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S.C.E. #29: Aftermath
The U.S.S. da
Vinci is at last ready to resume its mission after the
catastrophic events of Wildfire--but before they can
even leave Spacedock, a terrible explosion rocks San Francisco,
heralding the arrival of a strange alien structure. With the aid of
Captain Montgomery Scott and former Starship Enterprise
and Deep Space 9 engineer Miles O'Brien, the S.C.E. must investigate
the alien structure and learn if this is an attack, a first contact--or
What they find may land the Federation in the midst
of an interdimensional war, as Commander Sonya Gomez works
with Starfleet legends from two generations to untie the secrets
of the alien structure before it's too late!
"As fascinating as the dilemma is in Aftermath,
it is the human drama unfolding between the characters...
that makes Aftermath so rewarding to read.... Bennett
amply illustrates that he really knows his Star Trek... while
at the same time demonstrating a writing style that is both droll
and stimulating." -- Jacqueline Bundy, Trek Nation
S.C.E. is an eBook series about the Starfleet Corps of Engineers,
featuring a mix of original characters and TNG/DS9 guest
stars. I came to the attention of S.C.E. editor
Keith R.A. DeCandido through my posts to the TrekBBS's Trek
Literature page, and he invited me to pitch. Getting to
write Trek fiction is a lifelong dream come true for me.
My first thought was that, since the SCE cast was fairly new to me, I'd
like to bring in guest characters I was more familiar with.
I thought of Chief O'Brien, which suggested a story set on
Earth; that in turn suggested taking a look at the aftermath,
both physical and psychological, of the Breen attack on San Francisco
from "The Changing Face of Evil." I turned in my original
proposal in the summer of 2001. Then September 11th happened,
and that tragedy and its aftermath had considerable resonances with
the premise of Aftermath, so I reworked my proposal to incorporate
those new insights.
As of November 2006, Aftermath is available as the first story
in the Corps of Engineers trade paperback collection of the same name.
The title of the series was changed for the sake of greater
clarity when the series was "relaunched" in November '06, and the
TPB came out at the same time to cross-promote with the relaunch.
Spoiler discussion and notes
Psi Phi's S.C.E.
Deep Space Nine: Prophecy and Change:
I Not Honor More"
In the wake of "Ferengi
Love Songs," Quark is eager to exercise his renewed Ferengi
business license and become a financial force to be reckoned
with once again. But his priorities are tested when he's
reunited with his old Klingon flame, the Lady Grilka. Will
true love exact too high a price?
This time the invitation came from editor Marco Palmieri,
another TrekBBS regular. Marco is the editor of the
acclaimed DS9 Relaunch novels which advance the saga beyond the
end of the TV series. But the idea behind this anthology was
to tell stories set during the series' run, stories which would shed
new light on the growth and changes which the characters and their
relationships went through. The first idea I thought of was based
on a question I'd been wondering about for years: Whatever happened
to Grilka? In "Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong
Places," she and Quark became lovers, but then we never saw her again.
I've always wondered what could've happened to their relationship.
I'm thrilled to have the chance to provide the answer to that question.
Spoiler discussion and notes
Star Trek: Ex Machina
THE HUMAN ADVENTURE
In the aftermath of the astonishing events of Star
Trek: The Motion Picture, the captain and officers
of the U.S.S. Enterprise remain haunted by their encounter
with the vast artificial intelligence of V'ger . . . and by
the sacrifice and ascension of their friend and shipmate, Willard
As James T. Kirk, Spock and Leonard McCoy attempt
to cope with the personal fallout of that ordeal, a chapter
from their mutual past is reopened, raising troubling new questions
about the relationship among God, Man and AI. On the
recently settled world of Daran IV, the former refugees of the
Fabrini worldship Yonada are being divided by conflicting ideologies,
as those clinging to their theocratic past vie with visionaries of
a future governed by reason alone.
Now, echoes of the V'ger encounter reverberate among
the Enterprise officers who years ago overthrew the
Oracle, the machine-god that controlled Yonada. Confronting
the consequences of those actions, Kirk, Spock and McCoy also
face choices that will decide the fate of a civilization, and which
may change them forever.
"...written with a deft hand and deep skill....
[The] very intricate story... combines history, religion,
science, conflict, and terrorism and weaves it into a tight
fabric that engenders thought and contemplation beyond the usual
scope of a sci-fi media tie-in novel." -- Father Robert
Lyons, SST, Stellarcross.org
"Ex Machina is a good, long, solid read,
well worth immersing yourself in for several hours. There's a lot packed
in here, from Trek trivia to philosophizing. It reads like the kind of book
only a fan who takes Star Trek seriously could possibly have written."
" Bennett has produced a glorious debut in full-length
novel form.... This promising new author clearly has
a lot of Trek knowledge, character- and world-building skill,
and love of the franchise; so "Ex Machina" comes highly recommended."
-- Daniel Berry, BookTrek
"Thought provoking stories are one of the hallmarks
of Star Trek and stories rarely get more thought provoking
than Ex Machina.... What Christopher L. Bennett
has done with Ex Machina is to meld together... a story cannot
help but resonate with anyone who has ever read a history book or a
newspaper." -- Jackie Bundy, Trek Nation
"Attention to scientific detail is at the forefront
of Bennett's tome, as he carefully integrates scientific
reality into the framework of the tale.... He's got a solid grasp
on characterization all the way throughout EX MACHINA, and no
one escapes his watchful eye or is considered insignificant. That's
the mark of a great writer, one who makes you care about all of the
people in a story, and this is one of Bennett's many strengths."
-- Bill Williams, TrekWeb
"Easily one of the best TOS novels in print, Ex Machina
is the proverbial must-read.... Bennett has woven multiple and often conflicting
continuity threads in a tour de force that tells a fascinating story with
flair, imagination, and weight." -- Megan O'Neill, TV ZONE Magazine
Years ago, I dreamed of becoming a Trek novelist, but I wasn't happy with
the continuity restrictions of that time, which forbade Trek
novels from making any real changes in the characters' lives
so as to avoid contradicting anything onscreen. In looking
for a way around those restrictions, I thought of exploring the
period between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The
Wrath of Khan. This was a time of transition and growth for
all the characters. We knew where they started out and where they
ended up, but the process in between was largely uncharted. It would
be an opportunity to tell stories with arc and character development
while still staying within continuity.
I now realize that even allowing for that, I probably still couldn't have
sold this novel under that old regime. Fortunately,
the Trek novel line is now in a time of renaissance, freer than
ever before to explore new story directions. Given the various
projects edited by Marco Palmieri, including the post-finale Deep
Space Nine novels and the Lost Era miniseries, I had
a feeling my idea might go over well with him -- though I'm still thrilled
to have been right.
There have been novels set in the post-TMP period before, but hardly any
have been direct follow-ups to TMP, exploring its aftermath
on the characters. Most surprisingly to me, none ever
really sought to elaborate on Spock's life-changing epiphany about
the value of emotion -- something I'd always felt was rich with
story possibilities. But I'm glad to be the one who gets
to tell those stories at long last.
So why did I make ExM a sequel to "For the World is Hollow and I Have
Touched the Sky and My Goodness, This is an Awfully Long Title, Isn't it
Though?" Well, in the ST:TMP novelization, Gene Roddenberry said that
"McCoy had become something of a recluse while he researched applications
of Fabrini medicine among surface dwellers." So I've always wondered
if he met up with Natira again, and what would've happened between them.
It just seemed natural that a novel exploring this period would address that
issue. Also, the presence of the Oracle computer-god provided resonances
with the V'ger encounter in TMP. And the story of a society struggling
to rebuild and redefine itself, torn between the traditional and the modern,
the secular and the spiritual, gave me a great opportunity to develop themes
from my history studies in college, particularly with regard to the Middle
Annotations page Explanations of Trek references, science/tech and in-jokes
Supporting cast images The faces of the novel's minor crewmembers
Book Club chat transcript January 25, 2005
Click here for
help pronouncing the title (courtesy
of the American Heritage Dictionary at Bartleby.com)
This little tribute was put together by
TMP-alien buff Ian McLean, based on an old ST comic strip
from the Los Angeles Times:
Voyager: Distant Shores: "Brief Candle"
In "Survival Instinct,"
Lt. Marika Willkarah was liberated from the Borg Collective
but left with only a month to live. She chose to live out her
final days as a member of Voyager's crew. This is
the story of those final days and the impact she has on her
crewmates, most especially a certain Ensign Harry Kim.
"...a tender and poignant
story of the former Borg drone Lt. Marika Willkarah's last weeks.
