Saturday, October 10, 2015

Caveat Emptor

Star Trek: S.C.E. #14
Caveat Emptor by Ian Edginton and Mike Collins
Published March 2002
Re-released in print form as part of the S.C.E. compilation No Surrender in 2003.
Read August 16th 2015

Previous ebook (S.C.E.): #13: No Surrender
Next ebook (S.C.E.): #15: Past Life

Original e-book cover
Compilation of SCE #'s 13 - 16
No Surrender (Paperback) from |
No Surrender (Kindle) from |

Spoilers ahead for Caveat Emptor and the rest of the Corps of Engineers series!

From the back cover:
DaiMon Forg of the Ferengi Merchantman thought he was getting a fantastic new computer at a stunningly low price. But he realized too late that the price he paid for the machine from Beta 3 was far too high...

What starts as a simple rescue mission reveals something that astonishes the U.S.S. da Vinci crew -- a ship full of polite, docile, and generous Ferengi! Soon, Commander Gomez and her S.C.E. team realize that the Ferengi have been taken over by Landru, the ancient super-computer, which has returned -- a century after being dismantled by the crew of the Starship Enterprise -- to wreak havoc once more.

And Landru has set its sights on the da Vinci next...

My thoughts:

In Star Trek: The Original Series, Kirk was known for many things. One of his feats as captain was his uncanny ability to talk computers to death, destroying their will to live by confusing their logic centers. How Spock remained at his side for many years, I'll never know.

One such computer that seemingly committed digital suicide was Landru, a computer that controlled the population of Beta III with an all-encompassing hold on their culture. All members of the society had to be "of the body," living in peace and tranquility with one another and only letting off steam once in awhile during "festival."

Kirk and Spock confront Landru in the TOS episode "The Return of the Archons."

However, after talking Landru to death, Kirk apparently never ensured that the computer itself was disassembled or destroyed. Someone must have come along and hit "control, alt, delete," and revived the totalitarian machine. The hardware has somehow survived until the 24th century and has now been installed aboard a Ferengi vessel, taking control of the ship's company and crew in the same manner it enslaved the population of Beta III. This being a Ferengi story, hilarity ensues.

This time, "Landru" takes on the persona of Milia, a Ferengi prophet who preached peace and love, ideas that are somewhat in conflict with the current ideals of Ferengi culture. Therefore, when Captain Gold and the crew of the da Vinci encounter a ship full of peaceful Ferengi who want nothing to do with profit, they are understandably confused.

Rather than appearing as Landru, the computer manifests itself as a Ferengi prophet, Milia.

This was generally a fun story, with some great continuity ties to classic Trek. The use of the Landru computer was a nice choice, and it was appreciated that the resolution in this novel wasn't just a rehash of Kirk's original solution to the problem. Also fun was the brief glimpse of the government of Grand Nagus Rom facing the threat that this ship brings to Ferenginar.

Final thoughts:

A solid story, but not incredibly groundbreaking. Definitely a fun read with the combination of the Landru computer from The Original Series with the irreverence of a Ferengi story. The Ferengi are used well in Caveat Emptor, and like the best Ferengi stories, they are not reduced to buffoons merely for comic relief.

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

My review of the latest new release, Titan: Sight Unseen by one of my favorite Trek authors, James Swallow. Look for that in the next few days!

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