Star Trek: The Original Series: The Face of the Unknown
by Christopher L Bennett
“Investigating a series of violent raids by a mysterious predatory species, Captain James T. Kirk discovers that these events share a startling connection with the First Federation, a friendly but secretive civilization contacted early in the USS Enterprise’s five-year mission.
“Traveling to the First Federation in search of answers, the Enterprise suddenly comes under attack from these strange marauders. Seeking refuge, the starship finds its way to the true home of the First Federation, an astonishing collection of worlds hidden from the galaxy beyond.
“The inhabitants of this isolated realm are wary of outsiders, and some accuse Kirk and his crew for bringing the wrath of their ancient enemy down upon them. When an attempt to stave off disaster goes tragically wrong, Kirk is held fully accountable, and Commander Spock learns there are even deeper forces that threaten this civilization. If Kirk and Spock cannot convince the First Federation’s leaders to overcome their fears, the resulting catastrophe could doom them all!”
In this follow up to the original series’ The Corbomite Maneuver, fans will enjoy revisiting Balok and Lt. David Bailey, who is serving as a sort of unofficial ambassador to the First Federation.
We finally get to see the First Federation homeworld, which is hidden beneath the atmosphere of a Jovian-type Class K planet named Cherela. Balok’s race (the Linnik) is revealed and other races in the First Federation are introduced, including the Kisaja, Bogosrin, Tessegri, Niatoko and more.
The First Federation’s home has been on Cherela for millennia but due to issues with the artificial habitat, it is in danger of being destroyed. Couple that with an attack by an ancient enemy of the Linnik, the Dassik, and it may be curtains for the Cherela settlement. The Dassik though aren’t at Cherela only seeking vengeance. They’re after vital information that only the First Federation can provide.
This is a classic Trek story, where things aren’t as they seem at first. The Dassik have very good reason for being angry at the Linnik and it’s up to Kirk and crew, Bailey, Balok, and some First Federation renegades to convince the First Federation that change, however unwelcome, is coming. Fortunately for the First Federation, the Dassik, though a predator race, proves to be more interested in the information they seek than in vengeance.
It was enjoyable to read the descriptions of the large (@1200 kilometers) Cherelan residence of the First Federation. It puts one in mind of the base at Yorktown in Star Trek Beyond, although of course Yorktown is much smaller than the First Federation’s massive structure.
Bailey, though, was basically the same guy with the same flaws as in The Corbomite Maneuver, which was a little disappointing. But since only a few years had elapsed since that episode (this story being set just after Turnabout Intruder), it should not be surprising that only small progress had been made.
The mild Spock-Nisu romance could have been taken out of the story with no loss, in my opinion.
The reactions of the First Federation Cherelan residents were realistic given the reclusive nature of their society. I’m not so sure that I buy the Dassik behavior at the end of the story given their nature and the length of time that has passed since their initial beef with the Linnik though.
This was an enjoyable read and it did feel like a sequel to The Corbomite Maneuver. Once into the story, it was difficult to put the book down if it was necessary to step away for a bit.
If you like the original series and The Corbomite Maneuver, you’ll like this story. It’s not necessary to have seen the episode first; the story doesn’t require that knowledge although having seen the episode will enrich the reading experience.
Author: Christopher L. Bennett
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: Dec. 27, 2016
The Face of the Unknown is available as a mass market paperback for $7.99 ($6.79 on Amazon) and as a Kindle eBook for $7.99 ($6.99 on Amazon). To order either, head to the link located here.