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Shore Leave Part II: The Lost Era

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at July 19, 2003 - 12:02 PM GMT

Members of the Star Trek writing community descended on the Shore Leave science fiction convention in Baltimore, Maryland, last weekend to talk shop with the fans. Jacqueline Bundy attended this scribe's mecca to find out the latest information on Pocket Books' novel releases. She filed this report on the new series of six books that make up The Lost Era.

One of the things that makes Star Trek novels so much fun to read is that they very often answer questions raised in the minds of fans by the television episodes and Star Trek movies. The authors can take events mentioned onscreen, events that are significant to the 'history' of the Star Trek universe, and build an entire story around them. In the process of doing so they can not only fill in the gaps of Star Trek lore, but also give us glimpses into both the past and future of some of our favorite characters. We get to read about what the characters were like as children, what their experiences at Starfleet Academy were, what happens in their lives after their last onscreen appearance, and so forth. The novels also offer authors the opportunity to use many of the characters in entirely new ways, very often characters we know very little about.

Marco Palmieri, one of the head editors at Pocket Books, and author Keith R.A. DeCandido gave fans at the recent Shore Leave convention a glimpse of an exciting new series that will do all of the above and more. The Lost Era books are a series of six novels that will be released one per month beginning in August, 2003. The stories will span seventy years of Star Trek history, from Kirk's disappearance in Star Trek Generations through the premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Each novel stands alone, with a full-length story built around either a significant event established onscreen, or characters that fans have expressed a strong interest in learning more about. It is not possible to pigeon hole any of these novels into a specific series; the scope of the stories is much broader than that.

The first novel in the series is The Sundered by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin. Mangels and Martin have previously written the Section 31 novel Rogue and the Deep Space Nine Mission: Gamma novel Cathedral. In The Sundered, the year is 2298. Five years after Kirk's disappearance into the Nexus. Set aboard the USS Excelsior, with Captain Hikaru Sulu at the helm, the plot of revolves around peace talks with the violently xenophobic Tholian Assembly. The Tholians were only briefly glimpsed in an original series episode, "The Tholian Web", and mentioned in several episodes and novels, but as a society, they have never really been explored before. This novel also affords fans the opportunity to learn more about characters like Chekov, Rand, Chapel, Leonard James Akaar and a very young, by Vulcan standards anyway, Lieutenant Tuvok.

The second Lost Era novel, to be released in September, will be Serpents Among the Ruins by David R. George III, who penned the critically acclaimed Mission: Gamma novel Twilight and co-authored another Deep Space Nine novel with Armin Shimerman (Quark), The 34th Rule. Serpents Among the Ruins will, finally, give fans the opportunity to learn the details of the infamous Tomed Incident of 2311. As tensions build on both sides of the Neutral Zone, Captain John Harriman of the Federation flagship USS Enterprise NCC-1701-B, is fated for a final confrontation with his oldest enemy at this critical point in Federation history. At the convention, Palmieri assured fans that Serpents Among the Ruins "has lots of surprises in it".

October will see the release of The Art of the Impossible by Keith R.A. DeCandido. Mr. DeCandido has quickly become a fan favourite by writing such novels as Diplomatic Implausibility, Demons of Air and Darkness, and The Brave and the Bold. The Art of the Impossible tackles the largest time span of the Lost Era series, the years 2328 to 2346. This is the time of the Betreka Nebula 'Incident', the eighteen-year cold war between the Klingon Empire and the Cardassian Union referred to in the Deep Space Nine episode "The Way of the Warrior". This is also the period of time during which the Cardassian Union annexes Bajor and the Khitomer massacre takes place.

According the Mr. DeCandido, The Art of the Impossible includes "a large cast of characters", such as young Worf and his parents, Curzon Dax and Lieutenant Elias Vaughn. Also playing a role in the story are Ian Troi, father of Deanna Troi, and a young Rachel Garrett who at that time is serving as the first officer of the USS Carthage before assuming command of the Enterprise-C. DeCandido added that the novel is "full of politics and backroom dealings" as all the major powers of the Alpha Quadrant become either openly or covertly involved in the power struggle taking place.

In November Ilsa J. Bick, a Strange New Worlds contest winner, offers her first full length Star Trek novel with Well of Souls. Although she served for twelve years as captain of the Enterprise-C, little is known about Rachel Garrett, her ship or her crew: until now, that is. Well of Souls is set eight years before the loss of the Enterprise-C at Narendra III in the year 2336. Ms. Bick has created for this novel a cast of almost entirely original characters that will include at least one surprise appearance.

December's Lost Era novel spans the years 2355 through 2357. Deny Thy Father is by Jeff Mariotte, author of the excellent Starfleet Corps of Engineers book No Surrender. Featuring both Kyle and William Riker, this novel is set just after the Tholian attack that nearly cost Kyle Riker his life. At the time, William is still at Starfleet Academy and estranged from his father, but the book will also provide a look at Riker's first assignment as an ensign aboard the USS Pegasus. While this book tells the tale of two men, two unique individuals who have both chosen to serve the Federation in their own way, Deny Thy Father is at its heart a story "about family and two men trying to deal with the divide between them".

The Lost Era novels will wrap up in January of 2004 with Catalyst of Sorrows by Margaret Wander Bonanno. Numerous fans are particularly excited by the return of Ms. Bonanno to world of Star Trek writing and her original series novels Strangers from the Sky and Dwellers in the Crucible remain among the most popular of all the Star Trek novels. This novel is set in the year 2360 when a virulent disease is ravaging the Romulan Empire. When knowledge of this crisis reaches the Federation, Admiral Uhura, centenarian chief of Starfleet Intelligence, decides that in order to stop the spread of the disease she must assign a hand-picked team of Starfleet officers to covertly trace the contagion to its source — and do whatever is necessary to contain it. Enter Uhura's covert team, including: Lieutenant Benjamin Sisko, Lieutenant Tuvok, Dr. Selar, a young Beverly Crusher and Leonard McCoy.

These books have been meticulously researched and carefully coordinated so that they do not contradict either established 'canon' or each other. According to Mr. Palmieri, "readers familiar with other novels set within this time span should be very pleased as a great deal of care was taken to make sure everything fits together very well with what has already been done in other novels set during this period". He added, "collectively these books will give you a tapestry of the events of those seven decades".

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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.

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