Star Trek: The Original Series: The Antares Maelstrom
by Greg Cox
“The final frontier erupts into chaos as vast quantities of a rare energy source are discovered beneath the surface of Baldur-III, a remote planet beyond the outer fringes of Federation space. Now an old-fashioned ‘gold rush’ is underway as a flood of would-be prospectors, from countless worlds and species, races toward the planet to stake their claim. The galactic stampede threatens the stability of neighboring planets and space stations, as widespread strife and sabotage and all-around pandemonium result in a desperate need for Starfleet assistance. Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise are dispatched to deal with the escalating crisis…which lies on the other side of a famously perilous region of space known as the Antares Maelstrom.”
- Chapters (one through thirty-five)
- About the Author
The Review: Non-Spoiler Version:
“A gold rush in space” sounded like a great idea for a Trek story, and this proved to be the case. Of course, the “gold” must be upgraded to the futurist Trek “pergium” but other than that, it’s a gold rush story.
The Federation, represented by James T. Kirk and and the USS Enterprise are sent to sort out Baldaur III, site of the “rush” and Deep Space Station S-8, the nearest space station to Baldaur. Complicating things is the Antares Maelstrom, a dangerous and mysterious place that lies between the two places.
There are several different story threads in The Antares Maelstrom, all connected. There is a very dangerous situation to solve on Baldaur III, a mystery to solve on the pre-warp Yurnos planet, sabotage on Deep Space Station S-8, and trouble for those entering the Antares Maelstrom.
Interesting new characters join the crew of the Enterprise in this tale. The pergium miners are a rowdy lot and one of them is someone very familiar to Sulu. There are clashes between those who lived on Baldaur III before the rush, and the newcomers. Greed and avarice are found on Baldaur III, Deep Space Station S-8, Yurnos, and in the Antares Maelstrom, which holds its own secrets.
The Antares Maelstrom holds a reader’s interest all the way to the end. This is a story that could have easily been a original series movie. The story was a realistic depiction of what could happen on a tranquil planet when “gold” was found.
The Review: Spoiler Version:
Before going any further, be warned, this is the spoiler version. Don’t read it until you read the book.
With the pergium rush happening, Deep Space Station S-8 finds itself overloaded with ships stopping there en route to Baldaur III. The various captains are impatient to pick up passengers and supplies and to get going. For George Tilton and his head of security, Max Grandle, it’s a bit too much. The station needs help from the Enterprise and Kirk and Sulu, chosen to help with security, must use diplomacy and tact. Sulu handles this especially well and he shines in this story.
One of the nastier villains is Naylis, a Troyian storekeeper who misuses a familiar technology to ensure a steady stream of customers and profit. The revelation of his greed was not really a big surprise, but the method he used was appalling.
Eefa, the native Yurnosian who selling to smugglers on Yurnos, was rather standard. It was fortunate for our heroes that she had a line that she wouldn’t cross. As for the smugglers with whom she traded, I wish that we had been given more information on them. I guess that they were just garden-variety criminals and no one special.
But the real villain in the story was greed. Most of the miners, most of the ships docked at Baldaur III, and Naylis, Eefa and the smugglers were willing to bend and break laws and take advantage of others to guarantee their own prosperity.
Jackpot City, on Baldaur III, was depicted realistically. It was a city that went from a sleepy town to one that had swelled in population without having either the time or money to improve their infrastructure It was refreshing that the mayor, Margery Poho, wasn’t depicted as utterly clueless, but as someone who cared about her people and who would learn from her mistakes. Sometimes politicians on Star Trek can be infuriating, but not this time.
The territorial Maelstrom aliens didn’t make much of an impression other than being the means to save a captain from his stupidity.
The Antares Maelstrom itself was interesting because of the danger of trying to traverse it safely, and by the unique life form that was discovered residing there. In addition, since it was between Deep Space Station S-8 and Baldaur III, more than one ship wanted to risk traveling through it so that they would arrive at Baldaur III before other potential miners.
A gullible captain fell for the fake map sold to him, which promised a safe route through the maelstrom. This was reminiscent of 1800s maps that showed supposedly quicker routes through dangerous territory to California, which turned out to be bogus. The Donner party learned that the hard way. The fake map promising a short-cut fit in well with the gold rush theme of the story.
As someone who enjoys reading about the California Gold Rush (in which one of my direct ancestors took part), I knew this would be a good read. The story flowed well even when switching between the space station, Baldaur III and Yurnos. The characters were vibrant, the Enterprise crew magnificent as always, and the book was very entertaining and pure Star Trek.
Author: Greg Cox
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Star Trek: The Original Series: The Antares Maelstrom is available as a trade paperback for $16.00 ($11.54 on Amazon) or as an eBook for $11.99. The Antares Maelstrom is also available as an audiobook for $19.84. To order, head to the link located here.