The Belly of the Beast by Dean Wesley Smith
Published August 2000
Read January 18th 2013
Next ebook (S.C.E.): #2: Fatal Error
Originally published as an ebook. Later published as part of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers compilation Have Tech, Will Travel in January 2002.
|Compilation of the first four SCE stories|
|Original ebook cover|
This week, on Trek Lit Reviews: reviews of the first four books of the S.C.E. series, starting with The Belly of the Beast today (Monday), followed by the next three novellas released on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday!
From the back cover:
The U.S.S. Enterprise has defeated a gigantic marauding starship from parts unknown. Now that the immediate threat has been neutralized, the S.C.E. has been called in to probe the vanquished hulk in search of both new technology and the secret of its origin. Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge has temporarily transferred from the Enterprise to assist Captain David Gold and the crew of the S.C.E. ship, the U.S.S. da Vinci, on this fascinating mission. LaForge works with Gold and his top-of-the-line group of technical specialists to unravel the high-tech mysteries of the supposedly dead alien vessel, only to discover that the real danger has just begun!
The Belly of the Beast is the first novella in the originally ebook-only series, SCE (Starfleet Corps of Engineers). The first I had heard of these stories were when the first dead tree-format omnibus was published. I was curious, but apparently not curious enough to pick it up and give it a try. I'm happy to be rectifying that lapse in judgement now!
The inaugural story itself is an interesting one. The SCE team is confronted with a massive mystery ship, its origins unknown. It has attacked a Federation colony, and the USS Enterprise was just barely able to escape destruction and disable the mysterious juggernaut. As the Corps of Engineers investigates further, they discover the original purpose of the ship, as well as the original company and crew. However, something sinister has taken control of the vessel. Originally thought to be neutralized by the Enterprise's attack, the horrific threat remains to terrorize the da Vinci's away teams.
|Sonya Gomez in TNG's "Q Who," now|
the commanding officer of the SCE
contingent aboard USS da Vinci.
The SCE series marked Pocket Books' first experiment with ebook-only sales. Sadly, this series has been on indefinite hiatus since 2007. 2007-2008, however, saw the release of another ebook-only series: Slings and Arrows, which I haven't read myself yet. Prior to that, in 2006, an Original Series-era series of ebooks were released. Mere Anarchy was later re-released in a trade paperback omnibus. After a couple of years without an ebook exclusive release, Pocket has once again begun experimenting with ebook-only publications, with the release of 2011's Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within by Christopher L. Bennett and last year's Vanguard: In Tempest's Wake by Dayton Ward. In addition, March of this year saw a Next Generation ebook by James Swallow, entitled The Stuff of Dreams.
A fascinating beginning to this anomalous series in Trek Lit. The mystery is well done, and the conclusion is exciting and unnerving. The story has piqued my interest enough to make me want to read more about this crew and their missions. I'm looking forward to continuing with the SCE story and learning more about the interesting group of people that have been assembled for this series.
Also by Dean Wesley Smith:
Star Trek #78: The Rings of Tautee with Kristine Kathryn Rusch (1996)
My next read:
S.C.E. week continues with #2 from Have Tech, Will Travel: Fatal Error, by Keith R.A. DeCandido.