on 9 December 2003
Star Trek Generations, J.M. Dillard's third novelization of a Star Trek feature film, is a well-written and exciting tale of two legendary Starfleet captains brought together across the time barrier to save a world from the plans of an obsessive scientist.
Dillard (The Lost Years, Mindshadow) adds texture and context to Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore's screenplay for the seventh Star Trek film (and first of four Star Trek: The Next Generation movies) by starting the book right after the events of The Undiscovered Country: Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the Original Series' crew splits up -- some retiring from Starfleet, while others accept other assignments. While this wasn't in the original screenplay or in the final film, this bit of exposition sets up a recurring reverie about time, transitions and even death.
Star Trek Generations really gets going in Chapter 2, when Kirk, Chekov and Scotty are the guests of honor at the launching ceremony of the NCC-1701-B, an Excelsior-class ship which is the third starship to bear the name Enterprise. With an untried captain and with vital equipment not yet installed, a brief publicity cruise to Pluto and back to Earth turns into a perilous rescue mission when a strange energy ribbon ensnares two El-Aurian refugee ships. Kirk, Scotty and Chekov assist Capt. John Harriman on this life-and-death endeavor, and some of the El-Aurians (including future Enterprise-D bartender Guinan and Dr. Tolian Soran) are rescued...but not without cost. The Enterprise-B is damaged by the energy ribbon, and Capt. James T. Kirk is missing and presumed dead.
After another chapter of original material in which Dillard shows the reaction of Kirk's senior staff to his death, the rest of the novel takes place 78 years later. The Enterprise-D crew is celebrating Worf's promotion to lieutenant commander in the holodeck, but the festivities are cut short when Capt. Jean Luc Picard receives devastating news from home. And to make matters worse, someone has savagely attacked the Amargosa Observatory, leaving only one survivor, Dr. Tolian Soran....the same man rescued from the energy ribbon nearly 80 years before by the Enterprise-B.
Soon, Picard has to overcome his grief to stop Soran from destroying a star (and its orbiting inhabited planets) to cause the mysterious energy ribbon -- known as the Nexus -- to change course. Picard must discover why Soran wants to sacrifice billions of innocent lives in order to "go into the Nexus" -- and he'll need the help of a legendary Starfleet captain from the past to stop the obsessed madman.....
To her credit, Dillard explains Soran's motivations far better than the movie did, and her depictions of the movie's characters are vivid and well-done. Of course, some of her additional material was needed to make up for the non-appearance of Spock and McCoy in the final drafts of Braga and Moore's screenplay (and the final film), and one scene with Kirk -- which was filmed -- was later changed, but those minor detours are to be expected in novelizations such as this.
on 1 December 2003
Since taking over as writer of Star Trek movie novelizations in 1989 (starting with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier), author J.M. Dillard has shown that even the weakest screenplay can be adapted into a well-written and entertaining novel. Her skills as a writer allow her to flesh out the shorthand of film writing, restore deleted scenes and even add original material that gives the reader some idea of what happened to Kirk, McCoy, Spock and the Original Series' crew while also adding character development to the Enterprise-D crew and their new nemesis, Dr. Tolian Soran.
Star Trek Generations -- based on the story by Rick Berman, Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga and on the original screenplay by Moore and Braga -- is a passing-of-the-torch tale that starts about a year after the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In the opening chapter, Dillard draws upon both The Undiscovered Country and her original novel The Lost Years: the Khitomer Mission has been completed and the battle-damaged USS Enterprise-A is arriving at Spacedock for the last time. Capt. James T. Kirk and his senior officers will soon retire, leaving Starfleet and their beloved starship...this time for good.
For the next year or so, the restless Capt. Kirk (retired) goes on what a dismayed Montgomery Scott refers to as a "bloody decalthon across the galaxy," risking his life on such esoteric activities as orbital skydiving. In a scene adapted from the screenplay (but deleted from the final cut of the film), Kirk shocks Scotty and Pavel Chekov when he says he will not attend the launch of the new Excelsior-class Enterprise-B. "When I retired," he grouses to Scotty, "I swore I'd never set foot on a starship again, and I meant it."
But Kirk knows he is only kidding himself, and the three former shipmates do attend the launch ceremony, coping with nosy reporters and the feelings they all share about being on the first starship Enterprise without their names on the duty roster.
But after a brief moment of celebration with Capt. John Harriman, the new Enterprise finds herself unexpectedly called into action. Two passenger vessels have encountered a bizarre energy ribbon and are in mortal peril. The eager yet inexperienced Harriman, knowing his starship is not 100 per cent ready for action, asks Kirk for advice....and the Enterprise-B goes to the rescue.
But even though Scotty manages to save a handful of survivors -- including Tolian Soran -- before the two ships are destroyed, the Enterprise-B is caught in the ribbon's path. Kirk then goes down to Engineering to adjust the deflector array to simulate a photon torpedo and disrupt the energy ribbon to allow the starship to escape. He succeeds, but at the last minute the ribbon's tendrils manage to gouge a hole in the Enterprise's hull and Kirk vanishes.
78 years later, the crew of the fifth Starship Enterprise is celebrating Worf's promotion to Lt. Commander in a holodeck simulating a 19th Century sailing vessel. Here, Data realizes he doesn't understand humor, while Picard's jovial mood is cut short by bad news from home. To make matters worse, a Federation science station at the Amargosa system has been attacked by unknown assailants. Soon, Picard must deal with an obsessed scientist, some old enemies from his recent past and his own inner torment as he races against time to save a world from destruction...and he must enlist a most unexpected ally if he is to succeed......