By Tom Anderson
As I have now explored the beginnings and early run of both Deep Space Nine (DS9) and Voyager (VGR), now is a convenient time to step back and consider how the non-canon Star Trek spinoffs approached this unexpectedly broad new setting. Not only were two Star Trek TV series in parallel production, but the crew of The Next Generation (TNG) were still around, guest starring in DS9 or VGR (joining permanently in one case) and appearing in big-screen feature films. Furthermore The Original Series (TOS) was still popular, with spinoff novels and comics still being produced and occasional on-screen nods or cameos in DS9 and VGR. This offered a prime opportunity for crossover fiction.
I’ve mentioned before that the nature of the early Star Trek fan community in the 1970s meant that the line between fanfiction and ‘official’ spinoff media was always unusually fuzzy. Along with shipping, one thing that has always fascinated fanfiction writers has been the crossover, and this has been particularly true in Star Trek, whose writers – for various reasons, mostly involving Gene Roddenberry – were often rather leery about doing on-screen. This would eventually change, but in the meantime, non-canon writers had frequently amused themselves with epic crossover works such as Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens’ TOS-TNG pseudo-crossover, “Federation” – which I have written an entire article about previously.
Another crossover I’ve already written about, outside this AH in Star Trek series, is the Double Helix series, whose six books came out over the course of a few months in 1999. Double Helix, which was marketed under the TNG label despite not every book featuring TNG characters, was themed around crews in different time periods battling epidemic diseases created by a malevolent conspiracy. In reality, only about three and a half of the six books feature fighting a disease at all, and one of the ones that doesn’t is, oddly, written by Michael Jan Friedman, who co-created the concept. But never mind. As a brief recap, in order of publication, “Infection” is a straightforward early TNG crew adventure, but then “Vectors” switches it up with a clever crossover; after leaving the TNG crew, Dr Pulaski is sent on a Federation mission to help the Cardassians fight a disease outbreak on a certain station called Terok Nor…a.k.a. the future Deep Space 9. This concept was great, contrasting the shiny utopia of early to mid TNG with the grim despair of Bajor under Cardassian rule, and by using a transient TNG character like Pulaski AFTER she left the ship, didn’t raise any awkward questions about the rest of the crew being unfamiliar with Bajorans later.
The third book, “Red Sector”, features elderly TOS characters McCoy and Spock having adventures in the ‘present day’ of late TNG, as well as being about the life story of contemporary characters. “Quarantine” is another interesting crossover, featuring Chakotay and the crew of the Unnamed Maquis Ship (this author decides it’s called the Selva) pre-VGR, having to fight another disease outbreak with help from a passing Starfleet officer, Thomas Riker. Of course, this is a clever set-up for how Riker comes to join the Maquis before his appearance in DS9. The author has fun featuring Tuvok and Seska as part of Chakotay’s crew when we know they’re spies, but he doesn’t. The fifth book is part of Peter David’s “New Frontier” setting, which we’ll get to in time, and the sixth is a prequel set before TNG, involving young Picard, Jack Crusher (not Beverly, but nobody told the cover artist) and Tuvok again, who we had learned in a VGR crossover episode had served in Starfleet many years earlier (remember Vulcans have long lifespans) before quitting and returning.
Overall, while rather indecisive about its theming, Double Helix had some great crossover ideas, exploiting the rich setting that had been developed in Star Trek by the end of the twentieth century. However, it was not the first such crossover.
I’m going to focus on novels rather than comics here as I’m more familiar with them. However, I should also mention the DC/Malibu four-issue series whose title is usually given as either simply “DS9 TNG Crossover Comic”, or even more simply “The Landmark Crossover”. Apparently someone mixed up their tagline with their title. Hilariously, the synopsis begins: The crossover adventure that every Star Trek fan wants, but none thought could happen! A story that brings together for the first time the crews of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This is, to use a technical term, bollocks, as the TNG crew already appeared in the DS9 pilot episode, “Emissary”, and then the two crossed over again in the TNG two-parter “Birthright”. Granted, there wasn’t a great deal to these crossovers and fans probably were indeed clamouring for more, but there is such a thing as false advertising. Anyway, I never properly read this one but I remember eagerly flicking through it in The Last Picture Show in Meadowhall (RIP) before deciding it was too expensive.
