“Assignment” for the class.

I’m contemplating a new column for my irregularly recurring “Ten for Ward” series over on StarTrek.com, and I’m thinking I might want do to some kind of “intro to Star Trek books” thing.

Basically, what I want to do is come up with a list of Star Trek novels that are great entry points for such reading. Opinions vary on such things, of course, so I’d like to hear yours.

spock-must-dieWith that in mind, and assuming you feel like playing along, here’s the deal: Take some time, give it some thought, and give me the title of ONE Star Trek novel that you would give to a friend or relative who had never before read such a book, in the hopes of engaging that person’s interest in reading more titles in this vein. In order to qualify for consideration, you must also explain why you think this book meets the criteria. Why, as a single title, does this book, working on its own and without a net, serve as an “ambassador to Star Trek fiction?”

ST-FederationIt can be any novel from any of the series, past or present. Exceptions on a case by case basis will be considered for limited multi-book projects (examples: the Crucible or Destiny trilogies, the Eugenics Wars duology, etc.), but not entire series like Vanguard or New Frontier. If a single book is suggested from one of those series and I end up using it, I’ll supply any additional information on those series as needed.

If I end up using your suggestion in the article, your contribution will of course be cited, and you’ll be eligible for a percentage of my payment on the piece. Since that usually involves undying gratitude from my editor, you’ll get a slice of that. A small one. Just one.

Besides, we’re doing this for the love of the game, right? Who’s with me?

UPDATE: Something I didn’t think to add when writing up the original posting is that for purposes of this exercise, you may assume that the recipient of your hypothetical Star Trek novel/Ambassador to Star Trek Fiction is familiar with any/all of the series, or even is a fan of same, but just hasn’t yet sampled the novels. Example: “You like Captain Janeway? Then you should read Mosaic, because it’s her whole life story, dude!”



19 thoughts on ““Assignment” for the class.

  1. The first book that came to mind was Prime Directive. And here are the reasons why:

    1) Strange New Worlds. Prime Directive has strange new worlds in abundance. There’s Talin IV, both before and after its nuclear devastation. There’s an asteroid habitat. There’s the moon base. There’s the insectoid swarm. There’s all sorts of cool things to see and places to go. Star Trek does best when we see cool things and new places.

    2) Philosophical dilemmas. Lots of philosophical dilemmas! How far does the Prime Directive extend? Is the Prime Directive viable? Does the Prime Directive essentially mandate extinction and genocide?

    3) Characters. There’s a real sense in the book that Kirk’s crew is a family, and the book pushes the characters to their limits and shows that, even at their worst, they’re still who they are.

    I love Prime Directive. I’d love a 24th-century sequel. (I had one plotted out. Don’t know what I did with it.)


  2. Here’s my advocacy. Hope you like it!

    Spock’s World by Diane Duane: the epitome of what makes a Trek novel great. Diane Duane has written many terrific novels for Star Trek over the years, but the best was Spock’s World. Her ability to capture the voices of the characters is unparalleled. In particular, her ability to write the “big 3” of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy is pretty incredible. This is an author who truly loves Trek, and that love is apparent on every page.

    Spock’s World in particular is so great for a number of reasons. Her showcasing of Vulcan and its history provides a true insight into one of Trek’s major alien races. Reading this novel, I felt that I “knew” Vulcan and its inhabitants in a way I never did while watching the shows or films. Combine that wonderful world-building with the lovely character pieces (most notably a truly kick-ass McCoy speech toward the end of the novel), and Spock’s World rises above much of the rest of the Trek novels; it will always have a special place on my shelf. I believe that it would make a truly great introduction to Trek literature as a whole.


  3. I’d cast my vote for IMZADI by Peter David.

    It has a terrific story that blends time-travel, adventure, romance, and humor. It explores the Riker/Troi relationship with wonderful depth and sensitivity, and though it restores the status quo by the end (as Star Trek novels of that era were required to do), its ending is also one of the best I’ve ever read in a Star Trek novel.

