Warp Factor Trek

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It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine…” – R.E.M.

For the past twenty years, we have watched the Star Trek literary universe (or litverse, as fans have called it) grow and expand like never before.

We’ve witnessed the fallout and expansion of The Next Generation branch beyond the end of Nemesis. We’ve seen the growth and expansion of Deep Space Nine with the return of Benjamin Sisko, the destruction of the original station, and the creation of a new station in its place. We’ve beheld the death and rebirth of Kathryn Janeway and the exploration of new worlds in the Voyager relaunch.

We’ve enjoyed the birth of new original series such as Titan, New Frontier, and Starfleet Corps of Engineers, as well as game-changing storylines such as Destiny, Typhon Pact, and The Fall. We’ve also seen further expansions of the franchise with Star Trek Online (and its spin-off novel The Needs of the Many) and the back story of events chronicled in the 2009 Star Trek feature film.

All three covers in the Coda trilogy, placed side-by-side (Simon & Schuster)

And now, all this sense of continuity is coming to an end with the launch of Simon & Schuster’s new Coda trilogy, beginning with the first book, Moments Asunder, written by Dayton Ward.

And why is this happening? Why is twenty years of the expanded litverse coming to an end? Pure and simple, the revitalization of canonical Star Trek in the forms of Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and to a lesser extent Discovery, Strange New Worlds, and more television series to come.

But it is more than what occurred with the rebranding of the many years of Star Wars novels and comics into its “Legends” branch; many of those were stories without a proper ending.

This time, it’s about completing a twenty-year saga like no other, with ripple effects spanning one book to another, one series to another, which Ward, along with fellow writers James Swallow and David Mack, are doing.

It’s going to be extremely hard reviewing this first installment without dropping lots of major spoilers, because you, the reader, deserve to enjoy the entire saga unfold. So, just hang on for the ride nonetheless.

It is some time after the events of the last TNG novel, Collateral Damage, and the fabled Guardian of Forever has been destroyed at the hands of a mysterious assailant. There is only one witness to the destruction, a desperate visitor who reaches out to the only family he has known and who, as further destruction looms, can fix all of time itself: Wesley Crusher.

Wesley Crusher and the Guardian of Forever, two key players in this book (CBS-Paramount)

But is it enough to prevent what is coming? This isn’t simply about the destruction of the Star Trek litverse as we know it. It’s about the destruction of the multiple alternate universes we’ve seen referenced in print, in comics, and to an extent on film, as all have cross-pollinated in the litverse. Everything – and I mean everything – is fair game here.

The result is something that sounds right out of the first season of Loki, with its similar approach to temporal disruptions. And if you think the events of the Destiny trilogy were chaotic enough, think again.

As with his many previous Trek novels, Dayton Ward is a master storyteller, no matter if it’s an Original Series or TNG tale. He knows the characters well, both established and newly created for the novels, and he develops his story with careful pacing and respect for all that has come before.

It’s also no surprise that Ward continues to skillfully weave past and future events within this narrative, as he has done in earlier books. In one such instance, he harkens back to an alternate storyline that he first referenced in his earlier TNG novel Headlong Flight, with the destruction of the Enterprise-D.

It’s also nice that Ward brings two of Voyager‘s crew members, Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres, into the mix. And he further advances the character byplay among the TNG characters with natural ease while never letting up on the impending sense of destruction that is about to grip them all. Which leads to the question: can the combined forces of the Enterprise, the Titan, the Aventine (commanded by Ezri Dax), Wesley Crusher, and the most brilliant minds in Starfleet defeat this seemingly unstoppable force?

This is no joyride of exploration. Death hits hard this time, and Ward pulls no punches. We’re talking major significant deaths here that will break your heart. And both Ward and David Mack have said this: you’ll need several boxes of Kleenex for this one.

Rating: 5/5

To conclude my review, I can only think of a quote from King Theoden from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: “If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end, as to be worthy of remembrance!” And Dayton Ward has done just that with Moments Asunder, even though this concluding story is just getting started.

Moments Asunder is available now from Amazon.com, and directly from Simon & Schuster.

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