Prelude to a Coda — What You Need to Know Ahead of Star Trek’s Most Epic Novel Trilogy

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This week officially kicked off what promises to be the most epic literary trilogy in all the decades of Star Trek’s publishing history…

Let’s take that in for a moment. With an estimated 700 franchise novels, the next three months will give us a series crossover trilogy to rival fifty-plus years of printed Trek stories.

Why do I say this? Following the conclusion of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on television, the success of the series’ continuation in book form, known as the DS9 relaunch (about which I’ve written extensively in this space—see here for an overview and index to individual book reviews), inspired a shared continuity across almost all Trek novels being published at the time. Authors and editors worked closely to keep this continuity as tight as possible across twenty years (2001-2021) of multi-book series storytelling, in the process giving rise to a vast tapestry of interconnected stories that some fans refer to as the Trek Litverse.

That enormous Litverse, at least in its current form, is now concluding. In September, October and November we’ll see the publication of three volumes that will stand as the epic final chapter, called Star Trek: Coda, of the decades-long mega-story:

Moments Asunder by Dayton Ward (September 28)
The Ashes of Tomorrow by James Swallow (October 12)
Oblivion’s Gate by David Mack (November 30)

As the trilogy’s title makes clear, this is the end of an era.

Descriptions of the novel’s plots have obviously been kept vague in the promotional material, but we do know we’ll be dealing with some kind of temporal apocalypse, and it’s also a pretty sure bet that one or more key legacy characters will face significant sacrifices.

The purpose of this article is to provide a high-speed crash course in the events leading up to Moments Asunder. If you’ve only occasionally dipped your toes in the Litverse over the years, you may want to follow up on some of the books I reference for a fuller context, but this synopsis will cover you, plot-wise. Even if you’ve been an assiduous Litverse reader, I hope the refresher proves useful.

Rather than proceeding chronologically, I’m going to break this out by crews and ships and then proceed move more-or-less chronologically within each grouping. Take this separation with a grain of dilithium, though, since many events, like the 2381 Borg attack, span multiple characters and vessels. In-universe, this material takes us from 2376 to 2387, but many books jump around in the timeline, even within a single volume.

With these caveats in mind, here we go…

 

 

The Next Generation — Enterprise-E, U.S.S. Titan

The Star Trek: A Time to… nine-book series, which details events in the year leading up to Star Trek: Nemesis, sees quite a lot of things happen. Notably, in A Time to Be Born, Wesley Crusher journeys with the Traveler to Tau Alpha C, where Wesley is essentially reborn or transformed into a Traveler himself. Having gazed into the Pool of Prophecy, he sees the destruction of the Enterprise, and in A Time to Die aids the crew in order to prevent said catastrophe. Also during this “gap year” (see A Time to Kill and A Time to Heal), Captain Jean-Luc Picard becomes involved—along with Admirals William Ross, Alynna Nechayev, Owen Paris, Edward Jellico, and Mamoru Nakamura, and others—in a covert operation to remove from office Federation president Min Zife… who later, unbeknownst to Picard, is killed by Section 31.

Following the events of Nemesis and a new era of diplomacy between the Federation and the Romulans, William Riker, now married to Deanna Troi, becomes Captain of the Titan, on which Commander Troi serves as counselor and first-contact specialist. As is chronicled in the Titan book series, Riker and Troi eventually have a daughter, Natasha Miana Riker-Troi. Love is also in the air for Picard and Beverly Crusher, who get married in the novel Greater Than the Sum. They too will in time have a son, Rene Jacques Robert Francois Picard (see the Star Trek: Destiny novel Lost Souls, as well as the Typhon Pact book Paths of Disharmony).

At the heart of the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy, in which Captains Jean-Luc Picard, William Riker, Ezri Dax, and Erika Hernandez all have to work towards a common purpose, is a terrifying Borg incursion into the Federation, which suffers the tragic loss of entire planets and billions of lives. Despite these staggering casualties, the Federation does finally emerge victorious. Key to this success is the alien species Caeliar. In Lost Souls we learn that they appear to be responsible for the unwitting creation of the Borg in the first place, and when confronted with this, they intervene to help take out the Borg Queen and break up the Collective.

