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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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10/02/2004 Archived Entry: "Book Review: Shockwave"

Novelization by Paul Ruditis. Based on the episode written by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga.
Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek
ISBN: 0743464567

Review by Jane Melander

What would you do if you knew that your disappearance -- though seemingly minor in the grand scale of the universe -- would eventually bring about the total destruction of your world centuries later? Like George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, Captain Jonathan Archer of the Enterprise NX-01 is about to find out in the novelization Shockwave by Paul Ruditis.

Based on the climactic Season 1 finale and Season 2 premiere of the UPN series Star Trek Enterprise, Shockwave begins innocuously enough, with an invitation to meet a friendly race of beings called the Paraagans. However, shortly after Archer, Chief Engineer "Trip" Tucker, and Armory Officer Malcolm Reed begin their journey down through the planet's volatile atmosphere (due to the high concentration of the gas Tetrazine), their shuttle appears to touch off a chain reaction of events that completely destroys the planet, including the Paraagans.

Devastated, Archer blames himself for the horrific tragedy. He reports to Starfleet and takes full responsibility. The Vulcans react in a logical albeit predictable fashion. They order Archer to rendezvous with a Vulcan ship, which will ferry T'Pol and Phlox back to their homeworlds. Once that order is completed, the Enterprise is to be recalled back to Earth, effectively ending humankind's first foray into deep space and, perhaps, setting back Starfleet's mission for decades to come.

While Archer broods privately, his crew reacts to the tragedy in various ways. It was fun to read about Crewman Cutler's flirting with Dr. Phlox -- which made for a rather interesting diversion from the seriousness of the episode overall. (However, the scene made me grieve anew at the untimely loss of actress Kellie Waymire, who played Elizabeth Cutler.) Another minor character, Crewman Rostov, gets to voice the concern of the entire crew about their recall and the investigation into what happened to the Paraagans.

At first, Captain Archer seems paralyzed in his guilt, even brushing aside as inconsequential a possible lead that the shuttle may not have ignited the atmosphere after all. Determined to dwell on the tragedy, Archer goes to bed although, he admits, not to sleep. After turning off the lights, he calls for his dog, Porthos. Getting no response, he switches the light back on and finds himself NOT in his quarters on Enterprise but in his old apartment in San Francisco -- before the launch of Enterprise a year earlier. There, the nebulous Crewman Daniels joins him. We learn Daniels is a time traveler from the 31st century and Archer is in the middle of a Temporal Cold War that has far-reaching ramifications for himself and all of humankind. What ensues from this point forward is a tale of time travel, encounters with the unpredictable Suliban, and a desperate mission to thwart hidden factions of the Temporal Cold War from writing Archer out of history and, thus, causing the destruction of Earth in the distant future.

The author includes a number of flashbacks that helps develop the story and brings insight to readers who may not have caught the previous Season 1 episodes. That, for me, was a good thing as I had missed the entire first season.

Shockwave is a quick and enjoyable read. It's action is well-paced and it gives just enough of background to fill out Archer's character beyond the filmed version. As a novelization, it perhaps does a better job than many in conveying the action of the TV version. The characters are better defined at this point (in comparison to those in the novelization of Broken Bow, the series' premiere episode). For the most part, the other major characters get their own moments, but this is definitely a story about Archer and his place in Starfleet's future for centuries to come.

If you're a Star Trek fan and want a good introduction to Enterprise before the October 8th premiere of Season 4, you can't go wrong with adding Shockwave to your reading list.

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