Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Star Trek (TOS) Book Review: Heart of the Sun (1997) by Pamela Sargent and George Zebrowski

Heart of the Sun is a Star Trek novel that takes place during Kirk, Spock, and McCoy’s initial five year mission with the Enterprise. The main theme here is isolationism as a societal principal with two cultures as examples. The first is a human colony that wishes non-interference from the Federation. The other is an alien race that has sealed itself in its own virtual reality and wants nothing whatsoever to do with the real universe outside.

The characterization for Spock and McCoy is spot on. However, Kirk seems not entirely himself. The captain is cast in a diplomatic role here and not allowed to be his usual ladies man. Still his command decisions are at times bold as in “boldly going.” I just got the sense that Kirk was far too concerned with the threats of consequences should this mission not wrap up smoothly.

I was pleased to see that the solution for the alien encounter involved the friendship dynamic of the main three, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Star Trek’s primary pleasure for me is the chemistry between these characters, thus I particularly love it when the friendship of this trio is shown as vital to plot.

Probably my biggest complaint in this novel was that throughout the middle, as they are investigate the alien mobile and attempt to divert it from its course toward Tyrtaeus II’s sun, there’s an awful lot of repetition. Over and over the crew try to shift the mobile’s orbit, but time and time again the mobile readjusts it’s course toward the sun. Repeatedly Kirk and Scotty discuss the risks of being unable to retrieve Spock, once he boards the mobile. And numerous times these same worries are described as the thoughts of Kirk or McCoy. Apparently the authors were trying to create tension by stressing these problems. However, the effect on me was tedium. I found myself beginning to skim, reading the dialogue only to follow the story to its end.

So while the prose and dialogue of Heart of the Sun were skillfully written, the slow pace of the action and the repeated worries bogged down the enjoyment factor. As “The Original Series” books go, I’d characterize this one as “Good” but not “Great.”

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