Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Final Reflection

Star Trek #16: The Final Reflection by John M. Ford
Worlds Apart #1
Published May 1984
Read June 21st, 2011

Next book (Worlds Apart): How Much For Just the Planet?


Previous book (The Original Series): #15: Corona

Next book (The Original Series): Star Trek III: The Search for Spock


Click to purchase The Final Reflection at Amazon.com!


Spoilers ahead for The Final Reflection!


From the back cover: 

Klingon Captain Krenn is a ruthless war strategist. But on a mission to Earth, Krenn learns a lesson in peace.
Suddenly he must fight a secret battle of his own. His Empire has a covert plan to shatter the Federation. Only Krenn can prevent a war - at the risk of his own life!


About this novel:
The Final Reflection is certainly not your typical Star Trek novel.  In the opening of the story, Dr. McCoy loans Captain Kirk a novel: The Final Reflection by John Ford, newly published based on the experiences of Samuel Tagore, former Ambassador from the Federation to the Klingon Empire.  Only this framing story involves the familiar characters; the main story tells about the life of Krenn, a Captain in the Klingon defense forces.  The novel itself is mainly an exploration of Klingon culture - it's beliefs, codes, practices, and mores.  The culture as presented is much different than the one that evolves over the years in other media - rather than the "honorable viking" society shown in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, the Klingons of The Final Reflection are much more cultured and codified.

Reflections and Analysis:
Many fans who have read The Final Reflection have expressed dismay at the way the Klingons have been developed in "canon" Star Trek.  After reading this novel, I can't say I entirely disagree.  I first want to make clear that I am a huge fan of the television Klingons.  The efforts of (mainly) Ronald D. Moore in creating an interesting and compelling culture cannot be underestimated.  Thanks to the talents of actors such as Michael Dorn, Robert O'Reilly, Tony Todd, and J.G. Hertzler, the Klingons were brought to life every week on our television screens.  However, the Klingons as presented by John Ford in The Final Reflection would have been a treat to watch as well.  Much more calculating and strategic, these Klingons would be much more deliberate, rather than charging in with a battle cry all willy-nilly!

Krenn is presented as a sympathetic character who hails from a culture wholly alien to our own.  As such, the reader may not fully identify with him, but as the tale progresses, we find ourselves on the side of this unlikely hero.  The Final Reflection is fascinating to me in that it is one of the few Star Trek novels to present it's tale from the perspective of someone other than our regular heroes, especially from the perspective of "the other side," rather than Starfleet or Federation characters.  Other than the framing story, in which Kirk is reading The Final Reflection, and small appearances by Leonard McCoy and Spock, our regular characters are largely absent.

Final Thoughts:
If you have not read The Final Reflection, do so!  I have long been told that it is nearly the finest example of Trek literature, and having now read it, I can't disagree.  Since it was published nearly thirty years ago now, much of "canon" Star Trek contradicts the events and ideas presented in The Final Reflection, but I think that it is completely worth reading on its own merits, even merely as a "road not taken" sort of story.  I can't give this novel any less than 10/10.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and heartily recommend it to any Star Trek fan who is hungry for genuine, well-written entertainment.

Also by John M. Ford:
Star Trek #36: Worlds Apart, Book Two: How Much for Just the Planet?

Next Review:
Next up is Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore's Star Trek: Vanguard: Open Secrets.  Look for that soon!