Era: Enterprise, Season 2
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2003
While investigating a spatial anomaly, Enterprise is boarded by hostile alien soldiers. Watching helplessly, Trip and Hoshi escape, only to find themselves pulled into a war that is not theirs to fight, on a ship that is slowly killing them both . . .
Welcome, one and all, to the Trip Tucker power-hour! Right from the start, Charles Tucker III was one of the main three characters on Enterprise, alongside T’Pol and Archer. Ably portrayed by Connor Trinneer, Trip brought a sense of grounded optimism to proceedings. One part charming engineer, and several parts Florida Man, Trip was immediately one of the most likeable characters, and embodied the pioneer spirit of those early adventures. In the later relaunch novels, trip becomes a Section 31 agent, which, while interesting, doesn’t quite feel like the man we spent four years watching. It’s nice then, to return to this earlier incarnation of the character, with Dave Stern firmly nailing everything that made the character iconic, while providing a little development here and there.
Trip is really the only character we spend any time with after the opening chapters, which is a bold choice. Star Trek works best as an ensemble piece, so having what is effectively a single-hander comes with a lot of risk, especially since this is part one of two. What I will say is that the partnering of Trip and Hoshi is one I can’t remember seeing in the show, and the scenes we do get with the two of them show what a pairing that could have been. I’m always up for more Hoshi Sato, and even if she is sidelined for much of the book, the stuff we do get is brilliant. On the Trip front, we get to see the man fighting by himself, grappling solo with issues that would usually have a conference to debate.
One element that does come up in this book once Trip and Hoshi have settled with their new allies, is the fact that this environment isn’t survivable in the long term. As countless helmetless away teams have shown, pretty much everywhere in Star Trek is conducive to human life, so it’s a refreshing change to have the environment itself by a serious issue for the crew. As well as providing an effective ticking clock for the plot, this also raises significant questions about the cavalier attitude Trek crews take with exploration. This isn’t Hard SF by any measure, but an acknowledgement of the dangers of space travel will always be appreciated here,
As with Stern’s previous book, the early chapters make heavy use of flashbacks to fill in information. These don’t work as well as they would on screen, often occurring mid-scene, but they don’t stick around for too long. In fact, I was left wondering when they would prove relevant as the story rapidly left behind Trip’s younger days. There is a link later in the book, and it’s a key one, but the use of flashbacks still feels quite unbalanced, and I’m less than convinced by the way Stern uses them here and elsewhere.
Altogether, Daedalus does an excellent job of setting up the second act, posing a lot of interesting questions along the way. There are a few missteps along the way, but this is a must for any Trip Tucker fans.