This time I decided to review the Star Trek novel Devil’s Bargain. When the story begins a non-Federation human colony is facing impending doom due to a asteroid which is about to slam into it. While the colony is not part of the Federation it does have trade relations with the Federation so the Enterprise is sent to aid in any evacuation efforts. When they arrive however they discover that rather then preparing to evacuate the colony’s leadership is preparing shelters to move the population into until after the planet recovers. The problems are that will take far too long, the shelters aren’t likely to survive the asteroid’s impact, and a dissident movement among the colonists begins a campaign of sabotage. Eventually it is revealed that the colonists have undergone genetic engineering, illegal under Federation law, to aid in living on their world. Unfortunately a side effect of this is that they can only live off of their world for a few weeks before becoming ill, and eventually dying.
The Enterprise can’t blast the Asteroid apart because the fragments would still devastate the planet. The crew eventually comes up with a way to destroy the asteroid safely, or at least leave the planet inhabitable. Doing so requires a network of tunnels be dug within the asteroid fast so the crew heads to pick up some Hortas to handle the digging. The devil’s bargain mentioned in the title comes from both the agreement made to get the Hortas to accept the mining duty and the agreement offered by the Horta mother to Kirk in exchange for the cancellation of original demands of the Horta species.
I enjoyed this book greatly far more then I’ve enjoyed any of the recent Next Generation era novels. It was refreshing to read a Trek novel that wasn’t flooded with tragedy at every turn. This is what Trek was always meant to be IMO a story about a bright future rather than one with the darkness and despair that has become the norm in later era Trek novels recently. There are some amusing little comic bits as well which don’t ruin the seriousness of the story in the process and you learn more about Horta society then I know of being explained anywhere else in Trek lore.