Mission to Horatius

Mission to HoratiusMission to Horatius by Mack Reynolds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This novel was the first original novel based on the Star Trek TV series and was originally published in 1968. The Enterprise is sent to the NGC 400 solar system where they open up sealed orders sending them to the Horatius system to investigate who sent a distress signal and what the emergency is. There are three planets in the system, each colonized at different times by settlers from Earth, each of whom had been unhappy with the social or political order of Earth. They are all at different levels of technology, from Stone Age, to mid-20th century to early Federation. There is also a subplot about the Enterprise crew starting to suffer from a space malady called “cafard”. This is a listlessness and boredom that can occur if a crew has been out in space for too long without shore leave.
This is an interesting book in the way it views some of the technology and capabilities of the Enterprise compared to later novels and shows. There is an emphasis on the fact that the Enterprise is running low on supplies including medical and engineering resources as well as recreational material. For example, Uhura breaks some strings on her five-string guitar and is unable to replace them because she has run out of spares.
The travel times are also much longer than those encountered in most later novels, although they are like some of the other early novels and the FASA Star Trek roleplaying game, where travel is generally measured in months rather than hours or days.
Another point is how the sensors on the Enterprise seem to be more limited in what they can detect from orbit. Kirk also seems to be more aggressive towards the people that they encounter on the planets, and there could be some interesting debates about whether some of the actions taken would violate General Order Number One, despite Kirk quoting it to members of the crew on several occasions. As a sidenote, it never gets referred to as the “Prime Directive” in the novel.
The story itself is relatively entertaining although the people/civilizations encountered are quite stereotypical.

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