Now in my mid 40's I have been a Trek fan most of my life but I must confess that a few years ago I reached 'Trek Novel fatigue'. For many years I bought and read any Trek novel from any of the various series, starting off with the James Blish adaptations through to somewhere in DS9 territory. I just got bored of reading average novels that were being churned out by the truckload with insufficient quality control.
But I like to dip back in when I see one that is well reviewed, so I picked up this one...
Set on Archer's Enterprise during the Xindi conflict the main focus is on the tensions between the crew and the newly introduced MACOs. You would then expect this to be a 'how they came to respect each-other' story and of course that is exactly what happens.
So, no great surprises, no great characterisations and no great thrills. Despite a mildly interesting cameo at the end this book has been a reminder of why I buy so few trek books now.
on 28 June 2006
Enterprise novels have been rather a hit and miss bunch, but this one definately arrives at the 'hit' end of the spectrum.
The central storyline is set during the Xindi conflict (ie Season 3 of the show) and has the Xindi council trying to deflect the Enterprise away from their homeworld/weapons base by sending them on a wild goose chase.
It's a clever idea as a way to shoehorn a story into the season's arc but because, as viewers, we already know how the Xindi/Earth conflict plays out some of the drama is lost. A fact not missed by the authors, just consider the letters home at the start and end of the story to be nods to the audience on the subject.
That said, the tension of the story comes not from the aliens but from the MACO/Starfleet interaction. On the show this was mostly limited to the feud between Hayes and Reed but TLFM shows how having the military on board has affected all the crew, specifically Travis Mayweather who takes on a large part of the plot alongside his roommate MACO Corporal Chang.
One of the most interesting things about this novel is that it starts to set things up for the Enterprise Relaunch novels (due at some point in the future...) using a 'framing sequence', a chapter at the beginning and one at the end showing the future and only barely related to main body of the text. They are scenes which as a fan you will either love (for explaining away one of the least popular events of the show) or hate (for messing with accepted canon) but I don't want to spoil it for you! There's also a lovely little cameo from elsewhere in the franchise.
All in all, it's a good story. Not perfect (there's a whole sequence that feels ripped right out from Star Wars which niggles as just feeling wrong) but considerably better that the last offering Rosetta. The characterisations really stand up well, I especially liked the depiction of Season Three's 'I'll do whatever it takes' Archer, and Reed's rather more thoughtful reaction to him.
I believe it bodes well for the next series of Enterprise stories whenever they might reach our bookstores.
on 28 March 2012
"Last Full Measure" by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels was the first of the Enterprise re-launch novels to be released which continued telling original stories after the end of the TV series. Although I will clarify that outside the framing story, "Last Full Measure" is set firmly within the time period of the show and actually follows on quite well from the last Star Trek book I read, "The Expanse".
The central storyline is quite standard compared to most of the other stories set in Enterprise's third season. It is basically based around the Xindi council trying to deflect the Enterprise away from their home world by tricking them into following a false trail. There is nothing really original in that although I do believe that the authors did this so that they could concentrate on the interactions between the characters instead.
The main purpose of this story therefore seems to be in regards to highlighting the various tensions that exist between the MACO's and Starfleet. Whilst it was good to actually see a little bit more about the relationship between these two groups, after the first few examples of issues between them it all got a little bit repetitive. There are only so many times I am going to be interested in reading about how someone is arrogant etc. In addition it was all a little bit too obvious that this would all end up with some sort of happy respect occurring between the two groups although to be honest, this isn't anything new with either Star Trek or other novels.
However, the issues I mentioned above didn't stop me enjoying what really was still quite a fun and action packed adventure. Sometimes Star Trek can be accused of being a little bit too slow and cerebral but anyone reading this novel would have to think otherwise. There were explosions, dangerous space walks, fights and deaths throughout which ensured the book was thoroughly entertaining. The only really negative element of the story was when the novel would jump to some of Trip's thoughts about his sister and her death in the Xindi attack. I just felt that it spoiled the flow of the book and didn't really add anything beyond what I had previously seen in the TV show or in the previous Enterprise novel "The Expanse".
