En route to a diplomatic mission, the U.S.S. Enterprise receives a distress call from the U.S.S. McRaven. As the Enterprise approaches the area where the McRaven appears to be, Captain James T. Kirk and his crew encounter an anomaly unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. Space itself seems inconsistent here . . . warping, changing appearance. But during the brief periods of calm, the McRaven is located along with other ships of various origins—all dead in space and devoid of any life forms, all tightly surrounding and being held in place by an enormous unidentified vessel that appears to have been drifting for a millennium. As incredible and impossible as it seems, this anomaly is something that can only be described as a dimensional fold, a place where the various dimensions that science has identified—and the ones it cannot yet name—have folded in on one another, and the normal rules of time and space no longer apply. . . .
Jeff Mariotte is the author of more than fifteen novels and many comic books.With his wife and partner, he co-owns Mysterious Galaxy, a bookstore specializing in science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror. He lives in San Diego, California with his family and pets, in a home filled with books, music, and toys. Visit him at JeffMariotte.com.
They emerged again on the third afternoon, when the scouts told them the giant had gone. Climbing the stairs, Aleshia peered into the frothy murk of low clouds. Giant’s clouds. They would dissipate in a few hours, a day at the most.
Gillayne cleared the shelter’s doorway ahead of her. She dropped to her knees on bare earth and a ragged cry tore from her throat. Aleshia stepped around her (Gillayne’s narrow back, all hard wedges of shoulder blade and curled knuckles of spine, hitching with her liquid sobs) and saw what had elicited such an agonized wail.
The giant had walked right through town.
In his horrible, huge footprints lay the ruins of buildings—homes, barns, the children’s school, all of it destroyed, flattened. Beams and timbers scattered and splintered, kindling for winter’s fires, perhaps, but nothing more. Bricks and stones had been torn asunder and strewn about.
Aleshia’s father cuffed the back of her head. “You’re blocking the way, girl!” Startled, she took three stumbling steps and turned toward him. He glared at her, his thick lips curled in his usual disapproving sneer. Times like this, Aleshia was glad her mother was dead, so the woman who had brought her into this harsh life couldn’t see what her husband had become. “There’s no doubt cleaning to be done at home,” he said. “I’ll be around later.”
This could only mean that he would go to Knott’s tavern before coming home, drunk and even angrier. It still stood; somehow, giants never seemed to destroy Knott’s. Simply strolling past it made Aleshia uneasy. She always felt that the people inside were eyeing her with malicious intent. It was even worse when her own father was among them, except that at least then she could count on being alone at home for a while. Those moments were the only times she felt truly comfortable there.
Always, though, he returned. Banging doors, upending furniture, shouting, threatening, and worse. Aleshia accepted her lot. What else was a girl to do? He beat her only rarely, and had never seriously injured her. She knew other girls in town who could not say the same.
She also knew some who were not beaten at all. Or so they claimed. She never altogether believed them.
The path home took her past one of the giant’s footprints. Aleshia heard moans and cries as she neared it, and she hiked up her tattered skirts and ran to the side.
The sight made tears flood her eyes. The giant’s massive foot had collapsed one of the shelters. The earth was caved in, and most of the people hunkering inside were dead or injured. One man raised a scrawny arm toward Aleshia, beseeching her, but his legs were crushed, bone showing, blood soaking the dirt around him. There was nothing she could do by herself, so she turned away from his plaintive cries, seeking help.
Yignay, one of the village elders, walked toward her with his usual awkward gait; a childhood disease had left his spine twisted and his legs weak. She beckoned furiously, but he could not increase his pace. Finally, he came to a halt at the pit’s edge.
“Do something!” Aleshia pleaded.
“Do what? We’re all better off, anyhow. Fewer mouths there are to feed, fewer of us’ll starve this winter.”
“Yignay, you can’t just—”
“I can’t what? Ignore them? Watch me.” He spat into the dirt and hurried away, as if those weren’t his own townsfolk, his neighbors, suffering in that pit.
