Escaping through the Gateway, she is pursued by Captains Kirk and Tasm. Perhaps it is simply a side-effect of having recently read the very well-written Troublesome Minds , but I found that Kirk, Spock and Bones did not ring true as written. Spock, for one, is engrossed in studying the Kalandan outpost, and when given lines to speak, comes across more-or-less as an automaton. Granted, Spock is by far not the most emotive or out-spoken, but he barely registers as a set-piece here. One interesting aspect that Susan Wright brings to the table in this novel is the switch of the familiar roles of Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy.
Usually, Kirk is the one to be taken in by a pretty face. However, Bones is very nearly seduced by Luz, trusting her and her fellow Kalandans merely for the fact that he is attracted to her. While it doesn't add a whole lot to the book, I thought that the juxtaposition was interesting.
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Early on, we are introduced to an interesting Klingon captain who follows the "Cult of Kahless," something for which the rest of his crew resents him. Having suffered a recent dishonor in the form of his father dying ingloriously, the captain decides to take his crew out on a mission of vengeance against the Enterprise. However, when the Petraw arrive, the Klingons are simply dispatched via quantum torpedo with little to no fanfare.
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Refer to eBay Return policy for more details. There are many sweet moments between Calhoun and Shelby as well, not to mention some hilarious ones, and they're not as forced as Janeway staring at Chakotay's handsome face. Shelby can tell by looking at her Xenexian husband that he has no idea who the Iconians are, and the two engage in what Shelby assumes are false threats with the villains until she suddenly gets the sense that Mac might not be playing.
The novel opens with a bloody conflict between two races that have been at war for centuries, who were moved off their homeworld by the Thallonian Empire to stop the bloodshed. A portable Gateway leased by an unscrupulous being named Smyt permits the Markanians to slaughter the royal family of the Aerons. The storyline becomes chillingly relevant to contemporary politics when it turns out that the two species are feuding over possession of a religious site akin to Jerusalem.
It's not entirely clear whether Mac is kidding when he says blowing it up would be the best solution. While he tries to protect the child ruler of the Aerons, who is saved by a dangerous mind-meld, Shelby tries to negotiate with the Markanians, even though she believes their leader to be a dangerous fanatic.
The stakes seem a bit lower in 'Cold Wars' than the other 'Gateways' books -- only a couple of planets are at risk rather than an entire quadrant. Yet it's the longest of the novels, with several intense, intertwined personal stories involving the children of Mac and Selar, the tense relationship between Shelby and Mueller and the surprise promotion of Burgoyne to first officer of the Excalibur. Readers who have not followed 'New Frontier' will probably have a harder time reading 'Cold Wars' than those who have followed the series but not other 'Gateways' books.
Yet all Trek and fantasy fans can appreciate David's familiarity with the franchise and his sense of whimsy, not to mention the juvenile fetus jokes surrounding the name of an unfortunate crewmember. I'm not overly enthusiastic about 'Chainmail,' Diane Carey's second 'Challenger' book. It's quite long and slow-paced. Readers won't find any familiar original series-era folk or even characters from Belle Terre and the earlier 'New Earth' novels. The early 'Chainmail' sections from the aliens' point of view are quite confusing no matter how closely one pays attention -- it's a deliberate attempt to befuddle the reader, a device I find quite annoying unless I'm specifically looking for a mystery novel.
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Plus there's nowhere near the amount of humor in Peter David's 'New Frontier' original series, though readers looking for complexity and sophistication will find them in spades. Carey does write strong characters in classic Trek style -- they depend on negotiation and cooperation rather than technobabble and miracle-science. From that standpoint, 'Challenger' is a welcome addition to the Trek franchise, but I suspect many readers will still want to skip this 'Gateways' novel and will be relieved to discover that doing so won't diminish enjoyment of the rest of the books.
Still, 'What Lay Beyond' is not so much a letdown as a strange left turn -- it finds Janeway in the Q continuum, Kira in a strange historical realm, and Calhoun and Shelby in the Xenexian equivalent of heaven. Kirk's and Picard's stories end with traditional action sequences that seem a bit hokey by comparison, but they go a long way to holding the 'Gateways' series together amidst some pretty esoteric material.
We get no clear answers about the hows and whys of multidimensional Gateways that allow travel across time and space and may have permitted leprechauns to enter Ireland. When the Iconians finally put in their long-expected appearance, readers will probably have the same reaction to them as Picard does, which Sure, Trek's supposed to be about the journey rather than the destination, but this trip can be both time-consuming and expensive for readers who stick with the whole ride.
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