Star Trek
New Frontier
After the Fall

Author: Peter David
Pocket Books
RRP 14.99, US $24.00, Cdn $35.00
ISBN 0 7434 9184 X
Available 06 December 2004

As Si Cwan, prime minister of the New Thallonian Protectorate, prepares to marry off his sister Kalinda in a politically advantageous pairing, the bride-to-be is abducted. This calamitous event threatens to destabilise the entire sector, especially since Kalinda's abductor is someone all too familiar...

In a bold change of direction for the series, Peter David has set this book three years after his previous New Frontier novel, Stone and Anvil, and not long before the events of the movie Star Trek: Nemesis.

A lot has changed in those three years. Captain Mackenzie Calhoun's wife and former first officer Elizabeth Shelby has been promoted to Admiral, in command of Space Station Bravo. Her old ship, the Trident, has a new captain in the shape of another old flame of Calhoun's. Burgoyne 172 and Dr Selar have split up over the potentially fatal genetic condition of their son Xy, whose rapid development has allowed him to become a fully qualified doctor and science officer by now. Si Cwan and Robin Lefler are married, and Si Cwan has been elected prime minister, which means that Lefler is both the first lady of New Thallon and the sector's Starfleet representative - dual roles that don't always fit comfortably side by side. And the half-Vulcan Soleta has embarked on a dangerous quest to embrace her Romulan heritage. In his foreword, the author is at pains to point out that these changes are not some kind of dream, hallucination, divergent timeline or parallel universe - so get used to it!

Never having read a New Frontier novel before (though I have always wanted to, having thoroughly enjoyed the few of David's books and many of his comics that I have been exposed to), I'm not sure whether or not this is a good place for new readers to jump in. Certainly it kicks off an intriguing new set of story arcs, which will probably keep the series going for many more books to come. On the other hand, the changes that have affected the characters will be all the more effective if you are already familiar with their circumstances prior to this novel.

New readers have no need to fear, however, because all the important details are gradually conveyed for the benefit of the uninitiated and, as always, David's narrative is populated by a vast array of previously minor characters from the screen incarnations of Star Trek, all vividly fleshed out into well-rounded personalities. In addition to Shelby (who appeared in the Next Generation storyline The Best of Both Worlds), Lefler (from the episodes Darmok and The Game) and Dr Selar (The Schizoid Man), there's also Arex and M'Ress (time-displaced from the oft-overlooked animated series of Trek). Admiral Jellico (from the two-part TNG episode Chain of Command) also puts in a brief appearance.

The new direction of this series involves the possible return of a once-powerful species to Sector 221-G. This particular plot development reminds me of Babylon 5 with its mighty Shadows and other First Ones, but that's not a bad series to be compared with.

As ever, Peter David mixes wry humour (which is particularly evident in earlier sections) with tense drama (especially towards the end of the book). Captain Calhoun remains a remarkable character, managing to be as imperturbable as Spock while acting more recklessly in politically sensitive situations than Kirk ever would have done.

This is a whole new New Frontier, but no less welcome.

Richard McGinlay

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