Tuesday, July 8, 2014

One Constant Star

Star Trek: The Lost Era
One Constant Star by David R. George III
Release date: May 27th 2014
Read June 16th 2014

Previous book (The Lost Era): Terok Nor: Dawn of the Eagles
Previous book (Enterprise-B Adventures): The Lost Era: Serpents Among the Ruins

Purchase (MMPB): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Purchase (e-book): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for One Constant Star!

From the back cover:
When Captain Demora Sulu leads the crew of U.S.S. Enterprise-B on a mission near Tzenkethi space, they explore Rejarris II, a planet they cannot explain. A strange structure on the surface could hold answers, but when a landing party transports down to study it, chaos erupts. After communication fails with one officer and another is horribly injured, Captain Sulu deems the planet too dangerous to continue exploring. She decides to leave Rejarris II, but not until she can retrieve her lost crew member. But when contact is ultimately severed with the captain, a Tzenkethi force subsequently appears. Could they be behind the mysteries on the planet, or the disappearances of the Enterprise officers?
Once, John Harriman commanded the Enterprise-B, with Demora Sulu by his side as his first officer. Eight years after stepping down as a starship captain—in the wake of the Tomed Incident—Harriman now serves as an admiral based out of Helaspont Station, on the edge of the Tzenkethi Coalition. When he receives a mysterious message from Rejarris II, Harriman realizes that he might hold the key to finding his former crewmate. In choosing to help recover Demora Sulu, though, he could risk losing everything he holds dear. What price is Harriman willing to pay to attempt to rescue his longtime friend?

My thoughts:

When I first heard that David R. George III would be writing a new Lost Era novel, and that it would feature Captain Demora Sulu and the crew of the Enterprise-B, I have to admit that I was expecting another political thriller in the vein of his earlier Enterprise-B novel, Serpents Among the Ruins. However, One Constant Star turned out to be anything but. With more of a "strange new worlds" or planetary mystery feel, One Constant Star sets aside the political landscape of the Federation and its surrounding neighbors for awhile and focuses on a Captain and her crew trying to overcome adversity, with repercussions that are far more personal for Captain Sulu than she expected.

Demora Sulu, seen here as an ensign in her very short amount of screen-time in Star Trek: Generations, is now a captain and the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-B.
One aspect of One Constant Star that I really enjoyed was DRG's use of attention-grabbing action sequences. There are a number of scenes in this book that had me turning pages late into the night, including a harrowing attack on our heroes by a number of hideous spider-like beings, a fun sequence in which a fleet of shuttlecraft transport a large object from the surface of a planet into orbit, and finally a nail-biting portrayal of a starship's final moments as it is ripped apart by an alien device. The author is very good at writing action, and these sequences really grabbed hold of me and pulled me into the story.

When it comes down to it, One Constant Star is a story about responsibility. When a crewman is injured and becomes stranded on an alien world, Captain Demora Sulu feels individually responsible for ensuring his safe return. When Demora herself goes missing, her former commanding officer, Admiral Harriman, feels responsible for getting her back. He, in turn, is responsible to another: his wife, Sasine. Responsibility is at the core of the human experience and informs everything we do. One Constant Star explores this facet of humanity quite well.

Finally, One Constant Star made me truly care about these characters. DRG had his work cut out for him writing this novel (and his prior Lost Era stories) when he had to come up with an entire command crew for the Enterprise-B, most of whom have never had any screen time in a Trek episode or film. Characters such as Sulu's second in command, Linojj, really made the story come alive. Her attempts to deal with a horrific injury were particularly great to read. DRG was able to make these characters meaningful, with experiences and reactions that felt very real. Finally, the reveal of Demora Sulu as a bisexual (or possibly pansexual) woman was a welcome surprise, as was what is possibly Trek's first flirtation with the idea of open (or perhaps even polyamorous?) relationships.

Final thoughts:

While One Constant Star was not the political thriller I was initially expecting, I was still pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this story. A tale of trust and responsibility to the people in one's life, One Constant Star continues the tradition of Star Trek exploring something greater than the vastness of the cosmos: our own human frailties and strengths. As it says at the end of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the human adventure is just beginning.

Further resources:

Also by David R. George III:

My next read:

Next up in the summer reading catch-up is the recent e-book release by Scott Pearson: The More Things Change. Coming soon!

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