1991-1992
Table of Contents

Fortune’s Light

How long does it take?

It’s not entirely clear. My best guess is that it’s at least six days, so a week doesn’t seem unreasonable.

When does it happen?

That’s easy. Data and Picard both refer to the events of TNG “The Offspring” as happening fairly recently.

What about the stardates?

There are none.

Does it fit?

In the main, yes.

“Star Trek” isn’t optimistic about the future of professional baseball. DS9 “If Wishes Were Horses” says the game will have faded out by 2042. This book gives a very similar scenario (a coincidence, surely?) but gives the year as 2059.

What did I think?

Over time, it’s become obvious that the cast and writers of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” have created a group of characters that each have their own personality and role to play in a story. All of them make a distinct contribution to a successful outcome. But that really throws into high relief the fact that Deanna Troi’s main contribution here is to scuttle off to her quarters and disintegrate into a tear-stained, snotty wreck when Riker gets hurt.

The final verdict:

Once again, this is a question of “will it fit?” rather than a value judgement by me. In the “official” version of the timeline, this story might well fit in between TNG “Sins of the Father” and TNG “Allegiance”. My own version of events doesn’t have anything like enough time at that point. I’m really stuck for a spare week until the gap between the adjusted dates for TNG “Sarek” and TNG “Ménage à Troi”. That’s quite a bit after TNG “The Offspring”, perhaps too much for it to be described as recent. I’ve therefore decided not to try and fit it into the main sequence of events. Your opinion may differ.

Contamination

How long does it take?

Although it’s not entirely clear to me exactly when some things happen, the overall chronology is expressed wonderfully clearly. We see the events of six days. Depending on how late on the sixth day the “ten hours” before the ship has to leave start, the story may stretch into a seventh day.

When does it happen?

At least three years since the start of the mission, since the Costas have been on the ship for that long. The stardates make it sometime in the fourth season.

What about the stardates?

There are two. S.D. 44261.3 which my “official” conversion makes Thursday 6th April, 2267. My conversion would place it on Friday 15th September, 2367. The second is the approximate time of death of the second victim, S.D. 44263.9 that’s Friday 7th April, 2267 by my “official” system, and Sunday 17th September, 2267 by my own attempt. The gap between the two dates is given as three days in the story. That means my system gives a better result, but once again I think it’s only fair to repeat that there’s “something” going on with the “official” stardates. That means the gap between the two might not be the calculated value, but I also have to repeat that I have no idea what might be going on.

Does it fit?

The extra-spiffy microbe that drives the plot of this story was discovered at Vagra II. That’s the planet in TNG “Skin of Evil”.

The Kreel also make a return appearance, although they’re played a little less for laughs than in Strike Zone. Wesley also recalls some farm colonists who were on the ship about a year ago. That can’t be the ones in The Children of Hamelin, because that novel follows on directly from TNG “The Arsenal of Freedom”, so must have been quite a bit longer ago.

Captain Picard reminisces about TNG “The Measure of a Man”.

Deanna Troi still hasn’t forgiven Worf for TNG “The Child”, although she does seem to be warming to him. This point was also raised in A Rock and a Hard Place. I don’t recall any mention of this antagonism in the broadcast show, though.

What did I think?

Once again, it’s a “whodunnit,” so I don’t want to spoil the plot. I’m reading these things again after all this time, and I’d hate to think I might be ruining the experience for someone else.

It’s a sign of how long ago all this was that it seems to be so easy for someone to get an important job on a starship using a remarkably flimsy fake identity.

After sticking the boot in on previous occasions about “poor little Deanna’s too delicate a flower for this space exploration stuff” I think it’s only fair to point out that Deanna Troi gets to step into the spotlight and be a really useful member of the crew this time, without bursting into tears or being unable to cope. It’s a pity that there are any books at all where this doesn’t happen.

I also thought that the set-up for the trial was very close to TNG “The Measure of a Man”. It seemed incredibly coincidental that the trial happened on a new starbase, and that officers from the ship had to act as lawyers. For all the simplified and streamlined approach stressed as being the Federation approach to law, I think major cases would be taken more seriously than seems to happen.

The final verdict:

In my version of the “official” timeline, this story (internal timing quibbles aside) could happen between Thursday 6th to Wednesday 12th April, 2367: S.D. 44260 to 44279. That would put it between TNG “Reunion” and TNG “Future Imperfect”. My version of events runs into trouble. I have long enough between these two stories, but only if I ignore the stardates. Using the stardates I get events happening between Friday 15th to Thursday 21st September, 2267: S.D. 44261 to 44267. This completely overlaps TNG “Reunion”. Once again, I’m going to have to leave this out of my own “prime timeline.”

