Sunday, 8 September 2013
Star Trek: The Final Reflection - John M. Ford
Title: The Final Reflection
Author: John M. Ford
“The Final Reflection” by John M. Ford is a Star Trek novel that I believe is rather unique for the genre. The reason for this is that the core story is quite simply one that could be enjoyed by any fan of Science Fiction, not just those who appreciate Star Trek.
Part of this is due to the fact that the only section of the novel which involves the regular Star Trek characters is a very minor framing story. This framing element basically details Kirk deciding to read a novel entitled “The Final Reflection” which is based on the experiences of Samuel Tagore, a Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire. The core of novel is basically this story which is set several decades prior to the events of the original series and follows the life of Krenn, a captain in the Klingon Navy. However, the real aim of the story in my opinion is to use Krenn’s experiences to portray Klingon culture in a deep a meaningful manner.
I honestly don’t believe I can overstate how much I enjoyed this novel. It has a complex and thoughtful plot that kept me fully engrossed in a way I haven’t felt with many other Trek novels. Politics, diplomacy, espionage and action are woven together into an entertaining story that really made me think. In addition the portrayal of Klingon society is quite simply superb and whilst much of it has been contradicted by later TV episodes it is still a well-constructed and believable portrayal. To be honest, I actually think Ford’s portrayal of the Klingons is much more varied and interesting that what we ended up seeing on the various TV series although I did enjoy that portrayal as well.
In regards to the characters, at times it is hard to fully identify with Krenn and his Klingon companions due to Ford’s ability to portray their culture and beliefs as being alien to our own. However, despite this there is still something there that readers can respect and appreciate to the point that the will quickly find themselves supporting them. It was fascinating getting to see the viewpoint from characters that are on the “opposite” side from the Federation etc.
The only comment I can make that could possibly be portrayed as being negative is that there were several points throughout the novel at which I felt I was missing something. Ford’s story is so deep that I had to re-read some sections a few times to catch the meaning and understand everything that was going on. Personally, I quite enjoyed this challenge that I don’t normally get in Trek novels but I am sure some people may not appreciate it.
Overall, this was an excellent novel that probably is one of the finest examples of Trek literature that I have read to date. The story itself is an excellent Science Fiction piece that explores an alien culture and would have been just as enjoyable to read without the Star Trek elements. Whilst much of it has been contradicted by what has come since, I still think it is well worth reading and really highlights the missed opportunities in the late 80’s when books such as this which looked at the wider Trek Universe would no longer be approved.