Star Trek 737: Ghost Ship

737. Ghost Ship

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #1, Pocket Books, July 1988

CREATORS: Diane Carey

STARDATE: Just after Where No One Has Gone Before. The crew isn't used to working together, yet Wesley is an acting ensign.

PLOT: In 1995, a Soviet aircraft carrier (ooops!) disappears. 300 years later, Deanna Troi is contacted by that crew's ghosts. Soon, the Enterprise-D makes contact with the energy creature that absorbed their life essences so long ago. As they cry out for death, Picard must decide if he has the right to euthanize them while also preventing the creature from absorbing his own crew. Meanwhile, Data steals a shuttle and heads towards the creature to see if it will recognize him as having a "life essence". To help him in his decision, Picard simulates the ghosts' experiences in a sensory deprivation tank, which drives him to assist their suicide by destroying the creature. This is done by overloading it with boosted phaser fire thanks to one of Wesley's inventions, and in the end, all the captive souls are released. Data's is the only with a body to return to.

CONTINUITY: Troi calling Will "Bill" is explained as a reference to a Betazed word she likes (a type of shaving cream). Both chief engineers MacDougal and Argyle appear.

DIVERGENCES: Amazingly few considering Carey was only working from the show's bible. A reference to Klingon strains (to explain the TOS/TNG divide). Tasha referred to as Lithuanian. Data's contractions. Geordi's potty mouth. Oh, and the Battlestar Galactica ship on the cover has absolutely nothing to do with anything.

REVIEW: I can see why they gave Diane Carey the first shot at a TNG novel. The best-selling Star Trek author at the time, she has a nice, palpable style, and immediately puts you inside the characters' heads. It's really a wonder that she's able to capture their voices as well as she does working only from the first few scripts and the series bible. At least at first. Though it's interesting to see the crew very early in the mission unsure of how they fit together, as the novel progresses, they go from unsure to annoyingly insecure. At times, the characters are positively ugly in their relationships to each other, and that's just not TNG. As for the plot, it starts off with an intriguing and potentially atmospheric premise about "ghosts", but devolves into a fight with an energy phenomenon that already felt tired when the novel came out. Things pick up again with the moral dilemma, and Picard proves an able tactician at the end. Not too technobabbly a climax, given the antagonist, but the idea of a haunted Enterprise is essentially wasted as the book falls into familiar patterns.


De said…
I seem to remember Riker being a bit of a dick to Data in this novel. Geordi was a swearing sailor?
Siskoid said…
Riker was all about questionning Data's "aliveness" in this one. Carey really tried to inject human drama and conflict (read more like an early DS9 episode than TNG).

Geordi's all goddamn this and goddamn that, yeah.
hiikeeba said…
I remember reading this after watching a few episodes, and not really liking Riker too much.
Luna.wolves said…
Taking a battlestar, painting it white and turning it upside down. I'm all for recycling but dang.
Anonymous said…
I've read this book more than ten years ago i can't tell if it was good or not but it did remind me of a movie a US carrier the Nimzits was sent beckin time from 1981 to Dec 6, 1941 it was a strange weather that chaced them into having a chance to altar history by attacking the Japanese before hitting preale harber, but they did pick up a woman and a US senater who could win the next preisdental eleaction , well you have to either read it of watch it on DVD ! Now if they have a good chgance of redo the movie now with CGI ?