Doctor's Orders by Diane Duane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Doctor's Orders is one of my all time favourite original series novels. The story works upon the premise that after a while everyone fancies a change in circumstance and in specific terms we have Kirk who is dealing with the demands of bureaucracy and Bones looking to get his hands "dirty" and less impressed by his Captain bemoaning his current situation.
We know in later series that the Captain in particular is reliant on his subordinates to have the "adventures" while he oversees and correlates data and then makes the important decisions so here is Kirk stuck in the center chair will the bulk of his science and technical departments exploring the planet nicknamed "Flyspeck" and the three sentient species discovered there.
Eventually Kirk has the opportunity to beam down and he leaves Bones in command of the ship (perfectly within the scope of his responsibilities) and while on the planet he meets a member of the ;At species and they discuss life and all things associated with the care of others and the demands of responsibility. Then Kirk vanishes from the ship's sensors, the locals insist he is still there but a Klingon battlecruiser turns up and they beam down a survey party who are on a very specific mission, after a brief shouting match between and McCoy and Commander Kaiev a sort of truce is declared but then the Klingon party vanish...
I'm going to keep it pretty spoiler free from now just say that we get some excellent character interaction on board the ship and with the Klingons and some great world building on Flyspeck. The indigenous races that inhabit the planet are varied but make perfect sense in context and gratifying to see how the Federation's Starfleet can handle itself when science and diplomacy are called for. We get to see the more relaxed and easy going Kirk when he is with the ;At and their capabilities were interesting to say the least. Bones in command of the Enterprise and dealing with the Klingons was inspired and again showed how closely knit the crew are. Of course we get a decent amount of space action as you would expect but not directly against the Klingons which adds a nice twist to the story and shines a light on what could be going on beyond the Federation's borders and direct influence.
Overall Doctor's Orders is a excellently written and fun Star Trek novel combining science, diplomacy, action and a lot of humour and making the most of the regular crew with some highly appropriate new characters/species. It really is a must read for any fans of the original series characters.
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