Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Captain's Daughter

Star Trek #76
The Captain's Daughter by Peter David
Published December 1995
Read January 10th 2014

Previous book (The Original Series): #75: First Frontier
Next book (The Original Series): #77: Twilight's End

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Spoilers ahead for The Captain's Daughter!

From the back cover:
When Demora Sulu, an exemplary young Starfleet officer, suddenly attacks her commanding officer, who kills her in self-defense, everyone is stunned. No one is more grief-stricken than her father, Captain Hikaru Sulu of the U.S.S. Excelsior. Determined to learn the truth behind his daughter's bizarre death, Sulu goes to the planet where she was killed, and finds himself confronted by an old enemy eager to destroy Sulu's reputation and his life!

My thoughts:

One of the more intriguing new releases coming later this year is David R. George III's The Lost Era: One Constant Star, featuring Captain Demora Sulu of the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-B. A revisit to that era has piqued my curiosity. In anticipation, I decided to go back and read a couple of books that featured that ship and her crew.

The first, The Captain's Daughter, is a great story by Peter David featuring the early days of the Enterprise-B's career. Set shortly after the presumed death of Captain James T. Kirk at the beginning of Star Trek: Generations, The Captain's Daughter is partly concerned with the fallout from that incident. In Generations, the character of Captain John Harriman comes across as barely competent; or, at the very least, in way over his head. And when, on a mission to investigate a distress call, Ensign Demora Sulu ends up being killed by Harriman in an act of self-defense, the Captain's problems seem to multiply.

I feel that The Captain's Daughter is the beginning of an attempt to redeem his character somewhat. We get an insight into what Harriman's failures in that ill-fated shakedown cruise have done to him, and how much of what happened was not entirely his fault. Chekov almost seems to serve as a proxy for the Star Trek audience who saw Harriman as incompetent. When Demora (who is Chekov's goddaughter) is allegedly killed, the hatred of Harriman comes to a head. However, we see that Harriman's actions were at best justified, and at the very least unavoidable.

A character I was always curious about: Ensign Demora Sulu.
Half of the story occurs in flashback, and we learn the origins of Demora Sulu. When I first watched Generations twenty years ago (GOOD LORD! Twenty YEARS?!?), I was very curious about her character. Like Kirk, I wondered "when did Sulu find time for a family?" In The Captain's Daughter, Peter David has fleshed out that story beautifully.

Best scene in the novel: Captain Harriman relieving his father, Admiral "Blackjack" Harriman, of command of the Enterprise. This selection showcases Peter David's formidable wit at its finest!

Final thoughts:

The Captain's Daughter was a delightful read, both when I read it nearly ten years ago, and again when I read it to write this review. While Peter David's work can sometimes border on the farcical, I found that this novel had just the right amount of whimsy and David's trademark "tongue-in-cheek" style. He managed to strike the perfect tone for a story that is both serious and amusing. Like a lot of PAD's works, The Captain's Daughter has a certain amount of heart, making for a sentimental yet fun read.

Further resources:

Also by Peter David:

My next read:

At the moment, I'm reading the new release for February: the much-anticipated continuation of the Voyager "relaunch," Kirsten Beyer's Protectors!

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