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No gambit, and barely any Klingons

The Klingon Gambit - Robert E. Vardeman

One of the more apt criticisms of the Star Trek franchise is about the repetitiveness of their plotting. Though the original premise of a starship exploring the galaxy opened up a variety of possibilities, it wasn't long before crew encounters were primarily limited to godlike aliens (often in energy form), faux-Edens, and dangerous machines that needed to be talked into destroying themselves. From the standpoint of a television show (especially the original series), such repetition is perhaps understandable given the constraints imposed by special effects and budgets. It's also what makes the franchise's novels so different; freed from such mundane constraints, practically anything is possible,

 

This is why Robert Vardeman's novel is so frustrating. The title suggests a story involving the Enterprise crew grappling with some fiendish Klingon plot to take over the Alpha Quadrant or perhaps an interstellar battle in which Kirk matches wits with the captain of a Klingon warship. What Vardeman delivers instead is a tepid mystery that for fans of the original series will seem all too familiar, as the author takes elements from two of their episodes and mashes them together after making just a few minor alterations. The Klingons are less of a fearsome threat in the story than they are a secondary plot device, and their "gambit" (to the degree that there even is one) boils down to seeking a MaGuffin and nothing more. The whole thing is a waste of a good title, a neat cover, and the hours of time spent reading it, as fans are best advised taking a hard pass on this one.