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The Trek Nation - S.C.E.'s 'Foundations' Trilogy

S.C.E.'s 'Foundations' Trilogy

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at September 21, 2002 - 8:38 PM GMT

Title: Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers: Foundations, Book One
Authors: Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore
Publication Date: July 2002
Format: eBook
ISBN: 0-7434-5672-6

Title: Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers: Foundations, Book Two
Authors: Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore
Publication Date: August 2002
Format: eBook
ISBN: 0-7434-5673-4

Title: Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers: Foundations, Book Three
Authors: Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore
Publication Date: September 2002
Format: eBook
ISBN: 0-7434-5674-2


While Starfleet recognizes the need for ships and crews with specialized skills, early in its history the Starfleet Corps of Engineers isn’t exactly a priority. That is, until a crisis along the Neutral Zone makes clear that the teams of engineering troubleshooters are vital to the continued defense and expansion of the Federation. The ebook trilogy Foundations by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore explains the origins and evolution of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers in this exciting and inimitable series of books. The authors have chosen to tell this tale by utilizing flashbacks to early missions set within an overall framing story.

In Book One, the relative quite of the gamma shift aboard the USS da Vinci is effectively shattered when sensors detect a runaway ship broadcasting a distress signal. The ship belongs to a previously unknown alien race, the Senuta. The Senuta ship is fairly primitive, using a type of ion drive. After passing through a severe electromagnetic storm the Senuta find themselves unable to stop, in fact their speed is slowly but surely increasing and the ship will eventually tear itself apart. Determined to assist the crippled vessel, Lieutenant Commander Kieran Duffy follows a hunch and begins to study old logs where he finds answers that he needs within the reports of the mission that laid the basis for S.C.E.

Commander Montgomery Scott is looking forward to his new posting as chief engineer of the Enterprise, but before he reports for duty he is assigned to an emergency mission to repair vital outposts along the Romulan neutral zone that have suffered severe structural and equipment damage when an ion storm passes through the sector. Scotty finds himself onboard the USS Lovell, an old Daedalus-class vessel where it doesn’t take long for him to come to appreciate the importance of an organization like S.C.E. and the tenacity with which its engineers tackle whatever is thrown at them.

Book two finds the da Vinci’s crew ready to try to stop the Senuta ship, which, after a minor problem, they manage to do. But the vessel has suffered extensive damage and the Senuta crew’s dependence on their computer to run their ship will make some of the repairs difficult. It seems that Senutan society places a great deal of trust in automated computer control, not unlike other cultures Starfleet has encountered.

When Captain James T. Kirk talked the Landru computer into shutting itself down the population of Beta III was left in shambles. In flashback, the S.C.E. is sent by Starfleet to not only assist in rebuilding their infrastructure, but to help the Betan people rebuild their society as well. Scotty finds himself once again on temporary loan with the corps when the Enterprise moves on to another assignment. Unfortunately Landru has other ideas and it soon becomes clear that the task at hand will be much more complicated than anyone imagined which leads the S.C.E. to take another giant step forward as an integral part of Starfleet.

In book three, the crisis comes to a head as the Senuta computer misinterprets the attempts to repair its programming as an attack and initiates a self-destruct. Unable to prevent the catastrophe, the da Vinci takes the stranded Senuta aboard and since repairing their vessel is now out of the question, the problem becomes how to help the Senuta adjust to their situation -- and more importantly, how to help them get home. The current state-of-affairs leads Scotty to remember a time when the situation was reversed.

The last flashback is set after the Enterprises refit when Scotty decides to spend his leave participating in the testing of a new engine design. Starfleet has been working with the Kelvan’s in a cooperative effort to perfect transwarp drive, even providing the decommissioned frigate Chandley for the test. But during the test run things go horribly wrong and the Chandley finds itself far from Federation space, staring down the weapons of an alien vessel whose commander is not too happy about finding the Federation vessel in his own backyard.

Utilizing flashbacks to tell a story certainly isn’t original but it sure works well in this instance. Each of the flashback stories in the three individual books is a complete and interesting story on its own. Well paced and carefully plotted, when taken as a whole Foundations is mighty satisfying reading in a number of ways but it is also possible to enjoy each of the three books on their own merits.

All three books are extremely well written. The camaraderie and obvious respect and affection both the crews of the da Vinci and the Lovell feel for their shipmates shines through the written words. As does the pleasure and fulfillment both the officers and civilian specialists take in their work.

Ward and Dilmore have a real knack for dialogue and for interweaving Starfleet history into the plot of Foundations. I particularly enjoyed that the same small core of personalities was used in each flashback. In addition to Montgomery Scott, the crew of the USS Lovell and its S.C.E. commander Mahmud al-Khaled play a major role in each portion of the story. Additionally those characters that were unique to each story are fully realized characters -- the type of folk you’d like to meet again.

If you’re a regular reader of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers you can’t help becoming attached to the crew of the da Vinci and enjoy their own unique way of handling the wide variety of assignments that come their way. If you are not already a follower of this series, then give the “Foundations” trilogy a try. It’s a perfect opportunity to be introduced to a wonderful set of characters that fulfill a distinctive role and provide a fresh and unusual perspective to the Star Trek universe.


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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.