Star Trek TOS: From History’s Shadow

May 16, 2014 Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Star Trek TOS: From History’s Shadow four-stars
Author(s): Dayton Ward
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Published by Pocket Books on 07/30/2013
Genres: Media Tie-In, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

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2268: Following the encounter with the mysterious Gary Seven in the twentieth century, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is startled by two intruders who have transported through space and time from Earth circa 1968. Incredibly, one of the infiltrators is a Vulcan, who asserts that he’s lived among Earth’s population for over a decade. The other represents a little-known race, and reveals to Captain James T. Kirk that she has spent the last twenty years working to bring about humanity’s destruction. It is then that Gary Seven’s young protégée, Roberta Lincoln, arrives seeking Kirk’s help. . . .

1947: In the wake of the infamous “Roswell Incident” involving a crashed alien craft and beings from another world, Captain James Wainwright finds himself recruited as one of the first members of Majestic 12, a secret organization with two goals: Collect evidence of extraterrestrial activity on Earth, and develop strategies to combat alien invaders. And it is this very mission that will consume Wainwright’s life for the next two decades, driven by the knowledge that the danger is as real as the aliens living among us. . . 

From History’s Shadow follows the stories developed during the original series show Assignment: Earth and the Deep Space Nine episode Little Green Men, along with a dash of the Enterprise episode Carbon Creek.  All of these episodes dealt with the clash between 20th century earth and more advanced civilizations.  The book picks up the treads of those episodes and explores how the US government handled these incursions and along the way brings in many of the characters original introduced in those earlier books.

It is important to note that this book is not aimed at readers unfamiliar with the shows the book is based on.  While it does give some exposition briefly outlining the events carried over from Assignment: Earth, the connection between the episodes Little Green Men and Carbon Creek is left up to the reader to work out.  For fans of the show familiar with the originating episodes this book is a nice continuation from their stories, filling in a lot of the questions and events left over from them.

I enjoyed how the 20th century story line, by far the bulk of the story, was bookended by events with Kirk and the Enterprise.  It allowed the story to wrap up sufficiently in a way that didn’t leave a bunch of random aliens and time travelers floating around.  When dealing with time traveling stories characters that aren’t wrapped up can throw a monkey wrench into future books, this is more so in a sprawling series like Star Trek where a lot of different authors can compound potential issues.  The Kirk story line is fairly simple and uncomplicated but that is ok since it is not the primary point of this novel.  It is more to ground the book then try and give a complex subplot.

It is fun to see the Star Trek take on the mid-20th century.  The characters hit the right note for people at the time and Dayton Ward did a good job showing the way they changed from the 40s era patriots to Cold War paranoids to late 20th century cynics.

The pacing of the story is pretty good and even though the time frame keeps jumping from the 20th century to the 23rd century and back again it is pretty easy to keep up with.  The only real drawback is there is a limited since of suspense since the fates of several characters has already been set down in the original episode.  But as a fun story that fills in a lot of gaps it really works.  Again this means the book is more for the Trek enthusiast rather than someone looking for a standalone sci-fi story.

Although in my order this book takes place prior to the events in the Eugenics War series the author paid homage to that duology both subtly in the narrative as well as using many of the framing conventions established by Greg Cox.  Also like Eugenics War the author does a good job of mixing real world events with Star Trek history.

While not for the casual reader this book is an excellent chance for fans of the series to get some of the history of the Star Trek universe.  The story is interesting, the characters have some good development and as a fan of the show I completely enjoyed the book.


Review by Travis Starnes

Rating Report
Overall: 4

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