Iím tired of Star Trek books. I
freely admit it. After reading an enormous stack of them all
through high school (not to mention watching all four series) I
find that all of the plots seem to jell together.
One of the few exceptions Iíve found
is Peter Davidís Star Trek: New Frontier series. It
incorporates several TNG guest stars and an original, hilarious
crew, then sticks them straight in the middle of a brand new
alien conflict, all set in the beloved Star Trek
universe. The author manages to keep his series fresh and
laugh-out-loud funny, while producing some of the best, most
original Star Trek books on the market.
Anyone whoís read Peter Davidís New
York Times bestseller, Imzadi, or his delightfully mind
boggling Q-Squared will be thrilled to know that Peter
David is also writing an ongoing series based on his own Star
The mighty Thallonian Empire has
collapsed and the many planets that it has always ruled are
thrown into a state of chaos. Starfleet decides to send in one
ship, to render assistance and to investigate the situation.
This ship is the USS Excalibur.
Its crew are creative and hilarious in
a way that only Peter David and his off beat, dark humor can
achieve. The unexpected, unbelievable, and just plain impossible
are commonplace on the ship, as the crew encounter one ironic
situation after another. Romance blooms in unlikely places, and
readers will alternate between wordless admiration and
hysterical laughter at the crewís reaction to challenges.
Captain Mackenzie Calhoun, formerly
known as Míkínízy of Calhoun, is a fearsome terrorist who led
the liberation of his planet against superior forces when he was
only nineteen. After coming out of a Starfleet tragedy as a
hero, Calhoun mysteriously quit his career and went into
business independently, only to be dragged back to Starfleet by
his old friend and mentor, Captain Picard.
Other characters include Burgoyne, a
member of a dual-sexed species who has a crush on the resident
Vulcan doctor, and Zak Kebron, who hails from a species that
makes the deck tremble when he moves. He has an instinctive
hatred for the arrogant Ambassador Si Cwan, just as he did for
old academy roommate, Lieutenant Worf. But Si Cwan, a former
lord of the Thallonian Empire, will do everything in his power
to stay on the Excaliburís crew, since it is his only
chance to find his lost sister.
Peter David also introduces old
favorites from The Next Generation, such as the promotion
hungry Commander Shelby, who happens to be Captain Calhounís ex-fiance,
and Ensign Robin Lefler, whose few secrets of her past are
hidden even from her. Leutenant Selar is the Chief Medical
Officer, despite a personal tragedy in her past that leaves her
cold and remoteÖ even for a Vulcan. Her bedside manner is brutal
enough to even rival Voyagerís holographic doctor, yet
she finds herself in a position where she desperately needs
friends to help her with a purely Vulcan problem. The legendary
Ambassador Spock and our old hero Captain Picard send the
Excalibur on its way, along with the despised, yet newly
promoted Admiral Jelico.
This is only a small sampling of the
crew, to say nothing of guest stars ranging from arrogant
religious fanatics who can kill with a word to the Great Bird of
the Galaxy. The Excalibur must defend itself from giant
space worms, terrorists, and nearly immortal relatives. Each
book ends with an enticing cliffhanger that will have readers
biting their nails while they wait for the sequel.
A few fans may object to his trifling
with a number of Next Generation characters or protest
flagrant Prime Directive violations. But the series has only a
few references to the main characters on Next Generation
and the other Star Trek series; the new characters and
situations are what set these books apart from other, more
generic Star Trek books.
There is far more to this series than
the usual planetary threat or mysterious alien. In typical
Star Trek books, itís well known that the main characters
canít die or even undergo significant changes. In the New
Frontier series, nothing can be taken for granted. Peter Davidís
characters are truly original, and find themselves in all sorts
of hilarious predicaments. Everything from pregnancies to a
shuttle with two main characters blowing up is within the rules.
Yet at the same time, Next Generation characters and
species appear, and Captain Calhoun must struggle to work within
the Prime Directive.
While Peter Davidís characters are
always amusing, or at least have hilarious moments, they are
also deep and very real. Each character must deal with their
past and sometimes their families as they forge individual
relationships with each character on the ship. Even the darkest
crew members find time to joke, in their own ways, and even the
most cheerful characters have a spot of tragedy hidden in their
past and waiting to be rooted out. The characters bluff, take
risks, and all-out lie. Peter David manages to slip in
explorations of the nature of romance as well as the bonds
between parents and children, making the series far more vibrant
than a simple comedy.
Despite the humor of the series, the
characters are warm and alive, and the readers tend to worry
when Peter David shows a conversation between two shuttle
occupants and then says "and then the shuttle blew up." With
nine books in the Star Trek: New Frontier series (one of
which is also a Captain's Table book) and more appearing
in the future, this series makes an excellent summer reading
projectÖ whether youíre desperately waiting for the next one to
arrive, or even if you think youíve read too many Star Trek