Vendetta

How long does it take?

There are no really precise references. It has to be definitely more than three days. My own guess is that events take at least a week, and I think ten days is closer to the mark.

When does it happen?

It’s in the fourth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and has to be after TNG “Data’s Day” because O’Brien is referred to as being married.

What about the stardates?

There’s one, S.D. 44793.6, corresponding to when Delcara first appeared on Enterprise. The “official” conversion I’m using makes that Tuesday 17th October, 2367. My own attempt at a stardating system gives Friday 15th March, 2368.

Does it fit?

The story has quite a lot of continuity references, and Doctor Pulaski returns as the Medical Officer on Repulse. Commander Shelby appeared in TNG “The Best of Both Worlds” and is here the First Officer on Chekov. That ship name itself is a continuity reference. Doctor Selar is aboard. This fits well with references to her in the broadcast show, but if she does leave the ship with an Andorian orphan in The Eyes of the Beholders, she’s back remarkably soon.

Data gets the side of his head caved in and he’s not functional. It’s possible he’s completely repaired in a matter of hours, although there’s no reference to that in the book.

Enterprise was commissioned four years before. That seems to work for the “official” conversion. My system makes it five years before.

What did I think?

I liked the idea that “Borg” is just a name adopted to communicate with Humans, and that they’ve had many other names.

Without giving away too much of the book, someone tries to travel at warp ten. In a shocking divergence from on-screen canon, Giant Space Newts aren’t involved. I can’t help thinking that was a good thing.

I’ve been noting in earlier books by Peter David that some ideas seem to make it (in a completely non-plagiaristic way of course) into later “Star Trek” adventures. In this one, a woman becomes detached from the Borg collective, and attempts are made to help her become Human again. Even though the attempts in the book don’t succeed, it did remind me strongly of Seven of Nine in “Star Trek: Voyager”. Less immediately obvious is the way that a woman of strong personality can unite a collective consciousness and give it a directed purpose. It might just be me, but I did see a hint of the Borg Queen in that idea, although there’s no hint that the Borg have anything like a Queen in this story.

I have to admit to being a bit bemused by the effects of an obsession for revenge on a woman’s eyebrows, even if it was just a representation.

The final verdict:

The stardate allows for no flexibility in my interpretation, and I admit that it’s bang-slap in the middle of a very difficult part of my timeline. Getting the stuff that was on-screen to fit is a nightmare, without having to try and slide something else in, too.

Since there’s no way I’m going to be able to fit this in, I’ll give it the full ten days, and place the stardate on the fourth day. That means I make it between Tuesday 12th to Thursday 21st March, 2368: S.D. 44790 to 44899. The story therefore begins on the day after I have TNG “The Drumhead” beginning, and ends two days sooner than that story.

The “official” dates are Friday 13th to Monday 23rd October, 2367: S.D. 44781 to 44810. This means it starts in the middle of TNG “The Drumhead”, Ambassador Odan should be arriving at about the same time as Delcara first appears, and the story then overlaps a good chunk of TNG “Half a Life”.

It doesn’t really fit by either system, so I’m sending it off to yet another alternate course of events.

Boogeymen

How long does it take?

This book is in two parts. The first section seems to last eleven days, but we only actually read about the fourth day. The second section is some months later, and I think lasts three days. I doubt it’s any shorter, but it might easily be longer.

When does it happen?

Sometime in the third series of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

What about the stardates?

There’s one, at the start. S.D. 43747.3 is Friday 30th September, 2366 by the “official” conversion, and Wednesday 15th March, 2367 by mine. That suggests that the later bit of the story has to be at least a couple of months later on.

Does it fit?

In terms of continuity, I didn’t notice anything really out of place. In terms of stardates, it’s a nightmare for me. In the “official” run, it falls at the start of TNG “Captain’s Holiday”. Since that story is very specific about what the ship’s been up to for the previous fortnight, there’s no room for this to happen. I’m in even worse straits, since I couldn’t fit TNG “Captain’s Holiday” in where it was supposed to go at all due to lack of time. I certainly don’t have a spare eleven days to fill. Indeed, what with TNG “Transfigurations”, I don’t even have a convincing spot to place the other three days of this story anytime before TNG “The Best of Both Worlds”. It’s a complete disaster, by both stardating systems.

