Friday, June 6, 2014

Nitpickery: How Much for Just the Planet?

Hey y'all.  So I'm finally posting a Nitpickery that isn't about Starcraft!  Yay!

This is actually a non-canon Star Trek novel, one written....I dunno, just for the heck of it.  There's a crap ton of both Trek and Wars novels, but I generally only read the Trek ones.  It bugs me that Star Wars novels are technically "canon", despite the fact there's forty bajillion and the next Star Wars film is probably going to screw up novel canon anyway.

As you can guess, I'm generally against making books from games/movies canon.  There's the potential for so many books to come out that no one can keep up with it all.  That, and the horrid Starcraft books probably played a part in ruining my poor Starcraft 2.

In any case, How Much for Just the Planet had some sentimental value to me.  I mean, it didn't at first.  A while back I started to read it, but its sarcastic narrative tone was very off-putting to me.  It felt like the author, John M. Ford, was using humor to make a really blunt, sickening point about life -- one that isn't true, but makes one feel sick inside.  I didn't read long enough to figure out what theme it was, but I knew it was there.  There's no interest for me in a worldview that does not result in goodness or true understanding.  So I stopped reading it.

However, there's a hitch in the story.  A girl I knew once came into the bookstore, looking for something sarcastic for her brother to read.  I suggested this book, and she got it.  However, it turned out she liked it better than her brother.  Odd, that.

Then she died.  She was in an accident that involved her car slipping on the ice.  Apparently more people die from icy roads than working in mines in the US.  The worst part of it was that she was the type of person that was really sweet and kind.  Just the sort of person who really deserved to live a long time.  So for her sake, I went ahead and read the book.

Hm.  Apparently being sweet does not translate into good taste for books.

Don't get me wrong.  From a literary standpoint, How Much for Just the Planet is much better put together than every single of the Starcraft novels I read.  There are many good things about it, and it's a fun read if you're good at ignoring themes or not all that familiar with Star Trek or political procedures in general.  Unfortunately, not meeting either of those qualifications, I can only give the book partial credit.  It has been referred to as a "crackfic", and that label is very accurate indeed.

So the plot of this book is that the planet Direidi has a lot of crystal dilithium, which, for the non-Trekkers among you, is the fuel for spaceships on Star Trek.  The spaceship Jefferson Randolph Smith, a very small ship with an apparent crew of three, is suffering from a lot of problems, including a computer that has suddenly developed sentient AI.  It has the good luck of discovering Direidi's dilithium.  It has the bad luck of encountering a Klingon ship led by Captain Kaden.  Kaden figures he can shoot the Smith and pretend he discovered the planet for the Klingon empire, only the Enterprise just so happens to be in the area testing an inflatable spaceship.  The Smith's crew is forced to eject in an escape pod, but survive long enough to signal the Enterprise and bring on the next phase of the plot.  Which has very little to do with the first phase.

That is, the Direidi negotiating the freedom of their planet.  Under the Organian treaty which relates to the discovery of new planets, each side must prove their ability to "peacefully develop the planet" to the native population.  The natives then decide who they want to have mining rights.  However, these natives just want everyone to leave them alone, so they decide to initiate Plan C, and force the crew of the Enterprise and the Fire Blossom to endure all manner of humiliations, ridiculousness, and singing, without the slightest hint of political negotiations.  While all this is going on, the three members of the Jefferson Smith have to find a way through the Direidi wilderness and be rescued by the Enterprise.

Nitpickery involves spoilers.

There are two primary troubles with this book.  Well, three if you count the bad themes.  Four if you really don't like sarcastic books.  But that's subjective, and bad themes can wait a minute, so let's get to the other two: ignoring Star Trek, and the ending.

Oh wait, I forgot, the first error is that they set things up and then abandon or relegate them to minor roles. There are lots of things like that.  Kirk and co., as well as Kaden and co., all start out having errors with their food replicators.  Food is turning out strange colors, like orange juice suddenly appearing neon blue.  The food is fine, just odd colored.  This is never followed up on or explained.