But back to novels. Tentative crossovers had existed before but, like the DS9-TNG Comic Which Is Probably Named After Chakotay’s Ship, they had usually ‘only’ been between two of the series settings. But now, TNG, DS9 and VGR were all more or less contemporary, meaning crossovers between the three became relatively trivial (admittedly, VGR being set in the Delta Quadrant made it a bit harder) and did not require time travel. In practice, though, showing how much fans and writers still liked TOS, the crossovers usually tried to bring together all four anyway. As far as I can tell, the first of these was “Star Trek: Invasion!” (always with the exclamation mark, and usually with a trademark symbol as well) in 1996. This one was marketed with the tagline The ultimate Star Trek saga, spanning four thrilling adventures! Unlike the Unnamed Crossover Comic, this claim is defensible: it was the first time that a single thread joined all four of the settings. Well, sort of, but you’ll see what I mean.
“Invasion!” was written by four well-established and experienced Star Trek writers or writing partnerships: Diane Carey for TOS (“First Strike”), Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch for TNG (“The Soldiers of Fear”), L. A. Graf for DS9 (“Time’s Enemy”) and Dafydd ab Hugh for VGR (“The Final Fury”). The running theme throughout the books is that, as the tagline goes on to say, Long ago, even before the days of myth and legend, our world belonged to them. Now, across time and space, comes a fury that will test every one of Starfleet's greatest heroes... To be less melodramatic, it turns out that everyone’s folklore about monsters and The Fair Folk is based on an ancient race – or collective of races, the fourth book claims there are 666 because of course it does – who used to rule our part of space thousands of years ago, but were kicked out in a war with a vague enemy referred to only as ‘the conqueror’ or ‘the Unclean’ and sent to a distant quadrant (can’t guess which one, if this is going to involve VGR later).
Now, in the TOS era, a ship called the Rath manages to travel across the galaxy via an artificially-generated wormhole in order to reclaim their old territories. There is a violent first contact with the Klingons, who try to destroy the ship but are unable to. Whereas humans refer to the aliens as ‘the Furies’, Klingons call them ‘the Havoc’ and also have legends of them (a nice idea which unfortunately is only mentioned like once after the first book). Klingon General Kellen is desperate enough to call in Kirk and the Enterprise for help. This leads to some frustration when, because this is the Federation, Kirk actually makes a peaceful first contact with them and gets on well with their leader, Vergo Zennor. (I really do like how Carey portrays Starfleet values here in a way that’s often missing from modern Trek). Unfortunately, things still come to blows for two reasons: McCoy ‘accidentally’(?) dissects the voodoo-style ‘poppet’ doll around a deceased Fury’s neck, which they believe are their souls, which leads to him getting literally Wicker Man’d; and Zennor finds information on a Federation datapad about the legends of the Furies, confirming their claims to have once ruled this area of space. Kirk does a Kirk Speech about how can he ask ‘a trillion and a quarter’ people to leave, and that this is like him demanding land from Britain because his ancestors lived there, but to no avail. In the end, Kirk and the Klingons are able to destroy the Rath, which ejects an escape pod…full of the crew’s dolls. The Federation resolves to put a station at ‘Furies’ Point’ to watch for any future incursions.
No prizes for guessing when that is – a century later, a bored TNG-era crew are sick of being sent to this godforsaken station where nothing happens. Until it does. A new Fury fleet appears from the wormhole, and this time they have a new weapon that lets them instil fear in their opponents from a distance, like the Scarecrow out of Batman. Picard and the Enterprise-D, not long before Generations (the stardates are a bit iffy here) arrive, and using SCIENCE they are able to modify the shields to resist the terror beam – at least to some extent. Of course, they also have the emotionless Data. With help from other Federation and Klingon ships, the Enterprise takes on the Furies and the crew are able to seal the wormhole – albeit with the loss of an officer named Sam Redbay on a shuttlecraft who fell into it. Again, no prizes for guessing where he ended up. I mainly remember this book because it’s the only time I’ve ever seen a line of dialogue in Star Trek where they ‘unlock’ weapons after deciding to withdraw, rather than just ‘locking’ them.
