Star Trek: The Next Generation: Headlong Flight
by Dayton Ward
“Surveying a nebula as part of their continuing exploration of the previously uncharted “Odyssean Pass,” Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise encounter a rogue planet. Life signs are detected on the barren world’s surface, and then a garbled message is received; a partial warning to stay away at all costs. Determined to render assistance, Picard dispatches Commander Worf and an away team to investigate, but their shuttlecraft is forced to make an emergency landing on the surface – moments before all contact is lost and the planet completely disappears.
“Worf and his team learn that this mysterious world is locked into an unending succession of random jumps between dimensions, the result of an ambitious experiment gone awry. The Enterprise crewmembers and the alien scientists who created the technology behind this astonishing feat find themselves trapped, powerless to break the cycle. Meanwhile, as the planet continues to fade in and out of various planes of existence, other parties have now taken notice…”
If it wasn’t tricky enough for Captain Picard and his Enterprise-E crew to help some aliens trapped on a planet shifting between dimensions as the result of an experiment gone awry, they have to deal with additional issues complicating matters. First – the dimensions are in different times. And in one of those dimensions, the Romulans (alternate dimension 2266) happen to be nosing around and they would very much like to get hold of the information (and device) responsible for the experiment, in hopes of using it to their advantage. And finally, Picard and crew encounter an older TNG Enterprise-D, but this one is not captained by Jean-Luc Picard!
So the Enterprise E‘s crew needs to help the Sidrac fix their problem and return to their proper dimension, hold off the Romulans and not give away too much to the crew of the Enterprise-D (year 2367). But when both Enterprises and the Romulan ships become ensnared as a result of the quantum energy, allies and adversaries alike will need to cooperate if they are to make their way to their own dimensions again.
The depiction of the Romulans was much better than one usually sees in books or on later Trek, with them being more like the Romulans as depicted in the original series.
Some of the best things about the story were details of the alternate versions of history. One event in particular which harkened back to the original series’ Balance of Terror episode caught my attention. It’s very subtle, but fans of the original series should pick right up on it. The history of the Enterprise-D (2367 other dimension) makes for interesting reading, although I could have done without Riker’s soul searching. I enjoyed hearing about Picard’s personal life (Enterprise-E 2368 “prime” dimension) and given what happened to his brother and nephew in Star Trek: Generations, it made one feel better for the character, who was rather left without hope in that movie.
This was a fun, if complicated story. I had to make a list to keep everything straight and a second read of the story was very helpful. The story felt like a true Next Generation story, with a slight similarity to Cause and Effect.
I’m not so sure that Picard should have given Riker what he gave him before sending him back to his own dimension. There is no guarantee that it would make things better for the Federation in that time-zone other than as a short-term solution.
Headlong Flight is an engrossing story which is even better on the second read. If you’re a fan of The Next Generation, you’ll definitely enjoy this story. As for me, I’m still chuckling over that Balance of Terror reference.
Author: Dayton Ward
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: Jan 31, 2017
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Headlong Flight is available as a mass market paperback $7.99 ($6.47) and as a Kindle eBook $7.99 ($6.99 on Amazon). To order, head to the link located here.