In Double or Nothing, a New Frontier novel by Peter David, Star Trek does Bond.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, Trek already parodied James Bond in the classic DS9 episode Our Man Bashir. In fact, they did it so well that it’s not allowed to be re-run in the USA because it’s too similar. But the link this time is more of a comparative one: whilst not so much of a copy, Double Helix: Double or Nothing fits the James Bond formula.
First, all good Bond stories begin with an action-packed prologue. In the Bond series, the eponymous agent single-handedly destroys a terrorist arms market in the Afghan mountains, or chases a villain along the Thames in a speedboat taking a shortcut through the city streets. What does Double or Nothing have? An action-packed prologue in which our substitute Bond, Mackenzie Calhoun, rescues a damsel in distress from the nefarious villains and also wipes out their HQ.
Second, the movies feature a trippy surreal title sequence. So, okay, we’ll have to let that one slide for Double or Nothing, but you can entertain yourselves with the idea of Vandelia, Shelby, Robin and Soleta prancing about in bikinis, with suggestively styled phaser pistols and provocative flybys of the Excalibur if you want!
Another formulaic prerequisite of the series is a bad guy with a plot to destroy/take over the world. Double or Nothing has Gerrid Thul, a Thallonian madman, bent on annihilating the United Federation of Planets with his replicated virus. Of course, the best villains also have a sidekick usually with a gimmick or disfigurement. In Double or Nothing we have Zolan Darg, a Thallonian arms dealer, apparently killed in the prologue, who is Thul’s sidekick and who, it’s revealed is now a cyborg with razor sharp retractable claws in his fingers. Disfigured and a gimmick.
Now, besides his sidekick, and his plan, a villain also needs a cool headquarters, be it a hollowed out volcano, an undersea city, or a stealth ship. Thul has the mother of all hideouts: a Dyson sphere. With a cloaking device. Beat that, Blofeld!
So, we have our villain sorted. What does the hero need? A damsel in distress or a sexy love interest. Double or Nothing gives us two for the price of one. Vandelia (a.k.a. Vara Syndra), an Orion female who’s an exotic dancer hiding from the vengeful Darg, by disguising herself as a Thallonian sex-bomb no man can resist.
Of course, a staple of the Bond movies is a cool piece of transport, be it with an ejector-seat, a rocket-propeller, or the ability to submerge. So Calhoun has the Trek equivalent: an autonomous freighter equipped with knockout gas and a highly corrosive spray that dissolves enemy ships on contact.
And what follows the vehicle? Gadgets. Forget the exploding pen, the lock-pick built into a credit card, or the dart-firing cigarettes – Calhoun has a phaser that fits into the heel of his boot, a communicator in his other shoe that can reach the other side of the galaxy in real-time, a rank pip that’s really a point-to-point transporter, a false tooth that creates solid holograms, and a scar that is actually a high powered explosive.
So, finally, we come to the rest of the cast after the villain, the henchman and the hero. In the place of Judi Dench’s character, Calhoun gets the equally crusty Admiral Nechayev. Further similarities become apparent when Calhoun gets a nameless ‘professor’ dishing out the gadgets, who is peeved at the thought of letting his kit out into the field; and when Calhoun gets Picard as his fellow agent/partner.
So, Trek can do Bond without mimicking it for comedy as in Our Man Bashir, and it’s why Double or Nothing is my personal favourite New Frontier novel.
Double or Nothing was released by Pocket Books in August 1999.