Book: How Much For Just the Planet? by John M. Ford

Entertaining confection

John M. Ford
Star Trek: How Much For Just the Planet
Pocket Books, 1987
ISBN: 0-671-72214-X
Out of print; inexpensive used copies seem readily available as of this writing
253 pages

I have said before that I think that John M. Ford is a very good, or maybe brilliant, but sometimes quirky and occasionally difficult writer (1, 2, 3). (That's difficult in relation to reading for entertainment, not difficult in relation to Henry James.) And it seems that I'm not the only person who thinks so. When I found that he had written two books in the Star Trek series, I thought they might be good fun to read. For no particularly good reason, I suppose that Star Trek novels are aimed at people who might be annoyed by a book they had trouble following, and so writing for the series might temper Mr Ford's style. In regard to How Much For Just the Planet? it seems that I was right. Perhaps a little too right.

In the book, spaceships from the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire discover the planet Direidi almost simultaneously. It's inhabited by humans and has enormous deposits of valuable dilithium. But the Federation and the Klingons aren't going to fight over the planet; according to the terms of the Organian Peace Treaty, the side that can develop the planet most efficiently will be granted sovereignty. In this case, the inhabitants are going to decide who gets it, so the Federation and the Klingon Empire send diplomatic missions. Naturally, the Federation sends its ambassador on the Enterprise.

It seems that the Direidians knew that they were going to be discovered eventually. Just after they realize that that's happened, someone there decides that "Plan C" should be implemented. And shortly after the Federation and Klingon representatives arrive, strange things start to happen to them.

There are laughs throughout the book and there's a section near the end that would do credit to the Marx Brothers. As for substance, there isn't much. That's OK; think of the book as a big stick of cotton candy. Still, I could wish for something between this pleasant confection and Mr Ford's books that make me think that I've probably missed something important.

Posted: Mon - March 7, 2005 at 09:02   Main   Category: