|The Final Frontier|
Series: The Original Series
Published: January, 1988
Author: Diane Carey
Review by: Cmdr. Kali D'or
A long time ago in a glalaxy....... oops - wrong universe! Once upon a time, back before James T. Kirk took over the big chair on the Starship Enterprise, someone else was in charge.
Kirk is having a problem these days, His past is catching up to him and he is having a bit of trouble putting things into perspective. This story takes place shortly after the death of Edith Keeler and the classic episode "The Guardian of Forever." Kirk has taken some time off away from Starfleet and is hanging around the barn at his mothers farm in Iowa where he grew up. He looks for and finds a stash of old letters that were written to him around his 10th birthday by his father George, who was a security officer for Starfleet. Leonard McCoy shows up and the reminiscing and adventure begins.
Starfleet has a problem - a transport ship filled with families, refugees, caught in a radiation storm, dying. And there is only one ship that can possibly save them, an as yet unnamed brand new cruiser, the first of the Constitution class ships, never before tried in real space, under any conditions. So, they give the ship to Robert April, an incredibly respected Captain and ask him to try and save the transports passengers. April needs someone he can completely trust on this, his last mission as Captain. He is going to retire to Starfleet and let someone else take over. (that, we all know, eventually ends up being Christopher Pike). Right now, the ship doesn't even have a name, she is a brand new prototype - never been on a mission before. Heck, she has never even been out of spacedock! This is her very first cruise, the "shakedown" and April needs all the help he can get.
George and his friend Francis Drake Reed are sort of abducted by Robert April. April is totally beloved and adored by everyone. But he is more a diplomat than a disciplinarian. He always does the right thing. He is an explorer, not a warrior. In most cases, this is a good thing, but as is explained, there are some times when the Captain needs to fight first and ask questions later. That is more George Kirk's style, and it will be sorely tested on this mission.
The story is told from 2 different viewpoints, that of George Samuel Kirk, taken aboard as Security Chief and April's right-hand man. And from James T. Kirk's recollections of his father, his letters, and what happend to them in the following years.
We find that the Captain and crew aren't really sure exactly what the Enterprise can and cannot do. And it is a big surprise to everyone when she starts showing off her stuff. Unfortunately, as the ship heads out toward the crippled transport, the Romulans are also going in that direction and a confrontation becomes obvious. The Romulans have no idea what the ship is that is approaching, how heavily she is armed, or what she wants, but they are convinced that it is a secret weapon, the beginning of an incursion into Romulan space and the start of a war between them and the Federation. How April and Kirk and the Enterprise manage to get themselves in and out of this mess is pure Star Trek from beginning to end.
Not only do we, as the reader, learn about the first voyage of the Starship Enterprise, and how she got her name, we also get our first insights into the Romulan culture as part of the Star trek family of adversaries. The early Romulans are as difficult to understand, agressive and downright nasty as the Klingons eventually are, when we get to know them better, Their political infighting, the command structures of their ships and "swarms" is interesting reading and the characters we are introduced to are fascinating. The odd man thrown into the mix is a Romulan T'cael and you will find yourself enjoying his relationship with Geroge Kirk as the story digs deeper into the mistrust, dislike and lack of understanding between the two cultures.
And the questions that are asked and answered by Jim Kirk and the telling of this story give further background into his lifes' story, what drove him to the stars, and to the character he grew into as he filled the shoes of the men who captained the Enterprise in the ship's past adventures.
The reader also meets some of the people that helped put the Enterprise together, built her, tested her systems and worked out the bugs before Christopher Pike, Mr. Spock and Scotty came aboard following April's retirement. It was very interesting to find out what made the ship "tick" from the very beginning, and who made it happen. The personalities of the first crew of the Enterprise almost become part of the ship and her fighting spirit is an extension of the heart and soul of the man George Kirk.
This is not an fabulous book, it is not the best Star Trek book written, but as histories go, it is very very good. If you can find it (your best bet is a used book store) and you want to know aboout the very earliest journeys of the Enterprise and Jim Kirks family history, I highly recommend it. And if you like it, get "Best Destiny" next - and read that one too.
"The adventure continues!"
Title: The Final Frontier
Author: Diane Carey
Review by: Cmdr. Kali D'or