Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Book Review: The Rings of Tautee, by Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Rings of Tautee
(Star Trek: The Original Series, No. 78)
Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Mass Market Paperback
242 pages
Pocket Books, May 1, 1996
Science Fiction, Star Trek TOS
Source: Amazon

Book Synopsis: An entire solar system begins to disintegrate into cosmic rubble, and Captain Kirk suspects that rumors of a new Klingon superweapon are all too true. The Tautee system houses a flourishing pre-Warp civilization not quite ready to join the Federation, so the Prime Directive limits Kirk's ability to prevent the disaster, and to make matters worse his rescue efforts provoke an attack from four Klingon warships. But soon Kirk recognizes that he must get to the bottom of the forces at work in the Tautee system, because they could spill over into the rest of the galaxy.


It's been much too long since I last read a Star Trek:The Original Series novel! It was such a treat to get back into the very FIRST Roddenberry universe!

One of the things I liked the most about this novel was how well the two authors captured the personalities of these famous characters. In fact, as I was reading, I could see Kirk, Spock, and the rest of them interacting in my mind's eye. I actually felt that this could have been an actual episode, too!

This beloved TV series was not only known for its originality and bold, highly imaginative story lines, but for its sly humor, as well. That very important ingredient is also present (to some extent) in this novel, as the following sample exchange demonstrates.

"Mister Spock, I thought you said there was no chance of survivors."

"On the contrary, Captain," Spock said. "I believe I said that it was unlikely there would be many survivors."

"Do you care to explain the distinction?"

"The term 'unlikely' means that there is a chance someone did survive. However, an entire series of circumstances would have had to occur. The chances of those circumstances happening at this opportune time would be --- "

"Unlikely, yes, I know, Mister Spock." Kirk shook his head and turned back to Uhura.

I can almost see the look of exasperation and chagrin on Kirk's face.... Lol.  

The concept introduced in this novel was a truly unique, breathtaking one! The science behind it was a bit too complex for me to understand (and it was part of the fiction), but that didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book.  

The plot involves a disaster of truly cosmic proportions, as stated in the synopsis. This disaster had been the result of a physics project gone tragically wrong, which caused a chain reaction in the Tauteean solar system, destroying one planet after another, and creating a rift in space that caused a neighboring universe to "leak through". 

Of course, the U.S.S. Enterprise is dispatched at once to investigate. When they arrive in the area, they are surprised to pick up a distress signal from one of the disintegrated planets' moons, which is also in danger of disintegrating. Before long, the starship is full of survivors, many of them the scientists who had participated in the failed project.

Unfortunately, Kirk and his crew soon have to deal with four Klingon warships that had also been dispatched to the area. The Klingons are under the impression that the Federation has deployed a new, super-powerful weapon in the Tauteean system, and they have every intention of capturing it.

This novel also introduces some new characters, the most memorable of which is Subcommander Prescott, the scientist and Tauteean leader whose brainchild, the Kanst Energy Experiment, has somehow gone so horribly wrong. She is not only a brilliant scientist, but an indomitable leader, as well. In the midst of the tragedy, she remains stoic, and fully accepts responsibility for the havoc and massive loss of life involved. I felt so bad for her, especially as she was not a ruthless, egotistical, scientist with delusions of grandeur. Instead, she came across as a very humane, idealistic person.

As Spock demonstrates later on in the novel, however, the tragic collapse of the Tauteean system was not ultimately Prescott's fault at all, but rather, that of a fatal flaw in the project itself, which no one had previously noticed because it could not have been foreseen until the whole thing was set in motion.

Captain Kelly Bogle, of the U.S.S. Farragut, is another new character. He was supposedly a "friend" of Captain Kirk's, but his thoughts and actions throughout the novel show his true colors. I totally disliked this guy, and felt that his presence in the novel was actually detrimental to it. True, he served as a contrast to Kirk, but I didn't think he was necessary to the plot. At best, he was nothing more than a total annoyance!

The novel was very well paced; the action kept flowing effortlessly, much as it did in each ST episode of the original series that I love so much. These two authors made everything very believable, as well, and thus, the tension was also very believable.

