Jun 4 2013 3:00pm

What Happens When Spock Goes Away: V.E. Mitchell’s Enemy Unseen

Enemy Unseen, V.E. MitchellIn some Star Trek stories, Spock has been missing in action or presumed dead. He has been sent on dangerous top-secret missions. He has actually died. These stories are intense and suspenseful. Kirk was never meant to work alone. Kirk needs Spock. In V.E. Mitchell’s Enemy Unseen, Spock goes on leave to attend a scientific conference and Kirk faces a routine diplomatic mission without him. Without Spock, however planned and temporary his absence may be, Kirk is bereft. He spends a lot of this book stress eating. While Kirk mopes his way through the story, Mitchell expands my favorite part of the Star Trek universe. Everything interesting that happens in this story happens because of a woman.

Kirk’s vicious evil ex is undercover for the mob spying on the routine diplomatic mission. She engineers a horrible variable-gravity gymnastics accident and a near-fatal poisoning. Her daughter, who she attacks, is working in the science department and takes a major personal risk to catch the murderer who is haunting the ship. The murderer is a shape-shifting nationalist from a previously unknown species who has somehow managed to teach herself Federation Standard without revealing to the Federation that her planet is inhabited by intelligent life. Meanwhile, Kirk’s attempts to date an attractive diplomatic staffer are undermined by his ex before being completely destroyed by his accidental marriage. I could wish that Kirk’s three wives were more complex characters and had more agency, but only if I wasn’t REALLY BUSY being amazed by their cooking skills. It’s easy to be unimpressed by characters who spend most of their time on stereotypical domestic chores, until you realize that not only are they producing huge, delicious meals for our Captain (who seems to have developed an eating disorder), but they are doing this in Kirk’s cabin, where cooking equipment is limited to Kirk’s desk and, possibly, an illicit hot plate he’s been hiding in his desk drawer.

The awesomeness of these women is highlighted by the abject failure of Spock’s attempts to provide a substitute for himself. He leaves behind an experimental computer designed to assist with emergency decision-making on small vessels in deep space. He urges Kirk to test it for him. He hasn’t put much programming time into it yet, and consequently it only has the intelligence of a very young human. Very young humans don’t have a lot of insight into the problems caused by abusive parents, Mafia spies, or shape-shifting Bakuninists.

Obviously, when Spock is on leave, the Enterprise needs a First Officer and a Science Officer. In Enemy Unseen, one of Kirk’s buddies from Starfleet Academy fills in as XO as part of a First Officer training program. Kirk is glad to see his friend, but the man is no Spock, and his reputation as a practical joker undermines the trust that Kirk needs in a productive working relationship. The Science Officer is Deltan, which initially seems exciting—supposedly Deltans are dead sexy. There is an interesting budding romance in this story, but Mitchell focuses on the complications. Deltans have to tightly control their emotions lest their pheromones overwhelm the ship’s ventilation systems and send the entire crew into a sexual frenzy. I imagine that Deltans’ early forays into Starfleet service on multi-species crews must have been . . . fraught? Hazardous? Extremely awkward the next morning? In any case, our Deltan refuses to speculate in the absence of evidence, which leaves Kirk feeling adrift and isolated. Leonard McCoy should be of some assistance, but he turns out to be the kind of jerk who makes insensitive jokes when you suddenly find you’ve been saddled with three more wives then you thought you would be bringing home from your dinner party in the Ambassador’s quarters. Kirk needs better friends than this.

In the most revealing character moment of the novel, Kirk wonders what Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot would do. He needs his Watson, his Captain Hastings—someone on whom he can thoroughly rely. I feel bad for him. He’s having a rough month. While Kirk pines for his sidekick, Mitchell explores the lives of the Enterprise’s equivalents of Scully, Vane, and Marple. Enemy Unseen is a rare and fabulous opportunity to have way more fun than Captain Kirk.

Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer teaches history and reads a lot.