The broad Litverse features a number of resurrections or quasi-resurrections, and one important instance relates to Data, who famously sacrifices himself in Nemesis. In The Cold Equations trilogy, Data’s memories are retrieved from B-4 and downloaded into the body that Noonian Soong had made for himself after faking his own death. Now Soong, in order for Data to return, really says goodbye. This new version of Data, Data Soong, whose brain has a copy of all the memories and experiences of his long deceased daughter, Lal, proceeds to bring her back as well.

Jumping to 2386, in the TNG novel Armageddon’s Arrow we find the Enterprise exploring the Odyssean Pass. There the ship encounters a weapon based on the Doomsday machine, sent back through time from ninety-four years in the future. The crew manages to deactivate the weapon and Picard commits to brokering a truce between the two alien races involved in the conflict for which the weapon was to be used. In the course of the novel, Lieutenant Commander Taurik is exposed to information from the future that the Department of Temporal Investigations advises him he cannot reveal. In Headlong Flight, another TNG novel, the Enterprise discovers a dimensionally-shifting planet. The crew of our Enterprise has to end up working with a Romulan Bird-of-Prey, as well as the crew of an alternate Enterprise from a reality in which Riker is Captain because Picard died during the 2366 “The Best of Both Worlds” Borg attack.

Picard’s involvement in the operation that deposed Min Zife (and later got Zife killed) comes back to bite him in the Section 31 novel Control (more on that in the DS9 section), when Section 31’s records are exposed, but in the TNG novel Collateral Damage he is thankfully cleared of wrongdoing, though relegated to staying at Captain’s rank indefinitely. Picard takes the Enterprise back for another round of exploration in the Odyssean Pass. This point, in 2387, is where we last see this crew before Coda.

 

 

Deep Space Nine — Deep Space Nine, Deep Space Nine (II), U.S.S. Aventine, U.S.S. Robinson

In “What You Leave Behind,” the Dominion War ends, and Captain Benjamin Sisko leaves his corporeal existence and joins the Bajoran Prophets/wormhole aliens. About a year later, in the DS9 novel Unity, he returns to our physical domain to witness the birth of his daughter with Kasidy Yates, Rebecca Jae Sisko. In the same novel, Bajor ends up formally joining the United Federation of Planets. Fearing the validity of certain Prophet foretellings, though, Sisko separates from Kasidy and Rebecca, who remain on Bajor.

After the 2381 Borg conflict, Sisko takes command of the Robinson, where he spends the better part of a year patrolling Romulan borders, as shown in the Typhon Pact novel Rough Beasts of Empire. Another Prophet vision, however, causes Sisko to re-examine his life, and after reconciling with Kasidy, in the Typhon Pact novel Raise the Dawn she and Rebecca join Sisko on the Robinson. In The Fall novels Revelation and Dust and Peaceable Kingdoms, their relationship has solidified, and Sisko is on a new mission of exploration into the Gamma quadrant. In Gamma: Original Sin, which takes us through part of 2386, Rebecca is kidnapped, but Sisko is ultimately able to locate and save her (with a slight temporal reset assist).

In the DS9 novel Warpath, Kira Nerys, who took command of the station in Sisko’s absence, has her own Prophet experience and comes to believe that she is “the Hand of the Prophets.” She resigns from Starfleet and becomes a vedek, but her fate ends up being much more complicated than this. In fact, because it involves time travel through various books, and events are told out of order, I provide a detailed chronological breakdown of Kira’s journey in my review of the DS9 novel Ascendance. In the DS9 novel The Long Mirage, Kira realizes that someone else, named Altek Dams, may be the Hand of the Prophets after all, and sets off on a journey with him.

I mentioned in the TNG section that Ezri Dax was involved in the 2381 Borg confrontation where she ends up becoming the Aventine’s Captain after several senior crew members are killed. Let’s turn to Doctor Julian Bashir for a moment. In the Typhon Pact novel Zero Sum Game, he and Sarina Douglas go undercover on a Breen planet to undermine Breen efforts to replicate Starfleet’s new-ish quantum slipstream drive. Some three years later, in 2385, Bashir enlists the aid of Captain Dax and violates strict orders from the Federation President, using classified information to develop and deliver a genetic cure for the reproductive crisis facing the Andorian people (greatly complicating matters, Andor actually secedes from the Federation in the Typhon Pact novel Paths of Disharmony).

