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The Galactic Whirlpool
David Gerrold
Bantam Books, 240 pages

The Galactic Whirlpool
David Gerrold
David Gerrold and his son, Sean, live in California with five neurotic dogs and two and a half cats (his words -- not mine). He is the author of "The Trouble with Tribbles", which Paramount Pictures identifies as the single most popular episode of all Star Trek episodes. He has written many other books, including the popular War Against the Chtorr series.

David Gerrold's web site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Richmond

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Star Trek: The Galactic Whirlpool is a classic Star Trek novel, first published in 1980. The author, David Gerrold, is one everyone will recognize, maybe not so much for his name but for his other Star Trek contribution "The Trouble with Tribbles." The Galactic Whirlpool is not quite as humorous as that famous classic episode, but nonetheless it is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

On a routine patrol investigating Klingon incursions into the Federation space, the Enterprise encounters a huge alien vessel, over 24 kilometers long and 10 kilometers in diameter. It looks to be a large, lifeless city in space, traveling at a third of the speed of light through the sector, until they see the distinctly human face in one of the portals. The crew of the Enterprise investigate, only to discover that the ship, the Wanderer, is a lost colony from Earth, launched almost two hundred years earlier.

Inside the ship they find that the inhabitants have lost much of their technology and reverted to primitive living. The ship is their world and they are unaware of space, star or planets. Worse, the inhabitants are divided into two factions, who are at war with one another. They treat the crew of the Enterprise as gods or demons, mere myths from their past. Captain Kirk and Enterprise must end the civil war and restart the engines of the Wanderer, for if they do not, the ship will be drawn into the galactic whirlpool, two singularities tumbling about each other, sweeping through the galaxy. Just another day in the life of the Enterprise and her crew.

Star Trek novels are great for answering all of the questions that we have during episodes which are never answered. What exactly is Uhura doing when the Captain orders her to hail an alien vessel? Gerrold tells us. Want a detailed explanation of how the transporter works? It's in there. What does the T. in James T. Kirk stand for? According to Gerrold, Academy classmates nicknamed Kirk "The Last of the Claudians" referring to the family that produced the first six emperors of Rome -- Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. An instructor heard the nickname and said,

"The Last of Claudians? Not bloody likely. A Claudian yes, but more probably one of the earlier ones -- say Tiberius, perhaps."

We're given a look inside Kirk's head and his way of thinking as he deals with the delicate situation of ending a civil war and also managing the troubles of his crew.

The book is worth reading if just for the story of how Captain James T. Kirk once surrendered all of Starfleet and the entire Federation and gained the title of Royal High Minister Plenipotentiary in Total Command of the Universe. The Galactic Whirlpool is an excellent book for Star Trek fans and other fans of science fiction should enjoy it as well.

Copyright © 1997 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.


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