Book 4 in the Double Helix Star Trek: the Next Generation series.
Publication year: 1999
Page count: 259
Publisher: Pocket Books
Quarantine doesn’t have any of the regular ST:TNG crew. Instead, we got Thomas Riker and some of the crew of Voyager who are still Maquis.
Captain Chakotay and his small crew, including B’Elanna Torres, Tuvok, and Seska, are in the Demilitarized Zone. They’ve stumbled upon the peaceful seeming planet of Helena where most of the people are from mixed races. Helena is suffering from an outbreak of a virulent plague and Chakotay and his crew want to help them. Unfortunately, since the planet is in DMZ, the Federation can’t help and the Cardassians are more likely to destroy the whole population to curb the disease. Still, Chakotay’s crew will try their best.
Thomas Riker is the result of a transporter accident as we saw in the sixth season episode “Second Chances”. He spent eight years trapped in remote science station but was found two years ago (which sets this book after TNG ended and right before Voyager started). He’s tried to make a career in Starfleet but he’s still resentful of his fate and detests his post aboard another Galaxy-class starship. When he gets a chance to change his life, he jumps to it. He decides to transfer to the medical branch where he can still help people. His first job is to shuttle medical supplies to a secret outpost. Unfortunately, the shuttle is hijacked by the Maquis on the way back from the outpost. Riker is reluctant to help them but when he sees that the plague is real and the Federation can’t help, he volunteers.
This time the doctors aren’t the main characters and we don’t see many gruesome sickness scenes as in the previous books. Riker delivers medicine together with young Benzite Ensign Shelzane. They also investigate places, trying to find out who has started the plague. Meanwhile, the Maquis crew has to negotiate with the leaders of the town of Dalgren where the plague hasn’t struck yet. Many of the people of Helena are of mixed races and the colony was started when they fled from persecution to this planet. That’s why B’Elanna is almost forced in the role of a diplomat. The Helenites don’t have any half-Klingon people and are delighted to see B’Elanna, who is half-Klingon and half-human. She’s treated as a celebrity which makes her uncomfortable.
The society on Helena is probably one of the most unique ones I’ve ever seen on Star Trek, even though it does have a clear dark side. The Helenites appreciate genetic uniqueness but they’re bigoted against “unibloods” as they call non-mixed people. Still it was refreshing to see a reversal of the old trope of mixed blooded people always looked down on. They don’t seem to live much in basic families but instead have lots of single parents. Some people have even just donated genetic material and left, letting someone else raise the child. (Granted, we actually see a lot of single parents in Trek but IIRC they’re all widows: Beverly Crusher, Luxwana Troi, Benjamin Sisko, and William Riker’s father.) The people seem very wealthy and happy.
I ended up enjoying the characters and the setting more than the plot. The book has lots of point-of-view characters from Thomas Riker, B’Elanna, Chakotay, and Tuvok to one person from Helena and a high-ranking Cardassian.
A good, if predictable, addition to the series, and of course leaves the main enemy at large.