I would have given this book five stars, as it was very well-written, but there were a couple of things I didn't quite like. I have already mentioned Captain Bogle. He's part of the reason. It was actually totally ridiculous that he and Kirk could have EVER been friends, given their differences. Kirk is an adventurer, a risk taker, and not above bending or even breaking the rules when necessary. Bogle is just the opposite. He's a stickler for rules, and will refuse to bend or break them even when the situation he's presented with demands that he do so.

The conflict between these two starship captains is directly related to the Federation's most important rule -- the Prime Directive. For those who are unfamiliar with the ST universe, this rule, held as nearly sacred by all members of the United Federation of Planets, "prohibits Starfleet personnel from interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations. The conceptual law applies particularly to civilizations which are below a certain threshold of technological, scientific, and cultural development, preventing starship crews from using their superior technology to impose their own values or ideals on them." (Source: Wikipedia

This is all well and good, but when possible loss of life enters the picture, all rules should be thrown out the window. Kirk understands this, while Bogle refuses to. However, I thought this whole conflict between them was totally unnecessary. It stands to reason that any rule, if it stands in the way of saving the lives of either human beings, and/or humanoid species, should be discarded. So I really didn't see why the authors of this novel felt that this conflict between the two starship captains would contribute to the novel's effectiveness. 

Another aspect that didn't quite ring true for me was the portrayal of the Klingon characters. The Klingons are an extremely warlike race, and it's not at all easy to reason with them. Besides, their savage warrior code deems it an honor to die in battle. They therefore look upon attempts to avoid violence with utter contempt. Given all this, it did not seem realistic that they should, in the end, actually agree to assist the Federation starships in their mission to help the Tauteeans. 

In spite of these objections, I did enjoy reading this novel, and would recommend it to any diehard Trekkie such as myself! The story did capture my attention until the very end, and I was able to totally disconnect myself from my Terran (Earth) surroundings, joining the crew of the Starship Enterprise in yet another adventure in their long-standing space mission of discovering new worlds, and new civilizations! 


Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an award-winning mystery, romance, science fiction, and fantasy writer. She has written many novels under various names. Her novels have made the bestseller lists –even in London– and have been published in 14 countries and 13 different languages.

Her awards range from the Ellery Queen Readers Choice Award to the John W. Campbell Award. In the past year, she has been nominated for the Hugo, the Shamus, and the Anthony Award. She is the only person in the history of the science fiction field to have won a Hugo award for editing and a Hugo award for fiction.

In addition, she's written a number of nonfiction articles over the years, with her latest being the book A Freelancer's Survival Guide.

She has also published as:
Sandy Schofield (collaborations with 
husband Dean Wesley Smith)
Kristine Grayson - romances
Kathryn Wesley (collaborations with 
husband Dean Wesley Smith)
Kris Nelscott - mysteries
Kris Rusch - historical fiction
Kris DeLake - romances

Dean Wesley Smith is the bestselling author of over ninety novels under many names and well over 100 published short stories. He has over eight million copies of his books in print and has books published in nine different countries. He has written many original novels in science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller, and romance as well as books for television, movies, games, and comics. He is also known for writing quality work very quickly and has written a large number of novels as a ghost writer or under house names.

With Kristine Kathryn Rusch, he is the coauthor of The Tenth Planet trilogy and The 10th Kingdom.

Dean has also written books and comics for all three major comic book companies, Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse, and has done scripts for Hollywood. One movie was actually made.

Over his career he has also been an editor and publisher, first at Pulphouse Publishing, then for VB Tech Journal, then for Pocket Books.

Currently, he is writing thrillers and mystery novels under another name.

 Pen Names 
Edward Taft
Dee W. Schofield
D.W. Smith
Sandy Schofield
Kathryn Wesley


  1. Great review Maria.

    It has been a long time since I have read a Star Trek novel. This one sounds very good.

    As you point out The Prime Directive creates some dilemmas when life and other vital issues are on the line. I am watching some old Next Generation and Enterprise Episodes and sometimes the characters make decisions based upon the Prime Directive that seem questionable. You are correct in your observation that Kirk applied it judiciously. Either way, it is great device for both drama and the exploration of moral issues.

    Have a great week!

    1. Hi, Brian!

      Thanks for the compliment!! <3 :)

      Yeah, it's been much TOO long for me, too!! And I have quite a few of these ST novels! I need to start reading them ALL!!

