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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Star Trek: The Unsettling Stars Star Trek
The Unsettling Stars

Written by Alan Dean Foster

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, paperback edition, April 2020)


During a shakedown mission, the Enterprise encounters a colonization ship of aliens eager to help any who cross their path.


Notes from the Star Trek chronology


This story begins shortly after the events of the 2009 Star Trek movie (see "The Vengeance of Nero") and after the damage to the Enterprise incurred there has been repaired, allowing the ship and crew to take a shakedown cruise. Chapter 10 through the end of the book take place 4 months later, implying this portion takes place some time after the Enterprise's first official mission with Kirk as captain in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" parts 1 and 2.


Characters appearing in this novel 


Lt. Uhura

Captain Kirk

Mr. Spock

Lt. Sulu

Ensign Chekov

Admiral Pike (mentioned only)

Dr. McCoy



Lt. Arif Ben-Haim



Four Amek

Five Kend (mentioned only)

Six Jol

Twelve Covot

Ornean (mentioned only)

Ensign M'parl (mentioned only)

Ensign Nanduparvi (mentioned only)



Two Wuvemm

Sarek (mentioned only)

Nine Omert

Twenty-five Yelerik

Thirty-four Narlekt

Admiral Yamashiro

Ensign Ermina Servantes

Specialist Wissell


Ensign Pearson



Crewman Harper


Yoronar's friend (unnamed)

Orderly Karin Luo-wong (mentioned only)

Ensign Draper

Nurse Ayanda


Security Officer Anson

Ensign Marinsky 


Didja Know?


This book introduces two new spacefaring species to the Star Trek universe, the Perenoreans and the Dre'kalak.




Didja Notice?  


At this point in time, shortly after the Enterprise crew's victory over the renegade Romulan, Nero, in "The Vengeance of Nero", officials in Starfleet are debating whether the battlefield promotions given the cadet crewmembers should be made permanent or not.


On page 4, Chekov identifies the source of the distress signal as the Marr-i-nul system. This is the first mention of this system in Star Trek.


Page 5 refers to both Sulu and Chekov as lieutenants, but Chekov should still be an ensign at this point. However, Chekov is then referred to as an ensign on page 28.


On page 13, Scotty exclaims, "By Wallace's bleedin' underwear!" This appears to be an original exclamation of Scotty's. "Wallace" may refer to the legendary William Wallace (c. 1270-1305), a Scottish knight who was a leader of the First War of Scottish Independence against England. 


On page 23, Sulu starts to tell of a battle 100 years before the Shogunate of Japan that took place south of Edo before Chekov cuts him off with a threat to tell his own story of his great-great-great-great grandfather Boris as a model for one of the crowd in Repin's Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks. Edo is an old name for Tokyo, Japan, which was the center of the Shogunate period of the nation's history (1600-1868). I have been unable to identify what battle Sulu is referring to a hundred years before then. Chekov is referring to Ilya Repin's 1891 painting fully-titled Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire.


Page 28 reveals that one of the Academy courses that Kirk enrolled in and aced was Interstellar Battle Theory and Practice.


Lt. Sulu is given command of the ship for the first time on page 35. However, he later says in Star Trek Into Darkness that that is his first time being given the conn when Kirk heads down to the surface of Kronos with Spock and Uhura.


On page 37, the bawdy song Scotty is singing appears to be an original ballad, though he claims it is an old sailors' chantey from Glasgow.


On page 39, Scotty remarks that the Enterprise and the Eparthaa are "practically within caber toss of each other." The caber toss is a traditional Scottish athletic competition in which participants toss a heavy 19-ft pole (usually a tree trunk) for distance.


On page 40, Kirk makes a remark to Scotty about not wanting to transport into a hydrology conduit when beaming over to the alien Eparthaa. In "The Vengeance of Nero", Scotty and Kirk did a transwarp beam from Delta Vega to the Enterprise, with Scotty ending up inside a water conduit, almost drowning before Kirk is able to spring a release door on the pipe.


On page 41, in discussion with Kirk and McCoy, Spock makes a comparison between human relationships and the relationships between subatomic particles and waveforms, with those of subatomics coming out as more logical. Spock is making a sort-of insult to his human friends, what with concepts of subatomics such as wave-particle duality and the uncertainty principle and quantum field theory seeming bizarre to most people in the macro world. Kirk tells Spock he needs to do more work in chaos theory, "You'd be surprised at the analogies that crop up." Chaos theory is an actual field of study in mathematics, physics, and other areas of science, concerning the seemingly-random states of disorder that can be found to actually be governed by deterministic laws related to even the most minor conditions of the subject's environment.