What did I think?

The main story is entertaining, and the idea of two unrelated computer programs reacting in an unexpected way was sort of what happened in TNG “Emergence” later on.

I’ve already gone on at length about psychic powers, so I’ll skate over the possibility that human beings could accelerate a spaceship to warp speed by the Mysterious Powers of the Human Mind. I’d just like to point out that the idea (in my view) seems to have been borrowed pretty wholesale from a famous and often-published short story called Specialist by Robert Sheckley.

The final verdict:

It seems a bit superfluous to spell it out: I can’t find space for it where it’s supposed to be.

Q-in-Law

How long does it take?

My running total reached at least eight days. If I understand what’s being said, then it could last eleven days from start to finish. It’s not always easy to work out what’s happening when, thouigh.

When does it happen?

There are lots of clues. It’s the third time Lwaxana Troi has visited the ship, so after TNG “Manhunt” but before TNG “Ménage à Troi”. The last time Q was on the ship, he was stripped of his powers, so it’s after TNG “Déjà Q”. Worf has a son, and so It’s after TNG “The Emissary” and before TNG “Reunion”. Finally, the book itself was published in October 1991, near the start of the fifth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

In practice, it boils down to the later part of season three, between TNG “Déjà Q” and TNG “Ménage à Troi”.

What about the stardates?

There are none, and I think that’s very fortunate.

Does it fit?

As one of the deliberately “over the top” less-serious stories, I think it does. If you immediately recoil at the idea of Lwaxana Troi meeting Q, then your opinion might be quite different.

Lwaxana not thinking to mention Deanna and Data’s engagement the next time she visits struck me as unlikely, though.

What did I think?

Like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it’s a jolly fantasia about love. Whether it’s any sort of competition to Shakespeare is another matter entirely.

As an exploration of Wesley Crusher’s character, I can only say that any criticism you care to make is entirely justified. I thought he came across as positively inhuman, and really unlikeable. So maybe he is just a regular teenager, after all.

The final verdict:

The only really plausible spot I could fit this story was the gap between TNG “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and TNG “The Offspring”. Even then, it really has to be eight days, rather than eleven. Luckily, Data isn’t doing much, and might easily be off in his Frankenstein-style lab, building himself a daughter.

So, in the “official” sequence, I’d place it between Friday 19th to Friday 26th August, 2366: S.D. 43630 to 43651. My own version would be Wednesday 25th January to Wednesday 1st February, 2367: S.D. 43638 to 43645.

Reunion

How long does it take?

It’s very difficult to tell. My rough count came out to definitely no less than eight days, but there’s a huge gap where Picard almost manages to forget that there’s a psycho maniac at loose on the ship. I think I’m pushing it to say a fortnight for what we see, plus the Huge Ceremony on the planet after. Three weeks for everything seems like a reasonable guess to me.

When does it happen?

Riker has been serving with Picard for “four years and more.” Wesley hasn’t gone off to Starfleet Academy yet, so it has to be before TNG “Final Mission”. More particularly, Chief O’Brien is interested in one of the women working in security. There is never a mention of Keiko. That suggests sometime in the fourth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, as long before TNG “Data’s Day” as I can manage.

What about the stardates?

Very considerately, there aren’t any.

Does it fit?

Well, I could wish that the references to four years hadn’t stressed that it was more than that. It’s also a pity that O’Brien seems completely unaware that anyone called Keiko exists, let alone that he’ll be marrying her quite soon. This doesn’t fit in with TNG “Power Play”, which suggests that the relationship had already progressed to O’Brien buying Keiko jewellery and visiting Chicago together. I’m guessing that this would have to be whilst the ship is being repaired after TNG “The Best of Both Worlds”. Maybe they’ve had a tiff.

Beyond that, it becomes a question of how well you like the way Picard’s “back story” has been filled in. Do you think the crew of Stargazer comes over as plausible? Is Jack Crusher’s heroic death the way you imagined it? I didn’t think any of it was obviously wrong, but other opinions are possible.

What did I think?

I wasn’t wholly convinced. Surely the idea of bringing back Picard’s old crew is to show how the character has grown and matured since “those wild Stargazer days.” From this, Picard was just exactly the same, and has been the whole time he’s been a captain. He seems to have achieved command perfection more than twenty years before, and hasn’t changed a bit since. There were also references to the length of Stargazer’s mission. Twenty years is a long time. These people just didn’t seem to know each other well enough for that to come across as actually having happened, at least to me.

