Saturday, August 7, 2010

Star Trek: IKS Gorkon - Enemy Territory by Keith R. A. DeCandido

Spoiler Level: Medium

Man, I'm loving this series.  I wish it had sold better; I'm getting bummed that there's only one more book left.

The reason I'm loving this series so much is it keeps taking the typical Star Trek scenarios and turning them on their ear.  Take this book, for example...

How many times has the Enterprise come across a new civilization that decided to shoot first and ask questions later?  So Picard has Worf fire phasers, Worf takes out the ship's weapons in one shot, the Enterprise hails the ship and learns what their situation is and why they fired and then usually tries to help them solve their problems.

Now what do you think would happen if a new civilization decided to fire on a Klingon ship and ask questions later?

The answer is exactly what you'd expect... you get the entire Klingon Empire bellowing "Bring it on!!" in excitement.  Oh, the Klingons will help them solve their problems, all right... after they've kicked their butts from here to Qo'noS and back and firmly planted the flag of the Klingon Empire in what's left of their planet.

But if that wasn't enough for a good story, Enemy Territory continues showing us the lives of the crew of the IKS Gorkon, especially the ship's reluctant chief engineer Kurak, and the ground-pounders of the 15th Squadron and their leader Wol.  The 15th Squadron has been in all the books, and I can't help but make the connection between this 15th and the 15th Squad from Southern Cross/Robotech Masters, but as you can imagine for a Klingon series, in this 15th Squad members keep getting killed and replaced.  How the squad deals with the new members and mourn their fallen comrades is part of what makes them so interesting; the other part is DeCandido's excellent characterization.

DeCandido is also excellent at creating alien races.  The San-Tarah from A Good Day to Die were great, but the Elabrej in this book are even more amazing.  Their appearance is very creative, if not a bit hard to visualize at times, and they turn out to be just as corrupt as human culture can be.  There are some definite reflections to our current society-- for example, the upper 1% of the Elabrej society controls nearly all the wealth.

 The next book in this series takes a bit of a shift and isn't called "Star Trek: IKS Gorkon" at all, but rather "Star Trek: Klingon Empire," as the Gorkon heads for home.  I have no doubt that DeCandido will make it very interesting-- as I stated above, his characterization is always great to read, and I'll be more than happy to see what happens to them next.  But what's made these first three books so much more special for me is the way they take the usual Star Trek situations and put them through a Klingon filter, and I'm disappointed to see that element go.

This series is out of print so they're hard to get a hold of, but they're definitely worth it.  Hopefully Pocket Books will reprint them in an omnibus edition someday, and better yet, hopefully that will lead to more Gorkon books!

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