Greg Cox: Worst of Both Worlds
Glass Empires has three distinct stories and Worst of Both Worlds is the third one. With a name like that and the main character being the archeologist Jean-Luc Picard, I just had to read it as soon as I got it.
Publication year: 2007
Page count: 458
Publisher: Pocket Books Books
The first story is by Mike Sussman, Dayton Ward, and Kevin Dilmore. “Age of Empress” tells about Empress Hoshi Sato’s reign in the Terran Empire.
The second story is by David Mack. “Sorrows of the Empire” focuses on Commander Spock.
I don’t know much about Enterprise or the original series so I haven’t read them yet. Maybe, at some point. I dived right into the third story.
Worst of Both Worlds is shortest with little over hundred pages and I loved it to bits.
Luc Picard is a Terran slave but he has a Cardarssian patron, Gul Madred, who considers himself a scholar in archeology. Luc thinks Madred is a rank amateur but he’s happy to indulge the Cardassian because his patronage allows Luc to travel around the Alliance solving ancient mysteries. He’s just found the second piece of the Stone of Gol. Luc’s former lover Vash breaks into Luc’s unarmed shuttle craft, the Stargazer, and wants Luc to meet someone from the Resistance. Reluctantly, Luc agrees and meets with an old Terran scientist Noonian Soong. Soong has been designing weapons for the Alliance but the work bores him, and so he has ran away. His real passion is artificial lifeforms and he’s heard about a cybernetic species, the Borg. Soong is convinced that the Borg would be willing to help the Resistance. Luc tries to disagree but is almost forced to join forces with Soong to find the Borg.
Well, the Borg aren’t nice in this universe, either.
This was a well done alternative universe. Picard is actually very different from his usual self: he’s grown up as a slave and has learned early to mind his own business and to keep himself safe. He and Vash are the opposite of what they are in the canon universe: the carefree thief Vash is here a woman who cares so much about the fate of humanity that she’s joined the Resistance and takes on dangerous missions, while Picard… doesn’t. Only when his current position as a favored slave is in jeopardy, he takes action against the Alliance.
We see other familiar faces as well: Wesley is a street urchin and Selar is part of the Resistance. Poor Jack Crusher is apparently dead in this universe, too. However, he was the famous space pirate Black Jack Crusher before his death.
There are several references to TNG episodes “Chain of Command I and II” and “Gambit I and II” and to one first season episode, too.