Federation Follies: Judging A Book By Its Dragons

Star Trek Here There Be Dragons

A few weeks ago my fiancée and I were shopping for used Star Trek books. We found a little “friends of the library” shop with 25¢ paperbacks and hit the jackpot: DS9 and TNG novels! We both loaded up (buying two identical copies of a DS9 story in our frenzied zeal) and it wasn’t until we got home that we really looked at what we’d purchased… and boy, was I surprised by this little treasure:

Allow me to present Here There Be Dragons, Star Trek: The Next Generation Novel #28, written by Mr. John Peel. Now, before I go on, most of you are probably wondering: “Does his fiancée really go looking for used Trek books with him? Is he actually the luckiest man alive?” The answer is yes, she does and I am. The rest of you are thinking, “yeah, he’s super-lucky… and the name on this book’s cover makes me think a British spy wrote it… but what else is there to get excited about?” Apparently that little castle in the corner reaching for Riker’s epic beard didn’t clue you in, so let me hit you with some KNOWLEDGE (courtesy of the book’s back cover):

Penetrating the cloud, the Starship crew is shocked to discover a world of knights and serfs lifted right out of Earth’s Middle Ages. Ruthlessly exploiting the planet is a ring of interstellar trophy hunters preying on the immense, native dragon-lizards, twenty-feet tall and armored like tanks.

See, Agent Peel isn’t just using that cliché for a title to grab your attention; no, he’s more Pro than that. He has the crew of the Federation’s flagship straight-up fighting dragons. Or riding them. Or teaming up with them to defeat Galactus, Devourer of Worlds. I don’t know. I haven’t actually READ this book yet. I’m too in awe of it, afraid it won’t live up to the images that cover conjures up in my head. I’m honestly a little intimidated… although that’s mostly due to the front cover’s nasty case of Creepy Data Smile.

When you watch Star Trek, especially earlier episodes (of almost any series), it can sometimes be painfully clear that you’re watching a television show. Some of the immersion is lost when Picard beams down to Planet Cardboard Sky, or when Data drags the Enterprise out to help a little alien girl with an auto-tuned voice and bad prosthetic pinky-fingers. The budget for the effects just isn’t there. When you read the books, though, that’s not an issue; all the limitations on alien design and such go out the window at high warp. I read one book where the crew of the Enterprise-D picked up a scientist who turned out to be a dolphin in a hover-bubble, and then they cruised over to the Mirror Universe to read Shakespeare. And now John Peel (Agent of MI:6) has written a book with dragons and Predators in it!

If you’ve never read any Trek novels, give them a shot; they’re fun, they’re funky, and they’re better than the current TV iteration (Star Trek: Nothing-Because-We’re-Waiting-For-Another-Movie-and-I-Can’t-Afford-the-DVDs). Promise me, though, that if you begin with Here There Be Dragons you won’t spoil the ending for me. I’ll get to it eventually.

(Don’t buy it new on Amazon for 78¢, though — That’s three times what I paid.)

 
“Federation Follies” is a weekly humor column by Willie Laundrie, taking a look at the lighter side of Star Trek.

Columnist — Federation Follies
Willie is a long-time aficionado of cartoons, comic book superheroes, games, and science fiction. He’s a big fan of Stark Trek in general and the 24th Century in particular, and plans to move there as soon as he can afford to slingshot himself around the sun. In the meantime, he spends his time drawing comics and cartoons.

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  • Chris

    Interesting! I used to read _Star_Trek_ books more often then now, but I tended to get them from the store, unpre-owned, but buying used books, does the poirpoise it was meant for.  I remember the first one, _The_Entropy_Effect_.   I read that one my first year or maybe it was the second year in college.  It was the first one published by Pocketbooks.   I would like o.k. most of the books, but hate an occasional book, and really like an occasional book, things like that.  But, they’re not the only books I like to read.

    •  I agree, the books can be a little hit-or-miss sometimes… but overall they’re enjoyable. I think my first one was “Q Squared” by Peter David; still a favorite to this day.

      Even if it doesn’t have any dragons in it.

  • Greedo

     These articles are always a treat. Now I just need to find me some 25 cent Star Trek books!

  • Tom

    When you mentioned the novel about the Enterprise-D crossing over into the mirror universe, I instantly knew you were talking about Dark Mirror.  Perhaps one of my favorite TNG novels to date!

    • I was hoping somebody else had read that one, it’s an enjoyable tale. Seriously, though, was I reading it correctly? That scientist is a floating space dolphin, right?

      • Tom

        LOL!  yeah, it was a floating dolphin that somehow had the ability to sense vibrations on the quantum scale.  Too bad TNG didn’t do any Mirror Universe episodes, it would’ve been awesome!