751. The Ashes of Eden
PUBLICATION: Kirk Series Book 1, Pocket Books, June 1995 (DC Comics adaptation 1995)
CREATORS: William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (comics adaptation by the writers and artists Steve Erwin and Jimmy Palmiotti)
STARDATE: Filling in the details between The Undiscovered Country and Generations
PLOT: After the events of ST VI, meets a Klingon-Romulan girl who seduces him and brings him to her planet, a sovereign colony (Chal or Heaven) in the throes of a civil war over the planet's apparent fountain of youth. He's to become their security expert and her lover. As an act of good will, the Federation government has given Chal a gutted Enterprise-A, which Kirk is all too happy to command (with Scotty at his side). What he doesn't know is that the fall of the conspirators in ST VI has created a power vacuum exploited by an old colleague of Kirk's by the name of Drake. He's the new head of Starfleet, but just as much a conspirator as Cartwright was. He manipulates the rest of the TOS crew (Chekov and Uhura are now in Starfleet Intelligence) in an attempt to frame Kirk as a conspirator, turn the tables on Klingons, and get the secret of eternal youth. The Excelsior tracks down the Enterprise where revelations abound: There is no secret to eternal youth, the Children of Heaven are genetically engineered, the girl was using Kirk but really did fall in love with him, Chal was stockpiling weapons, and of course, Drake's plans are blown. It ends with a space battle in which both Drake and the Enterprise-A are destroyed, Excelsior thankfully beaming in its crew at the last minute. Kirk feels rejuvenated by the experience, but leaves his latest love behind, ostensibly to get himself a cabin in the mountains.
CONTINUITY: Kirk holographically revisits the events of Captain Garrovick's death mentioned in Obsession (the technology is not necessarily any more advanced that the holodeck in the Animated Series). Kirk is in an on-again, off-again relationship with Carol Marcus. He shaves off and misses his "Starfleet sideburns".
DIVERGENCES: Drake's special shuttle hits Warp 10 (it must be on the old warp scale, but we never see this technology again).
SCREENSHOT OF THE WEEK
REVIEW: You know, I really like William Shatner's Kirk novels. They're very entertaining. He likes big ideas and action set pieces, but doesn't skimp on character development for his star, a character he knows intimately. His "ghost writers", the Reeves-Stevens, are masters of Star Trek continuity and their books are also usually some of my favorites. It's a winning combination even if Ashes of Eden is perhaps the least entertaining of their collaborations. The problem lies in the multitude of reveals at the end where everything seems to be a twist. I just didn't care that much about Chal and what was really going on there, expect as a way to explore Kirk's ongoing midlife crisis. And while getting the old crew together for one last adventure(TM) is a lot of fun, the Enterprise doesn't go out in big enough a blaze of glory. It's still a good character piece, however, setting up Kirk's return in Generations and beyond, with action, humor and some rousing lines ("Starfleet captains have to be invincible. It's their job."). Shatner's quirky ego becomes a strength when he writes for Kirk, a little bit as if we were being told a story from Kirk's perspective with all the exaggerations you would expect. Kirk always gets the girl, finds a way to get Sulu out of the captain's chair and into the driver's seat, etc. Enjoy the "quiet", Kirk's adventures get crazier after this.