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Star Trek: The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms (Star Trek: The Next Generation) Mass Market Paperback – 16 Jan 2014

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek (16 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476718997
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476718996
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 2.5 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Dayton Ward is a three-time winner of the Star Trek Strange New Worlds writing contest.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Star Trek: The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms

One

Starfleet Headquarters, San Francisco, Earth


“And just as we did more than two centuries ago, the people of Andor stand once again with the United Federation of Planets, and we are humbled that you have welcomed us now as you did then: as friends and allies. As such, we Andorians rededicate ourselves to the principles that have guided this unrivaled coalition from its first days, speaking as one voice for freedom, for security, for the right of self-determination. We renew our pledge to join with our fellow beings from worlds across the Federation, serving and protecting each of its citizens as though they were born of our own world.”

Thunderous applause stopped Kellessar zh’Tarash as she stood before an open session of the Parliament Andoria. Propping himself against the edge of his desk, Admiral William Riker watched the speech as it had been recorded for later broadcast across the quadrant via the Federation News Service. The current leader of the Andorian government’s Progressive Caucus seemed almost regal on the large viewscreen that dominated the far wall of Riker’s new office at Starfleet Command Headquarters.

“She certainly knows how to blow the doors off the joint, doesn’t she?” Riker asked, gesturing toward the screen.

Seated in an overstuffed chair in one corner of the office that afforded her an unfettered view of the broadcast, Deanna Troi turned from the screen to regard her husband. “She’s quite something. The people of Andor seem to have a great deal of faith in her, and her support looks to be growing across the Federation.”

On the viewscreen, zh’Tarash continued. “Though we may have lost our way for a time, we are reminded that the Federation’s compassion and sense of unity made us a stronger world than if we had continued to stand alone. Indeed, those very ideals were exhibited yet again during a time of dire need, and it is our hope that we will have the opportunity to express our eternal gratitude for the service the Federation has provided to our world and our people. It is this cooperative spirit that has compelled me to seek the office of President of the United Federation of Planets.

“If it is the will of the people that I am allowed to serve you in this manner, I will commit myself to demonstrating that the Federation is deserving of its place of prominence in the cosmos, not through threat of force but by continuing to extend the hand of friendship. It was Nanietta Bacco’s firm belief that no sentient species in this galaxy could have a greater friend or ally, and I promise you that I will spend each day proving that she was right. This I pledge, to every citizen of this Federation, which we Andorians are honored once again to call our family.”

“Computer, pause playback,” Riker said, and the image on the screen froze as members of the Parliament Andoria were rising to their feet to once more applaud zh’Tarash. Folding his arms, the admiral blew out his breath, shaking his head. “I’ll bet Ishan is climbing the walls right about now.”

“Polls indicate an overwhelming approval of Andor’s readmission,” Troi said. “It’s an interesting change from surveys taken after their secession.”

“I remember.” Public reaction had been intense following the explosive announcement three years earlier that Andor, one of the Federation’s founding members, had decided to withdraw its membership following a close, tumultuous vote by the Andorian government. Common sentiments had included feelings of anger and betrayal, owing in large part to a lack of knowledge of the events leading up to the unprecedented decision. It had been reported that Andor’s secession was triggered by knowledge given to them by the Typhon Pact that Starfleet had examples of alien technology and information that might have led to a cure for an escalating reproductive predicament that was threatening the eventual extinction of the Andorian people.

While that was true in and of itself, what was only now being told to the public’s satisfaction were bits and pieces of the larger story surrounding the still-classified nature of Operation Vanguard and the data and materials it had collected, which were all that remained of the ancient race known as the Shedai. Chief among the discoveries made more than a century ago was the so-called “Shedai Meta-Genome,” which Starfleet had found to carry enormous potential to expand or even redefine any number of scientific and medical principles. After everything that had transpired during Starfleet’s all-but-disastrous attempts to understand the Shedai and the awesome power they once had commanded, someone within the Federation hierarchy had decided that the entire project should be buried and forgotten, citing the potential for unchecked abuse should such knowledge fall into the wrong hands.

Though Starfleet had shoved the collected data and materials into the depths of a classified archive facility and consigned almost everyone who had survived the operation to relative obscurity, other parties who had acquired information and understanding into the Shedai continued to perform their own research. One such group was the Tholian Assembly, who, after emerging from their normal seclusion to join the Typhon Pact, had approached Andor with the knowledge they now possessed, having discovered that the Meta-Genome held the potential to end forever the planet’s fertility crisis. The Tholians also had managed to spin the truth about Starfleet’s involvement just far enough to paint it and the Federation as having somehow betrayed the Andorian people by not sharing with them their own cache of information about the Shedai and the Meta-Genome.

