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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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09/18/2005 Archived Entry: "Star Trek: Vanguard: Harbinger"

Star Trek: Vanguard: Harbinger
by David Mack
Published by Pocket Books

Review by Kathryn Ramage

Starbase 47, named "Vanguard," has ostensibly been built to establish a Federation presence between Klingon and Tholian space. There�s a lot going on on Vanguard: an Orion crimelord has an active syndicate; there�s a Klingon spy surgically altered to look human; an investigative journalist is not only looking for a good, juicy story, but is having an affair with a married Starfleet officer; a piano-playing Vulcan seems to be arranging a few things behind the scenes; and an exoarcheologist has discovered an ancient artifact on a nearby planet, and a moss with an unusually complex genome sequence. At the center of it all is some unspoken secret--something is going on on Vanguard.

Into the midst of all this activity comes the Enterprise, under the command of its new captain, one James T. Kirk, and fresh from the events of the original series pilot episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." Kirk�s suspicions are aroused even before he arrives at Vanguard--what, he wonders, is the real reason why this huge starbase was built so very quickly out in the middle of nowhere? Vanguard�s commander is extremely reticent about answering the young captain�s questions.

When another starship making frequent calls at Vanguard is destroyed under mysterious circumstances, Kirk and crew are assigned to investigate. It�s here that all the disparate characters and story threads begin to come together and Kirk--and the reader--find answers to some questions� but not all the answers, since this book is only the first volume of the Vanguard saga.

Although Kirk and his crew have a part to play in solving the mystery surrounding Vanguard, this really isn�t the Enterprise�s story; for most of the first half of the novel, they remain on the periphery, occasionally entering the plot while other characters and situations are introduced, but not central to it. I found the first half of the novel--the set-up of so many plot threads and introduction of so many characters--rather slow going. People appear, and then disappear with their stories unresolved; I can only assume that they will return later on in subsequent volumes of the saga. However, things do pick up once the investigation starts and pieces of the puzzle begin to connect.

This book includes a color fold-out of the external and internal layout of the Vanguard starbase and, since it is sometimes difficult to keep track of all the players without a scorecard, a helpful guide to the principle characters can be found at the back.

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