How Much for Just the PlanetJohn M. Ford
Pocket Books
1987

Dilithium. In crystalline form, is the most valuable mineral element in the galaxy. It powers the Federation’s starships… and the Klingon Empire’s battle cruisers. Now on a small, out-of-the-way planet named Direidi, the greatest fortune in dilithium crystals ever has been found.  Under the terms of the Organian Peace Treaty, the planet will go to the side best able to develop the planet and its resources. Each side will contest the prize with the prime of its fleet. For the Federation – Captain James T. Kirk and the Starship Enterprise. For the Klingons – Captain Kaden vestai-Oparai and the IKS Fire Blossom.  Only the Direidians are writing their own script for this contest – a script that propels the crew of the USS Enterprise into their strangest adventure yet!

This is the first novel I’ve read that was set in the Star Trek universe.  Ever. Yes, I’ve read Star Wars series books and Doctor Who series books, and dabbled a bit with Dungeons & Dragons’ Choose Your Own Adventure-type books, but Star Trek hadn’t been on my list of expanded sci-fi series reading; odd, because I am something of a low-grade Trekkie when it comes to the franchise.  As it just so happens, though, my ladyfriend has read a Star Trek book or two (*at-hem*), and lent me a copy of her favorite story set in the Original Series: How Much For Just The Planet?

You can tell pretty much off the bat, just by looking at the cover illustration, that this isn’t going to be a typical Star Trek tale: Captain Kirk and a Klingon that looks a tad like Kruge from The Search For Spock (though it’s not) dressed in tuxes, with a vaguely W. C. Fields-looking guy in the foreground.  And lo and behold, How Much For Just The Planet? is quite the opposite of your typical Star Trek tale; the story is a farcical comedy of errors.  Mystery, intrigue, slapstick, absurdist, musical numbers – this is like nothing I’ve ever read.  The fact that it involves the crew of the Enterprise and some Klingons negotiating for a planet’s supply of dilithium only enhances the wackiness that ensues.  And boy, will it be ensuing.

Trust me, you will be LOL’ing at least once in the course of reading this book.  I know I did.  Overall, a decent yarn to occupy your time. I’m not too sure as to how easy it is to secure a copy of How Much For Just The Planet?, as it seems to be out of print, but if you do come across one at a used book shop, check it out.

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