Star Trek 1038: The Starless World

1038. The Starless World

PUBLICATION: Bantam Books, November 1978

CREATORS: Gordon Eklund

STARDATE: 6527.5 (during The Animated Series)

PLOT: While in the Galactic Core, the Enterprise finds a shuttlecraft from the long-lost USS Rickover aboard which is Thomas Clayton, an old Academy acquaintance of Kirk's who is now a fanatical devotee of a god called Ay-nab. Soon, the ships is drawn into a Dyson sphere in the middle of which is the sentient star that is Ay-nab, a sphere on a collision course with a black hole. Finding a Klingon ship trapped in orbit around the star like the Enterprise is, Kirk beams down with a landing party to find the Klingons. He saves the life of a native ape-girl called Ola and befriends her Lyran village. The treacherous Klingons try to strike a deal with Kirk to cooperate on their escape, but they also mean to bring back weapons they found hidden on the planet. At night, the village is attacked by "Strangers", previously trapped outsiders like the Rickover crew (which includes Uhura's father) whose souls have been consumed by Ay-nab. Uhura is whisked away and with Ola's help, Kirk frees her from the undead Strangers. Again with Ola's help, Kirk contacts Ay-nab to ask for mercy for every living being inside the sphere. Ay-nab reveals that he watched the Lyrans destroy themselves many times over and answered their prayers for peace by helping them build the Dyson sphere. Over the next few billion years, their population whittled away and it was time to end it once and for all. Kirk's plea falls on deaf ears, but Ola's does not. Kirk finds himself on the Enterprise with Ola, clear of the sphere, and later Spock receives a telepathic message from Ay-nab saying he and his people are fine despite having just entered a wormhole.

CONTINUITY: What is it with the Galactic Core and manifestations of God, eh? (ST V)

DIVERGENCES: This book has Thomas Clayton as Kirk's first roommate at the Academy; the comics say it is Gary Mitchell. The novel places Surak in the 18th century, while The Forge places him in the 9th. Another Dyson Sphere is discovered in Relics, and everyone says it's a first, even Scotty. The novel has Uhura growing up in Senegal, though most other sources place her in Kenya. Tholians should not have been included among the Strangers since they can't survive in Earth-normal conditions.

REVIEW: Eklund's first use of a sentient star (he would win a Nebula for If the Stars Are Gods) manages to fit the Star Trek universe rather well. We have a god-like being performing miracles and proper philosophical conundrums, as well as bits of action and alien girls falling for Captain Kirk. And while we saw a Dyson sphere in TNG's Relics, we actually get to visit this one and find out how it came to be. Uhura is particularly well-served in this story as Eklund gives us a rich background for her in just a few efficient paragraphs. There are some red herrings like the whole Klingon subplot and Thomas Clayton's revenge ambitions against Kirk (who blew the whistle on his cheating at the Academy), which just don't get proper resolutions, but overall, it's a strong SF story where the cast is recognizable and well-written.

Next for the SBG Book Club: The Captain's Honor (TNG), Proud Helios (DS9), Ambush (SCE), Trek to Madworld (TOS).


hiikeeba said...

After reading Rendezvous with Rama and Ringworld, I wondered why nothing like that existed in the the Star Trek universe. This novel made a stab at using some of those ideas and moving the series a bit further from the Hornblower mold: sail to a planet/island.


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