We’re careening toward the end of the year and while this is supposed to be something of a slow week (HAH!), I’m hoping I can try resuscitate this blog-type thing on some level during 2023. To that end, feel free to offer suggestions for things you might want to see more (or less) of around here.
Meanwhile, it’s Tuesday, which means it could possibly also be time for another installment of “Tuesday Trekkin’,” one of several irregularly recurring features you newcomers might find here. This one is really just a shoddy excuse for me to yammer on a bit about some nugget of Star Trek fandom. Most of the time, this means me babbling about some fondly remembered bit of goofy merchandise or collectible, anniversaries and “milestones” or important dates in franchise history, convention memories, or whatever else tickles my brain on any given day.
The “Tuesday Trekkin’” moniker is also a tip of the hat to Dan Davidson and Bill Smith, aka “The Hosts of the TrekGeeks Podcast.” Their fan group over on Facebook, Camp Khitomer, is devoted to all things Trek where all are welcome to join in their positive vibes and community. Sometimes, they also like to push a #TrekTuesday hashtag over there, inviting members to share updates, links, and/or pictures celebrating their fandom, so this feature is definitely offered in that same spirit.
I’d actually planned to do this one a couple of weeks ago for reasons which (hopefully) will become clear as I proceed, but December kind of got away from me with work, family stuff, the holidays, and so on, but here we are! Those of you who follow such things know that Harm’s Way, a new Star Trek novel penned by friend and fellow word pusher David Mack, was published back on back on December 13th. In addition to being an original series tale featuring Captain Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise in their prime during their historic five-year mission, the new story also ties into one of my very favorite aspects of the Star Trek “expanded universe,” the Star Trek Vanguard novel series.
If you’re not familiar with this series, it was created by Dave and editor Marco Palmieri and weaves in and around the missions of the Enterprise as chronicled by the original TV show (and its animated offspring, and literally hundreds of novels, short stories, comics, and so on and so forth). Over the course of seven novels and a handful of novellas published between 2005 and 2012, Dave along with Kevin and myself while working under Marco’s (and later editor Margaret Clark’s) stewardship had more than our share of unrestrained fun with a whole new set of characters, ships, aliens, and other toys. To this day, I feel extremely fortunate to participate in this project, which remains one of the writing efforts of which I remain most proud.
Vanguard readers know that a couple of years later Dave, Kevin, and I created Star Trek: Seekers, a spin-off series featuring characters and ships who had served in support roles for the original storyline. We decided to treat these books as largely standalone tales rather than driving a longer, multi-volume arc, threading a path between the original series’ basic approach and the “modern sensibility” with which we tried to infuse the Vanguard novels.
There were only four Seekers books, and while I’ve learned to never say “Never” when it comes to this sort of thing, the chances of seeing additional tales with the Endeavour and the Sagittarius are pretty slim. With that in mind, I saw no issue with using the Endeavour and its crew in an original series novel of my own.
Agents of Influence, published in 2020, sees Kirk and the Enterprise dispatched by Starfleet to investigate what’s become of the Endeavour. When I started writing the outline for this novel, I had in mind using a different ship and crew. I soon realized I could save a lot of time figuring out individual characters and such by using this ship and crew we’d already created and which was laying dormant, just waiting for a chance to dance on a whole new set of pages.
While Agents of Influence takes place after the last Seekers novel, Dave’s Harm’s Way is set right smack-dab in the middle of the original Vanguard saga. Specifically, it takes place during the events of the fifth Vanguard novel, Precipice. If you want to know what this means in relation to the original Star Trek series, Dave slotted this adventure just one week after the events of the classic second-season episode “The Doomsday Machine.”
With that in mind, the publication of Harm’s Way seemed like a good time to offer up an updated reading order for the entire Vanguard saga. Which is the real reason I’ve had you read everything to this point. Sure, the easiest and arguably most effective approach is to read everything in publication order, as even stories written later yet set earlier still benefit from things readers will know from having read the books as they came out. However, out of consideration for those who are “linear literalists,” here comes the Star Trek Vanguard Chronological Reading List:
Almost Tomorrow (Vanguard: Declassified) – me – July 2012
Distant Early Warning (Starfleet Corps of Engineers #64) – me & Kevin – June 2006
Harbinger – (Vanguard Book 1) – Dave – July 2005
Summon the Thunder (Vanguard Book 2) – me & Kevin – July 2006
Reap the Whirlwind (Vanguard Book 3) – Dave – May 2007
Hard News (Vanguard: Declassified) – Kevin – July 2012
Open Secrets (Vanguard Book 4) – me – May 2009
Precipice (Vanguard Book 5) – Dave –
Harm’s Way (Original Series) – Dave – December 2022
The Ruins of Noble Men (Vanguard: Declassified) – Marco – July 2012
The Stars Look Down (Vanguard: Declassified) – Dave – July 2012
What Judgments Come (Vanguard Book 6) – me & Kevin – September 2011
Storming Heaven (Vanguard Book 7) – Dave – March 2012
In Tempest’s Wake (Vanguard novella) – me – October 2012
Second Nature (Seekers #1) – Dave – July 2014
Point of Divergence (Seekers #2) – me & Kevin – August 2014
Long Shot (Seekers #3) – Dave – July 2015
All That’s Left (Seekers #4) – me & Kevin – October 2015
Agents of Influence (Original Series) – me – June 2020
“The Black Flag” (Mirror Universe: Shards & Shadows) – James Swallow – January 2009
Will there ever be a reason or an opportunity to add to the Vanguard saga? Personally, I still feel the same way I did several years ago when I was asked about this: “As far as I’m concerned, the stories of Vanguard’s main cast have been told. Within the fictional construct of the Star Trek universe, their reward—and penance—for what happened…is to be consigned to obscurity; footnotes to a history about which few people ever will know the complete truth.”
So far, Dave, Kevin, and I have held to our informal “pact” to refrain from revisiting Vanguard‘s core storyline. Even Harm’s Way respects that edict, but what it along with Agents of Influence did accomplish is convince me there are ways to weave new tales that touch on the main series in ways I hadn’t previously considered. I still wouldn’t want to disrespect what we’d previously decided and I certainly wouldn’t want to take away from what we did, but I can’t deny being intrigued by the idea of revisiting that little corner of the Star Trek sandbox in some oblique fashion.
I guess we’ll see what we’ll see, eh?