Star Trek


The final book in the Star Trek: TNG series which returns to the beginning. And to Stargazer.

Publication year: 1999
Format: print
Page count: 276
Publisher: Pocket Books

The cover is misleading: Beverly isn’t in the book much. (Now that I took a good look at the cover on GoodReads I realize that it’s not the same cover! My cover has Beverly and Tuvok. GR cover has Beverly and some unknown white guy, presumably Jack Crusher. So, if you took a mash-up of the covers, they’d be right: Jack Crusher and Tuvok are in the book.)

This is one of the previous untold adventures of Picard’s Stargazer years. (So, still not a Next Gen book…) About a decade before Enterprise-D, (Wesley is just a little boy at this point.) Picard and his crew are about to investigate some very exciting, nearly unexplored ruins. But instead they’re ordered to stop a war between two species who aren’t Federation members. The Melacronites and Cordracites races have hated each other for generations but a Benniari diplomat, Cabrid Culunnh, has managed to avert a war before by creating a neutral place where their diplomats can discuss things. But now a wave of terrorism has swept over both species and they are blaming each other for it. As the nearest starship, the Stargazer is ordered to support the Benniari. Also, they are picking up a person who is familiar with the species and this sector of space. That person is Ensign Tuvok, who resigned from Starfleet decades ago but has recently rejoined.

The diplomat Culunnh suspects that a third party is responsible for the terrorism. Picard sends Ensign Tuvok and Lieutenant Commander Jack Crusher undercover to find the culprit.

The book actually starts with the machinations of the guilty party so we readers know who is responsible. We also know because that same person was behind the plagues in the previous books and was revealed in “Double or Nothing”. So, this is a “how he’s going to get caught” rather than a “who did it” mystery.

We follow Picard’s efforts in diplomacy and he’s fully in character. But the more fun (and funnier) part of the book is Tuvok and Jack Crusher undercover. Tuvok is very formal and cold but he seems to reach a little common ground with Jack through their families. Both have wife and children at home. But Jack’s style rubs Tuvok the wrong way very quickly.

Because this tale isn’t set in Federation space, we also get to experience bars and brothels which aren’t usual in a Trek novel. I can get those in almost any book, so it took away that Trek-feeling.

A decent read but not really necessary to the series, unless you’re interested in Picard’s Stargazer years.

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The penultimate book in the Double Helix Star Trek: the Next Generation series. Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and the crew of Excalibur take over the book.

Publication year: 1999
Format: print
Page count: 276
Publisher: Pocket Books

Like previous books in this series, “Double or Nothing” doesn’t have much TNG content. It starts seven years in the past where a fierce Orion dancing girl named Vandelia has been kidnapped by a thug of a man, Zolon Darg, who wants her for himself. She’s rescued by Mackenzie Calhoun who is, in fact, undercover doing something quite else. Darg confronts them but when his base explodes around him, Calhoun and Vandelia leave him for dead. But he’s not. Instead he has a burning desire for revenge.

Seven years later, researches at Daystrom institute have found a way to use nanites to make a computer interface directly to the human brain. Unfortunately, the outpost is attacked by Darg’s forces and the prototype computer stolen. The USS Independence is taking Riker to a fancy celebration. It notices the distress call and comes to help the outpost but is too late – it can only chase the villains to Thallonian space. There the starship is surrounded by many Romulan warships led by Sela, Tasha Yar’s half-Romulan daughter. They attack and destroy the Federation starship. Riker and a some of the crew are rescued by Captain Calhoun and USS Excalibur.

Admiral Nechayev decides to keep Excalibur in Thallonian space, looking for a secret Romulan base. However, she has another assignment for Calhoun and Riker is appointed Excalibur’s temporary captain, much to the annoyance of Excalibur’s first mate, Commander Shelby (from the episode “Best of Both Worlds”). Calhoun is sent into an undercover mission.

This book reveals the big bad guy behind the virus plagues in the previous books. It starts as an action, or even a spy, movie and Calhoun’s plotline does feel like a spy movie. Calhoun even gets some specific spy equipment from a mysterious Professor character before he’s sent off. Riker’s half of the book is mostly comic relief when he gapes at the strange crew and their relationships. We also follow Zolon Darg and a mystery man named Kwint.

