World Without End
World Without End arguably predates the Pocket Books Star Trek publishing bonanza with which I was to become far too familiar during my teenage years. While I am a confirmed Trekkie and have enjoyed many thousands of pages of Trek fiction I was not aware of this book's existence until I stumbled across it during a recent visit to the local Half-Price Books. I snapped it up, along with a 1968 edition of Whitfield and Roddenberry's The Making of Star Trek, for a couple of bucks and brother, those two bucks were the best money I have spent on books in a long while.
In World Without End the Enterprise encounters a spherical spaceship which uses a primitive Bussard ramjet for propulsion. The hull of the vessel is disguised as a planetoid and lined with an impossibly heavy metal which makes communication difficult at best. Then when Kik, McCoy and the away team get into a tight spot with the indigenous beings, a type of sentient bipedal flying squirrel, they realize they cannot beam back to the ship. Meanwhile the Enterprise itself has been trapped by the alien ship and is loosing power.
As I indicated earlier, I really enjoyed reading this book even if the resolution owes more to a deus ex machina than the ingenuity of the crew and I highly recommend it to any Star Trek fans out there and would go so far as to suggest it to someone looking for a light sci fi adventure along the lines of Heinlein's Have Spacesuit, Will Travel or Starman Jones. No obtrusive social commentary here, just good adventure in an alien world.
When I sat down to finally write this review I was trying to quantify what it is that I like about these early Star Trek novels. So far both of them I have read (you can check out my review of Gerrold's Galactic Whirlpool here) have been mush more enjoyable than the average Star Trek novel. I think part of this may be due to the authors involved as both David Gerrold and Joe Haldeman are masters in the field of science fiction, however other Trek authors are no slouches. I think it can be boiled down to the fact that novels which predate the released of Star Trek: The Motion Picture do a better job of preserving the feeling of the television series where novels written after 1979 seem to be trying to be more cinematic in scope and thus loose something which makes Star Trek work for me.