The book introduces two new, non-Federation worlds, SiBor and DiBor, a dual planetary system.


On page 57, Lt. Uhura enjoys a meal of nyoma choma, ugali, and curried mung beans. Nyoma choma and ugali are traditional Kenyan dishes (barbecued meat and maize flour porridge, respectively). Curried mung beans are an East Asian/Indian dish.


On page 58, Uhura concedes that Spock's understanding of human relationships has recently improved from his previous term of "incomprehensible" to just "bewildering".


On pages 72-73, Scotty and Ben-Haim are having a disagreement about the best brand of Scotch, Scotty preferring Inverness Gold and Ben-Haim Loch Kilarney aged 62 years. These both appear to be fictitious brands based in actual locations in Scotland (Inverness and Loch Kilarney).


On pages 78-79, the Enterprise computer gives Kirk a ship's status report when he awakens from his sleep shift in his quarters. One of the items of status is that Ensign M'parl is in sickbay with moderate intestinal flare-up due to hairballs. The ensign's name and reference to hairballs would imply that M'parl is a Caitian, a felinoid member species of the Federation. In episodes of Star Trek: The Animated Series, a female Caitian named Lt. M'ress served aboard the Enterprise during the final two years of the 5-year mission. The novel's author, Foster, was also the author of the ten Star Trek Log books that adapted the animated series episodes to novella format, so he was very familiar with M'ress and he may have had a desire to include M'ress, or at least a Caitian stand-in, in this novel.


    On pages 80-81, Sulu performs his fencing practice with an épée in the ship's gymnasium. An épée is the largest of three thrusting weapons used in the sport of fencing (the other two being the foil and the sabre). Sulu is seen to be an accomplished fencer in The Assassination Game and "The Vengeance of Nero" (and also in the original TV series episode "The Naked Time").

    The gymnasium is able to holo-project opponents for Sulu to face off against. He chooses projections of Richelieu's men from Alexandre Dumas' 1844 novel, The Three Musketeers. In the aforementioned "The Naked Time" TV episode, the intoxication caused by the polywater contamination from Psi 2000 caused Sulu to think he was the reincarnation of D'Artagnan, the swashbuckling protagonist of the novel.


On page 83, Sulu uses the French fencing term en garde, meaning "on your guard".


On page 84, Sulu tells Irouth that maybe they can try practicing with a wakizashi tomorrow. A wakizashi is a short sword that was traditionally used by Japanese samurai.


On page 87, Chekov is astonished at the skill Nathtal has picked up so quickly in the game of chess, saying, "How in Gogol's name did you do it?" and she responds that she used a variation on the Khalinkov strategy. "Gogol" refers to Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852), a Russian playwright and novelist. I have been unable to identify a person by the name of Khalinkov in association with chess, though it sounds like a Russian name and there have been a number of Russian master chess players. Possibly, Khalinkov is a chess master at some point in the future.


On page 91, the Enterprise encounters an old Voyager probe, which comes in handy later in the novel. The ancient Voyager probe Voyager VI appeared in the original timeline in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.


On page 93, Kirk reflects on the Starfleet administration buildings in San Francisco (where Starfleet Command is located), the roofed-over south Manhattan, and the Colosseum in Rome.


On page 98, McCoy remarks to Spock, "There's an old saying: The only thing in Einsteinian space that can travel faster than light is gossip." This, of course, is only an "old saying" in the Star Trek universe, it's first known appearance being here. "Einsteinian space" refers generally to Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, part of which is that the speed of light is a constant (186,000 mi/s) and that nothing with mass can reach that speed.


On page 107, McCoy remarks about the effusive gratitude of the Perenoreans, "Thanking-est people I ever saw. You'd almost think they were from the South." He is referring to the mid-south-to-south-eastern states of the United States, sometimes acclaimed for the politeness and hospitality of its inhabitants. McCoy was born and raised in the South.


On page 162, Perenorean leaderesque Taell switches from speaking SiBoronaan to Federation Standard. Federation Standard has been mentioned on rare occasions in the past in the Star Trek universe, seeming to be a form of, or derivation from, English.


On page 163, Uhura tells Kirk of "Procession of the Nobles" in the Rimsky-Korsakov opera, Mlada. Mlada is an actual 1892 opera-ballet by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) with "Procession of the Nobles" a musical composition in it.


On page 169, Kirk mentions a past planetary incident on Vregon VI. This is the first mention of this world in Star Trek.