This was great fun but I had some trouble believing some of the happenings. For example, Nechayev knows that it’s quite possible that Calhoun will be recognized. That would most likely kill him. So why not send someone else? I had the same gripe about the other undercover agent. Also, the main bad guy came out of the blue. I had no idea who he was. Also, I rather liked Vandelia and she would have made a terrific recurring character. So, I was angry with what happened to her. Also, Sela’s fate was left open. She’s captured, mind raped (which was a horrific decision), and left comatose.

On the other hand, it was great to see a crew which is very different from our familiar crews and to see familiar faces from previous episodes.

The book has several alien races who I’ve never seen and they have apparently only been used in books. Thallonians, who are the main antagonists, seem to be from David’s New Frontier books. Some scenes are set outside Federation space which reminded me more of “hive of scum and villainy” than anything seen on TV.

Still, this was a good read and probably would have been better if I had read New Frontier books before. The next book will return us to the roots of the conflict with the main bad guy and to Picard’s previous command: Stargazer.

Book 4 in the Double Helix Star Trek: the Next Generation series.

Publication year: 1999
Format: print
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.

The third book in the Star Trek: TNG Double Helix series.


Publication year: 1999
Format: print
Page count: 293 + an excerpt of the next book, Quarantine.
Publisher: Pocket Books

This time the TNG crew only appears in a couple of chapters and the main character is new character: Eric Stiles. Both Spock and McCoy appear.

The story starts several years before TNG series. Ensign Eric Stiles is the leader of a Starfleet security services special squad. They’re going in planet PojjanPiraKot where the population wants all aliens out. Federation embassy is the last one to be evacuated and Stiles’ group has to get them out. Unfortunately, the who group is full of ensigns on their first mission and things go wrong. Stiles is captured and imprisoned for years. His only companion is another alien prisoner: Romulan scientist Zevon. They keep each other alive and develop a deep friendship.

Years later, the Romulan Star Empire is in an uproar. They’re attacking Federation ships and the Romulans claim they’re just renegade captains. However, the engineered virus has struck again. This time the victims are the Romulan empress and all her blood relatives. And the Romulans are accusing the Federation.

Eric Stiles is a well-drawn character. At the start, he’s a nervous ensign, determined to look good in front of his hero, Spock, who is at the embassy. Then he grows up fast and becomes even a heroic figure but without realizing himself. He carries a lot of guilt around, too.

This is a good look at the less explored side of Star Trek, the less glorified work. Unfortunately, I really wanted to read a book with the familiar TNG cast and this wasn’t it.

Both Spock and McCoy are very distinctive.

Collects comic miniseries 1-3.


Writers: Mark Altman, Chris Dows, Colin Clayton, R. A. Jones
Artists: Rob Davis, Terry Pallot, Brian Michael Bendis, Bruce McGorkindale, Leonard Kirk, Jack Snider
Publisher: Malibu

The majority of this collection is taken up by three-part story the Maquis. It’s pretty solid although not in the same league as the best DS9 episodes. It starts with the rescue of a missing commander from the starship Grissom. However, when he meets Gul Dukat, the commander tries to kill him. But the main story centers on Doctor Bashir. He’s taking a vacation on Risa but on the way there he meets a beautiful woman who promptly kidnaps him. It turns out that she’s a Maquis and a group of them are going to storm a stronghold where the crew of Voyager and Chakotay’s Maquis group are held prisoner. Unfortunately, it’s a Cardassian trap. The plot here is pretty elaborate and I’m not sure it was worth the cost. But I’m not a Cardassian. 😉

This was a pretty fun story and involves Garak which is always a good thing. Some of the secondary characters even had more depth than was obvious at first glance, which is another positive thing. Of course, it’s a minor story which is never referred to again. Each part has also a box to remind the reader to start watching the new show, Voyager.

The collection has two shorter stories as well. They’re pretty good but unfortunately, they’re put in the middle of the Maquis story, cutting it senselessly. The first one is “The Memoir of an Invisible Ferengi” which is a fun short strip about Quark. A Romulan vessel has docked and some threatening looking Romulans pay Quark a visit: they want holosuits and for him to keep an item safe for them. Of course, Quark has took into the box and try on the belt he finds there. It makes him invisible. However, things turn up different than he expected. The second one, “A Tree Grows on Bajor” is a Sisko and Jake story. Sisko and his son have been invited to a ceremony on Bajor which reminds Jake about his mother.