More trivially, I just can’t accept that someone would be an alcoholic for as much as six months without it being dealt with by the relentless niceness of the 24th century, let alone for years.

The final verdict:

Although it’s a dodgy fit in being so early that “four years” is being too generous, I did find exactly three weeks between TNG “Brothers” and TNG “Suddenly Human”. The only spot in the “official” chronology for things to last much longer than a fortnight would be between TNG “Family” and TNG “Brothers”. That suggests that this story will fit, right at the start of the fourth season. I would place this from Monday 9th to Sunday 29th January, 2367: S.D. 44022 to 44078 in the “official” version. My placement would be Tuesday 18th July to Monday 7th August, 2367: S.D. 44092 to 44142. At least that leaves some time for O’Brien to fall for Keiko enough to marry her.

Perchance to Dream

How long does it take?

Most of the action seems to take place over two days, but there are the two days (I think) for the planet survey beforehand, and then Geordi has to put together supplies for the aliens moving onto the planet. Once the story ends, there’s at least another two days to transport the injured workers to Starbase 96.

When does it happen?

Wesley’s still on the ship, so it’s before TNG “Final Mission”, and Worf knows he has a son, so it’s after TNG “Reunion”. Picard has been captain for four years, so it’s the early part of the fourth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

What about the stardates?

There’s one. I think it’s about a week into the story. S.D. 44295.7, that’s Tuesday 18th April, 2367 by my “official” conversion and Monday 9th October, 2367 by my own.

Does it fit?

Wesley’s thinking about attending the Academy. There’s a suggestion that TNG “Family” happened the previous year. That can’t be right. However you slice stardates, it has to be only a few months before.

What did I think?

It’s an inoffensive story. It’s blindingly easy to guess what’s going to happen, but the route there is well-told. I was slightly bewildered by Doctor Crusher’s gung-ho enthusiasm to experiment on the injured workers once they were on the ship. The book did try to explain why she thought she could do a better job than the Starbase, and made a pretty convincing case.

The final verdict:

I can’t get this story to fit unless TNG “Final Mission” starts pretty much the instant they leave the planet, and transporting the injured folk happens while Picard and Wesley are busy. The “official” conversion has exactly the opposite problem, since there’s plenty of time after the stardate, but nothing like long enough before due to TNG “Future Imperfect”. For now, I think it’s a double fail.

Spartacus

How long does it take?

I think that the action covers four days, with a week beforehand when the ship left Federation space, and the first two days of the three-day space-storm. Eleven days altogether.

When does it happen?

TNG “The Best of Both Worlds” was “a few months ago,” Data knows that Lore survived TNG “Datalore” and Wesley hasn’t left for the Academy. It’s sometime between TNG “Brothers” and TNG “Final Mission”.

What about the stardates?

It’s a real relief that there are none.

Does it fit?

As I’ll explain later, I think perhaps it fits too well. The only criticism I can make is a niggling one: Geordi isn’t supposed to have got his VISOR until after he’d started at the Academy. That’s wrong, since he’s been wearing one since he was five.

What did I think?

I felt somehow cheated by this book. Some Stupid Aliens and their robots have a Big Fight, and are all set for the final showdown when Enterprise stumbles into the middle of the mess. The aliens’ planet is supposed to have been devastated by the Robot Uprising, and they are bent on exterminating the robots to the last one.

Although it’s presented as the Federation’s moral superiority that makes Picard the arbiter of this quagmire, I still felt that it was only the size and firepower of Enterprise that allowed Picard to impose his own preferred solution. Neither the Stupid Aliens nor the robots managed to come across as very sympathetic. Both groups were mindlessly violent and full of shouty unreasonable demands.

All that is okay, but the conflict didn’t strike me as one that could be sorted out in a couple of focus group meetings, as the book says it was. The set-up makes armed struggle inevitable, then says it won’t happen because nice Captain Picard won’t let it. Why don’t the robots take Enterprise, blow their enemies out of the sky and then go back to their planet to finish the job off once and for all? Maybe the robots are damaging the Stupid Aliens’ society, but is the only solution the forced expulsion of all the robots? Should Picard be going along with that?