The third book is the main reason why this crossover doesn’t quite deliver on its promises, even though, in isolation, “Time’s Enemy” is great and is also a good example of time travel and a temporal causality loop (or, trying to break out of one). (The two writers behind the L. A. Graf name also consider it their best work). The DS9 crew are recalled to Earth because a cometary miner has found something buried in a comet in the solar system – the USS Defiant, badly damaged, her crew dead, and she’s been there for centuries or millennia. Clearly, the result of future time travel, a similar plot to the TNG two-parter “Time’s Arrow”. The Dax symbiont has survived, however, and our Dax tries to communicate with it. Meanwhile, Kira has to deal with an extremist Bajoran terrorist from her past named Pak, because there are literally like two Kira character plots. We finally learn who the ‘Unclean’ enemy of the Furies were – a race of ‘viroids’ who try to eat your DNA or something, and certainly eat your ship in the process with acid and things. As we discover when a Galaxy-class ship gets eaten by some near the Bajoran wormhole, and Kira’s terrorist friend has to build a bomb to blow it up. It turns out that the Prophets dumped temporal energy into the past to save the wormhole from the viroids, and this is what caused the Fury fleet to be fired into the Delta Quadrant. Anyway, they’re able to change the timestream and save the Defiant. Again, it’s a good book, it just literally does not feature the Furies themselves at all in a tetralogy which is supposed to be about them.
The fourth book, “The Final Fury”, is fascinating for a number of reasons. It was penned as a very, very early VGR book by Daffyd ab Hugh, and this is reflected by all sorts of interesting early-instalment weirdness (to quote TV Tropes). Hugh thinks Tom Paris is actually Nick Locarno under an assumed name, and every time he appears there’s winks and grins about it. Voyager’s top speed is cited as warp 9.9 (which is still not as high as the absurd actual figure in the final pilot). Tuvok and the Doctor’s characterisation are all over the place. There are Maquis crewmen in here that were clearly planned for bigger roles than they got. Chakotay has to trick Tuvok into developing a new kind of shield to stop the Fury terror beams (which is totally different in description to what the TNG crew did) because otherwise Tuvok is so logical he’d just say it’s impossible from the start(?) Anyway, what happens is the Voyager crew finds Lieutenant Redbay (remember him?) in his shuttle from the Enterprise-D, stuck in the Delta Quadrant and having suffered psychologically from the terror weapons. Turns out that this is where the Furies were exiled to (who could guess) and, interestingly, they have built a kinda-sorta Dyson Sphere around a star, more of a webwork than a solid sphere, in order to draw power from it. (I always thought the timescale was messed up here, with Redbay and the Enterprise-D being around at the same time as Voyager being stuck in the Delta Quadrant, but I think it’s just barely possible).
The Furies’ cunning scheme this time – which, remember, is, what, weeks after the TNG plot where they closed the wormhole? – is to do a second wormhole which will send their whole system back. As the tagline says, for the Starship Voyager, a possible route home. But soon there may not be any home to return to… This is arguably a better moral dilemma than the actual one in “Caretaker”, and of course the Voyager crew have to stop the Furies and give up any chance to use the wormhole themselves. Redbay also sacrifices his life in the process to tie up loose ends. The other thing I remember from this one is the idea that watching space at warp through ‘pure video feed’ is disturbing, even though, you know, they watch it through windows in Ten-Forward on the Enterprise all the time.
