As a previous reviewer has noted, this novel is not intended to be great literature, but it is far more fun to read than that stuff anyway! It is obviously directed to fans of the Original Series, so my comments are only applicable to those readers. Yes, you will be required to suspend your disbelief in some parts, but if you do you will greatly enjoy the ride. I was very pleased that the events and characters hold very closely to canon, and any deviation was not enough to distract me. In reading Trek novels, I will generally put them down if they take too much liberty with the canon history or characterizations, but in Collision Course I repeatedly found myself smiling at familiarity and a uttering few "ahs" at how the authors wove canon history into this invented history.
I will culminate my opinions on the book with this: I hated to reach the end and I am anxious for the next in the series to be published. What better positive comment can a book of this type receive? To my fellow OS Trek fans, read and enjoy!
Over forty years ago, the partnership between Captain James Tiberius Kirk and Mr. Spock took place on television. That friendship, along with Dr. McCoy, has become one of the most iconic in fiction and television.
William Shatner, joined by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, penned the beginning of a multi-book new series in the STAR TREK franchise. STAR TREK: THE ACADEMY -- COLLISION COURSE shows how 17-year-old James Kirk and 19-year-old Spock first meet, and all the trouble that sprang out of that relationship.
At the time, Kirk is trying to recover from a horrible experience he had on Tarsus IV. The view of that war and Kirk's loss of innocence seems to mirror what's going on in our world at the moment. But it's a good, solid background story that explains why Kirk wants nothing to do with Starfleet and believes they're worthless.
Spock struggles with his identity. Half-human and half-Vulcan, he finds that he fits comfortably into neither world. Not only that, but he's uncovered a plot by someone within the Vulcan embassy that is selling priceless artifacts to a fence.
The book moves along at a lightning quick pace. Although it's 450 pages, I whipped right through it in a single sitting, devouring this adventure for the sheer fun and pleasure it was. The idea of a young Kirk and young Spock is fascinating. The authors do a great job of showing the basis of the long friendship that is to come, as well as setting into play any of the things that Kirk and Spock agreed to disagree on.
Kirk is in love with a young Starfleet cadet who's being brought up on charges for theft. In order to prove her innocence, Kirk undertakes to steal a Starfleet vehicle with a technological device he's created. Of course this is over-the-top, but this is Kirk we're talking about. Overkill should have been his middle name.
In the meantime, a Starfleet officer named Mallory has started an investigation into Kirk. Although operating under another name, I believe Mallory was in an agency that was a forerunner to Trek's Section 31, their equivalent of spies.
The book also deals a lot with father figures. Spock argues - logically, of course - with his father Sarek, and Kirk confronts his father over his choice of lifestyles as well as his relationship with his brother Sam.
Most of the book takes place on Earth, and we don't really get a clear idea of what the city looks like, which I found a little frustrating. And we don't quite get the "feel" of the Academy.
However, Kirk and Spock do take to space in once of the most outrageous plot turns of the book at the end. When I saw where the plot was going, I told myself there was no way they were going to pull it off. But they did it anyway. And realistically, the plot twist doesn't fly, but for the romantic in me, it was perfect.
Over the years, I've found the Shatner books sometimes uneven. Many people have complained that they're Kirk-centric, but I've always forgiven that. Kirk is one of the most enduring characters of the series in all its interpretations. It only stands to reason that much of the focus would be on him.
But in this book, Kirk shares time and space with a lot of the other characters. I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series.
The most devoted Star Trek fans and readers with only a passing knowledge of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock should all find plenty to enjoy in this fast-moving, coming-of-age novel.
(As for the reviewer who says Spock is much older than Kirk in the series, he's wrong. The series establishes that Spock was born in 2230 and Kirk in 2233: skeptics can check the Star Trek Encyclopedia. These authors don't make those kinds of mistakes.)
The story is full of twists, and it gets pushed several times towards the implausible, but always gets pulled back to become another surprising adventure. It's skillfully told, with clean, swift prose and the well thought-out characters are developed through story. The dialogue crackles, and you can hear both the youth of those familiar voices, and those familiar voices themselves.
Though this book is not at all a Kirk ego trip, his coming-of-age story emerges pretty clearly. Mature for his age in many ways, this Jim Kirk is still recognizably a teenager:intense in his loyalties and his opinions, already shrewd and clever, with outward charm and inward emotional turmoil, but at 17, "his only weapon is defiance." Spock's teenage self-consciousness applied to his Vulcan/human inner conflict is also described plausibly and affectionately.
As Trek often does, there's a contemporary ring to this futuristic tale, as this story brings painfully alive the contemporary tragedy of child soldiers in Africa and Asia. There's also a message about why history is important that's a vital part of the soul of Star Trek.
My advice is to put aside your preconceptions, take a deep breath and open this book. You might enjoy the ride. I did.
In the multi-faceted 'Shatnerverse' things happen sometimes different than within the same timeline already established with Trek Lore, including episodes and/or established novels written prior to his novels, but who CARES?? These are science fiction stories revolving around a TV series originally created by Gene Roddenberry a long time ago...let's not read into it what isn't there, okay? Heck, the series itself played around with established Trek Info at times, right? So what's the fuss? Sure, I'd LIKE it if ALL Trek media could agree 100% of the time, but since it doesn't, I'm not going to lose sleep over it, that's for sure. Okay, 'nuff said.
How was the book? you ask? Pretty good...whether or not that was Shatner's skill or the undeniable talent of co-authors Judith & Gar, well, let's say I have a feeling they have more of a part in helping to co-author these novels than Shatner would like us believe--but once again, I don't honestly care as long as the story is worth reading and provides me with sufficient entertainment that I'll feel buying the book was money well spent. In this case: absolutely well spent.
I was skeptical...at first, that fiddling with the origins of Kirk and Spock could be pulled off well enough to give this a positive rating, but indeed Shatner (or whoever else) did a fine job. The plot twists come (sometimes out of left field) and I am constantly impressed with the depth of Trek knowledge they display with each novel they all write together...and most importantly, how well that information is tied together with the new storyline.
For those who judge Shatner based on the abysmal Star Trek V film which was co-written and directed by Shatner--STOP right now...if you've read any of Shatner's non-fiction accounts of time on the set of the theatrical movies, well you know how frustrating filming Trek V was, and how ultimately the movie just plain sucked as a result of studio bickering and infighting--but that in NO way has influenced how fantastic Shatner's Trek Novels are. Some are better than others, but I have been entertained while reading them all. I add Collision Course to that list whole-heartedly. Begin with 'The Ashes of Eden' and work your way through, and I think the vast majority will be almost as surprised as I was at just how really GOOD those books are--and continue to be.
Just my .02...thanks for reading.
This is an important book for at least two reasons. First, it fills in much detail of the events on Tarsus four and Kodos the executioner. The original series was written so well and with so much imagination that entire novels are spun from just the background information of a single episode. This is one such example, Burning Dreams is another.
Second, it is written after all by William Shatner and portrays a young James Kirk as Shatner would like to have him seen. It is in a sense Jim Kirk through the eyes of Shatner with all his cynicism, strength, humor, and flaws. It also gives a good deal of background about Kirk's brother Sam, father Joe, and the familial relationships at play.
I give it four stars cause the action takes a while to get started, but for the reasons above it takes on an importance all its own, and is almost a necessary reference work.