Author(s): Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Series: Star Trek: Enterprise #2
Published by Pocket Books on 01/01/2002
Genres: Science Fiction, Media Tie-In
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The Fazi, whose ultra regulated culture ranges from strict conversation protocols to unvarying building designs, inhabit half of a planet discovered by the Enterprise. But after a disastrous first contact with the ruler of the Fazi, Archer must depend on Vulcan science officer T'Pol and communication specialist Hoshi Sato to help him mend relations with the people of this planet, and unravel the mystery of the other creatures living on the world.
By the Book is the first paperback spinning out of Star Trek: Enterprise, if you don’t count Broken Bow, which was simple a novelization of the 2 part show opener. Which I don’t. I have to say I was surprised by this book. It is far from the best Star Trek title I have read, but it does have one on the most unique angles I have seen so far.
The book is split into two parts; the first part is a first contact with an alien species that goes sideways. The second, and seemingly more important part to the authors, is a role playing game played between five of the crewman that in minor ways affect the first contact plotline.
I have to applaud the authors for trying this. It is a really fresh take on a Star Trek novel. By the time this book came out there were literally hundreds of other books giving us straight ahead Star Trek stories. Honestly it is hard to tell them all apart as they start to run together. If nothing else, the use of a role playing game to counter-balance an otherwise standard plotline is memorable.
Sadly, it didn’t completely work from a reading standpoint. The two plots are fairly separate and keep breaking up the momentum of the other plotline. Just as things start to get interesting the book switches plotlines. You end up with reading whiplash.
The rest of the aspects of the book tick off the Star Trek checklist pretty well. Characters are well matched to their TV counterparts and believable. The action, most of which occurs in the role playing game, is fair to middling, but not bad. The one thing I did find weird was the back of the book synopsis doesn’t even mention the RPG plotline, which is a full 50% of the book. It only talks about the first contact plot. I guess the marketing team didn’t like the idea, but I know I was confused at first by a book that didn’t seem to reflect the synopsis.
Overall this is a middle of the road Star Trek book that is memorable more for what it tries to do more than for what it actually accomplishes.
Review by Travis Starnes