Thursday, January 26, 2012

One Small Step

Gateways: Book One of Seven: Star Trek - One Small Step by Susan Wright
Published August 2001
Read January 23, 2012

Next book (Gateways): Book Two of Seven: Star Trek: Challenger - Chainmail

Click to purchase One Small Step from!

Spoilers ahead for One Small Step and the Gateways miniseries!

From the back cover:
Scattered throughout the galaxy are Gateways capable of transporting matter and energy across unfathomable distances.  Left behind by a long-vanished civilization, these mysterious portals offer a means of exploration -- or conquest -- many times faster than warp travel.  The technology responsible for the Gateways has been lost for at least ten millennia, but that doesn't mean it can't be found again...
Having defeated the hostile computer program guarding an abandoned Kalandan outpost, Kirk and his crew are exploring the artificial planetoid in hopes of discovering the secret of an ancient apparatus that has hurled the Starship Enterprise over nearly a thousand light-years.  Unfortunately, the reactivated Gateway has attracted the attention -- and avarice -- of various alien explorers, including a mysterious race who claim to be none other than the enigmatic Kalandans themselves!

About the Novel:

In this, the first novel in the Gateways series, we are introduced to the machinations of the Petraw, an alien race that desires technology and advancements gained via trade and subterfuge.  The action picks up immediately after the third-season TOS episode, "That Which Survives."  Captain Kirk is ordered by Starfleet to keep the abandoned Kalandan outpost from falling into enemy hands.  Soon, a Klingon ship arrives on the scene, and just as things look bleak for the Enterprise, the Petraw arrive and destroy the Klingons.  Masquerading as the long-lost Kalandans, the Petraw attempt to claim the Kalandan outpost as their own.  However, Kirk is suspicious of their identity and motives.

"Commander" Tasm of the "Kalandans" works with Kirk and the Enterprise crew to investigate the Kalandan outpost, all the while plotting to steal the secrets of the outpost and its main prize: an interstellar gateway that allows instantaneous travel over unimaginable distances.  One Petraw officer by the name of Luz disagrees with the way the "engagement" is being handled.  She decides to take matters into her own hands, and attempts to steal the Gateway mechanism.  Escaping through the Gateway, she is pursued by Captains Kirk and Tasm.

Commander Losira and the Kalandan outpost feature in this
sequel to the Original Series episode "That Which Survives."

As with all of the novels in the Gateways series, One Small Step ends on a cliff-hanger, with the resolutions to all six of the stories published in a seventh volume: What Lay Beyond.

My Thoughts:

As the opening story to a large, multi-generational series, I found One Small Step to be, well, lacking.  Perhaps it is simply a side-effect of having recently read the very well-written Troublesome Minds, but I found that Kirk, Spock and Bones did not ring true as written.  Spock, for one, is engrossed in studying the Kalandan outpost, and when given lines to speak, comes across more-or-less as an automaton.  Granted, Spock is by far not the most emotive or out-spoken, but he barely registers as a set-piece here.

One interesting aspect that Susan Wright brings to the table in this novel is the switch of the familiar roles of Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy.  Usually, Kirk is the one to be taken in by a pretty face.  However, Bones is very nearly seduced by Luz, trusting her and her fellow Kalandans merely for the fact that he is attracted to her.  While it doesn't add a whole lot to the book, I thought that the juxtaposition was interesting.

Some other small things in the book that bugged me:  The Klingons.  Early on, we are introduced to an interesting Klingon captain who follows the "Cult of Kahless," something for which the rest of his crew resents him.  Having suffered a recent dishonor in the form of his father dying ingloriously, the captain decides to take his crew out on a mission of vengeance against the Enterprise.  However, when the Petraw arrive, the Klingons are simply dispatched via quantum torpedo with little to no fanfare.  Why did I invest the time in learning all about the relationships between the Klingons on the ship simply to have them blown up?  The characterizations played almost NO role in the novel whatsoever, and felt like a waste to me.

Finally, when I read a novel, I prefer to read it for plot.  Instead, One Small Step introduced pages and pages of technobabble in place of anything happening.  It took far too long for One Small Step to get to the end than it should have, and with not very much happening in the interim.

Final Thoughts:

A pretty disappointing beginning to the Gateways series.  A sparse plot, poor characterizations, and plotlines that go nowhere really turned me off.  I really hope the rest of the series is a huge improvement.  As far as the series as a whole goes, the separate publication of the ends of each of the stories is a little annoying, and strikes me as a ploy to get more money out of me.  I can only hope the stories are worth it, but that really doesn't seem to be the case with One Small Step.

Final score: 4/10.

Also by Susan Wright:

My next read:

Book two of the Gateways series, from the short-lived Star Trek: Challenger spin-off: Chainmail by Diane Carey.


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