So much for “Invasion!” Though flawed in its theme wandering away, it did have some good ideas – in particular a clever way to involve VGR. It would be followed up by a similar crossover that involved all four series, “Day of Honour”, in 1997. The titular Day of Honour is a Klingon holiday, which does provide a nice opportunity for it to be relevant in multiple different times and places. However, the series suffers a bit from being incoherent and vague with exactly what the Day of Honour is about. It innovates by going, in order of release, TNG – DS9 – VGR and then going back to TOS to show the origins of the holiday. This is a very clever idea, but the TOS origin story doesn’t seem to have much connection with the rest. Most of what we hear in the other time periods is that the Day of Honour is about self-reflection and celebration, whereas the TOS origin ends with the lesson that ‘the enemy has honour’ and it’s about recognising one’s opponents as potentially honourable. You’d think this would have cropped up with the Klingons before this, for a start, but never mind. I suppose there is a thematic connection in that it’s presented about recognising other races as honourary Klingons for the day, or something.
The first release was TNG’s “Ancient Blood”, written by Diane Carey but quite unlike her other work. Worf has to infiltrate a criminal organisation on the planet Sindikash with the help of his old mate who we’ve never heard of before or since (and isn’t even mentioned in the synopsis on Memory Alpha, poor bloke), Ross Grant. No prizes for guessing that he cops it near the end. I will say a line in this book, where Riker argues with an official about why the people of Sindikash are called ‘Seniards’ and he retorts ‘why aren’t French people called ‘Francians?’’ that first got me thinking about the historical background of demonyms when I first read this at a young age. Anyway, problematically for that young age, the book also contains an uncharacteristic lot of blood and gore as the syndicate in question, led by the villainous Odette Khanty, has a habit of gouging out eyes and that sort of thing. Did Kevin J. Anderson ghostwrite those bits? While Worf is doing his infiltrating, his son Alexander Rozhenko also celebrates the Day of Honour with help from Picard, but cleverly decides to look into his human rather than Klingon ancestry. This involves an old holodeck programme (at this point they were still undecided on how old holodecks were) set during the American Revolutionary War, with Picard and Alexander as a lieutenant and midshipman on a Royal Navy ship. It eventually goes into the politics of the war, which was fascinating to me at the time because nobody ever talks about the American Revolution in the UK – not because we lost but because our school system thinks that no history that happened between 1666 and 1890 is worthy of mention. Anyway there’s also a fun moment where the rickety old holoprogram, though successfully making the 18th century American colonists think Alexander looks human, can’t cope with the sudden appearance of Worf through the arch, so they think he’s a demon and throw food over him.
The second book, DS9’s “Armageddon Sky” by L. A. Graf, doesn’t live up to that writing team’s work on Invasion! After tensions have arisen with the Klingons (we’ll get to that in the next article) the DS9 crew have to rescue Klingon colonists being pelted with cometary fragments on a planet Dax rather peculiarly names ‘Armageddon’ when it already has a name, Cha’Xirrac. Also there’s a dark secret, because of course there is. This is followed up with VGR’s “Her Klingon Soul” by Michael Jan Friedman, where B’Elanna Torres has to confront the Klingon ancestry she usually shies away from when she and Kim are captured by slavers and have to mine radioactive ore. (Which does sound exactly like the sort of plot VGR would do).
Finally, the TOS prequel “Treaty’s Law”, by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, shows how all this began. With the Organian Peace Treaty keeping peace between the Federation and Klingons, the two competed over the right to possess a planet with a farming competition – which the Klingons unexpectedly won, and we get some interesting insight into how Klingon philosophy doesn’t neglect farming as the Federation assumed. (DS9 would later do something similar with the character of a Klingon lawyer). Now, however, an unknown alien race is attacking and burning the Klingons’ crops. After the obligatory misunderstanding scene where Kirk’s old foil Kor thinks it’s the Federation, Starfleet and the Klingons unite to protect the colonists against the attacking force. Eventually, they learn the aliens are a group called the Narr, who seeded the planet long ago and are now upset the Klingons are growing their own crops there. The end lesson, as I said before, is ‘the enemy has honour’, with the Klingons respecting both the Federation and eventually the Narr as well. It’s a good story in and of itself, but doesn’t connect with the rest particularly well.
