Wednesday, May 13

Star Trek: Vanguard – and a lot of other stuff

Periodically, I return to obsessions I thought I left far in my past. I have been a fan of Star Trek since soon after the original series went off the air and into syndication. Born at the end of 1961, I think I was just barely too young to get caught up in it during the original airings, which began in September 1966 and ended in June 1969. I would therefore have been four years old when it debuted and seven when it went off. Moreover, my obsession with space really began with the Apollo 11 moon landing on 20 July 1969 – ironically within weeks of Star Trek being cancelled. Just as I do remember flashes of earlier manned space missions (most clearly, Christmas Eve 1968, popping firecrackers with my older cousins outside my grandmother’s house, my uncle commenting that there were astronauts circling the moon right then – Apollo 8), so do I recall flashes of earlier Star Trek episodes on TV, but not clearly enough to know what episodes they might have been.

But then, that summer of 1969, right after Apollo 11, still age seven, I became much more “space-aware.” Star Trek was gone, of course … Until a year or so later, sometime, I’m not sure exactly when, just that it was when I was in fourth grade (1970-1971),  my father put up a huge rotary television antenna that gave us the ability to receive more than just the two local channels available in Monroe, Louisiana. This was, of course, several years before cable, even several years before the addition, in quick succession, of a third commercial station – in the UHF band (1974) – and then a public television station (1976).

Wow! Four channels! With remote control that consisted of Daddy saying, “Son, get up and change the channel….”

A couple of words about the “huge rotary television antenna” that I referred to. I don’t know how tall it was, but it was easily twice the height of our one-story house, standing tall on a pole right next to the back patio, connected to the TV in the den – and motorized with a little control box that sat atop the television. It could be turned via a dial on top of that box, which initiated a humming “kachunk – kachunk – kachunk” sound from outside as the motor turned the antenna and you watched the snow-filled, staticky screen of the TV slowly resolve into a (usually still quite fuzzy) picture from someplace far, far beyond the Monroe area.
Such as Jackson, Mississippi … which was where, one Sunday afternoon, I discovered Star Trek – specifically, the episode, “The Galileo Seven.” The objective merits of that episode aside (it’s actually pretty stupid on several levels), it will always be special to me because it was, for all intents and purposes, my first Star Trek episode. I was hooked. I came back week after week. Soon I was recording the episodes on audio cassette and listening to them, over and over. And I discovered Star Trek books.

I’m not sure when exactly I got the Whitman hardcover novel, Mission to Horatius, except that it was pretty soon because I remember taking it to school and showing classmates in my fourth-grade class. I am pretty sure that was my first “Star Trek book” – but there would be more, and very quickly, although again I do not remember exactly when. I do remember where, however. My father’s aunt lived in Meridian, Mississippi, and we would periodically visit her there. I have no clear memory of the instant I first saw it, but I associate with one of those trips my discovery of the first volume of James Blish’s episode adaptations, specifically Star Trek 4.

I had been a pretty obsessive reader even before that – comic books as early as 1966 or 1967, as soon as I could read, introduced to them, like many other kids of my and preceding generations, in the barber shop. Sometime in third grade I had discovered The Hardy Boys in my school’s library. I remember my dad trying to get me to read Tom Swift – but that didn’t “take” until my space-obsession began in the summer of ’69 and I devoured the Tom Swift Jr. series. I think, however, it was Star Trek that took me out of kids’ books into “grown-up” books, and in short order I was reading the big names – Clarke, Asimov, etc.

But Star Trek remained one of my defining obsessions. So much so that it is what my high school classmates remembered best about me at our thirty-year high-school reunion in 2009. Hey, at least I wasn’t one of the “dope-heads.”

