Star Trek
Strange New Worlds 8

Editor: Dean Wesley Smith
Pocket Books
RRP 8.99, US $14.95, Cdn $21.99
ISBN 1 4165 0345 5
Available 01 August 2005

It is with some trepidation that I approached, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, a collection of fan fiction. So many of the professional stories start with a shuttle crashing into a planet that you wonder just why Starfleet would keep buying them from the same manufacturer. So it was a pleasant surprise to find that none of the contributors had resorted to this old a creaky plot device.

Strange New Worlds is a collection of short stories that contributors enter into a competition, the best being published on an annual basis; this is the eighth anthology in the series. It's a shame that the competition is only open to people living in the USA or Canada, though I can understand the restriction, it would be a mammoth task without some way of limiting the number of entries. Each of the published works is given prizes in the form of contracts and money with a take of the royalties from the next book, so well worth the effort, from the writer's point of view.

The stories cover all of the Star Trek television series as well as a speculative section, so regardless of which of the shows are your favourite there will be something here for all tastes. I would urge you to read the whole book though; the quality of story telling is far superior to many anthologies by established writers and is certainly superior to the recent Tales From The Captains Table anthology.

There are twenty-two stories in all, each as good as the last, so it is a difficult task to pick out anything that could be described as a highlight. The stories range from personal insights into a particular character to the birth and death of the Federation and the universe.

The top prize went to Alpha and Omega by Derek Tyler Attico, and represents his first foray into the Strange New Worlds. It is a story that has everything, the Borg, the final defeat of the federation, a revelation about the Q and a rebirth of the universe from a most unexpected quarter. Not exactly a small subject to take on.

Second prize went to Concurrence by Geoffrey Thorne, and tells of the rescue of a woman from a Vulcan research lab by a group of new aliens during the Dominion wars. The question is why is she there? Why would the Vulcans rather kill all of themselves to maintain the secret? Is the new race of aliens as new as we first thought? It's a lovely little piece with many twists and a surprising ending.

Overall well worth the money, with an impressive breath and depth of imagination being demonstrated in nearly all of the stories, all the more so as the next professionally written Star Trek book I'm looking at to review has a shuttle crash at the beginning. Lord help us.

Charles Packer

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