Christopher Bennett
1. ChristopherLBennett
I've said before that I think you're missing out by only focusing on Trek novels from before 2000, but in this case I'm particularly puzzled by your choice. I remember this novel as being very unmemorable, neither particularly good nor impressively awful. It pretty much heralds the start of the era when the novels became more bland and disposable due to the restrictions imposed on the tie-ins by Roddenberry's assistant Richard Arnold. I didn't remember any of the plot details you mention, not even the Deltan character.

The main thing I remember about this one is that it fell into the category of what Roger Ebert called an "idiot plot." The mystery only lasted as long as it did because the characters forgot that there could be such a thing as a shapeshifter. The solution was obvious to any reader who remembered entities such as the salt vampire, Sylvia and Korob, Garth of Izar, the Excalbians, and the Vendorians, yet the characters acted as though none of those adventures had ever happened and the concept of shapeshifters was totally unknown in the annals of Starfleet. It's always irritating to watch characters being too dense to see an answer that's obvious to you, but it's worse when it's one that by all rights should be just as obvious to them.

The only virtue I recall this novel having was that it was one of the few novels that set its story in the post-ST:TMP era, a period I'm quite fond of (and have visited in three of my published works to date). But, like most other '80s and '90s novels that used that setting, it didn't really do anything interesting with it, didn't really tell a story that couldn't have fit in the 5-year mission (if the 5-year mission hadn't already been crowded with maybe 10 years' worth of stories).
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
2. EllenMCM
In 1991, it found an audience - it was on the NYT bestseller list. And while many elements of the story aren't particularly unique, I felt Mitchell's exploration of her characters - both the "day players" who she brought in and the regulars - was a lot of fun. Characters do things in this book that you just don't see them do a lot.
Clark Myers
3. ClarkEMyers
Any comments on the author's how to write Star Trek manual privately published with her husband?
Christopher Bennett
5. ChristopherLBennett
@2: I think it was pretty common for Trek books to make the bestseller lists in those days, when Trek was at the peak of its popularity.
6. Zeno

I haven't read this book but the idea is implictly slashly. Kirk is so upset about not having Spock with him that that he is dealing with it by eating and sleeping around. They are best friends but some writers really go into strange terriority with this.

2. I disagree with you saying Spock is the Dr Watson or Captain Hastings. Kirk is the Watson/Hastings character not Spock. Spock is the analytical thinking one while Watson and Kirk are the men of action. Holmes is even somewhat similar to certain ways to Spock. You probablly only meant this statement as loose analogy but reversing it makes more sense. Would you consider editing that?
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
7. EllenMCM
@6 - And he doesn't even get any! He explicitly DOES NOT sleep with the intriguing linguist from the diplomatic mission, or his ex, or any of his three wives, all of whom express at least mild interest. This surprised me. My first reaction to the back cover copy was "Four married women! Where will Kirk find the time?" It turns out the women in the book are too busy being spies and assassins and scientists and chefs and teaching each other variable-gravity gymnastics (which are dangerous - get well soon, Uhura!) to give Kirk much more than a tasty meal and the time of day.

There's an endless debate over who is REALLY the protagonist in any detective duo. I think it depends on the adventure. Kirk is kind of in Hound of the Baskervilles here, sort of maybe kinda crossed with The Valley of Fear (because of the assassin's political motivations and the secrecy she uses to protect her species having a vague similarity to the alleged methods of the Molly Malones). Which makes Kirk more like Watson than Sherlock in some senses, but not the crucial one referred to here - he needs someone on whom he can thoroughly rely. And he has a very Holmes-like addiction and a bunch of problems with women. It's not an error, and I'm not going to edit it, but I agree that it's interesting fodder for discussion.
8. Zeno
What I meant was Spock was the intellect and the emotionally detached one. Like Holmes he had no romantic interests expect when he was under the influence of something. Where Kirk is the action hero and has many romantic interests. He is more emotional in general. Hence he is far less like Holmes than Spock.

