Star Trek 1045: The Captains' Honor

1045. The Captains' Honor

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #8, Pocket Books, September 1989

CREATORS: David and Daniel Dvorkin

STARDATE: 41800.1 (between The Neutral Zone and The Child)

PLOT: The Enterprise is called in to help the USS Centurion, a ship completely manned by a Neo-Roman crew from Magna Roma, to defend the pacifist Federation world of Terana against raids by the feline warriors of the M'Dok Empire bent on slaughtering the inhabitants for food because of a famine in their system. While Picard looks for a diplomatic solution, Captain Sejanus of the Centurion seeks a military one. On the planet, Worf tries to teach pacifists how to defend themselves to no avail, while Sejanus' cousin Marcus takes the Roman long view and secretly starts a school to turn young Tenarans into warlike Romans. A romance brews between Sejanus' second in command Gaius and Enterprise security officer Jenny de Luz and she is seduced by the Roman way of life. Gaius discovers Marcus' breach of the Prime Directive and confronts his old friend and captain, so Sejanus kills him. He then entreats Jenny to give him the Enterprise's prefix code, but she betrays him even as Worf gets a confession out of Marcus who was looking to infect the entire Federation with Roman values. Sejanus and the Centurion crew escape arrest and flee, and Jenny vows to one day bring them to justice.

CONTINUITY: Magna Roma was first visited in Bread and Circuses. The Preservers (The Paradise Syndrome) are invoked as having seeded both Magna Roman and de Luz's world. Inside joke - Sejanus is supposed to look a lot like Picard, and was also the name of Patrick Stewart's character on I, Claudius.

DIVERGENCES: The resemblance between Picard and Sejanus is ignored on the cover (not can I tell you why there's a katana there). The USS Centurion is a Constitution-class ship, a class you'd think decommissioned by TNG's time.

REVIEW: The return of the Romans from "Bread and Circuses" is unexpected and appreciated, though the use of a Constitution-class vessel is anachronistic. In fact, while I'm going to give this novel a good review, how it would fit in Star Trek canon is problematic at best. It seems implausible that Starfleet would let a ship function according to Roman ideals (even down to uniforms). The Centurion might have worked better as an allied Magna Roman ship, not as part of Starfleet. That's the big one, though the book gets smaller details wrong as well, like a delegation to the Enterprise using a shuttle to board the Centurion for a reception instead of using the transporters. Where the book works is in its presentation of other cultures. The Romans are very well drawn, both in their strategies and ethics, and the M'Dok are properly alien. You even get a sense of what being Tenaran means. The focus of the book is decidedly on the contrast between martial cultures and that of the Federation, and how one culture might proceed to assimilate another. The seduction of the Tenaran people is mirrored by that of Jenny de Luz, a good Tasha substitute, which allows for even more information about the Magna Romans to be presented. Worf has an excellent role, and Riker a little romance. Sadly, the M'Dok/Tenana plot is never resolved, and with Sejanus escaping at the end, it looked like this had everything required for a sequel. Never happened.

Next for the SBG Book Club: Proud Helios (DS9), Ambush (SCE), Trek to Madworld (TOS), A Call to Darkness (TNG).


hiikeeba said...

This is what happens when you have to have a novel come out every other month. Does every planet Kirk visit join the Federation? We've see Iotians and now the Neo-Romans who have leapt from the 20th century level of technology to the 24th. A horta has joined Star Fleet. Later, we'll even see a mugatu as a security guard. Some days it seems like there is a sequel to every episode of TOS, except Spock's Brain.

Siskoid said...

The best Spock's Brain got, as far as I know, is a mention in New Frontier: Martyr that Kirk must've made it all up.

De said...

Were the M'Dok supposed to be the Kzin?

Siskoid said...

It's possible and seems almost likely, but the Dvorkins didn't mention it in interviews I've read.

Luna.wolves said...

The comment about them (the M'Dok) only being allowed Police ships strikes me as a nod to the Kzin. But that's about it. I would have liked to know more about the M'Dok and how they were able to build up such an impressive battle ship in secret. Do they have more in the works? Why not raid other planets? Plenty of walking food on a passenger liner.


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