The Final Reflection

Ford, John M.
Pocket Books 1984
ISBN 0-671-03853-2
253pp
Date finished: 2006-11-05

I wonder how this book was received at the time? It's a novel set in the Star Trek universe that takes a revisionist approach to early Federation and Klingon history. There are only cameo appearances by the Old Series characters in a few pages of framing story and a brief appearance and another quick reference in the story itself. Most of the book is a novel-slash-memoir about the Klingon captain Krenn, set some 40 years earlier. Rescued from an early life of near-slavery by Thought Admiral Kethas, Krenn soon regretfully turns on his mentor and sets out on his career as a ship's captain. One day he's given the mission of transporting the Federation ambassador to the Klingon homeworld Klinzhai, and finds an unexpected admiration for the elderly little man who carries no weapon except for dangerous ideas.

The same terrain was later explored by the Enterprise TV series, though the continuity doesn't match. I wonder: was this novel considered a radical up-ending of Star Trek tropes in 1984? The Klingons have transporter technology more advanced than the Federation's, clever diplomacy, and near the end the tables are turned: we learn that the Federation is doing something nasty and Krenn is the upstanding character who stops it. The Klingon Empire is a multicultural world where crossbreeds and other races (including a number of Vulcans!) are fairly common, while a movement on Earth argues for isolationism and abandoning the idea of a federation of planets.

The author died recently, and in one memorial thread this novel was called "the finest Star Trek novel ever written", sending me off to find it. It is in fact very good, though I haven't read enough ST novels to know that there are no better ones, and this novel wouldn't be as remarkable if it were a standalone book set in its own universe; part of its appeal is how the book inverts various conventions of the Trek universe. The author wrote another ST book, How Much For Just The Planet?, that I read back in high school; it was a musical comedy, believe it or not, and is still fresh in my memory even today. Final Reflection won't be that memorable for me, but it's certainly a fine work.

Tagged: star trek

Permalink: http://books.amk.ca/2006/11/Final_Reflection.html

%T The Final Reflection
%A Ford, John M.
%K star trek
%I Pocket Books
%G ISBN 0-671-03853-2
%D 1984
%@ 2006-11-05
%P 253pp
%W http://www.johnmford.com

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