Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Star Trek: Republic (My Brother's Keeper Book 1) - Michael Jan Friedman
Title: Republic (My Brother's Keeper Book 1)
Author: Michael Jan Friedman
“Republic” by Michael Jan Friedman is an interesting Star Trek novel that forms the first part in the “My Brother’s Keeper” trilogy. This trilogy explores the relationship between Kirk and Gary Mitchell, a character that died during the second pilot episode of Star Trek entitled "Where No Man Has Gone Before".
The plot of this first book in the series starts with a framing story which details the final events of "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Then upon Mitchell’s death the reader get to explore some of the psychological impact of the tragedy upon Kirk who opens up to Spock and relates the story of how he and Mitchell first met back in the Academy. The novel then follows Kirk and Mitchell through the birth of their friendship and the first real adventure together aboard the USS Republic when it is diverted to a planet so Starfleet may provide support in securing a peace deal between two long warring factions.
The core story was entertaining and interesting as the reader gets to witness the development of Kirk & Mitchell’s friendship and how they rub off on each other in various ways. However, the USS Republic planeside portion of the story felt a little bit stale at times as it was neither very original nor that interesting in my opinion. It just felt like Friedman had inserted this section of the story into the book so there would be some sort of action etc. rather than it all just being about the character interactions.
As an additional note, I found the treatment of “Where No Man Has Gone Before” to be excellent. I have not yet read James Blish’s originally novelizations of the TV series episodes but it would have to be something really special to better what Freidman has done with the framing story in this novel. It captures elements of the TV show well but also adds to and enhances the aftermath in a well thought out manner that ensures people who have seen the show will actually read something a little bit more in-depth.
However, whilst I did enjoy learning some more about Kirk and Mitchell’s history, the characters just felt a little bit off to me at times. I found it hard to believe that Kirk was such a failure with the ladies as we witness here, nor could I believe that Mitchell would suddenly decide randomly to take on a mission to “loosen” up Kirk. In addition, Mitchell’s psychic abilities seemed a little bit too developed and the way in which he used them to solve every problem without an issue seemed a bit too far-fetched for me. Luckily, none of this was a major issue as their core personalities were pretty much as I would have imagined them at that time.
Overall this was an interesting and enjoyable look at the relationship between Kirk and Mitchell and how it was formed. The overall storyline isn’t anything special, but the real plus points in the novel are in relation to the characters themselves and how they develop through knowing each other. After reading the book, I am more than curious to know how different the TV series could have been had Mitchell not been killed off as he is a rather interesting character. Either way, I am now looking forward to the next book in the series so Kirk and Mitchell’s enjoyable relationship can be explored even further.