Recovery by J.M. Dillard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Recovery by J.M. Dillard is the fourth and final novel in The Lost Years Saga. The novel is still set in the period before the launch of the Enterprise 1701-A and Kirk is finally coming to the end of his tether in regards to being a desk bound Admiral but before he can lay down his ultimatum to Admiral Nogura he is given the assignment to oversee the final trial/simulation of the USS Recovery a fully automated rescue ship capable of beaming ships and buildings intact and providing state of the art medical care all in a high warp capable and armed vessel. Admiral Kirk himself was fairly negative towards the concept when it originally crossed his desk but his recommendations have been taken by the designers and the ship is ready.
McCoy a civilian and still estranged from Kirk and Starfleet is approached to be an observer onboard Recovery during the simulation and is delighted to see the ship in action, he is impressed with the level of medical technology onboard. The mission for Recovery is to "rescue" the facility on Zotos 4 which includes all personnel and the structures themselves and the Klingons, Tholians and Romulans have been invited to observe as this area of space is in some minor dispute. The USS Starhawk and USS Paladin are going along to provide the "conflict" part of the trial for Recovery but after Kirk throws some curveballs at the ship to really push her programming things begin to break down as she targets all ships as enemies and fires on the two Starfleet ships and invited warships. The Recovery then warps towards the Tholian area of space with the heavily damaged USS Paladin with Admiral Kirk on board in pursuit and McCoy wishing he had stayed at home.
Recovery was an excellent Star Trek story, yes it benefits greatly from the three novels that went before it in setting up the conditions which provide the impetus for Kirk and to a lesser extent Riley, McCoy and even Spock. The description of the Recovery was impressive and the crews of Starhawk and Paladin were fleshed well enough to be invested in them without taking anything away from the core story which is obviously Kirk and the "rush" he gets when being the center of events although at a high cost. We got some interesting interactions between Starfleet and the visiting Empire Starships and Captains which never dropped into the old tried and trusted tropes but kept the reader wondering what agenda any of them had beyond just keeping an eye on Starfleet. Recovery was a great novel, I enjoyed it immensely with it's mix of character interaction and action both onboard the ship and in space and not just the events which focused on Kirk. The novel would stand by itself if required but there is a little more to be had if you are familiar with the other three novels in the series all of which are entertaining.
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