I devoured the Blish collections. I was excited when Star Trek returned in the animated series in 1973, and doubly excited when those episodes too found much-superior prose adaptation by Alan Dean Foster starting the next year (the Star Trek Log series). Nevertheless, as late as the mid 1970s, almost all Star Trek prose was just that – adaptations of televised episodes. The only two exceptions were the aforementioned children’s novel, Mission to Horatius (which came out in 1968, thus holding the honor of being the first original Star Trek novel) and James Blish’s single foray into an original/non-adapted story, Spock Must Die! (1970). (These dates and much of what follows about Star Trek fiction are confirmed from Wikipedia’s article, “List of Star Trek novels” [LINK].) Then – here, I do remember the instant I spied it, on a book rack in a local department store, probably in early-mid 1976 because it’s listed as published in March – Star Trek: The New Voyages, a collection of short stories published in fan magazines introduced over all by Gene Roddenberry himself, with individual stories introduced by various of the original series cast. I have no clear memories of any of the stories, but I remember being excited by it and enjoying it.

Then came, just a few months later (September 1976, according to Wikipedia), Spock, Messiah! “A Star Trek First,” the cover proclaims, and Wikipedia confirms it to have been “the second original novel based on [the] television series Star Trek intended for adult readers” [LINK]. It was dreadful! Thank God that poor sales did not kill the prospect of further new Star Trek novels. The next year, The Price of the Phoenix … was just as dreadful!, with added homo-erotic layers that were downright creepy. “What Hath Bantam [Books, the publisher] Wrought?” was the  cri-de-coeur from an irate fan reviewer in Interstat #1, although the review’s subtitle was prescient, “Or They’re Going to Keep at it Until They Get it Right!” [Wikipedia LINK]. Luckily, they did, although Bantam did put out far more clunkers than decent Star Trek novels over the next few years. Of a baker’s dozen (including the three already mentioned – Spock Must Die!, Spock, Messiah!, and The Price of the Phoenix – I really only remember Joe Haldeman’s Planet of Judgment (the fourth) and David Gerrold’s The Galactic Whirlpool (the twelfth) as being decent reads. (Gerrold had the advantage of “cred” – he wrote the wonderful original series episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles,” and had earlier chronicled that process in a memoir of the same name before writing a book-length retrospective of the show, The World of Star Trek [both published in 1973]; Haldeman had “cred,” too, of course, as an established science-fiction writer although I had not and have not read anything by him except his Star Trek work.) Don’t even get me started on Kathleen Sky’s Vulcan! and Death’s Angel (fifth and thirteenth, respectively). Awful.

It really wouldn’t be “gotten right” until a new publisher had entered the fray. I do not know the behind-the-scenes machinations, but I’m guessing that sometime in the mid-1970s Bantam was licensed to publish a dozen Star Trek novels (which with the previously-published Spock Must Die! makes up their thirteen; Bantam had, of course, also published the James Blish original series adaptations; the animated series adaptations, Foster’s Star Trek Log series, were published by Ballantine Books, again, for reasons I do not know – nor do I really care. The mysteries of licensing and trademark usage mystify me, but suffice it to say that with the appearance of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, Simon & Schuster under their Pocket Books imprint gained the publishing rights to Star Trek books. Even though the novelization of the motion picture (by Gene Roddenberry himself – although I suspect it was ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster) arrived close on the heels of the movie itself in December of that same year, I guess they had to wait until Bantam had run out their license, because once that was done with the appearance of Death’s Angel (shudder) (April 1981) there came only two months later The Entropy Effect (June 1981), and Star Trek novels started coming at an accelerating pace after that. A lot of the early ones from Pocket were objectively pretty bad – frankly, from what I’ve seen surveying the broad landscape of Star Trek novels over the next forty years via and various review sites, a lot of them overall are objectively pretty bad – but there were enough decent ones and some downright really good ones (in my judgment, all that really matters to me) to create a whole section of most bookstores even today. The Entropy Effect was, in my opinion, one of the really good ones; Diane Duane’s early ones – The Wounded Sky (December 1983), her Rihannsu cycle (especially the first two, My Enemy, My Ally, July 1984, and The Romulan Way, August 1987), as well as Spock’s World, the first original-to-hardcover Star Trek novel, I believe (September 1988) remain dear in my memory. (I think Gene Roddenberry’s wounded pride and harsh words when she was inadvertently referred to in his presence as the “creator of the Romulans” burst her bubble because her later forays into Star Trek fiction are not of the same caliber. She did not create the Romulans, of course – but she did give them life as the Rihannsu [their own name for themselves rather than the obvious name from Earth mythology that Roddenberry, et al., gave them], and for my money’s worth, the Rihannsu are canon. – Of course, I also consider the Animated Series as canon as well as Star Trek Continues [LINK]  (respectively, Years Four and Five of Kirk’s Five-Year Mission, as far as I’m concerned).