Aleshia looked down again. The people below called to her, begging. But she was just a barefoot girl, with no influence in the village and not enough strength to haul the injured from the pit. The stairs had collapsed, so ladders would have to be lowered. If she couldn’t even get Yignay to help, she didn’t know what she could do.
And her father expected her to have the house cleaned up when he got home. If this was like the other times, it would be a mess. Furniture might be broken, and even if not, things would have tumbled from shelves and fallen from hooks. She tasted smoke on the air; people had run for the shelters so fast that they hadn’t put out their fires, and now houses were burning. Hers was stone, small and sturdy and unlikely to burn. Still, she needed to be home before someone broke in, to steal whatever had not been lost to the giant’s carelessness.
Aleshia ran again, this time not toward the pit but away from it. She told each person she encountered about the carnage, trying to send someone back who could offer aid to the wounded. In the time before she was born, her father had told her, people had cared about the troubles of others. That had changed, he said, as growing cities in the east had demanded ever more of the crops and livestock produced by the villagers. Feeding the cities had left the countryside hungry, and the hungrier they became, the less compassion they showed. Aleshia had been born hungry and had known no other life. She thought that people ought to be better than they were. In truth, however, little in her experience bore that out.
Several minutes later she had climbed the rocky slope to her house, gone inside, and barred the door. Beads of sweat ran down her cheeks, and her eyes stung from the smoke outside. The house yet stood, but it would need some work, as her father had guessed, and one window had cracked from the giant’s passing. Father would replace that, or not, as he chose. If she caught him in a good mood, tomorrow or next week, she might suggest it.
Until then, she would hope to keep away from him, to escape his notice as much as she could. This was Aleshia’s fate. Not a happy one, but she labored under no illusion that life was meant to be happy. She was hungry but not starving, and as healthy as anyone could expect. She had walls to keep out the cold and a roof to block the rain. She had a father to protect her against threats from other folk, though she sometimes wondered if those threats could prove more hurtful than his own attacks.
Happiness? That was for dreams, nothing more. Even then, she knew it was illusion. When she was happy in a dream, she wept upon waking, because she knew that it was imaginary and fleeting. It would never last. Was this really all there was in life, all she had to look forward to? Growing old amid hunger and heartache, living in fear of tomorrow and the day after that? Somewhere, she had to believe, things were better. Not here, not for her . . . but perhaps there was a way to find such a place, if it existed.
Those were foolish thoughts, however, that had nothing to do with her life or her future. She was locked in place, and she would stay there until she died, until a giant strolled through town and crushed her under his heel. And that, she thought, might be more merciful than more years of labor for her father and then for some other man, a husband. Knowing the road ahead, Aleshia sat on the stone floor, amid broken crockery and shattered glass, buried her face in her skirts, and cried.
And when she was finished crying, she got to work.
I have to admit, I only got 3/4's of the way through this tedious novel. The whole story line was just plain dull. The effect that the spatial anomaly had was stupid. The characterizations of the original characters didn't ring true and the introduced characters were not likable. While I love Star Trek and get every book, lately there have been a lot of turds being released. If you are on a limited budget and don't collect the books like I do, skip this one.
Sorry, but with dialogue like Kirk's "Dammit, we're Starfleet!" and Uhura saying "Roger", I had a hard time slogging through this. As a devoted (but not obsessive) fan of the series, movies, and books, I've read plenty of stories that combined a fascinating plot and a keen grasp of characters. The plot was somewhat interesting (but not resolved clearly) but this would have been a better novel had it been set somewhere other than the Trek universe.
Once again, the Starship Enterprise is on a diplomatic mission, carrying a delegation towards Ixtolde, a world about the join the Federation. But, when they run into a weird special anomaly, one filled with old and decaying spaceships, including the Starship McRaven, which Kirk didn't know was lost, it becomes necessary to get to the bottom of things. There's a strange mystery here, and Kirk is determined to get to the bottom of it. But, it might just cost him more than he ever expected.
