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Tony Daniel is a science fiction writer and author of Star Trek: The Original Series: Devil’s Bargain, Guardian of Night, Metaplanetary, Superluminal, Earthling, Warpath, and short stories such as “A Dry, Quiet War.” With David Drake, he is the author of The Heretic and The Savior. He is also an editor at Baen Books. He’s had multiple stories in Year’s Best anthologies, one of which, “Life on the Moon,” won the Asimov’s Reader’s Poll Award for year’s best story and was nominated for a Hugo Award.
Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
Star Trek: The Original Series: Devil’s Bargain
Captain’s log, Stardate 6397.3. We have established orbit around the frontier colony Vesbius, a settlement just outside Federation jurisdiction in the Omega sector. On the planet below is a colony of nearly 20,000 people, including many families. The conjugated orbits of the planet’s moons have unexpectedly perturbed an asteroid and the huge rock is now on a path to strike the planet—and destroy the colony. Although the colony is outside the Federation, the colonists are human and have strong trade and cultural ties to the Federation. Our mission is to offer assistance and support in the evacuation of Vesbius.
The ship’s intercom whistled and a look of resignation passed over the face of Captain James T. Kirk. He was on a treadmill in the Enterprise workout facility and was near the end of a simulated twelve-mile run to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado. The treadmill was tilted to its steepest incline, and Kirk was sweating up a storm. He’d done this run before, but now he was working on a personal best.
It would have to wait. Kirk mashed the stop button and hopped off the treadmill as it was slowing down. He picked up a towel from a nearby rack and mopped his brow while pressing the button on the workout room intercom that connected him to the bridge.
“Kirk here,” he said.
“We are preparing to enter orbit around the planet Vesbius, Captain,” said Commander Spock, who had the conn on the bridge while Kirk was away.
“Correct me if I’m mistaken,” Kirk replied, “but I thought we weren’t due to arrive for another twenty minutes.”
“It seems that what Mister Scott described as his ‘wee bit of tinkering and tweaking’ on the antimatter recombination unit of the warp drive has had a beneficial effect,” Spock responded acerbically.
“All right,” said Kirk. “I’ll be right there.”
The captain continued to dry himself with the microbial refresher towel. He reflected that while this was not quite as good as a full bath, it would have to do for now. He pulled on his tawny gold command shirt and made his way to the turbolift.
As soon as Kirk arrived at the bridge, Mister Spock arose from the command chair and took a position at his science station. Chekov and Sulu manned the navigator and helmsman posts, respectively, and Uhura was at the communications station.
It was a source of great pride for Kirk to be among his crew. Three and a half years together had formed them into a well-oiled unit. But it was their individual strengths that most pleased Kirk, and humbled him. True, he’d picked his crew carefully, but he’d also been extraordinarily lucky to have such officers from which to choose. Now that the Enterprise’s five-year mission was well past the halfway mark, Kirk could not help but feel a bit of nostalgia for the times he’d shared with these people.
Yet, as always, he had to stop himself from indulging in too much warmth and fuzziness. The mission wasn’t over, not by a long shot, and today he and the Enterprise crew had a very important job to do.
“Lieutenant Uhura, open a channel to the chancellor of the Vesbius colony, please. What was his name? Vader?”
“Faber, sir,” Uhura replied. “He’s standing by.”
“On-screen,” said Kirk.
Uhura pressed a button. The planet, which had previously occupied the main viewscreen, was replaced by a stocky, older man. He looked to be of European stock and possessed a shock of gray in the middle of his combed-back hair. He did not have a happy expression on his face.
“Mister Chancellor, I’m Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise. My ship and my crew are in orbit around your planet and are ready and able to assist you in any way.”
“Assist us?” said the chancellor. “I’m not sure how you could do that. Furthermore, I have to object to the Federation sending a scientific mission our way during such a time as this. Normally we welcome Federation contact, of course. Maybe if you come back in a few months, we’ll be better able to deal with you.”
“Deal?” Kirk replied. “Mister Chancellor, are you aware that there is a very large asteroid on a collision course with your planet?”
“We are quite aware of that fact, Captain,” the chancellor said. “Which is why I am surprised that the Federation chose to send someone to look in on us at a time like this.”