Bennett's prose exhibits great sensitivity..." -- Jackie
The mandate for this anthology was to explore
missed opportunities from the series. I went through the
show and developed several proposals, but the one that most intrigued
editor Marco Palmieri was this one, exploring the final days
of Lt. Marika (Bertila Damas) from "Survival Instinct." Since
the array of alien makeups seen on the Markonian outpost in the
episode included some recycled Voth masks from "Distant Origin," a
personal favorite episode, I was able to work the Voth into the story
and follow up on another missed opportunity.
discussion and notes
Star Trek: Titan: Orion's
As the U.S.S. Titan
ventures beyond the outermost reaches of known space, the telepaths
in her crew -- including Diplomatic Officer Deanna Troi -- are
overwhelmed by an alien cry of distress, leading the ship to the
scene of a shocking act of carnage: a civilization of interstellar
"whalers" preying upon and exploiting a familiar species of sentient
Appalled but reluctant to rush to judgment,
Captain William Riker and his crew investigate, discovering
a cosmic spawning ground in a region of active star formation --
the ecosystem for a bewildering array of diverse but similarly
vast life-forms. While attempting to negotiate an end to the
victimization of these creatures, Riker's crew inadvertently grants
them the means to defeat their hunters' purpose . . . only to learn
that things are not exactly as they seem.
"Great science fiction
opens your mind to new possibilities, ideas and concepts....
Orion's Hounds by Christopher L. Bennett is outstanding
science fiction. Ingenious and enthralling, Orion's Hounds
balances scientific theory with character driven adventure in a
vibrant story that challenges the Star Trek mythos." -- Jackie
"...brings Trek fiction
up to par with all but the hardest subgenres of hard science
fiction... true intellectual excitement surges alongside the
high-stakes dramatic developments of the novel's plot. Bennett
staked out a claim to superb writing with Ex Machina, and
Orion's Hounds only confirms his dazzling ability to combine
the fanciful space opera that is Star Trek's core with scientifically
literate speculation and superior characterization...." --
Killian Melloy, Wigglefish
"Christopher Bennett's sophomore
novel is another home-run winner, and any combination of strong
plotting, careful scientific discovery, interesting characters,
and unlimited potential always makes for an excellent tale, STAR TREK
or otherwise." -- Bill Williams, TrekWeb
"There's sense of wonder
galore here.... Orion's Hounds boldly takes Titan into
exciting new territory, and confirms that Christopher Bennett is
another in the succession of top-notch Trek novelists that Pocket
has discovered in recent years." -- Steve Roby, Starfleet
"The amount of detail that went
into this is astonishing. One could sense a real passion for the
science behind the storytelling, and Bennett makes the small section
of the galaxy portrayed in Orion’s Hounds truly come alive....
Christopher L. Bennett’s latest novel does the Titan series
justice, serving up a novel that deserves more recognition than being
a “media tie-in” novel." -- Julio Angel Ortiz, The Next Chamber
Editor Marco Palmieri's goal for the Titan
series was to tell SF-adventure stories revolving around exploration
and the sense of wonder, featuring the most diverse multispecies
starship crew in Starfleet history. My work with the diverse
crew in Ex Machina convinced him that we
thought along much the same lines, so he invited me to write the third
Titan novel. I decided I needed to find a story that was
really about exploration. A lot of Trek these days has
gotten away from that, and I fear there's a perception that pure exploration
doesn't work to drive a story anymore (at least, some people have
blamed the poor reception of Enterprise's first two seasons
on its pure-exploration focus). So I needed to tell a story of
exploration that went way beyond the formulaic "starship visits
alien planet and gets embroiled in local politics" kind of tale.
I needed something epic and striking.
Also, I wanted to do a couple of things here
that I wasn't able to do in ExM. In that novel, I tried
to capture the spirit of ST:TMP as much as possible, but the one
thing I failed to capture was its sense of wonder, its grand, epic
vistas of the cosmos. So I wanted to make up for that and go
really cosmic here. The other shortfall of ExM was that it was
a very derivative story, a sequel highly dependent on what had come
before. I wanted to tell a more original, self-contained story
To be sure, as the cover reveals, the novel
features the return of the space-jellyfish organisms from "Encounter
at Farpoint." But we learned very little about them in
that episode, so I was still able to tell an almost wholly original
story. Well, more or less; I did rip it off from myself. The
plot to OH was based on "Spirit of the Hunt," a failed VGR story
written for the Strange New Worlds anthology contest. The
story didn't work because it was too big for the short format; it
was only half a story. To make it work as OH, I had to go
much farther beyond that point, as well as going into much more depth
on what came before.
So I decided to open it up well beyond a single
spacegoing species, and explore the whole ecosystem to which
they must belong. Basically I've tried to define the broader
framework which most or all of Trek's spacegoing critters occupy.
That gave me the epic scope I wanted, and let me work in a number
of thoughts about spacegoing life that I've developed for my original
SF over the years. I'd like to think this same basic story could
stand as an effective work of original science fiction even if it existed
entirely independently of Star Trek.
Annotations page Explanations of Trek references and science/tech (spoiler-heavy!)
Star Trek: Constellations: "As Others
The natives of Sigma Niobe
II are unaware that aliens walk among them, watching them but forbidden
to interfere by their Prime Directive. But who is really watching
"Don't make hasty judgments. Things are not
always as they seem. There will always be surprises. There's
a lesson to be learned here -- but who needs to learn it is the
real surprise." -- from the Introduction
by David Gerrold
"...a unique and extremely
intriguing look at how a first-contact situation can go awry if
handled wrong." -- Bill Williams, TrekWeb
When the call first went out for story pitches to
Constellations, it was a tough challenge to meet. We
were asked to avoid the usual episode sequels and gap-fillers and
continuity-weaving ideas, because that's been done so many times with
TOS over the past 40 years. The mandate was to come up with
effective, original standalone stories that still managed to reveal
new things about the TOS characters and universe. And being deprived
of the usual shortcuts and fallbacks made it hard. I was only
able to come up with one or two really decent ones, not the 3-4 that would
be expected, so I never bothered to send in a pitch. A few months
later, Marco Palmieri wrote to me specifically and asked me to come up
with something for it; perhaps the anthology was running short or something.
What he asked for were sense-of-wonder stories, big ideas and adventures.
And he needed them quickly. I slapped together a couple of
promising but half-formed ideas and threw in the best of the ideas I'd
had before, a proposal I called "Hidden Truths." Of course, that
was the one Marco chose.
Writing the story went pretty quickly and smoothly,
but Marco and I had the hardest time settling on a title. We
considered all sorts of things involving veils and masks. Several
times I suggested "How Not to Be Seen," an homage to a classic Monty Python sketch,
but Marco never went for it. Finally, as we were coming
down to the wire, I suddenly thought, "How about a bit o' Robbie
Burns: 'As Others See Us'?" And that was the only title Marco
and I could agree on. Although I still like to think of it as
"How Not to Be Seen." (Actually I almost talked Marco into it,
but I decided that since we were going for a TOS feel, it would be better
to use an authentically TOS-style title rather than an allusion to another
show. But that didn't stop Jeffrey Lang from writing a Constellations
story called "Where Everybody Knows Your Name." Shows what I know.)
Mere Anarchy Book 4: The Darkness Drops Again
Mere Anarchy: A new six-part
epic covering thirty years of Star Trek® history,
continuing with an adventure that takes place between The Motion
Picture and The Wrath of Khan!
Book 4: The Darkness Drops Again
The rebuilding of Mestiko is starting to make progress:
the atmosphere is partially restored and Federation scientists are
introducing new methods of replenishing the planet's biosphere. But
their efforts are being stymied by the growing power of the mar-Atyya,
who shun all offworlders.
The arrival of the Starship Enterprise under the command
of James T. Kirk proves less than fortuitous, as the ship becomes
a flashpoint for all of Mestiko's troubles. Now Raya elMora, the leader
of the planetary council, finds herself facing exile -- which could
spell doom for Mestiko....
My first opportunity to follow up on the characters
and situations of Ex Machina
came from an unexpected direction, as eBook editor Keith DeCandido
invited me to participate in this 40th-anniversary project. The
plan was to tell six novella-length stories spanning the entire TOS
era, and I was invited to contribute the post-TMP installment on the
basis of ExM. Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore came up with the
overall outline and premise for the miniseries, but all the participating
authors (Dayton & Kevin, Mike W. Barr, Dave Galanter, me, Howard
Weinstein, and Margaret Wander Bonanno), along with Keith, participated
in a lengthy and wacky e-mail correspondence wherein we all contributed
to hashing out the premise and keeping everything consistent.
