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Book Review

Book Cover

Star Trek
The Original Series
Agents of Influence


Author: Dayton Ward
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
353 pages
RRP: £10.99, US $16.00, Cdn $22.00
ISBN: 978 1 98213 368 9
Publication Date: 25 June 2020

When the Federation's longest serving undercover operatives are compromised they have to flee Klingon space. The U.S.S. Endeavour is tasked to pick them up in a neutral asteroid field. Things start to go quickly wrong, when a Klingon ship detects and engages the Endeavour. The Klingon ship is destroyed and the Endeavour is forced to separate its saucer section when the warp core destabilises. Oddly, though, the destruction of both ships has little to do with the battle. Kirk and the Enterprise are dispatched to retrieve the spies and the survivors of the Endeavour, but whatever destroyed the two ships remains lurking amongst the asteroids...

Star Trek: Agents of Influence (353 pages) is a new, original series, novel from Dayton Ward.

The story is told from many perspectives, the Enterprise, the Endeavour, the Klingon research station, the Orion Pirates, there are also parts set on the Klingon home world.

The parts which involve the Federation Starships are really naval stories. Enterprise, having dispatched Kirk and crew to look for the Endeavour, have to navigate through the asteroid field, all the time at the mercy of a new Klingon technology which is not unlike sea mines.

Meanwhile on the crashed saucer section of the Endeavour they have to contend with staying hidden until rescue comes. There is a lot of scanning sensors and ships coming perilously close. Ok, the analogy falls apart towards the end of the story, but for much of the novel, this is pretty much how it can be viewed.

I thought the pace was slow, although the action scenes were well written. It occurs, to me, that much of the peripheral story could have been removed and had no significant impact.

For instance, the book opens with the protracted telling of how the three spies are able to avoid being arrested and how they are able to acquire a ship which will take them to the asteroid belt for their rendezvous. All of this could have been reduced to a paragraph, or two, of dialogue.

Likewise, when you look at the overall impact of the Klingon scenes and their effect on the story, much, if not most of this material could have been removed without significant impact. The same with the Orion pirates. The fact that they were Orion’s, and not just a Klingon force attached to research post, had very little bearing on the story.

This is where I think the book went a bit wrong. Both the story of the Enterprise and that of the Endeavour relies heavily on tension to engage the reader, but with these other extraneous threads the reader never gets a chance to settle down as the narrative keeps zipping off somewhere else.

This creates another problem. With so many characters and different locations, the author is not able to offer us up much time with single individuals, so there is no emotional investment. You don’t really care when someone dies, especially as you know that it will not involve the central figures from the show. That is not an issue specifically with this novel, but a problem which permeates all Star Trek novels: how to generate exciting tension when everyone knows that those characters are in no danger at all.

Overall, the book was well written but the mashing together of Das Boot with any number of navy analogies would have been sufficient for what is a slender premise. The addition of the Orions and the Klingons just made the story feel unnecessarily bloated.


Charles Packer

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