Literature: The Final Reflection
The Final Reflection
is a 1984 novel in the Star Trek Expanded Universe
, written by John M Ford
In the prologue, Captain Kirk notices odd behaviour in his crew returning from shore leave. When he asks Dr McCoy for an explanation, McCoy hands him a book...The Final Reflection
is a historical novel, recounting events of forty years earlier, at a time of crisis for the Federation. Its hero is a bold and intelligent officer who rises from obscure origins to captain a starship, and finds himself the right man at the right time to save the Federation from destruction.
His name is Krenn, and he is a Klingon.
This novel provides examples of:
- Actual Pacifist: The diplomat Emanuel Tagore. This causes some confusion when Klingon security attempts to search his luggage for hidden weapons, and takes their inability to find any as a sign that he's hidden them really well.
- All There in the Manual: The Klingon-centered boxed expansion set (creatively titled The Klingons) that Ford worked on for FASA's Star Trek Tabletop Role-Playing Game expanded on many things mentioned only in passing in the book (such as the Klingons' rank structure, their battles with the relentless Kinshaya, and how Ford's version of Kahless the Unforgettable created a unified Empire and led it to the stars).
- Attack Its Weak Point: After a bar fight, a Klingon medic complains about Humans liking to punch people in the jaw (and by extension, all the dislocated jaws he had to fix).
- Based on a True Story: The novel-within-the-novel claims to be this, in-universe. How closely or accurately it's based on the truth is left unclear.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Imperial Intelligence is always watching (or, at least, might at any given moment be watching, which is practically the same thing).
- Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: A Rigellian delegate at a conference attempts to sway Krenn's delegation with an offer of substantial "administrative expenses", and protests when Krenn prefers to call it "bribery".
- Cavalry Betrayal: Inverted at the end of the book, as Krenn swoops in with his Super Prototype dilithium-powered battlecruiser to intercept a Klingon bombardment fleet sent by a faction of the Imperial government to destroy a Federation colony and provoke a war.
? I...was not told you were in this sector. Are you not commanding the...diplomatic mission?"
"I was. But no longer."
"Then you may join us, "Kian
said, excited. "There will be high glory—"
said, "you are mistaken." He turned to Mirror
's Weapons officer, spoke a phrase of Battle Language.
- Characterization Marches On: At the time this novel was written, almost no details had been revealed about Klingon history, language and culture in the screen canon, so Ford invented his own — which were largely ignored and frequently contradicted by subsequent movies and TV episodes, leaving the novel out of step. (Particularly noticeable in the case of the Klingon language; Ford's klingonaase bears little resemblance to the tlhIngan Hol later created by Marc Okrand for the movies.)
- Childhood Friend Romance: Krenn and Kelly.
- Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit:
- The novel-within-the-novel opens with a competition between teams representing the Klingon Navy and Marines, with their Interservice Rivalry meaning a signficant amount of prestige rides on the outcome. When the team representing the Marines is found to be cheating, the Marine officer in charge of the team is blamed for the whole thing and executed on the spot by a superior officer who, it is implied, is at least a co-conspirator and probably the real mastermind.
- An officer on Krenn's ship attempts a mutiny, during which another officer is seriously injured. The mutineer attempts to convince Krenn that he's too useful to do away with, and suggests that the injured officer could easily be converted into a deceased fall guy.
- Dramatic Drop: A porter at a hotel on Earth drops the tray he's carrying when he sees a group of Klingons passing by.
- Expospeak Gag: After a human diplomat makes a proposal that Krenn finds horribly insulting, he relieves his feelings by using an alien language the humans don't know "to curse the Humans and their riding animals".note
- Fake Static: An ensign under Krenn's command tries a version of this on Krenn, who isn't fooled for a moment.
- Fictionary: "Klingonaase", the Klingon language featured in The Final Reflection and the FASA role-playing game.
- Framing Device: The bulk of The Final Reflection, the real-life tie-in novel, is the text of The Final Reflection, the 23rd-century historical novel, framed by a prologue and epilogue in which the present-day Trek characters read and react to it.
- Genetic Memory: Mention is made of learning languages by "RNA transfer".
- Genghis Gambit: The novel-within-the-novel includes a claim that, at a time when the member states of the Federation were considering going their separate ways, the Chief of Staff of Starfleet authorized secret attacks on his own fleet's ships that could be blamed on the Klingons and used to give everyone a common enemy to focus on.
- Going Down with the Ship: The captain of a Klingon warship is free to send his crew to safety before the ship goes kablooey, but is expected to remain behind himself. (The saying "Kahless's Hand" refers to the first Klingon emperor, who tied his hand to his command chair so no one could say he'd ducked out.)
- G-Rated Drug: High-sugar foods (such as fruit juices) to Klingons, as their metabolism breaks it down quickly while giving them a mild rush.
- Half-Human Hybrid:
- Ford's answer to the notorious Klingon Forehead Mystery is that the Klingons created half-human hybrids the better to understand (and therefore to fight) humans, and likewise half-Romulans, etc. Krenn's love interest Kelly is such a hybrid, but doesn't know what her non-Klingon half is, which complicates medical treatment and rules out having viable offspring.