But this story isn't as direct an ExM followup as it
could be, since I wanted it to work primarily as a part of Mere
Anarchy and be accessible to people unfamiliar with ExM. So
it's in the same continuity and uses some of the same ideas (and
includes some movie-era elements I didn't get to work into ExM, such
as Andrew Probert's modular-shuttlecraft designs), but focuses mainly
on the core TOS cast rather than the supporting characters I developed
for the novel. And although it takes the characters well beyond
the ExM timeframe, it leaves plenty of room for further storytelling
in the post-TMP era.
My story happened to fall into the largest gap in the
series, between the first two movies -- a timespan that, according
to conventional Trek chronology, corresponds to roughly 12 years
(2273 to 2285). So rather than limiting myself to one point
within this timeframe, I took on the task of telling a more sweeping
tale that explored how the Enterprise crew evolved between the
two movies, while also taking the planet Mestiko through years of political
and social upheaval. This makes mine a rather different story from
the others, but then, each one is a distinct kind of tale. Book
1 is a disaster movie, Book 2 a classic tale of Kirk taking on Klingon
meddlers, Book 3 a buddy movie, Book 4 a sweeping historical epic, Book
5 an action-packed tale of interstellar brinksmanship, and Book 6 a
more introspective piece bringing it all closure. That's part
of what made this such a fascinating collaboration to be a part of.
The fun we had in our e-mail exchanges was also a major part
Mere Anarchy series guide
Trek: The Next Generation: The Buried Age
A Tale of THE LOST ERA
Jean-Luc Picard. His name
has gone down in legend as the captain of the U.S.S. Stargazer
and two starships Enterprise. But the nine years of his
life leading up to the inaugural mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise
to Farpoint Station have remained a mystery--until now, as Picard's
lost era is finally unearthed.
Following the loss of the Stargazer and the brutal
court-martial that resulted, Picard no longer sees a future for himself
in Starfleet. Turning to his other love, archaeology, he embarks
on a quest to rediscover a buried age of ancient galactic history
. . . and awakens a living survivor of that era: a striking, mysterious
woman frozen in time since before the rise of Earth¹s dinosaurs.
But this powerful immortal has a secret of cataclysmic proportions,
and her plans will take Picard -- aided along the way by a brilliant
but naive android, an insightful Betazoid, and an enigmatic El-Aurian
-- to the heights of passion, the depths of betrayal, and the farthest
reaches of explored space.
"This is a large-scale tale that's
occasionally more akin to Arthur C. Clarke's universe than Gene Roddenberry's.
Yet just before the book strays too far from the Trek track,
it gets back on board with some first-class interactions between Picard
and a clutch of very welcome characters...." -- John Donnelly,
"Bennett's take is quite surprising,
fitting in with all the known facts, but adding a new layer to them."
-- Owen Morris, Dreamwatch
"Notable in Bennett’s work is his
creation of unique and lively civilizations… each of them are unique,
interesting, and provide further proof that world building is far
easier in print than on television." -- Robert Lyons, TrekMovie.com
"Bennett loves his hard science and it always
informs his tales, without overshadowing the story and characters at their
heart. This is an interesting tale, well told." -- Paul Simpson,
Years ago, I imagined what stories I'd pitch if I ever
became a Trek novelist. One of my ideas was for an epic trilogy
(since trilogies were all the rage back then) filling in the nine
years of Picard's life between the Stargazer and the Enterprise.
It was never more than a very tentative notion, and I never got
around to pitching it. And when it was announced a while back that editor
Marco Palmieri intended to do a Lost Era novel covering this span,
I assumed the task would go to Michael Jan Friedman, who's carved out a
niche as the main chronicler of Picard's early career aboard the Stargazer.
So I sadly gave up on my ambition.
I was thus very surprised when, some months later, Marco
asked me out of the blue if I'd like to do the "Picard's missing
years" novel. Naturally I said yes, and dredged up my old plans.
I soon decided, though, that my original idea wasn't viable. It
would've had Picard found guilty in the Stargazer court-martial
and demoted for several years. This would've turned out to be
the result of a conspiracy to keep Picard from getting command of the
Enterprise, so that this key post would go to a conspirator instead.
But the conspiracy idea has been done too many times in Trek by now.
So ironically, even though I finally got to tell the story I'd wanted
to tell for years, I had to start completely from scratch.
Marco's suggestion was an epic quest, probably involving
archaeology, that would reawaken the disillusioned Picard's love
of exploration. I got the sense he wanted something in a similar
vein to Orion's Hounds in terms of its scope and conceptual
breadth. So I thought about doing for deep time what I did for
deep space in OH -- exploring and filling in the uncharted reaches
of Trek prehistory. As with OH, I built on a lot of ideas I'd been
working on for my original SF. Which is cool, because that required
me to rethink the galactic history for my original SF universe and come
up with something new that I'm very happy with.
In a way, though, this was as much a book about the distant
future as the distant past, because the hyperadvanced civilizations
of the past suggested paths for the future evolution of humanity.
My depiction of their advances and abilities was heavily influenced
by transhumanist science fiction, and by the possibilities suggested
by existing trends in genetics and cybernetics. Ironically, many
of the "incredibly advanced" technologies and bodily enhancements
possessed by these ancients are ones that humanity may well achieve
long before the 24th century. We've already surpassed Star
Trek tech in a lot of ways, and medical advances like Geordi's
VISOR are the stuff of the next decade, not three and a half centuries
My original trilogy idea did have an impact on the structure
of this book, if not the plot. Since nine years is a long
time, I knew I couldn't just tell one story. So I structured
it episodically, essentially as four novellas. The last three
parts in particular have close ties and tell a larger story, but
each part has its own focus, its own beginning and end, its own distinct
characters and settings. And the only characters who are in
all three, Picard and the mysterious woman mentioned in the cover blurb,
are in a distinct phase of their lives and relationship in each part.
Of course, this wasn't just a quest story. I knew
I had to explore how Picard became the man we met in TNG. We knew
he was an aloof, professorial, even forbidding figure there, yet over
the years we learned he had a wealth of old friends and old flames.
So I knew something must have happened to change him, and that
would be the core of my story. But I also wanted to explore how
he became captain of the Enterprise, how and why he chose his
command crew, what shaped his values, choices and relationships, and
And yet I had to balance this with the fact that these
events were never referenced in TNG -- the main problem faced by
any prequel. So I chose to tell a story that took Picard far
afield from the events and politics featured in TNG, both literally
and figuratively. I considered making the whole thing classified
or having it erased from Picard's memory, but that would've been the
lazy way out; I tried to find subtler reasons why Picard would not have
discussed these events.
Also, as much as I could, I tried to work in references
to events and lines from TNG so that it would seem as though those
events and lines were references back to this book. The goal
was to create the illusion that the characters in TNG were talking and
thinking about the events of The Buried Age on many occasions,
but that the viewer just didn't realize it until now. The book
foreshadows and influences many later events. Why did Picard value
consensus among his crew? Why did he want a first officer not afraid
to defy him? Why did he trust Deanna Troi and Guinan so much? Why
did he get invited to speak at archaeological conferences? All
because of things that happened in TBA.
I felt a heavy Shakespeare focus was essential as well,
to commemorate Patrick Stewart's distinguished career as a Shakespearean
actor and to acknowledge the Shakespearean flavor that much of Star
Trek has always had. Also, a couple of those old SF ideas
of mine that dealt with ancient, reawakened civilizations used titles
and names inspired by passages from The Tempest (such as "O
brave new world" or "When I wak'd I cried to dream again"), so it was
a natural fit.
I hit a major snag early in the writing process when
I learned my initial plans for the Stargazer court-martial
wouldn't work. It took a long time to research military and
civilian law and figure out a new approach. At the same time,
I was distracted by the then-ongoing news about the attempts to redefine
the term "planet." I got caught up in reading about all the
exciting new discoveries made in planetary sciences over the past few
years, and it was keeping me from focusing on the novel. So I
took a cue from Riva ("Loud as a Whisper") and tried to turn a disadvantage
into an advantage. Rather than trying to shake my preoccupation
with planetary sciences, I used it to help me focus on the novel by
incorporating a lot of this material into the novel itself. Thus,
the novel features a variety of exotic planetary environments and star
systems of types never seen before in Star Trek. Hopefully
that adds a sense of grandeur and adventure to the narrative.
But please, don't ask me to write another huge, sweeping
Star Trek epic anytime soon. After Orion's Hounds
and The Buried Age, I'm exhausted.