There have been many people who commented on the similarties between Holmes and Spock. The sixth movie even hints they are related. Spock quotes Holmes and says he is a distant ancestor. From his mother's side. That Movie was directed by Nicholas Meyer who has written Holmes novels and directed one based on his own book called the Seven Percent Solution.
Christopher Bennett
9. ChristopherLBennett
@8: There's no denying the Holmes/Spock similarity; they're both pretty much exemplars of what would now be called a high-functioning Asperger's type of personality. But the key point here is about which member of the duo is the hero and which is the sidekick. While Watson is the narrator of the Holmes stories, he's still the second banana in the duo. And while Spock was the breakout star of TOS and the one that the network would've been happy to promote to lead status, Roddenberry and Shatner worked hard to keep Kirk at the forefront -- plus, of course, he was the captain and Spock was his subordinate.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
10. EllenMCM
@9 - I agree that the issue at hand here is who is the protagonist.

For me, Holmes will always be a bipolar drug addict. A very intelligent bipolar drug addict, in the romantic 19th century mode. As a historian, I have been intrigued by the 21st century shift towards diagnosing Holmes with an autism spectrum disorder.
Kit Case
11. wiredog
Fro Wikipedia it was published in 1990. By that time I'd given up on Star Trek novels. It wasn't until I saw ChristopherLBennett's comments on an earlier post that I realized why they'd gotten boring. I bought every one through Doctor's Orders. Then they got boring. Even that one was less interesting than Duane's earlier works due to its lack of interesting nonhuman crewmembers, apparently because Paramount was much more controlling by this time.

(Anyone else see Into Darkness and think it was a mash up of Space Seed and Diane Carey's "Dreadnaught!" ?)

Now, some of those were awful. The vampire one, for example, was pretty bad. The one where Kang (IIRC) is a rapist (and Klingon emperor?) isn't very good either.

"How Much For Just the Planet", on the other hand, was amazing. Funniest Trek Ever. And completely different from "The Final Reflection", which was awesome. I wish Trek had gone with those Klingons.
12. RiceVermicelli
I've said before that I think you're missing out by only focusing on
Trek novels from before 2000, but in this case I'm particularly puzzled by your choice. I remember this novel as being very unmemorable, neither particularly good nor impressively awful. It pretty much heralds the start of the era when the novels became more bland and disposable due to the restrictions imposed on the tie-ins by Roddenberry's assistant Richard Arnold. I didn't remember any of the plot details you mention, not even the Deltan character.

For me, the interesting thing about these reviews is seeing what a different reader found in the books, and how her experience of each novel differed from mine. There is some satisfaction in having someone agree with me, but I would find the essays very dull if they simply reported my own memories back to me.
Christopher Bennett
13. ChristopherLBennett
@11: A lot of people gave up on Trek novels in the "boring" '90s, but unfortunately a lot of them still haven't caught on that the novels started getting far more interesting again about a decade later. It started with Peter David's book-only series New Frontier in 1997, a series that wasn't based on an ongoing show and thus was free to have the kind of continuity, character growth, and change that the regular novels weren't able to have. With its success, we got more book-only and post-finale series that were free to develop the characters and storylines, introduce new characters, make real changes with lasting consequences, and the like -- including the acclaimed Deep Space Nine "Relaunch" which began in 2001; similar post-finale series for Voyager and TNG (although that was post-Nemesis), technically); a Titan spinoff for Captain Riker; an e-book series about the Starfleet Corps of Engineers; the Lost Era series filling in the gap between the TOS and TNG eras and featuring adventures of the Excelsior, Enterprise-B and -C, and the like (plus a separate series about young Picard on the Stargazer); a series set aboard a Klingon ship, the IKS Gorkon; a miniseries set in the Mirror Universe; the Myriad Universes short-novel anthologies where each installment was set in a different alternate reality; the Destiny trilogy which brought the Borg saga to a cataclysmic climax; and the ongoing Typhon Pact story arc which has established a new astropolitical status quo for the Trek universe. And most of those series have had the kind of interlinked continuity that was absolutely forbidden in the '90s.

