Star Wars publishing is known as the Expanded Universe/Legends. What do you call all the copious novels and anthologies that tie into the Star Trek TV franchise? Memory Beta? Voyages of the Imagination? Continuing Missions? I think that last one has a good ring to it…
Anyway, with all the mixed reactions to Star Trek Discovery, I think it’s time to look back on some good Trek stories that continued the missions of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Again, if your upset that your favorite books aren’t listed here, I apologize and you can always direct me to your site/twitter/whatever to show me your favorite tie-in novels.
Note: with some exceptions, summaries are taken from the reference book Voyages of the Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion by Jeff Ayers.
The Tears of the Singers (1984)
The inhabitants of the planet Taygeta are seal-like creatures known for their beautiful song. In addition, they produce a jewel-like tear when they die. Hunters are commonplace and the killing needs to stop. A spatial rift near the planet has the Enterprise investigating along with the Klingons. Captain Kirk has recruited a famous musician to attempt communication with the creatures and Uhura falls in love with him. Can Kirk’s shipmates get along with the Klingons, stop the slaughter of the animals, and seal up the rift?
I love this book because it’s an Uhura-centric story revolving around her gift for music. When she uses that gift to help her crewmates, it makes for a memorable story. It also has a sympathetic female Klingon who befriends her and I like Klingons.
Uhura’s Song (1985)
On the planet Eeiauo, a decimating plague ravages its population of catlike beings. Uhura had visited the planet years before and befriended one of the inhabitants. The songs the two of them shared actually hold a secret that the Eeiauoans are willing to die upholding. When the plague crosses over to humans and Dr. McCoy becomes infected, the Enterprise crew must solve the mystery of the songs and cure the plague before everyone succumbs.
Interesting how one Uhura novel comes out a year after another, revolving around music once again. And it has two species of alien cats!
Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
While Kirk and his crew struggle to free scientist Zefram Cochrane from captors, ninety-nine years in the future Jean-Luc Picard must rescue a mysterious individual who holds the key to the Federation’s ultimate survival.
A novel that intertwines the crew of The Original Series and The Next Generation into one epic story as they race to protect a fleeing scientist from an obsessed despot. The 1st Trek book I ever read – before I ever saw any of the shows. Good thing it was a really good book that kept me interested in the franchise. The two Enterprises even encounter each other at one point. *Sniff*. So beautiful.
The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh (2001 & 2002)
In the twentieth century, an international cabal of scientists launches the Chrysalis Project, the development of an artificially enhanced breed of humans, while Gary Seven, an undercover operative for an advanced alien species struggles to neutralize the threat while watching the children of Chrysalis, including the brilliant Khan Noonien Singh, grow to adulthood.
The Enterprise is chosen to host a wedding between two rival civilizations. One of the delegates attending the wedding happens to be Deanna’s mother, much to the chagrin of everyone else. When she meets Q and everyone warns her about him, that only attracts her to him more. Can Q, the most annoying being in the galaxy, find true love with the most annoying woman in the galaxy?
After reading this book, you’ll wish there were a TNG episode where the two meet. Or at least a production of Alien Voices.
Helping a damaged ship brings pain and grief to the crew of the Enterprise-D. The inhabitants of the Freedom call themselves Vemlans and they are fleeing a war-torn home, looking for a new place to live. A foggy picture gets even more blurry when an entire fleet from the planet arrives and claims that the Freedom crew are nothing more than escaped slaves. Picard must use all his cunning to fiddle with the Prime Directive if the Enterprise is to survive.
A good novel that delves into the ongoing question: what measure is a human. I won’t tell you what species the crew of the Freedom are.
Laurell K. Hamilton
Captain Picard, Worf and Deanna are negotiating for peace. The two factions are living on a dying planet. The Enterprise is sent away on another mission. The three of them are left alone to resolve the dispute. A murder occurs and Picard is accused of the crime. Now he resides in prison. Worf and Troi must discover the identity of the true killer. In the process, Worf learns to be a diplomat.
I don’t remember much of the plot but what stood out the most was seeing Troi and Worf’s working relationship evolve from slight mistrust to the beginnings of friendship as they work to solve the mystery.
Here There Be Dragons (1993)
Investigating massive stellar phenomena, the crew rescues a man claiming to be a Federation Special Agent. He also has a strange story. Inside the cloud where nothing should be able to survive, hides an entire planet. With some advanced technology, the ship arrives to find a world of knights and serfs from Earth’s Middle Ages. While investigating, some of the crew are taken as slaves. Unknown to them all, the “gate” that got the ship there safely is starting to close…
Dragons and The Enterprise. What more could you want?
Death In Winter (2005)
Michael Jan Friedman
While Captain Picard supervises the retrofit and repair of the Enterprise after Shinzon’s attack, he also contemplates the departure of his friends, including Beverly, who is now the head of Starfleet Medical again. Beverly receives orders to conduct a clandestine mission to the planet Kevratas to help stop a plague with similarities to a disease she tackled years ago. Unfortunately, the Romulans control the populace and don’t want help. With Beverly captured and possibly dead, Picard realizes his true feelings for her and leads a covert mission of his own to not only stop the plague but rescue his true love.
This book is a must-read for all the fans who want the Crusher/Picard relationship to finally, finally get resolved.
The Captain’s Table: Where Sea Meets Sky (1998)
Captain Pike tells the aliens at his table of an assignment to the Aronnia System. Upon arrival, the crew of the Enterprise finds giant whale-like creatures in space called Titans. Pike must make a horrific decision, since the creatures are vital to the survival of one culture, but are destroying another.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Captain Pike because of Jeffrey Hunter’s short, tragic life. It’s one of the biggest “if only’s” of sci-fi history. Despite only appearing in two episodes (if you count the two-parter “The Cage” as one episode), that character has lived on in lots of written works chronicling the early days of the Enterprise. Plus, SPACE WHALES! THAT EAT HYDROGEN! AND LAY EGGS! AND DROP THEM LIKE BOMBS!