These are also good little stories but unfortunately they interrupt the main story strangely. The Quark story is especially jarring. Otherwise this is a good collection.

The second book in the six-part Double Helix series. A Star Trek: TNG series but this part is set on Terok Nor.

Publication year: 1999
Format: print
Page count: 260 + an excerpt of Red Sector, the next book in the series
Publisher: Pocket Books

The mysterious General has sent another minion on Cardassian space station Terok Nor to spread a new designer virus to both the Cardassians and their Bajoran slaves. Gul Dukat, who commands the station, has allowed a Bajoran doctor, Kellec Ton, to come to the station. When it becomes clear that the disease affects both races, and quickly, Kellec Ton demands that his ex-wife is brought to the station to research it. Gul Dukat is reluctant because that ex-wife is Federation’s Dr. Pulaski. But rather quickly Dukat agrees for Pulaski to come with a small team. However, if any of the Federation team is caught spying they could all be killed.

Dr. Pulaski is leaving Enterprise-D when Kellec’s message reaches her. She realizes immediately how dangerous the mission will be but gathers three volunteers and goes to the station. On Terok Nor, she battles not only the disease but also the attitudes between the Cardassians and the Bajorans which make it difficult for the Cardassian and Bajoran doctors to work together. And gul Dukat seems to care only for the ore quotas and keeping the Federation agents from seeing the conditions that the Bajoran workers are forced to live in.

At the same time, Quark is trying to run a bar and cope with his newly arrived brother Rom and nephew Nog. Also, resistance fighter Kira Nerys is trying to find out if the rumors about a plague engineered by the Cardassians is true.

This was an excellent continuation of the series. This time, the characters deal with complex racial issues, which were pretty quickly swept aside in the first book, and also wonder how they can cure people who are just sent back to slavery. Kellec Ton is a stubborn and brilliant man who constantly butts heads with Dukat. We get to really know Pulaski in a way that I don’t think we saw her in the second season of TNG. To be fair, I haven’t much rewatched that season and I took an instant dislike to her because of her attitude towards my favorite TNG character, Data. Here, she really gets to shine.

While it was nice to see Kira, she wasn’t integral to the story. In fact, I go the impression that the studio ordered her to be in the book. Her attitude towards Federation was a bit surprising, considering how much she loathed them in the first episodes of DS9.

I really liked the writing style, but that’s no surprise; Rusch is one of my favorite authors. Rusch and Smith also weave in Kira’s and Odo’s backstory from DS9 season two.

The first book in the six-part Double Helix series. A Star Trek: TNG series.

Publication year: 1999
Format: print
Page count: 226 + an excerpt of Vectors, the next book in the series
Publisher: Pocket Books

Infection is set in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In fact, it’s stated that this adventure happens only one month after the Enterprise-D crew gets together, so the characters are still getting to know each other and Tasha Yar is the security chief.

Archeron III is a remote agricultural planet. It was settled simultaneously by religious extremist group of humans and peaceful human-like Peladians. Ever since, it has been a hotbed of racial intolerance. Now, a very virulent disease has struck and its victims are all mixed-race people. The Purity League is attacking hospitals and saying that the disease is a judgement from their god.

Enterprise-D is sent with a shipment of drug which will lessen the symptoms, and Dr. Crusher has to work with Archeron’s Dr. Tang to find out a cure. Meanwhile, Dr. Crusher and Captain Picard strongly suspect that the disease has been engineered. But by who and why?

For such a short book, the entire cast is used very well. (Except Wesley. He doesn’t appear.) Riker, Yar, and Data are sent covertly down to the planet to investigate the Purity League, Dr. Crusher works around the clock, and Picard has to deal with the planetary government. La Forge and Worf also get their own assignments.

But the characters felt a bit strange. For example, Crusher has “two cup problems” meaning how many cups of tea she needs. That’s not from the show. There were a few other inconsistences, too, and the ending is pretty strange, wrapped up too quickly, and full of coincidences. Also, we got to see a glimpse of who is responsible for the disease but the characters didn’t.

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