The last time I wrote about an old sci-fi novel (in fact, a Star Trek novel, to be specific), it was Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath’s “The Price of the Phoenix,” a wondeful, campy (and wonderfully campy) new adventure about our old friends Kirk and Spock as they faced a new adversary. The reason for reviewing that book? To set the stage for the review of its sequel, “The Fate of the Phoenix.”
This is not actually one of my inherited books; unlike most of the sci-fi novels I own, I bought this myself. I saw it in a bookstore in Boston, recalled with fondness “The Price of the Phoenix,” and slapped down $4 to get it. And yet, I didn’t start reading it until recently and, worse, kept having to restart when I did.
Sequels rarely are as good as the original, I guess.
“The Fate of the Phoenix” isn’t one of those books you can pick up and enjoy if you haven’t already read the one that came before it, which is a major failing considering just how many Star Trek novels there are. When you look at the show, you can kind of start anywhere and not be too lost, and I’m of the opinion that the same should be said of the novels. I got excited to see the same villain, but it didn’t actually do much for me as a reader. How can you make a villain who’s supposed to be the biggest foe somehow even worse? I don’t know.
As a reader, you’re thrown immediately into the action of the novel–but that action is carrying on the end of the last, almost like it should have been one larger book rather than two shorter parts. Because of this (and the occasional lack of explanation on behalf of the narration), it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going on without having read “The Price of the Phoenix” first.
The writing is still enjoyable, but it’s a little more heavy-handed in terms of description, which is fine if you like that sort of thing, but maybe not if you’d like to avoid excess adjectives.
I expected more than I actually got from the book. It wasn’t as fun as the first. If you see it at a yard sale and want to know what happened to Omne after the first novel ended, by all means pick it up, but I probably wouldn’t read it again.