This is a pretty good Star Trek: TOS book. The characters all act completely in characters, which is not something you can take for granted with some books! It also has a lot of good action and adventure.
On the other hand, the weaknesses of the book keep it from being any more than pretty good. The whole "ghosts" angle is pretty poorly handled, seeming rather unscientific. Also, while one mystery is solved, so many others are simply left hanging. And would the Federation indeed punish a people for crimes committed by their ancestors? It seems so unlikely.
So, yeah, while this book does have its good points, it also has its bad ones. It's a pretty good book, but far from a great one.
If you need a sleep aid, this novel will do nicely. There were far too many plot lines vying for your attention. There was also an overabundance of introspection on the part of the characters. If they were truly thinking about all the things the author had them reflecting, especially in the crisis situations, they would all be dead very quickly. And using the word "big" to describe something of extraordinary size: the big ship, the big room, the big door, etc., is fine for 5th graders, not for a novel geared towards adults. Sorry, but this was simply a very disappointing book.
To any hard core Star Trek fan this book will grind at your nerves. From the beginning the landing party is referred to as 'the away team' (ST:TNG terminology) on many occasions, other characterisations and termniolgy just doesn't seem to fit and makes for hard reading.
Story and characters are shallow. Don't get me wrong, this is ok book. But it needs more. It's feels like writer is afraid to go deeper. There is right words and right movements like it would be in tv-series. So when I did read this I really didn't see eny other than plain words on paper. When you write a book, you have to be more through, describe more. In star trek books you have this power to do things that you can't do on tv, so writer has to be bold.
This isn't a bad book. In fact it is the pick of the recent litter of TOS books coming out recently, but it's ...odd.
The book hinges on the idea that the Federation practices collective justice and that the Ixtoldans are aware of this and know that if their many generations ago sin is uncovered they will not be able to join the Federation and will be doomed to poverty and slow starvation. In order to avoid discovery, they are willing to sacrifice the landing party, which, as usual includes all the top officers from the ship.
It has always been my impression that the Federation specifically does not practice collective justice and that in any event, the persons who committed the crime are all long gone and, according to the story, history has been rewritten so that only a very few of the living are even aware that it happened.
The circumstances of the great crime are also odd. It seems to me that if the Ixtodans could do what they have been shown to have done, they didn't need to commit the crime. That aspect of the story made no sense whatsoever.
I can't fault the author for sending the top commanders of the Enterprise on a life threatening mission. Nor can I fault him for equipment that either works or doesn't work according to story demands. I guess I can't even fault him for using the Vulcan mind meld, which is supposed to be so very personal but is used at the drop of a hat. He's just using the precedent set in the series, but I will fault him for having the landing party separate with no sure way of getting in touch (except the aforementioned mind meld) or even arranging a meeting time and place. Do highly trained combat teams really do this?
The characterizations of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scott are not great, but nothing awful. And we do get an interesting new character with a back story and an interesting problem. But even here...she's adopted and doesn't know it? Has the adoptees rights movement just disappeared? Let's face it, even before the current era of open adoptions, adoptees knew their status. So we are to believe that in the enlightened future adoption goes back to the dark ages? I just couldn't buy that.
Again, this is not a bad book. If it were a science fiction book about a commercial vessel that encounters a problem, it would even be a good book. But it is not a very good Star Trek book.
And .. This is not really a criticism of this particular book, just a rant. People, other than jockeys, very rarely ride stallions. A person who has never ridden and who is to ride for three weeks only, as stated in this book, will not be allowed anywhere near the stallion. In fact, it would be a very rare cattle ranch that would bother owning a stallion. Yet in this book and so many others, the characters are shown as riding stallions. I can only assume that authors are trying to show the bravery of their characters. Generals Grant and Lee, both brave men, rode geldings into battle. Geldings and mares are brave. Stallions race and stand at stud. They are not saddle horses.Read more ›