In short, in the past decade, we've been free to do everything that Trek novels couldn't do in the '90s, and plenty that was never contemplated even in the Golden Age of '80s Trek novels. There have been some controversial developments here and there, things that not every fan is happy with, but the books certainly aren't boring these days. I feel lucky that I happened to become a Trek novelist at a time when I was free to be as creative as I wanted, to take chances and try new things and tell stories that had a real impact. I never would've been happy working under the '90s limits.
Kit Case
14. wiredog
Thanks for the list! Now I just gotta find the damn time to read them.
Christopher Bennett
15. ChristopherLBennett
@14: Well, you don't need to read them all. People are constantly asking "Do I need to read X to understand Y?" and the answer is almost always no, unless X and Y are parts of a single trilogy or duology. Although there are cross-references and crossovers, generally any given series can stand alone and be followed without needing to read the others, although if you do read them all, you get to see the interconnections and common threads (and also the inconsistencies that occasionally crop up). Part of the reason Pocket has done such a variety of different series and subseries is to appeal to a variety of different tastes, so not everything will be for everyone. So you can sample different things and focus on the ones you find more interesting. Given the sheer abundance of content, it would be more accessible that way.

A couple of fans have compiled a handy flowchart showing the connections and story order of most of the modern-continuity books, which is pretty much current up through mid-2013:

Thomas Thatcher
16. StrongDreams
Never read the book, so I can only go on the plot summary. There is something just wrong-sounding about having Kirk be so unhinged when Spock isn't around. Yes they are a great team, but Kirk is a natural leader, smart in his own way, and highly capable -- why would he fall apart without Spock? Just seems wrong.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
17. EllenMCM
@16 - I felt a lot of sympathy for him here. Kirk is a strong leader, and he relies on a strong team. The situation he faces in Enemy Unseen is dangerous and difficult. It's not beyond his capablities, but with Spock gone, he can't use his usual approach and he has to handle the demands of the mission and the murders while figuring out the capabilities of his back-up team, the primary members of which are under suspicion of involvement in an assortment of crimes.
18. Zeno

I have often discribed him to people as bipolar. Of course there is no reason you could not consider him both Bipolar and Aspberger/Austim spectrum. As for his drug use,it was mostly later writers who developed that. It is only in Sign of the Four that his drug use was talked about it in detail. It was mentioned in the next story Scandal in Bohemia and in one later story Watson made a brief remark that he got him to quit. He was not really described as a addict per se.

Later writers,especailly Trek director Nicholas Meyer went into much more detail on this. Doyle's stories show him more as a someone who ocassionaly used it not but a the way addict later writers did.
19. Zeno

Yes that is why I quit after reading them for a brief period in the early 1990s. There were a few goods ones which written back in the 1980s but the ones coming up out during that time were weak. It was hard to know as a new reader in the pre web days if those the quality of the line itself was going down or if the some of the early ones like Wounded Sky,were just flukes in a otherwise poor franchise. It was the former but it was not easy to tell.

As to all the different series,it seems to be a double edged sword. It is good that there are less restrictions but the number of novels can make it hard to know to what to chose. Especially if you like to read differents type of ficiton in different genres. With things like Trilogy's stories going through multpile books the stories are streached out too much. Even single novels sometimes seem this way with subplots that are not really interesting.
20. Zeno

That last statement of mine is a generalization and a bit unfair.

Credit also needs to be given to Micheal Jan Friedman and Peter David who were among the few writers in the early 90s period that could still write entertaining Star Trek novels. The fact that they could so under these conditions shows how talented they are.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
21. EllenMCM
@18 - I found the description in Sign of Four more than adequate as compelling evidence of drug addiction. "Three times a day for many months" resulting in arms scarred with "innumerable" track marks, in order to cope with "the dull routine of existence" is not "occasional use." Watson later says that Holmes's addiction is not gone, but only controlled. The privilege of fiction readers is the power to make our own determinations about characters. Yours might just dabble in cocaine use to alleviate bordome and, I guess, leave some marks. Mine is an addict.

