Star Trek: Preserver -- Written By William Shatner
Written By: Jason Turner
Published: Issue 18
In the final part of the alternative universe trilogy, Kirk slowly unravels the mystery of the Preservers, which connects and centers on two universes and two James T. Kirks.
Easily one of the greatest Trek novels ever written, PRESERVER combines the best elements of the original series and Next Generation, ending one of the most epic Star Trek stories ever produced. Not only does PRESERVER tie up all the loose ends from the previous two novels, it also resolves plot threads from 35 years of Trek history -- all the way from several seemingly unrelated episodes up to the second TNG movie, FIRST CONTACT.
I find that the measure of a great story lies in three criterion, and when each is applied with enough satisfaction, the result determines how much you enjoy what you've just experienced.
The first criterion is: Does the story keep me glued? In the case of a great book, do I want to keep turning the page? With PRESERVER, absolutely. Not only is the action taken to a spectacular scale in certain chapters and doesn't seem to stop, but in between, we are met with well-crafted character interaction where our heroes attempt to deduce a giant mystery, putting themselves through hell in the process. Especially gripping is the ever-changing situation of Kirk and Tiberius, two equal but very opposite men who are using each other and deep down want to kill one another.
*** THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS CONTAIN SPOILERS ***
My second and third criterion (not necessarily mutually exclusive in this instance) are: Did the story involve me emotionally? and Was the conclusion satisfying? In other words, was it worth sticking for the journey? I'd have to say an affirmative YES! I can't get to the heart of this novel's appeal to me without discussing its strongest allure, which lies in the story's conclusion. Very rarely does any novel invoke the kind of emotions that PRESERVER did. When Teilani sacrifices herself, Kirk's victory once again comes at a major cost, leading to some very emotional moments for the character and the reader, which no doubt stem from Shatner's personal experience. I challenge anyone not to be close to tears reading the final few chapters.
The second commendable part of the story's finale was the turnaround in the Tiberius character. Right from the first page of the novel, I was convinced that Kirk was going to kill him somehow, and that he'd meet an inevitable end. Vowing to kill his evil counterpart throughout the novel, Kirk turns around, like he always has, and saves Tiberius from certain death. Tiberius leaves us with the intention of making up for his evil ways, seeking a second life upon his return to the mirror universe. Wonderful writing, and that's where the heart of truly good classic episodes came from: the humanity in the writing.
The whole attraction of Star Trek was that no matter what happens, optimism and hope always win out. During that process, something reaches out and grabs you, pulling you inside the story, whether that be a message or commentary that rubs off or a comfortable feeling of resolution with a final thought to chew on. This novel keeps you in that world long after you've finished reading.
Overall, a gripping storyline that is also tightly paced and well-written, with a classy conclusion akin to the optimism of the original series and the promise of yet more Kirk adventures. It's about time Paramount pulled some money out and started investing in some classy TV movies. I can't think of any better blueprints to go by than the latest Shatner novels.
Rating: Highly Recommended. Buy it NOW!