Diane Carey, First Strike (Pocket Books, 1996)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith, The Soldiers of Fear (Pocket Books, 1996)
L.A. Graf, Time's Enemy (Pocket Books, 1996)
Dafydd ab Hugh, The Final Fury (Pocket Books, 1996)

Star Trek takes itself very seriously as science fiction. The Star Trek universe is one where, at least in the Federation, science has solved all of life's problems. Most illnesses have been eliminated or are easy to cure, and injuries can be repaired rapidly. Energy sources are limitless, so no one has to work except for the sheer pleasure of it. The supernatural, in all its definitions, is something that civilized beings have outgrown.

So what is a review of books set in a universe that denigrates the supernatural doing in The Green Man Review?

Well, the Invasion series is an attempt to look at supernatural events rationally. The premise is simple: the demons and monsters populating the folklore of cultures on many planets really exist. Millennia ago, they fought for control of this region of space and were defeated. They want to return.

In the four volumes of Invasion, the four principal Star Trek crews are caught in a fight spanning thousands of years and tens of thousands of light-years.

In First Strike, a Klingon fleet is preparing to conquer a small planetary system when the system is destroyed by the arrival of an enormous spaceship through a disturbance in the fabric of space. The ship is populated by monsters from Klingon folklore, so the Klingon general calls on a "demon to fight demons," his enemy Jim Kirk of the Federation. Kirk and the Enterprise (from the original Star Trek series) discover that the newcomers, whom they call the Furies, were defeated in a great war millennia before. Now they are returning from banishment on the other side of the galaxy to reclaim their lost territory. Kirk manages to destroy them, but not before they send a message back to where they came from.

Flash forward around a hundred years. In The Soldiers of Fear, the Furies are back in greater numbers with more powerful weapons. Klingons and the Federation are officially (but sometimes reluctantly) allies now, with a Klingon serving in Starfleet. Picard and his multi-talented team (from the series Star Trek: The Next Generation) succeed in beating the Furies back, after being confronted with the collective nightmares of almost every race in the quadrant.

Time's Enemy takes place very soon after The Soldiers of Fear. A starship is found frozen into a comet. It has apparently been there for five thousand years, yet it is also identical to a ship that is still active in the story's present. One member of the five-thousand-year-old crew survives, and has to struggle to explain how the Defiant's present crew has to prevent their future from being destroyed in a war they cannot win with the same Furies. More nightmares to face - all torn from the bloodier pages of folklore. This book involves characters from the Star Trek series Deep Space Nine.

The Final Fury takes place on the other side of the galaxy. The starship Voyager (from the Star Trek series Voyager) and her crew accidentally encounter the Furies on their homeworld, hear their story and have to vanquish them to save themselves and the rest of the galaxy. According to the Furies themselves, they did indeed rule most of the galaxy before their slaves rose up against them. Memory of their cruel domination seems to have imprinted itself on most races' folklore and legends.

The relevance of these books for someone who enjoys folklore is twofold. First, the authors weave in the trappings of folklore (one of the heroes almost being sacrificed by being burned in a wicker figure, horned beings, poppets, pentagrams), or what could be the origins thereof. Second, there's a certain morbid fascination in watching someone struggle to invent rational explanations for the non-rational.

Will you enjoy these books? That depends. If you're trying to figure out how to reconcile science and supernatural in your own view of the cosmos, they may provide a helpful rationalization. If you're into psychology, you may be fascinated by how the Star Trek universe tries to rationalize things and the mental gymnastics authors and characters go through to avoid admitting for even an instant that anything exists that cannot be explained by science. If you like horror, in Time's Enemy you'll find a description of the most horrific way to die I have ever heard of. You might even enjoy the books as action-packed, well-written stories.

If you loathe the very idea of science fiction; however, I suggest you steer clear of them.

[Faith J. Cormier]

After pornography, Star Trek information is probably one of the easiest things there is to find on the net. A good place to find out what's going on in the series at present is the main Star Trek Web site. For information on the books, try Simon & Schuster or the Psi Phi Star Trek Book Data Base. Not all the authors of the individual volumes in Invasion have their own Web sites, but you can find Kristine Kathryn Rusch here.