Annotations page Explanations of Trek references and science/tech (spoiler-heavy!)
The Next Generation: The Sky's the Limit:
"Friends With the Sparrows"
In the months following Star Trek:
Generations, Data's emotion chip enables him to take part in an
experiment to achieve fuller communication with the Tamarian people
("Darmok"). But Data's struggles to master his new emotions may
jeopardize the experiment, the fragile peace with the Tamarians, and
Data's very identity!
"[A] Data story that intelligently addresses
the issue of Data's emotions, with and without the emotion chip; it's
a must-read for Data fans." -- Steve Roby, Starfleet
"It's a story that is unusual for Star Trek,
but well written and well worth a slice of your time. You could take
out the references to Trek and this would still be a good science fiction
story." -- Charles Packer, Sci-fi
For a while now, I've been hoping I could get the grand slam:
stories in all the Trek anniversary anthologies. With "Friends
With the Sparrows," I get my wish -- at least until the Enterprise
anniversary antho comes along in 2011. I'm also the only author
who's been in all four anthologies, though Keith R.A. DeCandido and Jeffrey
Lang have been in three each.
Anyway, as for the story idea, the genesis is kind of personal.
When the invitation came, I was dealing with some issues pertaining
to my own emotional control and personal interactions, and I realized
that Data might have been going through similar difficulties in the
wake of gaining his emotion chip in Generations. I wanted
the chip itself to be central to the story, and I approached it in terms
of a device that altered the way Data thought and perceived the world.
It occurred to me that might have applications for communication
with aliens whose way of thinking is hard to grasp.
And naturally, my favorite Trek story about communication
problems was Joe Menosky's brilliant "Darmok." I jumped at the
opportunity to follow up on the Children of Tama and explore their
psychology and culture in more depth, as well as trying to offer possible
answers to some of the credibility questions that have been raised about
the Tamarian language in the episode. I assembled a list of all
the Tamarian phrases from the script, tried to discern the grammar of
the language, and did some research in linguistics to help me fill in
The story title, of course, is a line from "If I Only Had
a Heart," the Tin Woodman's song in The Wizard of Oz: "I'd
be friends with the sparrows / And the boy who shoots the arrows / If
I only had a heart." It makes a nice fit with the story, and is
one of the few cases where Marco, my editor, liked my first suggestion
for the title.
Tamarian Grammar This
is my analysis of the Tamarian language, which I wrote in the development
phase of this story. It contains some ideas and extrapolations
that didn't make it into the story itself.
Spoiler discussion and
Myriad Universes: Infinity's Prism: Places of Exile
Midway through Voyager’s journey across the
galaxy, Captain Kathryn Janeway and Commander Chakotay must choose whether
to brave a deadly war zone or abandon their quest for home. But an attack
by Species 8472 cripples the ship, and the stranded crew must make new
choices that will reshape their destinies . . . and that of the Delta Quadrant itself.
"[T]he audacity of the story, and its faithfulness
to the spirit of what Voyager was supposed to be, is simply outstanding.
Bennett, no stranger to world-building, delves deeply into the task of
evolving a reality for the crew of a stranded Voyager that speaks
to the hope of acceptance and involvement that many refugees seek when
confronted with life in an alien society." -- Robert Lyons, TrekMovie.com
"Bennett creates another fascinating society
making this a must for fans of Voyager." -- Jeff Ayers, TrekWeb.com
"It's Voyager for a post-Ron Moore's Galactica world,
one where decisions have consequences and there's no reset button. But there's
still hope and optimism. It's a story that should
appeal to Voyager's fans and critics." -- Steve Roby, Starfleet
"It's a great use of many of the characters, with... the kind of fresh thinking I like about Bennett's Star Trek work." -- John Freeman, Star Trek Magazine #14
Voyager was... how shall I put it?... a show with abundant
unrealized potential. There were many possibilities in its characters
and premise that it rarely fulfilled, preferring to emphasize episodic
adventure tales over in-depth development of story and character arcs.
"Scorpion," the two-parter that bridged the third and fourth seasons,
was a crucial example. When Voyager's premise was first announced,
many fans expressed concern; Star Trek, they said, should be about
boldly questing into the unknown, not retreating from it. But the
producers assured us that the crew would soon enough get over its longing
for home and get caught up in the wonders of the Delta Quadrant. Unfortunately,
it was two years before they acted on this assurance. I first pitched
to VGR in its third season, and the producers' pitch letter for that season
told prospective writers, "It's time for our crew to stop moaning about
how far from home they are and begin to embrace their adventure." Indeed,
that season saw a shift away from search-for-home stories (aside from "False
Profits" early in the year).
But then came "Scorpion," in which Janeway made an insanely dangerous
deal with the devil merely to continue making progress along a journey
she had no realistic hope of completing in her lifetime. From that
point on, the Rubicon was crossed; the show could never again be about anything
but the quest for home. To me, that makes "Scorpion" the most
pivotal moment of decision in the series, the point where it decided once
and for all what the show would fundamentally be about. I was always
intrigued by the road they didn't take, by what might have happened if
the characters had committed to building a life in the Delta Quadrant.
Also, since I got to pitch for VGR twice, I came up with a lot of
ideas for it. Many of those ideas had to be scuttled when the show
dropped Kes and left behind the region of space it had occupied in the
first three seasons. And none of the others ever made it to the screen.
So naturally, when I learned that Marco Palmieri was developing an
alternate-history miniseries, I leaped at the chance to pitch the idea,
"What if Voyager had turned back?" It took over three years
for the project to get off the ground, and I was probably one of the first
to sign onboard. Originally I was hoping for a full-length novel,
planning to work in as many of my unused ideas as possible. I ended
up having to trim it down considerably, making for a tighter story. Ideally
I would have liked another 10,000 words, but it was good training in concise
Explanations of references and science/tech (spoiler-heavy!)
The Next Generation: Greater Than the Sum
The starship Rhea has discovered a
cluster of carbon planets that seems to be the source of the quantum
energies rippling through a region of space. A landing party finds unusual
life forms inhabiting one of the planets. Lieutenant T’Ryssa Chen,
a half-Vulcan, makes a tenuous connection with them. But before any progress
can be made, the Rhea comes under attack from the Einstein —
a Starfleet vessel now controlled by the Borg. The landing party can only
listen in horror as their comrades are assimilated. The Borg descend to
the planet, and just as Chen accepts that she will be assimilated, the lieutenant
is whisked two thousand light-years away.
A quantum slipstream — near-instantaneous transportation — is controlled
by the beings in the cluster, and in its heart there is now a Borg ship.
Cut off from the rest of the Borg collective, the Einstein cannot
be allowed to rejoin it. For the sake of humanity, the Borg cannot gain
access to quantum slipstream technology. Starfleet Command gives Captain
Picard carte blanche: do whatever he must to help the beings in the cluster,
and stop the Einstein no matter the cost.
"Yes, it's a Borg story, but it's one that's
character-driven, one that brings back some surprising but welcome guest
characters, and one that still manages to work in some of the good ol' exploration
and sense of wonder that Star Trek was originally supposed to be about. And
there's action, too." -- Steve Roby, Starfleet
"[I]f you're looking for a thoughtful set of character studies, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a better book." -- Charles Packer, Sci-Fi Online
evident skill at characterization, and a flair for making you care
about even the most incidental characters... proves in some ways more
interesting than the 'super Borg' threat that menaces the U.S.S. Enterprise and an entity which might have more in common with the Collective than Picard and his crew." -- John Freeman, Star Trek Magazine #14
"There's a lot going on in Greater Than the Sum... [I]t's bound to please." -- Michael M. Jones, SF Site
I have to admit, a Borg novel would not have been my first choice.
War stories aren't my cup of tea. But when editor Margaret
Clark invited me to contribute to the post-Nemesis TNG novel series,
I didn't want to decline my first opportunity to work with her or my first
shot at a "present-day" TNG novel. And fortunately Margaret was looking
for a change of pace after the action-packed Borg battles of the preceding
novels Resistance by J. M. Dillard and Before Dishonor by
Peter David. Although I was tasked with wrapping up loose ends from
PAD's novel, particularly the assimilated Einstein, I was encouraged
to develop a story about what the Enterprise crew experiences or
discovers while searching for the Einstein, rather than a story
whose central focus was fighting the Borg. After all, Margaret knew
that hiring me meant getting a book about exploration of cosmos and characters
rather than one about action and combat.
