Peter David is one of the best Star Trek writers, not just one of the best writers of Star Trek tie-in fiction but best *full-stop*. Perhaps not at the peak but not far from it. And he's funny too. Can he sometimes get carried away with the humour and the abysmal - or hilarious! - puns? Hm, yes but mostly the humour is genuinely witty and genuinely amusing, balanced with clever characterization and neat plots. It's been a while since Mr David has written Star Trek novels regularly - but as a writer of comic books, novelizations, novels, and most anything else he can turn his hand too, it isn't as if he hasn't kept busy; oh, and he has recovered from a stroke and is dealing with health "issues" too - with his last Star Trek-affiliated project being e-book releases in his New Frontier series despite him being superior (and *funnier*!) to most of the current crop of Pocket Books writers but you can't really go wrong picking up a David ST novel and Strike Zone is no exception. The fifth Star Trek: The Next Generation novel and David's debut as a Star Trek novelist, written and published when the show was in its second season; Strike Zone is superior to many of the on-screen episodes of the 1988-89 season with a surer grasp on characters such as Worf, Dr Pulaski, and Wesley Crusher than most of the series' writers had at the time, not only that but certain elements seem eerily, uh, prescient of ideas that would turn up as the series matured while other aspects were *never* as well-handled as here while still others sadly remained absent from the screen.
The plot pits the Klingons against old enemies if theirs, a warlike and quite stupid race called the Kreel, grotesquely ugly - by Human standards - with a penchant for outfits revealing parts of their anatomies best left not just to the imagination but *unimagined*, the Kreel hate the Klingons as much as the Klingons loathe them; so when a Kreel crew come upon a cache of superweapons on a planet in disputed territory, superweapons that give them an advantage over their nemeses, the Kreel aren't slow to attack the Klingons. Unfortunately, the Kreel's inability to understand the weapons soon has problematic consequences - not least of which us the fate of the Kreel scientists on the planet "Hellhole"'s surface - for them and they and the Klingons are forced to approach the Federation for assistance. From there it isn't long before the Captain Picard and the USS Enterprise-D are called upon to assist with diplomatic talks, not an easy task when the opposing sides violently detest each other (any resemblance to Human idiocy must surely be coincidental...). Meanwhile, Wesley Crusher has to deal with the fact of his friend Jaan's imminent death from a disease known as "the Rot", something that leads to him attempting to find a cure although the combination of the pressure of being a "boy genius", a certain ability of Jaan's, and other factors may have something to do with it.
Strike Zone is a frequently hilarious novel with some equally fascinating "serious" ideas too and great characterization (witness Data laying the smackdown on a cyberphobic sarcastic Pulaski and David's deft handling of Wesley, Geordi, and Riker in particular). There are flaws, including the Kreel feeling like too much of a monoculture composed entirely of awful, awful numskull while the ending, though it quasi-amusingly deconstructs a done-to-death Star Trek trope, is rushed and almost turns the book into a shaggy god (pun intended) story but this is still a very enjoyable book and David would get better. Also, the character of the Honorable Kobry who first appeared in DC Comics Star Trek stories written by David is an inspired creation as is his daughter Gava. Recommended.
Review by Robert Bruce Banner (not really!)
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 711 KB
- Print Length: 275 pages
- Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek; 1st edition (23 May 2000)
- Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc (AU)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000FC0V16
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 9 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #520,737 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)