Greg Cox, David Mack, Kevin Dilmore, and Dayton Ward got together and mapped out a trilogy of books for Star Trek: The Original Series, each by a different author or authors. We can now read the results. Having finished Book 1 (Captain to Captain), I can say it's a trilogy I want to keep reading.
Greg Cox's portion is almost self-sufficient -- the problem of the Transfer Key is introduced, and its mystery, known already to the captains and first officers of the Enterprise, is slowly unraveled for the reader. The middle third of the book accomplishes this task rather nicely, taking us back 18 years to when Robert April was captain of the Enterprise and the Transfer Key was first discovered. This plot, as well as the Kirk-era plot surrounding it, is solidly executed, employing several classic Trek plot devices in entertaining ways.
The greatest delight, for me, is the story of "Captain Una", the name given to the mysterious Number One (played by Majel Barrett) from the original pilot episode ("The Cage"). Her motivations are plausible, and her character -- self-confident without quite passing the mark of arrogance -- is a joy to read, as are her interactions with Kirk and Spock.
Connections with Trek lore are everywhere to be found, but the most intriguing one is the connection with the Mirror Universe. It would be criminal to spoil that one, but watch for it -- the possibilities are tantalizing. Other wonderful tidbits include the origin of the Enterprise computer's voice and the involvement of the Klingons and [REDACTED].
I had only a few problems with this novel. First is Kirk's voice -- he seems a little too talkative here. I wanted to hear William Shatner's classic halting bravado, but I ended up with a guy who overuses adjectives and unnecessary explanations (a general problem with Cox's writing, although it hardly ever reaches the point of annoyance). The second problem is the second climax. Kirk and Spock, in the first climax, have to survive a thrilling chase -- this one is done well. But the second climax is unnecessary and indeed a rehash of similar events in the first third of the novel. Everything about it is heavy-handed, from the low-oxygen scenario threatening characters in no danger of death (narratively speaking, of course), to the last-second Scotty ex machina. The first climax was good enough, but the second only gets in the way, between the first climax and the plot twist in the final chapter.
All-in-all, a good entry, especially for fans of The Original Series. The next book is penned by David Mack, one of the really good Trek authors, so I'm looking forward to it!