So far, the books I’ve taken the time to review have
been good enough to recommend to others. That’s
about to change.

General Information

Title: Star Trek: The Next Generation / X-Men: Planet
X

Author: Michael Jan Friedman

Original Publication Date: May 1998

ISBN: 0-671-01916-3

Cover Price: $6.99US, $9.99Can

Buy from: Amazon.ca or
Amazon.com.

Premise

The X-Men are somehow sucked into a parallel reality,
where they can
help Picard and company deal with the recent
appearance of mutants on
Planet Xhaldia. It takes place between Star
Trek: First
Contact
and Star Trek: Insurrection
from the perspective
of Starfleet, and in the time frame of the late
1990’s from the
perspective of the X-Men. (The team is comprised of
Storm, Colossus,
Banshee, Nightcrawler, Archangel, Shadowcat, and
Wolverine. It takes
place during the brief period in which Wolverine had
lost the
adamantium that protected his bones.)

High Point

By the end of the book, Friedman had managed to
really use
Nightcrawler and Archangel effectively, and he really
put the
spotlight on two characters that are normally
overshadowed.

Low Point

Oh, man, how do I choose? Should it be the
constantly changing name of
Lt. Wayne/Lt. Lee? Should it be the hole-ridden
plot? The
deus-ex-machina moments? The fact that the author
was clearly
unfamiliar with the X-Men at the beginning, only to
become more
proficient toward the end? (Why wasn’t the beginning
re-written?)
Perhaps I could choose the fact that all of the X-Men
are described in
great detail, while no aspect of the Star Trek
universe received such
treatment. There’s also the fact that this has no
external markings
to indicate that it’s a sequel, and that these people
have met before,
which led to some confusion on my part in the early
novel. (The first
meeting wasn’t summarized until roughly half-way
through.) In fact,
this novel assumes that one is familiar enough with
the Star Trek
universe to be familiar with events that go as far
back as the first
season of the show. One also should not overlook the
remarkably
unoriginal powers of the mutants on Xhaldia; not one
of them had
abilities not already faced in X-Men comics. Then,
of course, there’s
the description of the enemy wounds that make it
clear that the author
believes Wolverine has four claws on each hand. At
what point did
Counsellor Troi start leading away teams on combat
missions? The
worst single offense probably takes place in the
epilogue. Uatu’s not
the kind of being that would sit on a lawn chair in
the bushes outside
Salem Center sharing a pina coloda with Q.

Ultimately, I think the biggest problem with this
book is that it
tried to take itself seriously. I can’t imagine a
way to make the
cross-over seem natural, so I can’t really accept it
unless they had
decided to play it for comedy. While it does have
the odd joke, it is
not a comedy. I don’t think it can be taken
seriously, so it hurt
itself severely in its efforts.

The Scores

Elements that are in any way original are in
short supply
here. In essence, they’ve taken a storyline that was
overused in the
X-Men, set it in the Star Trek universe, and then
dragged the X-Men
along for the ride. I give it 1 out of 6.

The imagery is flawed. The scenes on planet
Xhaldia are well
described. The scenes on board the alien ship are
not well
described. The X-Men themselves are described in
detail, but the
Enterprise and her crew are not. This is, in my
opinion, a large
problem. I think it’s safe to assume that this novel
won’t be
purchased by anyone not already familiar with both
teams. (This
predates the X-Men movie, too, so those that know
them will know them
from the comics or Fox cartoon.) So, I feel that the
Star Trek group
and the X-Men should have equal amounts of
description. You either
assume people know all the characters, or none of
them. The fact that
the book seems to assume that readers are familiar
with the first
encounter of the teams makes the detailed description
of the X-Men
that much more insulting. I give it 2 out of 6.

The story, as I said above, is an overused
X-Men plot that’s
been rehashed, and badly. There are too many ifs,
and too many
moments that just reek of coincidence. There was
nothing new or
unpredictable in this book. I give it 2 out of 6.

The characterization is poor. Counsellor
Troi is not the
Troi I remember from the show and movies. The X-Men
themselves are
not easily distinguished by their personalities alone
for the first
half of the book. (By the end, Banshee and Shadowcat
still haven’t
been used much, but it’s a large enough cast of
characters in a short
book that that’s not a huge problem. Neither really
acts out of
character, either.) Commander Riker seems to be more
prone to
prejudice and unsupported judgments than he has
before. I give it 4
out of 6, because the main characters are done well.

The emotional response generated here was
not what the author
wanted to do, I’m sure. I was more concerned about
counting the
remaining pages than anything else. The predictable
plot ruined any
hope of suspense. The only thing that really worked
was the
occasional joke, generally from Nightcrawler or
Archangel. I give it
2 out of 6.

The editing was deeply flawed. There is no
reason for a
character’s name to change in the middle of a
paragraph, only to
change back in the middle of a conversation four
chapters later. The
author was obviously becoming familiar with the X-Men
while writing,
as the differences in their personalities don’t
become clear for at
least half of the book. The group scenes in the
first half should
have been sent back to be rewritten to clean that up.
This doesn’t
even touch on the problems with the plot that the
editor should have
pointed out. In short, the editor (John Ordover)
seemed more
concerned with churning out the cross-over in hopes
of sharing the
merchandising profits than in producing a piece of
literature, or even
quality tripe. I give it 2 out of 6.

Overall, this was not a particularly
enjoyable novel. The
part of me that craves Roger Corman movies convinced
me to buy this,
and the rest of me is not happy with the results. I
give it 2 out of
6, and recommend it for masochists only.

In total, Star Trek: The Next Generation / X-Men:
Planet X

received 15 out of 42.