Star Trek TNG: Headlong Flight
© 2017 Dayton Ward
A mysterious nebula and a rogue planet bring together three ships across the gulf of time and space. In our universe, the Enterprise-E can’t resist data that indicates there are lifeforms in distress somewhere on the strange planet’s surface; in other universes, an Enterprise-D with Captain Riker at the helm is conducting its own investigation, glad to finally be given something to put its mind on besides Captain Picard’s untimely death at the hands of the Borg shortly after Wolf 359. Likewise curious are the crew of a 23rd century Romulan vessel, eager to exploit the nebula’s strange energy and weaponize it against the Federation — proving themselves just as able as the ship that destroyed the Enterprise after a border raid.
Headlong Flight has one of the hookiest premises I’ve ever seen in a Star Trek novel. Take the Primeverse Enterprise-E, with all the character development we’ve seen in the last twenty years of novel, and have her encounter an Enterprise-D from a subtly altered past. Many of the crew see themselves, aged or younger by twenty years; others can’t help but notice missing faces among the other crews, or feel bittersweet joy at seeing comrades long lost alive again. Each crew sees the effects of different choices made manifest, and the reader can only imagine what it would be like for Picard to step foot aboard the Enterprise-D again, or the alter-Riker to find himself again in the presence of his mentor. Caught in a dimension-hopping planet’s wake, the three crews must work together to find a way to escape its hold and return to their respective places.
Although the scientific plot has its interest, the main event here is the premise itself, the interactions between different versions of these characters. There’s a huge nostalgia factor here for the reader as well as the characters (Picard deliberately beams over to the Enterprise-D just so he can see it in person again), and I especially liked that the two realities the E-D and Romulan ship came from were seperate ones we’ve not seen before, and not just another borrowing of the ‘mirror universe’. Each of them had subtle alterations that may paying attention to worth it.
In short, a fantastic little standalone novel.