As a result, I ended up with a book that's more like Keith R.A. DeCandido's
Q & A (the book between RES and BD) in tone, a book whose
main focus is the crew of the Enterprise-E and their interactions.
And there's a lot going on with that crew in GTTS. I got
to introduce new characters and take established characters in new directions.
Although this is a lighter, change-of-pace book between the sturm
und drang of Before Dishonor and the galaxy-shaking epic of David
Mack's Destiny trilogy (for which this book serves as a loose prologue),
it's a tale of major significance for the crew of the ship, and it was
a privilege to get to tell it.
But that's not to say the Borg don't play a significant role in the
story. Although the Borg have been featured in multiple novels of
late, including Christie Golden's Voyager duology Homecoming/The
Farther Shore as well as RES and BD, there are a number of aspects
and ideas about the Borg that have not been developed or followed up on.
I tried to wrap up a lot of those loose ends and offer answers to some
Mainly, though, I tried to make this a grand sense-of-wonder adventure
in the classic TNG vein. Big discoveries are made, and the Enterprise
travels to one of the most distant places it's ever reached by conventional
means. But that's nothing compared to the personal journeys some
of the characters make.
Explanations of references and science/tech
Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows: "Empathy"
In another reality, with no Starfleet and no USS Titan,
comrades and crewmates become bitter enemies. When Doctor Ree assists
the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance in exploiting the gentle Irriol people
for their empathic powers, resistance fighters Will Riker, Tuvok, and
Ian Troi must stop them, and Doctor Jaza Najem and his Terran slave
Christine Vale are caught in the middle. But who are the real heroes and the real villains?
The invitation was simple this time: Would I be interested in doing a Mirror Universe story featuring Titan
characters? Beyond that, the requirement was to stay in continuity
with the two MU anthologies from 2007, which also
tie into recent and upcoming DS9 novels. As such, I also had to
set my story before those novels and avoid the Bajoran sector.
can't say much about the genesis of the idea without getting a bit
spoilery, not only of this story but one of the others in the
anthology. So I'll save that discussion for the spoiler notes.
I will say that I wanted to subvert the usual expectations about
who the good guys and bad guys are in the Mirror Universe.
Spoiler discussion and notes
Star Trek: Titan: Over a Torrent Sea
As the Federation recovers from the devastating events of Star Trek: Destiny, Captain William Riker and the crew of the U.S.S. Titan
are ordered to resume their deep-space assignment, reaffirming
Starfleet's core principles of peaceful exploration. But even far
from home on a mission of hope, the scars of the recent cataclysm
remain with them as they slowly rebuild their lives.
Droplet is a world made mostly of water without a speck of solid
ground. Life should not exist here, yet it thrives. Aili
Lavena, Titan's aquatic
navigator, spearheads the exploration of this mysterious world, facing
the dangers of the vast, wild ocean. When one native species
proves to be sentient, Lavena finds herself immersed in a delicate
contact situation, and Riker is called away from Deanna Troi at a
critical moment in their marriage.
But when good intentions
bring calamity, Lavena and Riker are cut off from the crew and feared
lost. Troi must face a life-changing event without her husband,
while the crew must brave the crushing pressures of the deep to undo
the global chaos they have triggered. Stranded with her injured
captain, Lavena must win the trust of the beings who control their fate
-- but the price for Riker's survival may be the loss of everything he
has restored a sense of exploration and boldness... "Over a Torrent
Sea" is the most complete, entertaining, and though provoking Star Trek
book to have appeared in the past year." -- Robert Lyons, TrekMovie.com
the kind of science fiction storytelling that Star Trek books don't
often do... a solid return to form for the Titan series." -- Steve Roby, Starfleet Library
This novel started as an afterthought. After finishing Greater Than the Sum,
I let Marco know I was available, and mentioned a particular topic I
was interested in exploring. Marco suggested doing a TTN proposal
around the topic. The thing was, this would've been a revisit of
something we've seen before in ST, and I feel TTN should be about
discovering the new. So I wanted a pure-exploration subplot,
ideally different in tone from the grand interstellar quest of Orion's Hounds. As I often do, I decided to cannibalize an old, unsold idea. Years ago, I had written a spec novel called Daughter of Earth and Water,
involving the exploration of a world of ocean and islands called
Archipel, a world I created a rich biosphere for. But over time,
I realized the story was too basic, the environment wasn't exotic
enough, and the plot was based on some outmoded ideas. Over the
years, I tried to rework it, and the Voyager
episode "Thirty Days" inspired me to try to come up with a way a planet
consisting almost purely of water could arise naturally and support
life. This was when I changed Archipel to Droplet. But I
could never really get that idea to work out plausibly. Over
time, the idea got pushed to the back of my mind, something I hoped to
revisit someday but had no serious plans for.
Then I learned about the concept of an Ocean Planet,
a newly theorized category of world made largely of water --
essentially a Neptune-type planet without its hydrogen atmosphere.
It wouldn't be a world of nearly pure liquid like I wanted, but
that would be impossible anyway, since the water would be compressed to
exotic high-temperature ices past a relatively shallow depth. I
realized that an Ocean Planet was the closest I could get to Droplet.
this idea was on my mind when I was fishing (ha ha) for a
pure-exploration B plot to my TTN novel. I reworked the plot of Daughter with Aili Lavena as the lead and trimmed it down to subplot length -- although I changed the dolphinlike aliens of Daughter to something more exotic.
thing was, though Marco didn't dislike the A plot, every time it
came to the fore he found himself impatient to get back to Droplet.
So he suggested expanding the B plot to full novel length -- with
the A plot to be saved for a later novel, perhaps TTN, perhaps
So I finally got to do a version of Daughter of Earth and Water after all. The title wouldn't fit, though, since Aili's not a daughter of Earth. I found Over a Torrent Sea elsewhere
in the same source poem, Shelley's "The Cloud." I still
got to use the "daughter of earth and water" line, though, since its
stanza made a perfect epigraph.
One thing that OaTS had to do was to follow up on David Mack's Destiny trilogy, which brought great upheaval and destruction to the Federation. Although the novel would return the Titan
crew to their journeys of exploration, they would still be dealing with
their grief at the losses they and their civilization sustained. As it
turned out, this story would end up having more personal meaning
for me than I expected. Early in the writing, my beloved cat Natasha
died at the age of 17. So I was going through much the same
process of grieving as the characters, and I believe that helped me
write about grief more honestly, and that the writing helped me work
through my personal loss as well as letting me pay tribute to Tasha.
indicated in the
Acknowledgments, I consulted several of the key theoretical
papers on Ocean Planets. Whereas most of my Trek novels have
contained some fanciful elements to fit the Trek milieu, the
worldbuilding for Droplet is as plausible and scientifically grounded
as I know how to make it. The proportion of hard SF herein is higher
than in any of my prior Trek fiction. And due to the novelty of the
Ocean Planet concept, this is surely one of the first science fiction
novels ever to feature one, if not the very first. (Edited to
add: I have subsequently discovered that Ian McDonald featured an Ocean
Planet briefly and peripherally in his 2008 novella "The Tear," beating me to it by a year or so. But OaTS is still the earliest novel-length, in-depth treatment I'm aware of.)
Cliff Nielsen's cover is based on my description of Aili Lavena from Orion's Hounds,
but he's added his own touches, including the facial features, the skin
mottling and stripes (they aren't scales, more like camouflage
patterns), and the seaweedy quality to her gill crests. It's
actually not that far off from the cover I imagined for Daughter,
which was of the leading lady caught in mid-leap out of the water,
arcing in midair. It's a nifty piece of artwork, and I take pride
in being the author of the first ST novel with full frontal nudity on
its cover. (Well, 98% full.)
Annotations page Explanations of references and science/tech
Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock
likely no more of a thankless job in the Federation than temporal
investigation. While starship explorers get to live the human adventure
of traveling to other times and realities, it's up to the dedicated
agents of the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations to deal
with the consequences to the timestream that the rest of the Galaxy has
to live with day by day. But when history as we know it could be wiped
out at any moment by time warriors from the future, misused relics of
ancient races, or accident-prone starships, only the most disciplined,
obsessive, and unimaginative government employees have what it takes to
face the existential uncertainty of it all on a daily basis . . . and
still stay sane enough to complete their assignments.
where Agents Lucsly and Dulmur come in—stalwart and unflappable, these
men are the Federation's unsung anchors in a chaotic universe. Together
with their colleagues in the DTI—and with the help and sometimes
hindrance of Starfleet's finest—they do what they can to keep the
timestream, or at least the paperwork, as neat and orderly as they are.
