Stargate Archives

Sunday, 21 November 2021

The Joy Machine by James E. Gunn


The Joy MachineThe Joy Machine by James E. Gunn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The highly successful colony world Timshel which offered its beauty and almost eden like perfection to vacationers from across the Federation had for two years now isolated itself from the galaxy. With no information the Federation had sent two separate individuals to the planet and apart from one brief communique nothing had been heard from them. Captain James Kirk and the Enterprise are tasked with solving this mystery and with some personal contacts on Timshel Kirk may succeed where others failed. Kirk makes a clandestine entry onto Timshel from the Enterprise which uses some fancy warp physics to at preset intervals make contact with Kirk but stay off the planets sensor grid but events soon spiral out of control.
The secret Timshel has been hiding is slowly revealed to Kirk as he learns an AI experiment proved to be wildly successful to the point where though the delivery of pure "joy" using machine interfaces the adult humans on the planet have put aside "normal" day to day concerns and only work under the guidance of the "Joy Machine". This story by Theodore Sturgeon was for the original series but never got beyond the pitching process and was later adapted by James E. Gunn for publication in 1996 during the boom time for Trek paperbacks. In many ways it's different enough to be embraced by the non-canon stories of the time but still retains elements we have certainly seen in the televised show which is no surprise. As a Trek novel this was perfectly acceptable with only one minor gripe and that was how the Enterprise itself was affected by the Joy Machine and the consequences there of, it felt silly and throwaway, perfect I guess for an epilogue but not a novel.

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Sunday, 14 November 2021

X-Men Planet X by Michael Jan Friedman


X-Men Planet XX-Men Planet X by Michael Jan Friedman

First off I have never been a great fan of the TNG novels and certainly never read any X-Men comics so this novel is not an obvious choice for me but I am a fan of Michael and truth be told the ebook was on offer so why the hell not. From what I gathered this is the second novel that features this crossover and events from that are referred to here but I don't believe that caused any issues as the events are just as much of a mystery to Picard and crew as they are to Storm and her comrades. What we have is a group of the X-Men appearing on a starbase, causing some havoc and finally being reunited with the crew of the Enterprise. On the planet Xhaldia a number of young people are undergoing some traumatic transformations and obtaining physical and/or mental powers and surprisingly their government does not handle the situation well. Events begin to spiral out of control as the "transformed" break out of detention and then are targeted by an invading alien military force. Thankfully Xhaldia had called for help before losing communications and the Enterprise is on its way along with some very powerful and motivated mutants.
The story was paced well and I had no trouble letting myself be immersed into the narratives (which merge later) but I think I would have gotten a lot more out of the novel if I was a fan of the original X-Men rather than what FOX offered via the movies. Give it a go though, it was certainly interesting as Worf and Wolverine become buds.

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Best Destiny by Diane Carey


Best Destiny (Star Trek)Best Destiny by Diane Carey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Best Destiny turns back the clock and sheds some non-canon light on the teenage years of one James Kirk, the story covers two separate time frames with the first showing James as a rebellious teenager and the other as a Captain looking at the end of his career. The focal point is the planet Faramond and the events that surrounded the discovery of a race vastly more technically advanced that the Federation and who seem to have as a species packed their bags and vanished into history.

Commander George Kirk with help from Captain Robert April arrange to take Jim on a cruise to Faramond for a ribbon cutting event in the hopes he can reach his wayward son before anything too serious happens. Jim is playing fast and loose with rules and regulations and roping other people into his games, it's only a matter of time before events spiral out of control and something happens that can not be fixed. The kicker is that Captain April is taking out the Enterprise and even the already jaded Jim Kirk is in awe of her beauty and power, of course he tries not to show it. April, George, Jim and some crew take one of the shuttles as Enterprise makes a call on another world but the shuttle is ambushed by pirates, badly damaged and with casualties Jim has to learn some very painful lessons in what it means to really lead people and be prepared to sacrifice all for the benefit of those who may never even know what you did.
Decades later the constitution class USS Enterprise is coming to the ends of its life and on its final voyage its sensors pickup an energy surge which is only associated with the explosion of warp engines. The source is a starship in the Faramond system, records indicate it's likely to be the Excelsior Class USS Bill of Rights under the command of Captain Alma Roth (former officer under Kirk). Captain Kirk does not believe in coincidences and provides records to both Spock and McCoy on events so long ago and orders his ship towards Faramond. James Kirk is again looking at life that may not hold many more wonders and has to face his mirror image yet learns that the journey is never going to be complete, there will always be one more world, one more civilisation and that will be enough to spur on this Captain, this ship and this crew.

Best Destiny by Diane Carey is one of the novels that played a part in my own personal Star Trek canon, I like this Jim Kirk (similar it has to be said to the Kelvin Universe) and no question that drawing upon her own novel Final Frontier helped greatly in continuity. The novels asks many questions of its core characters and the two timelines with varying technologies and challenges work well for the narrative and while the experienced Captain Kirk and Enterprise are pure Trek it's perhaps the young Jim with his father and April that hold the limelight. This era of Star Trek and Diane's own take on a young Kirk may not be for everyone but it works for me.

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