Matthew Kresal checks out the first collection in the Star Trek: Myriad Universes series.
“What if?” stories have always found an audience. It can be too tempting to imagine worlds where Hitler won World War II or JFK wasn't assassinated. The stories in the first volume of Star Trek Myriad Universes takes the “what if?” notion and alters the various shows and events in them in a strong launch for the series.
The first novella, A Less Perfect Union, is set in the Original Series era where the events of the Enterprise episode Terra Prime instead led to Earth returning to isolationism and the steps taken a century later to bring Earth into the Coalition Of Planets. A lot of characters from that series make appearances. including Christopher Pike and James T. Kirk as well as the original Enterprise's last surviving crew member T'Pol, and the characterizations throughout are strong (though for some reason I kept imagining the cast from the 2009 reboot instead of the original TV cast). Overall, it's a strong story with plenty of twists (especially one that pays off one of the more interesting castings of the same actor in multiple roles in the Original Series), tension and action.
The middle story, Places Of Exile, features an alternative time-line where Voyager ends up stranded in the Delta Quadrant. Not being a Voyager fan myself, this was the story I enjoyed least out of the volume and the fact that it was also the longest of the three, by some pages, probably didn't help matters either. A decent story though, if perhaps a bit too long.
The final story, Seeds Of Dissent, picks up one of the more intriguing Trek “what if?” premises: what if Khan had won the Eugenics Wars? The story itself, though, is set more than three hundred years later when the Defiance, captained by Julian Bashir, stumbles across the Botany Bay in a fascinating reversal of the Original Series episode “Space Seed”. Seeds Of Dissent makes good use of several characters from Deep Space Nine (which, though I'm not a big fan of, I found them to be engaging here) as well as characters introduced in the two excellent Eugenics Wars novels by Greg Cox (which I reviewed here). While it is the shortest of the three, it moves along at a fast pace and builds to an excellent ending that makes the reader yearn to know what happens next.
Overall, the first Myriad Universes is a strong collection of three Trek themed “what if?” stories. While I found that the enjoyment of the individual stories was somewhat dependent on how much I liked the series it was taken from (and I therefore suspect that might be the case for others as well), if you're a Trek fan I strongly recommend this. It's just too intriguing to ignore.
Matthew Kresal lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't
have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the
Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places.