Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Weight of Worlds

Star Trek: The Original Series: The Weight of Worlds by Greg Cox
Release date: March 26
th, 2013
Read April 2nd 2013


Previous book (The Original Series): Devil's Bargain
Next book (The Original Series): The Folded World


Click to purchase The Weight of Worlds from Amazon.com!

Spoilers ahead for The Weight of Worlds!

From the back cover:
The Ephrata Institute is an intellectual think tank at the outer fringes of the final frontier. Dedicated to the arts and sciences, the Institute seems an unlikely target for an invasion, but it proves easy pickings when the Crusade comes from beyond, determined to impose its harsh, unbending Truth on all the worlds of the Federation. Armed with weaponized gravity, the alien Crusaders will stop at nothing to rescue the universe from its myriad beliefs ... even if it means warping the mind and soul of every sentient being they encounter.
Responding to an urgent distress signal, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise soon find themselves in conflict with the Crusade, and facing individual challenges. When Kirk and Spock are transported to the Crusade's distant homeland to confront the source of the invasion, Sulu finds himself trapped behind enemy lines, while Lieutenant Uhura is faced with possibly the most difficult decisions of her career. As the Crusade sets its sights beyond Ephrata IV, it is up to the Enterprise and its besieged crew to keep freedom of thought from being crushed beneath the weight of worlds!
My thoughts:

First off, two things. Number one: Happy First Contact Day! (Note: this entry, while published on April 6th, was originally written on April 5th, First Contact Day.) Number two: apologies for the lateness of this review. My computer difficulties continue, but with a few choice purchases yesterday, I should have a desktop PC up and running very soon! And now, on with the review.

2013's first-half Original Series marathon continues apace with Greg Cox's latest release, The Weight of Worlds. This novel sees the invasion of our universe by extra-dimensional crusaders from what, at first glance, appears to be the ultimate doomsday cult. Convinced that all of creation will soon come to an end, the Crusade sees it as their divine mission to bring the "Truth" to our universe, which is newly-discovered from their perspective. Their first appearance in our universe is at a facility called the "Ehprata Institute," a campus dedicated to scientific advancement. This, of course, provides an interesting juxtaposition to the closed-mindedness and blind adulation of the followers of the Crusade. Upon arrival at Ephrata, the evangelical army begins destroying works of art and books from the libraries of the institute.



The Crusade was somewhat reminiscent
of the Ori, the extra-galactic threat from
Stargate SG-1.
At first, the machinations of the Crusade brought to mind the Ori, villainous crusaders who sought to spread their religion across the galaxy in the later seasons of Stargate SG-1. However, Greg Cox has managed to weave a fascinating tale about our heroes overcoming the threat of the Crusade without it feeling like this story has been done before. Kirk and Spock are in top form here, and many of the supporting cast are given meaty roles as well. In particular, we see Sulu employing his trademark swashbuckling manner alongside an attractive security lieutenant with whom there may be some budding romance, a common happenstance for Sulu lately (see: Allegiance in Exile by David R. George III). Also of particular note in this novel is Uhura, who is truly given a chance to shine. It really is a shame that the prevailing culture of 1960s America didn't really allow for the kind of broad role that the character of Uhura deserved; I would have really enjoyed seeing Nichelle Nichols sink her teeth into a few meatier scenes such as the events that occur in The Weight of Worlds.


Uhura is given more to do than simply "open hailing frequencies." 
Greg Cox is one of the premiere writers of Trek fiction, having written some amazing novels. From his Q Continuum trilogy to his "historical" novels about The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, every book by Mr. Cox has been a pleasure to read, with his vast knowledge of the Star Trek universe showing through on every page. The Weight of Worlds is no exception. The author continually references the past experiences of Kirk and his crew to great effect, making this novel feel like a true part of the overall Trek universe. In addition, possibly in part thanks to his years of writing Star Trek novels, Mr. Cox has truly captured the "voice" of each of the characters. Every bit of dialogue rang true, and sounded like something the characters could easily have said on the television show.

The final resolution to the plot of The Weight of Worlds was satisfying, tying up the storyline in a logical, meaningful way. Kirk's reputation as a "god-slayer" is used to good effect, but not necessarily in the way that many of the characters expect. It is Spock's logical, ordered mind that wins the day, and shows that not everyone must believe the same thing. The novel's commentary on evangelism and blind faith versus rationalism and free thought was striking, and definitely resonated with this reader.


Final thoughts:

The Weight of Worlds is a fun, exciting adventure with plenty to do for each of the cast members of TOS. A threat to the galaxy to overcome, some great observations on logic and rational thought by everyone's favourite Vulcan, and last-minute rescues and solutions. What else could anyone want from a Star Trek novel?

More about The Weight of Worlds:

Also by Greg Cox:

My next read:

My computer problems should soon be a thing of the past! Look for my review of John M. Ford's How Much for Just the Planet? soon! I promise!

With any luck, I should soon have a working computer! More regular updates, coming soon!