Suffice it to say, that through the 1980s I read a lot of those Star Trek novels, both good and bad, both Original Series and, after 1987, The Next Generation. I probably read most of them that appeared during that decade. Then, in 1990, I returned to graduate school and my pleasure reading was sharply curtailed. My reading of Star Trek novels declined and ultimately petered out, with occasional exceptions. Something would catch my eye and I would pick up the occasional novel – or miniseries of novels, such as the four-part Dominion War series (November-December 1998, two each from The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine). In more recent years, the “autobiographies” of James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard found their way onto my bookshelf. But, frankly, not much else. It was a very occasional indulgence, with sometimes years passing between various instances of sticking my toe into the increasingly deep waters – as of late 2019, according to the aforementioned Wikipedia article, there were “approximately 850 novels, short story anthologies, novelizations, and omnibus editions” in existence, if not all in print.

Eight. Hundred. And. Fifty.

To be sure, although my reading of Star Trek had faded away to almost nothing, I watched it pretty religiously, for the most part – through the 1990s as Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) faded into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999), to be succeeded by Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001), and finally by Enterprise/Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005). I did find my interest waning, however, during Voyager, and pretty much sat out the third season of Enterprise. The movies similarly seemed to give less and less bang for the buck, even the seeming revitalization of the first really standalone Next Generation film, First Contact (1996) quickly fizzling out to an almost unwatchable finale just two movies later with Nemesis (2002) (which, incidentally, made me realize again how inferior the “canon” Romulans of series and film are to Duane’s Rihannsu). I barely got excited at all about Voyager, and elements of Enterprise just made me mad, although the too-little, too-late fourth season actually redeemed it somewhat – it had to be liberating to know they were on their way out and could just do whatever the hell they wanted. Neither series, however, inspired me to pick up the first novel set in their milieux – I just didn’t care for the characters enough. Although the first two of the “Abramsverse” movies (2009-2016) were fairly decent, the third was just boring. Discovering Star Trek Continues (#betterthanAbrams) in 2015 had stoked the fires a little and opened me to reading a trilogy of novels set in the Original Series period, Legacies, when they came out the next year, billed as a “50th-Anniversary Celebration.” But any excitement that would have come with the announcement of a new Star Trek series, Discovery, round about or shortly after that time was immediately snuffed out with word that it would only be available by subscribing to a new CBS streaming service. And watching the first episode teased via broadcast on the regular CBS network the night before CBS All Access went online made me even madder than certain elements of Enterprise had a decade and a half before. They literally got nothing right. What the hell were those “Klingons”? Instantaneous holographic communications over light-years? The general look of post-Next Generation supposedly being the style and technology ten years before Kirk and Company? I knew about the Picard series, but, unwilling to subscribe to a streaming service for one or two series, I basically ignored it.

Then, earlier this year. After a “month-to-six-weeks” project that I began last summer to take elements of my travel blog and create a book turned into a six-month project (August through January) – I did finish the book and get it published [LINK], but for the six months I’d poured into it I had read virtually nothing for pleasure. I needed something light and relatively mindless. And I remembered a few months ago, on my wife’s birthday in August, when my son was up, we went to Alexandria to a restaurant then spent a couple of hours just browsing in Books-a-Million. I had found myself poring over the fairly substantial Star Trek section – full of books I’d never even heard of – and saw a couple that intrigued me. I had snapped pictures of the covers, figuring I’d probably never get to them, but I remembered them now and decided to give one a shot.