While the chancellor was speaking, another man came into the viewscreen field. He was shorter than Faber and was dressed in what looked like the uniform of a planetary militia. His features were a blend of Asian and European. This man leaned down and whispered something into the chancellor’s ear, and Faber nodded. The other man exited the way he had come.
Kirk craned forward in his chair.
Interesting, the captain thought. Was some sort of intrigue going on below on the planet surface? Had the chancellor’s power been somehow usurped? His response to the Enterprise offer of help would be curious behavior at any time, and it was especially so now.
“We are not here to look in on you, Mister Chancellor,” said Kirk emphatically. “We are here to get you and your people off this planet.”
The chancellor did his best to look puzzled, but to Kirk it had the distinct appearance of a put-on expression. “I’m afraid there’s been a mix-up,” he replied. “We requested no such assistance.”
“On the contrary, sir, three months ago a direct request for assistance was delivered to Starbase Twelve via a drone messenger capsule,” put in Spock from his science station. Kirk knew that the feed to the chancellor would automatically pull back to include the Vulcan in the visual.
“That drone was not authorized by the Planetary Council, however. It was sent by a group of our merchants who overreacted to the crisis before the situation was adequately understood. And be that as it may,” said the chancellor in an officious tone, “we no longer require any aid, and your presence is a distraction, I’m afraid.”
Kirk touched his fingers to his chin and leaned back in his chair. After considering a moment, he spoke again. “Mister Chancellor, we’ve come a long way. I understand that Vesbius is outside Federation territory, but we are concerned for your safety nonetheless. I do have my orders. I’d like to beam down and discuss the situation with you in person.”
“Captain, I really must insist—”
Kirk cut the man off. “Chancellor, Vesbius has a reputation for its hospitality, among other things. I hope that these reports have not been mistaken.”
The chancellor sighed. “Very well, Captain Kirk,” he said. “I will provide coordinates for you to beam down.” The previous hard expression on Faber’s face softened, and he attempted a smile. “We really do cherish our reputation for a generous welcome here on Vesbius, Captain. We will do our best to see that it is upheld when you arrive, despite our trying circumstances. Please understand that while we are not a Federation colony, we have strong cultural and, of course, genetic ties to the Federation and to humanity. I look forward to meeting you. Faber out.” ...
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(Endlich) wieder eine Geschichte mit den (silikonbasierten Lebewesen) Horta! Darüber habe ich mich sehr gefreut. Gerade noch auf ZDFneo die Original Folge mit den Horta auf Janus IV gesehen und das DS9 Buch ("devil in the sky") in guter Erinnerung, kommt dieses Buch heraus, welches ich einfach toll finde. Der Plot der Story in Summe, zugegeben, ist eher "kalter Kaffee" - da die Enterprise halt mal wieder einem Planten aus der Patsche helfen, vor einer (großen) Katastrophe beschützen muß. Dennoch: Kirk darf mal so richtig ran, mit seiner Hannah, Pille, Scotty und Spock sind wieder exzellent getroffen und es gibt Humorvolles und Spannendes. Ich kann aber (erneut) nur 4 Sterne geben, da die Handlung ausführlichst erzählt wird und lediglich auf den letzten zwanzig Seiten der eigentliche Höhepunkt beschrieben wird. Warum nur, schade. Ja, das Buch ist nicht so lang wie andere Star Trek Romane und läßt sich einfach lesen. An mindestens einer Stelle hatte ich aber den Eindruck, daß Text doppelt ist. Anyhow, 4 von 5. Standard-Plot, jedoch für Horta Freunde ein echtes Muß!
Wieder einmal wird ein Planet durch ein gigantisches Stück Weltraumgestein bedroht und die ENTERPRISE wird losgeschickt um bei der Evakuierung zu helfen, denn der betreffende Himmelskörper ist deutlich zu groß um abgelenkt oder zerstört zu werden. Doch als das Schiff am Planeten Vesbius ankommt, einer etwas abseits gelegenen menschlichen Kolonie, die sich bereits vor einiger Zeit von der Föderation losgesagt hat, obwohl sie immer noch gute Handelsbeziehungen mit ihr unterhält, verweigert die Planetenführung zunächst ein Treffen und auf jeden Fall die Evakuierung. Mit ein wenig diplomatischem Geschick wird es Kirk aber zumindest erlaubt mit Spock und McCoy auf den Planeten hinunter zu beamen um mit dem Staatschef zu essen.