And the rest, Riker mused, as they say, is history.

“Even though the full story behind Operation Vanguard remains classified,” he said, pushing away from his desk and moving to the window set into his office’s rear wall, “the parts Starfleet’s been releasing seem to be appeasing the public.” His own knowledge of the top-secret project did not extend much beyond the official information releases distributed by Starfleet Command to the press, and Riker knew that the bulk of the operation’s history likely would remained cloaked in shadow for years if not decades to come. “They’re being smart about it, focusing on the good it’s done for Andor, even though the whole thing would never have happened if not for Julian Bashir.” The former chief medical officer of Deep Space 9 had accessed the classified Shedai data and used it to develop a cure for Andor’s dilemma, and while the Andorians considered him a hero, Starfleet had no choice but to charge him with espionage and possibly even treason. At this moment, arrangements were being finalized for Bashir’s return to Earth for trial. If there was a way to save the doctor from permanent disgrace and incarceration, Riker had yet to conceive of it.

One problem at a time, Admiral.

“It doesn’t hurt that zh’Tarash is advocating using the entire affair as the catalyst for reaffirming Andor’s bond with the Federation,” Troi said. “Polls indicate her popularity is growing every day. At the rate she’s gaining on Ishan, this could end up being a very close election.”

“Don’t count Ishan out yet. There’s still plenty of time for him to pull a rabbit out of his hat.”

The upcoming special election to select a successor to the late President Nanietta Bacco now was mere weeks away, in keeping with Federation law that such proceedings were required within sixty days after a sitting president’s death or permanent removal from office. It now had been more than a month since Bacco’s assassination during the dedication of the new Deep Space 9 and the nomination of a president pro tempore to hold the office for the period leading up to the election. For this, the Federation Council had selected Ishan Anjar, a relatively junior council member representing the planet Bajor. Ishan had been serving in this capacity for less than a year at the time of his appointment, which many within the Federation government and Starfleet had viewed as a questionable choice, made as it was while preliminary evidence had implicated a Bajoran as Bacco’s assassin. There were those who believed Ishan’s selection was intended as a symbolic gesture to the people of Bajor, to demonstrate that the Federation would not allow the heinous actions of one individual to undermine its relationship with an entire civilization.

With the special election drawing ever nearer, the two front runners had staked out their platforms, each opting to place themselves on the opposite sides of what had become the hasty campaign’s key issue: security. Ishan Anjar was advocating a much more proactive stance with respect to the Federation’s role in interstellar politics, wanting to prevent future threats from enemies like the Borg or even more “conventional” adversaries like the Typhon Pact. Though Kellessar zh’Tarash was expressing similar sentiments, her vision was more in line with what many—Riker included—considered to be bedrock Federation principles, with peaceful coexistence being the ideal goal even while standing ready to meet whatever threat might present itself. Many had noted that there existed only a fine distinction between the two philosophies, but the relevant differences in attitude all were to be found within that narrow rift. Ishan was encouraging a more aggressive stance with respect to potential conflicts, even putting forth the notion that preemptive action was justified against verified targets presenting clear and imminent danger to Federation interests. Amity could be maintained, he reasoned, but any threat, no matter how benign it might appear on the surface, had to be met with overwhelming force.

Peace through superior firepower. Riker released an irritated grunt at his own dour joke. Despite a lifetime devoted to Starfleet service even after all the threats he had faced, such an attitude still sounded alien to him. It certainly was not in keeping the oath he had sworn, and while many railed against such a fundamental shift in thinking, Ishan Anjar seemed to be enjoying the growing support from a vocal segment of the population still reeling from the loss of a beloved leader.

“If Ishan wins the election,” Troi said, rising from her seat to join Riker at the window, “there’s no telling how far he’ll go to get what he wants. Just based on what we believe he’s done to this point, the possibilities are frightening.”

In light of recent revelations, Riker had been forced to consider the very distinct possibility that Bacco’s assassination and everything that had followed was part of some larger plan with the ultimate goal of elevating Ishan to the presidency in order to push antagonistic policies that, though motivated by the legitimate cause of securing the Federation against possible enemies, ultimately would lead to war with the Typhon Pact. On this matter, Ishan Anjar had spoken at length, citing his own experience as a Bajoran living under the oppressive rule of Cardassian Occupation. Never again, the interim president had vowed, should anyone be forced into such a hellish existence.

