NF First Four

Exploring New Frontiers: A Review of Peter David’s Star Trek Series

In the vast expanse of the Star Trek universe I have found quite a few interesting stories, but most of them have been based on a TV counterpart. In an effort to try something new I decided to check out the “Star Trek: New Frontier” series. Blending the familiar with the innovative a veteran Star Trek author Peter David pens a narrative journey aboard the starship Excalibur, under the command of Captain Mackenzie Calhoun. I purchased a thicker version that includes the first four novels so figured I would provide some thoughts here.

Book 1: House of Cards

The inaugural book, “House of Cards,” introduces us to Captain Calhoun, a character who breaks the mold of the typical Starfleet captain. He’s unorthodox, unpredictable, and undeniably charismatic. Originally M’K’Nzy a resistance leader from a backwater planet Xenex he adopts the name Mackenzie after a series of events introduce him to a younger Captain Picard. David skillfully sets the stage by providing a suite of new characters with tangental relationships to existing characters, such as the bulky Bikarian male Zak Kebron that attend Starfleet Academy with Worf, as well as a few TNG characters with less screen time but potential, like Elizabeth Shelby. The story revolves around the political turmoil in the Thallonian Empire, serving as a springboard for the series. I enjoyed Peter David’s character development and ability to turn the starship into a crucible of complex relationships and personal growth.

Book 2: Into the Void

“Into the Void,” the second installment, does a wonderful job of weaving completly new and intricate narratives while expanding the Star Trek universe. The book continues to follow the exploits of Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and the crew of the USS Excalibur, delving deeper into the uncharted regions of space and the complex web of character relationships. The story picks up from where “House of Cards” left off, with the Excalibur tasked with exploring the uncharted sectors of space following the collapse of the Thallonian Empire. The central plot revolves around the discovery of a mysterious, seemingly abandoned alien spacecraft. The ship, of unknown origin, poses a significant mystery and a potential threat. Calhoun and his crew must unravel the secrets of this ghost ship, a task that challenges their scientific acumen and their understanding of the unknown. I enjoyed the continued character development and expansion on individuals, particularly Burgoyne 172, a he/she extraterresterial with a Riker like swagger, and Si Cwan, a former Prince whose deposition and resultant power vaccum were integral to the plot of House of Cards.

Book 3: The Two-Front War

The series takes a dramatic turn in “The Two-Front War,” where personal and political conflicts collide. There is a lot of character development, and mind melds, but the main plot follows two points. First some refugees were rescued in the last book and are now going to be deposited on a nearby planet. The inhabitants are extremely welcoming and Calhoun, plus you dear reader, are right to be suspicious. The second plot trail follows Ci Swan, the deposed dignitary, and Kebron, the weird bulky security chief, on a wild goose chase to find Swan’s rumored dead sister. Eventually they are attacked and captured leading to some discussions about team work and dead parents. The dead parents thing is revealed to be a hoax, meant to teach the virtues of and sound strategy behind sticking together. Of course they do not and the villain that captured them sets the self destruct and escapes. The fake space explosion consumes Swan and Kebron. Meanwhile back with Calhoun and the refugees the sudden but inevitable betrayl of the planetary good samaritans results in an old fashioned space stand off. The novel ends with Calhoun firing towards the planet leaving this and the explosion cliffhangers for…End Game. Dum-Dum-Dum!!!!1!

Book 4: End Game

We’re in the “End Game” now and whoa does it bring a thrilling climax to the initial story arc. The prior cliffhangers are resolved through a course of pretty great plot progression and it all culminates in a dramatic final confrontation. It turns out Swan and Kebron survived via a beam out of the wreckage by another member of the villanous group they were just fighting. Swan is meant to be put on trial and publicly executed. Meanwhile still in orbit Calhoun and Excalibur have just launched photon’s to the group holding the refugees hostage but at the last moment they are detonated so no harm is done. Laheera, the leader of the hostage takers, is recorded during the incident explaining to Calhoun that she thinks everyone on the planet is expendable. This is a terrible move as that message is broadcast planet wide and a mob eventually kills her. With that all mopped up Excalibur warps it to find Swan and Kebron. Via a bit of ion trail magic they eventually find the planet where the crewmembers are being held. Rescue ensues and culminates in a mock trial of Swan, with Kebron released to Calhoun who has beamed down. Through the discourse a series of accusations reveal that the crime Swan is believed to have committed, killing one of the bad guy’s dad, was actually committed by Calhoun during his rebellion leading days. A medieval duel to the death challenge ensues and Calhoun survives while his counterpart plays a game of Floor is Lava. In parallel to this battle it revealed that the planet is exploding and giving birth to some type of avian like creature called The Great Bird of the Galaxy. Definitely some out ther ST at it’s finest.

In Review: A Fresh Yet Familiar Trek

Peter David’s “Star Trek: New Frontier” series is a refreshing take on the Star Trek universe. His writing style is engaging with all of the humor and philosophical underpinnings that define Star Trek. The series shines particularly in its character development; each crew member is given depth and an arc, making them relatable and memorable. I particularly enjoyed that Calhoun was closer to Kirk’s style of Enterprise-ing than Picard’s as it gives that era of Trek a layer of rawly aggressive scientific exploration as opposed to the stoic and thoughtful exploration of Enterprise-D. It is quite remarkable for such short novellas to provide depth to an entire crew of characters however, newcomers to Star Trek might find themselves a tad overwhelmed by the references and backstories. Some casual fans will know a mind-meld, but Pon Farr? Ehh, that’s a bit of a stretch. I read these in the omnibus format so that is the end for now, but perhaps I will grab the next one after some of the other TNG novels.