I’m always really disappointed when I read a Star Trek book and declare it to be a flop. While reading a poor book in general is always painful I’m constantly jonesing for Star Trek so I crave each moment that I actually get of it to be perfection. Vonda N. McIntyre’s Star Trek Enterprise: The First Adventure is far from perfection.
Thousands of years before the most recent Star Trek movie there wasn’t a strong back story for the Kirk-era crew and in 1986 Ms. McIntyre provided one. One which Gene Roddenberry is quoted on the back of my edition as saying, “I heartily recommend ENTERPRISE: THE FIRST ADVENTURE as a most creative and enjoyable tale of Star Trek’s beginning…”
I heartily don’t recommend it.
I’m sorry to say that it all comes down to Ms. McIntyre’s poor writing and story pacing. While reading through this 371 page soft back novel I couldn’t stop thinking that I was simply bewildered.
Ms. McIntyre’s writing struck me as blocky and awkward. Take this little block of text from page 101:
At the captain’s table, Leonard McCoy got tired of making up excuses for Jim’s absence. After all, it was Jim’s idea to invite the company to sit with him tonight.
“Pardon me just a moment,” he said. “I’ll be right back.”
A minute later, the lift let him out in the officer’s territory. He headed toward Jim’s cabin. He felt in better physical condition than he had enjoyed for years. Even the ache of his deeply bruised thigh muscle reminded him of a moment of sheer, terrified exhilaration.
He knocked on the door of Jim’s cabin.
I’m sure that we can all agree that the writing is blocky but the question that I feel needs to be raised is the following: What’s up with McCoy’s thigh? Doesn’t it seem a bit strange of a place to start suddenly talking about McCoy’s physical condition? I can personally say that after reading the novel myself I really can’t answer where the heck that came from. So I’m not a big fan of Ms. McIntyre’s writing, next point.
This novel has a bizarre plot. While the sketchy premise of it is sound (the first adventure of Kirk’s crew, a first contact, tense Klingon hostilities) the actual plot is painful. Each scene feels disjointedly stuck together and the pacing strikes me as one-legged (you know, hard to balance and awkward and all that). Also, there’s too much going on. Here are all the plot points that Ms. McIntyre tries to push out:
- Kirk and his crew have to adjust to each other.
- Kirk falls in love with a younger women (shocker!) who doesn’t love him back (actual shocker!).
- A rogue Klingon stealing a ship and going after the Federation.
- A first contact.
- Klingons pursuing said rogue Klingon.
- A vaudeville company on the ship.
- Janice Rand’s history.
potentially homosexual love affairpersonal issues.
While some authors could pull it off Ms. McIntyre doesn’t really get it together and everything just kinda fizzles around.
There are some elements that are nice. I did enjoy most of the Uhura-Rand backstory and Sulu provided a nice background and McCoy was well-written for chunks of the novel (like I said, she was able to do a few good dialogs between him and Spock) and I felt that this new species provided an example of exactly what Star Trek can do with aliens.
I am so sorry to say that I personally can not recommend this novel.
And just in case you want some more prose that’s painful to read here’s some that also happens to feature Bones:
McCoy called the Enterprise. He fumed at the delay of getting a ground-to-space frequency. Why hadn’t he brought along his communicator?
The he though, You didn’t bring your communicator on purpose. For one thing, it’s against the rules. For another, you can’t hear it beep and not answer it. Don’t let the universe drag you back into its modern state of hyperactivity.
He smiled to himself and waited.
“Enterprise, Lieutenant Uhura here.”
“This is Leonard McCoy, chief medical officer. What’s the plan?”
“Dr. McCoy! What are your transporter coordinates?”
“I have absolutely no idea,” he said.
The manager recited a set of numbers.
“Stand by to beam on board,” Lieutenant Uhura said.
The cool tingle of dislocation caught him and sucked him away.