As with all Trek tie-in stories, it can be hit or miss. The good news for this trio of stories is that the hit ratio is a bit better than in the previous installment.
Opening with a story in the Enterprise is pursuing a precursor to a certain modern era Trek entity that we’ll meet in “Q Who,” the collection gets off to an uneven start. Even trying to put aside my inner nitpicker and just enjoy a story in which Kirk gets to tangle with the proto-Borg, I couldn’t get over the fact that John Bryne was trying too hard to draw a connection between the Doomsday Machine and the Borg. Part of this is that Peter David did this almost two decades earlier with his novel, “Vendetta” and that (if my memory serves me right) he did it better. Again, this could be my nostalgia looking back on a book that I consumed in mere days when I was a teenager and have had a strong affection for since.
The next installment is full of time travel wackiness and features Kirk joining forces with Gary Seven to stop a group of aliens from wiping out the Federation as we know it. I was never a huge fan of Gary Seven, so I wasn’t overly excited to see him return. But the larger threat of wiping out civilization as we know it and only Kirk can stop it makes for a bit of fun with the story. And since the Guardian of Forever is used, I imagine somewhere right now Harlan Ellison is screaming in frustration and reminding anyone who will listen that Gene Roddenberry ruined his “perfect” episode by re-writing it….
The final installment is not only a follow-up to a classic Trek installment but also to an earlier entry in the New Visions series. Harry Mudd (surgically altered to look like Kirk) stumbles across Exo III and goes into the android business. Mudd begins selling copies of the Andrea robot across the universe and Kirk and company are forced to shut this down because Mudd, as usual, hasn’t thought through all the implications of this plan.
As a fan of “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” and Sherry Jackson’s performance as Andrea, I can see where the temptation to have pages filled with multiple images of Andrea comes from. And bringing back Mudd as a thorn in Kirk’s side works well enough. But there are a few interesting ideas that Byrne leaves on the playing field and that don’t get explored well enough for my liking, including the idea of having an army of Ruks to do with as he pleases. There’s also the implications that android Andreas were based on an undocumented member of the original Exo III party and there may have been more to the original android Andrea’s romantic interest in Roger Korby than the original episode gave us.
Once again, I find myself marveling at the technical merit that went into creating these stories and the patience that Bryne shows in going through hours of original Trek to create these new images for his stories. I also find myself wishing that he’d put a bit more into the stories to go along with those new images and not just indulging himself to either give us page after page of Andrea or to somehow have Kirk meet the Borg without necessarily saying their name or calling them out within the pages of the story.