Star Trek Vanguard: What Judgments Come
© 2011 Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
For three years, Vanguard Station’s mission of facilitating the exploration and colonization of the Taurus Reach has been sidetracked by its covert attempts to come to grips with the remains of an ancient, unimaginably powerful civilization once anchored there. That search has been met with setbacks and costly disasters, not to mention frequent run-ins with the Klingons, who believe the Reach may have weapons for the taking. Compromises have been made – -too many, for some — and things are starting to come to a head. An attempt by Starfleet to communicate with an entity encased in a crystaline artificat sees a proud ship mortally wounded, and a monster unleased on the stars…
It’s been over eight years since I last read from the Vanguard series, as this book hadn’t yet been released once I was caught up. Vanguard proved itself very early as a compelling character drama with an interesting mystery at hand, solidly grounded in early Original Series lore. One can hear the bridge ambiance, see the sets and bright costumes. That’s still largely true seven books in, but I’ve found my interest in the super-civilization to have waned consistently as we find out more about them, to the point that I largely read this for the characters. The two most prominent here are Diego Reyes, who sacrificed his career to throw light on some of the excesses and moral compromises of the secret project, and T’Pyrnn, a Vulcan intelligence officer who helps her former boss Reyes begin fishing for more intel abroad an Orion gaming ship.(I’m glad to see that T’Pyrnn finally got her ex-boyfriend’s katra out of her head: he’d been hanging up there for years, driving her insane and making her occasional romances super awkward.) There are many others, of course, but Quinn and Pennington — the HanSolo & maverick reporter duo who featured in the early books — are largely background here. One thread to pay attention to is the crew of the USS Defiant, as this book leads into “The Tholian Web” TOS episode in which the Defiant is trapped by some strange Tholian matrix that phases it out of existence — or, pushes it into the Mirror Universe, if we’re to believe Enterprise. Also of interest are the Federation, Romulan, and Klingon diplomats trying to establish more amicable relations from a pilot project: The “Planet of Galactic Peace”. (If you’ve seen Final Frontier, it’s the deserted hellhole that David Warren is stuck on.)
Although my interest in the story as a whole has waned over the years, I can’t help but anticipate what David Mack will bring in Storming Heaven: he has way of making finales absolutely epic.