Book Review: Let The Contest And The Kidnappings Commence!

A Contest of Principles is a recent Star Trek novel from the mind and keyboard of Greg Cox. It revisits near the final year of the original five year mission where the women wore impractical mini-skirts and the men in red shirts were picked off on a regular basis. A fine period for any Star Trek devotee.

This is a tale of three worlds that are cosmic neighbors or something. They are all in the same star system, parsec, or whatever. Anyway, the inhabitants are all aware of each other, but engage in some rivalry or something. The planet known as Vok is about to hold its first pure election after years of tyrannical military rule. Captain James Kirk and his noble crew of the Starship Enterprise are sent by the Federation to ensure the integrity of the election and remain neutral observers. It seems a simple enough task, but hold on! The crew is made aware of some medical emergency on a nearby planet known as Braco. Dr. McCoy is sent to see if he can lend a hand with a party that includes Nurse Christine Chapel. But hold on! That’s a trick! That landing party is ambushed and McCoy is kidnapped. He is then hauled off to the planet Ozalor to see if he can help an ailing princess. The good doctor finds himself soon enmeshed in palace politics. Kirk can’t leave Vok, however Spock catches up with Nurse Chapel on Braco and begins a search for the purloined doctor. Of course, Spock and Chapel are also taken prisoner by some group dissidents or rebels not happy with the leadership on Braco. Really the only one who manages to avoid capture and captivity is the stalwart captain, but he finds plenty of trouble on his own as well.

This is a rather cheeky summation of the plot, but it’s actually not a bad addition to the still-growing catalog of Star Trek novels. I am not sure that much of it stands out, and there is a fair amount of predictability that is probably unavoidable considering the nature of the series as a whole. Cox has been writing for this franchise for some time, so he has proven himself to be at least a reliably entertaining writer yet again. He does a pretty good job with most of the guest characters, although a couple of them seem more like caricatures at times. No major surprises or plot twists await the reader, however it is solidly entertaining and evokes that sense of nostalgia for the original television series.

The title is borrowed from a quote by a writer named Ambrose Bierce. I don’t usually comment on titles, but I thought this particular one was rather clever and fitting.

Anyway, it’s a pretty good book with a pretty cool title.

Next up, I will be returning to the world of Doctor Who Target novelizations. I have had this collection since I was a wee lad and occasionally find one I not yet read. Terrance Dicks was the most prolific of the Target novelists, yet I somehow I missed out on Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock, so that needs to be rectified. This is one of my favorite television serials, so I shall see if this will become a favorite novelization.

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