Monday, October 26, 2015

Q-Space

Star Trek: The Next Generation #47
The Q Continuum, Book 1 of 3
Q-Space by Greg Cox
Published August 1998
Read August 21st 2014


Previous book (TNG Published Order): Planet X

Previous book (TNG Numbered): #46: To Storm Heaven
Next book (TNG Numbered): #48: The Q Continuum, Book 2 of 3: Q-Zone



Spoilers ahead for Q-Space!

From the back cover:
The unpredictable cosmic entity known only as Q has plagued Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise since their very first voyage together. But little is known of Q's mysterious past or that of the unearthly realm from which he hails. Now Picard must learn Q's secrets -- or all of reality may perish!

Ever since its discovery, the great galactic barrier has impeded humanity's exploration of the universe beyond the Milky Way. Now a brilliant Federation scientist may have found a way to breach the barrier, and the Enterprise is going to put it to the test. The last thing Picard needs is a return visit from an omnipotent troublemaker so, naturally, Q appears.

But Q has more in mind than his usual pranks, and while the Enterprise struggles to defeat a powerful inhuman foe, Captain Picard must embark on a fantastic odyssey into the history of the Q Continuum itself, with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance.

My thoughts:

I have long been a fan of Greg Cox's Star Trek novels. Although I haven't had the opportunity to review them for this site (yet!), I loved his Eugenics Wars novels, chronicling the rise and fall of Khan on Earth. Years ago, when I first read the Q Continuum trilogy, I loved them just as much. So, all these years later, how do they hold up?

This first novel, Q-Space, shows a lot of promise. First, there is the enticing mystery of the "galactic barrier," an energy field surrounding the Milky Way galaxy, effectively sealing us in. The Enterprise is en route to carry out an experiment in which the Enterprise will breach the barrier. The experiment is the brain child of Dr. Lem Faal, a Betazoid dying of a degenerative illness who hopes to live long enough to see his life's work come to fruition.

The Enterprise-E takes part in an experiment to breach the galactic barrier, first introduced in the Original Series episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before."

Before the Enterprise can carry out the experiment, Q shows up (along with his wife, Q, and their son, q), imploring Picard to stop the experiment and turn back. Naturally, our intrepid captain demands an explanation, and the ever-petulant Q balks. With Q refusing to offer any kind of explanation, Picard orders the Enterprise forward to the barrier, where another familiar "face" greets them: the Calamarain, a gaseous collection of entities (first seen in the TNG episode "Deja Q").

The Calamarain.

While the Calamarain threaten the Enterprise, Q whisks Picard away, ostensibly to explain to him why the experiment must be halted. What follows is a whirlwind tour of Q's "youth" and his encounter with a strange entity known only as "0," a being seemingly from another reality with powers that are similar to Q's, but with a menace to him that seems very ominous.

Q-Space is a fascinating beginning to this trilogy, showing Q to have a vulnerability we have never seen before. Seeing him in his youth is an interesting perspective on the entity, and I look forward to seeing where his and Picard's journey take them.

Throughout the novel, there are hints of a dark menace lurking on the outside of the barrier. The implication is that the barrier exists not to keep us in, but rather to keep something terrible out. The origins and identity of this menace are not shown in this volume, but are mysteries that we will have to wait for the next books to reveal.

Final thoughts:

While this is a fun and interesting beginning to this story, that is all it is: a beginning. It is difficult to judge the story thus far as it is frustratingly incomplete. What is Q trying to tell Picard? Why are the Calamarain being so belligerant towards the Enterprise? What is the menace that lurks outside the galactic barrier? As we learn more about 0 and his relationship with the young Q, hopefully these questions and more will be answered.

Also by Greg Cox:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next week: #15 in the S.C.E. series: Past Life by Robert Greenberger.