Friday, March 25, 2016

James Review -- Star Trek: The Original Series: The Latter Fire

This week I decided to review Star Trek: The Original Series: The Latter Fire by James Swallow.
The story begins with Chekov departing the Enterprise to attend Security training while the ship is preparing to depart for a diplomatic mission to the home world of the Syhaari. The Enterprise had assisted The Explorer Beyond, one of the first Syhaari warp exploration vessels, which had suffered a major drive and power system malfunction, and the Syhaari specifically requested that Enterprise be part of the diplomatic mission. The Federation Diplomatic Corps isn’t happy about that request due to some of Enterprise’s past adventures and when they encounter The Friendship Discovered, a new Syhaari ship that is much more advanced than The Explorer Beyond, the ambassador assigned to the mission begins to suspect that Enterprise’s crew had accidently allowed the Syhaari to gain access to information on Federation technology.
Kaleo, the captain of The Friendship Discovered, and former captain of the ship rescued by Enterprise, guides the Enterprise through the hazardous space surrounding the Syhaari homeworld. Early in the diplomatic mission, the Federation representatives meet Tormid, former captain of The Explorer Beyond’s sister ship. That ship had suffered an incident similar to that which had crippled The Explorer and after guiding his vessel home, Tormid had developed a number of new innovations that had revolutionized Syhaari warp technology.
But soon, a planet-sized space-faring creature enters the system and begins attacking the Syhaari, destroying many of the native’s ships and a planet they had established an outpost on. A vessel helping to guide the creature transmits a message declaring war on the Syhaari, but the wording of the message makes the Enterprise crew believe that the attackers feel the Syhaari have provoked them. Kirk and Kaleo lead a mission in an attempt to talk with the attackers, but are captured by the Breg’Hel. The Breg’Hel also hold Rumen, a Syhaari who had served on Tormid’s exploration vessel.
Rumen reveals that after the ship had been crippled, a Breg’Hel scout craft, crewed by some of youngest adults among the Breg’Hel, attempted to help them, but Tormid panicked and wiped out the rescue mission. His innovations are, in fact, technology stolen from the Breg’Hel craft and now the families of the deceased would-be rescuers have come for revenge, blaming the entire Syhaari species for Tormid’s actions, After Kaleo offers to sacrifice herself and her unborn child as payment for Tormid’s crimes, the Breg’Hel begin to realize that not all of the Syhaari are monsters. But then the Breg’Hel lose control of the creature they have leashed to become their ultimate weapon, a being with the power to destroy entire solar systems…
I give the book 8 out of 10. The story is very well-written and provides a great example of the dangers of revenge turning the victim of an attack into something just as bad as the attacker, with the Breg’Hel definitely being wronged horribly but also being willing to blame the entire Syhaari species for the action of one ship, though this is helped by the fact that Breg’Hel culture is based around massive families traveling together and they view the Syhaari as something like their own culture at first. But, in addition to this, they torture a creature to the brink of madness to turn it into a weapon which I feel takes them well past the boundary of any justified response. Still, I feel this story was a great example of the kind of tale that would have fit the original TV series perfectly.

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