Sunday, February 24, 2013

Federation

Star Trek: Federation by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Published November 1994
Read October 6th 2012


Previous book (The Original Series): #71: Crossroad
Next book (The Original Series): #72: The Better Man


Previous book (The Next Generation): #32: Requiem
Next book (The Next Generation): #33: Balance of Power



Click to purchase Federation from Amazon.com!


Spoilers ahead for Federation!

From the back cover:
At last, the long-awaited novel featuring both famous crews of the starships Enterprise in an epic adventure that spans time and space.  Captain Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) are faced with their most challenging mission yet - rescuing renowned scientist Zefram Cochrane from captors who want to use his skills to conquer the galaxy.
Meanwhile, ninety-nine years in the future on the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D), Picard must rescue an important and mysterious person whose safety is vital to the survival of the Federation.
As the two crews struggle to fulfill their missions, destiny draws them closer together until past and future merge - and the fate of each of the two legendary starships rest in the hands of the other vessel...

My thoughts:

Federation is an incredibly ambitious novel in which the crews of The Original Series and The Next Generation come together, but not in a way that is at all expected. The story is presented in three different time periods, and I believe this review would be well served by covering each one in turn.

Zefram Cochrane, inventor of the warp drive,
is the primary protagonist of Federation
The first time period examined by this novel is that of the mid-21st century, during which time Earth is involved in a global world war III. Predating the release of Star Trek: First Contact, Federation tells the story of Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the warp drive as seen in the various incarnations of Star Trek. Using Glenn Corbet's portrayal of the character in TOS's "Metamorphosis" as a template, the Cochrane we see in the pages of Federation is nothing like James Cromwell's performance in First Contact. As much as I enjoyed that film, I was very intrigued by Federation's version of this period of future history. World War III is very well fleshed out, and the antagonist, Colonel Adrik Thorsen, is one of the better Trek villains I've had the pleasure of reading about. A special treat was the inclusion of the enigmatic Mr. Brack, also known as Flint, Akharin, daVinci, and countless others, as the financial backer of Cochrane's warp experiments.

The Companion and her relationship with
Cochrane features heavily in this novel.
In the second time period, we follow the exploits of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, shortly after the events of the episode "Journey to Babel." Despite the best efforts of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, outside forces have learned about the presence of Cochrane alive and well in the 23rd century. His home is attacked, and Cochrane himself is captured. A familiar villain is revealed to be the person behind the capture of the renowned scientist, and the Enterprise crew must try to get him back. Of particular interest to me in this section was the distrust between Kirk and the Admiral who questions him about what really happened to the shuttle crew in "Metamorphosis," and our trio's attempts to maintain the secrecy of their encounter with Cochrane and the Companion. It was interesting to revisit those characters, and especially to learn more about the dual nature of the shared consciousness between Commissioner Hedford and the Companion.

The final period explored in Federation is that of the Enterprise-D, following the third season TNG episode "Sarek." Initially, the story centers around the retrieval of an artifact believed to have links to the menacing Borg threat. At first, this story didn't seem to have anything in common with the other two whatsoever. Of course, it is soon revealed that the artifact has links to the previous attempts to capture and co-opt Zefram Cochrane and his research, and soon the crew of The Next Generation find themselves embroiled in the same centuries-old conspiracy.

Of course, when one sees both Kirk and Picard on the cover of a novel, they want to see the ultimate crossover event! Federation manages to present the meeting of the generations in a very unique and surprising way, while still maintaining the integrity of the timeline. In Generations, everyone wanted to see the two Enterprises meeting in space, and Federation manages that feat. It is a truly inspired moment in the novel, and incredibly thrilling in its execution.

Final thoughts:

Many people list Federation as one of the best Star Trek novels of all time, and I'm hard-pressed to disagree. Epic in scope and rich in characterization and history, Federation was a true pleasure to read. One of the primary reasons I love Star Trek is its portrayal of a future in which humanity has moved beyond revenge and petty jealousy, and while Federation does feature the darker side of mankind, its message is ultimately optimistic in the true Star Trek fashion. As much as I love First Contact and, to a lesser extent, Generations, I think that Federation would have made an amazing film.

More about Federation:



Also by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens:

Star Trek: The Return with William Shatner (1996)

My next read:

The next novel on my slowly-progressing "catch-up" list is the Star Trek: Enterprise novel Last Full Measure by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels. Also coming soon is the new release, Star Trek: The Original Series: Devil's Bargain by Tony Daniel. As soon as I get a copy and get it read, I'll be publishing a review!