starlady: animated uhura: set phasers to fabulous (set phasers to fabulously awesome)
Ford, John M. The Final Reflection. New York: Pocket Books, 1984.
---------. How Much for Just the Planet? New York: Pocket Books, 1987.

I went on a Trek novels binge in 2009 after the first new Trek movie came out, and I did a mini-binge on these two John M. Ford classics before I went to see the abomination that is Into Darkness. I'd read How Much for Just the Planet? in middle school, probably the summer that I took Star Trek paperbacks out of the library by the shopping bag, but not The Final Reflection, before. You think I'm joking.

My friend [personal profile] epershand really likes John M. Ford, so I've accumulated a stack of his books either via her telling me "You must buy this book!" or my buying his books in used stores automatically. This time around I appreciated HMfJtP? much more, partly because I know a bit more about musical theater than I did then and partly because I can now identify all of the people making cameos. I also appreciated several of the meta-jokes, including the veiled but strong implication that Kirk was at one point in the closet. It's a fun, and funny, read.

I hadn't read The Final Reflection before, but it's really excellent: it does for the Klingons what Diane Duane's Rihannsu sequence does for the Romulans, and that is just about the highest praise I can give. I've heard anecdotally that Paramount changed the requirements for Star Trek novels such that it was no longer possible to write a novel in which one of the main crew members wasn't the central protagonist, as is the case with this book, which is too bad, because it's awesome. The main Klingon character is entirely sympathetic and the plot is appropriately twisty, and all in all, it's pretty great.

That said, what I also found interesting about both books was the many assumptions Ford makes in both books about the shape of the 23rdC. In both books he takes the Organian Treaty seriously, for one thing, which is notable because it's something that most of Star Trek has consistently failed to do. But the biggest of these assumptions was the idea that there would still be a glass ceiling in Starfleet, and some lingering sexism in society in general; in comparison, the assumptions about the various forms of technology (magnetic tapes! LOL) are small potatoes, though the protesting mobs on Terra in The Final Reflection are all too depressingly realistic. Ford's vision of the future, in other words, is simultaneously both dated and prescient.


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