Guises of the Mind (1993)
The Enterprise receives an invitation to the coronation of the ruler of Capulon IV. In addition, the planet will sign a charter joining the Federation at the ceremony. Shuttling the religious order of Little Mothers to the event, one of the members, Mother Veronica, has telepathic powers she can’t control and begs for Troi’s help. On the planet, the future king’s evil twin brother kidnaps him and locks him in a dungeon. Can Picard bring the rightful heir to the throne?
Star Trek depicted a future where people (of Earth at least) were freed from the influence of religion. And we were all the better for it. This book on the other hand, deftly balances the positive aspects of religion without straying outside the boundaries of Roddenberry’s wishes. And still manages to be entertaining.
The rescue of a scientists in a remote station proves to be the end of the Enterprise. Infected with a mysterious substance on the surface of the ship, the stuff begins to gradually disintegrate the hull. Forced to evacuate, Picard’s crew must watch in horror as Starfleet orders the Enterprise’s destruction to prevent the infection of other vessels. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the situation obviously warrants a bold plan for Picard to defy Starfleet and save his beloved ship.
This novel makes us realize that the Enterprise is more than just a starship, it’s home to the people that work on it.
Strange New Worlds I (1998)
Edited by Dean Wesley Smith, John J. Ordover and Paula M. Block
For 10 years Pocket Books held a contest where nonprofessional writers could submit stories that furthered the adventures of the characters of Star Trek (which at the time consisted of TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY). The grand prize was a published piece in the Strange New Worlds anthology and a bonus advance of $1,000.00.
It appears I owe fan fiction an apology. I’ve always thought it to be way below authorized fiction. But after reading this anthology of published fan fiction, I will have to change my tune. These are some stellar stories. The ones I enjoyed reading are “A Private Anecdote”, “The Last Tribble”, “The Lights In the Sky”, “Reflections”, “The First”, “See Spot Run”, “Together Again, for the First Time” and “The Man Who Sold the Sky”.
Enterprise Logs (2000)
Edited by Carol Greenburg
Six centuries, ten captains. One proud tradition…
This anthology focuses on the many captains that led the adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Of course they include Captains Kirk and Picard but they also feature stories about Captains April, Pike, Decker, Spock, Harriman and Garrett. Surprisingly the anthology also features two stories about captains of Earth-bound Enterprise (sea) ships. One during the American Revolution, the other during World War 2. Contributing to the anthology are talents like the late A.C. Crispin, Diane Duane, Greg Cox, Diane Carey and Michael Jan Friedman. My favorite stories are: “Though Hell Should Bar the Way”, “Conflicting Natures”, “The Avenger”, “Just Another Little Training Cruise” and “The Captain and the King”.
Strike Zone (1989)
The Kreel have stumbled onto a planet with a storage facility full of extremely powerful weapons that could easily destroy the Enterprise-D. They begin using the weapons on the Klingons and now Picard has been asked to facilitate the dispute. Having both races on board the Enterprise calls for tact, something the Klingons and the Kreel are severly lacking.
The Klingons have mortal enemies? How interesting.
The Starship Trap (1993)
The Klingons attack the Enterprise in response to Federation assaults on Klingon vessels. Escaping with a promise of discovering the truth, Kirk and crew head to a secret rendezvous with a respected scientist. At the meeting with Federation personnel, the truth reveals itself. It seems that the Klingons are not the only race to have ships vanish, and it’s up to the Enterprise to uncover the truth.
The scientist in this story has shades of Captain Nemo.
Strange New Worlds IV (2001)
Edited by Dean Wesley Smith, John J. Ordover and Paula M. Block
Highlights include “A Little More Action”, “Prodigal Father”, “Missed”, “Tears for Eternity”, “First Star I See Tonight”, “Scotty’s Song”, “Flight 19” and “Prodigal Son”.
A Rock and a Hard Place (1990)
The terraforming project on the planet Paradise has taken a turn for the worse. Commander Riker receives a temporary transfer to investigate this program. The person in charge of the project happens to be a childhood friend. Riker’s replacement on the Enterprise-D is Commander Stone, a man with a troubled past whose questionable methods have plagued his every posting.
I included this title here because the book has one of the most interesting – and frustrating – characters. Commander Stone is the guy that makes you say: “what’s his problem?” It keeps you guessing what his motives is until the end of the book: is he a villain who wants to destroy our heroes or is he a jaded anti-hero gone mad?
War Drums (1992)
A small colony struggles to survive on the planet Selva. On their new home, a band of renegade Klingons fights for survival in the woods beyond the encampment. With aggression escalating between the two parties, the Enterprise arrives to render assistance and negotiate peace. Where did the Klingons come from and why did the colonists not notify Starfleet Command sooner regarding their situation? Prejudice and treachery intensifies.
As you can see I love any TNG story involving Klingons. I find them to be so fascinating because they’re so contradictory. Yet the more you find out about the feral Klingons in this story, the more you’ll pity them.
Strange New Worlds V (2002)
Edited by Dean Wesley Smith with John J. Ordover and Paula M. Block
I enjoyed “Disappearance on 21st Street”, “The Trouble With Borg Tribbles”, “Legal Action”, “The Peacemakers”, “Efflorescence”, “Kristin’s Conundrum”, “The Monkey Puzzle Box” and “The Farewell Gift”.
So there you have it, the first 20 Star Trek books worth reading. Let’s see if I can make it to the next 20. Or more.