In Review: Star Trek: Elusive Salvation

If you love Star Trek, this is for you.

Star Trek: Elusive Salvation by Dayton Ward

Published by Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, on April 26, 2016. Paperback of 390 pages at $7.99.

The cover: An icy world shows a spaceship that’s crashed nose first into its terrain. Three suited individuals have exited the craft, each bearing a gun, looking around to get their bearings. In the immediate background two smaller ships can be seen streaking by this fallen craft. This is a decent, generic sci-fi image. There’s nothing about this that’s particularly Star Trek, nor does it show any event from this novel, save the fallen ship. This the most blase Star Trek cover I think I’ve ever seen. Art and design of this piece is by Alan Dingman with the cover photograph copyright Getty Images. Overall grade: C-

The premise: From the back cover: “The Arctic Circle, 1845: Escaping the tyranny under which their people have lived for generations, aliens from a distant planet crash-land on Earth’s inhospitable frozen wastes. Surviving the harsh conditions will pose a challenge, but over time the aliens will migrate to more populated areas, with decades passing as they work to conceal their presence form their former oppressors, who continue to hunt them at any cost. San Francisco, 2283: When a mysterious craft is detected entering the solar system, Admiral James Kirk is dispatched by Starfleet to confront the vessel. He meets with an emissary from the Iramahl, a previously unknown alien race who have come in search of their brothers and sisters thought to have gone missing in this area of space centuries earlier. Having recently thrown off the last chains of subjugation by another species, the Ptaen, they now believe their lost people hold the key to saving their entire race from eventual extinction. New York, 1970: Roberta Lincoln, young protegee of the mysterious agent Gary Seven, is shocked when she receives the oddest request for help — from the future…” The original cast? Gary Seven? Roberta Lincoln? Seeming time travel overtones? Oh yeah, I want to read this! Overall grade: A+

The characters: Two years prior to the events of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, James T. Kirk is an admiral and he’s not happy with desk work. He’d rather be speaking at the Academy to cadets, but it pulled by Starfleet to lead the Enterprise, with Mr. Spock at his side, to investigate a disturbance that has entered the solar system. He’s more than willing to go, and gets Uhura, Sulu, and Scotty in on the action: McCoy is stationed elsewhere, while Chekov is off on the Reliant. He continues to bend the rules when necessary for his needs, and he certainly does so in this book. Spock is his usual Vulcan self, focused on the mission and able to give Kirk any fact or advice he needs. McCoy does appear, cantankerous as ever, making commentary on the make up of the new alien races and putting in his two cents on the humanity of the situation. Roberta Lincoln is a major player in this book, as her boss, Gary Seven, is off on another mission. She takes it upon herself to get involved in the request from the future and is able to do quite a bit with Beta 5, Seven’s computer. I’ve always been fond of this character played by Teri Garr in the episode “Assignment: Earth” and she’s gotten much expansion of late thanks to original novels and comic books. Drevina is the leader of the crashed Iramahl. She wants to do all that she can to have her people survive, but knows that humans have the ability to kill them, as do the Ptaen that are tracking them. Several chapters are from her point of view and they are fun to read. The Ptaen are a fairly generic alien race, though their point of view is touched upon, though not enough to really flesh them out. There are also two characters from other Trek franchises that have fun and important appearances, but I won’t spoil them. The familiar characters act as one would expect, giving readers an enjoyable Star Trek outing. Overall grade: A-

The settings: Earth is the primary setting, after a brief jaunt to the edge of the solar system. Earth is shown from several different time periods, as the aliens can live for several centuries, so the story follows their plight, chronicling whom they encounter. Chapter 3 is a nice trip to the past, as are all the chapters that show Roberta Lincoln. Author Dayton Ward creates each environment well, especially in the far past, though his 1985, the climax of the novel, contains several locations that are described excellently. Overall grade: A

The action: The main action occurs in the 19th and 20th century as the Iramahl try to secret themselves among humanity while avoiding the Ptaen. When they are discovered by the pursuers there are some good action sequences, which increase in tension when Kirk and Spock get involved. Overall grade: A

The conclusion: A solid conclusion, with the Department of Temporal Investigations having to add much, much more to Kirk’s file. The door is also left open for Ward or other writers to revisit the Iramahl and the Ptaen. There’s also a sweet nod to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and the creation of an infamous Starfleet division. This is just they type of ending I wanted for this book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is a fantastic self-contained Star Trek novel that requires no previous readings to understand, though a little bit of knowledge about a few episodes would add to its enjoyment. This is the Star Trek novel I’ve been looking for and I’m glad it was finally published. If you love, or like, Star Trek, this is for you. Overall grade: A

To find out more about this novel or other Star Trek books go to http://www.startrekbooks.com/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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