For those of you who came in late…
Star Trek Coda is a three-novel epic conclusion to the Trek-lit timeline of books that picked up the Starfleet story after 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis and has developed it in depth for the past 19 years. With new 24th-century canon being created by Star Trek: Picard and other new Paramount+ Trek series, the Trek-lit series is being retired with an epic three-part finale: Coda. With an emphasis on Deep Space Nine characters, James Swallow’s Ashes of Tomorrow picks up after last month’s Moments Asunder by Dayton Ward (see TrekMovie review), with David Mack finishing things off next month with Oblivion’s Gate.
As Ro walked out into the corridor beyond the hub, Quark reluctantly fell in step with her. “You know, it’s very presumptuous of you to assume that I’d just go along with this, without complaint.” He kneaded the grip of the phaser, shaking his head.
From a few levels below, the sound of tearing metal reached them. She leaned in and planted a kiss on Quark’s cheek. “I never assumed you wouldn’t complain.”
If you haven’t followed the Trek-lit continuity, a lot of things have happened since Nemesis. A returned Benjamin Sisko is the captain of the Galaxy-Class USS Robinson. Garak is no longer plain-and-simple but is the Castellan of the Cardassian Union. Julian Bashir at one time worked for Section 31, but his instrumental role in the downfall of that organization and its clandestine leader, the AI named Control, has left him catatonic. Kira Nerys is a Vedek called “The Hand of the Prophets” by the Bajoran people. Station Deep Space Nine has been destroyed and rebuilt as an entirely Starfleet space station, commanded by Ro Laren.
Star Trek Coda: Ashes of Tomorrow
By James Swallow
Published by Simon & Schuster in paperback, ebook, and audiobook
The Ashes of Tomorrow does the difficult work that the middle volume of a trilogy needs to do. In Swallow’s words, this involves “dialing up the tension, shifting stuff around, introducing new players, … as well as plumbing the depths of the building drama.” If at times the emphasis is too much on shifting stuff around, at least The Ashes of Tomorrow does it well, with solid character moments for players both canonical and non-canonical, and plenty of nods to the Trek characters and stories that have come before.
Wesley looked up from his work with the Omnichron and hesitated, studying Paris intensely.
“Is something wrong?” said Paris. He gave a weak chuckle. “What, do I have food in my teeth?”
After a moment, Wesley shook his head. “I’m sorry. You remind me of someone I used to know, from back in the day.”
This book is definitely a slow burn. Picking up in the ashes left by Book 1, a lot of characters need to get to a lot of different places, particularly the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, most of whom barely appeared in Moments Asunder. Here, they take center stage. While in Moments Asunder, fan-favorite non-canonical characters were major players in the action, here in The Ashes of Tomorrow, it is the main and supporting characters from The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine who do the heavy lifting.
And they are not all on the same side. While Captain Picard and Benjamin Sisko are dedicated to fighting the temporal crisis that threatens to destroy every reality in existence, something seems to be wrong with Commander Worf, and especially with Admiral Will Riker. Why does Worf have dreams of a world in which he was not the first officer of the Enterprise? Why does Riker no longer remember how many children he has? And why is he acting so erratically?
The action takes us from the Boreth monastery and their time crystals to Earth and its Spacedock, climaxing in the space surrounding Bajor and its wormhole. Along the way, Swallow weaves together threads from Star Trek Discovery, Lower Decks, and even classic Star Trek – with fun nods to Kirk and Scotty at important moments in the story, and Spock himself plays a vital role. If you haven’t read Book 1 of this trilogy, nothing in this book will make any sense; but if you are a fan of Trek lit, or of the franchise in general, you definitely will enjoy this trilogy, so go and read that one before diving into The Ashes of Tomorrow.
Kira nodded. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but as good as this station is, it doesn’t have the character of that iron-clad monstrosity we used to live on.”
“Quite.” Bashir rapped his knuckles on a tritanium support pillar. …
“That’s the Federation for you,” grumbled Quark. “Eventually they knock the sharp corners off everything, and what does that leave you with? Just a lot of … round things.”
Since reading Moments Asunder, one question has bothered me above all—particularly since I am doing a TNG rewatch on Paramount+ at the moment—in a crisis like this, wouldn’t super-advanced races like the Organians, the Metrons, or the Q get involved? If this crisis threatens to destroy all life in every reality of existence, clearly their existence hangs in the balance as well. The Ashes of Tomorrow nods at this question and hints at what may be going on, leaving any definitive answer for Oblivion’s Gate. We also have not yet really seen Kathryn Janeway, nor many of the members of the Voyager crew, so presumably, their story will also be picked up by David Mack’s concluding volume.
While it takes a lot of pages, and a whole lot of character-shuffling, to get there, the climax of The Ashes of Tomorrow is everything you would hope for. Thrilling, nail-biting adventure, acts of heroism and self-sacrifice, costly and difficult choices, and tender character moments. There is genuine progress, but a definite feeling that the worst is yet to come, and all of the victories yet achieved in the conflict may in the end prove insufficient to end the threat. Our remaining heroes may yet need to give everything in order to save all of existence. I know I’m on the edge of my seat to find out.
Star Trek: Coda Book 2: The Ashes of Tomorrow will be released on October 26, 2021. You can pre-order it at Amazon in paperback for $13.99 or Kindle for $11.17. It is also available as an audiobook on CD at Amazon and Audible.
More new and upcoming Star Trek fiction
September 28 – Star Trek: Coda Book 1: Moments Asunder by Dayton Ward
November 30 – Coda Book 3: Oblivion’s Gate by David Mack
December 21 – DS9: Revenant by Alex White
May 3, 2022 – Picard: Second Self by Una McCormack
Find more news and reviews of Star Trek books at TrekMovie.com.
DISCLAIMER: We may link to products to buy on Amazon in our articles; these are customized affiliate links that support TrekMovie by earning a small commission when you purchase through them.