by Jerry Oltion
(Part of the Captain’s Table series.)
Reviewed by Captain Rocar
Nothing about this book should work! And yet it somehow it does. This is quite simply one of those Star Trek books you pick up wanting to hate and yet as your turn the pages you cannot help falling in love with the beautifully told story and refreshingly new, yet familiar characters. A definite read for anyone who was a fan of the Star Trek Orginal Series Pilot, later adapted for the TOS episode the Cage. The Constitution class Enterprise in the days BEFORE Captain Pike! Anyone who has read the production notes/ Gene Rodenberry’s original proposal for the show, found in countless non-fiction star trek books, will be familiar with the character traits of the crew from that single pilot episode; Jerry Oltion succeeds well in keeping to and expanding on the traits of these characters. You have the shy Yeomen Colt, and her attraction to the older Captain Pike – a man who feels the loneliness of command and blames himself for each death amongst his crew. You meet the efficient, strong feminist Number 1, who looks remarkably like a dark haired nurse Chapel, a younger Laxwana Troi and sounds like “the Computer”, the chubby and old doctor Boyce and of course a young and over eager Mr Spock, who actually smiles in the Pilot episode!
Disappointingly, this novel does not offer an explanation as to why Spock was so unwaveringly loyal to Captain Pike, enough so to throw everything away and break General Order 7 and takes him to Talos IV. I loved the Talos IV episode and often imagined stories set with this crew, as such this book leapt out at me as a gem. The scene is a good one, So why do I say that “nothing about this book should work?”
Well, the way it is set out naturally taxes the reader. Most unusually, especially for a Star Trek novel, the entire story is told in the First Person narrative, as Captain Pike recount an event to eager listeners. Secondly, the story is about the Enterprise’s encounter with space’s version of whales. Yes that’s right, big living creatures in space. Whales basically.
Already taxing the reader in its naratology and stretching our imagination to picture whales from outer space the book then asks for a massive leap of faith.
This leap of faith is common to all six books in the Captain’s table series, the Captain’s Table is in fact a bar that only Captains come across. A place “where those who have commanded mighty vessels of every shape and era can meet, relax, and share a friendly drink or two with others of their calling.”
The catch is that the bar exists outside the normal confines of the space time continuum and thus any Captain who enters the Bar joins a clientele from a variety of different Eras. As such Captain Picard of the Enterprise-D can step into the same bar as Captain Pike of the Enterprise-1701, he doesn’t but in theory he could have! Just as a Captain from 18th Century Earth or the captain of the Titantic could find themselves sitting in the bar exchanging stories with Captains of the 23rd century. Of course Star Trek is Sci-Fi, and Sci-Fi can push our ideas of reality. So providing you are prepared to take the leap of faith and accept a bar could exists outside the usual restrictions of time and space, “Where Sea meets sky” ends up being a wonderful novel.
The story is gripping, and I particularly liked how the plot jumps from Pike’s adventure in one chapter back to a short chapter describing everyone in the Captain’s Table having listened to him. Oltion pulls off the first person narrative well