    Not coincidentally, it was also the Star Trek novel that, after I read it, made me not only want to write my own Star Trek novels, it gave me an appreciation for just how rich and multifaceted a Star Trek novel can be.


  4. Hey Dayton,

    I have a suggestion for you.

    Star Trek – Voyager: Full Circle.

    Why Full Circle? Although a title written AFTER the large game changer that was Star Trek: Destiny, Full Circle does an amazing job at filling in gaps for readers as to what happened post-“Endgame” while introducing the “Voyager” characters anew to new fans while setting the stage for their new adventures. Since the title takes place over the span of several years (2377-2381), it adequately catches people up on what’s been going on in the literary world and invites readers to read other works of Trek Fiction. (Namely: Star Trek: The Next Generation & Star Trek: Titan)

    But what works great about Full Circle that despite the great work Kirsten Beyer did in connecting the Trek-verse together, this is a Voyager story through & through. She picks up on threads from the show, and makes the book warm & inviting to read, notwithstanding dealing with the fallout of Kathryn Janeway’s death at the halfway mark through the story. The introduction of new characters is limited as not to shock anybody whereas other series have take the liberty of adding a new cast (I.E: Deep Space Nine) and the use of characters from other series are limited, and when used, make sense to the plot (I.E: Martok & Kahless). In essence, Full Circle celebrates the best of Voyager while being the perfect place to launch forward as Full Circle takes Voyager back to where it began: the Delta Quadrant, albeit under a very different set of circumstances.

    Hope this works!!!!


  5. Star Trek Vanguard: Harbinger by David Mack.

    Why? First of all, it requires no advance knowledge of Star Trek. (Sure, the Enterprise crew show up a bit, but everyone’s at least vaguely familiar with who they are.) In essence, this book is like the pilot episode of a new Trek show; lots of new characters and great themes to kick things off, so a new reader won’t get lost. For longtime Trek TV fans who haven’t read any novels, there’s lots of references to episodes and other plotlines; however, they’re not so blatant that a newcomer to the franchise would be confused. Finally, if a new reader enjoyed Harbinger, there’s seven more books that finish off the Vanguard series. Again, that helps people from thinking that they have to read every single Trek novel out there. With this, the story is self-contained, much like a TV series.


  6. My first instinct was Once Burned, by Peter David.

    It’s a more-or-less standalone story that explores a common Star Trek trope, the evil/crazy captain/commodore/admiral from a much closer perspective, which is something that could never happen in the parent shows. Normally, when there’s a good-officer-gone-bad story, the Enterprise (or Voyager or Defiant) arrives well after everything’s gone to hell. In this case, we get to meet a captain and crew, see how they function, and watch in detail as everything falls apart. Plus, it’s an introduction to the concept of book-only series and crews. Aside from a couple pages with Shelby in the prologue, I don’t think there’s a single character that originated on-screen.

    (My second instinct was Doctor’s Orders, by Diane Duane, incidentally)


  7. I’m going to join Allyn on this one: _Prime Directive_, and for most of the same reasons Allyn offers. It’s got everything that Trek is known for (in a positive way), and it’s an absolutely *epic* story. If I were going to do a *true* ST: TOS feature film, I’d have to seriously consider adapting this one.


  8. Q-Squared

    A tough choice but if I had to offer someone an entry point it would have to be Peter David’s Q-Squared. This novel exemplifies, for me, the potential of this medium. Q-Squared is a vast compelling story with big budget special effects. At the same time the examination of Jack Crusher and his place in the universe gives us all pause as we consider the consequences of our choices and the role fate plays in our lives.

    This is book represents my Gold Standard for Trek Novels. As Peter David said, “Q-Squared is almost my challenge to the reader to keep up with me.” And I think Trek fans enjoy a challenge.