Likewise, the computer of the Jefferson Smith gets a Vulcan milkshake spilled into its circuits, and thus this computer spends much of the earlier chapters as a sentient, annoying, wishy-washy thing that aggravates everyone it speaks to.  After destroying the inflatable starship mentioned before, the thing disappears from the book.  Sure, it gets towed off for repairs, but it never seen again.  Also, the inflatable starship is never mentioned again, as well as having no impact on the plot further than confusing the Klingons momentarily.

Speaking of thrown away, the crew of the Jefferson Smith are human Captain Tatyana Trofimov, a bird creature named Tellihu, and clumsy Vulcan T'Vau, the one guilty of messing up their computer.  These three get a lengthy introduction, and apparently T'Vau knows Spock (and made a very bad impression).  How much do these three affect the plot?  Just about zero.  They have a good introduction, sure, but then they only pop up once every fifty or so pages, suffer a little, and then disappear again until Ford wants to torture them some more.

Ballisticcow's interpretation of an alien bird thingy.  Or just a misappropriated pretty bird picture.

Two child characters, Orvy and Thed, are there as a subset of the Trofimov/Tellihu/T'Vau plotline.  They're only there to be annoying, and have even less connection to the main plot.  There thing is that they're obsessed with a James Bond-like fictitious character, and thus influenced by it to deceive the Smith crew and send them out into the wilderness when the three were trying to find civilization.  There's also a bit where they end up on the Enterprise briefly, but it was stupid and pointless, so I didn't care.  Their introduction starts out with several pages of their James Bond character, and so suddenly going from a sci-fi to a thriller story can be jolting.  It was the point where I stopped reading the first time through.

So all those random threads get left dangling, with no real point.  It's like listening to a comedy routine.  The comedian is not telling a story, so there isn't one.  There's just a series of jokes which work or don't work according to the perception of the audience.

But that's mainly the side plot.  The main plot has lots of potential, and I particularly like how Ford paid attention to the side characters of the crew of the Enterprise.  In fact, their storylines are better than Kirk's.  That might have been the point, actually.

In any case, the crews of the Enterprise and the Fire Blossom (Kaden's ship) are invited to the surface of Direidi. Instead of having some official delegation, Kirk and Kaden are greeted by a singing that brings them to a literal hotel where it's announced "chow time!" and all the guests are sat down to eat from dilithium platters.  Uh-huh.  What's obvious as the talks begin is that the Direidians don't appear to care about the negotiations, and yet neither the Klingons nor Federation people seem to take much notice of that.  Sure, their "everyone has their own culture" thing makes sense, but it's obvious the Diereidians don't take the situation seriously.

That's where the disconnect with the franchise comes in.  Original series Star Trek is very straightforward and rational, and if this sort of thing had happened on the show, Kirk would have pulled his crew aside and had a very serious meeting about it.  It's obvious to anyone who isn't an idiot that the Direidians have something up their sleeves.

And yet how do book Kirk and Kaden react?  Well, first of all they're taken to their hotel rooms (what exactly is typical procedure for negotiations?) and Kirk and Kaden meet up in one of their rooms and talk, while Kirk's ex flame Ambassador Sanchez and Klingon second-in-command Arizhel go for girl talk in their room.  Uh huh, I'm sure that's appropriate diplomatic behavior.  And it's literally girl talk, too.  Because both the Klingons and Federation people are idiots, they involve themselves in a very comic scene.

Warning: I'm about to introduce more characters.  There's a ton of characters in this book, and few of them are worth all the pages they get.  90% of the Klingons are all the same, Kirk doesn't show his distinct personality past the blue orange juice scene, all of the Direidians (both children and adult) are like a symbiotic collective with the exact same sarcastic attitude.  The most unique characters, Jefferson Smith's crew, are relegated to minor roles.

