Star Trek the Fall: The Poisoned Chalice
© 2013 James Swallow
Without warning or reason, the starship Titan – specialized for deep space exploration – has been recalled and ordered to patrol…Earth. Captain Riker has been promoted to admiral and shoved in an office, while several members of his command crew have disappeared on secret missions that not even the Fleet Admiral knows about. Who’s giving orders around here? It’s a troubled time in the Federation, with one head of state assassinated only weeks before, and the president pro temp acting in ways that make Chancellor Gowron look compassionate and conscientious. More mystery and more stress are not what the Federation needs….but they do make for another great novel in The Fall series.
Schemes are the name of the game here, as everyone is Up to Something. The fleet admiral suspects the president is up to something, Riker suspects the fleet admiral is up to something, and the crews of two starships suspect Riker is up to something. Commanders Tuvok and Nog know they’re both being put up to something, because they and a few other officers have been ordered to the middle of nowhere to meet a group of mercenaries who are obviously up to no good. But what is going on? All these secret goings-on are the ripples around the schemer in chief, President Pro Tempore Ishan Anjar. Anjar was chosen not for manifest competence, but to assure Bajor – in the light of the Federation’s growing ties with Cardassia – that Bajor’s history was not forgotten, and its place is secure. Throughout this series he’s proven himself to be petty, mean, obnoxious, and other sundry adjectives, prolonging crises for political gain. That is coming to a head, however, and things are unraveling.
The Poison Chalice brims over with intrigue and terse conversations, with a healthy bit of action and a little comedy as well. I was spellbound, still enjoying the drama of Starfleet officers wrestling with questions of conscience and duty, and can’t wait to see how this ends. I hope it involves Anjar getting a right sound lecture from Picard. Or a right sound backhand from Worf — I’m not particular.