Star Trek: Academy: Collision Course

This is the 10th and possibly final collaboration between William Shatner and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens on the life on James T Kirk. This time they go back to the beginning of Kirk’s life and Spock’s and explore why they joined Starfleet.

A little background info on this first. Back in 2005 Star Trek was on it’s last legs temporarily and the TV series Enterprise was heading into it’s 4th season which seemed likely to be it’s last in order to gain the syndication number. It’s ratings had been falling and the bolder season 3 had not been enough to save the show. With the end of Enterprise in sight news of William Shatner returning to Star Trek resurfaced. One was as a guest appearance in two episodes of Star Trek Enterprise. There were talks of this happening and Shatner had thrown in the idea of having the NX Enterprise crew find the Mirror Universe Kirk on a prison planet. The other idea proposed by Rick Berman was to have Shatner play Entperise’s famous unseen Chef who was a doppelganger/distant relative of James T Kirk. The time traveling agent Daniels would take this look alike to the future to stand in for the real James Kirk who had been kidnapped. Following this story idea there was silence in the room and talks to Bring Back Kirk later failed. So the story goes.

The other attempt to revive the character was a second prequel series proposed by Shatner. This series would be go back to Kirk’s early days in Starfleet Academy. The idea was ultimately rejected by the network and so it was turned into a book. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. Shatner’s other Kirk Book “The Return” was pitched as a sequel to Star Trek Generations before been turned into a novel.

I’ve always liked the character of James T Kirk and when the character was killed off in Generations I knew it was going to leave a hole in the world of Heroes. Krik is bigger than life. You can’t really imagine him to lose. I don’t think he is a character you can kill off and not have come back. Superman came back, Sherlock Holmes came back, Goku, Jesus, The Doctor, Godzilla, Optimus Prime and even Spock all came back. So I was thrilled to pieces when I read in Star Trek Monthly (UK) back in 95 that the character would Return in book form at least. It had even more meaning to me because it was been written by William Shatner. Who better to give a deep insight into the character than the man who played him. It was also written by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens whom have wrote some of the greatest and most epic Star Trek Novels over the years. I read these James T. Kirk books like a 10 year old would read Harry Potter and got just as excited about each new release.

As for the idea of a prequel of Kirk’s early days in the Academy I was less enthused. The words ‘Starfleet 90210′ stuck in my mind as the idea that some said such a series would be like. It was not until I read the review of the script for “Star Trek The first Adventure” that I began to like the idea and when a new Movie was also announced to explore the early days of Kirk and Spock by JJ Abrams I was doubly excited. This announcement came around the time before William Shatner released Collision Course which would be his own interpretation of how Kirk and Spock met. This book came first.

The story starts with Kirk stealing a Starfleet car to prove a point and bumping into Spock in a seedy underground club. A somewhat strange place to meet but it’s a funny moment none the less. Both Spock and Kirk’s stories lead into each other and they eventually decide to work together to uncover a mystery within Starfleet. At this point Kirk hates what Starfleet stands for and due to personal harrowing experiences he doesn’t believe that it’s as effective in peacekeeping as many do. His past on Tauras IV is where the root of his disgust in Starfleet began. The novel takes a bold step of having child soldiers in this as an analagy of child soldiers in some countries in our world today. It’s not something they could have done on TV I think but as a book they can push the envelope more.

I like the continuity candy in it. The Reeves Stevens always try to tie up the loose ends and plots holes left in Star Trek, the inconsistencies and nonsensical things. I like their explanation of the Phaser been a combination of the Phase Pistol and Laser. I like how they relate the Romulan – Earth War as the space war to end all Wars and that no such event should happen again.

The reason for Kirk and Spock getting into the academy is interesting. They are both blackmailed into serving with the choice of penal colony or Starfleet service. I don’t have much problem with it. I think Spock is a character who could have come to that decision by himself. Kirk the more rebellious character I can understand getting pushed into it for his own good as in Star Trek 2009. The mentor of Kirk here is a man named Eugene Mallory and he plays a role similar to that of Chris Pike in the 2009 Movie. The movie of course takes a different view of events as to how Kirk and Spock joined but it must be also noted that that movie takes place in an alternate universe/different timeline so neither story conflicts with the other.

The less believable thing about this story was Kirk stealing the Enterprise. This event also happens in the unmade 1991 movie Star Trek The First adventure  aka Starfleet Academy aka Star Trek: The Academy years however in this book Kirk is “allowed” to steal it, although Kirk himself doesn’t realize that fact. It’s a little far fetched to let a 16 year old steal a starship and endanger his life to stop smugglers.

The action is a little bit on the lite side. Reeves-Stevens really deliver on their actions scenes but inbetween the opening and ending action scenes it’s a lot more drama playing out. I could imagine this as the first season of the proposed TV series playing out with the ending having Kirk steal the Enterprise. I don’t know if that would work. I think it would work better as a movie and JJ Abrams pretty much used the Academy prequel idea.

So far I’ve reviewed two prequel stories that involved Kirk and Spock meeting for the first time. I’d love to read the Script for the unmade 91 movie “Star Trek The First Adventure”. If anyone out there has a copy, knows where I can find a copy or would like to trade scripts let me know!

Favorite Quote:
“He wasn’t a child anymore. He was a man. And nothing would ever be all right, ever.”

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