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Planet X (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Planet X - Michael Jan Friedman This book was a steaming pile of pungent, worm-infested dog diarrhea... but NOT because it attempted to marry Star Trek:The Next Generation (STNG) with Marvel Comics' "X-Men" (XM) series. In fact, that part actually didn't go too badly. It was author Michael Jan Freidman's basic writing skills that were the disaster. Here's a run-down:The GoodCrossovers between different comic, television or movie series rarely go well, even under the best of circumstances. On the face of it, a STNG novel with an X-Men tie-in looks like a horrible idea. On closer inspection though, these series complement each other in a a number of ways. In the history of the Star Trek universe, the Kahn character (Ricardo Montalban in the movies) led a bunch of genetically-enhanced supermen (in the Nietzsche sense, not the DC Comics sense) in a rebellion which started World War III... that's easy enough to tie in with the whole X-Men theme of super-mutants. In this book, the X-Men are from an alternate timeline of Earth, which crossed over with the Star Trek timeline becuase the Borg.. blah, blah, blah.. it all sounded plausible enough for the level of suspension-of-disbelief which STNG and X-Men already ask of their readers. The STNG and XM characters are already sort of ideologically alligned because both franchises are already preachy as hell about social issues, tolerance, acceptance, world peace and the like.Micheal Jan Friedman also does well going off on pseudoscienific jibber-jabber tangents about things like how the transporters on the Enterprise teleport things differently than how the X-Man "Nightcrawler" can teleport. That seems like the sort of thing Star Trek fans usually get a hardon over, so kudos to Friedman for playing to his audience. The whole subplot with Erid Sovar learning he has mutant superpowers is done reasonably well, too. This is the sort of storyline you see in most of the X-Men stuff... the general public is terrified of what mutants might do with their newfound powers. Erid is scared about what's happening to him, and feels isolated -even from loved ones. Other young mutants in a similar situation deal with the experience differently. Telekinetic character "Rahatan" uses his gifts to advance his megalomaniacal political ambitions. There's always one bad apple in these stories, huh? Overall, this storyline had some potential; the dynamic between Erid and Corba might have been interesting, had it been developed.The BadThe real problem with this book is that Micheal Jan Friedman writes with all the skill of a meth addict with Attention Deficit Disorder, who's just started learning English as a second language. The following is an incomplete list of Friedman's crimes against the written word: 1) The exposatory dialogue is hamfisted and awkward. On p.86, for example, Friedman introduces a minor character, Relda Sovar (Erid's brother, it happens) by first dropping his name, when another character says to him:"I've always said that Reldo Sovar knows his twentieth century artists."How often do you call your friends by their full name in conversation?On the next page, we learn Reldo is a security guard when the same friend teases him:Homesick? A big, bad security officer like you?"Ugh.... The excruciating pain of Friedman's exposition is greatly magnified by what he feels the readers need explained to them. I mean... this is a Star Trek/ X-Men fanfic novel, right? Isn't it safe to assume that the only people remotely interested in reading this trash are fans of Star Trek and/or the X-Men? So why does Friedman devote a paragraph on page 21 telling us that the transporters on the Enterprise convert matter into energy, transmit that energy to some destination point, and then turn the energy back into matter? If you consider yourself a fan of Star Trek but you still needed this little refresher course on transporters, this book is probably taking away valuable time you should be using to finish your Clown College applications. Not much later, Friedman also feels the need to explain to us that CDR Worf is a Klingon, and thus has difficulty being chummy and showing affection the way most humans do. I don't consider myself a super fanboy, but I think I had more or less gathered that much about Worf over the years.2) Storm: Yeah, the Halle Berry character. Since when did she become the undisputed leader of the X-Men, ordering everybody else (including Wolverine) around like a petty dictator? She never did in any of the X-Men comics or movies. And what purpose does this modification of her personality/role serve? None that I can see; it's just weird. And the Picard/Storm love interest? It feels very inauthentic, like a random bedpost notch designed to Kirk-ify CAPT Picard. The last thing Picard (or anybody else) needs is Kirk-ification.3) Wolverine: The X-Men movies got Wolverine right. He's a man trying to hold back animalistic impulses. He's got a lot of humanity, but he's struggling with the trauma of past forced surgeries and brainwashing by some shadowy government agency. He's also got a lot of identity issues, because a portion of his memory is missing. He comes across as a very three dimensional and sympathetic character in the first two X-Men movies. In this book, however, he's a ridiculous asskicking bozo who calls everybody "Bub", and then on page 133 he says "Yer' darn tootin'" unironically. Wait a second... does this novel also have a tie-in with that show "Hee Haw"? The cover art doesn't seem to reference it. Maybe they couldn't fit the big cartoon donkey in between Data's head and that looming "X" logo. 4) Michael Jan Friedman has a pathologic obsession with where people are standing in relation to one another. He clutters up his writing, subjecting readers to tedious accounts of what order people walk into a room, or who's in front of who when they are walking down the hallway. For serious. You think I'm joking? Check this out (page 132):Just then, [Picard] heard the chimes that signify the presence of a visitor outside his ready room. He leaned back in his chair and faced the door."Come," Picard said.A moment later, the door opened, revealing Commander Riker. But as the first officer entered the room, Picard saw the man wasn't alone.Storm walked in after him. Then came Banshee and Woverine. One by one, the X-Men took up positions on the oppostie side of Picard's desk, each with the same determined expression on his or her face."They wanted to see you, sir," said Riker.The captain nodded. "Thank you, Number One." He turned to the mutants. "Would any of you like a seat?"Storm shook her head. "No. Thank you."Resting his elbows on the armrests of his chair, Picard made a steeple of his fingers. "All right, then. What can I do for you?"Banshee looked to Storm. So did Wolverine."Go ahead, 'Ro'", said the mutant in the mask.Storm regarded the Captain. "It is very simple," she said. "We would like to help."That's really the way Friedman wrote it. Half a page to walk into a room and offer help? Jesus Christ, a person could go insane reading this stuff. Who does Micheal Jan Friedman need to fuck around here to get an editor? What's that? Do I think I could do better? I know I could. Here's my revision of the same passage:The door chimed."Come"Riker entered, with the X-Men in tow. "Sir, they requested a meeting with you."Storm approached the desk, "It's about the situation on Xhaldia, Jean-Luc. We'd like to help."Done. That wasn't so hard, was it?5) The surprise party for Worf: The less said the better. If you didn't see that coming a mile away, there are plenty of neurologists in the Yellow Pages who should be qualified to help you.6) The planet suddenly plagued with a rash of superpower-enhanced mutants is called "Xhaldia". Oh look! There's an "X" in its name. That's so... oh, forget it.The UglyUp to the last page, this book was just a bit of light bubblegum reading; nothing to take too seriously. Nothing prepared me for the surprise ending, and I am deadly serious when I say it was a GENUINE surprise. At first, I wasn't sure what I was reading... how it was intended, or whether it was even supposed to be real. When I put the meaning of it together, it was like a horse kicking me in the chest. It's on the very last page of the book... two pages after the story ends, to be exact; on the "About the Author" page. Right there in black-and-white it says it: Michael Jan Friedman has authored thirty-two books. Thirty-two.Oh! the Humanity...