So, round about the end of January I found one of those books on Kindle – From History’s Shadow (2013) by Dayton Ward. The cover shows silhouettes of two “men-in-black” as well as a flying saucer – and the story is set both in the 23rd century of the Original Series and in the 20th-century … of Project Blue Book. Yes, starting with the 1947 Roswell Incident (the “real story” of which, I had forgotten, was told in a Deep Space Nine episode, “Little Green Men”) and bringing in Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln from the Original Series episode “Assignment Earth” as well as a continuing story arc/subplot from Enterprise, the Temporal Cold War – this novel had it all! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and as usual wanted more. Not only did I find another Gary Seven/Roberta Lincoln Star Trek Original Series novel, Assignment Eternity (1998), by Greg Cox – and toyed with going directly from that to his Eugenics Wars trilogy about the Rise, Fall, and Exile of Khan Noonien Singh (2001-2005) – but, over a most-of-a-week period “batching it” (? – living as a bachelor as my wife visited with her sisters) in late February, I decided to give that “Temporal Cold War” arc on Enterprise another view. I had not actually watched all of those episodes during the original run because, as I said, elements of the series made me mad and I even sat out the third season entirely – which is when the arc culminated. I did a little research, determined what episodes made up that arc, watched the premier episode (“Broken Bow”) to refamiliarize myself with the characters, and started watching.

And I found myself enjoying it overall way more than I remembered. Sure, it still doesn’t really work as a “prequel” to the Original Series, but taken on its own terms it’s not too bad. By the end of the Temporal Cold War and its associated episodes I was interested enough to go ahead and watch pretty much the entirety of the fourth season, which as I said I had actually enjoyed the first go around basically fifteen years before.

As I remembered, however, the very last episode (“These Are the Voyages”) was rather odd. Jumping forward about six years – except it was not really “live” at all, it was instead told as a holodeck recreation aboard the Next Generation Enterprise D over two hundred years later, with certain story elements that just did not make a whole lot of sense. I discovered through some online reading that others felt the same way – and had ended up rectifying the situation via a “post-Enterprise” series of novels telling the real story and subsequent events, including the legendary Romulan War a century in the past for Kirk and company but which was in the near future for Archer and company and would by all rights have been part of the Enterprise story had the series not come to its inglorious end after only four seasons rather than the more typical seven – followed by the founding and early years of the United Federation of Planets. (I also have heard there were plans to bring in the Kzinti had the series not continued, but thus far the novels have not gone there….)

Kindle, here I come again! I read in quick succession: Last Full Measure (2006), telling how “Tripp” Tucker really did not die in 2161 as depicted in “These Are the Voyages,” but rather had faked his own death in 2155 – just after the penultimate episode, “Terra Prime” – and become a secret agent of the black ops organization Section 31 working behind Romulan lines as his former crewmates continued their mission amidst escalating tensions among the members of the fledgling Coalition of Planets, as told in two subsequent novels … The Good That Men Do (2007) and Kobayashi Maru (2008) (all three by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin).

Tensions erupted into full-scale conflict as the loose Coalition of Planets failed in two further books (Beneath the Raptor’s Wing, 2009; and To Brave the Storm, 2011; both by Martin alone) telling the story – at long last – of the Romulan War which proved the need for a truly United Federation of Planets, the formation and early years of which are told in five more books by Christopher L. Bennett (A Choice of Futures, 2013; Tower of Babel, 2014; … and three more).

I made it that far, through A Choice of Futures, reading through pretty much the month of March, maybe a little further. Of course, March 2020 is when the whole world seemed to stop amidst the “Wuhan Flu,” Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic – and pretty much a nationwide lockdown, stay-at-home orders, quarantines (of the healthy more so than the sick), etc. Virtue signaling like hell, a lot of big media companies offered extended free trials of their services (easy publicity, plus I’m sure there’s going to be a percentage of people who “forget” or are unable, for whatever reason – and they do not make it easy, let me tell you –, to cancel before actually being charged to continue with the service). Among them was CBS All Access, the aforementioned streaming service, the only place to watch Star Trek: Discovery and Picard. For free, I decided to give them a try, signing up right at the end of March.

