Reaching Down into the Memory Hole

Steve Roby wrote on his blog yesterday regarding decade-old Star Trek novels that he can “[look] at the front cover art and the back cover text and realiz[e] I remember next to nothing about a lot of these books. I don’t have a great memory anyway, but how is it I can remember so much about books I hated, whereas the complete oeuvres of some past Trek writers made no longterm impression at all?” In his post title he cites three novels–The Disinherited, a collaborative Original Series novel by Peter David, Bob Greenberger, and Michael Jan Friedman; Death Count, another collaborative Original Series novel, this one by Julia Ecklar and Karen Rose Cercone but published under the pseudonym of L.A. Graf (which means “Let’s All Get Rich And Famous”); and Spartacus, a Next Generation novel by T.L. Mancour.

At the span of twelve or thirteen years since I last read these, can I remember them either?

Of the three, only The Disinherited stands out, and even then the memories are rather dim. Uhura was reassigned temporarily to Bob Wesley and the Lexington, while Kirk and the Enterprise were involved in investigating mysterious attacks on colony worlds. The two plot lines converged, however, when it was discovered that the mysterious attackers were a disinherited caste of the very race that Bob Wesley and his crew were investigating.

The book had a Friedman-like plot in that one of the characters has a personal storyline that may or may not effect in a significant way the novel’s major storyline. In The Disinherited that was Uhura. She played an important role–her communications background proved particularly important–and provided the key to the novel’s resolution.

I seem to recall that The Disinherited had a few references to DC Comics’ Star Trek storylines, particularly “The Modala Imperative,” the 25th-anniversay Star Trek crossover miniseries. What stands out the most is that The Disinherited reminded me a lot of Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye. Unknown alien race with a rigid biological casting into social niches, and the powers that be among the aliens are trying to hide that secret from the humans. This describes, in fairly broad strokes, both Mote and The Disinherited.

I think I liked The Disinherited, and if I had to pick a reason why it would be because of the mystery at the heart of the story.

Death Count I remember not at all. I just pulled the book off the shelves, and my memory of the book is no better than Steve’s. Even reading the cover blurb brought back not a single memory except that the binding was pretty poor–pages were canted at very odd angles. It does have Andorians in it, though.

My memories of Spartacus fall somewhere in between. The Enterprise-D discovers a derelict spacecraft with refugees of some sort, who are claimed by another race as their property. One of the factions–perhaps both?–were androids. And one of the races changed their names two or three times in the course of the novel.

If my memories of The Disinherited seem more vivid than those of the other two novels it’s not that I’ve read the novel any more recently than the others–except to pack and then unpack the books as I’ve moved from state to state in the past decade–it’s that the book made slightly more of an impression. Perhaps it was because of the Niven connection I noticed. I imagine that a decade or more from now someone will say the same of Ring Around the Sky, that its cover evokes no memories, that it left no impression whatsoever in its wake.

I began reading Star Trek novels in 1982, when I was nine. The number of Star Trek novels that made a lasting impression upon me may number less than fifty, possibly even less than twenty. I imagine this is true of a good percentage of the Star Trek readership. Over the span of a decade, with hundreds of books read in that span, memories fade. Impressions can be rare and fleeting, the emotional connection a story makes with the reader can be a hit or miss affair. We can’t all be Soong-type androids with their eideic memories. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *