Star Trek
New Frontier
Missing in Action

Author: Peter David
Pocket Books
RRP: 6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $9.99
ISBN-13: 978 0 7434 2959 7
ISBN-10: 0 7434 2959 1
Available 05 February 2007

The crew of
Excalibur have been hurled headlong into the mysteries and dangers of a gelatinous form of space, where they are soon caught up in a genocidal interstellar war. Captain Calhoun - who himself grew up as a freedom fighter battling the forces of an aggressive conqueror - must decide whether to ally himself with alien warmongers who offer his only hope of getting his crew home...

My harshest criticism of the New Frontier series is that the gaps between the releases are too great! It's been more than a year since the previous novel, After the Fall, and I had to re-read the cliffhanger ending to that book in order to reacquaint myself with what had happened to the various characters. Not that re-reading a Peter David book is ever really a hardship.

The USS Excalibur has done a Voyager, first by getting lost in space and then by ending up in a universe that resembles a denser form of the fluidic space inhabited by Species 8472, seen in the two-part Borg episode Scorpion. The author acknowledges the similarity and even throws in a brief appearance by the Borg themselves, though sadly this is restricted to the book's prologue.

Meanwhile, the events of the movie Star Trek: Nemesis catch up with the half-Vulcan half-Romulan Soleta and the crew of her new command, the Romulan stealth ship Spectre. And New Thallon faces a devastating attack as the already less than stable New Thallonian Protectorate threatens to fall apart completely. The space-bound chapters, alternately dealing with the crews of the Excalibur, the Spectre and Captain Kat Mueller's USS Trident are generally more riveting than the New Thallon sequences. However, the whole affair coalesces around a common foe, with dramatic results.

The Babylon 5-like qualities of the legendary ancient race known as the Wanderers, who were mooted in the previous novel, come to the fore here. Like the Shadows in B5 (a series for which David was an occasional writer), the Wanderers provoke a war in order to destabilise a fledgling interstellar alliance. Events also come to a distinctly B5-style resolution. Like the Centauri before them, the Wanderers' allies wish to become a mighty galactic power, but end up coming to an appropriately karmic fate. And like Commander Sinclair and Captain Sheridan, the embattled Robin Lefler learns to use the media to her advantage.

Admiral Shelby, Captain Mueller, Soleta, Robin Lefler... There is a remarkably and refreshingly large proportion of powerful women in the realm of New Frontier. All of them take matters into their own hands during the course of this novel, and, without wanting to give too much away, the demography of people in positions of authority has shifted even more in favour of the female gender by the end of the book.

In this and other important respects, Missing in Action is powerful stuff. Miss this and you'll miss out.

Richard McGinlay

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