My collection of Star Trek novels has grown exponentially over the last couple of years, and I have found myself reading a few novels up to tens times before moving on to another. It was the cover that first got me interested, but then the story kept me coming back.
Here I have scanned some of my favorite covers (cropped to focus on the art work) and included with a brief synopsis, my rating, and the names of the author(s) and artist.
Black Fire by Sonni Cooper - Cover art by Boris Vallejo (9/10)
"When sabotage strikes the Enterprise, Spock's investigation leads him into an alliance with the Romulan and Klingon empires against the Tomarii, a bloodthirsty race for whom war is life itself. Spock is declared a traitor and sentenced to the Federation's highest-security prison, and Kirk must choose between friendship and duty, with dire consequences for himself, Spock, and the entire Federation if he's wrong."
I loved this novel because it deal with a lot of topics such as honorable suicide and is a darker novel overall. It has one of the most interesting plots and focuses on an injured and struggling Spock. The Romulan Commander from "The Enterprise Incident" also makes an appearance. The only downside was that everything happened so quickly - it is a very busy novel.
Spock Must Die! by James Blish - Reprint cover art by Bob Larkin (5/10)
This novel has many covers - The original (top) and many reprints, only one of which I own and is shown here.
"Captain Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise find themselves in the middle of an undeclared war waged by the Klingon Empire... The Organians should be consulted about the war but their entire planet has disappeared – or been destroyed... Mr. Spock entered the transporter chamber. His image would be flashed to Organia by the huge machine's faster-than-light tachyons. But the experiment failed. Suddenly there were two Mr. Spocks. One of them had to be destroyed... BUT WHICH ONE?"
This was first official Star Trek novel published by Bantam, and a sequel to the TOS episode "Errand of Mercy". It was an okay book, but there were a lot of contradictions and problems with the characterization and logic of the crew. It was actually laughable - a redeeming quality.
"The USS Enterprise is on a peaceful mission at Starbase 12 when a bizarre cosmic phenomenon causes a Klingon ship to suddenly vanish -- with Spock aboard for the ride. Spock's last message from the Klingon ship is cryptic and frightening. The Klingons are traveling into the past, searching for the one man who holds the key to the future. If they can kill that man, the course of history will be changed -- and the Federation will be destroyed!"
I have read this novel countless times - Spock is sent back in time and is found in a small community, taken care of, and disguised as a human - a visiting nephew. Throughout most of the book, Spock has no idea as to who he is or why exactly he is so different. I don't want to give too much away, however - so I will simply end in saying that the characterization of the crew is highly accurate and that I would definitely recommend this book to anybody.
(This novel also ties in to the television series "Here Come the Brides" - Mark Lenard plays Aaron in this series, which is interesting for two reasons: Aaron is the man who finds and takes care of Spock in the novel, and Mark Lenard played Sarek, Spock's father, in Star Trek.)
"I am Spock ... I hold the rank of Commander in the Starfleet of the United Federation of Planets; I serve as First Officer of the Starship Enterprise. I am the son of two worlds. Of Earth, whose history is an open book... and of Vulcan, whose secrets have lain hidden beneath its burning sands... Until now..."
It is the twenty-third century. On the planet Vulcan, a crisis of unprecedented proportions has caused the convocation of the planet's ruling council - and summoned the USS Enterprise from halfway across the galaxy, to bring Vulcan's most famous son home in its hour of need. As Commander Spock, his father Sarek, and Captain James T. Kirk struggle to preserve the very future of the Federation, the innermost secrets of the planet Vulcan are laid before us, from its beginnings millions of years ago to its savage prehistory, from merciless tribal warfare to medieval court intrigue, from the exploration of space to the development of c'thia - the ruling ethic of logic.
And Spock - torn between his duty to Starfleet and the unbreakable ties that bind him to Vulcan - must find a way to reconcile both his own inner conflict and the external dilemma his planet faces... lest the Federation itself be ripped asunder."