But when a series of escalating temporal incursions threatens to open a
new front of the history-spanning Temporal Cold War in the
twenty-fourth century, Agents Lucsly and Dulmur will need all their
investigative skill and unbending determination to stop those who wish
to rewrite the past for their own advantage, and to keep the present
and the future from devolving into the kind of chaos they really, really hate.
thankfully avoided all the potential pitfalls of writing such a time
travel-inspired tale. While there are moments where his own
careful research into the latest chronal theories helps drive this
adventure forward, he always strives to ensure his explanations make
some kind of sense.... Watching the Clock.. also develops some great characters... All in all, an action-packed adventure with some great moments of humor." -- John Freeman, Star Trek Magazine #34
takes characters who had only a few minutes of screen time and makes
them believable characters... He's clearly done a lot of thinking, and
he shows some of his homework, but keeps the book flowing well enough
that it never devolves into a series of expository lumps." -- Steve Roby, Starfleet Library
"[A] novel whose ambition is only surpassed in its accomplishments... borderline epic." -- Ian Coomber, Whatculture!
idea for this book came to me because I hate time-travel stories.
There are so many cliches and implausibilities in the genre, so
much that just doesn't make sense if you really try to analyze it,
which I generally do. On the one hand, I've spent many years
trying to figure out how to make sense of time travel in science
fiction, and I was tempted to develop a definitive Star Trek
time-travel novel that would let me present the rough model I'd
developed to rationalize the particularly convoluted temporal conceits
of the Trek universe. But on the other hand, I had no interest in
doing any of the conventional formula stories about people going back
and changing history or trying to repair history or what-have-you.
So I had the thought of telling a story about the Department of
Temporal Investigations, an organization introduced in Deep Space Nine
-- first alluded to in passing in "Past Tense," then represented by the
redoubtable agents Lucsly and Dulmur in "Trials and Tribble-ations."
I would approach it in a manner akin to a crime procedural,
focusing on DTI agents who didn't travel in time themselves, but who
investigated temporal incidents when they did occur. Lucsly and
Dulmur would be the stars, along with a cast of new characters to fill
out the agency. There might be a few other familiar faces here
and there; maybe Clare Raymond, the cryonically-preserved housewife
from TNG's "The Neutral Zone," could have a job counseling the
time-displaced as they adjusted to their new lives. Maybe the
crew of the Bozeman from TNG: "Cause and Effect" could be attached to the DTI for time-related missions.
I pitched the idea to my editor Marco Palmieri, he wasn't enthusiastic
about it. For that matter, neither was I at the time. It
wasn't something I'd given a great deal of thought to or even written
anything down about. I figured if he showed interest, I'd develop
it further. But he didn't, so there it sat.
Marco fell victim to a round of layoffs at Simon & Schuster during
the economic crash of 2008 (though don't worry -- since then, he's
worked as a contributor and editor for Star Trek Magazine,
opened his own editorial consulting business, and recently become an
in-house editor at Tor Books). Then his successor Margaret Clark
fell victim to another round of layoffs (though she's bounced back
too). In 2010, the new incoming editor, Jaime Costas, asked me to
pitch what story ideas I had for Trek. I sent her everything:
pitches to Marco and Margaret left over when they departed, ideas I'd
been developing as possible Trek comic pitches, the works. As an
afterthought, I decided to toss in a paragraph about my DTI idea, the
first time I'd ever actually written anything down about it.
Imagine my surprise when it was the one that got picked.
Most everything else I'd pitched was already partially outlined,
needing only completion or revision. But this was a bare-bones
idea, something where I was virtually starting from scratch. And
it was the most complicated project they could've chosen, since I had
to develop two barely-glimpsed characters as my leads, create a whole
new supporting cast, and do tons of research -- not just Trek time
travel stories from canon and prose, but real quantum theory about time
and parallel histories (since I was determined to make it as plausible
as I could) and a lot of classic science fiction pertaining to time
travel (for inspiration). In fact, it's the most complicated Star Trek writing project I've ever had.
all my research into quantum theory revealed that, surprisingly, a lot
of the stuff in Trek time travel that seemed absurd could actually be
explained with legitimate (if unproven) theoretical physics. As
stated above, I'd already had a broad theory in mind for how time
travel worked in the Trek universe, but I was able to ground it
much more solidly and with more detail. It was a fascinating
exercise. More importantly, creating an almost wholly new family
of characters was very satisfying, and I became very fond of them.
Watching the Clock was the most challenging Trek novel to write, but also one of the most fulfilling.
If you're more interested in the established Trek characters and storylines, don't worry -- Watching the Clock
features guest appearances by a number of prominent characters and
revisits a number of familiar time-travel stories from the DTI's
perspective. What's more, I've already been commissioned to write
a TOS novel which will deal with the beginnings of the DTI.
Due to the complexity of this book, the annotations are rather extensive this time:
Character Notes Discussion of character development, background, and "casting" ideas (spoiler-heavy!)
Annotations Page 1 (Ch. I-VIII) and Page 2 (Ch. IX-Epilogue) Explanations of references and science/tech
Alien Calendar Notes Background on many of the alien calendars used in chapter headings
NDB Media audio interview about DTI:WTC April 11, 2011
Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within
An original e-novella in the acclaimed Typhon Pact series! The Enterprise-E
is on a diplomatic mission to the Talarian Republic, the last holdout
in the Federation's efforts to expand the Khitomer Accords in response
to the emergence of the Typhon Pact. In the wake of Andor's recent
secession, the Federation is more concerned than ever with
strengthening its alliances. The Talarians have been a tenuous
potential partner at best, given the history of conflict and mistrust
between them and the Federation. But the negotiations between Picard
and the Talarians are disrupted by a growing public protest of those
who are demanding greater rights—and before long, it becomes clear that
the dissidents are not limiting themselves to nonviolent means….
Jasminder Choudhury and T'Ryssa Chen go undercover on the capital world
of the reclusive Kinshaya to investigate a different kind of dissident
movement that could shift the tenuous balance of power within the Pact
and tip the scales toward peace or war.
provides a timely story, inspired by very recent real world events,
combined with an accessible yet still alien background... that
completely engages the reader.... 'The Struggle Within' is truly the
best story of the five… and an outstanding conclusion to the
series...." -- Robert Lyons, TrekMovie.com
TrekMovie's Best Short Story/Novella of 2011!
Back when the Star Trek: Typhon Pact
miniseries was first being developed, I was one of the first authors
invited to participate, but I was soon offered a competing opportunity
to write the first tie-in novel to the new continuity introduced by the
2009 Star Trek motion picture
(although it later ended up being the second one scheduled for
release). That was an opportunity I couldn't pass up, and I was
told that the scheduling wouldn't allow me to do both, so I gave up my Pact participation to write the Abramsverse novel that was called Seek a Newer World. But then the Pact books got delayed, so I maybe could
have done one after all, but someone else had already been given the
gig, and I needed to devote the time to an original novel project
anyway. And then the Abramsverse novels got cancelled for
whatever reason. So in retrospect, passing up the Typhon Pact
gig may not have been the right choice after all (although it was a lot
of fun writing an Abramsverse novel, even if it never sees print).
Fortunately, the Typhon Pact
miniseries did so well that Simon & Schuster decided they wanted an
additional entry, a novella-length e-book which they could use to test
the waters in the electronic market again (now that e-books have become
a lot more widely read than they were when S&S previously published
original Trek e-novellas). And I was pleased to be the one
invited to write it, so that I could finally contribute to the series
It also gave me the opportunity to fill a gap.
The Typhon Pact has six members: the Romulans, Tholians, Breen,
Gorn, Tzenkethi, and Kinshaya (an enemy of the Klingons first
mentioned in John M. Ford's classic novel The Final Reflection and finally shown and developed in Keith R. A. DeCandido's A Singular Destiny, the book that introduced the Typhon Pact). The four Typhon Pact novels focused on the Romulans and Tzenkethi in Rough Beasts of Empire by David R. George III, the Breen in Zero Sum Game by David Mack, the Gorn in Seize the Fire by Michael A. Martin, and the Tholians in Paths of Disharmony by Dayton Ward. So the Kinshaya were the one Pact member still in need of a focus story. Meanwhile, according to A Singular Destiny,
the Federation had invited the Klingons, Ferengi, Cardassians, and
Talarians (from TNG: "Suddenly Human") to participate in talks for an
expansion of the Khitomer Accords. I figured if I was going to
focus a plotline on the least-explored member of the Pact, I should
also do one focusing on the least-explored member of the potential
Accord expansion, namely the Talarians. Since prior novels had
established Endar from "Suddenly Human" as the Talarian ambassador to
the Federation, that let me follow up on the events and characters of
This gig came to me at the height of the Arab
Spring, when nonviolent resistance had successfully brought down the
oppressive government in Egypt. I wanted to do a story
celebrating the power of nonviolent resistance, and the theocratic
state Keith had given the Kinshaya in ASD seemed like a good target for
such a revolt. The subject matter let me focus on Enterprise security chief Jasminder Choudhury, a character whose debut came in my earlier novel Greater Than the Sum,
and address some issues that I felt her character arc in intervening
novels had raised. It was also a chance to revisit the character
of T'Ryssa Chen, the contact specialist I created in GTTS, and give her
the kind of alien-contact/diplomatic mission she's trained for but has
had little opportunity to pursue in the intervening books.
course, I realized that to make the story marketable, it would need to
focus on more than just characters and races created for the novels;
hence the parallel storyline with Picard, Worf, and Crusher dealing
with another bout of social unrest in the Talarian Republic.
