You see, Jimmy, I think humanity is all right. Mankind is cunning and artful, enthusiastic, and ultimately smart. Oh, we blunder from time to time, sometimes a bit butterfingered while we build on some unclear vision, but we always learn from our blunders and we rarely forget. And we never, ever…stop trying.
-Captain Robert April, of the U.S.S. Enterprise
It was only a matter of time before I took a look at the most famous captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise: Captain James T. Kirk. However, I figured I’d take a look at a book that showed what Kirk might have been like in his youth, before he even dreamed of joining Starfleet. That’s where Best Destiny comes in.
When I picked up this book, I already had high expectations-one of Carey’s other Trek books, Final Frontier, was a wonderful story detailing an important event in the life of both Starfleet and George Kirk, our esteemed captain’s dad. I’d enjoyed that book immensely, and this book promised to build on that one.
So: this is a story of Kirk’s youth. Pay no attention to the framing plot, which takes place about two minutes after Kirk’s last log entry in Star Trek 6. That’s not where the meat of the story is. It’s years earlier, when Jimmy Kirk was the epitome of juvenile delinquency (well, all things considered, nobody should be surprised by that revelation). In a desperate attempt to try to encourage his son to grow up a bit, George takes Kirk into space aboard the spanking new flagship of Starfleet: the Enterprise, commanded by George’s old friend, Robert April.
I loved April’s character in Final Frontier, and he hasn’t changed. If you were to compare him to any of the other Captains in the history of the Trek franchise, I think he’d be the most laid back-and perhaps the most idealistic. Great rapport with his crew. Unfortunately, the arrival of Jimmy Kirk puts a bit of a poison pill in the dynamic, but April isn’t fazed one bit. So he takes the two Kirks to a groundbreaking ceremony to a planet called Faramond…or at least, that was his plan. What happens next begins the evolution of Jimmy the delinquent to James Kirk, future captain in Starfleet.
In many ways, Carey does a great job detailing the conflicts in this book; it reminded me a great deal of submarine warfare in past times, when nobody was really sure where the enemy was. There’s all kinds of crises in this book: physical, in the form of trying to survive where no man has gone before; mental, in dealing with some rather harrowing choices that have no right answer; and emotional, as Jimmy comes to grips with his feelings towards his father and life in general. This is a story about growing up fast in a harsh environment, and Best Destiny does a pretty good job in detailing that. Carey also shows off naval knowledge, in applying some maritime laws and traditions to space travel; some of those become key points later in the novel.
I think this book will appeal most to the fans of the Original Series; if you prefer the newer Treks, this may not be your book. But I expect that any fan of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock will enjoy this peek into the past, in the formative years of the Federation and Starfleet. So go check out Best Destiny; you won’t be sorry.