I will say, not every character was a fail.  In fact, even the ones that were not all that interesting at least had some fun narrative at times.  Though indistinct, many of the Klingons were amusing.  McCoy was awesome like always, and Uhura's plotline is one of my favorite appearances of her character ever.  I really enjoyed it.

So the Direidians have their plan, to where they want to manipulate the diplomatic teams of both governments in the most humorous way possible.  All of the characters are split up, so I'll talk about Kirk's plotline first.

They send Deedee, a "princess" of the people, to go invade Arizhel's and Sanchez's slumber party, and her fiance Pete to Kirk and Kaden (why does their plan involve an unextremely unlikely combination of people?), and these two tell their respective groups that their parents don't want them to be married, so they need to set up this complicated premise to where Pete can impress Deedee's parents by stopping a "cat thief" -- who is really a hired friend in disguise.  The Klingons and Federationites agree to help.

Thing is, why should they?  Sure, Arizhel is all like, "If love is a duty, it is a duty that allies us", but really?  Even touchy-feely people would be reluctant to involve themselves with some immature scheme to deceive others.  The main goal of the delegations is to peacefully settle who gets to mine Direidi, and they're going to potentially embarrass themselves by pretending to be attacked by some kid in a tight black suit?  Surely a Klingon captain would simply smack Pete upside the head and tell him to do something that's actually impressive.  Surely Mr. Love Expert (gag) Captain Kirk would spout some nonsensical "advice" about what love is, pat Pete on the head, and send him off.

Klingons do not tolerate your bullcrap.  By Stravob2.

This gets even more nonsensical when the friend who was supposed to be the thief, if there ever was one, gets hurt.  This means that one of the conspirators has to play Pete's victim.  And since the male diplomats don't know the female diplomats are involved, and vice versa, the Direidians thus trick both Kirk and Arizhel into dressing up in tight black and a mask.  Again, there's no reason why a dignified captain and a Klingon warrior would agree to this.

I'll finish up that plot session when I get to talking about the end of this film.  First of all, I'll talk about the rest of the crew.  That first night when Pete and Deedee are tricking the four most politically powerful of the representatives, Sulu decides he wants to investigate some sort of treasure-related....prophecy, I guess, that the Direidians mentioned during dinner.  It's something about finding treasure at dawn.  Since McCoy is the only one who wakes up when Sulu knocks, he gets to go with Sulu to find it.  Which is odd, because you never see McCoy and Sulu hanging out together on the show.  McCoy's an old crank and Sulu is young and brash. Still, I'll give that a pass.  It's not like Sulu is developed enough on the show, so we can assume Sulu's good at making friends to the point he can get along with Mr. Cranky.

Speaking of Mr. Cranky, McCoy is probably the best written character in this book.  Ford naturally understands McCoy's sense of humor, which is sarcastic, blunt, and full of silliness.  It works very well, and feels very much like McCoy's on screen persona.  Heck, Ford should've just written a McCoy book.

Two Klingons, Askade and Memeth, get suspicious (or wanted the treasures themselves), so they tag along with McCoy and Sulu.  After driving a bit, they get kidnapped by strangers in the wilderness who are ruled by a singing evil queen and her desert dwelling minions.  Their only ally is Gladiola the cook, who claims that their orders for food are signs from a prophecy that they're fated to rule the kitchen staff and stop the queen.  Gladiola, however, is "sucked into a nutrient machine and fed to the queen" -- or so they want their captives to think.

There's good and bad about this plotline.  The tension is actually pretty good, but it's sort of spoiled by the queen herself.  She's a fine character, but if you're captured by someone who keeps singing Gilbert and Sullivan songs, it's sort of hard to take all that seriously.  That's not as bad as Gladiola's kitchen staff nonsense.  A prophecy that comes to pass because McCoy orders biscuits and gravy?  It's amazing that the captives even believed she was on their side.  On the other hand, the four of them had some really interesting escape plans that felt very Star Trek.