My assessment? 1) The first season of Discovery is the stupidest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Here’s what I wrote in my journal on 30 March: “I watched the first few episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, the CBS All-Access series that started a couple of years ago that I have not seen because I’m not paying for it. I decided to get a trial 30-day subscription so we could watch Picard (Anne says she wants to). Hopefully Picard will be better than Discovery, which is ludicrously horrible, absolutely moronically stupid as a so-called “prequel” to the Original Series. I’m not even sure I’m going to continue watching it.” I did continue to watch it, of course – the very next day I wrote, “watched another dumb episode of STD (I kind of like that abbreviation, because the series is about that repulsive to me).” From 02 April, “Afternoon, watched a couple more episodes of Discovery. That after having ridiculed and dissed it to Chris G_____ [one of my colleagues] via email.” To quote that email, “I availed myself of a free trial of CBS All Access because when I told Anne there is the new Star Trek: Picard series, she said "Jean-Luc!!" and wants to see it ... but we haven't even started it. I'm about halfway through the first season of Star Trek: Discovery, however ... Do. Not. Bother. I know you're not a Star Trek fan anyway, or maybe that means you might like this because it ain't Star Trek! But probably not, because it is so ludicrously stupid I'm wondering why I'm even bothering, although word is that the second season is much better, introducing the Enterprise under Captain Pike, with his first officer Number One, and a very young Ensign Spock. But right now Discovery is tough slogging. The Klingons are totally different, the technology is generic far-more-advanced than even the latest post Next Generation series (although Discovery is supposed to be set in the 2250s a decade before the 2260s of the original series (Next Generation was the 2370s). And its based on some kind of living network of "spores" that permeate the universe and that a new experimental "spore drive" (no, yesterday was April Fools Day -- I am dead serious) can latch onto for instantaneous travel anywhere in the known universe.... (Hey, the spores sound kind of like midichlorians ... 😱!!!!) Sorry. I've been holding that in and it suddenly exploded.” Chris chortled, “That is hilarious!  Spore drive.  That sounds like a placeholder explanation ... that never got replaced,” to which I responded, “No, they put a lot of thought into that....”

I did press on, however, and it seemed to get a little better as the season progressed, although it was fighting against a pretty stout headwind of really bad premises. Then, the end of season one came – and in sailed the Enterprise – which is where season two began (a year later and more on CBS All Access, but literally moments later for me). It was so much better than the first. They downplayed the stupider parts of the first season -- redesigning the Klingons to align more closely with later (earlier?) series, using the "spore drive" more sparingly and writing in an explanation for why it's ultimately never heard of again ... actually they end up doing the same thing for the Discovery and its crew by the end of the season! Of course, it remained sickeningly over-the-top as far as "progressive" social engineering goes – rampant feminism and homosexuality, things which can be portrayed in an integral manner but here were handled basically as virtual signaling run amuck. But all of that I found secondary to the overwhelmingly positive presence of Captain Christopher Pike, who is here possibly the best captain since Picard, in my opinion, maybe since Kirk himself – Anson Mount nails it! I am not quite so taken with Rebecca Romijn as Number One, but Ethan Peck (grand- or great-grandson of Gregory Peck) does almost as good a job as a young Spock. They really really really need to make a “Pike of the Enterprise” series. I hope they do it. Of course, it probably would be just as “woke” as Discovery.

(As an aside, Picard was quite good, I found. Set about twenty years after the last appearance of the Next Generations characters, by the end of the season they assembled a rag-tag crew of misfits reminiscent of Firefly that could be enjoyable going forward. I think the real limitation is going to be Patrick Stewart's age -- he's about to turn eighty; how many more seasons can he have left in him?)

Having watched season two of Discovery, I wanted some "real" 23rd-century Original Series stuff ... so I rewatched Star Trek Continues (#betterthanAbrams) -- but I also discovered a wonderful little sub-series of Star Trek prose novels, entitled Vanguard. It is set during Kirk and company's Five Year Mission, giving kind of a story-behind-the-story focused more on political intrigue and an overarching mystery in a political hotspot region of the galaxy that ties together disparate elements that were tangential to the Original Series. It is full of connections weaving in and out of the Original Series. I’m about halfway through the series right now (not counting four novels in a follow-up series collectively entitled Seekers), and relations between the Federation and the Klingons are quickly headed toward the "Four Day War" depicted in the episode that introduced the Klingons in the first place.

