Robert Chesley

“Star Trek: New Frontier” – Series Review

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It has been a long while since I had the opportunity to write. Some of you may have missed me (I’m pretty humble in that regard), but the truth is I’ve missed it. “Star Trek: New Frontier” is a book series primarily written and created by Peter David (you may have heard of him through his long tenure on “Incredible Hulk”).

The premise for “New Frontier” is to create a new continuity in a literary sense for “Star Trek”. I originally heard about the series a few years ago when Peter David was interviewed by a podcast I was listening to at the time. It took me a while but the series was always in the back of my mind. I started by picking up random books from thrift stores, but quickly found out that there was a specific order to the books. I read “book 1” and was immediately hooked. When I purchased a Kindle, the first thing I did was start tracking down these books.

In my opinion there are several different “seasons” of New Frontier. The “first season” I would argue as the first four novels (you can find the first four novels collected into one volume called “New Frontier”). Here we are introduced to many of the characters that you’ll grow to love over the course of the entire series. Mackenzie Calhoun, Captian of the Excalabur, is assigned to patrol Thallonean space, largely unexplored by the Federation. The crew is made of characters from Peter David’s previous “Star Trek” novels (Soleta, Zak Kebron, and Mark McHenry), guest stars from “The Next Generation” TV show (Shelby and Selar) as well as new ones created specifically for this series (Si Cwan and Burgoyne 172).

While it is seemingly impossible to go over all eighteen books in just this short little introduction, I did want to make note of a few things. I feel the books are best read at least two at a time. There are cliffhangers and continuity between the novels. While there are only two instances “officially” where there is a story arc. I felt like I couldn’t put these books down. A typical book took me about six to eight hours to finish, or about a few days worth of heavy ready. I also want to preface that I would not have considered myself a huge “Star Trek” fan before reading these books. I mean that I’ve seen the movies and I am familiar with the characters, but I wouldn’t say that I was intimately familiar with all the story lines or episodes of the main series. I also feel if you just want to get your feet wet in the “Star Trek” universe this wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Also, my one big regret on reading this entire series was skipping a few of the novels (most notably the “Double Helix” novel and the “Gateways” novel). There is also a specific order you should read these novels (which I will include below) and while you can read any of them in any order the story is chronological and linear.

If there were going to be books in the series that I would skip I would say that I didn’t really enjoy the first two parts in the “Excalibur” series as much as I thought I did. While I appreciated the change of pace, it really felt like the first two of those books were a little rushed and almost felt like three fourths of one novel. “Restoration” was really excellent and something that “Star Trek” rarely does, it reminded me of an old western and was definitely one of the high points in series for me. I seemed to enjoy the first “half” of the New Frontier run better than the last half. I say that because in the later novels it seems the stories try to “one up” the previous story, while I enjoyed that, I would have also enjoyed spending more stories with “those configurations” of the crew. Overall however, even the worst “New Frontier” book is on par with a mediocre episode of “Next Generation” and the characters grow and arc really well over the course of the series run. I really enjoy how the book references many aspects of The Next Generation universe and does a nice job of tying itself in. I would have loved to see this done more when we had multiple Trek shows on TV at the same time. Would have been neat to see more crossover than what we saw. That is the beauty of novels I suppose, it would be extremely difficult to gather all of these shows and coordinate them. As for specific references, I’ve seen most of the first 4 seasons of The Next Generation and they reference some of the episodes and definitely some of the events of the films. One more thing to note, you can skip the graphic novels. That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the two comic stories, there are just so many characters and ideas in New Frontiers that it is hard to portray in comic form. Also, it was a short 5-issue one off story, that I felt would have been better as a 12 issue fleshed out story line. But that is because I feel sometimes that comic stories are a little rushed. The events in the comics are not directly related to the main series, which is also kind of a shame.

It took me the better part of this year to finish the entire series starting from the very beginning. After every novel I was looking forward to the next book. I enjoyed the style, pacing, and respect, not only to the reader but to the universe it portrays. The series had its ups and downs, but the downs were never really that low and the high points of the series stands alone with any of the great novels of our eras. I love when I get to see characters grow over such a long period of time. I highly recommend this series to people who enjoy Star Trek, want to get into Star Trek, would like to read a novel series that feels like a TV series, or just a fan of big ensemble casts.

1-4 Star Trek: New Frontier
5 Martyr
6 Fire on High
* Captain’s Table Book 5: Once Burned
* Star Trek:TNG #55: Double Helix Book 5: Double or Nothing
* Double Time (graphic novel)
7 The Quiet Place
8 Dark Allies
9 Excalibur Book 1: Requiem
10 Excalibur Book 2: Renaissance
11 Excalibur Book 3: Restoration
* Gateways Book 6: Cold Wars
* Gateways Book 7: What Lay Beyond (anthology): Death After Life
* No Limits (anthology)
12 Being Human
13 Gods Above
14 Stone and Anvil
* Tales from the Captain’s Table (anthology) Pain Management
15 After the Fall
16 Missing in Action
* Star Trek: Mirror Universe Book 2: Obsidian Alliances (anthology) Cutting Ties
* Star Trek: Mirror Universe Book 3: Shards and Shadows (anthology) Homecoming
* Turnaround (graphic novel)
17 Treason
18 Blind Man’s Bluff

The books noted with “*s” are “non-essential” to the series. I would make note that you should at least read the two Gateway novels as well as the No Limits anthology in this order.

You can buy New Frontier from Amazon.

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