Probe - Margaret Wander Bonanno [These notes were made in 1993:]. This is a follow-up to the movie Star Trek IV, but it does not have the relentless eco-moralist bent of that film. Instead, it's largely a political parable about modern-day Russia, post-breakup. Again, the "others" (in this case the Romulans) are shown to have factions within themselves, from sensible career military men (Kirk and Commander Hiran pick each other out of the crowd immediately) to diplomatic puppets, to members of formerly repressed factions suddenly elevated, to hard-line party obsessives in the secret service. Kicking up all the fuss is the same probe which visited Earth, and which now goes and wipes out a Romulan experimental station where self-aware whale-type beings are being tormented. It is only with the input of information from both Romulans and humans (despite the endless near-breakdowns of their conference) that the Probe finds its home planet and redefines its purpose away from destruction of the "mites" (as it calls humanoid beings). Kevin Riley has a fairly prominent part, and Kirk is quite well-delineated, but as often happens in these later novels, it's the novelist's own original characters in which she seems most interested. Still, very much within the ST tradition, and a fun read.