Imagine that there is a war that has been raging on for years. You suddenly find yourself with the means to go back in time and stop this war before it starts, and you have one of the most powerful weapons ever invented. But there is one catch; you have to completely annihilate your enemy to accomplish your mission. What are your going to do? Would you be willing to commit genocide of another world?
[In the 5th novel of the Star Trek: The Fall series entitled Peaceable Kingdoms, Captain Picard of the USS Enterprise requests and is granted permission to return to the ongoing mission that he and his ship was intended for; exploration.
While investigating the Odyssian Pass, a region of space that is believed to contain a number of inhabited worlds, the crew of the Enterprise finds a giant ship that is apparent adrift. Further investigation finds that while most of the crew has perished, two crew members of the crew are being held in suspended animation and that she ship the Armageddon’s Arrow has traveled more than 100 years from the future. In a nearby star system, there are two inhabited planets that have been at war for centuries. The Arrow itself was launched by a race called the Raqilan, and their descendants have launched the ship to obliterate the race that they are, and have been at war with, the Henlona.
As members of the Enterprise crew are aboard the Arrow to offer aid to the surviving members of the crew, representatives of the Henlona arrive on the scene and claim the Arrow captured and her remaining crew prisoners of war. Picard has no say in the matter because his hands are tied by the non-interference directive, however he does offer his services as mediator to help quell the conflict.
On the surface, all of the involved parties seem to want to conflict to end, but there are some with more sinister ideas.
It is also discovered that the Arrow, which was completed in the future, is actually being constructed in the present, and along with that, it is being built based on a design from the past!
One might think that this situation would lead to a very tangled web of time paradoxes involving the past, present, and future, there is no need to worry about that because, as usual, Dayton Ward clearly knows his stuff and there is no confusion as the plot winds and twists around until, as one might suspect, Picard comes up with the more or less perfect solution after pointing out the futility of war, with the help of the two remaining crew of the Arrow.
When I see Dayton’s name on the cover of a Trek novel, I usually expect to read something from The Original Series, but he once again shows that he is quite comfortable in any of the series. That being said, there is however, an element in this story that comes from one of the best episodes (in my humble opinion) of Star Trek: The Original Series. It seems that the Raquilans have designed their weapon on the second season TOS episode “The Doomsday Machine.”
For those that may not remember, that episode featured a machine that was designed by beings from another galaxy to destroy and consume entire solar systems for fuel. At any rate, leave it to Dayton to call up one of the most destructive weapons from TOS and place in the middle of the 24th Century, and it is brilliantly done.
Anyone who reads Trek novels regularly by now knows that the makeup of the Enterprise crew is very different from the days of Next Generation. While Picard continues to command, Riker has been promoted to admiral and Worf now serves as the first officer, and it is great to see how Dayton has continued to make the character grow as he has gained experience and wisdom. The newer members of the crew in this story are also interesting and have many dimensions, and that goes especially for Lieutenant Commander Taurik, who first appeared in the TNG seventh season episode “Lower Decks.”
Armageddon’s Arrow is well paced with nothing rushed or glossed over. There are many references to events in the Star Trek universe that are relevant to the story. For me, these are quite fun to find and always give me pause to think about what happened and see how well those events are tied into the story I am currently reading. Dayton is especially good at this aspect of writing his novels
I heard on a podcast that I listen to regularly that it is the intention of the publishers for Star Trek novels to return to a more exploration stance and less focus on the intrigue and military aspects of Starfleet. I am very glad that Dayton was tapped to be one of the first to kick off the renewed efforts of Trek to get back to seek out new life and civilizations.
Take a look at Armageddon’s Arrow and enjoy a really good, solid story in the TNG vein.
Well, there it is…