McCoy was awesome as always.  When demanded to bow, he replies, "You see, ma'am, these two gentlemen already have a dictator, it's against Mr. Sulu's religion...and I'm a Democrat."

Well, I'm not a Democrat, but even I think that's hilarious as mess.  Exactly how McCoy should respond, except I highly doubt present day political parties will last three hundred years into the future.  Of course, Chekov is still a Soviet cliche despite the Soviet Union no longer existing, so whatever.

Chekov and Mr. Scott kinda get the short end of the stick.  Someone had to, I suppose.  In that they don't get many pages.  So Scott and Chekov go to the bar in the morning, then have a few drinks.  Scott gets into a fight with a Klingon while Chekov attempts to make a friend with another.  The two are forced to join in on the brawl, when they are stopped by a Dereidian.  He asks the fighters to settle their disagreements more pleasantly, to which Scott challenges his rival to a game of golf.  They do so, only to be shot at by Dereidians in the distance with nothing to defend themselves besides golf clubs.

Turns out there's a Star Trek for everything.

This plotline is okay.  It's very short and nonsensical, and doesn't really make sense because it's supposed to line up with other events, and it feels like it doesn't take enough time.  Then again, I don't play golf, so what do I know?  It just doesn't feel very long the way it's written.  Nothing interesting happens either.  There's a part where they take a break and listen to a song played by a robot constantly falling to pieces, but that doesn't relate to anything, so meh.

Also, Scott getting into a fight is a reference to Trouble with Tribbles, an episode where he is only forced into a brawl because someone insulted the Enterprise as a ship.  He actually kept hot-headed Chekov out of a brawl until that point.  Having Scott get into a fight over his ship again is the single place in this book where Ford struggled to be original.  It's essentially a very dull, rehashed way to get a bar brawl started.  Chekov really should have been the one to set it off.

Uhura has the best plotline.  It has the most tension, the absurd situations, and Uhura really feels like herself.  She was hardly expanded on at all during the series, and Ford expands on her very well.  It helps that she's with Proke, a Klingon who has an absurd knowledge of human 40s/50s films.  They get along brilliantly, and go around town with the intent of just seeing the sights and having fun.  Uhura, however, buys an artifact from a junk shop that happens to be desirable, leading both her and Proke to be accused of murder, arrested, forced to break out, and then put in a very convoluted James Bond-like villain trap, where they have to escape from being tied around an old style camera without knocking over a vial of explosive liquid.

This plotline, to me, is the best.  For one thing, Proke is the single most unique of the Klingons.  He actually has a distinctive personality, and I love his banter with Uhura.  Likewise, this adventure is the one that best matches the promise of the premise -- the Dereidians really are putting on a fun show that is not only able to be taken seriously, but is also hilarious.  Plus, it's not immediately ruined by the intended victims figuring it out.  Even if Uhura and Proke find out that the whole thing is a joke, they're still running from people who want to capture them.  This is the only story I really liked, but it's ended abruptly and we don't see Uhura and Proke until near the very end, when the climax has passed.

And what is the climax?  Meh.  It's just antics with Kirk, Kaden, Arizhel, and Sanchez.  They go on a double date, but then separate to go and prepare for the plan that is absolutely ridiculous for two kids they just met the day before when this can only end badly.  And end badly it does.

I admit, I couldn't keep up with all the hijinks.  It's stuff like Kirk stuffing himself in a tight suit, Arizhel pretending to beat herself up, Sanchez going out of a fire escape while her dress tears off, and Kaden thinking that Arizhel is cheating on him with Kirk.  Laundry mixups abound.  Symetrical stains.  Fighting in an incinerator.  It's that really boring "who's on first" sort of random stuff that just makes everyone involved look stupid.  Kirk never should have been in that situation in the first place, and the Klingons wouldn't stoop that low either.

