Book Reviews

Book Review – Star Trek the Next Generation: Crossover by Michael Jan Friedman

It’s unfortunate that a book with such a terrific idea comes off so poorly in the execution. Though it contains a great deal of action and intrigue, the story at times borders on the absurd.

In Crossover, fans are treated to a reunion of sorts of three members of the cast of the original Star Trek series. These are the three cast members who appeared at one time or another on the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series.

In the very first episode, Encounter at Farpoint, viewers were shown that Leonard McCoy, the former doctor on the Enterprise, lived to a very ripe old age. In the episodes Unification Part I and Unification Part II, the Vulcan Spock was undercover on Romulus striving for a reunification of the Romulan and Vulcan empires. In the episode Relics, the former chief engineer Scotty was rescued from a transporter where he had been held in a recycling loop for many years.

Unless readers have at least seen Unification Part I and Unification Part II as well as Relics, chances are they will be lost reading this novel. A great deal of the story relies on knowledge of events that took place during those episodes. For fans like me who have seen these a few times, that is fine. For people who are less familiar with the television series and don’t have access to these episodes on DVD or videotape, it makes it difficult.

The story picks up with Spock journeying to one of the Romulan outer worlds, Constanthus, to work with those involved in the Unification Movement there. The meeting is raided and all the Unificationists are imprisoned, including Spock.

Captain Picard’s Enterprise is dispatched to the edge of the Neutral Zone – a border of space between the Romulan Empire and the Federation. The Federation is concerned about Spock’s capture due to security matters. Fortunately, the Romulans do not realize they have captured Spock. The idea is to somehow extract him from the Romulans before they do.

For some never-explained reason, some genius in Starfleet decides it would be good for McCoy to join them as an expert on Ambassador Spock. This makes no sense since the problem does not lie with Spock, but rather with the Romulans. However, this is the way of getting McCoy on the Enterprise for the reunion which will occur.

Scotty, floating around space in the shuttle he was given by Captain Picard, hacks into the secure channel and monitors the whole exchange between McCoy and Starfleet command. Great security in the 24th century. I can’t imagine that if Scotty was capable of it, The Borg wouldn’t have been able to do the same, especially after having assimilated Picard, but that’s another story.

Scotty decides it’s up to him to rescue Spock and steals a Federation starship in a museum – the Yorktown. The Yorktown is a Constitution-class vessel, whose own bridge was replaced by that of the original Enterprise. Glory be! It’s an omen!

The best characters in the novel are the two Romulan leaders. Proconsul Eragian wants to wipe out the Unificationists as much as anyone, but he’s pragmatic about it, knowing that martyrdom has a powerful and very lasting effect. The Governor of Constanthus, Tharrus, is more driven by political motivations and wishes to use the capture of the Unificationists as a way to gain more power for himself within the Romulan Empire. When both men realize that among the recently captured prisoners is the Vulcan Ambassador, Spock, it is a race to see who can use him to his own advantage first.

The way the characters I am familiar with in the Star Trek universe are portrayed is actually quite poor. Much is made of McCoy’s age and his constant napping in meetings and while on the bridge. I felt like he was portrayed as a doddering old fool while Picard tried to stroke the old man’s ego. Both McCoy and Scotty take actions that actually result in making the situation much worse for Spock. I suppose this is supposed to build suspense, but it just had me feeling that they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

If McCoy is such a “doddering old fool” as he’s portrayed here, why would he be allowed to keep his Admiral status which allows him to remove a Captain from his command of a starship? It could be an honorary title with no real power, which would make more sense considering the way he’s portrayed here. Starfleet command really comes off looking stupid that so many security breaches and so much ineptitude can exist under their umbrella.

There also is a big problem with the main point of the story. If Spock’s capture is such a security risk, why is he allowed to be in the Romulan Empire in the first place? I mean, would we have allowed Colin Powell to go live in Iraq in 1999?

The action in this novel is good and almost non-stop. It builds suspense nicely in seeing things like who the spy is among Spock’s followers, as well as which of the followers will make it out alive. Unfortunately, the problems in the plot take away from it too much. It could be a terrific, fun read for fans of both series, but instead, it just seems silly.

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