- There is also, of course, Spock, the original Star Trek half-human hybrid. The novel-within-the-novel hints in passing that the Vulcan medical science that made his conception and birth possible may have been stolen from the Klingons.
- Historical-Domain Character: The novel-within-the-novel has several historical figures in it, including a cameo appearance by a young Spock and his parents. (In the frame story, the real Spock is visibly unhappy about the novel, and refuses to talk about whether the scene has any basis in truth.)
- Historical Fiction: The novel-within-the-novel.
- Human Chess: Although technically the participants are all Klingons and the game is klin zha, specifically klin zha kinta, 'the game with live pieces'.
- Interservice Rivalry: Is strong between the Klingon Navy and Marines.
- I Was Never Here: At one point, Krenn is hauled off in the middle of the night by Imperial Intelligence (who were never there) to a meeting (which never took place).
- Lightbulb Joke: "Rom Jokes", which Federation and Klingon crewmembers swap en route to a peace conference. The only one related to the reader is "How many Romulans does it take to change a transtator coil? Answer: 1 to change the coil, 150 to blow the ship up out of shame."
- Locked in a Freezer: Krenn and two loyal subordinates are locked in his ship's walk-in freezer by a traitor. The situation is even more serious for the hero than usual because Klingon biology is keyed to very warm temperatures; while trying to escape, he remembers stories about exposure to subzero temperatures causing the blood to freeze in other Klingons' surface capillaries and the skin to turn black and slough off "like bark from a tree".
- Meaningful Rename: The protagonist of the novel-within-the-novel goes through several. One is the rename all Klingons do when they determine their life career path. Klingons entering the Klingon Navy, as Krenn does, have a name beginning with K; Marines have names beginning with M; civilian scientists and technicians have names beginning with A; and so on.
- Mercy Kill: The only kind Tagore has ever performed. On his wife.
- Must Have Caffeine: In the novel-within-the-novel, a sympathetic Klingon character is depicted as a morning coffee drinker, praising its mind-clearing effect; it's explained that he picked up a taste for it during a space voyage where the supplies ran low and all they had to drink was a case of "kafei" they'd plundered along the way.
- Pardon My Klingon: Done with actual Klingon swear-words.
- Sealed Badass in a Can: The Klingons have a super-soldier with an enhanced metabolism that makes him practically unbeatable, at the cost of a dramatically reduced lifespan. To get the most possible use out of him, his handlers keep him in cryogenic suspension between missions.
- Shout-Out: Tagore's library includes Space Cadet, The Innocents Abroad, and The Once and Future King.
- Sleep Learning: Klingons have a version of this, "dream learning", which Krenn uses to learn to speak Federation Standard rather than rely on the proto-Universal Translator. It's effective but not pleasant, because it interferes with proper dream sleep and results in disturbed and unrestful sleep.
- Smart People Play Chess: Klingon military strategy is the province of military "thought admirals", who hone their skills in klin zha (Klingon chess). Krenn's father, who is a thought admiral, also studies other races' equivalents of klin zha, including the Human game chess, to gain insight into the races that play them.
- The Spymaster: Operations Master Meth, the head of Imperial Intelligence.
- Trilogy: The story has three sections, each one covering a different period of Krenn's life. In addition, each section has three chapters.
- The author's note at the beginning of the novel-within-the-novel includes a message of gratitude to "Mimi Panitch, my editor, who first decided the Federation was ready for this story"; in real life, Mimi Panitch was the editor at Pocket Books who brought The Final Reflection to print, along the way defending it from Paramount higher-ups who doubted its suitability.
- It also includes cameos by Klingons based on the co-authors of the Klingons sourcebook for FASA's Star Trek: The Role-Playing Game; many of the details of Klingon history and culture that appear in the novel also appear in the sourcebook, which Ford helped develop.
- 2-D Space: Krenn notices that a group of Romulan ships his ship is fighting move in a plane, then recognises the patterns in their movements and infers that their commander is visualising the battle as if it were a game of latrunculo, the Romulan equivalent of klin zha.
- Unfortunate Name: Rogaine, the Orion concubine of Krenn's foster father. The name was a coincidence, as minoxidil wasn't approved for topical use as a hair restorer until 1988.
- Unreliable Narrator: The novel-within-the-novel begins with an author's note admitting up-front that some of what follows is no more than informed speculation, and some of it just plain made up to paper over the gaps in what his research was able to uncover. He declines to say which bits are which.
- The Unreveal: When the half-Klingon Kelly finally learns what the other half of her parentage was, the reader doesn't. (Dramatically speaking, the important thing is that she knows, not what she knows.)
- Variant Chess: Krenn's father studies other races through their chess-equivalents. Of the several mentioned in the novel, klin zha, the Klingon game, is of particular and recurring significance.
- Villain Episode: For the Klingons.
- Warrior Heaven: The Klingons believe in an afterlife in which great warriors are awarded places in the Black Fleet, where they fight and die and are revived and fight again against the great warriors of other races (because what good is a warrior heaven with nobody to fight against?).