Friday, February 1, 2013

February 2012: "Allegiance in Exile"

A beautiful green world, rich in fertile soil and temperate climate . . . a textbook Class-M planet that should be teeming with life. Scans show no life-signs, but there are refined metals, including those associated with a space-faring race . . . and a lone city. But where are all of the inhabitants? Captain James T. Kirk leads a landing party from the U.S.S. Enterprise, hoping to get some answers.

The away team discovers a city in ruins, covered by dust, utterly bereft of life. Tricorder readings indicate that this is no ancient metropolis—it has been deserted only for a year. And just beyond the citadel lies what appears to be an ancient spaceport . . . a graveyard of ships that have clearly been sabotaged.

With these ruins too far from either the Klingon or the Romulan Empires, the Enterprise crew can only wonder: Who could have done this? And could this unnamed threat now pose an imminent danger to the Federation?

by David R. George III
Mass Market Paperback – 384 pages
Pocket Books – February 2013 - $7.99

Let me tell you what makes you live like nothing else… getting tracked down by the twenty-second century equivalent of a heat-seeking missile. Not that I have any personal experience with that sort of thing, but Hikaru Sulu gets that very experience in David R. George III’s latest Star Trek novel, “Allegiance in Exile”.

It all starts with a ruined world… and a girl. Nobody knows how long the ruins have been around, at least not at first, but the key to the mystery lay in the person of Ensign Trinh, the ship’s newly assigned archaeology and anthropology officer. She’s smart, pretty, and she not only figures out a central clue to the happenings on the aptly dubbed planet Agdam, but manages to secure for herself a bridge officer – the afore mentioned Mr. Sulu.

As the story evolves, a twofold emphasis develops – Kirk’s examination of the future, since his five year mission is coming to a close; and Sulu’s contemplation of his own future with Trinh in his life. Neither of the Enterprise stalwarts, however, can possibly be prepared for what happens to complicate their very different situations – one becomes the subject of flirtation, the other of unexpected joy that leads to an inevitable tragedy and to very difficult choices. Both begin to step, in some ways fractionally, in others whole hog, in new ways as they begin forming in their own minds ideas about the future.

While the Kirk story, in which he makes the acquaintance of one Lori Ciana – and yes, Star Trek fans, you can opine on that choice all you want – is relatively balanced and mundane, it is the Sulu story that exults and declines in grandiose measures… and yet it still falls at the foot of the reader as mundane.

Ultimately, the entire tale feels enmeshed in the Sulu/Trinh relationship, and while I am all for lower-decks types of stories, this one fell completely flat. The romantic relationship fell flat, the aftermath of serious life-changes fell flat… and just when you think that a major decision within the relationship can spark some life into the tale, well, you’d wind up disappointed.

“Allegiance in Exile” is not a risk-taking book. It is a character piece, but a lackluster one. The tone, the bearing, and the execution of the story fall completely flat… even the action sequences aren’t enough to breathe any significant animation into what, otherwise, arrives as a rather lifeless tale of life and love on the Starship Enterprise. 


  1. Ah, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one as much as I did. It's no Crucible, certainly, but I thought it was really well done. I enjoyed it a great deal.

    The Lori Ciana thing was definitely a surprise that I wasn't expecting!

  2. Hi Dan,

    I suppose that I found it hard to accept Sulu's arc - not the falling in love part, the *other* side of it. I just can't see him doing anything but Helming the Enterprise or commanding the Excelsior.

    I was also waiting to see something happen between him and Trinh that had some kind of lasting formative repercussions... and while we see Sulu get a bit more introspective (which will clearly serve his future in command), I didn't see any hook that really drew me in to the emotional side of his life with any kind of force.

  3. Yeah, I suppose I can see your point there. Seeing Sulu get so angry with Kirk and basically storming off the ship rang a little bit false. I can see it happening, but it wasn't what I was expecting at all, nor was it how I think Sulu would react.

    I think I really empathized with Sulu because of what was happening in my life at the time. A long-term relationship of mine had recently ended (not through something horrific like death, but rather a great deal of physical distance), so I think I was kind of in the same place as Sulu, even if just a little bit. That was probably why I was so able to go along with what had happened. I wonder if I would feel the same way re-reading it now, a few months later, or in a few months or years from now?