The Spirit of Trek – Novels and Star Trek: Vanguard

By Mike Medeiros

Welcome to the Spirit of Trek, a weekly column where we identify and celebrate Gene Roddenberry’s vision by discovering how its messages has started to permeate throughout humanity’s collective consciousness by looking for it on the Internet and within popular culture. This week we’re going to be taking a look at a series of Star Trek novels that were concluded last week with the release of Dayton Ward’s novella In Tempest’s Wake. I’m referring to the epic TOS-era series, Star Trek: Vanguard.

Gene Roddenberry created the Star Trek franchise in 1966. The franchise spawned not only the animated series, and four more live-action television shows, and nearly a dozen films; but also numerous novels, comic books, video games, and so much more. The following year, Bantam books published the first Star Trek novel by James Blish, who adapted several episodes of The Original Series for his book. It featured adaptations of Chalire X, Dagger of the Mind, The Man Trap, Balance of Terror, The Naked Time, Miri, and The Conscious of the King.

The following year, three publishers (Whitman, Ballantine, and Bantam) released Star Trek books. While Bantam revealed Star Trek 2, which continued with James Blish’s adaptations of the original series; Ballantine released The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitman with Gene Roddenberry. However, the publishing house Whitman did something truly unique. They published Mack Reynolds’ Mission to Horatius, the first original Star Trek novel. With the Enterprise long overdue for maintenance at a Starbase and the crew desperately in need of shoreleave, Sulu’s pet rat (Mickey) is on the loose while Kirk receives sealed orders to investigate a distress call originating from the Horatius system.

The 70s introduced more episode adaptations for both the original and the animated series. However, due to the success of Mission to Horatius, Bantam Books released several more original novels featuring the crew of the 1701. Spock Must Die!, The Price of the Phoenix, Planet of Judgment, Vulcan!, World Without End, and the Fate of the Phoenix were a few of the original novels that were released while Star Trek’s syndication was reaching its height. Then, in 1979, the first Star Trek film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released and Pocket Books with their newly acquired license published its novelization.

Throughout the 80 and 90s, Pocket Books continued to publish original Star Trek books by authors such as Vonda N. McIntyre, Dianne Duane, Diane Carey, Laurence Yep, Melinda Snodgrass, John M. Ford, David Gerrold, D. C. Fontana, Michael Jan Friedman, Peter David, Greg Cox, and many, many others. It was during this era that we saw not only the series spin off in multiple shows, but also the books, as The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and later Enterprise novel series were launched. In the late 90s, Pocket also released a completely original novel series with Star Trek: New Frontiers.

With the new millennium, the various novel series continued, but many more were introduced, including: Stargazer, The IKS Gorkon series (later renamed Star Trek: The Klingon Empire), Star Trek: Challenger, The Lost Era, Gateways, Section 31, and Titan. However, with the advent of e-books, Pocket introduced Starfleet Corps of Engineers, a series of over 66 novellas, in ebook format.

In 2008, the Star Trek: Destiny series was released as a crossover trilogy by David Mack that brought together the characters from nearly every series along with the Star Trek: Titan book series and began a new era in the Star Trek universe. After this series, many of the existing series re-launched to consider the ramifications of the events that unfolded within its pages. It eventually spawned the Typhon Pact series.

At the beginning of this month, the capstone (Dayton Ward’s In Tempest Wake novella) to the extremely popular Star Trek novel series was released. In honor of this occasion, the remainder of this article will be dedicated to Star Trek: Vanguard.

In August of 2005, Star Trek authors: David Mack; the dynamic duo of Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore; and Marco Palmieri introduced a series consisting of six books, a collection of novellas, and an ebook. David Mack’s Harbinger introduced Starbase 47, the Watchtower-class station also known as Vanguard; a diverse cast of characters that had me loving and hating them throughout; an unclaimed region of space bordering Federation, Klingon, and Tholian space, known as the Taurus Reach; the Taurus meta-genome, a mysterious substance with earth-shattering implications; and a hostile, but long dormant alien species known as the Shedai.

The series follows the adventures of several interesting characters. Commodore Diego Reyes was commanding officer of Starbase 47, until he was replaced by Rear Admiral Heihachiro Nogura. Lieutenant Commander T’Pyrnn was the station’s Vulcan intelligence officer that surprised me in every scene she was in. Lieutenant Ming Xiong was a character that I hated when I first encountered him, but loved by the end of the series. Doctor Ezekiel Fisher was the station’s well-seasoned and dedicated chief medical officer, looking forward to retirement from the service. The series also featured several civilian characters: including down on his luck trader Cervantes Quinn; Federation News Service journalist, Tim Pennington; Orion merchant prince, Ganz; and many others that wandered in and out of the series.

In addition to the station’s crew, we were introduced to the captains and crews of the USS Bombay, the USS Endeavour, and the USS Sagittarius. The first two were sister ships to the Constitution-class Enterprise, while the Sagittarius was an Archer-class vessel, a small 2-deck scout ship that amazed me with some of the things that it and its 14-person crew can do.

Throughout the series, we got to meet some of the characters, events, places, and more from the various movies, the original series, and even other novels.  During my read through, I encountered characters such: as Gorkon and Chang from Star Trek VI; Tholians from TOS, Ceti Alpha V and Carol Marcus with her son David from The Wrath of Khan; The Planet of Intergalactic Peace; the Daedalus-class starship, the USS Lovell, from the Starfleet Corps of Engineers novels; and most notably, the Enterprise and crew captained by James T Kirk.

The capstone novella to the series, In Tempest’s Wake by Dayton Ward, was released earlier this month in ebook format. It provides Kirk’s perspective of the various events and ties up a few loose end in the Vanguard saga. I have to admit that I love this particular installment for many reasons, but one that I was surprised and pleased to discover was a certain competent Lieutenant on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. With that said, I highly recommend the series to anyone looking for a great Star Trek novel series to sink their teeth into. It’s got a little bit of everything, and is sure to please. Pick up Harbinger today and don’t stop until you’ve reached the final word of In Tempest’s Wake. You won’t regret it.

Star Trek novels, including the now complete Star Trek: Vanguard series are great examples of how the Spirit of Trek lives on through the long-running Star Trek novels. Although, there is no new Trek on television, our favorite characters and a few new faces continue their adventures in a universe filled with wonder and excitement. Start reading them today.

The time has come to wrap up this week’s column. Thank you for joining me on this journey to discover how the Spirit of Trek has started to permeate throughout our culture with the hope that one day, Gene Roddenberry’s vision for humanity’s future will become a reality. If you come across something that you believe embodies the Spirit of Trek on the Internet or within popular culture, please do not hesitate to share it with me. I may discuss it in a future article. Live long and Prosper. 

Want to get your hands on a copy of Star Trek Vanguard? Check out [amazon_link id=”B007JKFD9W” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]here[/amazon_link]!

** Correction: The USS Bombay was not a Constitution-class starship. It was a Miranda-class **

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