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Back to basics

Windows on a Lost World - V.E. Mitchell

There is something appealingly basic about Victoria Mitchell's second contribution to the Pocket Books series of Star Trek novels. In it the Enterprise takes a team of archaeologists to a deserted planet. There they uncover evidence of an even older civilization than the one they were sent to investigate, one that left behind mysterious "windows" that are still active and were subsequently buried by their successors. An accident sends Kirk, Chekov, and one of the archaeologists into the window, where they vanish . . . and the Enterprise suddenly detects alien life on a previously uninhabited world.


What struck me about Mitchell's novel as I was reading it was how well her book captures the essential framework of an episode of an original series: the Enterprise explores something, encounters a problem that jeopardizes some of the crew, and then the rest of the crew works together to unravel the mystery and save the crew members in jeopardy. For this comfortingly familiar structure Mitchell provides a story that would have been impossible with the budget and effects of the series, with a refreshingly original alien species unlike any that had been envisioned beforehand. And even if the the the character traits and skill sets of her new characters are a bit too convenient for the story, overall the combination makes for one of the better Original Series novels, one that synthesizes well the best elements of the show and the possibilities of the written page.