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Ex Machina (Star Trek: The Original) Mass Market Paperback – 7 Feb 2005

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (7 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743492854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743492850
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.5 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 745,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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JIM KIRK WAS LOST in the Enterprise. Read the first page
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By N. Walton on 27 April 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book is set almost immediately after the events of the first Star Trek movie. The memories of V:Ger's ascension, and the loss of Will Decker, Ilia, Sonak and Kirk's girlfriend are still raw in people's minds. There's trouble brewing on a distant planet, called Lorina, which (trekkies may remember), was where the refugees from the Worldship Yonada were relocated ("For the world is hollow, and I have touched the sky").
Unfortunately, there's a group on the planet who aren't quite so quick to give up the old ways, and adopt the freedoms of the federation. McCoy's ex-wife, Natira, is in danger, and the Enterprise, still not completely trusted by its crew after the malfunctions, is sent to pour oil on the troubled waters. But how can the very ship which triggered the original cause of the unrest possibly help settle it?
The plot is well thought out, and having read many ST books, the planning and execution is a lot better than most. The characters are very well portrayed, thoughts and emotions are spot-on. For example, there's a faint embarrassment at the horrid uniforms (thanks to the seventies-ization of the movie), and there are undercurrents of resentment and obstinacy which are present in the movies, but more visual than vocal.
The author has done a splendid job. he must have watched ST:TMP over and over again, noting down every nuance and expression. It also includes a few great side-references to some of the newer things the actors have been engaged in (Chekov ponders the benefits of psi-police, for instance). There's a lot in this book, and people who really didn't like ST:TMP will find a lot of subtle 'apologizing' for some of the nastiness which thankfully was ironed out by The Wrath of Khan.
I felt the book pulled me along.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 22 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A Star Trek novel that's been a long time coming 18 Jan. 2005
By Michael Hickerson - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In recent years, Pocket Books has moved away from just telling stand-alone stories in their Star Trek novels. Instead, they've moved more toward bridging gaps between series and/or movies (The Lost Era), continuing the saga on the printed page (DS9 relaunch) or just expanding the already rich Star Trek universe in new and interesting ways (New Frontier).

And every once in a while, there is a novel that gets the best of all those possible worlds.

Christopher L. Bennett (no relation to Harve Bennett, he tells us) does that with his first published novel, Ex Machina. The story is a sequel to the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and also revists characters and events from Star Trek's third season episode "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky." But don't think the references end there--Bennett peppers his novel with homages galore to the animated Star Trek, the entire original series run and many of the best Trek novels published over the years. But don't worry if you're not a devoted Trek fan who will "get" every reference. Bennett slips them the references in a non-invasive way--if you get them, it only adds depth to the great story being told. If you don't, you aren't missing any great details. (One of my favorites is when Bennett has Chekov wonder about a security force composed of homage to Walter Koenig's character on Babylon Five).

But fan-friendly references mean little if there isn't a good story to go with it. And there's a good one here. Kirk and company are called to revisit the world first seen in "For the World Is Hollow..." and many of the characters there. One of the themes of the orignal series was Kirk taking on computers--usually those keeping a society of growing or interfering somehow. Kirk would generally overthrow the computer control and then warp off into space. This novel deals with the after effects of those actions in an intersting, meaningful way. The novel also plays a lot with the reputation Kirk has gained not only in Starfleet but on some of the worlds he's visited--for good and bad.

The storyline also sees Spock, McCoy and the rest of the Enterprise crew dealing with the aftermath of the events in The Motion Picture. Ex Machina isn't a sequel so much as it's a contiuation of the events begun on TMP. And it's definitely worth the trip.

And that's what makes the novel such a pleasure to read--Bennett's take on the characters. He gets all of the original crew right, in the place in their lives they are. Seeing Spock struggle with emotions, Kirk with his role in taking back command of the Enterprise and McCoy in trying to find his place on the ship--all of it works extremely well. Not only that, but Bennett introduces us to some original creations of his own along the way.

