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Book Review

Book Cover

Star Trek
Corps of Engineers
Creative Couplings


Author: John S. Drew, Glenn Greenberg, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, David Mack and others
Pocket Books
RRP: £9.99, US $16.00, Cdn $18.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 4165 4898 0
ISBN-10: 1 4165 4898 X
Available 07 January 2008

There are those for whom a life among the stars is an eclectic mix of missions, but when a specialist is required Star Fleet Corps of Engineers send their best, they send the Da Vinci...

And so another doorstop of a book falls through the door for review in the form of Star Trek: Corps of Engineers: Creative Couplings. If nothing else Creative Couplings provides excellent value for money, as the book runs to five hundred and twenty-seven pages. This collection contains six more stories in the series.

Paradise Interrupted, by John S. Drew, is a story that seems to be aimed more at the teen market with a tale of a young boy's meeting with an alien entity on the pleasure planet of Risa. How does this concern the Da Vinci? Well, without spoiling the story for you, let’s just say that things are not going so well on the pleasure planet when the weather goes all to hell. The story is well written if a little sentimental for my tastes, but with a book like this it's horses for courses - what I may not find engrossing, others will.

Where Time Stands Still, by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, and the Da Vinci revisits the same space as depicted in the animated story The Time Trap as well as pulling in threads from a number of other sources. For fans with a comprehensive knowledge of Trek in all its forms this story will be a little slice of heaven. Normally I dislike tales that constantly reference other stories, as if the Trek universe was miniscule in scope and size; however, Where Time Stands Still actually pulls it off injecting enough new material to relegate its previous references to their proper place as backdrop. This time the Da Vinci is ferrying an important artefact back into the time rift, problem is how do you safely traverse a time rift which nearly trapped and destroyed Kirk's Enterprise?

The Art of the Deal, by Glenn Greenberg, sees the Da Vinci being sent to the outer reaches of Federation space. Here the crew must help construct a science station with a powerful technocrat who, on the surface, seems to be the epitome of a well meaning capitalist - a kind of Bill Gates in space. On the surface, Greenberg has chosen a subject which could so easily have turned into a diatribe about the evils of capitalism, but he save the day by injecting the story with a lot of old fashioned tense action.

I make no bone about Spin, by J. Steven York and Christina F. York, being my favourite story in the anthology. The reasons are many. First, and foremost, it is very well written, with a very straight forward no nonsense style. It also, for the most part, avoids the endless references to previous dead crewmen. I know I sound like I’m trying to have my cake and eat it asking for continuity, but continuity on my own terms, but the crew are taking an inordinate time in getting over their previous losses. If this were a single novel you may get a section or a few references, but nearly every author here integrates it into their story. The end result is more a feeling of morbid dwelling than any healing process. It has become the little brake on the series, stopping it from truly moving forward.

Spin sees a nice engineering problem when the Da Vinci is asked to help out a defenceless planet towards which is heading a bizarre, and apparently, dead ship. The crew must work out how to stop the ship, which is on a collision course for the planet, but with time to spare why the inhabitants are so insistent that they just blow it up is another mystery that needs unravelling.

Sad to say that the story which lends its title to the whole book, Creative Couplings, by Glenn Hauman and Aaron Rosenberg, was my least favourite as it provides a blend of techno mystery and domestic soap opera as it spins its tale of the horrors of multi faith, multi species intermarriages. Which is a shame as the actual engineering mystery of how to get someone out of a Holodeck when everything goes wrong - and yes I’m aware that this subject has been pretty much done to death - is quite entertaining, if not terribly original. Which is a shame as for all its faults the story shows a lot of strength in pacing and characterisation.

After that little diversion it’s back to concept stories with Small World, by David Mack, which poses the intriguing problem of just how do you get a planet into a small container? And, worse still when its guardian looses the key, how do you fulfil a promise and expand it back to its original size? To be honest the physics of this were glossed over quite quickly in favour of a pleasing adventure story.

Like I said at the start of this review, what we have here are a set of well written stories which are diverse enough so that most people will find something which will grab their imaginations. If you’re really into knowing about the private lives and feeling of the crew then Creative Couplings should push all the right buttons, or if you’re like me and like the straight forward puzzles then go for Spin. The other stories tend to be a blend of both.


Charles Packer

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