I think the fashion for diagnosing fictional characters with Asberger's Syndrome has gotten out of hand lately. Asbergers is not simply another way of describing all people who are smart and quirky. The diagnosis applies particularly badly to Holmes, who is fluent in the social norms of a variety of millieu, moves between them with ease and facility, and is strikingly perceptive of subtle emotional signs in facial expressions and speech.

It was mostly later writers who developed a lot of things about Holmes. Individuals important to Holmes mythos who are only mentioned briefly include Adler, Moriarty, Mycroft, and the Baker Street Irregulars. He never said "Elementary, my dear Watson" in any of the stories. He only mentions beekeeping in "The Last Bow."
Christopher Bennett
22. ChristopherLBennett
@21: Isn't that true of any addiction, though? You never stop being an addict; you just learn how to resist the urge day by day.

As for the Asperger's thing, it's important to understand that human behavior is a spectrum, and what we define as the autistic spectrum is simply one extreme of that overall continuum. There's no sharp dividing line or chasm between "Aspie" and otherwise; there's plenty of gradation and overlap, a wide borderland. The point is not to label intelligent, rational, socially inept people as suffering from a mental disorder, but to realize that what we've classed as a disorder may actually give us new insight into the diversity of human thought and behavior patterns and let us understand that there's more than one "normal" way of thinking and feeling.

For what it's worth, Holmes did frequently say "Elementary," and he did frequently say "My dear Watson," so there's no reason he couldn't have said them consecutively in that order in some undocumented instance.
23. RiceVermicelli
@22 - there may be no clear dividing line between Asperger's and not, but however large and indistinct the grey area dividing a disorder from a mere set of quirks, Holmes falls well outside it. On the "not Aspie" side. Labelling him as an Asperger's case is a recent fashion, unsupported by the textual material, no matter how broadly you consider the syndrome to be potentially present.

One of the issues with considering that all behavior is potentially symptomatic of an autism spectrum disorder is that it makes it awfully hard for people who really do have those disorders to get help or be taken seriously. It's fundamentally disrespectful to tell Sheldon Cooper that he's Sherlock Holmes. That statement ignores many observable facts about Sheldon Cooper, denies his very real problems, and condemns him to the effects of your willful misunderstanding. So long as the "you" in this case is genuinely you - i.e., some guy on the internet - this doesn't matter very much, but when the "you" in the case is a medical or social bureacracy, an educator, or someone who stands in a position to be another goddamned obstruction, that willful misunderstanding is a classic example of a very real problem.

Sheldon Cooper is, for well or ill, the avatar of the age. The writers have refused to engage with the question of whether he is diagnosable or merely quirky, and I suppose it doesn't matter. We'd love to be him so much that we see him everywhere, and it's easy to forget that this person (so cherished by his friends that he is wildly indulged at every turn) would be completely non-functional if he were not (mysteriously) so well-loved.
24. Muccamukk
@11 I'm really glad I'm not the only one who noticed that about Dreadnaught!. For all their Mary Sue silliness, I loved the Piper books. They were just so fun.

I only have vague memories of reading Enemy Unseen, so I'm thinking it didn't leave an impression. Voyager had some good stuff going on in the '90s, but don't remember TOS books being that remarkable, though I did like the start of the Crossover stories like Captain's Table.
Christopher Bennett
25. ChristopherLBennett
@24: I don't think the Piper books are Mary Sue stories. They're more like "Lower Decks" stories (in reference to the TNG episode of that name). The idea was to tell a TOS story from the perspective of the junior officers and see how they perceived Kirk, Spock, and the rest. It wasn't just about Piper as the lone heroine, but about a team of four young officers who were meant as counterparts and proteges for Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty. In a Mary Sue story, the guest character is supposedly the best at everything and the heroes are in awe of her. In Dreadnought!, Piper and her band were in awe of Kirk, Spock, and the rest because those veterans were so much better at everything than the newbies were. If anyone was a Mary Sue character in that book, it was Kirk, not Piper -- because Kirk was the guest star in a book about Piper, not the other way around. (Although I'll concede that Battlestations! took Piper in a Mary Sueish direction by having her too swiftly promoted and incorporated into Kirk's inner circle.)