The clever (and physically attractive) robots get to apply to join the Federation, with the strong implication that they’ll be made full members, and given a spare planet and all the help they need to create their perfect society. Meantime, the aliens get to go back to their devastated planet and live under a military dictatorship, because they’re slaveholding scum.

I suppose what I’m saying is that this is another of those books that raises very difficult questions, only to provide implausibly simple solutions.

The final verdict:

Can I squeeze it in? Oddly enough, I think I can. Once again, my version of stardates runs into problems, since the stories themselves last longer by stardate than the “official” version allows, and they tend to be bunched more closely together. Nevertheless, I do have exactly eleven days between TNG “Remember Me” and TNG “Legacy”. It does raise difficulties about where the robots go at the end of the story, and how the ship gets everything sorted out ready for meeting Tasha’s little sister so quickly, but if I assume that the “lead in week” was actually not a full week, then it might fit. So, by my “official” conversion I would put this story between Sunday 5th to Wednesday 15th March, 2367: S.D. 44172 to 44202. My own approach would make it Friday 18th to Monday 28th August 2367: S.D. 44173 to 44203.

Chains of Command

How long does it take?

My rough count came out at about three weeks. The first eight days or so are the main part of the story, and then there are two weeks when the Federation steps in and solves all the problems, but that’s not seen.

When does it happen?

It’s after Wesley has left for the Academy. The implication is that it’s not that long since he went, so I’d guess that it happens after TNG “Final Mission” (obviously!) but before the end of the fourth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

What about the stardates?

There aren’t any.

Does it fit?

I didn’t spot any big problems, but I was surprised when Chief O’Brien seemed to take charge of engineering when Geordi was away. I’d thought that O’Brien was fairly low down the chain of command, even if he does play poker with the senior officers.

The Humans in the story are fugitives from the Eugenics Wars from TOS “Space Seed”; at least Riker guesses that they are since they left Earth nearly 400 years before.

The Federation ambassador is from Aurelia, like one of the scientists in TAS “Yesteryear”, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that the animated stories happen in this continuity.

What did I think?

My big problem with this story is how everyone decides to be nice at the end. The Humans have been used as slave-workers for centuries, and the aliens in the book almost wiped themselves out because they couldn’t get along. Federation ambassador or no, I just don’t see things being patched up that easily, even if it is in everyone’s best interests.

I wondered what had happened to the Starfleet rule about not negotiating when there are personnel held hostage, but that seems to be ignored quite regularly. It’s not a specific fault of this book.

I was disappointed in the one-dimensional slave Humans. Apart from being overwhelmed with near-uncontrollable lust whenever they see Dr Crusher or Deanna Troi, they’re just xenophobic cannon-fodder. Aren’t any of them gay? Are family attachments that easy to completely destroy? Would Starfleet just accept that women personnel will have to stay on the ship “for their own safety?” The whole thing struck me as sleazy and unnecessary. Your opinion may differ.

The final verdict:

I think that this story will fit into a suitable three-week gap after Wesley’s left. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the same gap in the “official” version as in my own timeline. So, I think that this novel will fall between TNG “First Contact” and TNG “Galaxy’s Child”, Saturday 22nd July to Saturday 12th August, 2267: S.D. 44554 to 44613. It’s a bit tight, but I’m not sure that it wouldn’t fit. I’m hard-pressed to find any other gap that long between stories. My own version of the timeline would place this book between TNG “Devil’s Due” and TNG “Clues”, although I would have to shift TNG “Devil’s Due” back to between Thursday 16th to Monday 20th November, 2267 to have enough time. Once I’ve done that, the book can happen between Wednesday 22nd November to Wednesday 13th December, 2267: S.D. 44489 to 44500.

Imbalance

How long does it take?

The stardates and the internal evidence agree it’s at least three days, and judging by the fact Picard’s had a good night’s sleep at the end, I’m pretty certain everything takes four days from start to finish.

When does it happen?

At the risk of spoilers, Keiko discovers she’s pregnant at the end of the story. Wesley is away at the Academy. It’s definitely after TNG “The Big Goodbye” because they specifically mention the stardate, and the Jarada make a return appearance.

What about the stardates?

There are two. S.D. 44839.2 is right at the start, on the morning of the first day. S.D. 44840.8 is on the evening of the second. That works marvellously for me, but only to a degree.

Does it fit?

This is a tough one. Does it not work because it doesn’t fit, or because it doesn’t want to squish into the framework of my ideas? I think it doesn’t work whatever you do, but that’s just my opinion.

