asked what "the good Trek novels" are, and I'm attempting to oblige. I don't own many any more, since my general attitude in middle school was to treat the local used book store like a lending library for Trek novels--so basically I'm operating from Wikipedia and the list of novels on the inside of The Siege
, which I borrowed from Marc a few weeks ago and do NOT recommend. It is interesting to note that while I read a fair number of DS9 novels and in fact only know the Voyager crew in novel form, just about all the novels that are listed here as having made a big impression on me are TNG novels.
This post is roughly arranged by author, since it provides a convenient cross-series way to look at the novels, and also because for the most part, you can do a rough analysis of how good a given Star Trek novel is going to be on the basis of the author.
Unlike the Star Wars
novel franchise, which form a consistent universe that the prequel movies happen to disregard as canon, there is no attempt to maintain continuity from one novel to another within the Star Trek
franchise. One author, or within a particular series in the franchise, the is continuity, but it's easiest to think of the Star Trek novel franchise as pro-written fan fiction.John M. Ford
Mike comes first because he's one of my favorite authors, and also because among a certain set, Mike's Trek books are mandatory reading even if you don't like Trek. Before I offer my own recommendation of Mike's Star Trek installments, I'll add someone else's. This is from Neil Gaiman's introduction to From the End of the Twentieth Century
, a retrospective of Mike's work:
This is a man who... wrote not one but two astonishingly brilliant Star Trek novels -- one, The Final Reflection, a first contact novel from the Klingon perspective, the other, How Much for Just the Planet?, a genuinely funny musical farce -- each book responsible for setting new parameters to the Star Trek Franchise, mostly consisting of "He got away with it because he hadn't thought to make rules against it, and now he's done it no-one else is going to do it again"...How Much For Just the Planet?
is brilliant. I read it last month and spent the novel asking myself, wait, did that just happen? In a ::Star Trek novel?:: It made my brain explode in all the best of ways. The Final Reflection
is on both my reading list and my bookshelf, and I really need to get to it. These are the only two Trek novels I currently own (technically, this is because I am on an epic quest to track down and read out-of-print Mike Ford books. The implied compliment stands).Vonda N. Macintyre
Now you are thinking, nobody can get on Molly's List of Awesome Star Trek Authors unless they have been to WisCon and Potlatch with some frequency. I think maybe the causality goes in the opposite direction? Wiscon/Potlatch people are awesome, and write awesome books, some of which happen to be Star Trek.
So you already know that Wrath of Kahn
is the best of the Trek movies. What you don't know is that Vonda's novelization of it is ::even better:: It's got Saavik's Romulan heritage, and the fact that that ensign Scotty was randomly crying over after he appeared to be a dead extra was originally a main character, and snarks, and boojums, and just all sorts of brilliance. Our shared love of this novelization is one of the original things that digitalemur
and I bonded about.
I further recommend, although without having read them, The Entropy Effect
, Enterprise: The First Adventure
, and her novelizations of The Search for Spock
and The Voyage Home
At some point early in our friendship, oliviacirce
and I had the following conversation:
o.circe: What do you mean you haven't read Young Wizards
? Diane Duane is AMAZING.
epershand: Of course she's amazing! She wrote all those books about Vulcan and Romulus!
o.circe: Whatever, I am better than Star Trek. Feh.Spock's World
is a rich, multifacted history of Vulcan. It's the story of Surak, who lead Vulcan to follow logic and whose teachings sparked the separation with the Romulans. It's the romance of Amanda Grayson and Sarek, and their decision to raise a son of both Earth and Vulcan. And there's also a modern intrigue that I don't really remember--Vulcan tries to leave the Federation maybe?
When in interviews the authors of the new Star Trek
movie say they wanted to bring canon from the novels into the movie, I'm pretty sure what they meant was Diane Duane.Dark Mirror
is a TNG Mirror Universe novel written before DS9 brought the Mirror Universe back and did totally different things with it. It's a lot more like "Mirror, Mirror" from TOS than anything DS9 did with the universe, but it's brilliant.
Other Diane Duane Star Trek books: The Wounded Sky
, My Enemy, My Ally
, The Romulan Way
, Doctor's Orders
, Honor Blade
, Sand and Stars
, The Empty Chair
Ok, I now break away from novels written by people who have a lot of other, more acceptable work to their name and turn to Peter David, who pretty much does nothing but franchise books and comics. That being said, I totally saw a "best of Peter David" Star Trek comic book collection when I picked up my copy of Countdown
. Basically, he may do all his writing in a genre that is the sheep that even the other black sheep look down on, but he's damn fine at what he does.
The best Peter David books combine canon from multiple sources and build it into something greater than the whole, these awesome patchwork quilts of one-shot TOS situations framed in running TNG stories and made a lot more interesting than they were in TOS.
As I learned by attempting to read The Siege
this weekend, Peter David is also responsible for a whole lot of the drek that people usually assume franchise novels are. Be warned. (Q-In-Law
is also really bad. Don't read it. No one should ever have to deal with Q and Lwaxana Troi at the same time.)Q-Squared
is... this brilliant complicated multi-universal collapsing canon swirling thing. It's got Q, and it's got Trelaine from TOS as a sulky teenage Q, and it's got three parallel Enterprise-Ds from three parallel dimensions collapsing into the same dimension. And it's got mistaken identities and dead parents and dead children running into each other. And it's got Picard/Crusher, the best of all TNG ships, and it is just full of awesome. (There is this really awesome Smallville fan fiction that stole the concept and structure of this book but replaced Q with meteor rocks. Funny how easily that kind of thing works out.)Vendetta
is another one of those brilliant patchwork quilts. Basically, the concept is that if you trace the path of the Doomsday Machine from TOS far back enough you wind up in the Delta Quadrant, where it was made to fight the Borg. It is seriously cool. Also there is a lot of Guinan backstory, which is nice if you are a person who likes Guinan.Imzadi
is... well, the thing about Imzadi is that it's kind of the "Draco Dormiens" of Trek novels. Everyone has read it, and it's basically the Riker/Troi shippy novel of doom. Naked. On Betazed. And there's a sequel which is even worse and everyone sort of feels obliged to read but is a bit disappointed by. Um, yeah.Other notable booksThe Eyes of the Beholders
by A.C. Crispin. I don't really remember the real plot, but it opens with Riker in Starfleet Academy looking at the Golden Gate Bridge from Land's End, which has forever enamored me of that particular view. And it's got Data attempting to write a novel by doing pastiches of all the crew's favorite authors.
And there was this one book about cadets at Starfleet Academy that had two main characters who were lesbians, one of whom was a Trill who was the first host for the symbiont. But I can't find its name or author and it is driving me crazy. Hopefully there will be a correction here soon.There is no Shatnerverse.
That never happened.