Living Memory is a recent Star Trek novel written by Christopher L. Bennett and takes place between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Federation worlds are besieged by something called vacuum flares or some type of cosmic storm. Admiral James Kirk is trying to get used to spending most of his time at Starfleet Academy and does not like being sidelined as the USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain Spock, is sent to investigate. The location of these storms seem to coincide with previous port of calls made by the Enterprise. The more telling common denominator is the presence of Lt. Commander Uhura. A previous misadventure had wiped her memories which led her to having to relearn her past and her abilities. These events force her to reunite with a family she had largely forgotten and renew connections that she had found painful in order to save many worlds. In the meantime, the Academy has accepted a group of students especially bred for war, which leads to a questioning of Starfleet’s priorities. Kirk has to head off a diplomatic crisis and solve a murder on Academy grounds as a seemingly unstoppable force creeps closer to Earth.
This turned out to be one of the better Star Trek novels in recent memory. It is somewhat of a sequel to a television episode which dealt with a mysterious probe that killed Scott and wiped Uhura’s memory. Obviously, Scotty’s death was only temporary, but here was not much explored in the way of Uhura’s recovery. The answer was that Uhura never recovered most of her personal memories but relied on her connections aboard the starship to cobble together a life worth living and relearn the skills that made her such an invaluable officer. Obviously, not all of the explanations provided by Bennett seem all that credible if something like that were to happen in real life, but the overall story still works, and I applaud him for exploring an overlooked piece of Uhura’s history.
There are a few other side plots going on such as a burgeoning romance for Dr. McCoy. Sulu also gets to try his hand at investigating a murder as well. All of the main characters are present in some form or another even though they are no longer on the Enterprise bridge together.
Bennett handles these threads quite well, but he has been writing in this series for a while now. I usually enjoy Bennett’s contributions anyway, but I think he did noticeably better in this particular novel for some reason. Plus, I tend to enjoy when some of the characters other than Kirk, Spock, and McCoy get to shine a bit, and Uhura at the center of the story is a treat that is just too rare.
It is now time to leave the bridge of the Starship Enterprise and return to the TARDIS console room as I read a recent addition to revived Target range of novelized Doctor Who. It finally happened in that Eric Saward had the opportunity to revisit a script he wrote almost forty years ago and novelize it. On the planet Necros, the Doctor and Peri face The Revelation of the Daleks.