The Final Reflection

The Final Reflection

by John M. Ford

Krenn, a Klingon captain, is changed by contact with human civilization, and faces a test of conscience, when he learns of a Klingon plan to destroy the Federation.

What People Think about "The Final Reflection"

Due that the real book was written several years ago, some stuff about Klingon culture and its historic development have changed in the various TV series, but since the tale is a "piece of fiction with creative license", you can argue that those "incongruities" can be intentional for purposes of storytelling.

Man, I am a jerk for not listening to Mordicai earlier (he told me to read this, like, five years ago or something) because this was pretty damn good!

Star Trek's major running theme was probably anti-racism and anti-oppression of all kinds. This book is that kind of masterful.

The Final Reflection is also unique in that it is told entirely from the point of view of someone other than an existing Star Trek character. This might not actually be unique anymore, but the first time I heard of this book was in a parenthetical note by Howard Waldrop where he claims that Ford is the only person to write a Star Trek novel that isn't from the point of view of anybody on the Enterprise. Instead, The Final Reflection is a novel within a novel, an unauthorized book called The Final Reflection that is making its way through the Federation sometime after the events of the original TV series, purporting to show the truth about a shadowy event in Federation/Klingon history from the Klingon point of view. In addition to taking us away from the Federation point of view, this is also clever because the theme of the novel is cultures trying to understand each other and the role of stories (particularly political rumours, superstitions and mythology, and above all the narratives of culturally specific games) in that process. The narrator would say "instead of ordinary treads, the tank had strips of light" which is a good way to deal with the basic problem of trying to describe Tron with prose, but also takes the reader deep out of the point of view of the characters in that world. For example, at one point a character explains that the "human" translation for Klingonaase is "Klingonese" because it happens to sound like the name of a language in English, but the "aase" suffix means something rather different to Klingons, something more like "a tool to alter reality." There are plenty of examples, but it all adds up to a book that does an excellent job portraying an alien society looking at "ours." It's been said (apparently by Jo Walton) that this book would be better if it wasn't a Star Trek book at all. For example, at one point the Klingons go to Earth and encounter human isolationists, people we've never really seen in Star Trek (I know, I know, Enterprise but it hadn't happened yet when this was written). It gains a lot if you are familiar with Star Trek (particularly the original series) but I suspect Ford is a good enough writer that it would be good even if a reader who didn't know Trek decided, for some baffling reason, to read a novel that proclaims itself to be the sixteenth in a series and comes adorned with a tasteful oil painting of a Klingon playing chess with young Spock.

It's clever, and full of layers and more layers and hidden references -- a lot like the games and diplomacy that the characters engage in, actually. Okay, okay, there's a framing story where Kirk reads a book about diplomacy with the Klingons. The gaming was really nice, actually, and I appreciate how it informs the structure of the rest of the book. Even if you don't usually read Trek books. Every time I read it it is awesome.

I have been told by fans that Ford invented Klingon culture in this book, and if this is so, he did a very good job. Fords plots are often sufficiently subtle to be surprising on a first reading and much more satisfying when revisited." For years, this was out of print, and you had to look for tattered paperbacks.

John Milo "Mike" Ford was a science fiction and fantasy writer, game designer and poet.