On page 173, Spock and Uhura gaze up at a display of the night sky above Teleris lake on Cuoulphon IV on the ceiling of his quarters. This is the first mention of this world in Star Trek.


Chapter 10 through the end of the book take place 4 months later.


Admiral Yamashiro dresses down Kirk for his ill-handled placement of the Perenorean colonists. This is the first appearance of the male Admiral Yamashiro, but a female character named Dr. Kelly Yamashiro appeared in the TNG era (24th Century) in the ST video game Hidden Evil. Perhaps the doctor is the great-great granddaughter of the Admiral.


Admiral Yamashiro suggests that some Starfleet officials would like to see Kirk keelhauled for his actions. Keelhauling was a form of punishment (sometimes resulting in death) for sailors in the days of sailing ships, wherein the sufferer would be dragged on a rope across the length or breadth of the undership of the ship, scraping him against the hull and its barnacles, resulting in serious lacerations and potential drowning.


Yamashiro claims that the JAG are likely hunting for the proper charges to level at Kirk. JAG stands for Judge Advocate General, the branch of the U.S. military (and of Starfleet) that dispenses justice to military personnel accused of breaking military law. The JAG was mentioned in the ST episode "Court Martial" and ST: TNG episode "The Measure of a Man" and also in a number of ST novels and comics.


On page 190, Scotty exclaims, "Help ma boab!" This is a Scottish phrase that refers to an item owned by one party but needing the assistance of another party to use it. This is the situation the SiBoronaans find themselves in with regard to the inventions and cultural innovations the Perenoreans have given them.


On page 216, Specialist Wissell of the food replcator department on the Enterprise remarks, "I suppose my team can manage without me for one morning. Escoffier knows they've done so before." Escoffier is Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), a famous French chef and restaurateur.


On page 227, McCoy treats crewman Harper for a cut to his calf. Possibly, this is Ensign Harper, seen in the original series episode "The Ultimate Computer" and a couple of John Byrne's Star Trek: New Visions comics. He also appeared in the novel A Choice of Catastrophes, where he is given the first name of Ali.


On page 244, Spock muses to Kirk that the current situation of the Perenorean effect on the crewmembers is more complex than the Kobayashi Maru simulation. This refers to the no-win Kobayashi Maru scenario that all command-track cadets at Starfleet Academy were required to take and which Kirk "defeated" by cheating, i.e. reprogramming the simulation.


Page 251 reveals that there are touch-coded drawers at the bridge consoles concealing phasers for the use of bridge personnel in the event an enemy force enters the bridge. It is also stated that if unauthorized persons carried weapons in the turbolift, it would lock up and sound an alarm.


On page 260, Uhura, under the influence of the Perenorean mist, is singing softly to herself on the bridge. Uhura is known to sing as a hobby in the original timeline in the "Charlie X" episode of the original TV series and in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.


On page 261, Kirk tells Spock, "You need to calm down. Take it easy. Lean back and smell the Felaran roses." In the ST: Voyager episode "Parturition", Neelix remarked that his life before Voyager had been no bed of Felaran rose petals. The problem here is that Neelix is from the Delta quadrant (where the ST: Voyager series takes place in the 24th Century) which is completely unexplored by the Federation at this time (the 23rd Century), so Kirk should know nothing of Felaran roses.


On page 269, Spock muses that the Enterprise crewmembers under the influence of the Perenorean mist act as if they've discovered nirvana and that thinking is no longer required of them. "Nirvana" is the state of perfect freedom and the release from the cycle of birth, life, and death in Buddhism.


On page 274, Taell says to Spock, "The notion that ignorance and indifference on the part of a few might prevent us from helping the many goes against everything our culture stands for." This is a play on the words of the Vulcan philosopher Surak as mentioned by Spock in the original timeline in the 1982 film Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan: "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."


On page 285, the Perenoreans are induced to unconsciousness by an airborne drug called anesthezine. This, as its name suggests, is an anesthetic in the Star Trek universe. It was used or mentioned in a number of TNG, DS9, and Voyager episodes, as well as in The Assassination Game here in the Kelvin timeline.


At the end of the book, Spock wonders if one day the Federation will encounter a species that is a hundred times more "helpful" than the Perenoreans. This may be a foreshadowing to the appearance of the Borg, as seen in the Next Generation era of the original ST timeline, a species of cyborgs that assimilated other species with the goal of reaching "perfection". The Borg were earlier hinted at here in the Kelvin timeline in The Delta Anomaly and, later, appear in the storyline beginning in "Assimilation".


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