And so we come to the first of the Peter David books. Peter David is something of a legend in Trek fandom; for his prolific output and incredibly entertaining render of the Trek universe and crews. His book `Imzadi` about the origins of the Riker-Troi love connections crossed over into the mainstream with enormous success, reachng the top of the New York Times bestseller lists.
His other works messed with time, space and story structure in mind-boggling ways. On top of all that, he started off his own ship and crew in the Trekverse- New Frontiers, with Captain Calhoun aboard the USS Excalibur. Strike Zone is the first time he wrote for The Next Generation.
Strike Zone opens with a bit of narratorial comedy (similar to Douglas Adams comedy), which seemed quite out of place tonally to me, while describing the race called the Kreel. They have the `singularly least elegant language in the universe` and their bodies have `one of nature`s more curious design aberrations (right up there with the bumblebee and the duck-billed platypus).
It`s odd though, because that tone is only on the opening page. After that, it goes away. Why have it in there at all?
Anyway, things get much better after that. The Kreel find ancient weapons left behind by another group of Founder-types called the Cognoscente, which they use to start blasting up the galaxy, in particular their most hated enemies the Klingon. The Enterprise gets called in to mediate, and all manner of hi-jinx on board ship take place as Kreel attack Klingons, Klingons assassinate Klingons to create false prerogatives for war, and so on.
In the meantime, Wesley Crusher is learning life lessons about the limits of his prodigious abilities, and Counselor Troi gets all hot and bothered by a precocious little `elf` who uses his `knack` to push her buttons. Nothing happens, but it gets quite steamy for a moment, and also odd, since the elf is Wesley`s peer and of the same age. Hmm.
Another point of humor is the number of concealed weapons carried by Klingons. Picard makes a point of taking the phasers away from both Klingon and Kreel when they come on board ship, to avoid a bloodbath. Worf says they`ll do it reluctantly, but as long as they get to keep their other weapons, they`ll comply.
“How many other weapons do they have, Mr. Worf?”
Picard blanches. “Do you have concealed weapons too?”
“Well, how many?”
On the whole, a solid piece of Trek, with the usual humor between Data and Picard (“Shut up, Mr. Data!”), political machinations, angst of Wesley Crusher, and lots of high tech weaponry. 4 stars.