The stardates, of course, fall into the unusually crowded bit of the fourth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. I really struggled to fit the broadcast stories in, let alone a novel too.

On a more general level, Keiko’s pregnancy seems to be discovered quite late. TNG “Disaster” is early in the fifth season, and the stardate puts this well towards the end of the fourth. My go at putting dates to all this suggests that Keiko is three or even four months into her pregnancy by this point. That seems a lot, to me.

It’s just coming up to the O’Briens’ six-month anniversary. Fortunately, it’s not of their marriage, but of their first meeting. Even so, I’m not sure about that. I’m even less sure that Miles could get away with calling Keiko “sweetheart.”

Doctor Selar makes another of her appearances.

Doctor Crusher was pregnant with Wesley during the final year of her residency. My dates place the pregnancy during 2348, when she’s still attending the Academy, so I don’t see that it’s impossible.

What did I think?

Taking the main plot about the Jarada first; they are an advanced spacefaring race. They’re the equals of the Federation, apparently. All the same, they need to concoct an elaborate plot to kidnap some Humans because they’re totally incapable of working out for themselves that their diet is lacking something essential? It’s a pity that this turns out to be the “mcguffin” as Alfed Hitchcock used to call it. The Jarada are genuinely interesting, and there are hints of a really different and completely alien world-view all through the book. I found it really frustrating that they ended up just being another planet’s worth of Stupid Aliens. That’s not to say there wasn’t any attempt to explain why the Jarada couldn’t fix their own problems; it just didn’t seem to ring true to me. Any explanation that relies too heavily on “tradition” and “we don’t think like that” excuses raises the question of how beings like that ever managed to develop an advanced society in the first place?

The “B-plot” (as it gets referred to by people who wrote the television scripts) is Miles and Keiko. Any relationship develops over time, and the O’Briens’ marriage was always depicted as “sparky.” All the same, I struggled with Deanna Troi’s little talk with Miles about how the pair of them were national stereotypes, and would have to look past their innate bigotry to get their marriage to work. At least, that’s how it came across to me.

The final verdict:

As usual, can I squeeze it in? Looking at what I’ve been calling the “official” stardate conversion, both stardates will fall on Friday 3rd November, 2367. That doesn’t fit very well with the other references, but as I keep saying, I’m not trying to do more than get a rough conversion from this, because it’s all the system can cope with. There’s plenty of room to fit this book between TNG “The Host” and TNG “The Mind’s Eye”. It’s still less than four months before TNG “Disaster”, though. My own stardate conversion is much less forgiving. The stories are crammed in at this point in any case. I’ve only three days between TNG “The Host” and TNG “The Mind’s Eye”, which just isn’t long enough. The stardates don’t fit in any case. The only sizeable gap is between TNG “Half a Life” and TNG “The Host”. Again, the stardates don’t fit, and what’s more, Dr Crusher is supposed to be “making friends with” Ambassador Odan just then, so it really doesn’t fit. Both systems of conversion rather unfortunately place the six-month anniversary of Miles’ and Keiko’s first meeting less than a fortnight before TNG “Data’s Day”. It might have been like that, but it doesn’t ring true to me.

My temptation is just to banish it off to yet another alternate universe, but there is another option to explore before I do. What if the story happens earlier, in January 2368? (By my system; I’ll let the “official” version stand or fall on its own merits.) That would undoubtedly place it early in Keiko’s pregnancy, and shift the anniversary back to the middle of 2367, to just after TNG “Family”. The only option that would work for me is to put the story from Monday 1st to Thursday 4th January, 2368: S.D. 44539 to 44542. On balance, I’d rather lose it altogether. You might not.

Imzadi

How long does it take?

It’s a time-travel story, so there are four different time periods to cover:

First, there’s Riker and Troi’s first meeting on Betazed. I think it lasts at least 24 days.

Then there’s a short sequence, less than a day, during TNG “Encounter at Farpoint”. It’s eleven hours into Q’s 24-hour “test.” Troi and Riker meet again for the first time since Betazed.

Third, there’s the “contemporary” section of the story. That lasts about three days.

Last, there’s the future section, where a bitter old Riker refuses to let go of the past. That lasts an unspecified amount of time. I’d say at least a week, and possibly as much as a month.

When does it happen?

The first period is given as ten years before the “present”, around 2355? TNG “Second Chances”, shows a completely different version of these events, so that date is 2362 for me.