As for Ishan’s extraordinary career trajectory, it had become obvious to Riker and others that it all had been orchestrated by Ishan’s close confidant and former chief of staff, Galif jav Velk. Having served as a member of the Federation Council’s support staff since before Ishan’s arrival, Velk had a deserved reputation as someone who suffered no fools while knowing how to get things done, even if it meant ruffled feathers, bruised egos, or bloody noses. The Tellarite’s stance with respect to the issue of Federation security, like Ishan’s, was well-known and widely regarded, particularly in the wake of the Borg invasion that had taken place four years earlier and driven the Federation to within a hairsbreadth of annihilation.

“The question I’ve been asking myself,” Riker said, “is how much can Ishan do without his biggest cheerleader? If Velk was really propping him up behind the scenes, how far can Ishan go without him? Was Velk the one with the contacts—and the guts—to pull off all of this?”

Troi shrugged. “It’s too bad you can’t ask him.”

Insight into the true extent of Velk’s involvement in pushing Ishan’s plans had become apparent after intelligence data revealed the location of the assassins responsible for President Bacco’s murder. Tzenkethi agents had been implicated in the conspiracy and supposedly could be found on a remote, unimportant planet on the fringes of Federation space. Velk had dispatched to the planet a special-operations team that had included Commander Tuvok, Lieutenant Commander Nog, and Riker’s “brother,” Thomas. Upon arriving at the planet, the team had discovered that the assassins were not Tzenkethi, but Cardassians: members of an extremist sect known as the “True Way.” After a fierce skirmish that saw the Cardassians taken into custody, they were not returned to Earth but instead taken to what was revealed to be a secret “black site” prison facility on the Klingon world Nydak II.

Upon realizing that the strike team’s leader, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Kincade, was working for Velk with orders to make sure the Cardassians—and anyone else who knew the truth—never left the planet alive, Tuvok and Nog attempted to mutiny against the colonel in order to escort the Cardassians to Earth for proper trial. In the resulting chaos, which ultimately had resulted in the deaths of the Cardassian prisoners, Tuvok confronted their leader, Onar Throk, who confessed to being the one responsible for killing Bacco. Throk also revealed that Velk had given him all the information and support required to carry out the assassination. Despite the Tellarite’s best efforts to cover his tracks by ordering the elimination of Tuvok and Nog, the officers had been rescued by Riker and the U.S.S. Titan.

Perhaps to avoid being exposed as the mastermind behind Bacco’s assassination and implicating Ishan as a co-conspirator, Velk had been arrested by the Federation Security Agency and remanded to a classified detention center, though the charges against him had been limited to his unauthorized use of Starfleet resources and the illegal orders sending the team to Nydak II. Riker knew it was an end-run maneuver, designed to insulate both Velk and Ishan from being implicated in the murder plot. With Onar Throk’s claims being at best dubious and with no physical evidence to corroborate the story he had given Tuvok, there was no way to level such accusations and have them stick. What was needed was a confession or some other evidence that might still be out there, waiting to be discovered. To that end, Riker had dispatched a small cabal of trusted officers consisting of Titan senior staff members as well as his oldest and closest friend, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, to seek out and find that evidence, in whatever form it might take. Meanwhile, it went without question that no confession would be coming from Ishan, so that left Velk, wherever he might have been taken to await his trial.

Velk will never live to see any trial. Of this, Riker was certain, which was why tracking down the Tellarite—assuming he still was alive—in order to get from him the confession needed to expose Ishan once and for all was of paramount importance.

“What makes you think Velk’s not dead already?” Riker asked.

“As you say, Ishan probably needs him, at least in some capacity. He’ll want to stop Velk from going to trial and perhaps exposing him, but it’s almost certain that he has information that could cripple Ishan if it got out or access to people who somehow are a threat to him.” Troi leaned against the window, pausing to look out at the cityscape of San Francisco far below them. “For all his talk about strength, I think it’s obvious Velk is the one with most of the power. Without him, Ishan may well be in over his head.”

Nodding in agreement, Riker allowed his own gaze to wander over the breathtaking sight that was San Francisco at night. Though he had not yet settled into his role as a desk-bound admiral rather than the captain of a starship, he had conceded that one of the job’s perks was the view outside his office. Still, even on its best night, any city on Earth could not compare to staring out a viewport at open space and distant stars.

You’ll get back there. One day.

“We definitely need to find Velk,” Riker said after a moment, “along with anyone else Ishan may have contacted or corrupted to get this far.”

“And what if we don’t find him?” Troi asked. “He’s the only link connecting Ishan to President Bacco’s murder.”

Riker sighed. “Then we’re going to need to find something else.”


