I’ve always loved a great Star Trek book. Not a “good” Star Trek book. But a G-R-E-A-T Star Trek book … and what makes a Trek book into a great Trek book isn’t any mystery to serious Trek enthusiasts like myself: (A) it requires an interesting story; (B) it should focus on Trek relationships as established by canon; and (C) it should be reverent – not worshipful – to the established sentiments already anchored in the best Trek mythologies. As of late, so many authors who’ve dipped their tales from the Trek waters have missed the boat – whether that be by direction of the managers taxed with the Trek publishing franchise or, simply, by misdirection of the authors’ respective talents – but, thankfully, Dave Galanter got it right with his 2009 novel, TROUBLESOME MINDS, an adventure set during the classic TOS days.
Kirk and company are on their way to welcome the Isitri into the Federation when a distress call diverts them from their intended destination: quickly, they rescue the travelers of the wayward craft … only to discover that they’ve inadvertently interfered with a space-based execution. Berlis – a powerful telepath with the skills to subvert an entire civilization’s wishes – was meant to die, but now – at Kirk’s unintentional intrusion into the private affairs of a planet – he’s free to enslave his people in his own telepathic crusade … even if it means the annihilation of a species!
It’s a grand tale told convincingly by an author inspired by the voices of the original crew of the Starship Enterprise. Beneath Galanter’s prose, Kirk and Spock and McCoy (and the rest of the crew, to a lesser extent) come alive as Trek’s “holy trinity” once more as they squabble and debate the merits of their actions. It all looks as sounds as though it’s been lifted from the frames of an unaired episode – secretly lost somewhere in the vaults at Paramount – and only recently discovered. The aliens aren’t too flashy, and the situations aren’t too conflated, but it’s all told with enough vim, vigor, and drama to fit comfortably within established canon. Whereas other authors within Trek publishing have sought to force-fit THEIR version of a Trek tale into the established universe, Galanter exudes confidence at spinning a yarn “not too cold, not too warm, but just right.” Instead of yet another bloated vanity tale from the usual chorus of Pocket Book authors, Galanter goes back to the originals and allows his tale to unfold quickly, seamlessly, and organically … the way a great Trek tale should.
In fact, it’s just what the doctor (McCoy) ordered!
STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. Fans of TOS will have plenty to celebrate with this adventure. Though it’s far from perfect – the prose might be a little too crisp at times for its own good (I read this in two sittings, it’s so quick), and a few creative diversions into the psyches of these classic characters would’ve been greatly appreciated – it’s told at such a breakneck pace you’ll easily forgive a few harmless faults along the way. Maybe you’ll even find yourself enraptured a bit – as I did – in traveling boldly where no one has gone before.