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Book Review: Star Trek: The Original Series: The Antares Maelstrom By Greg Cox
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Star Trek: The Antares Maelstrom
Star Trek: The Original Series
Paperback | Kindle | Audiobook
By Greg Cox
Publisher: Pocket Books | Gallery Books | Simon & Schuster
Release date: August 13, 2019

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him. I’ll chase him ‘round the Moons of Nibia and ‘round the Antares Maelstrom and ‘round Perdition’s flames before I give him up! – Khan Noonien Singh, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

When Khan said he’d chase Captain James T. Kirk “‘round the Antares Maelstrom” in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, audiences knew nothing about this galactic whirlpool. Presumably, it was a dangerous area to circumnavigate if the genetically enhanced supervillain name-checked it like that, but that’s all anyone has had to go by for the last 37 years. Now, we’re finally getting a look at the famed location in The Antares Maelstrom, a new Star Trek: The Original Series novel from Greg Cox.

In this original story, a rare energy source called pergium has just been discovered on the quiet, independent colony of Baldur III, prompting a “gold rush” type situation to this area on the fringe of Federation space. Starships transporting would-be prospectors hoping to strike it rich in the mines are flooding the system, with the volatile Antares Maelstrom being right in the middle of the route to Baldur III. While Khan was committed to going around the maelstrom if necessary, some impatient spacefarers plan to take a fabled shortcut through it in hopes of getting to the frontier planet quicker.

Aside from the hazard posed by the maelstrom, which, up until recently didn’t even need patrolling, Baldur III is unable to accommodate the influx of spaceships to the region. And tensions are rising in the colony as both the new settlers and longstanding citizens vie for the coveted pergium. So the Federation dispatches Captain Kirk and his crew aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise to the area to do all they can to help.

Once in the Antares region, the main crew members are split up into seemingly routine assignments: On Baldur III, Kirk heads to the mines to quell hostilities amongst the prospectors while Scotty evaluates the colony’s strained energy sources and Uhuru assists the local authorities in the city. On nearby Deep Space Station S-8, the last pitstop between the maelstrom and Baldur III, Sulu is given a command position where he lends support to the station’s security chief. On Yurnos, a neighboring primitive planet, Spock and Chekov go on an undercover mission to get some intel on a tea smuggling operation… yes, tea, but it’s a special tea.

It all seems very standard at first – nothing the Enterprise crew hasn’t tackled before… except now there’s a saboteur on the space station; the prospectors are so out of control they might kill each other; tea smugglers are more thug than you’d think; and that main energy source really isn’t holding up too well. Oh, and then there’s the Antares Maelstrom, remember that? It turns out putting up a “Do Not Enter” sign isn’t enough to keep pilots from going in, not when there’s fortunes to be made on the other side. Is there really a “Safe Passage” through the maelstrom? We’re about to find out.

Author Greg Cox, who’s best known in the Trek universe for his Khan-centric Eugenics Wars novels, clearly knows a good hook when he sees one. Admittedly, the book’s title is what prompted me to read this novel. I mean, who can resist finally finding out the secrets of the Antares Maelstrom? Not me! The Wrath of Khan is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I am one of the fans who’s been waiting all these years to learn more.

While we do finally get some long-awaited answers and an inside look at this space phenomenon in a very exciting way, there’s much more to this novel than its title feature. The focus of the story is actually divided more amongst the events in the surrounding locations, with the main characters getting their moments in the spotlight in some well-paced adventures. But not everyone got to have a shining moment — sadly, Bones was barely present. And while the Enterprise officers are, of course, always the heroes, some of their tasks were a bit more mundane than others as far as space adventuring goes — providing disaster relief, mediating lower-level disputes, making sure no starships skipped the entry line. Luckily, Sulu does get an exciting starring role here, proving once again that he’s more than just an ace pilot.

Aside from the adventures in the maelstrom, I unexpectedly I found Spock and Chekov’s storyline to be the most enjoyable, even though it wasn’t integral to the main plot and had no relation to the title maelstrom. Some of my favorite Star Trek stories are the ones where the crew has to go without their usual equipment and/or has to keep their space explorer identities a secret. In this case, the Starfleet officers — one of whom is a Vulcan with pointy ears — infiltrate a primitive humanoid culture that has no knowledge of life beyond their planet, so it was interesting to see how they blended in socially and adapted without their usual advanced gadgetry.

At 368 pages and with multiple storylines to follow, plenty of action and suspense, and a few mysteries to solve, there’s a lot to keep you intrigued in Star Trek: The Antares Maelstrom.

See you ‘round the maelstrom!

An epic new Star Trek saga by New York Times bestselling author Greg Cox set during the original Five-Year Mission!

The final frontier erupts into chaos as vast quantities of a rare energy source are discovered beneath the surface of Baldur-3, a remote planet beyond the outer fringes of Federation space. Now an old-fashioned “gold rush” is underway as a flood of would-be prospectors, from countless worlds and species, races toward the planet to stake their claim. The galactic stampede threatens the stability of neighboring planets and space stations, as widespread strife and sabotage and all-around pandemonium result in a desperate need for Starfleet assistance. Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise are dispatched to deal with the escalating crisis…which lies on the other side of a famously perilous region of space known as the Antares Maelstrom.

Star Trek: The Original Series: The Antares Maelstrom cover

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