SCE Foundations: STAR TREK SCE by Dayton Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The fifth collection of Starfleet Corp of Engineers stories is entitled "Foundations" written by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore and is a little different to previous collections in that it primarily focuses on a single character (Montgomery Scott) and deals with his early interactions with the SCE before many decades later he eventually led this branch of Starfleet. While there are four distinct stories they combine to form a whole which expands on the Scotty we knew from the tv and movies as well as providing more depth and history to the SCE.
The novel begins in present time as the Da Vinci encounters an alien ship travelling at critically high warp for its level of technology, the ultimate solution to saving the ship and crew is from the past and this provides the framework for the flashback stories which comprise the novel.
We join Scotty soon after he gets his posting to the Enterprise but before he officially joins the crew he is put on loan to the SCE for a important mission on board a very rundown USS Lovell (the norm for the under equipped SCE at the time) however a ship full of engineers means it may not look good but under the hood it's a bit of a powerhouse. Their mission is to investigate damage and to an outpost on the Romulan neutral zone and to affect repairs, it does not go smoothly. Our next blast from past sees Scotty once again serving with the SCE on Beta III dealing with the aftermath of Landrau, again the full talents of the engineers and personnel with very different talents are needed as the centuries old computer/AI is resurrected. The third recollection from the past has Scotty once again serving with Commander Mahmud al-Khaled who is a constant element of these flashbacks as a new propulsion system designed by the Kelvans is being tested, it has a few bugs and the crew find themselves deep in unexplored space. Thanks to the talents of the engineers and one in particular the mission is resolved with benefits and the ship is returned to Federation space with the prospect of the warp scale having to be redone to accommodate the potential new speeds.
All three of these stories from Scotty's past underline the fact that the SCE needed to be more than simple starbase builders or repair crews. The addition of cultural, linguistic and diplomatically skilled crew will aid the SCE ships as they too face first contact and missions which require the skills often found only on Starships on discovery missions. The overall narrative encompases this philosophy and demonstrates the growth of the SCE over the years has produced a very flexible and talented resource for the Federation and Starfleet to call upon.
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