I think the Piper books were a forerunner of the kind of books Pocket has been doing for the past decade and a half -- stories that examine the Trek universe from the perspective of a cast of characters other than the main TV cast. For instance, the e-books about the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, or the Vanguard series which told about events that happened elsewhere during TOS and that influenced or were influenced by events in the show. Or there were my own Department of Temporal Investigations books that showed how the DTI reacted to the time-travel misadventures we saw on the shows, among other things. Maybe if the idea of telling a story about Kirk's Enterprise from the perspective of its junior officers had come along more recently, people would've seen it as just another experimental variant on the format. But since it was the first such experiment, readers had nothing to compare it to except Mary Sue stories.
John C. Bunnell
26. JohnCBunnell
#21: (Holmes as addict) If I recall correctly, the only depictions of Holmes' cocaine use are prior to "The Final Problem"; after he returns from Reichenbach, the drug issue disappears. In many pastiches, this has been ascribed to Holmes' studies in Eastern mysticism while traveling incognito, whereby he acquires other techniques for maintaining mental equilibrium.

#22/#23: (Holmes as Aspie/autistic) The real point here is that Doyle's Holmes is not, in point of fact, socially inept -- on those occasions when he breaks with convention, he does so knowingly and with purpose. This is a major reason for my annoyance with the series opener of Elementary; Holmes' intrusion at the opera therein is wildly inconsistent with his canonical character.

#25: That's a perceptive characterization of the Piper books, which I also quite liked at the time. (I really ought to go back and track down the Trek-novel reviews from my tenure with Dragon back in the '80s and '90s; I'm fairly sure I covered some of the same titles we've been discussing here.)
Christopher Bennett
27. ChristopherLBennett
@26: A lot of things about Elementary are inconsistent with the canon, like the modern-day New York setting, Watson being a former doctor who no longer practices (oh, and being a Chinese-American woman), Holmes having an ultra-rich father who may or may not be Mycroft, etc. There wouldn't be much point in a reinvention if you didn't reinvent things. But I find that the Holmes of Elementary is much more socially and emotionally sensitive than the Holmes of Sherlock, who's portrayed as an out-and-out "sociopath" who's not merely insensitive to others' feelings but fundamentally impaired in his ability to notice or care about them. The former Holmes has often been shown apologizing to people, developing fondness and respect for people like Watson and Captain Gregson, and even falling genuinely and deeply in love with Irene Adler (which is itself quite a departure from canon, admittedly). As for his intrusive behavior at the opera in the pilot, I wouldn't be surprised if he was doing it knowingly and with purpose, since he hadn't yet warmed up to Watson and was somewhat hostile to having her (or anyone) as his sober companion, so he was acting out, maybe trying to drive her away with his rudeness.
28. Zeno
@27, I have a question for you since you seem to have read most of the 1980s Star Trek novels. Would you recommend Web of the Romulans?This book has gotten mixed reviews so it is hard to tell. Since most our tastes are similar you seem the right man to ask.
Christopher Bennett
29. ChristopherLBennett
@28: I wasn't fond of Web of the Romulans. Some people like it, and I think I kind of did when I first read it, but when I revisited it later, I didn't care for it. One thing that particularly annoyed me was the subplot about the ship's computer. The novel was supposed to be set immediately before "Tomorrow is Yesterday," and the computer being reprogrammed with a flirtatious personality is a major subplot. This is problematical on multiple levels. One, the story is clearly set well after "The Enterprise Incident" and Chekov is on board, so how could it be before a first-season episode? Two, the computer is far too sentient. In TiY, the extent of the programming was to make the computer give its standard reports in a seductive voice and append "Dear" at the end -- no artificial intelligence required at all, just a tweak of the speech synthesizer. But in the novel, the computer is portrayed as a sentient entity that falls obsessively, stalkerishly in love with Kirk to the extent that its fixation endangers the ship and the mission -- which is not only stupid but rather misogynistic in its depiction of what it means to give a computer a "feminine" personality.
30. Zeno
That is pretty much what I heard and it did seem sort of silly. What made it seem worth reading was the Romulans. They are probably not as developed as in Duane's novels. Is the Pandora Principle was any good. The writer is not listed as having written anything else In or outside of Star Trek. Do you know anything about the author or the book?
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
31. EllenMCM
@30, It's about Spock and Saavik. I recall quite liking it when I was 13. I haven't read it since then.

