Big Finish took us all by surprise earlier this month with the sudden release of two ‘Star Trek’ audiobooks. With a third on the way.
Having joked about it on the Big Finish podcast, audio readings of the first two books in the three-part ‘Star Trek: Prometheus’ saga were unveiled. Based on the 2016 novel trilogy by German authors Bernd Perplies and Christian Humberg, today we’re looking at the opening salvo in ‘Fire With Fire’.
Following on from some skirmishes and wars with other species and the Typhon Pact, the Federation has changed. While they are still intent on exploration and seeking out new life, they are also aware of the delicate balancing act the universe is currently feeling. When a series of terrorist acts hits the Federation and Klingon Empires, the Starfleet warship Prometheus is dispatched to a mysterious system, one that has cut many ties with the intergalactic forces of the Federation.
The mission of the USS Prometheus – nothing less than stopping an all-out universal war!
New Old Ship
The USS Prometheus has featured in Star Trek before in a 1996 episode of Star Trek: Voyager called ‘Message in a Bottle’. But Fire with Fire gives us a very different take of the Ship. Having faced the forces of the likes of the Borg, Romulans and Dominion, Prometheus is manned by a tired crew. Captain Richard Adams is less than happy at the prospect of another war but one of the attacks has some personal ramifications for him. Even if Adams doesn’t possess much in the way of character beyond what we’ve seen from others in the same position.
The rest of the crew is interesting and littered with ‘Star Trek’ aliens who should be familiar to Trekkies. Lt. Mendon is the Benzite Science Officer from ‘TNG’ episode ‘A Matter of Honour’ and Lt. Chell is the Bolian from ‘Voyager’s’, ‘Learning Curve’.
Perplies & Humberg
‘Fire with Fire’ comes from the hands of Bernd Perplies and Christian Humberg who wrote the debut ‘Prometheus’ novel to celebrate ‘Star Trek’s’ 50th anniversary in 2016. As you might have guessed, they were only available in Germany until recently.
Perplies and Humberg have crafted a story that is every bit the juggling act as their take on the Federation. On the one hand, there’s a ton of continuity references for fans which may at times risk diverting the main story. The main mystery though is an interesting one and definitely mirrors real-life events that happening around the time of the book’s publication. With terrorism, the threat of war, horrifying video messages and deaths aplenty, the story runs the risk of being a little too knew the knuckle at times. But that makes it all the better as it gives the listener and reader something to really relate too.
The alien species created for this story, the Renao are also an interesting component to the plot. While most aliens in Star Trek are about conquest or have the same interests as the Federation, they have something of a unique outlook in the ‘Star Trek’ mythos. It will be interesting to see if they are fleshed out any more in future audios.
The interactions between the crew of the USS Prometheus are brilliant too. Some are best friends, lovers, allies and some are people thrown together out of necessity. They all feel however like we’ve known them forever. It isn’t hard to imagine this crew on television every week. So for that, Perplies and Humberg must be praised.
Big Finish made the perfect choice in reader when they settled on Alec Newman, someone who isn’t a stranger to the worlds of ‘Star Trek’. Newman played an antagonist in three episodes of ‘Star Trek Enterprise’s’ fourth and final season. As someone who has featured in Big Finish plays before, most notably ‘Dark Shadows’, he tears through the script with his versatile Scottish accent brilliantly. Something about his voice lends itself so well to this franchise and this particular corner of it.
Through his voice and the excellent interactions penned by the writers, it isn’t hard to imagine each member of the crew or the actions unfolding around them. If there was one problem with his narration it would be that in the early chapters he pronounces some of the alien species’ names wrong. That is a really minor quibble though as he effortlessly brings this tale to life, injecting some adrenaline into chapters and passages that might be a little lacklustre otherwise.
‘Fire with Fire’ is an interesting audio adventure, running at just over eleven hours it takes a little while to reiterate its own continuity. But, once it does, the central mystery unfolds into an interesting story, albeit with an abrupt ending. Though this may be to build up suspense for the second story. With the next two ‘Prometheus’ stories lined up for future releases it will be interesting to see where Big Finish goes after that. As Jean-Luc Picard once said – “The Sky’s the Limit” …
The Federation races to discover the culprits of several terrorist attacks, sending their flagship, the USS Prometheus, to stop war breaking out in the galaxy.
A mysterious terrorist organization has carried out several attacks against the Federation and Klingon Empire. Tensions are running high in a region already crippled by conflict. The perpetrators are tracked to the Lembatta Cluster, a mysterious region of space whose inhabitants, the Renao, regard the Alpha Quadrant s powers as little more than conquering tyrants. The Federation are desperate to prevent more bloodshed, and have sent their most powerful warship, the USS Prometheus, into the Cluster to investigate the threat before all-consuming war breaks out.
Written By: Bernd Perplies, Christian Humberg
Read by Alec Newman