If Gene Roddenberry is The Great Bird of the Galaxy and Majel Barrett the First Lady of Star Trek, then David Gerrold is Star Trek’s Nanny. He nurtured it, disciplined it, educated it—encouraged it to be the best it could be. David Gerrold has done nearly as much for the franchise as Roddenberry—it could be argued that he has done more. He wrote for The Original Series, The Animated Series, and The Next Generation. He was involved in Star Trek: Phase II, a proposed TV series which evolved into ST: The Motion Picture. He writes Hugo- and Nebula- award winning original SF and he also wrote “The Martian Child,” which was made into a movie. He’s kind of a big deal.
So I reluctantly agree with J. Stone “BauerFan103? when he says, “The Galactic Whirlpool” is a novel that is both fascinating and frustrating at the same time.”
“Let’s get back to the immediate issue here, shall we? We have a vessel. They don’t respond to our attempts to communicate. We can’t beam in, so either we find a door, or we break in. If we break in, there is every likelihood that the inhabitants—if any—will view such actions as hostile. An invasion, perhaps.” (Cpt. Kirk)
The Enterprise discovers a huge generational star vessel with several of its engines disabled, heading for the Galactic Whirlpool: two black holes circling one another in a destructive maelstrom that eats everything that gets close. The crew must determine what the vessel is, contact the inhabitants, turn on the engines, and set it on a new course. They have to invade the world in order to save it.
Mr. Gerrold knows these characters and writes them WELL. He loves them all. More than that, they behave realistically, not like television characters. The Captain doesn’t rush down into dangerous situations with all his senior officers in tow. The crew is relaxed and competent and do the jobs they were trained for instead of sitting around while Kirk does everything. All is well.
But. Even though it’s nice to hear all the details the TV show didn’t have time to tell, they bog down the story. Sometimes circumstances are stretched to tell really bad jokes or make literary references , or just indulge in Geekdom. That said, this is the best Star Trek Novel yet. Certainly the best of the Bantam novels. It reminds me of why I’m a proud Trekkie.
Random Thoughts written down as I read:
First mention of The Great Bird of the Galaxy in the novels.
Hi, Lt. Arex! (Give a 3-handed wave)
Hi, Lt. M’ress. (purr and rub noses)
Hi, Mr. Kyle! (transporter sounds)
Hi, Lt Riley! (no dance tonight…) Oh, wow, Kevin! This is really your story and you are pretty neat.
Scotty has a…wait. He speaks normally.
McCoy is a doctor, not a theologian.
Chekov is pretty smart and does much of the research for this mission.
Sulu drives the ship after a detailed explanation of his duties.
Chapel is an efficient and compassionate head nurse.
Uhura opens hailing frequencies after a detailed explanation of her duties. She’s also 4th in command and is in charge of the bridge during the final push to wrest control of the vessel.
Spock identifies a gas as ‘gas.’
Kirk heaves himself to his feet several times, leading me to think he may need to go on a diet. He also drums his fingers on his armrest a lot and uses his middle name as a reminder to stay calm.
Starfleet Academy offers a course in Creative Cursing. Mostly the characters just ‘say a word.’ We interrupt the attack on the Contact Team to discuss creative cursing.
Riley re-straps his communicator to his belt often.
Enterprise has a ‘space lawyer.’ She is very irritating.
The Contact Team enters a Door Into Summer.
The Enterprise historian is an obvious author avatar called Specks because he wears spectacles. He is refreshingly not annoying.
The inhabitants of the Wanderer (Wandererers?) speak a pidgin English which is never cute and quickly makes you want to punch them all. Their leaders are functional idiots.
If I introduce myself to an alien who doesn’t understand English by saying, “I’m Lieutenant Kevin Riley of the Starship Enterprise,” how does the Alien know that Kevin Riley is the name and the rest is title? Why does he then say Kevinriley and not Kevin or Lt. Riley? Just wondering.
There may be a Klingon vessel following them, but nothing ever comes of it.
Our heroine/love interest appears wearing a kilt and a halter top, looking like a teenager and speaking like a toddler. She and Riley become very fond of one another in a realistic time line and reasonable circumstances.
There is a runaway mine cart scene.
* Spock’s conjecture about what may have happened to the society of a generational vessel after several generations in space? Basically the plot line for the “Vulcan’s Soul” trilogy by Josepha Sherman and Susan Schwartz, which are amazing books and I recommend them whole-heartedly.
* whoa! Did you check out that chick on the cover?!
WTF: Quote: “The party lasted a week. No one was killed. No one was hurt—unless you count a few hangovers and two ensigns who had somehow disassembled a thermal converter in the confusion and reassembled it with themselves inside (They had to be beamed out in pieces, much to their chagrin and Dr. McCoy’s annoyance.)”