It all culminates in the four running to the basement.  Then a wall falls down and in comes Chekov, Scotty, and the Klingons hanging out with them.  Then Sulu, McCoy, and the Klingons with them burst in.  And then a pie-fight ensues.  No, really, the Direidians put pies out, and everyone starts throwing them at one another.  Yay.  Uhura and Proke aren't involved, because they got hit with stunners, but that's just as well.

Pies are sweet treats, not weapons of war.

Turns out, the Direidians just wanted to live in peace, and they filmed everyone in their pie fight and gave each side a copy to keep them in line.  They say they want an agreement where they join the Federation and yet have all mining contracted out to the Klingons.  And then Kaden and Kirk each receive their tapes of their crews fighting with pies, and everyone goes home.

The trouble with this is that it's a huge let-down.  When reading, you expect a lot from the Direidi, and yet they're simply trying to humiliate the Klingons and Federation, with only minimal creativity.  The Direidi are simply unlikeable.  Besides, there's nothing their antics earned them that couldn't have been just as well gained through negotiations, and their antics rested a lot on the crews of the Enterprise and the Fire Blossom all acting like idiots.

See, to get to this point, so much Star Trek canon had to be stretched or forgotten.  Kirk's domination of everything around himself was compromised.  Why didn't he demand straightforward negotiations?  Why didn't anyone accuse the Direidians of being ridiculous, when it's clear they were?  Why would sensible, logical adults get into a pie fight?  Sure, Spock's the only one with pointy ears (and Ford keeps him on the Enterprise the entire time because he could have stopped the Direidians in ten minutes), but the others aren't complete idiots.

What's more, the Klingons are not some generic race that are simply viewed as bad.  They really are bad, at least during the original series period.  They're an overly aggressive society that wants to conquer everyone they can.  They don't take lightly being laughed at.  Now, it's said at the end of the book that being laughed at was the greatest weapon of all, and that the only race to fear was the one that didn't fear being laughed at.  Thing is, that's not even close to being true.  The Klingons, insulted from the way they were treated on Direidi, would pretend to go along with the treaty, kill the Direidians for their insolence, and then call it a mining accident.

Thing is, the Direidians are assuming that every race, or individuals in each race, reacts the same to being laughed at: to recede and hope no one else finds out about it.  But there are so many other reactions that can possibly come from laughing at another person, that it can't be used as a guaranteed way to get what you want every time.

Besides, the Direidians originally came from Earth, as evidenced by all the human cultural references and items on the planet.  Technically, they already belong to the Federation.  Funny that that's never mentioned.

An obvious thing to note is that Ford kept Spock away from the Direidians.  That's because Spock, as a logical person, he would see through all of their nonsense.  I'm a bit sad we didn't get to see Spock's special brand of shut-down.  He's really good at it.

"You want me to dress up as a burglar?  That's going to happen."

Quite frankly, the real Kirk would have seen through them as well.  The real McCoy probably would have growled at Sulu and gone back to bed before even getting close to whatever the Direidians tried.  And why was Sulu all that interested in treasure in the first place?  At no point has Sulu shown the slightest interest in money or gaining for himself.  Sure, he, Chekov, and Uhura were all very underdeveloped, but that doesn't mean you can't add interests to them at random.  It has to make sense with what we intuit of the nature on the show.  And I'm not quite convinced Scotty would challenge someone to a golf duel.

That's another thing.  Most of the Direidian plans hinge too much on the people they're trying to trick.  A good scheme is sure to keep victim choices to a minimum, steering them the way it wants.  Thing is, only extremely sympathetic people would involve themselves in the whole Deedee and Pete situation, particularly after the "hired cat burglar" doesn't show.  It was Scott's choice to get into a brawl and have a golf duel.  All the Direidians did was stop the bar brawl, and then later shoot at them.  There was no reason for Scotty, Chekov, and the Klingons to fling pies at other Starfleet and Klingons when their primary antagonists in that situation were all Direidians.