The second can be placed exactly, at least by me. It’s Tuesday 4th August, 2364: S.D. 41154.

The third is during Wesley’s extra year at the Academy, and it must be after TNG “Ensign Ro”, so obviously it’s between TNG “The First Duty” and TNG “Journey’s End”. My dates put it between March 2369 and March 2371. I’d say 2369? If Wesley starts at the Academy in 2367, then he’d graduate in March 2371 as supported by TNG “Journey’s End”, so it could be 2370 at a stretch?

The final section is 42 years after TNG “The Offspring”, so 2409 for me. Riker’s 73, so I think it’s before the end of September.

What about the stardates?

There’s just one. Unfortunately, it’s during TNG “Encounter at Farpoint” and it’s S.D. 42372.5. It seems to be from the script of the story, not the broadcast version.

Does it fit?

I don’t think it does. The setting of the earliest part of the story is the period Riker spends on Betazed, before being assigned to a new ship. Superficially, this does seem to fit in with TNG “Second Chances”. In practice, there’s a big problem. Riker is a lieutenant in Starfleet, and meets Deanna before she’s decided to join. That definitely doesn’t fit. In TNG “Conundrum”, Deanna attends the Academy from 2355 to 2359. Riker graduates in the Class of ’57, so he’s probably there between 2353 and 2357. They’re actually there at the same time, and they are both Starfleet officers at the time of TNG “Second Chances”. There can’t be two meetings on Betazed, because the book specifies that there’s only the one.

It has struck me that the whole thing would just about have held together before TNG “Second Chances” and there’d have been nothing much to contradict any of it before TNG “Conundrum”. To be fair, it probably did fit at the time it was written. It’s a complete guess on my part, but I think that the reason it got so completely contradicted later was just that the two stories were incompatible. It doesn’t represent any deliberate attempt to “replace” this book. Later events contradicting earlier versions has already happened a few times, and it’ll be happening again, often in regards to the novels; occasionally the television shows themselves sit alongside each other very uncomfortably.

As for the missed meeting that’s so important in TNG “Second Chances”, there’s not a hint of it.

Data is alive and well in the year 2409. That isn’t what happens in “Star Trek: Nemesis”. Of course, the fact that he’s B4 with Data’s memories might explain future Data’s behaviour.

Reg Barclay decides to swear off holdecks. That doesn’t fit in with what we saw of the character.

On a much, much more nit-picky note, the autobiography of James Kirk is supposed to be called Risk is Our Business. The actual title is The Autobiography of James T. Kirk.

On a more positive note, there’s a lot of stuff about alternate universes being linked to alternate time streams in a way that seemed to link up with the 2009 “Star Trek” film and its sequels.

What did I think?

I have to admit a personal bias here. I first read this book at just about the same time as Best Destiny. It made me wonder if there was anyone who decided to join Starfleet not as a result of being kidnapped by space pirates. It also made me think it was time to take a long break from reading “Star Trek” books at all, and I did. This is not one of my favourites.

It’s supposed to be the great romance of the ages, but the pair of them really got on my nerves.

Riker insisting that the Guardian of Forever is “God’s window” just struck me as silly.

Finally, it’s just an opinion, but I thought Data behaved completely out of character. He’s one of the villains of the piece, and I don’t think he should have been.

The final verdict:

The Pocket Books timeline puts this story between TNG “Conundrum” and TNG “Power Play”. There’s certainly time for that in the “official” timeline I’ve made, putting it in July 2368. I might be able to squeeze it in if I move TNG “Power Play” and TNG “Ethics” to a bit later on. It seems an odd place to put it though. I’d have gone for something after TNG “The First Duty”. Maybe between TNG “Imaginary Friend” and TNG “I, Borg”?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m sending this off to an alternate universe. I hope the real relationship between Riker and Troi was nothing like this. From the available evidence, it seems to have been completely different.

War Drums

How long does it take?

This novel is really good at telling you when it’s night time, so I’m pretty confident that it takes eight days from beginning to end.

When does it happen?

There’s no really specific reference, but it has to be during the time Ro Laren is an ensign assigned to the ship, and Alexander is there. I place that between TNG “New Ground” and TNG “Rascals”, or very shortly afterwards. My best guess is that it’s supposed to be sometime during the fifth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

What about the stardates?

There aren’t any.

Does it fit?

