Monday, September 9, 2019

A Flag Full of Stars

Star Trek #54
The Lost Years Book Two
A Flag Full of Stars by Brad Ferguson
Published April 1991
Read July 29th 2019

Previous book (The Lost Years): Book One: The Lost Years
Previous book (TOS Numbered): #53: Ghost-Walker

Next book (The Lost Years): Book Three: Traitor Winds
Next book (TOS Numbered): #55: Renegade


Purchase:
Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

Spoilers ahead for A Flag Full of Stars
!

From the back cover:
It has been eighteen months since the Starship Enterprise completed her historic five-year mission and her legendary crew has seperated, taking new assignments that span the galaxy.

On Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk has married and started a new life as the Chief of Starfleet operations where he is overseeing the refit of his beloved ship, now commanded by a new Captain -- Willard Decker. Kirk's only tie to his former crewmates is his Chief of Staff, a young Lieutenant Commander named Kevin Riley.

But Kirk's new, quiet life changes when he meets a scientist named G'dath who is on the brink of perhaps the greatest scientific discovery in a century. G'dath's invention could mean tremendous strides in Federation technology, or -- in the wrong hands -- the subjugation of countless worlds.

When Klingon agents capture this new technology, Admiral Kirk and Lt. Commander Riley are all that stands between peace and devastation for the entire Federation.

My thoughts:

It's been a long time since I read The Lost Years, but I finally sat down and read the follow-up: A Flag Full of Stars, marketed as the second book in the Lost Years saga.

I love when books "fill in the gaps" in Star Trek future history, and the so-called "lost years" are one of my favorite gaps to fill! The years between The Original Series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture represent big changes, not just in the lives of the characters, but in the whole look and feel of the Star Trek universe.

Admiral Kirk continues to adapt to his life without the Enterprise, and balances his new job with his marriage to Admiral Lori Ciana.

However, it is the changes for our characters that are the most meaningful. Kirk's role as a newly-minted admiral, as well as the breakup of the crew we were familiar with in TOS are significant changes, and the exploration of these changes is very interesting to me. Kirk in particular continues to deal with his feelings regarding his promotion to admiral, seeing his chances to be on the Enterprise slip away from him. His role at the beginning of the novel has him overseeing the refit of Enterprise, as well as other starships, but Starfleet Commander-in-Chief Nogura sees something else in Jim that leads him to appoint Kirk as Starfleet's media relations officer.

One of the aspects of this novel that I enjoyed was the glimpse of life on Earth outside of Starfleet. Part of the story centers around a Klingon named G'dath, who lives on Earth and teaches a junior high class. We learn that his experience is much like the experiences of many immigrants into a society unfamiliar with them: he faces judgement and fear by those who live around him, all of it unwarranted. G'dath is a thoughtful and intelligent person, with expertise that is being underutilized in his current role. In his spare time, he works on a project that yields unexpected results: a seemingly unlimited power source that is able to propel an object at unimaginable speeds. Of course, agents of the Klingon Empire who have G'dath under observation learn of the discovery and make a move to acquire the technology for themselves. G'dath approaches Starfleet through Kirk and a news reporter named Nan Davis for protection, while the Klingon agents continue to pursue him, eventually putting his students in danger as well.

The main plot of the novel was compelling, and I enjoyed the look at life outside of Starfleet. G'dath is a fascinating character, and I would love to see more of him in future stories. His students are also an interesting group, with some of them more wary of the Klingon teacher than others. Civilian life within the Federation has always been interesting to me, and I wish that we would get more of this sort of thing in Star Trek as a whole.

Kirk's Chief-of-Staff is a familiar face: Kevin Riley, now a lieutenant commander, who is facing his own personal problems as well as a demanding job.

Kirk's Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Commander Kevin Riley, also plays a significant role. Like Kirk, there is a lot going on in his personal life, and it impacts his job performance significantly. I liked his arc in this novel, and I look forward to it (hopefully) continuing in the remaining Lost Years books.

I have to admit, I had been spoiled on certain elements of the climax of this novel with regards to the role the U.S. space shuttle Enterprise plays in the outcome of the story. I was generally worried about that plot element, thinking it to be far too implausible to work. Amazingly, Ferguson is able to make use of the shuttle in a way that wasn't completely outlandish. It still strikes me as fairly implausible, but not completely out of the realm of possibility. Some readers may find it a bridge too far, however.

Final thoughts:

I was pleasantly surprised with A Flag Full of Stars, finding it to be an enjoyable adventure with characters I found to be quite interesting. Even an implausible finish to the story didn't detract too much from my enjoyment, and it was fun to see Kirk in a situation other than starship command, and still succeeding brilliantly. Plus, there is a kitten in the story, and who wouldn't love that?

My next read:

Next up is my review of Peter David's Star Trek: The Next Generation: Before Dishonor.

1 comment:

  1. This book was rewritten by J.M. Dillard, right? I think there are copies of Ferguson's original version floating around online.

    I love the Lost Years concept and I really enjoyed the first book but there were a lot of problems with the follow-up books unfortunately.

    I would definitely be interested in a true TOS Relaunch with ongoing plotlines and new secondary characters. It would be cool if some of the minor crewmembers introduced in Treklit over the last 30 years could appear again, too.

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