Das Essen selbst bringt noch keinen wirklichen Fortschritt, bis auf die Erlaubnis an Kirk und Spock zwei Tage später vor dem Regierungsrat des Planeten zu sprechen. In der Zwischenzeit stellen die Crewmitglieder der ENTERPRISE fest, dass Vesbius langfristig für menschliche Wesen ungesund ist, da seine Biosphäre sehr viele Allergene enthält, weswegen die Kolonisten sich und ihre Kinder genetisch verändert haben – ein Hauptgrund sich von der Föderation zu lösen, die genetische Manipulationen dieser Art untersagt – und nun nur noch auf Vesbius überleben können. Einige Wochen nach dem Verlassen des Planeten waren sie alle tot. Aber der Aufschlag des Asteroiden wird die Biosphäre vollständig zerstören, was ein ähnliches Ergebnis erbringen würde.
Spock und Kirk kommt eine gewagte Idee und sie reisen nach Janus VI um sich einige Horta zu Hilfe zu holen um diesen Plan umzusetzen.Lesen Sie weiter... ›
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)
19 von 22 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Spoiler in paragraph 228. Februar 2013
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The Federation was notified a year ago, by drone messenger capsule, that the planet Vesbius needs to be evacuated because a combo asteroid/comet is going to hit, wiping out all life. No one in the Federation bothers to do anything about it; they don’t even get in touch with anyone until a month before impact when the Enterprise unexpectedly shows up to … co-ordinate the evacuation? Actually evacuate everyone? Not exactly clear what the Enterprise intends to do, but it’s there.
In any event, had anyone bothered to get in touch, they would have learned the Enterprise wasn’t needed because the people of the planet have decided to burrow under a mountain and ride out the impact. That does not sit well with the Enterprise because even if the Vesbians survive the hit, the planet will be uninhabitable for eons. But, plot twist, Vesbians cannot survive off the planet. This was somehow or another unmentioned or unknown by the sender of the drone who presumably lives on the planet.
Not wanting the trip to be in vain, Kirk falls in love and Spock comes up with a clever plan involving aliens we met in the original series. For reasons unmentioned in the book, subspace radio must no longer work, because instead of calling to see if this is at all feasible, the Enterprise makes a warp 8 trip to the alien’s planet to ask for help. The aliens, all the equivalent of teenagers, agree and adopt Spock as their mother. After some on board high jinks, they arrive back at the planet, put down a possible rebellion and save the day. Kirk leaves the love of his life and Spock convinces the teens that he is a father type and not at all motherly.
Oh my, where to start.
This planet is not a member of the federation, but they developed the vaccine for Rigelian fever, they make the best ale in the galaxy and they have trade ties, so they can’t be so out of touch it took 11 months to check on them. If the Enterprise had shown up earlier, it maybe could have nudged the comet a bit and saved all the drama.
The love affair between Kirk and Hannah is, I suppose, meant to make us care about her fate. But we never get to know much about her except that she’s a politician and hot! There’s no build up of love and affection (they hop into bed the day they meet). They don’t have much in common. Nor is it a case of having talents, emotions and histories that fill in blanks the other longs for. He thinks she just the most beautiful and available thing in the world and she thinks he’s… well, no one ever says. I guess she thinks he’s hot. In any event, Kirk leaves without a backward glance and we assume she does too.
The teenage aliens are imagined by the author to be part of a hive mind. The upshot of this is that when some of the aliens are endangered, who cares? It’s like worrying about one ant or one bee. They become more distinct during the crisis and after the danger passes, but by then it’s too late. We didn’t really care if they were saved or not.