I was dubious that the Klingons would disown a group of children that easily, but then the parallels with TNG “Birthright” occurred to me. I’m sure it’s just coincidence that Worf stumbles across two groups of Klingon children isolated because of the Romulans. I think it does seem to fit quite well.

That said, it’s the details that seem to cause problems. Ro has no experience of a watery world? The “Bajora” have no homeworld? I’m sure it reflects what was said at the time, but Ro’s backstory, along with the Bajorans as a whole, underwent quite a reboot to be the background for “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”.

Romulans have a bone spur at the base of their palms? Maybe, but this is the only time anyone says so.

What did I think?

Humans of the future are supposed to be more enlightened and “mature” than us. The colony here reverts to genocidal racists in a matter of months. It’s made very plain that the colony is exclusively Human, and for a society that’s left bigotry behind, there are a lot of references to “bumpy-heads.” I don’t think this necessarily contradicts anything. What the characters say they’re like and how they act is often two different things. I was disturbed at how easily the “strong leader” was blamed for the actions of a whole colony of child-murdering low-lives, with everyone else allowed effectively to get away with it. Admittedly, a Romulan spy was orchestrating things, but these colonists still seem remarkably ill-prepared for creating their new world.

At the risk of going on about it, here was another occasion when everyone became very worried that poor, delicate little Deanna just wouldn’t be able to cope with the nasty, rough planet. She does, but it still makes her character seem less of a Starfleet officer than everyone else, and I don’t think that’s plausible.

The final verdict:

Can I fit it in? I think I can, in the gap between TNG “The Outcast” and TNG “Cause and Effect”. By my “official” conversion, I’d place it between Saturday 17th to Saturday 24th August, 2368: S.D. 45626 to 45646. My own conversion system gives Tuesday 28th January to Tuesday 4th February, 2369: S.D. 45642 to 45649.

Nightshade

How long does it take?

My calculation, not made any easier by everyone living underground and doing things at night anyway, is that Picard is due to be executed on the fifth day. Assuming that peace is declared quickly, I think it’ll take at least a week from start to finish, possibly longer. A week seems easiest.

When does it happen?

Sometime in the fifth season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”? Some references might mean that Alexander is aboard Enterprise, but there’s nothing at all definite.

What about the stardates?

There are none.

Does it fit?

I’m not sure that the assertion that all planets are living beings fits all that well, but that was the only thing that really struck me as “off.”

I did think that making Worf an ambassador, and suggesting that he and Deanna Troi understand each other particularly well, was remarkably prescient.

What did I think?

For once, Deanna came over as a strong character and a Starfleet officer. After some of the earlier novels, I noticed and liked that about this book.

The “plot B” aliens were a lot more interesting than the main aliens, although both races managed to be such quintessentially Stupid Aliens I really did wonder why they weren’t already extinct. It did strike me that the ecologically unfriendly aliens were exactly the sort of “unenlightened” species that the Federation would just cry “Prime Directive!” and let them all die. I did like how the two plots came together, removing at least one huge coincidence.

I’m putting this in the “What did I think?” section because I’m not a doctor, and even if I was, how do I know what effect a genetically-engineered plant would have on an alien? I just wasn’t convinced by the poisoning. A heartbeat so loud people standing nearby can hear it? Someone’s heart bursting inside their chest and killing them? It just didn’t seem at all plausible to me. If the poison affects the muscles, why only the heart? Surely other muscles would have been affected, too. I can’t help thinking that your heart going into overdrive and then popping like a balloon in your chest would be rather messy, and involve blood spraying everywhere, convulsions and agonised screaming. Maybe Pocket Books didn’t want that in their “Star Trek” novel, but it was unfortunate that a key scene left me nitpicking, rather than following the story.

Was it just me, or did Picard actually seem to want to be horribly tortured by the attractive lady soldier?

On the topic of torture, I thought it was sad that it was possible for an American to write then about how repugnant and pointless physical torture is as a way of obtaining information. Yes, it is, it always has been, and it always will be.

The final verdict:

Once again, “Is there space for it?” I think it’ll fit between TNG “I, Borg” and TNG “The Next Phase”. My system makes it Wednesday 16th to Tuesday 22nd April, 2369: S.D. 45860 to 45866. My attempt at an “official” conversion would place it on Wednesday 13th to Tuesday 19th November, 2368: S.D. 45866 to 45472.


1988-1990
1993-1994

by StrauchiusStrauchius on 17 Sep 2017 12:25, last updated on 21 Sep 2017 07:53