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Bitter Medicine

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at September 14, 2004 - 9:53 PM GMT

Title: Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers #41: Bitter Medicine
Author: Dave Galanter
Release Date: July 2004
Format: eBook
ISBN: 0-7434-9685-X

Bitter Medicine, the forty-first Starfleet Corps of Engineers installment is part medical drama, part character study. Written by Dave Galanter Bitter Medicine is a departure from the usual S.C.E. tale but that's one of the reasons this series is so much fun to read, it is both diverse and diverting.

Responding to a distress buoy the U.S.S. da Vinci discovers a young alien named Dobrah alone on a derelict vessel. When the da Vinci's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Lense discovers that he carries a deadly virus that has the potential to wipe out entire civilizations it becomes a race against time to find a cure or Dobrah will be doomed to live out his life alone in the void of space. The emotionally fragile Lense allows herself to become attached to her young patient only to discover that sometimes you may find the answers you need, but they aren't always the answers you want.

I have to admit that Dr. Lense has never been a character I particularly enjoyed. To be perfectly honest I've often found her annoying and was tempted to skip this book since I knew Lense would be the main character. I'm so glad I didn't. Despite the narrow focus of the story Captain Gold, Commander Gomez and Security Chief Corsi all have some good scenes but the rest of the da Vinci crew doesn't have a whole lot to do this time around.

Sometimes the simplest approach is the most effective. Bitter Medicine is very short but its focus on a moral dilemma makes it compelling and Galanter's straightforward, clean prose is a pleasure to read. It must have been tempting for the author to pad the story a bit with an extra subplot or two but keeping the focus of the story on Lense and her relationship with Dobrah and the ethical quandary that relationship provokes works remarkably well and is all that is needed to hold your interest.

Bitter Medicine would not be a good choice for anyone wanting to try this series for the first time but regular readers should find plenty to satisfy within it's pages.

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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.

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