There are some recycled McCoy jokes; Sulu and Chekov act to save the Enterprise without telling anyone what’s up; Spock is as boring as possible; and Kirk falls in love. Scotty gets a pretty big role near the end in which he is very well portrayed. There are no formatting or egregious grammar errors. Some might like the engineering details, but there's not much else to interest anyone in this book
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Kind of disappointing5. März 2013
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Format: Kindle Edition
I enjoy reading these original series novels once in awhile, but this one was just a bit too obvious and cliched for my taste. I enjoy reading these when I get to observe some interesting interaction and development of the relationship between the characters. This one just didn't do it for me.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Not worth the money13. März 2013
Rob & Meredith
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I was disappointed enough in this book to write my first ever review, after years of buying on Amazon.
This book reads like a cookie-cutter TOS television episode with dialogue by George Lucas. The villains of the piece are completely generic, only needing a mustache to twirl to further stereotype them. Their motivation goes beyond illogical. The Horta are the only interesting part of the book. Some good characterization for them; that's the only reason this book has two stars instead of one (or zero).
One reviewer questioned whether or not it's possible for more excellent TOS stories to be written. I have no doubt there are tons more to be found; they just need a much more competent writer than this one.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Really enjoyed this one...12. März 2013
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Format: Kindle Edition
Kirk gets an unexpected surprise in this story, and an old friendly race is brought back in this story to help out, not the one you would expect. This colony that broke away from the Federation has a fascinating story, once they decide to tell the truth about themselves. Fascinating read. I loved the whole storyline..!! Highly recommend this story..!!
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Star Trek: The Original Series: Devil's Bargain12. März 2013
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Star Trek: The Original Series: Devil's Bargain: by Tony Daniel
This is an adventure roughly three and a half years into the original mission. Though not the best read of "The Original Series" adventure it is true to form and perhaps a bit trite, with standard clichés, and predictable outcomes. Where the Quixotic Captain Kirk is chasing after the women, the stoic Spock works on a plan to save the planet Vesbius from certain doom, Dr. McCoy works his country Doctor Charm and Scotty works his engineering miracles. Not to mention, that Sulu and Chekov get together to investigate an accident/sabotage aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise that leads to some interesting conclusions. According to Sulu, something doesn't smell right.
This adventure takes place in the Omega section of space on the fringes of the Federation involving the planet Vesbius which is threatened by a very large asteroid/comet that is on a collision course with the planet. This is a life extinction event for the frontier colony. So, when the U.S. S. Enterprise and her crew arrive with the news, the ruling body of the planet have no desire to leave or evacuate. This is where the storyline gets interesting and the reasons are withheld to further along in the story. This story is well-written, with intrigue, suspense, mystery and a romance that leads to some interesting consequences. Vesbius is well known for its ale, agricultural products, and warm hospitality, not to mention an ore vital to the Federation. The Enterprise crew has asked to come to the surface to further explain the circumstances, but the reluctant settlers have no choice and start to "dig-in."
As Spock works on a novel solution to the asteroid/comet he comes to Kirk with the solution. Remember, that the crew is in the Omega section of space where there is another planet Janis VI, on which, there is another life form that can render a solution. The Horta is a silicon-based life form from Janus VI, composed of a material similar to fibrous asbestos. So, the Horta make a reprise as one species tries to save another from complete annihilation.
Horta physiology was very different from the carbon-based norm more commonly found in the galaxy. Horta were difficult to detect with tricorders, and were invulnerable to type 1 phasers, though they could be injured with an adjusted type 2 phaser. They fed on rock, and thus they were nourished just by tunneling. Horta tunneled through rock like most humanoids walked through air, moving with the aid of an extremely corrosive acid. They left perfectly round tunnels in their wake. This acid was so corrosive that it only left fragments of bone and teeth if used on a Human. Although the Horta did not evolve in an oxygen environment, they seemed able to exist in it for extended periods of time.
The Horta species possessed (as compared to carbon-based life forms) an unusually long life span. Every fifty thousand years, all of the Horta die out except for one, the so-called All Mother Horta, who watches over the eggs until they hatched, and mothered and protected them after. Horta eggs were spherical in shape, and they seemed to mostly consist of silicon, aside from a few trace elements. They were stored in the Vault of Tomorrow in the Chamber of the Ages.