The McCoy/Sulu plotline was better, because they had antagonists in the form of the desert dwelling Direidians.  It almost works as a Direidian plot.  Obviously the Direidians wanted the Klingons and Federation to stop viewing each other so much as enemies, so that their conflict wouldn't take place on Direidi.  Keeping the Klingons/Federations prisoner was a great idea, as it forces them to see other enemies. However, it fails in how it was started.  How were the Direidians to know that Sulu wanted to go after treasure?  Starfleet is full of exemplary humans who choose peace over gain, and Sulu doesn't seem like one of the exceptions.  Even if it was mere curiosity, it's just as easy that Kirk could have ordered his subordinates to do something specific instead of just wandering Direidi, or that Starfleet has regulations about what is done on a planet when you're acting as a group of dignitaries.

Plus, the Direidians messed up their scheme by having the evil queen sing about herself and having Gladiola be so...odd.  This isn't too bad, as McCoy, Sulu, and the Klingons are still their prisoners, and have to get out even if they guess that the situation is not as it appears to be.  And their escape attempts are interesting and fun.  Again, no reason for them to join in on the pie fight at the end, though.

I call Uhura and Proke's part of the plot the best, as they are not only the best at guessing what's going on around them, but even if they did figure out that they're being had, there's no reason to suspect all the Direidians, rather than just the individuals that have been antagonizing them.  Also, when someone is "killed" in front of them, they have to take the situation seriously, no matter how goofy their antagonizers are.

It's both good and bad that they get shot with stunners at the end of their plot.  It's bad because it's sad they miss out on the climax of the book, but it's good because they miss out on the absurd pie fight.  The only other weakness I can think of is that the Direidian's purpose was to make the Federation and Klingons seem less like enemies.  Trouble is, this wasn't a lesson either Uhura or Proke needed to learn.  Proke has an obsession with an aspect of human culture, so clearly he'd be happy for peace.

From watching Uhura on the show, I would call her at least a little uncomfortable about being around Klingons, simply from them being enemies.  However, at no point in the book does this discomfort show, and she's actually quite friendly with Proke.  Probably even her show version would hang out with Proke if she ever met a Klingon as polite as him.

Still, overall, this plotline was the most fun, and had the most fun dialogue.  Most of the dialogue in this book is pretty fun and entertaining, at least when it's from the non-Direidians.  Even for most of the people who dislike the book overall, there's going to be at least a few things they found entertaining.

And make sure you drink your neon blue orange juice, kids.  By Pi Lo Chun.

Now, I mentioned before that the Direidians' plan doesn't really work, because not everyone reacts the same way to the same stimuli.  However, John Ford's underlying point was different, and it turns out I was right about him having a message he wanted to communicate with this book.  This message is shown by how he ends the plotline of the Jefferson Smith crew.

So the three, Trofimov, Tellihu and T'Vau, have gone through their barely explained but completely miserable adventures, where they get antagonized by a messed up computer, take the advice of people they shouldn't, stay away from people they should have trusted (McCoy and Sulu run into them at one point), and just plain stop being able to figure out their situation anymore.  They do, but sheer luck, end up teleported onto the Enterprise, where they find their escape pod and sink into it to sleep instead of asking anyone for help.

Their plotline ends with them wandering through the Enterprise, being observed by a redshirt.  This redshirt sees a metaphor with the three of them.  Trofimov, walking the center, is the human being influenced by a "demon" (Vulcan) and an "angel" (bird guy).  Tellihu attempts to ask the redshirt for help, but is stopped by Trofimov, who insists "we'll find our own way."  T'Vau, who has been trying to recite intelligent things to keep the stress from getting her (doesn't work, apparently), recites what the redshirt can only determine is nonsense.  The plotline, and in fact the entire book, ends with the redshirt wondering if she should report them, but decides not to, because she doesn't know who to report to or why.

So you're not going to report three odd, disheveled people wandering around your ship?  It's probably regulation to report stuff like this to security.  Also, this is indicator of the theme of this book: not taking good and evil seriously. Um, good and evil are huge themes.  Philosophers have been going over them forever.  People vote for riot against government because of judgements based on good and evil.  People try to make good look evil and evil look good to justify their immoral actions.  It's been happening since the beginning of time.

