On the cold, dead planet Exo III, an android returns from an exploration mission to find that his creator Roger Korby is dead and his fellow androids destroyed. Deciding to continue his master's mission, the android creates a new duplicate of James T. Kirk, the starship captain who was to be Korby's means of carrying out his plan on replacing humanity with android duplicates. The new android Kirk soon lures a starship to his planet, where he begins the process of infiltrating Starfleet — with his next target the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Michael Jan Friedman is a prolific author of Star Trek franchise novels. This book was his first, and after reading it it's easy to see why he is such a popular contributor to the series. Reaching all the way back to one of the very first episodes of the original show, he details how the threat posed by Korby's androids might have developed. What makes it work as well as it does is Friedman's fidelity to the source material, with the androids exhibiting the same developmental issues that played such an important role in the resolution of the episode.
Yet Friedman's fealty is just one factor in the novel's success. Another is his primary antagonist, which is one of the most formidable threats ever encountered by the Enterprise crew. For Friedman's android Kirk is not the maniacal accident from "The Enemy Within" or the scheming thug from "Mirror, Mirror," but a Kirk who is every bit the calm, calculating strategist. Much of Friedman's novel is devoted to detailing the enactment of his strategy, one that enjoys considerable success before it is finally stopped. Here Friedman delivers as well, providing readers with highly entertaining combination of action and suspense as his characters work towards the story's resolution. Taken together, it makes for one of the best contributions to Star Trek's Pocket Books series, one the left me looking forward to reading Friedman's subsequent contributions to it.