Sunday, November 22, 2015

Q-Zone

Star Trek: The Next Generation #48
The Q Continuum, Book 2 of 3
Q-Zone by Greg Cox
Published August 1998
Read November 12th 2015


Previous book (The Q Continuum): Q-Space

Next book (The Q Continuum): Q-Strike



Spoilers ahead for Q-Zone!

From the back cover:
The puckish super-being called Q has bedeviled Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise since their first encounter at Farpoint Station. But little was known of Q's enigmatic past or that of the transcendent plane where he sometimes dwells. Now Picard must discover Q's secrets -- for the sake of all that exists.

While the Enterprise struggles to survive an alien onslaught, Captain Picard has been kidnapped by Q and taken on an astounding journey back through time to that immeasurably distant moment when the Continuum faced its greatest threat. But far more is at stake than simply the mysteries of the past, for an ancient menace is stirring once more, endangering the future of the galaxy, and neither Q nor Starfleet may be able to stop it!

My thoughts:

The Q Continuum trilogy continues in book two, Q-Zone. When last we left off, Q had spirited Picard away for a whirlwind tour of Q's past and his dealings with an enigmatic and clearly hostile entity, 0. In the second part, we see more of that backstory through Picard's eyes.

Using the Guardian of Forever, 0 brings some compatriots of his into our universe to help him wreak havoc. Under the guise of "testing" them, 0 torments and ultimately destroys the mighty Tkon Empire, an ancient body that controlled much of the galaxy thousands of years ago. Much like 0's treatment of the ancient Calamarain, the "test" is merely a facade for the torture of lifeforms that he sees as below him.

Data researches the 600,000 year old Tkon Empire in the episode "The Last Outpost."

We are also introduced to 0's partners in crime, who are some familiar "faces" to fans of Star Trek. The Gorgon, infamous from his appearance in the truly awful TOS episode "And the Children Shall Lead," is a being who incites youth to rebel against their older generations. An entity whose name is unpronounceable and is referred to in the text as "(*)" is an energy creature that feeds on hatred, violent thoughts, and warfare. Trek fans may remember it from the TOS episode "Day of the Dove." Finally, there is an entity who refers to himself only as "The One," and demands absolute fealty and subservience on pain of torture and death of biblical proportions. We have met this entity before in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

0's partners in crime, all of whom we have met before.

The "flashback" parts of the book featuring the young Q and his "turn to the dark side" with 0 were very interesting, and one cannot help but feel the frustration that comes with seeing someone fall in with a bad crowd. Q, like any other disaffected youth, succumbs to peer pressure and manipulation by 0 and his band of criminals, eventually turning away from his people and all that they supposedly represent. This part of the story was very well done, and the heartbreaking finale for the Tkon Empire was truly a moving moment.

Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, the ship continues to be assaulted by the Calamarain. This part of the story doesn't advance a great deal, with the ship avoiding the Calamarain by taking refuge within the galactic barrier. While inside the barrier, the mysterious energies that affected Gary Mitchell in TOS's "Where No Man Has Gone Before" take control of the Betazoid scientist Lem Fal. The entity behind this sinister effect has a familiar feel to him...

Final thoughts:

Again, like the last installment, it is difficult to judge the story when it not yet complete. The action is at faster pace than the first volume, which is welcome, and the events that end with the destruction of the Tkon Empire were a lot of fun to read. Greg Cox does very well with his world-building for the Tkon, and the fact that they are so well fleshed-out makes the Empire's eventual fall that much more tragic. I'm excited to get to the conclusion of this story soon. Look for my review of part three in the near future!

Also by Greg Cox:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Oaths, the 16th e-book in the S.C.E. series. Look for my review next week!