Md. ship in 'Star Trek' novel

March 15, 1994|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Sun Staff Writer

Diane Carey may be "stuck in the 1800s," as she readily concedes, but through the magic of science fiction she can project her favorite period forward a few centuries.

That explains how the Pride of Baltimore II, Baltimore's goodwill sailing ambassador designed after an 1800s ship, sails in spirit through "The Great Starship Race," Ms. Carey's latest novel for the ongoing series of "Star Trek" books.

Released in November (Pocket Books, $5.50), the novel places Capt. James T. Kirk and crew aboard the starship Enterprise in the middle of a 23rd-century space race celebrating contact with a new civilization.

A starship called New Pride of Baltimore, home port "Baltimore, Maryland, United States, Earth," races in the fleet. Even the name of its commander rings true: Capt. Miles Glover, an amalgam of Jan Miles and Bob Glover, the real co-skippers of the real Pride of Baltimore II.

"I don't like to leave anyone out," explains the author, who lives in Owosso, Mich., and works in collaboration with her husband, Gregory Brodeur. She writes while he plots the stories and edits the books. Their work has also included historical novels and romances.

Originally, Ms. Carey planned to name her book's Pride captain "Bob Glover." He was the skipper she met when Baltimore's Pride sailed into Lake Michigan last summer, with her aboard as an enchanted passenger.

"When she called us to ask if it was OK to use the name of Pride in her book, we told her we had another skipper, Jan Miles," says W. Bruce Quackenbush Jr., executive director of Pride of Baltimore Inc. "So she just put the names together."

He says he is happy with any publicity for the ship -- even among those futuristic fans known as "Trekkers."

"The Great Starship Race" is Ms. Carey's seventh entry in the "Star Trek" series based upon Gene Roddenberry's original television creation. That "Star Trek" library now numbers some 70 novels, by a variety of authors.

The Michigan writer counts herself a much bigger fan of schooners than of the "Star Trek" universe.

"I am sort of a schooner snob, actually. They're a great rig, very fast, and will go along in a variety of winds," she recounts in the jargon of a salty hand.

Indeed, several years ago -- and with her husband's blessing -- Ms. Carey figuratively ran away to sea. She volunteered to crew on Alexandria, a schooner owned by the Alexandria Seaport Foundation and whose operations have been patterned upon the Pride of Baltimore.

In fact, the author crewed aboard Alexandria during The Great Schooner Race, held in the summer of 1992 between Norfolk and Baltimore. The Pride of Baltimore II won.

Ms. Carey says the idea for "The Great Starship Race" came during the schooner competition. "I was off watch, looking at schooners, schooners everywhere, and I just thought the same thing with spaceships seemed a natural."

Her husband had to solve a problem, however. In space, "there's no trick to winning -- the fastest ship simply wins." So in the novel, race planners create obstacles for the starship captains to overcome, such as bogus radio signals and a race course that has to avoid radiation clouds and other hazards.

Ms. Carey wrote an Alexandria into the fleet, too, with real-life Capt. Pete Hall.

In another regional connection, a starship named Chessie sails deep space, owned by C&O Spaceroads Inc. Ms. Carey named it after the venerable Chessie System railroad.

"I don't normally do this; I'm not a very self-indulgent author. But I wanted the details to sound right," says the writer.

The nautical touch seems appropriate, for Roddenberry envisioned "Star Trek" from the beginning as a forward projection of U.S. Navy traditions, including such evocative institutions as "Starfleet" and crew positions such as ensign, yeoman and ship's surgeon.

Space travel is the future form of seafaring, suggests Ms. Carey, for the unexplored vastness likely poses the same challenge as the sea, the way she describes it: "You are very humbled very fast. It will carry you, but if you're careless, it will eat you very fast."

Ms. Carey, who has also done crew service aboard the tall ship Gazela out of Philadelphia and the William H. Albury in the Bahamas, says she used her schooner experiences in previous "Star Trek" novels, "Best Destiny" and "Dreadnought."

In "The Great Starship Race," the fleet of vessels competing includes spit-and-polish military starships such as the Enterprise and scruffier trading ships such as New Pride of Baltimore and Alexandria.

The race turns into a potentially lethal confrontation with a Romulan starship whose captain seeks to enter the race.

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