If you're holding out for the judgment of "the right man to ask" you might perhaps try contacting him directly, outside this discussion.
32. Zeno
The writer was a he? Is that a pen name? It would explain why there is no other information about the author.
Christopher Bennett
33. ChristopherLBennett
@32: Actually V.E. Mitchell's given name is Victoria, or Vicki. This was the first of her four Star Trek novels, the others being TOS: Windows on a Lost World, TNG: Imbalance, and the young-adult Starfleet Academy: Atlantis Station.

Hmm. Come to think of it, I quite liked the worldbuilding in Imbalance, and WoaLW is weird as hell but also has some interesting alien-building. Maybe I should try to track down a copy of Enemy Unseen and give it another try.

EDIT: Oh, wait a minute, you were talking about Carolyn Clowes of The Pandora Principle, weren't you? I can't find any more information about her online, but she is interviewed about the book in Voyages of the Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion by Jeff Ayers, and it refers to Clowes as female.
34. Zeno

A few people I knew back in the early 90s who read every numbered novel of the series both really disliked Windows. Doesn't Chekov turn into a crab or something like that? Yes that qualifies as weird.

The Next Generation books weremore restricted in what they could do because they were written when the tv show was on. The giant size novels were more ambitious but in cases of novels like Metamorphsis,Jean Lorrah had good idea but she was really not allowed to explore it. She never wrote any Trek books after this. Or did she? Her Tasha Yar novel and Vulcan Academy Murders were both pretty good. Especially the latter.
It is too bad she did not do more work. Especially now since they have far less restrictions.
Christopher Bennett
35. ChristopherLBennett
@34: Both Kirk and Chekov are transformed into crustacean-like aliens, yes. The aliens were so xenophobic that their transporter/portal system assumed that anyone going through it was supposed to be a member of their own species, so it "corrected" Kirk and Chekov's patterns. Yes, it's one hell of an offbeat premise, but I found the alien perspective to be quite imaginative.

And no, Jean Lorrah didn't do any more Trek novels after Metamorphosis.
John C. Bunnell
36. JohnCBunnell
I have to disagree about The Vulcan Academy Murders; my recollection is that the murder mystery plot suffered from a severe lack of credibility. (Which was frustrating, as I believe I'd rather liked Lorrah's prior Trek book.)
37. Zeno

Yes the mystery plot was not that great but made Vulcan Academy special was that it explored the backgrounds of Sarek and Spock. It developed their relationship and also added information on Spock's childhood that was seen in the animated series episode Yesteryear. There was also some interesting details about Vulcan's culutre. I believe that was what Lorrah wanted to explore. The mystery is there to allow her to do that. That is why it is one of my favorite Star Trek novels.

It was also her first published Trek novel. She had a written some fan novels about Sarek and Amanda that were in zines. Has anyone read these?
38. Zeno

It has been over 3 months since your last review. When is the next one coming?
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
39. EllenMCM
I'm grappling with some stuff now. By which I actually mean, "I have scheduled some serious grappling for this weekend because this thing should really have been written by now." In the projected post-grappling future, I will be choosing betwen something with a gorgeous Boris Vallejo cover featuring a girl, or something about time travel.
43. Zeno
How do you I submit a review to this site?
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer
44. EllenMCM

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