TNG A Call To Darkness

In all of my fandoms I don’t think there are any characters I dislike quite as much as Doctor Pulaski. Outside of the real world drama and my sense of Muldar being scab like in taking the role- the character itself just doesn’t appeal to me. All of that being said, her role in Michael Jan Friedman’s A Call to Darkness is integral and interesting.


The story begins with the Enterprise on a mission to track down a missing Federation vessel, USS Gregory Mendel. This mission is personal for Captain Jean-Luc Picard, as the daughter of his old mentor was aboard the lost ship. This is something that I love seeing in the expanded universes that novels provide because often times short form fiction is not given the opportunity to establish the fact that their characters have lives offscreen.

The Enterprise detects the Gregory Mendel in orbit around a Klah’kimmbri planet, a reclusive race that has not been seen since their devastating war with the Cantilac, but with no life signs aboard. Determined to uncover the truth, Picard insists on leading an away team to investigate, bringing along Dr. Pulaski, despite her current preoccupation with treating a seemingly innocuous infection contracted by a crew member during a previous away mission.

As the investigation unfolds, Pulaski realizes the infection could mutate into a dangerous airborne variant. Before she can warn the Enterprise, the away team is mysteriously abducted by the Klah’kimmbri, stripped of their memories and placed in various roles within staged conflicts broadcast to the Klah’kimmbri population. Worf becomes a warrior, Pulaski a medic, Picard a convoy leader, and Geordi a construction worker.

Back on the Enterprise, the infection begins to spread, prompting assistant chief medical officer Sam Burtin to recommend heading to a starbase. However, Riker decides to hold off for three days, hoping to resolve the situation.


“A Call to Darkness” is a standout entry in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series, capturing the essence of the show’s blend of exploration, ethical quandaries, and character-driven storytelling. Michael Jan Friedman masterfully weaves a narrative that is both thrilling and thought-provoking.

Within Klah’kimmbri society the spectacle of warfare has become their entertainment and much of their interactions involve it the same way our social interactions might include a sporting event. Casually playing in the background of restaurants or the focal point of a raucous discussion at a bar. Thrusting the crew of 1701D into this environment would make for an interesting story, but the idea that participants are unknowingly engaged in the battle of their own destruction creates a wonderful setting for events to unfold.

The ending to this story is well done, though the sickness subplot does not quite pan out to an extent that it potentially could. Riker for the most part keeps the Enterprise running while Picard galavants. Different galavanting from Masks but still Picard leads a number of away missions within the novels wheras the show stuck pretty much to #1 leading the away teams. I do wonder if as the novels progress that will become more common place to align with the show. For now though I will boldly go on to double digits in the ST TNG novel reading extravaganza. Next up A Rock and a Hard Place