Wait a minute, though, because “Day of Honour” is actually six books. Unusually, the canon TV show did a tie-in episode to promote the series (showing how important Star Trek novels had become), with a Jeri Taylor-penned VGR story called, indeed, “Day of Honour”. Again it doesn’t connect that well with the rest (and, typically for VGR of this era, has as much to do with Seven of Nine – who we’ll get to – as B’Elanna Torres). Michael Jan Friedman novelised it into print with some expansion and continuity nods to “Her Klingon Soul”. Janeway tries to help a group of alien refugees called the Caatati who have lost their home planet to the Borg. Meanwhile, an accident in Engineering causes the ship to have to eject her warp core – something that had often been referred to in TNG but never seen, so that was cool. Incidentally, it’s a good example of how worldbuilding can be the enemy of storytelling – the VFX people had given Voyager a backup warp core and it’s visible on the display behind Tuvok, but no, here the story requires they only have one. B’Elanna and Tom Paris go to collect the core in a shuttlecraft, but the Caatati hold it, and them, hostage, demanding Janeway turn over the fuel they need and also Seven of Nine just because she’s a Borg. (It is interesting to see them presented as both pathetic but also vengeful, and it does feel more real that way). It’s VGR though so we hit the reset button by having Seven design them a generator that means we can avoid a difficult choice. What did this have to do with the Klingon Day of Honour, again?
There was also a short TNG book called “Honour Bound” by Diana G. Gallagher, which is about Worf and Alexander again, which was in the omnibus but I never read because it was padded out with black and white drawings and looked too childish in tone to me. Finally, there was also a tangential mention in a later DS9 comic entitled, of course, ‘Day of Honour’.
Perhaps because of this lack of coherence, these big thematic ‘crossovers’ (sometimes collected in omnibuses) turned out to be a slight flash in the pan, though there were other examples. I’ve already mentioned Double Helix, and another, even more tenuously connected example is the Captain’s Table series. This was developed by Dean Wesley Smith and John J. Ordover, and themed around the idea that there’s a bar called the Captain’s Table somewhere out there, and anyone who’s ever been a captain can find their way there through a door that wasn’t there yesterday and won’t be there tomorrow. Really it’s a very fantasy and un-Star Trek concept, but it’s also a lot of fun. Once the captain of the story finds the bar, it switches to first person narration as they regale others there with a story from their past.
The first book, “War Dragons” by L. A. Graf, is unusual in that it’s actually two captains – both Kirk and Sulu – telling two separate stories. The second, “Dujonian’s Hoard”, by Michael Jan Friedman (and it’s a very Michael Jan Friedman title) involves Picard and his archaeological interests. This was followed by Sisko in Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “The Mist” and Janeway in Diane Carey’s “Fire Ship”. Where things get interesting, however, is that it doesn’t stop there. “Once Burned” by Peter David gives a backstory to his “New Frontier” protagonist Mackenzie Calhoun – which I’ll probably mention when we get to that series. And then “Where Sea Meets Sky” by Jerry Oltion gives Captain Christopher Pike a day in the limelight, showing the fan liking for the character years before he finally became the protagonist of “Strange New Worlds”. The books are not directly linked, but each one features a preview of the next as a linking device. Some years later in 2005, there would be a follow-up anthology edited by Keith R. A. DeCandido, “Tales from the Captain’s Table”, in which we got to see some returning captains for more stories and other more unusual and unexpected ones.
From this, there would be other pseudo-crossover series, such as the “Gateways” series in which the various crews in different time periods encounter the Iconian Gateways that had been seen in TNG and then, unexpectedly, brought back in DS9. However, we are now getting well beyond the time period I have reached thus far in my rundowns on the on-screen show, so we’ll leave it there.
Next time, we return to DS9 to look at the fourth and fifth seasons, with a retool completed and the unexpected addition of a permanent cast member from TNG.
Tom Anderson is the author of many SLP books including the Look To The West series (Diverge and Conquer, Uncharted Territory, Equal and Opposite Reactions, Cometh the Hour, To Dream Again), The Twilight's Last Gleaming, Not An English Word, The Curse of Maggie, The Unreformed Kingdom, The Surly Bonds of Earth and Well met by Starlight.