      To be sure, the Prime Directive does create some GREAT drama! I did think it kinda fell flat in this particular novel, though....

      You know, I tried watching Next Generation a couple of times when it was in the first season. I just couldn't get into it! Maybe I should give it a chance. But heck, I never did like Picard. Compared to Kirk, he's far less exciting....lol. But well, maybe I should go back and give these episodes another chance.

      Of course Kirk was right in not implementing the Prime Directive in this particular case! The other starship captain was a total D*****AD to attempt to fight Kirk on the issue! It was a NO BRAINER, which is precisely why I think it just didn't make sense to even bring up the issue in this novel.

      The Prime Directive can DEFINITELY lend itself to truly riveting drama. It just didn't seem like it was a good fit for the plot of this novel. I mean, who the HECK cares if the DP is violated, if doing so will help to SAVE LIVES, for Pete's sake!!

      Well, anyway.....I still enjoyed the novel. And who knows, perhaps the authors threw in the DP conflict on purpose, to get us fans all riled up and arguing about the validity of doing so. Lol. That would guarantee that many fans would be thinking about this novel for a LOOOOOOG time to come!! Lol.

      Thanks for the thought-provoking comment!! Hope you have a great week, as well!! <3 :)

  2. Maria, oh my goodness, you read Star Trek?!!? I LOVE TOS! And the books -- I spent years tracking as much as I could down of this series! Dont' think I have this one though, but my goodness, I adore these books! Espeically the early ones!

    1. Hi, Verushka!

      Yeah, I DEFINITELY do!!! I'm a DIEHARD TREKKIE!!!! And you LOVE TOS?! Girl, you've just qualified for a spot on the next starship voyage!! Lol. I had NO idea you were an ST fan!!! And you LOVE TOS?! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!! <3 <3 <3

      You know, I think Amazon has most, if not all, of these ST TOS books in stock. i have one wish list totally dedicated to them!! So be sure to check out Amazon. Being in Australia, I don't know which Amazon store you could buy from -- the US or the UK store. Or maybe there's one in your area! Anyway, be SURE to check out all the Amazon links you can!!

      Alternatively, I'm sure you could buy some of these books at the Barnes & Noble website. Don't forget to check that out, as well!!

      You can also check out eBay, although, on that site, the listings are only up for a specific period of time. Still worth looking into, though.

      As for online stores, you could also try Alibris and/or Abebooks. Those are also two GREAT places in which to conduct a book search!! They sell a lot of older books, too.

      I hope I've been of some help to you!! :) :) :)

      Thanks for the GREAT comment!! LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

  3. What an amazing review, Maria! We actually don't know anything about Star Trek *runs and hides* but we're so glad that you enjoyed this, even in spite of your objections. Your love and enthusiasm as a Trekkie are contagious. Even though this wouldn't be a book for us (because we wouldn't understand any of it lol), we very much enjoyed your thoughts on it and learning more about your interests. We adore you! *BIG HUGS* <3 <3 <3

    1. Hi, Michele & Mckenzie!!

      WOWZA!!!!! Thank you SO VERY MUCH for the compliment!! It means a LOT to me that you've commented on this review, especially since you guys are not that familiar with the Star Trek universe!! HUGS!!!!! <3 <3 <3

      I have over 30 Star Trek TOS (The Original Series) novels currently sitting on my living room shelves, as well as on a shelf in one of our closets. Lol. And I do need to get going on them! Because I just....ABSOLUTELY LOVE the original ST show!!!!

      Let me assure you that these programs are not that hard to understand. (Yes, I do still watch the re-runs from time to time, lol. I've seen each and every TOS episode at least TWICE, lol.) In this particular book, though, there's a scientific explanation given by Spock that I didn't quite get.... :( However, that's not always the case.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed my review! As you could probably tell, I'm head over heels in love with the original Star Trek universe!!! I was never much into the subsequent takes on the ST universe, like "Next Generation", "Voyager", "Deep Space Nine", etc. Maybe I should give them a chance. It's just that the original characters are SO WONDERFUL!!!! I LOVE THEM!!!!

      Well, thank you SO, SO, VERY MUCH again for commenting on this review!! As Mr. Spock would say, "Live long and prosper!" I adore you two back!!!!! BIG HUGS BACK,TOO, WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF SMOOOOSHES!!!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)


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