's CBR6 Review No:27

“The Wounded Sky”: Star Trek Novelization Vangie13 cbr #27

The Wounded Sky by Diane Duane (Buy on amazon.com)



by Diane Duane

“It didn’t necessarily follow that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one; that was a choice that could be ethically made only if the “one” was your own self.”

(The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas)

This is possibly my most favorite Star Trek book (tied with “Uhura’s Song”).  It is one of my favorite books of any genre.  Upon re-reading it, I realized how much the concepts in this book have shaped my beliefs and behaviors.  I cannot gush enough to do it justice.  My copy is dog-eared and falling apart.  I love this story.

A charming alien scientist has developed a faster-than-warp mode of travel, one that will allow intergalactic exploration.  Enterprise is chosen to test the new drive. But there is something terribly wrong with the theory of the new drive and it begins tearing the fabric of the universe.  Our valiant crew doesn’t realize the effects at first and the damage gets worse with each test. Soon they are trapped outside our galaxy and realize their only way home may mean the end of everything.

Random Thoughts Written Down as I Read:

The back cover blurb promises me a pretty alien scientist.  Not sure if they mean pretty as in physically attractive, or pretty as in to a moderately high degree.  And I guess it depends on what you think pretty is.  K’t’lk is basically a glass spider. So she is pretty alien…

I am an arachnophobe and I think K’t’lk is just the greatest thing ever.

Duane’s Enterprise is truly multi-cultural: there are 92 different kinds of beings aboard.

This book inspired the “ST: The Next Generation” episode “Where No One has gone Before.” Duane helped write the episode.

The Enterprise has a Recreation Officer, Lieutenant Harb Tanzer.  I love Lt. Tanzer! I love the IDEA of Lt. Tanzer: someone whose job it is to make sure the crew relaxes and has fun. Recreation is a department of Medicine. Fun is good for the brain.

Tanzer has a room that is basically the holdeck, 5 years before we were introduced to them in ST:TNG.

The energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy that turned Gary Mitchell into a monster-god was transient.

Uhura speaks MANY languages.

Ms. Duane writes one hell of an exciting space battle, and proves Sulu is the best pilot in the fleet.

During the 1st Inversion Jump, we seem to share consciousness with Enterprise.  She is beautiful.

Enterprise’s crew is NICE.  And smart and curious and heroic and good. And friends.  The ship is like an idyllic small town. It’s Eureka!

Reality is what we agree it is and all things happen now.

Scotty asks whether we choose life or we are chosen to live.

During the 2nd Inversion drive, we share consciousnesses with all of the crew.  The experiences are so well characterized that you can tell who we are visiting within 2-3 sentences with no name given.

The crew’s mental integrity begins to break down.  If they stay too long in the Inversion Jump space, they may lose themselves as individuals.

During the 3rd Inversion jump, the crew become physical versions of their own profound truth. McCoy’s deep compassion makes him shine so brightly it is difficult to look at him. It’s difficult to explain quickly how they see themselves and each other, but the wonder of it all is astounding and beautiful.

They discover a being, a god, a universe, that isn’t aware it exists. When they awaken it, it lashes out in terror and pain.  Chekov and Scotty protect them all. They realize they cannot just abandon the being they have awakened now that they have awakened it.  They are responsible.  So they help it create its own universe.  They give it a game to play:

You live in a body.  You are given issues such as good & evil, terror & joy, life & death.  The playing pieces—the bodies—are set to expire. You forget you are playing a game while you’re playing, but at the end of each round knowledge returns.  You can then take a time out or change roles and play again.  The object of the game is to find out what piece you are: your purpose.

Enterprise’s crew gift the new universe/being with all their treasured memories and K’t’lk makes the universe become. There is sacrifice and rebirth and a big bang and the music of the spheres, and it all sounds so very hokey in my telling, but Duane makes it magic.

WTF: (that’s really just a heartwarming moment)

 “Kirk to Enterprise.”  “Bridge”, said Uhura.  “I thought you were offshift.”  “You went for a walk, “ she said.” 

P.S. You just lost The Game.

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  1. idiosynchronic says

    A deep and good story that’s rendered with a 4D (or 5D) effect of being completely re-written by the author, and then again by successor TV show.


    – – –

    Another aspect of Diane’s work is that she writes ‘other’ characters – real background players. Great background characters, in fact, and K’t’lk was just the first of them. She led a run of great Trek stories by several authors with ‘other’ recurring characters until Paramount noticed and freaked out. DC Comics had their Trek license revoked with no warning in 1988(?) for writing up good-to-great stories with other characters. Pocket editors were told in no uncertain terms to clamp down on this shit, even if your contracts are more lucrative than some pissant comic.

    But I don’t think Paramount actually freaked . . I suspect it was an actor in the cast whom didn’t want their ‘brand’ diluted as Paramount was rolling out a new TV series. It dovetailed with Paramount’s expansion strategy and the secret war behind the scenes of the franchise for control. Paramount had at least one person skimming the merchandising, including the books, for brand ‘quality’ (ie, that fan crap), so they knew about it at least a little bit – nobody cared, until someone woke up one morning and did.

    – – –

    As a chaser, Wil Wheaton’s irreverent notes on the episode:

    “Not all the hallucinations are bad, though . .Of course, the audience’s suspension of disbelief is tested when Troi and Dr. Crusher walk past male crew members and remain entirely clothed.”

  2. says

    I love Diane Duane’s new characters. They fill out the ship AND they are great characters by themselves. The ‘new’ spaces on Enterprise, the conversations–it is such a fully-fleshed and fun world! Not only that, but we get discussions of science and philosophy as well as aliens and space battles.
    Win all around!

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