In regards to the characterisation, I have to admit that I was a bit surprised to see the actions taken by Captain Archer in regards to obtaining the "co-operation" of a captive. I understand that he is under some severe pressure due to the threat to Earth, but it just didn't feel right to me, although in honesty it probably does tie in with the way Archer acted in Season 3 but I never really liked his characterisation then either. Other than this, I actually quite like the various characterisations throughout the novel and I loved the fact that Travis was a major character in the novel with some solid development as he has been forgotten many times in the past. The only down side is that once again a plot device is used to make sure that the main ensemble cast is reduced to a smaller number early on. It seems to be a much too common element of Star Trek stories to ensure that writers don't have to worry about dealing with all the characters and can concentrate on a few of the main characters and some of the minor ones.
My final comment is in regards to Reed's history in the city of Leicester which is mentioned in the story. I went to University in Leicester and just can't imagine it ever having a dock district as mentioned in the novel as the river Soar which flows through the city is quite small. Not really an issue in the overall story but it did make me laugh a little bit.
Overall, "Last Full Measure" was an enjoyable novel although as with "The Expanse" I think it suffers a little bit in that the overall story arc's finale is dealt with in the TV series and not in any novels. Martin & Mangels have done a good job capturing some of the various interactions between the characters and kept the story fun and fast paced. As a final note, there is also a little surprise in the framing story that hopefully points to some interesting developments in the novels to come and therefore I am now looking forward to reading the next re-launch novels.
on 8 July 2010
The Enterprise books up to this point haven't been particularly breathtaking or dramatic; mostly due to the fact the stories were usually shoehorned between two episodes, so we knew nothing could affect our heroes long-term, meaning that we ended up with a legion of largely forgettable secondary characters.
Last Full Measure is also placed between two episodes, right at the start of season 3, but has a totally different feel to it. The series didn't do a particularly good job of capitalising on the interpersonal drama between Starfleet and MACO personnel on the ship, instead having a rushed conversation with Hoshi in "The Xindi" to introduce them (which was oddly placed, seeing as though they were supposed to have been on the ship 3 months by this point), and playing up Reed's feeling that the MACOs were stepping on his territory - ultimately serving to make Reed and Hayes come off as a bit schoolboyish and petty.
To the book's credit, it fleshes out that particular aspect more than the show did, and shows that it's not just Reed who is rubbed up the wrong way, but also Archer at times and particularly Mayweather, who gets an awful lot of time in the spotlight in this outing (something I'm never disappointed with considering how often he was overlooked in the series).
Aside from getting a little character development of Mayweather, we also learn Reed's real reason for not joining the Navy, and also see that he's a much more three-dimensional character than the show sometimes portrayed. At a couple of points in season 3, we see Archer come close to, or blatantly crossing an ethical line, and it's usually Reed that voices his concern or tries to act as Archer's conscience. We see the genesis of that in Last Full Measure, and also get inside Archer's head as he realises he's not the same person he was a few months previously, and he has to sacrifice some of his own morals in order to save an entire planet. There are some particularly dramatic scenes shown from the MACOs', Reed's and Archer's point of view that show these conflicting interests and emotions, and they're what stood out most for me.
The main story threads themselves are, I suppose, standard season 3 fare - follow up leads, poke around here, sabotage some Xindi hardware there. There is the potential that this book could have tried to make a huge impression in the Xindi arc, which would have seemed at odds with what we saw in the show, but Messrs Martin and Mangels very cleverly keep a somewhat important mission from becoming so big that you're left wondering why they'd never make mention of it in the series, then end up dismissing the story altogether because it's not canon. In the end, we also see the kissing and making up between Starfleet and the MACOs and also a new mutual respect found between both sides, which leads quite nicely into the interactions and co-operation we see later on in the season.
One particular thing of note is the seeds both authors have planted, which hint as to how they view the controversial finale, and should make interesting reading once I get into the Relaunch series proper.
In the negative aspect, we see very little of Phlox, T'Pol and particularly Trip and Hoshi in this outing, being that the latter two are laid up in sickbay for a majority of the story. Considering that Trip had a lot of focus during the Xindi arc, Hoshi just had a novel about her and this book is more focused on the MACOs rather than Starfleet, then it's understandable that this is the path the authors chose, and to be honest, it doesn't adversely affect the story.
All in all, it's a pretty strong novel, and easily the best of the Enterprise books up to this point. It's certainly of a higher quality than most books set during the series' timeframe, and apart from fitting into established canon quite well, expands on an area of the season which I felt was fairly underdeveloped and a missed opportunity during the series. I'm going into The Good That Men Do with high hopes that they can deliver another great story.