Saturday, June 23, 2007

First Frontier: Star Trek #75 by Diane Carey and Dr. James I. Kirkland (1995)

Paperback cover blurb

While testing a new shielding device, the U.S.S. Enterprise is caught in the middle of a Klingon/Romulan battle. When the Enterprise crew rescues a lifepod, they are confronted by a Klingon who claims to know nothing of human existence. Convinced the Klingon is telling the truth, Captain Kirk hurries to Starfleet Headquarters in search of answers. But upon arriving on Earth, the Starship Enterprise crew finds that Earth is a vast jungle-like paradise where large, reptilian animals rule…with no signs of human life anywhere. Now, Kirk must travel to the past in search of the key to the mystery – or face the destruction of the human race.

My thoughts

A race of intelligent dinosaurs from a distant planet are fed up with their third-class status in the universe, so they decide to use that stone-wheel-time-traveling-thingie from one of the original Star Trek episodes to travel to the Mesozoic Era and stop the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise is testing a new shield system when the universe suddenly changes around it. Kirk orders the ship to return to earth, and upon arrival the crew finds a world where the dinosaurs never died out. Soon Kirk, Spock, Bones and a few expendable crew members are traveling back to the age of dinosaurs to stop the aliens from erasing humanity.

I’m fond of the original series, but I despise the countless Star Trek novels pushing out more serious sci-fi from bookshelves. (Or maybe it's just bias, since I'm more of a Doctor Who fan.) What interested me in First Frontier was the involvement of paleontologist James I. Kirkland. It turns out he’s something of a Trekkie and had pitched the novel’s plot to Diane Carey, who has authored several Trek novels.

I was pleasantly surprised by the book. Kirkland brings a stamp of authenticity to the dinosaur scenes, which are well done. And Carey actually knows how to put together a coherent and well-paced story. Where First Frontier drags is in its standard Star Trek fare – Romulans, Vulcans and the like – which we’ve seen too many times before. The authors also decided, for some strange reason, that Kirk should spend the vast majority of the book suffering from an alien bug bite and have him constantly refuse pleas by Bones to get it treated, just to prove how much of a man he is, I guess. Still, if you can get past the Klingons and the starship battles, First Frontier may be worth your time.

  • Kirkland co-discovered the Utahraptor, which is the main character of Raptor Red, a novel by another paleontologist, Robert T. Bakker.
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