  9. I would suggest Articles of the Federation. As the introduction to the Bacco Administration it’s the perfect jumping on point to then continue on into the big interconnected web of books that follow (Destiny, Typhon Pact, etc), which make frequent use of Bacco and co.

    With interstellar politics playing a much greater role in the later books, it would be a great way to introduce a new reader to that side of Star Trek, something that has been developed far more on the page than it ever was on-screen. And it would also serve to highlight what a varied world of fiction Trek-lit is; who’d have thought there’d be a Star Trek West Wing novel? That might open the eyes of a new reader, if they had the impression every Star Trek book was just another alien of the week type thing.

    (Runner up suggestion: Avatar)


  10. Star Trek Titan: Taking Wing or Star Trek Vanguard: Harbinger

    I know you said one but I’m in the Air Force and we get trained that the person asking the question has no clue what they really want. The higher ranking the less of a clue. So, it’s up to us to give them what they need. Thus, I give you two. You’ll also find that I like lists and the Oxford comma. (Just finished that episode of Grammar Girl)

    Now on to the reasoning part.

    Taking Wing picks up shortly after Nemisis, has a lot of familiar characters to bring that comfort, and leads into, or touches on, all of the recent timeline events like those in Destiny and Typhon Pact. There is a lot of action, some great character introductions, and we get to see some political workings with the state of the Romulan Empire. Personally I think it’s the natural progression to the TNG universe.

    Harbinger, and the Vanguard series, is a fun series set in the TOS timeline that has effects on the timeline far far in the future. There are some familiar faces that pop in here and there which is always fun. Lastly, the main and secondary characters are very deep and I think covered a broad enough spectrum that the reader would be hard pressed to find a character they couldn’t identify with. (Not to knock on Enterprise or anything but, I think it may have made a better prequel series than Enterprise in my humble opinion.)

    Looking … “for Ward” …. to see how this all pans out because I love the idea.


  11. Had you asked me a month ago, I’d’ve suggested ‘The Rift’, by Peter David, as it deals with Pike and Kirk’s crews and, it’s brilliantly written. Now, though, I’d have to enter one of yours; your latest, in-fact. No…I’m not sucking-up, here, Dayton. Honestly, I have no problem telling you, ‘From History’s Shadow’ is ‘one’ of the best STAR TREK novels, I’ve ever read.

    I would say, ‘Shadow’ has some ‘flavor’ from ALL the TREK series’; plus-it threads our obsession with (and, our paranoia of), UFO’s and alien encounters, it romances our ‘race to space’ with the USSR, (I even saw hints of ‘The Right Stuff’, in there), and it lays-bare the military/government’s hush-hush attitude, and-conspiracies, towards these alleged encounters/sightings. You have it all, right there, in one book: our ‘past’, Kirk and Co.’s time-travelling exploits and the consequences of those trips on our people and events, ENTERPRISE’s ‘Cold War’ aspect and its far-reaching ramifications, as-well-as ‘Carbon Creek’ and the Vulcans landing here; (it’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but did you use any references from ‘Strangers From the Sky’ in there?) You have the DS9 threads and all of the fallout from that, playing-out center-stage, some wonderful ‘old’ characters that have become iconic fan-faves, those well-written ‘new’ aliens, new twists and turns, even the brief VOYAGER reference, in that poignant epilogue. You’ve got a love story, you’ve got some incredible shoot-’em-ups, a time-paradox that could tear the futures of all parties involved apart, awesome ship battles…’Kirk-Fu’…

    Not-to-mention, the fact, that you can ‘feel’ the author’s joy, in writing this spectacular tale, on every page. I wasn’t kidding, earlier, when I said I could almost smell the interiors of those old classic cars, or, feel the adrenaline-rush during that car chase… Yeah, this would be a terrific book, to introduce people to the world(s) of STAR TREK fiction. I think, Gene would be quite-proud of your phenomenal tale… I certainly love it.


Lay it on me.

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