In short, this novel is an enjoyable read. As you read it, you may be stunned that a novel this assured and thought-provoking can come from a first-time author. If this is Bennett's debut, I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with next.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
One of the best Star Trek novels in a long time! 11 Jan. 2005
By TJAMES03 - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Ex Machina" is one of the best Star Trek books I have read in a very long time. Christopher L. Bennett sets the time frame of this book within the relatively untouched area of time after the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and before the events in Star Trek: The Wrath Of Kahn. Along with (finally) finding out what really happened to the V'Ger/Willard Decker/Ilia life form, Mr. Bennett also shows us what became of the Fabrini race of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky". Mr. Bennett really knows his obscure Star Trek alien species, as well. Megarites, Betelguesians, Zaranites, Rhaandarites, Rigellians, Saurians, etc., all have sizeable and important roles in this novel (these aliens were only seen - blink and you'll miss them - in ST: TMP and Star Trek: The Voyage Home). You may want to brush up on your Star Trek: TOS episodic history a bit, for Mr. Bennett mentions events/characters that have been featured in many other Star Trek: TOS episodes. You may also want to consult the Star Trek: TOS novel series "The Lost Years" (especially the novel "A Flag Full of Stars") for characters/events mentioned in this book, as well. It is too bad that authors like Mr. Bennett are not writing for the latest incarnation in the ever-expanding Star Trek universe, Star Trek: Enterprise - Mr. Bennett could really take the Star Trek franchise to new creative heights.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Finally a true sequel to events of the first Star Trek movie 10 Jan. 2005
By Ian McLean - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Ex Machina" is a Star Trek novel that finally salutes TMP's alien races with gusto. In fact, this novel is the "TMP Episode #2" I've been waiting for... for 25 years.

Christopher L Bennett 's excellent, fast-paced novel is a highly effective sequel to TMP (and its novelization), and also the poetically-titled episode "For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky". Christopher continues numerous character arcs from TMP (Kirk's guilt and self-doubt; Spock's epiphany about emotions; McCoy's future in Starfleet; even Decker and Ilia's sacrifice) and cleverly links them to important, unfinished business about Natira and the Fabrini (TOS). In addition, the author affectionately continues storylines for Chapel, Uhura, Sulu, Scott, Chekov and Rand, whose aspirations are all barely touched upon in TMP, in ways that are "spot on" and highly logical. Then we learn a little more about Chief DiFalco (TMP), the late Lori Ciana (TMP novelization and "The Lost Years" saga), and even excitable Mr Lindstrom, whom we last saw cleaning up the mess on Landru's planet (TOS). Rounding out the "Ex Machina" cast, we meet almost all of TMP's aliens through individual members recruited to the refitted USS Enterprise by Uhura (just as her counterpart Nichelle Nichols did for NASA) and the late Captain Willard Decker.

"Ex Machina" is a page-turner of a novel. Now, maybe I'm biased, but every time Christopher started to do several entertaining paragraphs about the Rhaandarites, or the Saurians, the Megarites, the Betelgeusians, or the Zaranites (based, often, on a single, sometimes-bizarre line or two of descriptive text originally written by the movie's costume designer for TMP's publicity and production notes), I was well and truly hooked, and happy to be reeled in. Various ST comic book lines over the years have sometimes paid visual homage to the odd TMP alien, but they've constantly been overlooked by the ST novels, barring the occasional mention of a Saurian. But Christopher is most generous in the time he spends developing each race, creating some memorable lower decks and bridge characters to populate the Enterprise. *Spring Rain Upon Still Water* the Megarite is a beautiful character, even if she is perhaps TMPs "ugliest" rubber-faced alien. (Doesn't sound very IRIC of me, does it?) Christopher even utilizes Worene, the unique wolfish alien created by actress and stuntwoman Paula Crist (who was barely visible in the rec deck scene of TMP), and he does so to great effectiveness. (Finally, Worene's species has a name; she's an Aulacri!)

While I often found myself thinking that "Ex Machina" was a novel I should have written myself, I also acknowledge that Christopher is masterfully efficient in his worldbuilding, particularly his explanations for the whys and wherefores of Rhaandarites, Megarites, Betelgeusians and Zaranites. I'm so very pleased with the ideas he has extrapolated about these aliens. Surely, hopefully, Christopher's worldbuilding in this novel will inspire other Pocket ST authors to make full use of Rhaandarites, Saurians, Megarites, 'Geusians, Zaranites, Aulacri, Arcturians, K'normians and turtle-like Rigellians in other ST novels.

