Over the past two decades, the writers and editors at Pocket Books have treated us to several crossover series. In honor of David Mack’s new Destiny crossover trilogy, TrekMovie’s John Tenuto and Robert Lyons are looking back at a sampling of the (for better or worse) more memorable crossover series that have made it to print.
NOTE: Not every book is for every person, so its natural for there to be some differentiation among readers and reviewers when it comes to how a work of prose is received; or if it is received at all. Some readers find crossovers to be nothing more than gimmicks, while others eagerly await them, searching out the new dynamics that develop when two sets of familiar characters begin to interact, or looking at the variations that develop when differing people are faced with similar situations. Looking back at the crossover stories that have been told, we definitely have some thoughts on how well these principles have worked out in practice.
Also not every ‘crossover’ is the same. Some cross-over series tell a single intertwined story (like with the new Destiny series), while others are individual books loosely associated with a single theme. We have included both types here.
TREKMOVIE RETROSPECTIVE ON CROSSOVER MINI-SERIES
Series: TOS, TNG, DS9 & VOY
Authors: Diane Carey, L.A. Graf, Michael Jan Friedman, Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Dafydd Ab Hugh.
Summary: One book for each of the series, all tied together around an invasion from aliens named ‘Furies.’
John’s Thoughts: Not to be confused with the video game from 2000 of the same name, these crossover books includes narratives from the then four eras of Star Trek. An alien invasion fleet known as the Furies (not to be confused with Furbies) challenges each of the crews. The Kirk era is the most interesting because it also involves the Klingons and their reactions to the Furies. Unlike many of the later sets, this one nicely interweaves a single narrative. (B+)
Day of Honor (1997)
Series: TOS, TNG, DS9 & VOY
Authors: Diane Carey, L.A. Graf, Michael Jan Friedman, Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Diana G. Gallagher.
Summary: Klingon themed series loosely tied together through stories around the Klingon Day of Honor. Each novel is set entirely within one series.
John’s thoughts: Klingons are always interesting, and this set of books is no different. The biggest problem is that these really are very independent narratives, although readers learn more about the Day of Honor and the Klingons in each book. What is interesting about any Klingon narrative set in the Kirk era now is that writers need to make them less villainous than their TV show appearances because the Klingons were redrawn as honorable in the TNG era. If done properly, as in Wil Wheaton’s comic book story from Uchu, then it can be a good narrative. In "Treaty’s Law" (the TOS Day of Honor Book) utilizing Kor is probably the best idea because he was the most complex and honorable of the original Klingons and learning more about him during the TOS era is engaging. The best book of the set, ironically, was the adaptation to Voyager’s episode "Day of Honor" which added many original situations and good character ideas. (Grade: B)
Day of Honor (Omnibus)
The Badlands (1999)
Series: TOS, TNG, DS9, & VOY
Author: Susan Wright
Summary: Four stories (two in each book) tied together only in that they are set in the ‘Badlands’ region.
John’s thoughts: A very good set of two books, the best being the Voyager narrative, not surprising as the book is written by the reliable author Susan Wright and the Badlands were so important to the episode "Caretaker." The Voyager story nicely leads to events of the television show. The characters are handled well and each story, although too independent to really be considered one narrative, teaches readers how each crew differently reacts to the Badlands phenomena. (Grade: B)
Double Helix (1999)
Series: TOS, TNG, DS9, NF & VOY
Author: Gregory Betancourt, Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Diane Carey, John Vornholt, Peter David, and Michael Jan Friedman & Christie Golden
Summary: Set entirely in the 24th century with a TNG focus, each book in the series brings in characters from different series, but all are intertwined with a plot involvingan alien conspiracy and a deadly infection.
John’s thoughts: Plagues are often boring reading, yet Double Helix does avoid some of that with good characters such as Tom Riker and interesting narratives. The Dr. McCoy and Ambassador Spock story is good, but most of the pairings here are weird, especially the Cardassians and Dr. Katherine Pulaski of the book “Vectors.” Mostly though a science tale, and not very good. (Grade: C)
Rob’s thoughts: John is being generous. This one was just too far over the top for me. McCoy and Spock play out what amounts to parody of themselves, Pulaski is on Terok Nor working with Kira to save the proverbial world, and the rest is just more and more on a very disinteresting plague. Much of the story was painfully boring to me. In fact, I couldn’t bring myself to finish the entire series. (Grade: F)
Dark Passions (2001)
Series: TNG, DS9, VOY
Author: Susan Wright
Summary: Set in the Mirror Universe, this duology tells a single narrative of intrigue all involving various mirror versions of the TNG era women.