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And that's it for this set of trek novels. A fair amount wrapped up, some stuff left dangling (a lot of stuff if you read the first book....almost nothing bar one event had any bearing whatsoever on the rest, and I really hope we get a proper return to ds9 to finish those threads and those from previous novels one day) and well...the book was a little uneven. (At one point worf becomes female due to some sentence insertion, Tom riker is left extremely vague as to motivation, a ton of minor cameos leaves you wondering where some bigger characters are in all this....particularly the ds9 crew who didn't wear blue and the resurrected data) and whilst it'allegory and message of hope at the end are clearly directed at a modern American audience, I for one will be glad to see the end of political trek for a while, and a return to going boldly.
The story is all wound up with a chunk of the book to go and its just a question of reading and waiting for the characters to learn what the reader already knows, and that robs the story of tension. Which is a shame as other tension building in the book works well, but as with many of the recent trek books you know you are in the last part of the book by how many corridors are exploding around a few characters and a guest character (often with our characters sans their uniform or comm badge) while a starship (enterprise or aventine) race to rescue a loved one in time. (This has been happening for years...since the world's of ds9 books at the very least) As it stands this felt like a trek novel in its strong and familiar characterisation of the regulars, and its similarity to many recent trek novels. It's promise of returning the federation and indeed the enterprise to a more positive state can only be a good sign...
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This is the last book in The Fall mini-series and it has a lot to live up to. Book 4 (The Poisoned Chalice) in particular was a blinder and this was always going to struggle to match it, however it doesn’t do badly. Dayton Ward sometimes has a tendency to reiterate a lot of the earlier stories, which is unnecessary if, like me, you’ve just read them all virtually back to back. If you’ve come to this book as a standalone novel however, you will probably need that amount of backstory in order to make much sense of what’s going on. Overall, it’s not a criticism as some will benefit, others will not.
This time the main character is Dr Crusher, who heads up a small team looking into an archaeological dig on a world once populated by Bajorans during the Cardassian occupation years earlier. There is evidence that suggests that the new Federation President elect may not be all he says he is and Crusher must locate it before others destroy it. Unfortunately this requires the reader to travel back in time on several occasions and you do have to concentrate just to be clear whether you are in the past or present, as some of the same names occur in both timeframes. One benefit of this however is that we finally get a bit more backstory on the President elect, which has been in short supply elsewhere in the series. Indeed it could be argued that he has been a bit underwritten previously, appearing from nowhere and suddenly about to take on the most powerful job in the Federation. There has always been that hint of menace, and doubt about his motivations, but it is only in this story that we find out the full story. I won’t spoil it here though.
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The final book of The Fall - the 'event' mini-series that's rounded off the 2013 catalogue of Star Trek continuation novels - wraps up everything that's been building over the past few novels. The book follows two of the regulars in particular: Doctor Crusher as she's sent undercover to meet a Cardassian under mysterious circumstances, and Captain Picard as he's left on the Enterprise.

As a single story, it felt surprisingly small compared to the scale of the previous books in the series. The narrow focus on Crusher was interesting as she's an underserved character, but I missed some of the other characters and was expecting more of an ensemble piece to round out the series.

The author uses a lot of flashback to fill in what happened in previous novels, and to add backstory that we've not been aware of so far, and throughout the novel this feels very awkwardly presented and disrupts the flow of the narrative.

The political thriller feel of previous novels in the series lent a lot of depth and this felt more like a military thriller - you knew these things were happening elsewhere but it felt like they were unimportant and secondary. I understand that the publisher's plans for the future of the series are to depart from the more connected political universe of recent years' Star Trek novels, and I for one will be disappointed if this is the case.
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I very much enjoyed the series of books, Star Trek: The Fall (the Star Trek "events" have been consistently good since the "Destiny" series, whereas before that they were very much more patchy in quality) and Dayton Ward's closing book was no exception.
***WARNING, SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT***
However, since the main antagonist is a religious Bajoran, why didn't Riker, Picard, Akaar et al, simply contact Sisko and work a bluff? During his years as the recognised "Emissary of The Prophets" and his years in "The Celestial Temple", it wouldn't be unreasonable for a Bajoran to believe that Sisko might have picked up certain information. Come to that, Starfleet acceptance of "The Wormhole Aliens" existing in non-linear time ought to have drawn them to take Sisko into their confidence anyway (as well as bringing Garak into the plot at a much earlier stage; not to mention Odo, now he's stuck in the Alpha quadrant).
These small niggles aside, I found the book to be very enjoyable and would recommend the series, if perhaps not the book individually.
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