moments:

  • Spock and Bones flirting/bickering from page one on. It’s great.
  • Gladiator punches the Enterprise. Like twice.
  • Nurse Chapel calling “Dr. McCoy” and both Bones and Hank responding.
  • Spock dropping Wolverine with the Vulcan nerve pinch.
  • Scott and Kirk work really well together. 
  • Deathbird’s plan to fuck shit up fails so miserably that she goes with the X-Men without a fight.
  • The art after the comic of Hank and Spock playing 3D chess.

Things I found weird, but not bad.

The art styles are weirdly conflicting, but also work kind of well together. To explain: the X-Men characters and the Star Trek characters are drawn with different art styles. The Stark Trek characters are drawn very realistically proportion wise and feature wise. It’s the closest to hyper realism that I think I’ve ever seen a comic get. The X-Men on the other hand are hyper-muscled and bulky, in the way that the X-Men comics were in the ’90s. It definitely made it clear that the X-Men and Shi’ar were not of the universe that they’d fallen into. However, it was also comical at times, like when Lucas Bishop is beamed up from Delta Vega and Scotty is tiny next to Bishop’s hyper-muscular bulk.

You can find the comic here.

Related Reviews: The Dark Phoenix Saga, Uncanny X-Men Annual 17

Snaps:

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