Titan Books continue their series of novels based on Classic Star Trek with #17: The Entropy Effect by Vonda N. McIntyre. This story is set some time during the gap between Star Trek The Motion Picture and Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan.
The Enterprise is observing a new singularity for scientific study when it is summoned by an emergency transmission from Aleph Prime. When they arrive they find that they have been summoned by a lawyer, Ian Braithwaite, who wants them to transfer a very dangerous criminal to Rehab Colony Seven.
Kirk is furious with Braithwaite at misusing the beacon to get the ship to do a `milk run' but Spock says that they should investigate as he does not believe his former teacher, Georges Mordreaux, is guilty of the charges brought against him.
When the prisoner is aboard he promptly escapes and kills two members of the crew. Spock's investigations into the murders leads him to believe that Mordreaux's time travel experiments have succeeded and that he has come back into the past to prevent him from going to prison. As Spock races to save his crew mates from certain death, he too must travel back in time to prevent the murders before they occur.
Time travel has been used many times in the Star Trek universe but this book has a rather `novel' take on the concept. With multiple temporal incarnations of both Spock and Mordreaux, you need to pay attention to realise which one is interacting with the crew at any given time.
The story proceeds at a good pace with the focus on Spock and Sulu. Sulu's romantic relationship with the new head of Security, Mandala Flynn, is written well without being too intrusive. The star player though is Spock, and his desperation at trying to set history back on track while also realising what his temporal jumping is doing creates a very real emotional dilemma for him.
One small nitpick is that the text is rather small, for a Trek novel, and the publishers have missed a lot of spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors - some of which are like a giant `stop' sign in the middle of a good part of the book.
A lot better than McIntyre's version of The Wrath Of Khan, this is an intriguing read and a must for any Spock fan.