Monday, November 16, 2009

Nerd-A-Long: The Romulan War

I finished reading Star Trek: Enterprise: The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing by Michael A. Martin this weekend. Therefore, you should expect a post from Gushy McFanboy. But I just can't muster one.
From the unwieldy title there are three colons, perhaps appropriate to the length of, and patience required to, digest this work.
From the first year of this decade I had looked forward to what the TV series Enterprise might tell me about the enigmatic Earth-Romulan War. The conflict hinted at since 1966's Star Trek episode Balance of Terror had been a topic of much ballyhoo among the nerdlingers of my high school crowd.
When was it? Who was involved? Where did it take place?
This novel answers many of these questions. But with very little in the way of thrills along the way.
It does not have a beginning, per se. I guess you need to have read Martin's 'Kobiyashi Maru'.
It does not have an end, per se. The Romulan War, fans have long believed, lasted four years and this novel covers only summer 2155 to 2156. Although it is rather long and dry, so you might not say 'ONLY' by the end of it.
Again, 'Kobiyashi Maru' may have covered this, but why on God's Grey Earth would ANYONE recruit Trip Tucker as a covert agent? I love Trip, don't get me wrong. But why go to the trouble of faking his death, surgically altering him into a Romulan and inserting his butt behind enemy lines? Weren't there any number of Vulcans or at least TRAINED SOCIOLOGISTS or any one of a million people NOT needed in the war SHIPBUILDING effort? Or, as my friend Kirk suggested, a linguist like Hoshi? With Trip's accent and natural gift for languages he must surely have been noticed seconds into his visit to the capital city of Romulus, strolling down Dartha Avenue snapping holophotos, grinning at everyone, and asking in loud American English whether anyone had any grilled catfish.
And somehow Travis Mayweather survives three starship crashes in this book but anyone with the last name Stiles is apparently under a Romulan curse! Three Stileses are killed in this, the first year of the war. One can only conclude that in Romulan (or Rihannsu, as the case may be) Stiles is the most insulting thing you can say to a guy.
It is not a bad book. I must stress this. Trekkies like myself, especially with a touch of OCD, will not be able to stop appreciating the sheer volume of planet and character name-checks from the various TV series, alien society continuity, series cameo appearances, and date-by-date run down of the progress of interstellar war. With front-line journalists and behind the scenes political intrigue, it seemed like any minute it was going to get exciting.
And I must admit, I loved the character of the 18th Dalai Lama. She seemed to be the only one in the book thinking rationally. But she's only on three pages.
I really, really, REALLY wanted to love this book.
At least I have the Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoon. When THAT seems simplistic and repetitive I can comfort myself with the 'pchoo-pchoo' sounds and brightly flashing lights.

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