Here are the books, in order, by series:

Star Trek: Vanguard:
  1. Harbinger (David Mack, 2005)
  2. ·       Summon the Thunder (Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, 2006)
  3. ·       Reap the Whirlwind (David Mack, 2007)
  4. ·       Open Secrets (Dayton Ward, 2009)
  5. ·       Precipice (David Mack, 2009)
  6. ·       What Judgments Come (Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, 2011)
  7. ·       Storming Heaven (David Mack, 2012)

Short Stories and Novellas
  • Starfleet Corps of Engineers: What’s Past, Book Four: Distant Early Warning (Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, 2006)
  • The Black Flag (James Swallow, 2009) (Set in the “Mirror Universe” and so at best ancillary to the series
  • Declassified (2011) - short stories:
    • “Almost Tomorrow” (David Mack)
    • “Hard News” (Kevin Dilmore)
    • “The Ruins of Noble Men” (Marco Palmieri)
    • “The Stars Look Down” (David Mack)
  • In Tempest’s Wake (Dayton Ward, 2012)

Star Trek: Seekers:
  1. ·       Second Nature (David Mack, 2014)
  2. ·       Point of Divergence (Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, 2014)
  3. ·       Long Shot (David Mack, 2015)
  4. ·       All That’s Left (Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, 2015)

(It was actually seeing the cover for one of these on Kindle that attracted me to Vanguard and Seekers. The covers echo the original covers for the Bantam episode adaptations by James Blish. Good memories!)

One thing I’ve done in order to align things as I’m reading, especially given the various short stories and novellas that are interspersed among the main novels, is extract a timeline from the comprehensive timeline at the huge reference site Memory Beta [LINK], which integrates all the “official” and licensed – but “non-canonical” – Star Trek fiction (mainly novels and comics) as opposed to Memory Alpha [LINK], which limits itself to canonical mainstream information from the series and movies. This is only the Vanguard / Seekers stuff, with pertinent references to The Original Series. I think it is mostly spoiler free, and share it here:


          Vanguard: Harbinger, Prologue.


          “Almost Tomorrow” (David Mack)  = Stardate [SD] 1257.5
          “Distant Early Warning” (Starfleet Corps of Engineers: What’s Past, Book Four)
          “Where No Man Has Gone Before” = SD 1312.4-1313.8
          Vanguard: Harbinger chapters 1-20
          Vanguard: Summon the Thunder


          Star Trek: The Original Series, Season One begins
          Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind = SD 1528.4 (6 weeks after end of Summon the Thunder)
          “Hard News” (Vanguard: Declassified)
          Vanguard: Open Secrets chapters 1-19 = SD 1573.9 (3 weeks after the end of Reap the Whirlwind)
          “Balance of Terror” (Star Trek: The Original Series) = SD 1709.2
          Vanguard: Open Secrets chapters 20-27 (one week after “Balance of Terror”)
          Vanguard: Open Secrets chapters 29-30 (four weeks after Admiral Nogura takes command of Starbase 47)
          Vanguard: Open Secrets chapters 31-45


          Vanguard: Open Secrets chapters 46-49 || Vanguard: Precipice chapter 1 (03 January)
          “Court Martial” (Star Trek: The Original Series) = SD 2947.3
          Vanguard: Precipice chapters 2-13 (13-26 February)
          “Arena” (Star Trek: The Original Series) = SD 3045.6
          Vanguard: Open Secrets chapters 50-60 (soon after “Court Martial” and “Arena”)
          Vanguard: Precipice chapters 14-15 (22-23 March)
          “Errand of Mercy” (Star Trek: The Original Series) = SD 3198.4-3201.7 || Vanguard: Open Secrets Prologue and Epilogue (simultaneously with conclusion of “Errand of Mercy”)
          Vanguard: Precipice Interlude: Chapter 16, chapters 17-18 (26-30 May)
          Vanguard: Precipice chapters 19-23 (02-05 June)
          Vanguard: Precipice chapters 24-29 (14-31 July)
          Vanguard: Precipice chapters 30-33 (01-03 August)
          Vanguard: Precipice chapters 34-36 (19-24 August)
          Vanguard: Precipice chapters 37-52 (9-14 September)
          Vanguard: Precipice chapter 53 (19 November)
          “A Private Little War” (Star Trek: The Original Series) = SD 4211.4 (14 December)
          Vanguard: Precipice chapters 54-60 (28-29 December = two weeks after “A Private Little War”)


