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Book Review

Book Cover

Star Trek
Myriad Universes
Echoes and Refractions


Authors: Geoff Trowbridge, Keith R.A. DeCandido and Chris Roberson
Pocket Books
RRP: £9.99, US $16.00
ISBN: 978 1 4165 7181 0
Available 01 September 2008

It is often postulated that every decision creates a nexus, a turning point in the universe, where possible futures split one from another. What if we could see into the future, would we change our minds? In the Star Trek universe there have been many such turning points, where a different choice would have created a new and intriguing outcome. Here collected into one book are three of those possibilities...

Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Echoes and Refractions is the companion book to Infinity’s Prism and presents a further three stories of the ‘what if’ variety, with each story from a different author. Once more the writers have been given free rein to create a whole new Trek universe, unbound from the constraints of canon.

The Chimes at Midnight by Geoff Trowbridge postulates a time line where Spock died at an early age, therefore all of the events where his presence was pivotal subtly change. To take his place as science officer on the Enterprise Trowbridge has given us Thelin th’Valrass an Andorian, who’s different reaction to events, especially the defeat of Khan, weaves a whole different story. Events take place during the creation of the Genesis program and the probe's visit to Earth to look for the missing whales.

At the start of the story some things are only slightly altered, for instance Saavik has not joined the crew of the Enterprise, as she never met Spock for him to mentor her. Instead she has joined the diplomatic corps. Events on the Genesis planet play out slightly differently which leads to a war with the Klingons and a possible intergalactic war - as the Federation effectively owns a weapon of mass destruction.

This was a very credible story. Initially you're thinking that Trowbridge is just going to replace Spock with Thelin, which of course he does, but it is the differences in the way Thelin deals with situations that cause empires to fall. The decision that he makes at the close of the story is both tragic and touching. I guess the only thing I didn’t like was the change in McCoy - or at least I didn’t understand it. Thelin is presented as a very emotional figure, that’s fine but I’m not sure that the loss of Spock would have changed McCoy into the 'logical one.' Of course it maintains the triumvirate of Kirk, McCoy and Thelin, but if felt very false - as if Trowbridge was contending that McCoy was faking it all the time he appeared to be over emotional. Also, Trowbridge does such a good job at rounding out Thelin's character that it would have been nice to have had more of him and less of David Marcus.

A Gutted World by Keith R.A. De Candido postulates a time when the Dominion had successfully infiltrated the Alpha quadrant before the Cardassians had given up ownership of Terok Nor. They are therefore able to stop the withdrawal from Bajor and keep the wormhole a secret - that is until the renegade Kira informs the Federation.  Although the story is well written, its changes have a less dramatic effect. The reactions and interaction are those that you would expect from the cast of characters given such a situation, so Candido’s characterisation are spot on. I just wish he’d used a bigger stick when mixing his ingredients.

Brave New World by Chris Roberson and a radical change has come about with not only androids like Data being accepted as both sentient and part of the Federation, but also the move towards placing human consciousness into positronic brains. In this new universe Data, and a number of the other androids, disappeared following the ruling that they could be citizens, but now he has returned with warnings of war. What starts off as a great concept is wasted a little when for large sections of the plot you could have replaced the benevolence of Data and his kind with an equal benevolent Dominion, that said the story is still worthy of its inclusion here.

Overall another three good stories, though there is a part of me that wishes the writers would be as radical in their approach as the remit allowed.


Charles Packer

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