It was in the midst of one of these temporary phases of extinction that the Federation colonized Janus VI in the 2210's. The mother Horta tolerated the Federation presence up until the miners established a new, lower level in 2267, where they first encountered Horta eggs. Thinking them nothing more than balls of useless silicon, the miners' automated equipment destroyed thousands of them. The mother Horta defended her children by carrying out actions of sabotage and murder against the Janus VI colony.
It was only when Commander Spock of the U.S.S. Enterprise mind-melded with the mother Horta that he was able to determine that the Horta were actually an intelligent life form. In fact, before the discovery of the Horta, silicon-based life had been thought a fantasy by Federation scientists.
The mother Horta reached an accord with the miners, who were distressed at the destruction they had caused. The miners would leave the Horta alone on the lower levels once they began hatching, while the Horta would use their abilities to locate and construct access to choice mineral deposits for the miners. Just as the Enterprise departed the planet, the first baby Horta hatched and began tunneling rapidly. (TOS: "The Devil in the Dark")
Now, two and a half years later, the hatchlings are in their adolescent phase of development and are taking care of their All Mother. Now, Spock, aka Speaker from the Stars, has to convince the adolescent Horta to take on the task of tunneling into the asteroid/comet that is threatening Vesbius. What is interesting, one of the Horta is more precocious than the others and goes by the name Slider Dan. He is an integral character within the subplot of the story.
I found reading this book that there are some strong similarities to several other literary publications like: "The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha" a novel written by Miguel de Cervantes. The novel follows the adventures of Alonso Quijano, a hidalgo who reads so many chivalric novels, that he decides to set out to revive chivalry under the name of Don Quixote. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who frequently deals with Don Quixote's rhetorical orations on antiquated knighthood with a unique, earthy wit. He is met by the world as it is, initiating themes like intertextuality, realism, metatheatre and literary representation.
Also, there are veiled references to Robert Frost through descriptive writing. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. One of the most popular and critically respected American poets of his generation, Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime.
Let us not forget Khan Noonien Singh, a fictional villain, in the Star Trek science fiction franchise, portrayed by Ricardo Montalbán. The character first appeared in "Space Seed" (1967), a first season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, and reappeared as the antagonist in the 1982 film Star Trek II: "The Wrath of Khan."
There is an acknowledgment to Greg Cox at the beginning of the book and for good reason. Author Greg Cox penned three Star Trek novels featuring Khan. The novels were published by licensee Pocket Books, though the subject matter falls outside of canon. In the two-volume "The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh," Khan and his followers are placed aboard the sleeper ship Botany Bay by Gary Seven as part of a deal to stop Khan's machinations on Earth. The 2005 follow-up, "To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh," relates what happened to Khan and his fellow exiles between the events of "Space Seed" and "The Wrath of Khan."
Superficially, Khan is believed by some to have similarities with Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of the "Übermensch" (superman or overman). Khan is mentally and physically superior to any normal human. A term used in this story: "The Augments" is the name of the 82nd episode from the television series Star Trek: Enterprise. The episode is the conclusion of a three episode arc involving the "Augments," following "Borderland" and "Cold Station 12."
Here, we see there are similarities, as the Vesbians, mostly biologists, geneticists, and terra formers, in order to live on Vesbius, had to augment their DNA with a tri-helical strand in order to live in the biosphere of the planet. Since "Augmentation" of human DNA is illegal in the Federation, Vesbius opted out of the Federation in order to proceed with their plans. But, with augmentation there were downfalls as well. The inhabitants with augmentation could not leave the planet for extended periods of time, they were essentially linked to the planet, as their autoimmune system would start to attack and degrade their bodies. There were several references to a villainous thread relating to Khan running through the story involving jingoism, ethno-zealotry, and bellicism all stemming from the Exos a group with ulterior motives.
I enjoyed reading this novel and it brought back some interesting thoughts that I've shared here. The book was interesting and the storyline moved along at a good pace. After you get past the story set-up, the action-adventure and intrigue build, and then a twist to the conclusion. So, there are three essential parts to the book, keep reading and you'll find some interesting passages about the Horta and their society.
PS: To the editor, there is a typo on page 108, "the" should be "that," on the last line.