It’s the little things that make all the difference. Missing a train that means you strike up a conversation with someone on the platform and they turn out to be your soul mate – if you had caught that train, would you have met them? Would it matter as you never would have known the person to miss them? These are the questions that matter and the ones that quite often keep me from meeting my deadlines.
Anyway, this ‘Star Trek’ collection has a trio of stories that deal with alternative universes with slight changes to the characters we know and love. Not massive changes, not like changing James T. Kirk into Jane T. Kirk or everyone is actually Klingon and don’t realise but just one change to one character that ripples throughout the universe like a domino effect.
The fact that these tales are a couple of hundred pages long mean that you can become properly invested in these new universes rather than that of a 20 or 30 page short story which can feel rushed.
This is especially true of the middle tale, ‘A Gutted World’, which deals with a Federation under siege from all sides and constantly on battle alert. While the character of Captain Picard never really feels right in a war scenario, this soon evolves into a conspiracy theory investigation that pulls in strands from ‘The Next Generation’, ‘Deep Space Nine’ and ‘Voyager’ in a logical way. It’s the best of the three stories and a real gripper.
The book opens however with ‘The Chimes At Midnight’, an adventure with Kirk and his trusty second-in-command Andorian Commander Thellin. Taking events from the Animated Series episode, ‘Yesteryear’, in this reality, Spock died as a young boy and never made it to Starfleet. Taking place at the same time as ‘The Wrath Of Khan’, Thellin shows up Spock by thinking of a non-fatal escape route and forcing Scotty to keep his bagpipes in storage. We then move along a similar timeline to the films, involving the Genesis project, Praxis and David Marcus. It’s a great tale that makes me wish that Thellin had been a permanent fixture in ‘Star Trek’.
The third and final story, ‘Brave New World’, covers my favourite character from the Star Trek universe – Data. In this alternate reality, Doctor Noonien Soong’s work on androids has been perfected and humans can download their consciousness into a shell and theoretically live forever. Data, who disappeared several years previously, has re-surfaced with help from the Iconians and is concerned over a potential war that threatens his new android society. With cameos from the extended Data family, Lore and Lal, this should be the strongest story of the three but similar to humans living on via androids, it feels slightly artificial. The presence of the Iconian gateways remove a lot of the tension and the story is only rescued by the final coda that speaks to the explorer in all of us.
Criticism of the final story aside, this collection is solid and a worthy addition to a ‘Star Trek’ collection.
(pub: Simon and Schuster. 494 page enlarged paperback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-41657-181-0)
check out website: www.simonandschuster.co.uk