Friday, August 31, 2012

Forgotten History

Star Trek DTI: Forgotten History
© 2012 Christopher L. Bennett
352 pages

In the ranks of the Department of Temporal Investigations, James T. Kirk is a legend -- a legendary menace. He just couldn't seem to stay properly in the 23rd century; not a year of his mission went by that he wasn't wandering into another epoch of history. His file of temporal violations was the largest on record, so when a starship appeared at the center of a spatial disturbance that seemed to be converging different times and dimensions of reality, gents Lucsly and Dulmur were not altogether surprised to find that its warp engines registered as those of the Enterprise. One problem, though: this ship wasn't the Enterprise. It bore the marking of DTI itself, and the name Timeship-2. But DTI strictly forbade its agents from traveling in time. The story of Timeship-2 is that of forgotten history, the untold tale of the founding of DTI, one which will delight TOS readers (especially those interested in time shenanigans) and cause its agents to reevaluate the proud legacy of their department and the man they hold with such disdain, Kirk.

Forgotten History is largely a novel set in the original series, with 24th century sections used chiefly to frame the story. It's far more straightforward than Watching the Clock:  starting with the incident in "Amok Time" that introduced time travel into the Trek canon and moving forward through the years as Kirk accrues his impressive record as a time traveler and the Federation attempts to come to grips with the very idea. Although they'd known since the time of Johnathan Archer that time travel was possible for other, more advanced civilizations, not until Kirk and the Enterprise had one of their own initiated it. Kirk, for his part, is an unwilling participant in this temporal research, particularly after he sees the chaos that can ensue, but he understands the importance of the research. Bennett draws on not only the original series and the movies, but the 'animated series' as well. Readers may most appreciate the way he weaves together all these little threads into one tightly-focused narrative, ironing out wrinkles along the way and even making "The Omega Glory" seem perfectly sensible* -- but Bennett adds appeal by offering a look at a "what-might-have-been" universe  where the paths of the Klingon, Romulan, Andorian, and Vulcan empires have taken radically different paths from those we're familiar with. The interaction between this timeline and ours allows Spock to encounter a what-might-have-been of his own, meeting a pivotal figure from his past and redeeming an otherwise distasteful character. 

This is in short a very solid hit for Christopher Bennett and his DTI series.  Fans of Mr. Spock  will especially appreciate the way his character is explored. 

* No, really. 

The author's homepage and annotations
Star Trek DTI page on TvTropes

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