This week I decided to review Star Trek: The Original Series: Elusive Salvation by Dayton Ward.
The story starts in the mid-nineteenth century with a group of Iramahl fleeing pursuit by a force of the Ptaen, a species that had long ago conquered their people, aboard a damaged spacecraft that is forced to land on Earth. The surviving Iramahl go to ground seeking to avoid Ptaen hunters they are certain will come for them, while also seeking a means to contact the resistance movement on their homewold to confirm their survival. They eventually track a message sent by Guinan--who is living on Earth at this point--to her uncle and convince her to forward a message for them before being forced to flee a Ptaen hunting party.
In the late twenty-third century, an unidentified stealth technology-equipped vessel is detected entering the Sol system and Admiral Kirk is put in charge of efforts to establish contact with the ship flying his flag from Enterprise, which is a training ship at this time. Eventually, contact is established with the craft which is an Iramahl ship seeking the group that had fled to Earth so long ago. The Iramahl resistance movement, aided by Ptaen sympathizers, has succeeded in liberating their world, but the Iramahl still face a major crisis. The natural lifespan of an Iramahl is several centuries but in the belief that doing so would make the Iramahl easier to control the Ptaen genetically modified the Iramahl so that their lifespan would be shortened to a few decades. The Iramahl who had fled to Earth in the distant past were rebel scientists who had discovered how to undo the genetic tampering inflicted by their masters, which made them high priority targets of the Ptaen government, and the modern Iramahl have come to Earth seeking the lost knowledge that could restore what the genetic engineering has taken from them.
But while the Federation wishes to help the Iramahl they must also deal with concerns stemming from the Ptaen being on friendly terms with the Klingon Empire, especially since the territory of both the Iramahl and the Ptaen is much closer to Klingon space then the Federation. After efforts to find the Iramahl data in the twenty-third century fail, Kirk comes up with the idea of contacting his occasional allies in the twentieth century, Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln and having them seek the Iramahl who could still be alive in that era.
Eventually, after a short time from Kirk’s perspective and over a decade from her own, Roberta contacts Kirk requesting that he and Spock travel to the past to aid her efforts to fulfill the request. After arriving, Kirk and Spock join Roberta in a mission to recover part of the ship that brought the Iramahl to Earth from Majestic-12, the division of the United States government in charge of dealing with extraterrestrial encounters and technology. While they succeed in obtaining the ship, transporting it to a warehouse controlled by Gary Seven and Roberta arms the vessel’s self-destruct system.
With the clock ticking a signal is sent which is hoped will bring the Iramahl to the vessel, but the signal is also received by Majestic-12 and the Ptaen and all three groups soon converge on the warehouse with time to disarm the self-destruct swiftly running out.
I give the book 8.5 out of 10. It was overall a very enjoyable book. However, it was also very light on the action and I feel there are a number of portions that could have been trimmed without harming the story. Also, I doubt the story of the Iramahl and the Ptaen will get much followup in later books, which I find disappointing. And I wish we had gotten to learn more about the Ptaen culture and what motivates their leadership’s actions, because with the little detail we got they come off as pretty generic villains. Also, during the portion set on Enterprise where she is partially manned by cadets, I wish some of those cadets had been cameos by characters from stories written earlier rather than just being created for a very short scene. Still, the parts where the author tied bits of the story to other Trek stories were handled well but there weren’t many of them. And I enjoyed the ending very much.