"So stay calm, and let's jump in there and do our best."


I really enjoyed this book a lot!! I wasn't so sure that I would, based off the summary alone, but the novel itself is a lot less, hm, spite-motivated than the back summary seems to imply lol. Rather than having some sense of superiority about leadership skills, McCoy's complaints about Kirk's work habits run largely in the vein of neglect to take care of onself -- concern that Kirk is overworking himself and encouraging him to step back and relax a little. Likewise, Kirk's decision to leave McCoy in charge is less of a "Let's see how well You take to it" challenge and more of some well-meant teasing; with their latest exploratory mission, McCoy has spent days overworking himself and Kirk gives him the conn as a temporary measure to ensure McCoy actually takes a seat and gets a moment's break while Kirk beams briefly down planetside, intending only to be gone for about an hour or so.

Clearly things don't work out as intended, but there is so much about this novel to love, and I'm glad that I pushed through my initial hesitance and gave it a read!

I think my favorite part of this book might be all of the wonderful details we get regarding how the Enterprise crew goes about its exploratory missions. It's everything I love about TOS episodes drawn out into an aboslutely beautiful amount of detail -- working to parse through kinks with the Universal Translator while they build up enough vocabulary data points to make the algorithm run accurately, trying to get a better understanding of how these unfamiliar beings perceive themselves and their surroundings, trying to understand the way their bodies are shaped and constructed, the way they interface with each other and their environment. It's science-fiction at its best, and I love the way McCoy's POV in particular blesses you with so many of those lovely little details in the science department. His interactions with the Ornaet (and Kirk's interactions with the ;At) were so much fun to read.

The characterization and interpersonal moments are an extremely close second though. I love this book's insight and understanding of McCoy as a character - particularly when it comes to scenes involving the Klingons. It's incredibly fun to see proof of McCoy's social intelligence and his understanding of xenopsychology, the way both of those influence the way he handles himself around different people. Using his naturally subtly-abrasive personality and tendency towards raised voices (and drawing on the stress and frustration his current situation is providing him with) to garner respect from the Klingon's commander without going so far as to cause genuine offense, and then only after the interactions have concluded, suddenly coming down with bouts of nerves over the potential risk-taking involved. It's a brilliant depiction of a doctor who is used to being flung unexpectedly into high-stakes situations that need to be addressed immediately and efficiently, only really allowing for emotional thought and processing after the fact. It's also especially hilarious how much time McCoy spends hounding the Klingon commander about taking his medications at the proper dosages even during more confrontational interactions :p

The interpersonal interactions between the Enterprise's crew members are equally beloved. It's a delight to see how much of a kick Kirk gets out of all the gentle ribbing he does with his friends, and how much faith he has in his crew and their skills. Fun little exchanges like :

"Jim, every doctor and nurse from here to the Rim lives in hope that one day we'll wake up and find that everybody in the Universe is perfectly healthy and in possession of a signed certificate from G-d saying that they're going to die peacefully in their sleep. Then we can all retire and go fishing."

"You don't like fishing. You said it was barbaric the last time I took you. You made me throw back a ten-pound trout."

that do a wonderful job of giving you the breadth of their friendship's history and making it clear the kind of relationship that they have with each other. Likewise for other moments with other crewmembers -- Spock relaying that none of the crew is overly worried about McCoy being trapped in command while Kirk is missing because they've all been his patient enough to know that he takes his work seriously and can keep his head in a crisis; McCoy and his head nurse Lia bantering and being sarcastic with one another; Spock and everyone else on the bridge being almost taken aback by how impressed they are with some of the moves McCoy makes while he's in charge -- they're so delightfully crafted and a whole lot of fun!

Easily I'd give this book a 10/10 rating; delighted for it to be my first foray into the world of Star Trek novels - the kind of book that only makes you excited to read even more!!