Star Trek: A Child of Two Worlds by Greg Cox
I’m not a big Star Trek book reader, at least as far as books that take place in the world of Star Trek go. I’m more into Trek books that detail the behind the scenes stuff, or pretend guides to technology, or humor related (like Warped available at bookstores now!). I’ve only read one book that took place in the Star Trek universe before and I reviewed it on this very site, Probe. Man did that suck. The only way I’d normally pick up a book like A Child of Two Worlds would be like this: I’m about to get onto an airplane and I’m in the book shop. My choices narrow down to a popular political thriller, a pre-teen book about youth rebelling in an oppressive sci-fi society, or a book with a picture of Spock on it. I’d pick the Spock book, because I’m familiar with Spock and I like Spock.
Child of Two Worlds was sent to me and not to be an ungrateful jerk I gave it a spin despite some fears about having to slog through another book like Probe. On the upside Spock was on the cover. Also, the book takes place in the original series timeline, not in the shitty new movie timeline. That’s a big bonus.
While Child of Two Worlds takes place in the original series timeline, it’s actual a prequel to the adventures of Kirk and friends. Before Kirk took over the Enterprise, Pike was in Command and Spock was his Science Officer. I’ve always been rather fascinated by the adventures of Pike and crew. Due to Star Trek having two pilots. One pilot featured the cast that became infamous and a part of pop culture legend and the first pilot was had an almost entirely different cast that was only originally seen in the two part episode The Menagerie as a flashback. I’ve always liked to think of what ifs. Would the show have even made it to three seasons with Pike and company? Pike’s neat, but he’s definitely no Kirk.
Anyway, I’m getting away from the book. Child of Two Worlds features the crew getting sick and the only thing that can cure them is held by a people who are technically in Klingon space. And to make matters worse the Enterprise crew finds themselves in the middle of a political situation between the Klingons and the people holding the stuff that will cure their space fever.
If you are predisposed to Star Trek, especially the original series, and wish there were more original series Star Trek adventures then this book should satisfy you. If you are getting an airport book and you pick this one up because it has Spock on the cover, then you should like Child of Two Worlds. It’s a satisfying adventure that is almost exactly how an episode would play out on the original TV series, albeit with a slightly bigger budget (they’d have to cut back on some of the set pieces and a few special effects, but otherwise it’s almost film-able as is).
There were a few things I didn’t like, but not many. The biggest pain point was this brother character that was a jerky teenager who was written exactly like a jerky teenager. I hate kids.
Another thing that took me a bit out of the book was the incorporation of some more modern terms and technology. Yeah, I know that it makes more sense for them to talk about encryption, but I’d feel more into it if they just kind of went with the tech level seen on the series.
Finally, I also wasn’t exactly super happy with the references to events that happened in later Star Trek media, particularly Enterprise. Yeah, it existed and I didn’t hate it all that much, but they just seemed like Easter Eggs put in there for Star Trek fans to get all giggly that they got the reference.
That wasn’t the worst of it. One thing that really overshadowed the book from later series were the Klingons. Next Generation did a lot right for Klingons, but I feel like they took some missteps too. The Klingons in this book are clearly Next Generation and later series versions and not the version that more closely matched those encountered by the Enterprise crew on the original series. In fact, the author makes note that some of the Klingons don’t have bumpy foreheads and others do. That pretty much doesn’t exactly make a lot of sense considering that we saw absolutely no ridged forehead Klingons in the original series. If there was any kind of mixing of the types, it’s odd that it would show up prominently in a book and not ever on the actual series.
Okay, enough with my nitpicking. Thankfully, there wasn’t a ton of techno babble, though there was at least once paragraph where I skipped through to get past that garbage. Overall the characterizations were great, the ship’s doctor being a stand out. From the cover of the book I felt like the book would be really Spock focused, but it kind of wasn’t. He had a lot of impact on the story, particularly his mixed alien heritage, but I wouldn’t say that this book is about him.
I must note that the plot itself had some strong similarities with a Next Generation episode “Suddenly Human.” I feel that episode adequately covered the issues presented, Child of Two Worlds is different enough to coexist and still be an enjoyable read.