Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Centre Cannot Hold

Star Trek
Mere Anarchy, Book Two
The Centre Cannot Hold by Mike W. Barr
First Published October 2006
Re-published in the omnibus collection Mere Anarchy in March 2009
Read June 25th 2015

Previous book (Mere Anarchy): Things Fall Apart
Next book (Mere Anarchy): Shadows of the Indignant

Original e-book cover

Trade Paperback: | |
Kindle E-book: | |

Spoilers ahead for The Centre Cannot Hold and the rest of the Mere Anarchy series!

From the back cover:
A few years after the disaster on Mestiko, the Payav are struggling to rebuild in the wake of the pulsar's damage. The Starship Enterprise returns with a plan to help restore the planet's atmosphere.

But the Klingon Empire has also taken an interest in Mestiko, and has come to the aid of one of the world's many factions. Captain James T. Kirk finds himself once again pitted against the Klingon commander Kor, with the fate of Mestiko at stake.

My thoughts:

The 2006 40th anniversary of Star Trek celebrations continue with book two of the Mere Anarchy e-book series, The Centre Cannot Hold. This installment moves the timeline forward a couple of years into the "5-year mission" era of The Original Series. This is the familiar, bright primary color uniform period we all know and love.

The Centre Cannot Hold is well representative of the TOS five year mission era.

The Enterprise returns to Mestiko with a scientist who has a plan to help restore the environment to pre-disaster conditions. The plan will take quite some time to come to fruition, but it is the best chance to create a sustainable Mestiko for future generations. However, the Enterprise crew finds themselves in competition with the Klingons, who have also approached the Payav with their own plan to help them. Their plan involves selling natural resources from Mestiko to pay for immediate relief plans. While more appealing over the short-term, the Klingon plan doesn't provide for the future in the same way the Federation plan does. Plus, it's the Klingons. They're out for conquest. Of course, the Payav don't know that.

Because this takes place at the height of The Original Series, we see a lot of the milieu that defined that era. The "cold war" between the Federation and the Klingons dominated this period, an era during which the Organian Peace Treaty kept the powers from engaging in open hostilities. With hundreds of novels set in this era, this story is nothing unique, but it still did make good use of the time period.

Kor represents the Klingon Empire to the people of Mestiko.

I would have enjoyed a little more exploration of the issues around the two plans, long-term sustainability versus short-term relief. I feel that these topics mirror a lot of what is happening in the world today. However, the story is more about the machinations of the Klingons in manipulating the situation to their own advantage. This is, of course, consistent with the Klingons of this era, so I can't really fault the story for it.

Final thoughts:

Not bad, but not outstanding. There were a few things that irked me a little about the story, including a lack of depth in exploring the environmental issues that are raised. However, this is a short e-novella, so it is understandable that space to go deeper is at a premium. I thought the character of Kor was a little wasted on this story, but it was still interesting to see him again. For the most part, a good outing for the TOS crew that represents this era in Trek history fairly well.

More about The Centre Cannot Hold:

Star Trek: Mere Anarchy:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next week, look for my review of a fun new book from David A. Goodman: the in-universe reference book, The Autobiography of James T. Kirk: The Story of Starfleet's Greatest Captain!

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