Star Trek: Constellations
Forty years after its creation, Star Trek was something of a beast — running two tv shows simultaneously through the nineties and into the early 2000s, and tempting Paramount with dreams of a cable channel grounded in its lucrative Star Trek properties. Beyond the shows, Star Trek was the inspiration for a handful of novels every month, not to mention regular movies and a series of video games on all manner of platforms, ranging from the absolute crap to the mostly crap to the rare solid hit. The Space Channel even did a commercial parodying this. Anyhoo, hence Constellations, an Original Series anthology of short stories celebrating the characters and spirit of Star Trek during the 40th anniversay celebrations.
Like the other anthologies, Constellations is…enjoyable, if not memorable. Like the others, its stories span both the life of the series, and the cast of characters, so each member of the ensemble has at least one story focused on him (or her, in the case of Uhura). I believe the celebration of spirit is an important aspect of these anthologies, because each of these stories ends with an optimistic, hopeful, or accomplished note — there’s always the “boldly going” tenor, sometimes with the characters ribbing each other a la so many TOS episode endings. Those who have read quite a few Trek novels will notice veteran authors contributing, some of whom were then only beginning to make their names known: Bennett, Leisner, Lang, etc. Perhaps the most memorable of the stories is “Make Believe”, which includes a perspective shift that reminded me strongly of the perspective shift induced by one of Redshirt’s codas, and is set partially in the “real world” — the one where Star Trek is fiction, but a tremendous inspiration. The award for most memorable title, though, would go to “Where Everyone Knows Your Name”, which is more amusing when one realizes there are TNG/DS9 parody intros using the Cheers theme. (It’s mostly memorable for the title, but in the plot McCoy and Scotty get drunk in a bar on an alien planet and then mistaken for Kirk and Spock, with…results.)
All told, this is a solid collection for the fan, casual or otherwise. Some of the stories:
– “The Landing Party”: Sulu faces a crisis of confidence when his first time leading an away team ends in disaster
– “As Others See Us”…an interesting take on the prime directive, probably the most substantial in the lot. By Christopher L Bennett, no surprise there.
– “Official Record”….Chekov, while serving as an observer during the IraqWarinSpace, is shaken by some of his besieged Starfleet comrades’ behavior toward the enemy.
– “See No Evil”…an Uhura still trying to regain her memories and confidence after being attacked by the NOMAD prone is forced to overcome her self doubt when she realizes something is screwy about this latest diplomatic contact, in world where the truth constantly changes to protect people’s feelings
– “Anything But Alone”, mostly interested for being a manga story included at the end.