Bashir and Dax are imprisoned for their misdeeds, but in the Section 31 novel Disavowed Bashir accepts a Section 31 mission again involving the Breen and stolen technology (though this time in the mirror universe). In the final Section 31 novel to date, Control, Bashir uncovers the eponymous and malevolent super-smart AI who has been pulling Section 31 strings behind the scenes for centuries. In the novel, which takes us up to 2386, Control itself is defeated, but Sarina is killed and Bashir ends up in a catatonic state. The DS9 novel Enigma Tales, set in late 2386, gives us the last chronological glimpse of Bashir, still in a coma and under the care of Cardassian’s now-Castellan Garak.

I should also probably mention that at one point in the above developments, specifically the Typhon Pact novel Raise the Dawn, set in 2383-2384, Deep Space Nine is destroyed! The pesky Breen and Tzenkethi are behind this. Fret not, though, because by the time we get to the Fall novel Revelation and Dust, in 2385, a new Deep Space Nine (II), also near the Bajoran wormhole, is officially opened up. The new cutting-edge space station gets off to a bad start, though, as during the inauguration ceremonies Federation President Bacco is assassinated. Replacing Bacco on a pro tempore basis is Ishan Anjar of Bajor—or so we think, until we get to the Fall novel Peaceable Kingdoms, in which it’s revealed that one Baras Rodirya was in fact impersonating Ishan, who’d been killed years earlier, and was involved in the conspiracy that led to Bacco’s death. By late 2385, Andor rejoins the Federation, and Leader Kellessar zh’Tarash becomes the new President. Per the TNG novel Available Light, zh’Tarash helps to clean up some of the Section 31 mess from Control. To the best of my knowledge, zh’Tarash is the last Federation President we see in office, chronologically speaking, in late 2386.

 

 

Voyager — U.S.S. Voyager

The series finale, “Endgame,” used time travel to return the version of the crew we were familiar with, rather than those introduced at the start of the episode, back to Earth in 2378. Captain Kathryn Janeway’s involvement in the Borg incursion, though, just a few years later, ends up costing Janeway her life (see the TNG novel Before Dishonor). But remember the resurrection theme I alluded to earlier? In the Voyager novel The Eternal Tide, set in late 2381, Janeway is brought back to life (this cleverly involves both the Q continuum and Kes), and Voyager itself and a full fleet, known as the Full Circle, are entrusted to Admiral Janeway on a new mission of Delta Quadrant exploration.

In To Lose the Earth, set in 2382, Janeway (who becomes married to Chakotay in the novel) and the Voyager leave the Delta Quadrant on a mission of aid to an alien race named the Edrehmaia. This mission takes Voyager out of our Galaxy altogether, and it’s suggested they’ll be far afield for at least several years. Presumably the crew’s return will in some way line up with Coda’s timing. As a curious side note, I’ll also mention that by the end of the novel, Tom and B’Elanna Paris elect to return to Earth and not go on aboard Voyager. Hmmm.

 

 

The Mirror Universe

The mirror universe gets quite a lot of play in the Litverse (too much, I’m sure some readers might say—and when it comes to entries like Fearful Symmetry and The Soul Key, I tend to agree).

On a macro-scale, as covered in the Mirror Universe-specific novels The Sorrows of Empire, Saturn’s Children, and Rise Like Lions, we see the development of the Galactic Commonwealth, following work by Spock and his Memory Omega project. The Commonwealth is founded in 2378 and replaces the Terran Rebellion.

 

 

Phew. All that was a bit of a mouthful… So, is this a recap of everything that occurs in the Litverse from the start of the DS9 relaunch with Avatar, Book One through Collateral Damage? By no means. I’ve focused on the character arcs and set pieces that seem most relevant from an overall perspective, touching on a few plot threads that appear to have been left somewhat open. TNG and DS9 become heavily interconnected, and since Moments Asunder seems to be an Enterprise-centric story, the bulk of the material above deals with those crews rather than Voyager’s.

I’m sure that by the time we get to Ashes of Tomorrow, though, we’ll be prompted to remember other events I haven’t included here, and so on—but we had to start somewhere…

For now, I can’t wait to dive into the Coda trilogy, and I look forward to reporting back here with some reflections after it’s all wrapped up in December.

Happy reading!

Special thanks to David Mack.

Alvaro is a Hugo- and Locus-award finalist who has published some forty stories in professional magazines and anthologies, as well as over a hundred essays, reviews, and interviews.

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