Friday, August 17, 2012

Corona

Star Trek #15: Corona by Greg Bear
Published April 1984
Read June 23rd, 2012

Previous book (The Original Series): #14: The Trellisane Confrontation
Next book (The Original Series): #16: The Final Reflection



Spoilers ahead for Corona!

From the back cover:
An awesome, sentient force of protostars -- Corona -- has taken control of a stranded team of Vulcan scientists.  The U.S.S. Enterprise has come on a rescue mission with a female reporter and a new computer that can override Kirk's command.  Suddenly, the rescuers must save themselves and the entire Universe -- before Corona unleashes a Big Bang!

My Thoughts:

Corona is a fascinating novel on a number of levels. The primary antagonist in Corona is a proto-intelligence—a being which has existed since the beginning of time. Since the formation of the cosmos, beings like "Corona" have disappeared, and this intelligence finds itself to be the only one remaining in existence. Believing the universe to be devoid of life, Corona decides to create a new big bang, thereby populating the universe with others of its kind again. It is able to take over the minds of a team of Vulcan scientists, one of whom has a connection to Spock. I found this idea really interesting: an antagonist who is truly alien, and whose motivations aren't necessarily evil, just horribly misguided.


Another aspect of Corona that was appealing was an examination of xenophobia and cultural bias through the character of Rowena Mason, a journalist who hails from a human colony. This colony could be considered "backwoods," and Mason herself is somewhat prejudiced and bigoted in her reactions to non-humans. This is something we don't see shown in Star Trek that often, at least not too blatantly. There are exceptions, of course, but generally the people of the Federation are tolerant, open-minded, and accepting. Mason's reactions and her eventual growth were a refreshing look at that side of humanity, which still exists even in the 23rd century.


In Corona, we also see the continuation of a popular Trek theme: the superiority of human intuition and thought over the sterility and single-mindedness of computers and machines. In this book, Starfleet installs a revolutionary system aboard the Enterprise: a series of computers that oversee all shipboard actions and decisions. These "monitors" even have the ability to overrule the captain's judgement if they decide he is not acting in the best interests of the ship or the mission. Needless to say, the idea of computers controlling the actions of people turns out about as well as it usually does (cf. "The Return of the Archons," "A Taste of Armageddon," "The Ultimate Computer," "The Apple").


Finally, Corona finishes in a very Star Trek-ian fashion. The ultimate solution is non-violent and results in everyone having a greater understanding of the situation and the other beings with whom they share the universe. I feel as though this would have made a terrific episode, and I can see in my mind's eye that familiar shot of the Enterprise heading off on her next adventure, the music finishing in a flourish, and the end credits beginning to roll. A good, solid tale in the finest tradition of Star Trek storytelling.

Final Thoughts:

Corona was penned by Greg Bear, who has had quite a literary career since the publication of this book back in 1984. He has become a distinguished and popular writer of science fiction, thus far having written a total of 44 books. Unfortunately, Corona is his only foray into the world of Star Trek as a writer. In 2010, Pocket Books reissued Nightshade by Laurel K. Hamilton, who had become famous for her series of vampire novels. I was somewhat disappointed that Pocket didn't instead re-release Corona. That said, I haven't yet read Nightshade, so who am I to judge?


Corona was enjoyable and Star Trek in the truest sense. I very much enjoyed it. Part of the joy of writing this review blog is the opportunity to go back and find the gems of years past, and Corona did not disappoint in that respect.

Also by Greg Bear:

Hull Zero Three (NOTE: Link is to my other blog, which reviews non-Star Trek novels)



My next read:

Next on the list is Diane Duane's novel, Spock's World.