That's nominally the A story of the novella for promotional
purposes, though in my mind it's the B story, with the Kinshaya tale
being more important to the overall Typhon Pact narrative. (The
official blurb doesn't even mention the Kinshaya plot. The second
paragraph of the blurb above is my own unofficial addition.)
Given that "Suddenly Human" established the Talarians as a
strongly patriarchal society, I called on some of the things I learned
in my history studies about women's movements and the subtle kinds of
power that women can informally wield in societies that formally
Some early online references to this novella
called it "Civil Disobedience," which was a placeholder title I
suggested for the paperwork, but that I replaced less than a day later
with my preferred title, The Courage of Conscience. But that title wasn't deemed exciting enough, so we ended up with The Struggle Within.
Spoiler discussion and notes
Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Forgotten History
agents of the Department of Temporal Investigations are assigned to
look into an anomaly that has appeared deep in Federation territory.
It’s difficult to get clear readings, but a mysterious inactive vessel
lies at the heart of the anomaly, one outfitted with some sort of
temporal drive disrupting space-time and subspace. To the agents’
shock, the ship bears a striking resemblance to a Constitution-class
starship, and its warp signature matches that of the original
Federation starship Enterprise NCC-1701—the ship of James T. Kirk, that
infamous bogeyman of temporal investigators, whose record of violations
is held up by DTI agents as a cautionary tale for Starfleet
recklessness toward history. But the vessel’s hull markings identify it
as Timeship Two, belonging to none other than the DTI itself. At first,
Agents Lucsly and Dulmur assume the ship is from some other timeline .
. . but its quantum signature confirms that it came from their own
past, despite the fact that the DTI never possessed such a timeship.
While the anomaly is closely monitored, Lucsly and Dulmur must search
for answers in the history of Kirk’s Enterprise and its many encounters
with time travel—a series of events with direct ties to the origins of
the DTI itself. . . .
is a well designed, deeply considered, and internally consistent
technical narrative that serves to engage and excite the reader – at
least this reader." -- Robert Lyons, TrekMovie.com
"Excellent story, with Bennett's trademark humour and scientific acumen on proud display." -- Trek Lit Reviews
Six weeks on Publishers Weekly Top 10 Science Fiction bestsellers list!
Quoting from my StarTrek.com article about the novel:
After writing the first DTI novel, Watching the Clock,
I’d never expected to revisit the Department of Temporal Investigations
so soon, let alone to do a prequel. But... [i]n trying to work out what
my 2012 book would be, my Star Trek editor suggested out of the blue, “How about a TOS/DTI book?” We knew from Deep Space Nine:
“Trials and Tribble-ations” that James T. Kirk had seventeen separate
temporal violations listed in the DTI’s files, so surely there must be
an unchronicled one worth writing about.
The suggestion sparked a bigger idea in me, though. Watching the Clock
and earlier stories had established the DTI’s founding date as 2270,
right around the end of the famous five-year mission. So why not tell
the origin story of the DTI itself? I could have Lucsly and Dulmur—the
DTI agents featured in “Trials and Tribble-ations” and the lead
characters of Watching the Clock—encounter a temporal mystery tying into the origins of their own department, a mystery suggesting that Kirk and the Enterprise
played an even more integral role in the DTI’s formative years than
history recorded, and use their investigation as a framing sequence for
that story. Not only could I do for the original series’ time travel
episodes what I did for various twenty-fourth-century ones in Watching the Clock—tell
the stories behind the stories and explore their background,
connections, and consequences—but I could extend the tale forward into
the DTI’s early years and finally get to write that follow-up to Star Trek: Ex Machina that I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
idea fell into place very quickly. I had the basic structure of the
story, including the ending, worked out within 90 minutes of getting
the suggestion, and I had the title within two hours after that.
Working out the details of the outline took about a month, though. I
had to review a lot of material, including Watching the Clock, Ex Machina, and most of the time-travel episodes of TOS, as well as assorted material relating to the Star Trek: The Motion Picture
era to help me get my mind back into that timeframe. When I finally
turned in the outline to my editor, I included the following note: “I'm
glad you suggested this. It's shaping up to be a fun story. Lucsly
& Dulmur confronting the myth and reality of James T. Kirk head-on?
The timeframe of the book lets me fulfill some long-standing wishes: telling a story employing characters and concepts from Star Trek: The Animated Series (and not the characters one would expect); exploring the internal layout of the Enterprise based on what was revealed in Star Trek: Enterprise’s
“In a Mirror, Darkly” as well as the original and animated series;
elaborating on the end of the five-year mission and the process of the Enterprise refit; and most of all, carrying forward the post-TMP adventures of the Enterprise and advancing some of the major character arcs that Ex Machina
set in motion. All of this is secondary to the saga of the DTI’s
formative years, of course, but it’s all in there, and then some.
I was told going in that the book would
probably be marketed under the TOS banner. But my contract
listed it as DTI, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. ...
Still, I stuck with the original plan to approach it primarily as a
Kirk-era novel. Although its frame sequence does feature the DTI
characters from Watching the Clock
and takes place after it, I’ve tried to treat them the same way I’d
handle brand-new characters, so that TOS fans picking up this book can
learn all they need to know about the DTI team without needing to read
anything else. .... Although Forgotten History
is the second DTI book, it’s my hope that it can work equally well if
you read it first—appropriately, for it is the origin story of the
Spoiler discussion and notes
Star Trek: Enterprise -- Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures
new nation has arisen from the ashes of the Romulan War: the United
Federation of Planets, an unprecedented union of diverse species
cooperating for the good of all. Admiral Jonathan Archer—the former
captain of the Earth starship Enterprise,
whose efforts made this union possible—envisions a vibrant Federation
promoting galactic peace and a multispecies Starfleet dedicated to
exploring strange new worlds. Archer’s former crewmates, including
Captain T’Pol of the U.S.S. Endeavour and Captain Malcolm Reed of the U.S.S. Pioneer,
work with him to secure that bright future. Yet others within the
Federation see its purpose as chiefly military, a united defense
against a dangerous galaxy, while some of its neighbors view that
military might with suspicion and fear. And getting the member nations,
their space fleets, and even their technologies to work together as a
unified whole is an ongoing challenge.
a new threat emerges from a force so alien and hostile that negotiation
seems impossible, a group of unaligned worlds asks Starfleet to come to
its defense, and the Federation’s leaders seize the opportunity to
build their reputation as an interstellar power. But Archer fears the
conflict is building toward an unnecessary war, potentially taking the
young nation down a path it was never meant to follow. Archer and his
allies strive to find a better solution…but old foes are working
secretly to sabotage their efforts and ensure that the great experiment
called the Federation comes to a quick and bloody end.
"A Choice of Futures does a superb job of fleshing out those early days of the Federation." -- Dan Gunther, TrekCore
I enjoy filling in the unexplored segments of the Star Trek
universe. So with the increasing continuity and arc-driven structure of
the 24th-century Trek novels these days, I found my interests as a
writer shifting away from that period. I gave some thought
to an idea I would've called Star Trek: Beginnings, filling in the gap between first contact with Vulcan in 2063 and the beginning of Enterprise
in 2151. I thought it might be interesting to explore humanity's
adjustment to the Vulcans, the colonization of Alpha Centauri, the rise
of the Space Boomers, etc. But my editor rightly pointed out that there
would be too few familiar characters in that setting, and not a lot of
audience interest. Instead, she suggested that I take over the Enterprise novel line in the wake of the Romulan War
duology by Michael J. Martin, which concluded with the founding of the
United Federation of Planets in 2161. I was initially hesitant, but the
more I thought about it, the more it intrigued me, since the early
Federation era is virtually untouched. We have very
limited information about this period from canon, and only one book,
Starfleet: Year One, has ever been set in this era. But that novel was
soon superseded by Enterprise,
and its focus was principally on
Starfleet and not the wider Federation. So the period is very
nearly a blank slate,
which is both a great opportunity and a great challenge for me. There
are many worthwhile questions to explore: How did an alliance
forged in wartime become the peaceful union we know? How did its
founding members balance their differing views of what the Federation
should become? What challenges
did this fledgling union face in dealing with neighboring powers unsure
of its intentions or threatened by its unity? What new enemies arose in
the wake of the Romulans?