John’s thoughts: Horrible in almost every way, this should have been a wonderful two book set. The intention was good, showing the Mirror universe from how the female characters experience it, and utilizing characters from so many different shows. The number of cameos and characters is astounding and doesn’t feel problematic (as it does with the Brave and the Bold). Kira versus Troi should have been marvelous. This reads, though, frankly like an online story from a fan fiction website. The characters as Mirror counterparts should be interesting, yet they are not, and most are carbon copies of each other. Strange because the author is Susan Wright who is often reliable with her Star Trek novels. (Grade: F)
Section 31 (2001)
Series: TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY
Author: S.D. Perry, Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin, David Weddle & Jeffrey Lang, and Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Summary: Series of stand-alone novels tied together only by involving Starfleet’s infamous Section 31.
John’s thoughts: Excellent narratives which weaves Section 31 to all the eras of Star Trek (series released before Enterprise premièred). This is a good template for how books can be connected narrative-wise with a set. What is most intriguing is learning how regular characters like Kirk react to Section 31 events. (Grade: A)
Rob’s thoughts: This is everything a crossover should be (well, it was until Destiny came along!) and remains an engrossing and entertaining read to this day. Seeing Kirk and Picard handle situations that Section 31 managed to get their leather-clad mitts into was a refreshing way to look at the crossover, at least for me. As much as I loved the DS9 installment, the ongoing exploits of Julian Bashir with Section 31 couldn’t even come close to the quality of the TOS and TNG tales. Admittedly, I never read the Voyager book, though my best friend at the time shocked me when he told me that he picked it up (he wasn’t much for reading Trek). He couldn’t stop gushing about it, which greatly impressed me. If you are considering picking up another crossover series to read after you finish Destiny, I’d recommend Section 31 without a doubt. (Grade: A)
Novels: 8 (incl 1 e-book)
Series: TOS, CHR, TNG, NF, SCE, DS9 & VOY
Authors: Robert Greenberger, Christie Golden, Diane Carey, Peter David, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Christie Golden, Robert Greenberger, and Susan Wright
Summary: The largest and most extensive of the crossover mini-series, Gateways tells stories about a re-awakening of the Iconian gateways, from the perspective of all the TV series (to that date) as well as book-only series (Challenger, New Frontier and SCE).
Rob’s Thoughts: The Gateways event focuses on what happens when the Iconian Gateway technology (first explored in TNG: Contagion) are used (or, perhaps more accurately, mis-used) ways that our heroes are really quite bothered about. The seven books, together with a closer tale found in the SCE eBook "Here There Be Monsters", was positively received among fans (well, except for the hardcover closer which, thankfully, was later reprinted in paperback) with "Demons of Air and Darkness" as the standout of the bunch. The series also enabled the reader to just read the portions of the story they cared about (which I elected to do), which was either a budget saver or a relief, depending on your viewpoints about certain series. (Grade: B)
Gateways (concluding hardcover)
The Brave and the Bold (2002)
Series: ENT, TOS, TNG, DS9 & VOY
Author: Keith R. A. DeCandido
Summary: Five stories (one from each series) spilt across two books that are tied together by a decades long search for mysterious artifacts.
John’s thoughts: This set takes a risk by focusing on guest stars interacting with regular characters. The characters are badly written though. While learning about Commodore Decker and his crew could intriguing, his interactions with Kirk and the Enterprise is often lacking real drama and frankly Kirk seems ineffectual in the way his character is written. The books tend to forget that we can learn about our regular crew through their interactions with minor characters. The set tries to bring in too many characters for a two book set, although it was nice to see Jonathan Archer’s era included. The best feature is that the two books really do connect with other, something of a problem for many of these Pocket Book sets. (Grade: C)
Rob’s thoughts: Having long considered "The Doomsday Machine" one of my favorite episodes, getting the chance to see Kirk and Decker interact in a meaningful way was an exciting incentive to pick up the first book in this series. It was worth it for me. Far from finding Kirk ineffectual, I elected to view him (given the book’s timeframe) as still feeling out his command style and building his personal skills. Equally interesting was the story centering around Captain Keogh of the starship Odyssey (which was destroyed at the hands of the Dominion at the end of DS9 episode "The Jem’Hadar") as he worked with Ben Sisko when a terrorist manages to get his hands on one of the connections of the crossover: a Malkus box. Sure, it sounds a bit much like the boxes that the Slavers used in TAS, but DeCandido managed to avoid it well enough to make it an enjoyable duology. (Grade: B+)
The Brave and the Bold
These aren’t the only major events that Pocket’s Star Trek line has used over the years to generate interest. In future columns we’ll look at other crossovers, as well as stories that go beyond the realm of the crossover and answer questions about eras and individuals that fans have been interested in for years.
Also look for our upcoming review of "Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals," the second book in Pocket Books new crossover mini-series.