Monday, June 17, 2013

Gather around the Captain's Table

The jumping of the time frames is a constant of the Captain's Table series, but it's taken to a new level here as Kirk tells a story set during the 60s series, Sulu (and later Kirk) during the movies, all while the framing story takes place post-movies. For the most part it works well, but I get the feeling L.A. Graf shoe-horned the framing story in. Considering this is meant to be Kirk and Sulu tell their stories to a captive audience, there are times when you'd expect the other to throw in a sly comment, obviously not all the time, but at the end of a chapters when the storyteller shifts. At the end, as their tales finish and we switch back to the framing, nobody seems to care any more everyone having drifted off as the two Starfleet captains finish their story. Jerry Oltion (the only other one I've read so far) handled it much better with a bit of bar-type camaraderie going on throughout.

During dialogue Graf nails the voices of TOS cast and Tuvok well. Internal dialogue slightly less so. However, the characterisation of Chekov is way off. Here he's the first officer of Sulu's Excelsior. Only he buckles under the pressure because of the deaths of everyone aboard the Reliant in The Wrath of Khan. I watched TWOK a week ago. Khan explicitly states he left then on Ceti Alpha V so they could suffer as his people did. Once Khan is dealt with the Enterprise goes to rescue them. The only person Chekov lost was his Captain. I understand continuity in a huge franchise such as this can be difficult, but when you hang an entire character on a moment a bit of research doesn't go amiss, especially when it's on screen in the very movie you're referencing.

The other issue I had was the speech patterns of the reptilian adversaries, the Anjiri and Nykuss. They're more fractured than Yoda. At the beginning it works well with only short bursts of dialogue, a nice show of the difficulties of meeting a new alien race. But towards the end of the book one of their leaders gives a full breakdown of what happened in the 20 year gap, it is almost impossible to follow. You're left with only a vague understanding of what was said, waiting for another character to explain it.

Shortly afterwards the translator starts to work better so their speech improves. Yet the big explanations are all done. It's still fragmented, but a lot easier to read. Just one scene earlier - with an explanation of the translator was learning all the time - would have helped a great deal.

Yet it was fun. A proper Enterprise/Excelsior crossover story. I've always liked Sulu getting his own ship, and wish we could have seen more in Star Trek VI. This is that brought to life. Poor Chekov though.

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