Worldbuilding in Trek fiction is usually relatively easy since there’s
so much backstory and continuity to build on, but in this case it was a
lot more challenging to strain out the tiny fragments of information we
have about people, events, and institutions from this period. I’ve had
to do a lot of extrapolation. But I’m picking up some threads from ENT,
the series, that I felt were worth expanding on, and I’m building
toward the Trek universe as we know it in the original series, so at
least I know my starting and ending points. The worldbuilding has been
a lot of fun — figuring out how the early UFP government was organized,
how the member races cooperated in the joint government and combined
fleet, and what the various member races contributed to Starfleet and
how it evolved toward the form we know, in terms of design and
technology. I’ve even come up with a design for the original Federation
Starfleet uniform. Plus, of course, there’s the challenge of moving the
ENT characters (regular and recurring) forward in their lives and
careers. There are a few whose futures we have some foreknowledge of,
but the rest are blank slates.
To answer the inevitable question, no, you don't need to have read The Romulan War to follow this book. ROTF:ACOF is a fresh beginning, picking up about a year after the Federation’s founding. The war is over, Enterprise
herself is in mothballs, and Admiral Jonathan Archer, his former crew,
and his allies including Shran and Soval have moved on to new phases in
their lives, playing new roles in the Federation and its combined
Starfleet. The novel will feature many familiar characters from the
era, a few new crewmates for the familiar cast, and some unexpected
names as well
Another cool thing about this is that it completes
my grand slam: I will now have written tie-ins for every onscreen Trek
series, as well as several book-only ones. At first, admittedly, I was
a little wary about taking on Enterprise,
which I was lukewarm about in its first run. But upon rewatching the
series as research for this book, I’ve gained a much greater
appreciation for it. When I watched ENT in its original run, my
perceptions were filtered through “Oh, that’s not what I expected” or
“That’s not how I would’ve done it,” and that colored my reactions, as
I think it did for a lot of us. But on revisiting the series, I was
able to accept that this was how it was and evaluate it on its own
terms. And I think it held up pretty well overall. There was a lot in
the series that I felt it was worthwhile to continue, and a lot of
ideas that I felt were worth revisiting and fleshing out. (More discussion on my blog here.)
been heartened by the strongly positive advance reactions this book has
received. I was asked to do a sequel before I'd even turned in
the manuscript for book 1. I have tentative plans for several more
books beyond that.
My design sketch for early Federation Starfleet uniforms described in novel
Spoiler discussion and notes
Star Trek: Enterprise -- Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel
United Federation of Planets has weathered its first major crisis, but
its growing pains are just beginning. Admiral Jonathan Archer hopes to
bring the diverse inhabitants of the powerful and prosperous Rigel
system into the Federation, jump-starting the young nation’s growth and
stabilizing a key sector of space. Archer and the Federation’s top
diplomats journey to the planetoid Babel to debate Rigel’s admission .
. . but a looming presidential race heats up the ideological divide
within the young nation, jeopardizing the talks and threatening to undo
the fragile unity Archer has worked so hard to preserve.
the sinister Orion Syndicate recruits new allies of its own, seeking to
beat the Federation at its own game. Determined to keep Rigel out of
the union, they help a hostile Rigelian faction capture sensitive state
secrets along with Starfleet hostages, including a young officer with a
vital destiny. Captain Malcolm Reed, Captain T’Pol, and their
courageous crews must now brave the wonders and dangers of Rigel’s many
worlds to track down the captives before the system is plunged into
When I developed Book 1 of Rise of the Federation,
I went into it with the idea that it could be the first of a series,
and I began considering longer-term story possibilities. Book 1 was
about the Federation defining its identity, choosing what kind of state
it was going to be. Thus, it followed that Book 2 should be about its
early efforts at growth and consolidation: the first attempt to recruit
a major new member and the establishment of the tradition of Babel
conferences to debate the questions of membership, which would in turn
bring out some of the lingering tensions and fissure lines within the
So you'd think that when I got the
assignment to do a sequel, it would've come fairly easily.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. At the time I was working on the
Book 2 outline, my attention was still primarily on the recently
released Only Superhuman
-- doing publicity, tracking its performance, and so on -- in addition
to which, I came down with a terrible cold and severe throat irritation
that kept me up at night for over a week. It's hard to focus on
plotting a novel when you can hardly breathe. I finally figured out
some remedies for my sore throat, but I'd lost a lot of time on the
outline and had to struggle to meet the deadline. What I turned in was
sufficient to get approval, but it turned out not to be a clear enough
blueprint to guide me through the writing process, and thus I
floundered and fell badly behind on that as well, even though I'd
specifically asked for enough time that I wouldn't be rushed.
I finally managed to get my head in the game and cope with some of the
problems I was having. For one thing, I decided to delete a whole
subplot that was unconnected to the rest of the story and could be
saved for a later book (one of the advantages of doing a series). I
realized it was interrupting the momentum of both the narrative
and my own writing process, and that was part of what was slowing me
down. That was a significant setback in word count, since I had to
backtrack and come up with something new to take its place, but once I
cleared that obstruction, the ideas flowed more easily, and I wrote the
entire replacement subplot in a single day. (It was actually an idea
I'd already thought of as a future possibility, but it plugged in
nicely here.) I still had some trouble with the rest, since one of the
major plot threads in the outline wasn't working and needed to be
seriously rethought, while another was lacking in needed detail. But I
got a handle on it by abandoning my tendency to write in chronological
order, instead tackling each separate plot thread one by one, so that I
wouldn't keep having to shift focus and lose momentum. That helped me
finish the book in time for my deadline, and I had some nice moments of
serendipity along the way, particularly a new subplot that sort of
spontaneously emerged and allowed a certain character to play a more
proactive role in the resoution of the crisis. But in those last weeks
I worked so hard and was so stressed out that I ended up straining my
shoulder pretty badly. I was very glad that the Shore Leave convention
arrived just after I was done. I got to hang out with my writer friends
and stay with my cousins in the area, and had a really nice visit to my
audiobook publisher too, so that really cheered me up.
It's hard for me to look at Tower of Babel
objectively, since the writing process was so turbulent. There are
probably things I could've done better, but now that I think about it,
there are a number of things I'm rather proud of. In particular, I had
fun with the worldbuilding of the Rigel system, taking all the
disparate references to Rigel this and Rigel that in the screen canon,
along with the ones in the current novel continuity, and building a
cohesive whole out of them. Why did I choose Rigel as the first major
addition to the young Federation? Because I wanted Archer to go after a
major prize, a coalition of worlds whose addition to the union would
increase its size and power significantly in one fell swoop, so that
the stakes would be as high as possible. And I didn't just want to
create some hitherto-unknown civilization, since that would raise the
question of why it was never heard of later on. Rigel has so many
distinct worlds and cultures that it gave me a rich multispecies
community in a single system -- although it did come with certain
conceptual problems and contradictions that I had to navigate my way
around. Also, ENT's "Demons" and "Terra Prime" had included Rigelians
among the delegates to the initial Coalition of Planets talks, and a
couple of earlier sources (the classic Spaceflight Chronology and the novel Starfleet Year One)
had postulated Rigel as a founding or very early member of the
Federation, in contrast to the traditionally accepted founders of
Earth, Vulcan, Andoria, Tellar, and Alpha Centauri. So the idea of
Rigel being in at the beginning, or nearly so, had some precedent.
The cover to Tower of Babel is much more along the lines I was hoping for than the cover for A Choice of Futures turned out to be. It showcases the lead ships of ROTF, Captain T'Pol's Endeavour (based on Doug Drexler's conjectural NX-class refit) and Captain Reed's Pioneer (of the Intrepid
class which debuted in "The Expanse"). It's the first time the NX refit
design has been used on a novel cover, though it's previously been seen
in the Ships of the Line calendar.
Spoiler discussion will be posted following book release
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