This novel serves as a continuation of the original series episode ‘What little girls are made of’. In the episode, Kirk and Christine Chapel beam down to Exo III to meet the long missing Dr. Roger Korby who is also Christine’s fiancée. Korby tells Kirk that he has made an amazing breakthrough after deciphering the texts from a past civilization of Exo III. Instead of discussing the discovery or showing it, he places Kirk into the duplication machine and creates a android copy of the Captain. After demonstrating how he can make android copies of anyone, Korby tells Kirk that he intends to use the robotic copies to hold human consciousness that can be transferred into it, creating a type of immortality. Korby, however thinks that mankind is too paranoid to openly accept such technology and insists that the androids must be introduced into Federation society covertly. Kirk, naturally thinks the plan is far too dangerous.
In this book, we discover that the androids are still functioning and willing to act out Dr. Korby’s plan. The android copy of Kirk is on a distant planet, ahead of the Enterprise’s arrival. The copy of Kirk makes a phoney deal with local thugs about selling dilithium crystals, they agree to the deal and give him an advance payment. He then makes no secret about spending their all money on rounds of drinks at the local pubs. The Enterprise soon arrives and shore leave parties beam down. It isn’t long before Kirk is mistaken for the android and is kidnapped by the gangsters, giving the android a perfect opportunity to slip into Kirk’s identity and take over command. Androids soon begin to replace crew members of the USS Enterprise and the USS Hood. To add to the trouble, the Romulans have been amassing at the neutral zone, putting Starfleet on a footing for possible war.
This book starts off a little slow and builds up throughout the story and I found that the writing had some flair that flowed nicely. I find that Captain Kirk’s character can be difficult to do justice sometimes, but this book revolves around him the most and really captured his wit and style flawlessly. The Androids make for some gripping villains, underhanded and calculated until the very end, they even square off against the Romulans.
Towards the end, I felt like I got my money’s worth from this book. There’s a scene with Kirk talking to his double on the ship’s view-screen, each accusing each other of being the imposter. There’s also a space-battle between the Enterprise and a Romulan flagship, and my favourite scene in which the Enterprise crew and the androids are having a shoot-out with phasers in the ship’s corridors.
My last thoughts are that this is one of the best Star Trek novels I’ve come across. It was a little slow at times, but this story is the type I really like to see. I also enjoyed going back and viewing the original episode this book branches off from, the story from episode to book flows nicely. With a small amount of changes I think the story could make a really good movie, with cold android villains, space-battles and phaser shoot-outs, how could you go wrong?
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