The Face of the Unknown by Christopher L. Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Enterprise is engaged by a vessel which claims to have been attacked by a Federation ship, the body and wreckage they offer up as proof is startling in its familiarity, the dead being is the same species as used by Balok when trying to "fool" the Enterprise when it entered the area of space now known to be controlled by the First Federation.
The Enterprise enters First Federation space and attempts to find the Fesarius and Lt. Bailey, they find it under attack and come to its aid only to find that the "puppets" used by Balok were indeed once a known and feared race in this region of space and they have returned. Balok however is missing but a mysterious message is received by the Enterprise which leads them to an empty star system with one very dead world obvious having suffered from orbital bombardment. Alien ships then enter the system and the Enterprise is forced to enter the atmosphere of a huge gas giant only to find something they didn't expect...
I wonder if it is true that the best stories draw from events of the original series, there is precedent and The Face of the Unknown is certainly more proof of the theory. Christopher L. Bennett a long time fan of The Corbomite Maneuver delivered a novel that took the very basics from the tv epsiode and expanded them into a complex and fascinating look into the First Federation. The explanation of their technology and the worlds that comprised it and the mystery of such a huge are of space close to the expanding Federation of Planets is covered with style and expertise. The final result is an excellent novel which adds immensely to what we knew of Balok and the Fesarius and of course Lt. David "He's doing a countdown!" Bailey.
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