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Book Review

Book Cover

Star Trek
The Original Series
The Higher Frontier


Author: Christopher L. Bennett
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
338 pages
RRP: £10.99, US $16.00, Cdn $22.00
ISBN: 978 1 9821 3366 5
Publication Date: 19 March 2020

When a brutal attack is carried out against the telepathic Aenar, by faceless interdimensional killers, Kirk is dispatched to help…

The Higher Frontier (2020. 333 pages) is a Star Trek novel set between Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and The Wrath of Khan (1982) and features the characters from the original series. The book is written by Christopher L. Bennet, who has previously written a number of Trek related novels.

One of the things you can say straight away about Bennet is that he either really knows his Trek lore, or has spent considerable time chasing down most of the barely interconnected minutia that make up a preponderance of the novel.

Swirling around the central plot are snippets which reach as far back as Where No Man Has Gone Before (1966), through that original series, up past Enterprise (2001), along the way gathering parts from the animated series and the numerous novels.

In the main this works well, as the novel suffers from the small universe syndrome, beloved of spin off novels. This happens as fans of the series obviously want to see their favourite characters in play but it does rather leave the author constrained into getting them together to challenge a threat over which they will prevail and everyone’s home in time for tea.

The book is full of numerous bits of world building. This leads to a story which has less in the way of action and more long conversations between characters as the author stitches together facts and characters which were not previously associated. So, if you’re deep into the lore of Trek then this should satisfy your every fanboy bone.

Outside of all of this, the plot is relatively straight forward. Kirk and crew, minus a few to start with, as Chekov is already on the Reliant and the others are likewise dispersed apart for Kirk, Bones and Spock, are called to investigate the massacre. They pick up Miranda and the Medusan from the original series as she is the strongest known human telepath and the Medusians have a particular interest in the Aenar.

On arrival at Andoria they discover that the killers seem to possess some interdimensional abilities making weapons and shields seemingly useless. The story then introduces the new humans, humans whose telepathic abilities seem to have been sparked by the departure of V’Ger. What follows is a desperate attempt to stop the killers and move the telepaths to a place of safety.

The book also examines prejudice in its various forms, especially the racial prejudice suffered by the Aenar and the growing prejudice against the new humans from their own human counterparts. Trek has always been good at holding up a light against injustice and taking the higher ground or in this case, frontier.

The book is heavy on the world building which leaves less room for character development, a moot point in the case of the central cast as I doubt an author would be allowed to push any of them in unexpected directions. It also cuts into the action. The book has an imbalance, but is not fatally overbalanced and if you like watching bits of lore slot together into a new, satisfying symmetry then you should enjoy Frontier.


Charles Packer

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