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#008: Black Fire (TOS #8)

Some of these early Star Trek books have unctuous introductions that tell tall tales about the authors and lavish heaps of sickly-sweet accolades on them. Black Fire is one of those books. Its introduction was written by Theodore Sturgeon, a man of myriad science-fictional accomplishments, the most relevant of which for the purposes of this review are that he wrote the indisputably top-five TOS episode “Amok Time” and that he coined an axiom known as Sturgeon’s Law, which famously states that 90 percent of everything is crap, a figure some might argue is conservative when it comes to Star Trek novels.

Fluff jobs like these are a risky gambit that, to my way of thinking, don’t really have much of an upside. If the book sucks, the intro writer ends up with pie all over his face, and if he talks up the author and the book ends up being all right or good, the net gain is negligible. It’s not like it somehow reaffirms the strength of the mythos.

What I mean by all of this is: for a guy with credentials like Sturgeon’s, he sure picked a heck of a book to stick his neck out for.

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#007: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (TOS #7)

This week, dear readers, we arrive, at last, at what is unarguably the apotheosis of original-recipe Star Trek: the second film, The Wrath of Khan. To quote Hugh Laurie at the end of Blackadder Goes Forth, “This is, as they say, it.” It is as thrilling as The Motion Picture is boring. It is an ingenious work of deconstruction, the first to upend many deeply entrenched series tropes that were (to that point) taken for granted. Its greatness does not depend to any extent on your opinion of Star Trek, which is the only work under the TOS banner I would make that claim about other than possibly “City on the Edge of Forever”. It is the ne plus ultra of Trek movies, and it is highly unlikely that any that currently exist nor any that may be made in the future will ever surpass it.

I considered beginning the above paragraph with “Pardon the hyperbole”, except I’m not so sure any of it actually is.

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#006: The Abode of Life (TOS #6)

As I finish this post, we are but hours away from Thanksgiving here in the United States, and I can’t seem to come up with a good intro paragraph to cap it off. By the time this goes up, it will be too late to use this post to duck into the bathroom and avoid your family for an hour, but hopefully it will be timely enough to use it to avoid crowds of mindless consumers trampling each other as the Christmas shopping season gets underway. Regardless of the time of year, it’s never a bad idea to hole up in the bathroom with your good pals here on the Enterprise and at Deep Space Spines and binge the archive until your legs fall asleep from sitting too long. Anyway, thanks for reading, and please enjoy your regularly scheduled weekly Trek literature review.

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#005: The Prometheus Design (TOS #5)

Ah, another sure-to-be-rip-roaring Star Trek novel. You know what I love about these adventures? I love how they overcome their differences to make things work. Kirk and Bones are emotional humans and Spock is a logical Vulcan, but they really care for each other and they never treat each other like garbage. Okay, here we go … okay … wow, all right … wow, that’s—that’s not very cool, Spock … oh jeez … okay then … hmm.

I think I need an adult.

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#004: The Covenant of the Crown (TOS #4)

It’s Dr. McCoy’s birthday. He’s feeling every minute of however old he is, and a surprise party thrown for him by Kirk isn’t helping. So then, what better to put the pep back in one’s middle-aged step than an escort mission involving a bright young princess who wants to bring new meaning to the phrase “jump your bones”?

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