A mysterious terrorist organization has carried out several attacks against the Federation and Klingon Empire.
Tensions are running high in a region already crippled by conflict. The perpetrators are tracked to the Lembatta Cluster, a mysterious region of space whose inhabitants, the Renao, regard the the Alpha Quadrant’s powers as little more than conquering tyrants.
The Federation are desperate to prevent more bloodshed, and have sent their most powerful warship, the U.S.S. Prometheus, into the Cluster to investigate the threat before all-consuming war breaks out.
As the first original Star Trek novel not written in English, Star Trek Prometheus: Fire With Fire is an ambitious undertaking, deserving both credit and respect to German authors Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg.
Released in conjunction with the 50th anniversary, English-speakers now have access to this novel thanks to a translation by Titan Books, with help from noted Star Trek scribe Keith R.A. DeCandido.
Fire With Fire follows the adventures of the USS Prometheus, seen on screen in the Star Trek canon in the Voyager episode “Message in a Bottle.” The ship is dispatched to the Lembatta Cluster to investigate a terrorist attack carried out by an extremist faction of a species called the Renao. The Klingon Empire, who are also drawn into the story, send their own ship to investigate.
Much of the novel’s setting – including the Renao and the Lembatta Cluster – are original to these novels, including most of the crew of the USS Prometheus. However, there are some familiar faces scattered throughout, including a guest starring role for Spock who is on hand to provide diplomatic support.
The book is also grounded in the continuity established in recent years in the Star Trek novel line, and references many of the recent events in the books. In the timeline, this book is set shortly after the conclusion of The Fall miniseries, and the election of the Andorian Kellessar zh’Tarash to be Federation president.
Perplies and Humberg have created a diverse crew for the Prometheus. While the captain, Richard Adams, does not make much of an impression beyond possessing many of the character traits one would expect from a Starfleet captain, the crew are an interesting array of characters that provide depth to the narrative.
Other familiar faces on the crew include Lt. Mendon, the Benzite science officer from the Next Generation episode “A Matter of Honor,” along with Lt. Chell, the Bolian from Voyager’s “Learning Curve,” and a brief cameo from EMH Mark II — Andy Dick’s holographic doctor.
The authors also provide us with a motley Klingon crew, the IKS Bortas, whose point of view and contribution to the story was simplistic, but nonetheless enjoyable. Sometimes the most fun Klingon stories don’t involve the great warriors, but the bad ones. And the Bortas crew has its share of warriors verging on the dishonorable.
Unfortunately, the biggest issue I had with the book’s characters involved the use of Ambassador Spock. While it is always welcome to see one of the big three’ make an appearance in any Star Trek story, Spock felt very unnecessary to the events in this book, and is involved in one scene that raised significant consent issues that I really did not care for.
As for the story, the narrative was fun but seemed to lack a clear sense of what story it was trying to tell. While book starts and ends as a mystery, the mystery element of the book largely fizzles in the middle as the Prometheus crew work to figure things out that the reader is already privy to. Since we already knew who was responsible for the attack on the starbase, there’s no real sense of payoff when the Prometheus crew finds out as well.
The final mystery revealed at the end of the book, however, which clearly sets up the events for books two and three, was much more interesting, and gives me hope for the sequels as the narrative widens.
With the tension that Fire With Fire establishes between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, the book feels like it’s covering a number of similar themes as John Jackson Miller’s Prey trilogy, which was also published in 2016. It remains to be sees how that plays out over the rest of the trilogy, but I am hoping it moves in a different direction from conflict between Starfleet and the Klingons.
The alien race specifically created for Fire With Fire, the Renao, are a bright spot of the book. They have an interesting and unusual ethos in the Star Trek universe, and I hope they are further fleshed out in books two and three.
Overall, Prometheus: Fire With Fire was an enjoyable addition to the Star Trek novel continuity, the previously mentioned character and narrative issues aside. I’m very interested to see where the story goes next, and I hope that we can truly enjoy the unfolding of the mystery in conjunction with the crews of the Prometheus and the Bortas in The Root of All Rage, due in May.
If you liked Fire With Fire, you should check out:
- Prometheus: The Roots of All Rage by Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg – Book Two in the series is released in May 2018, and continues the journey of the USS Prometheus and IKS Bortas through the Lembatta Cluster as they work to flush out a threat to the entire Alpha Quadrant.
- Prey: Hell’s Heart by John Jackson Miller – A different three-book series also released in 2016 for the 50th anniversary by John Jackson Miller, following the USS Enterprise-E as the crew confronts a crisis in the Klingon Empire.
- New Frontier: House of Cards by Peter David – New Frontier was the first Star Trek novel series to focus exclusively upon an original ship and crew, and remains a triumph of narrative long-form story telling over a number of novels, comics, and eBooks.