          “The Ruins of Noble Men” (Vanguard: Declassified) (just days after Vanguard: Precipice ends)
          “The Stars Look Down” (Vanguard: Declassified) (two months after Vanguard: Precipice)
          “Spectre of the Gun” (Star Trek: The Original Series) = SD 4385.3
          Vanguard: What Judgments Come chapters 1-39 (more than a year after February 2267, soon after “Spectre of the Gun.” Ends three weeks before “The Tholian Web” -- Star Trek: The Original Series)
          “The Tholian Web” = SD 5693.2
          Vanguard: In Tempest’s Wake = SD 5694.7 (|| ending of “The Tholian Web”)
          Vanguard: Storming Heaven (late 2268, immediately before “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” -- Star Trek: The Original Series)
          Vanguard: In Tempest’s Wake chapter 5 = SD 5729.8 (|| Vanguard: Storming Heaven chapter 15)
          “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” = SD 5730.2
          Vanguard: Storming Heaven chapters 16-35.
          Vanguard: In Tempest’s Wake chapters 7, 9-10 = SD 5821.3 (|| Vanguard: Storming Heaven chapters 32-35, The Battle of Starbase 47)


          Vanguard: In Tempest’s Wake chapters 1-2, 4, 6, 8, 11 = SD 5829.6 (Five days after the Battle of Starbase 47)
          “Turnabout Intruder” = SD 5928.5 (end of Star Trek: The Original Series Season Three)
          Seekers: Second Nature (two months after “Turnabout Intruder”, six to eight months after Vanguard: Storming Heaven)
          Seekers: Point of Divergence (immediately after Second Nature)
          Seekers: Long Shot (five months after “Turnabout Intruder”)
          Seekers: All That’s Left (five months after “Turnabout Intruder”)


          Vanguard: What Judgments Come Prologue and Epilogue
          Vanguard: Storming Heaven Prologue and Epilogue
          The USS Enterprise returns to Earth at the end of Kirk’s Five-Year Mission


          Kirk is promoted to Admiral.
          Vanguard: In Tempest’s Wake chapter 12 = SD 7098.5 (two months after Kirk’s promotion to the Admiralty)

The series as a whole was overseen by David Mack, who wrote the “bible” for it. That is posted at his web site, along with annotations for some of the books detailing connections with The Original Series, other prose novels, etc. He also provides his “dream cast” of actors to portray the various new characters (not as a distinct document but rather part of others) (I had already mentally cast a different actor for Commodore Reyes, but his works as well – and most are brilliant once they are pointed out). There are also schematics of Vanguard Station and the USS Sagittarius. Those can (at least currently) be found at: .

(Given one of my criticisms of the current CBS All Access series, the self-aware “wokeness” both of them exhibit, I feel it incumbent to acknowledge that there is a prominent homosexual relationship critical to the plot of at least the early books that I am through at this point. It is handled very differently, in a way that is critical to the characters and integral to the story, and not as ham-handed what I called above “virtue-signaling.” There is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Vanguard does it right; Discovery does not. In my opinion.)

If you want a very different but entirely consistent story set in the heyday of classic Star Trek, the era of Kirk and Spock and the NCC-1701 (no bloody -A, -B, -C, -D, or -E!) USS Enterprise, exploring a different part of the galaxy, Federation politics, relations between the Klingons, Tholians, and Romulans, through the eyes of very different characters (some canonical but mostly not – although they all are, at this point, pretty much “canonical” for me), you really need to pick these books up. You will thank me for the suggestion.

Thanks for reading … and Live Long and Prosper!

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