In 2001, Paramount released the newest adventure into the future: Enterprise. The series was set a century before the Enterprise NCC-1701 of James T. Kirk, and was the first prequel series of Trek.
Inevitably, a book line was soon released. The first Enterprise novel was Broken Bow, written by Trek veteran Diane Carey. Regardless of what you may think of the episode, the book itself is, in my opinion, the best Enterprise novel yet written. Even this early into both the novel series and the television series, Carey has all of the characters’ perks and quirks down perfectly.
The next literary adventure into the twenty-second century was Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith’s By the Book. It looked at the delicacies of First Contact missions, also allowing Archer a chance to rethink some of his hostilities towards Vulcan’s policy of withholding certain information. It also gave fans a chance to see the possible origins of the all-purpose “Prime Directive”, which was heavily used during Kirk and Picard’s times. The main problem with writing a book this early in the series was that the authors did not have a strong handle on the characters yet. In fact, with the exception of Ensign Elizabeth Cutler, who is the main focus of the book, the characters are almost generic in nature.
The next instalment of the book saga, What Price Honor?, was written by Dave Stern. The plot centers around a relationship between Lieutenant Malcolm Reed and an Ensign Alana Hart. I enjoyed the little tribute to Original Series episode Turnabout Intruder with the tie-in to Camus II. Although the book had lots of chronological errors, the book definitely improved upon the weak characterisations of By the Book, especially that of Reed. However, even with those improvements, the book did not quite have the feel of an Enterprise episode. (And with the chronological errors of the novel, I have yet to determine the exact time frame of the book!)
The next Enterprise book was the novelisation of the first season finale and second season opener, Shockwave. Although it was entertaining, it did not approach the first two novelisations in quality. The meshing together of the two parts, as well as the episodes Cold Front and Detained, seemed rather forced.
The fourth book of the Enterprise saga was Surak’s Soul, focusing on the character of T’Pol. J.M. Dillard did an excellent job with the plot, adding an easily hateable villain who commits genocide. In my opinion, this book was the first to capture the “modern exploratory” spirit of the series. In addition, the plot was extremely solid and the climax was pleasantly surprising. Dillard also showed a different side to a possible Reed/T’Pol relationship that was an interesting change from the romantic developments of the actual television series.
Following Surak’s Soul came The Expanse, another fine novelisation, this time of the two episodes either side of the Season Two/Three hiatus. This was J.M. Dillard’s second book in the Enterprise series, and her previous experience with Surak’s Soul visibly showed. The book’s non-episode scenes were magnificent and would have added tremendously to the actual episode. I have always thought that novelisations should answer questions about the episode remaining in the minds of the viewers, and The Expanse did so in a believable manner.
The next book, along with the second book of the duology that it’s in, I consider to be the best Enterprise book(s) that were not based upon an episode. In Daedalus, Dave Stern did a much better job than with the mistake-riddled What Price Honor?. I found this book to be completely clear to the reader and had the most surprising twists in the plot. The only low point of the book was the fact that it focused heavily on Trip and Hoshi and practically ignored the rest of the crew. However, this shortcoming was corrected in the second book of the duology.
Daedalus’s Children tied up all of the loose ends from the first book neatly and concisely. My only complaint was the overly easy removal of the two female love interests… in one tidy explosion! Stern also uses a beautiful array of detail in the descriptions of settings, as well as expanded from Daedalus by including the entire crew. I was also a bit surprised at a certain revelation made to Archer.
Star Trek fans eagerly await the next Enterprise book Rosetta, to be released later in 2005. The book centers around Ensign Hoshi Sato and the development of the Universal Translator, and will take place between the upcoming episodes Bound and Demons. This sounds as if it will be a wonderful book, so watch your bookseller around December for this new Enterprise novel. In addition, there will be a short story featuring Jonathan Archer in the upcoming Tales from the Captain’s Table anthology, and long-time Trek authors Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin have a MACO book on the way, so Enterprise fans have much to look forward to in the future.
The eight Enterprise novels to date were released by Pocket Books beginning in October 2001; the most recent, Daedalus’s Children, was released in April 2004.