I’ve been a Star Trek fan (Trekkie, never Trekkor) for just about as long as I can remember. Among my earliest memories are sitting down in front of our little television and watching reruns of the adventures of Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise at around age four. Even then, I had a paper cutout of the illustrious starship hanging from the ceiling in my bedroom, and I spent countless hours over the next 15 years assembling model kits of the various vessels from every era of the franchise with my father.
So it’ll surprise exactly no one that knows me that I was reading Trek novels very early on. Many were good–some were awful–and a handful were truly great. Not great Trek novels–great novels, full stop.
The first, and best, of these truly great Trek entries of the literary world was The Pandora Principle by Carolyn Clowes. It covers the early life and trials of Saavik, one of the most under-appreciated and underused characters in Star Trek lore–at least as far as I’m concerned. (Saavik is featured only in The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock films, and makes a brief appearance in The Voyage Home.) The Pandora Principle remains, to this day, my favorite Star Trek novel.
In second place is its quasi sequel, Unspoken Truth by Margaret Wander Bonnano. It was written by a different author, nearly thirty years after The Pandora Principle, which I think goes to show the profound impact the latter had on those who read it.
The Romulan Way by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood is another of the Star Trek greats, exploring the life of a Federation spy living undercover within the Romulan Star Empire.
Recently, I read a new Star Trek: Discovery novel. The Way to the Stars by Una McCormack, which is an excellent Star Trek novel, detailing the early life of Tilly, one of my favorite characters on Discovery. While the book doesn’t quite achieve the greatness of The Pandora Principle, it is thoroughly entertaining, capturing the character perfectly. The narrator of the audiobook edition likewise does a tremendous job with the character voices.
The story does a great job of explaining Tilly’s quirks, what makes her tick, and explores her motivations. The last section of the book even features a brand-new Starfleet captain who is, I think, the first captain to ever be introduced in a novel that I wish we could have a TV series based around–or at least more books!
My only criticism–and it is relatively minor–is that the book is too short for the story it’s telling. It feels like the author was trying to fit a story that was too large for its intended word count. At times, parts of Tilly’s story seem almost summarized, and I think the story would have benefited from being half again as long.
That said, it is well worth the read for any Discovery fans, and even those who haven’t watched the series won’t be able to keep themselves from falling in love with the vivacious Sylvia Tilly.
So far, I’ve read and enjoyed three of the four Star Trek:Discovery novels, and I hope that Star Trek as a whole continues to produce fun reads for Trekkies–and Trekkors too!
Live long and prosper. 🖖