Tattoo by Karlien Kemp.  Pretty cool, actually.

Granted, Ford may have been trying to say we shouldn't take good and evil seriously, as in this conflict gets obsessed over too much.  Thing is, you can only say that if you live in a perfect society where all such questions are academic.  Keep in mind that discussing evil a lot, particularly in front of young people who don't know any better, can easily lead to evil.  I've read a book on influence, and according to it, when a big murder is in the paper, murder in general goes up.  That, and I've read books on evil dictators Stalin and Mao Tse Tung.  Evil is real, and laughing at it isn't going to make it go away.  Stalin has camps for that.

Laughing at good is even more absurd.  Good is something we all need to live.  There's the good of being with your family, enjoying sights, achieving things, getting through long books, and living each day believing you're not going to get shot tomorrow.  If life isn't good in some way, then what is there to do?  Either kill oneself, or fight for good.  Laughing at good?  What does that even mean?

Sure, John Ford is probably not saying all that.  He's probably being anti-Christian, or anti- any worldview that includes viewing life as a battle between evil and good.  Well, everything I just said is still true, and Christianity is often the only way oppressed people survive, and in fact thrive, in a place where one false move gets you killed by the local evil.  Again, the only way a person can end up criticizing the good vs. evil conflict is to live in a place where neither is understood.

You may think I'm going too deep when critiquing a humor book.  You're absolutely right, but I didn't put in that theme, the author did.  Thus it becomes an issue.  This is exactly why I don't read humor books, aside from the occasional Lewis Grizzard book (and I don't always like those).  Too often the "comedian" isn't so much trying to make someone laugh, as much as propagate their really annoying, depressing, and/or not though out beliefs.  One might argue you can't really make anyone laugh without making fun of something, but that's not necessarily true, as proven by the snappy dialogue in this book.

So yeah.  This book is not good overall.  The theme sucks, it forgets who Starfleet is, it forgets who Klingons are, and it has possibly the weakest Kirk I have ever seen.  Sure, it stands to reason that Kirk needs to get shoved out of the limelight so that the lesser characters get a chance to shine, but if you're going to write him, at least try.  Also, the sarcastic tone of the book, as well as the crap ton of perspective jumps, is something that either the reader will love or put down the book over.

Quite frankly, the best way to fix this book would be to keep it off Direidi.  That probably means that they have to change the main focus on the book, but since the theme is meh, why not?  How Much for Just the Planet is actually really good until the point where Starfleet characters first reached Direidi.  The random replicator problems were fun, the inflatable starships were amusing, and it had genuine conflict in how in the world to stop Jefferson Smith's computer from bugging out.  The perfect antagonist for a humor book is a crazy computer.  It could have been a lot of fun.  A lot more fun than the singing drones of Direidi who tried to pass themselves off as real characters.

Whatever.  I don't care anymore.  I just want to bring this book back to work so I can check out something else.  Don't worry, I have no obsession with Star Trek.  Chances are I won't be nitpicking one of these books again, not unless one gets my attention.  They probably won't, though.  I've read a couple more, and none of them really have the fun of the show.  James Doohan (Scotty) once said that he and his fellow actors for the original series "are Star Trek", and I agree.  I'm not sure it's possible for a writer to re-create that kind of chemistry.

Before I end off, I actually found a recap of this book that is admittedly superior to mine.  Thing is, my purpose in nitpicking is to satisfy my own need to rant about things.  If it entertains you, that's nice, but I just like ranting.  This recap (it's not a review) is funny, cute, and tells you essentially everything you need to know about this book.  Other than the crappy theme, but reading this is better than reading the book, and appeals to those of you who have better sense of humor than I do.

Apparently I need to read Spock's World.  Huh, so much for avoiding another Trek review.

Star Trekkin'!  By Emushi.

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