I love this novel so much that I have begun translating chapters into the Vulcan language. While about half of the chapters focus on the debates on whether or not Vulcan should secede from the Federation of Planets, the other chapters focus on the history of the planet Vulcan and it's inhabitants' evolution (including an entire chapter on Surak). Once again, I do not want to give very much away - but this novel seems to show up frequently in thrift shops (at least around here) and is, in my opinion, the most important novel when it comes to Vulcan history.
(Note: This novel was written before First Contact, thus has a different First Contact story is told)
The Pandora Principle by Carolyn Clowes - Cover art by Keith Birdsong (10/10)
"A Romulan Bird-of-Prey mysteriously drifts over the Neutral Zone and into Federation territory. Admiral Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise investigate, only to find the ship dead in space. When Starfleet orders the derelict ship brought to Earth for investigation, the Enterprise returns home with perhaps her greatest prize.
But the Bird-of-Prey carries a dangerous cargo, a deadly force that is soon unleashed in the heart of the Federation. Suddenly, the only hope for the Federation's survival lies buried in the tortured memory of Commander Spock's protégé, a cadet named Saavik. Together, Spock and Saavik must return to the nightmare world of Saavik's birth, a planet called Hellguard, to discover the secret behind the Romulans' most deadly threat of all."
This is another novel that I have read countless times. I had always been fascinated by Saavik and her relationship with Spock, and that is most likely why I found this novel so interesting. It tells the story of how Saavik lived before she was found, how she was found, and how she was raised to become the "Vulcan" we knew in the movies. The interactions between the young foul mouthed, curious, and wild Saavik and Spock are truly priceless.
Vulcan! by Kathleen Sky - Cover art by Bob Larkin (5/10)
"Due to a series of freak ion storms, the Neutral Zone separating the Federation from the Romulan Empire will soon shift – and the planet Arachnae will fall entirely within Romulan space. Our mission: seek out intelligent life there and, if it exists, offer full Federation protection.
To help us complete the necessary surveys, Dr. Katalya Tremain was assigned to the USS Enterprise. She is the Federation's foremost expert on the exobiology of this region – and, as I have just discovered, has a fanatical hatred of any and all things Vulcan... including my first officer.
I have logged an official protest with Starfleet Command. Her behavior towards Mr. Spock is not only a disgrace to both her uniform and the Federation but also threatens the success of our mission...a threat we cannot afford when the fate of an entire civilization may rest upon our actions in the coming hours.
I actually laughed out loud a few times while reading this book, because of the way that Spock deals with being stranded with a woman who has a deep hatred for Vulcans. There were a lot of problems with the characterization of the crew and those around them, however - and very little of the plot is believable or even logical once you actually think about it. I still found it to be a fun read.
Sarek by A.C. Crispin - Cover art by Keith Birdsong (10/10)
"The novel begins after the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Spock's mother, Amanda Grayson, is dying, and Spock returns to the planet Vulcan where he and Sarek enjoy a rare moment of reapproachment. But just as his wife's illness grows worse, duty calls Sarek away – once again sowing the seeds of conflict between father and son. Yet soon Sarek and Spock must put aside their differences and work together to foil a far-reaching plot to destroy the Federation – a plot that Sarek has seen in the making for nearly his entire career.
The epic story will take the crew of the USS Enterprise to the heart of the Klingon Empire where Captain Kirk's last surviving relative has become a pawn in a battle to divide the Federation... and conquer it. With Sarek's help, the crew of the Starship Enterprise learns that all is not as it seems. Before they can prevent the Federation's destruction, they must see the face of their hidden enemy – an enemy more insidious and more dangerous than any they have faced before..."
This novel. This novel has made me cry so many times - Sarek is reading Amanda's diary, and we learn a lot about both Sarek and Amanda. Kirk's nephew Peter is also written about in this novel - it did not quite fit and could have been left out but was interesting anyway.
Note: There is an amusing Balance of Terror reference involving the physical similarities between Sarek and the Romulan Commander.