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Tales from the Captain's Table

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at July 10, 2005 - 5:45 AM GMT

Title: Star Trek: Tales from the Captain's Table
Editor: Keith R.A. DeCandido
Release Date: June 2005
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 0-4165-0520-2

Throughout history when people have gathered together they have shared their tales. Several years ago Pocket Books editor's John J. Ordover and Dean Wesley Smith took that idea and ran with it developing The Captain's Table, a series of six novels based on the tradition of oral storytelling, novels that Star Trek fans still discuss with great fondness. Since then fans have been asking for more stories from the Captain's Table. This summer's anthology from Pocket Books aims to please by providing nine all new tales collected together in one volume entitled Tales from the Captain's Table.

The Captain's Table is a unique establishment and its rules are simple. You must command, or have commanded a vessel in order to patronize the bar, and before you leave you must pay your tab with a story. It's an establishment that delivers whatever you need, when you need it, as long as you are a ship's captain.

Since the original six Captain's Table novels were published in 1998 the Star Trek universe has expanded quite a bit and the stories collected together in Tales from the Captain's Table reflect that by featuring some of the more recently minted captains. Like those original novels, all the stories in Tales from the Captain's Table are written in first person, told from the point of view of the captain telling the story. Of the nine authors who have contributed to Tales from the Captain's Table, only three, Michael Jan Friedman, John Ordover and Peter David, were involved with the original novel series so this volume not only features new captains but also fresh voices.

The volume opens with "Improvisations on the Opal Sea: A Tale of Dubious Credibility" by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels. "Improvisations…" is a highly amusing tongue-in-cheek tale recounting of Riker and Troi's honeymoon. If this story doesn't leave a smile on your face, nothing will.

"Darkness", the anthologies second tale is penned by Michael Jan Friedman and is Jean-Luc Picard's second appearance in the Captain's Table. This time out however, the tale Picard has to tell involves his first command, the U.S.S. Stargazer. "Darkness" provides a tantalizing glimpse of a critical turning point in Picard's career and offers insight into the man he becomes.

Set between the New Frontier novels Stone and Anvil and After the Fall, "Pain Management" by Peter David will delight New Frontier fans. As told by Captain Elizabeth Shelby of the U.S.S. Trident, "Pain Management" is a sober tale of heroism, sacrifice and a fateful decision that haunts your mind for a while after you finish it.

Klag, Son of M'Raq, captain of the I.K.S. Gorkon is the next to spin his tale. "IoDnI'pu' vavpu' je" or "Bothers and Fathers" is exactly what you'd expect from author Keith R.A. DeCandido who features Klag in his popular I.K.S. Gorkon novel series. "Brothers and Fathers" is a story rich with Klingon tradition, but there's a catch.

Heather Jarman provides "The Officers' Club", a tale told by Captain Kira Nerys. "The Officers' Club" is a story of betrayal and packs quite an emotional punch in sharp contrast to the story that immediately follows it "Have Beagle, Will Travel: The Legend of Porthos" by Louisa M. Swann. Swann's tale as told by Jonathan Archer is pure silliness from beginning to end.

"Iron and Sacrifice" by David R. George III is easily the longest story in the anthology. As told by Captain Demora Sulu of the U.S.S. Enterprise-B this powerful story of a rescue gone wrong is really two tales in one and both are outstanding. You might want to have a tissue handy for this one.

The new captain of the U.S.S. Voyager, Chakotay pays his tab with "Seduced". Written by Christie Golden "Seduced" not only tells the story behind Chakotay's admission to Starfleet Academy, it also answers a nagging continuity question in a very satisfactory way.

The final story in this collection, "An Easy Fast", highlights Captain David Gold, commander of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers vessel U.S.S. da Vinci. John J. Ordover, co-creator of the S.C.E. books provides a nice little parable with "An Easy Fast" but the story didn't quite capture my imagination as much as those that preceded it.

Edited by Keith R.A. DeCandido Tales from the Captain's Table is an enjoyable collection of stories that will satisfy the reader regardless of whether or not you've read the original novels that the concept is built upon. The bar itself is as much a character as any of the aliens who frequent it, and that's part of the charm of this anthology. The stories told so ably in Tales from the Captain's Table may span the Star Trek universe but no matter what the era or location is the tales of adventure within its pages will leave you wanting more.

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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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