I never spent a lot of time pondering the background and themes of "For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky", but Christopher expertly unpeels so many layers from the Fabrini story, developing a believable alien race who went on an incredible journey. He reminds us most vividly how history is written by the victors, and that all written history is open to multiple interpretations. Several senseless terrorist acts in the novel also ring too close to the bone for comfort, due to recent world events in the 21st century.

Christopher hasn't forgotten the science aspect of this science fiction novel, either. I was reminded very much of David Gerrold's body of SF work. No doubt Gerrold was an inspiration, especially since a character in "Ex Machina" is clearly based on the "character" played as a fan extra in TMP.

Now that we finally have Episode #2 of "Star Trek Phase II: Beyond TMP", dare I ask how long we have to wait for Episode #3? And can Christopher write it please?
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Best Star Trek novel I've read in a long, long time 30 Nov. 2005
By John Kwok - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Christopher Bennett's "Ex Machina (Star Trek: The Original Series)" is quite simply the best Star Trek novel I've come across in a long, long time. Not only is it a superb sequel to both "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and the series episode "For the World is Hollow and I have touched the Sky", but it is that rarity in "Star Trek" fiction: an admirable piece of writing which rises close to what I expect from superb science fiction literature. Bennett not only excels in his world-building - creating a believable history of the Fabrini, especially during their journey in the multi-generational starship Yonada and a truly realistic present which resonates with ample political and religious themes from our own turbulent present - but his is the most believable portrayal I have read of "The Original Series" cast, especially after the momentous mission chronicled in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". He excels in his depiction of Kirk, Spock and McCoy as they contend with numerous doubts about their own abilities to succeed in the Enterprise's first official Starfleet mission after the V'Ger incident; Kirk must resolve whether he is still able to serve effectively as a superb Starfleet starship captain and his lingering guilt in taking command of the Enterprise away from his protege Captain Willard Decker; Spock must wrestle with his conflicting emotions and keen desire to adhere to Vulcan logic following his mindmeld with V'Ger; McCoy doubts whether he is fit to serve as the Enterprise's Chief Medical Officer. I hope Bennett writes yet another "Star Trek" novel featuring the same literary excellence I have found in "Ex Machina".
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Refreshing! 6 Feb. 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Still reeling from their encounter with V'Ger and the sacrifice of Captain Willard Decker, the crew of the Enterprise has barely had time to begin to come to grips with those events when Dr. Leonard McCoy receives a plea for help from someone he hadn't expected to ever hear from again, his ex-wife Natira, the former high priestess of the Fabrini. Since settling on Daran IV, a world they call Lorina, the former inhabitants of the worldship Yonada have become divided by what they see as conflicting ideologies, a conflict that has now turned violent.

Thought provoking stories are one of the hallmarks of Star Trek and stories rarely get more thought provoking than Ex Machina. It would be easy to just categorize Ex Machina as a follow-up to Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the classic episode "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" and of course it is, but it is also more than that, much more. What Christopher L. Bennett has done with Ex Machina is to meld together the themes of both into a story cannot help but resonate with anyone who has ever read a history book or a newspaper.

Ex Machina is also a heck of a lot of fun to read. The narrative is liberally sprinkled with homage's to multiple incarnations of Star Trek, including the novels, and reads like a who's who of Star Trek alien species. At the time of Star Trek: The Motion picture the crew of the Enterprise was the most diverse Starfleet had ever assembled and Bennett takes full advantage of that. Bennett goes way beyond just mentioning the species; he takes the time to allow us to get to know them.

As impressive as Mr. Bennett's world building efforts are in Ex Machina he never loses sight of the characters, and it is his depiction of those characters that makes the whole thing work. Taking into account not only the effect of the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture on the individual characters but also of the novels set between the final episode of TOS and the first movie, several of the main characters are at a crossroad in their lives and uncertain about the direction their lives are taking.

Ex Machina is refreshing, interesting and contributes a great deal to the already rich Star Trek universe. Based on this impressive debut I can't wait to see other contributions Christopher L. Bennett makes to that universe in the years to come.
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