1192. Foundations, Book One
PUBLICATION: Starfleet Corps of Engineers #17, Pocket eBooks, June 2002 (Omnibus edition, March 2004)
CREATORS: Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore
STARDATE: 53675.1 (follows the previous novel) / 1197.6 (a bit before TOS)
PLOT: The da Vinci encounters an alien ship that cannot stop its ion engines since it encountered an ion storm. They pledge to help, and Duffy researches an early SCE mission in which a pre-Enterprise Scotty took part. We flash back to that mission, which involves Scotty being assigned to the SCE vessel USS Lovell to help restore power in a Neutral Zone outpost before the Romulans take advantage of the communications blackout. Some of the crew are killed while digging towards the generator and the thing must be tractored out of the outpost and allowed to explode in space. The SCE find a way to link their shuttles' engines together to build a makeshift generator until a real replacement can arrive. Scotty promises to recommend that the SCE be given better equipment, support and leeway if their missions are going to be this important. In the present, the mention of a cold shower gives Duffy the idea to cool down the aliens' ion reactions with the deflector dish, which the da Vinci attempts...
CONTINUITY: The USS Lovell is Daedalus-class (Power Play; first shown in the Star Trek Encyclopedia). Its hulk was reclaimed from Qualor II (Unification). The Lovell has a Denobulan crew member, Ghrex.
SCREENSHOT OF THE WEEK - Scotty circa this story
REVIEW: After 16 books, the time has come to explore the origins of the SCE, and doing so through Scotty, a peripheral member of the cast, is a nice idea. Not quite the origins of the Corps itself, but certainly of its way of working as we've come to know it through this series. The crew of the Lovell are efficiently sketched by Ward and Dilmore in only a few scenes, and through them, the ethos of the Corps. These guys aren't regulation, and that spirit makes them perfect improvisers, as seen in the climax. Two thirds of the way in, I did get a little bored with all the asteroid digging, especially in the absence of the cast. When we return to the cast, subplots are advanced, but these character moments suddenly seem to jar with the rest of the book. And I'm really not sure how Scotty's story really had anything to do with Duffy's final solution. So an uneven package, despite the good mix of levity and tragedy. Perhaps a bit high on the tech stuff for my tastes.