Surak's SoulBy Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at March 7, 2003 - 10:45 AM GMT
Title: Enterprise: Surak's Soul
Author: J.M. Dillard
Publication Date: March 2003
It has been a very long time since author Jeanne M. Dillard has written an original Star Trek novel. Her work the last few years has primarily been episode and movie novelizations, most recently the novelization of Nemesis. With the Enterprise novel Surak's Soul, she has fashioned a pleasant enough story but regrettably, while the novel is very readable, it is not particularly original, complex or lengthy.
When the Enterprise responds to a distress signal they find a civilization on the brink of extinction, the entire population dead or dying from a mysterious illness. T'Pol, forced to kill the last remaining survivor in order to save Hoshi, undergoes an identity crisis. She cannot help fearing that her time on board the Enterprise is leading her to forsake the teachings of Surak and his philosophy of non-violence.
While the Enterprise remains to investigate the mysterious disease, they learn more about the planet's inhabitants, the Oani, a society whose reverence for life has sadly led to their own demise. Offered assistance by a mysterious alien entity, an energy being they call the Wanderer, the Enterprise and its crew soon begin to exhibit the same symptoms as the Oanis. Did they bring the illness back on board despite their precautions, or is there a more sinister plan afoot?
The most enjoyable aspect of Surak's Soul for this reader was the character of Ensign Hoshi Sato and her study of the Oani medical logs. I was able to get caught up somewhat in Hoshi's investigation as the last days of the Oani are played out through those log entries. Despite the predictability of how that portion of the storyline played out, I found myself still able to sympathize with the Oani.
Surak's Soul moves at a good pace and I really enjoyed Ms. Dillard's characterization and attention to the small details. Unfortunately that is not enough to overcome the periods of tedium the story generates. Despite the dire circumstances the crew finds themselves in, the story fails to generate a sense of urgency or real danger.
T'Pol's philosophical soul searching, the issue of when violence is or is not justified, is the major theme of the novel. Unfortunately, in the case of Surak's Soul, ethical contemplation is not enough to sustain the story on its own.
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.