Star Trek: Shadow of the Machine
Series: Pocket TOS
Published by: Pocket Books (Simon and Schuster) This is only found in Star Trek’s continuing eBook (eNovella) format.
Publication Date: 9th March 2015
Written by: Scott Harrison
OVERVIEW: Taking place four days after their encounter with V’ger, the Enterprise returns to Earth to complete its refit and resupply, overseen by Commander Scott. The crew is given a two-week shore leave before they embark on their next five-year mission. Kirk, Spock and Sulu take this time to return to their homes; each looking deep within themselves while preparing for futures that have been irrevocably changed.
THE STORY: First off: Scott Harrison knows his characters! I was drawn in from the first page and couldn’t stop myself – I read it straight through. The narrative was so convincing and the dialogue, so true, that I felt as if I was an unseen witness, observing these legends as they went on with trying to sort out where they were going, and more importantly, how they, themselves, would move ahead with each other, as well as in their careers within Starfleet.
This a book that makes you feel, as well; Kirk’s melancholy and the conflicting emotions he has towards his crew and the responsibilities of commanding the flagship of the fleet; Spock’s awkwardness with his captain and friend, as he comes to terms with his personal human feelings and his Vulcan heritage; Sulu’s trepidation and guilt at leaving his new family behind, but ultimately, making the best decision he can. We’re given new insights into these characters that make them more real while filling in gaps about this period in their lives, that we only had glimpses of before.
The death of Ilia and the sacrifice of Commander Decker weighs heavily on all the crews’ minds, but none so much as Captain Kirk; having accepted these most-recent casualties so readily, he ponders why it’s become so easy to do so.
Also, we’re reintroduced to Kirk’s remaining family, in Iowa – namely, Peter, (his seldom-mentioned nephew) as Jim returns home to his roots; confronting, not only his past but himself, as well.
Spock, too, goes home, and he must face his own lingering doubts and ghosts; about his recent experience with V’ger and his abandoning the Kolinahr, his estrangement with his father, and other Vulcan ties from his past. Logically, it’s a journey he has to take, in order to become the character we grow to know and love, going forward.
OVERALL: Fascinating, and fantastic! This was a terrific Star Trek debut from Scott Harrison. He gives rich detail and great character-play, keeping the reader thoroughly engrossed and entertained. There are lessons within these pages, (that we face in our day-to-day lives); courage and fear, acceptance, destiny, loyalty – friendship and family, no matter who they are in our lives. These are the core values that make Star Trek such an enduring, and beloved franchise. It’s these lessons, that makes us look at ourselves and the impacts we have on those around us; that we can live in the now, but still have hope for a better tomorrow. It’s about the journey and it’s what I call great Star Trek.
‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone