Book Review – Star Trek: First Frontier

Not too long ago I mentioned rereading my favorite Star Trek novel, First Frontier by Diane Carey and Dr. James I. Kirkland. I’ve mentioned it once or twice around here, but I’ve never done a proper review. So I think it’s time!

The book begins with the Enterprise taking an experimental flight into a blue giant, hitting a time warp and cosmic string in the process (just run with me on this). When they emerge, they find the universe inexplicably changed—the Federation has disappeared, the Klingon and Romulan Empires are pounding each other into mutual oblivion, and the Earth is a pristine wilderness where the dinosaurs never died and humanity never evolved. Kirk has to lead his crew into the deep past to stop alien saboteurs who disrupted the timeline.

The funny thing about this book is that the premise sounds preposterous. I tried to write it as reasonably as I could, but I know it probably sounds preposterous—except it works. When you actually read it, all the concepts are treated seriously and presented plausibly and none of it’s a joke. Not even when Kirk remarks that he’s going to restore the timeline  if he has to kill the dinosaurs himself. Yeah, that’s kind of a joke, but it’s born out of frustration and tension and it’s real.

I love parallel timelines, stories that explore how things might have gone if the world was just a little different. This gives us a brilliant one, looking at how the Star Trek galaxy would have evolved without humanity, and the picture it paints is fascinating (to coin a phrase) and moving and tragic.

It may be the tragedies that elevate this book, because it clearly paints the tragedy both of the lost universe and of the Enterprise, a ship now stranded in a hostile galaxy, with their lives and their history and everything familiar stolen away.

And that leaves Captain Kirk as the embattled and beleaguered last remaining representative of Starfleet, fighting tooth and nail to hold his crew together, keep their courage up, and pull out a miracle one more time. I’ve been known to say recently that my favorite Star Trek captain is Kirk—but Shatner-Kirk, not Pine-Kirk. Rereading this book made me realize that, maybe, what I really mean is that my favorite is the Carey-Kirkland-Kirk. Because he’s wonderful—brilliant, compassionate, fiercely caring about his crew but beset by doubts and frustrations too.

And of course, Star Trek isn’t Star Trek without Spock and McCoy and a good amount of sparring, and we get plenty of that here too. Don’t let the cover fool you, McCoy gets a good showing and all three of them stand shoulder-to-shoulder (literally and metaphorically) which is as it should be.

Diane Carey wrote other Star Trek books, so she knew what to do with the characters. And Dr. Kirkland, a paleontologist, knows about dinosaurs. There’s a lot of science in here. It’s never dull, and it lends credence and legitimacy to a story that could have been ridiculous. I mean, Kirk and co. travel back to meet the dinosaurs—that’s silly. Except it’s not! Instead they have to seriously confront the hazards of trying to survive in a time never meant for man, and to face the fiercest predators of history. And they never descend to absurdities like fighting T-Rexes. They do see a T-Rex, but the fights tend to be with smaller, equally dangerous adversaries. Realistic dangers of the dinosaur-era are still thoroughly tense and exciting.

All in all, it’s a wonderful book, with exciting adventures and wonderfully-drawn characters (both familiar and new) and for the Star Trek fans, I highly recommend it—it has my very favorite Star Trek captain.

Author’s Site:

Other reviews:
Prehistoric Pulp
And that’s all I could find…which makes me a bit sad!  If you have a review, let me know…

Buy it here: First Frontier

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