Carl ventures beyond the final frontier for a rendezvous with the starship Prometheus in Bernd Perplies and Christian Humberg’s stellar Star Trek adventure…
Go to any bookstore around the world, go to the Science Fiction section and you’re bound to find a huge selection of Star Wars books. Hardback, paperback, graphic novels etc. You’ll be spoilt for choice. Move a step back and you’ll notice the Star Trek selection. And you’ll be surprised. You see the Star Trek section will contain far more books than the Star Wars section. Star Trek has been running 11 years longer than Star Wars. It was considered the pinnacle of science fiction back in the day. Even after Star Wars hit the screen, Star Trek was still in people’s minds. And thanks to Star Wars, Star Trek got a new lease of life. The resurgence of interest in sci-fi after Star Wars’ release led to Paramount Pictures reigniting their interest in bringing Star Trek back to the masses.
It was more the smell of the money they could make off their property but Paramount had been considering bringing back their tale of space exploration, family and Gene Roddenberry’s take on social issues of the day for a few years. With the animated series still lingering in the mind, various writers were given the chance to write their own novels based on the classic series. Novelisations of the episodes were written and published in several volumes. The now sadly defunct Photonovels were published (I’ve got the whole set). Spin-off tales were written and published, fulfilling the fans thirst for more Trek.
When the films started to come out, Gene Roddenberry himself wrote the novelisation of the first film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Alan Dean Foster got involved. Vonda McIntyre came on board as an author and wrote the novels of the films. A wonderful collection of her novels of Star Treks II, III and IV were published a few years ago under the title of The Signature Edition: Duty, Honor, Redemption. Many authors have contributed to the Star Trek Novels including William Shatner himself.
Now, Titan Books have published a trilogy of new Star Trek novels by German authors Bernd Perplies and Christian Humberg. Perplies has written a well-received trilogy of books entitled ‘Tarean’. Humberg is a freelance author who has written for series including Star Trek and Doctor Who. Together they have produced the Prometheus trilogy.
Star Trek Prometheus: Fire With Fire | by Bernd Perplies and Christian Humberg
I went into reading the first novel with some trepidation. I’m willing to give any book a chance but was concerned that what I would end up reading would be a tired retread of events and situations from other books and TV shows. What I read was a refreshingly enjoyable and surprising book, one that takes the classic themes of Star Trek and brings them up to date. The theme of racial prejudice is addressed in the book via alien characters. Past events are referenced and expanded upon. I found myself engrossed in the book, wanting to get to the end to see how it played out and was impressed with how the authors paced the book, didn’t skimp on the detail and didn’t rush things to get to a rapid conclusion. I thought the three novels were about different stories. They are not, they are a trilogy, each one setting up the next and continuing the story. I’m currently reading the second novel of the three so this review will only cover the first book, Fire With Fire. I’ll keep the details very brief, not because I don’t want to go into detail about them, it’s because there are surprises contained throughout the book that the reader must discover for themselves. And some wonderful references to events past and present.
A Starfleet base and a Klingon mining planet are attacked and completely destroyed without mercy, killing thousands of personnel and civilians. Naturally, the Klingons want blood at any cost. The Federation however still deems the situation as needing a diplomatic solution. Even after a threatening message from fanatics calling themselves The Purifying Flame claiming more death and destruction is to come, they don’t act in a threatening manner. Starfleet dispatches its flagship, the U.S.S Prometheus to the alpha quadrant under the command of Captain Richard Adams to investigate. The fanatics claim they are from a race of people called the Renao, a technologically backward race living on several planets in the Lembatta Cluster contained in the Alpha Quadrant. The Renao, although not a threatening race doesn’t really care much for people outside their own borders, considering them ‘Sphere Defilers’. Their own people are discouraged from looking to the stars and those who choose to leave to explore are viewed with mistrust and are considered to be inferior upon their return.
The Klingons despatch their own ship, the I.K.S Bortas to the cluster to aid in the investigation and to assist the Prometheus. Under the command of drunkard Commander Kromm, almost all of the crew want to butcher the Renao to send a message to any other would-be terrorists out amongst the stars. Kromm is frustrated with Adams’ more restrained approach to the entire problem, demanding to be allowed to use his own methods to get results. To him, diplomacy won’t work. It has to be decisive action and swift, brutal and bloody. Against his better judgement, he agrees to Adams’ desire to send away teams down to the planet to investigate. However, he has secretly been told he can employ his own methods when he is ready. When one of the away team parties are abducted and the Purifying Flame commits another atrocity against the Federation, the evidence is found that links the Romulans to the affair. Tensions rise, acts are committed and a conspiracy is discovered.
The writers clearly know their stuff and have studied Trek history. They have gone back through all the series produced and their research pays dividends. One thread mirrors one from the classic original series episode ‘Balance Of Terror’. Rather than come across as a retread of the thread, it takes it and runs with it, showing that prejudice hasn’t been eradicated, that racism still rears its ugly head in the future, that racial divide still lives on. It’s this social commentary, akin to Roddenberry’s back in the 1960s that enrich the narrative. This is what Star Trek is known for. Not only an enjoyable sci-fi ride but a comment on the issues facing us all on a day to day basis. Perplies and Humberg have upheld Roddenberry’s values and tradition, bringing us a fantastic novel that fits in well with the rest of the Star Trek Universe. I challenge you to not read the book and think about who could play the characters if the books were made into a series or mini-series.
Of course, as the book is the first part of a trilogy, it ends but not on a cliffhanger. The book finishes and you feel it is just the end of the first part of a bigger story just waiting to unfold on the page. The new characters are introduced to us but to my dismay, not all of them are brought to the fore. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of characters to meet throughout the book but some of the new characters are just introduced and then shoved aside to be brought back later in the story. It’s not a criticism as these characters may play a larger part in the next two novels but they seem to be shoehorned into the story without much thought and not given that much to do. Of course, some of the new characters are front and centre and the new supporting characters are given their own side mission. The other major supporting characters….will not be brought into this review! No spoilers from me here, that’s the surprise awaiting you when you open the book. And you will notice I’ve neglected to name some of the supporting characters. Again, it’s a surprise that awaits you that I won’t spoil, all I shall say is, I smiled a lot during the course of the novel. This is the kind of novel to sit down with, in peace and quiet, with the phone off the hook, with no distractions. You will need knowledge of Star Trek history to completely enjoy the novel as certain events are mentioned during the course of the adventure.
Fire With Fire is an enjoyable start to the new trilogy. It’s characters and events grab you from the start and keep you hooked throughout. It’s a great curtain raiser for events to come. The characters are written brilliantly, their stories are presented to us in such inclusive detail that we feel we already know them. And the events described in the novel intrigue us. Just when we think we know where the story is headed, the rug is pulled out from under us and we go off on a different journey. That’s the best thing the novel does, it twists and turns to pull the reader in and hooks them. You have to read on to find out what happens next, you can’t resist it. We get invested in the characters and find ourselves rooting for them, feeling their emotions and in some cases, their pain. And some of the dialogue, well, read it and find yourself smiling and nodding.
I’m hooked on the Prometheus saga now and I’m hoping the series will continue after the third novel and that’s after reading only the first book so far. It’s refreshing to read a Star Trek novel written by someone from outside the U.S, Canada and the U.K. With this promising start, Perplies and Humberg have a great future ahead of them with this series.
Until next time…Live Long And Prosper.
Star Trek Prometheus: Fire With Fire by Bernd Perplies and Christian Humberg is published by Titan Books and is available to buy from all good retailers NOW.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!