8 Best Star Trek Books Update 05/2022

Best Star Trek Books

“Star Trek,” like many of our beloved franchises, is a multimedia phenomenon. Today’s children are immersed in a world of television shows, movies, comic books, video games, and, of course, tie-in literature. “Star Trek” novels are unique because they are by definition non-canon, allowing their authors to go rogue while exploring weird new worlds. Some of the original tie-in authors went on to become science fiction titans, and those titans occasionally return for more Trekkie fun.

The “Trek” books are also a distinctive aspect of the fandom. “Star Trek: The New Voyages” was a licensed two-book anthology compiled from fanfiction that was published in the late 1970s. Even stranger, Della Van Hise’s “Star Trek” novel “Killing Time” was published and recalled for an altered edition in 1985, as veteran fans realized their beloved slash fiction combination of Kirk and Spock was no longer hiding in the shadows. It’s a wacky monument to how fans made “Star Trek” a success in the first place, and the tie-in novels are still terrific comfort food today. These are the top 15 books I’ve discovered, read, and enjoyed throughout the years.

A Stitch in Time by Andrew Robinson

A Stitch in Time by Andrew Robinson

Elim Garak isn’t just interesting to “Star Trek” aficionados. In a unique sense, he’s also a part of actorAndrew Robinson. Deep Space Nine was home to the charming-yet-wise Cardassian tailor (and spy) Garak, but Garak’s personality was too enormous to be contained by its steel corridors (or with a word from Dr. Bashir, his unlikely best friend.) Robinson cultivated him in this manner from the beginning, keeping an in-character diary to help him through Garak’s actions. Robinson’s readings from Garak’s diaries, on the other hand, took on a life of their own as part of his convention appearances. Robinson was eventually persuaded to develop it into a novel.

“A Stitch in Time” is an epistolary novel in which Garak writes a series of letters to Dr. Bashir in the aftermath of the Dominion War. Garak’s childhood recollections, memories of a long-ago love, and future plans are all contained within. The highest compliment I can pay is that Robinson’s charming drawl pervades every syllable. This novel could not have been written by anyone else, and it is the perfect love letter from an actor to the character he created.

Imzadi by Peter David

In 2003, “Imzadi” was rereleased as “Imzadi Forever,” coupled with its sequel. The sequel, according to all accounts, is a fantastic story, but I haven’t read it yet. The original 1992 edition, which I enthusiastically purchased in hardback, is my recommendation. “Imzadi,” like another upcoming Peter David title, has a convoluted timeline, but the emotional thread and David’s clear style keep the plot moving along.

In “Encounter at Farpoint,” Troi telepathically sends the term “imzadi” to Riker for the first time. Author Peter David, on the other hand, emphasizes on the potency of the Betazed phrase meaning “beloved.” The term alludes to something richer and deeper than a teen’s first love. Riker and Troi’s early connection is seen through the viewpoint of a distant, alternate future in which Troi has died and Riker is a bitter old cuss. Nobody wants a future like this, yet the Guardian of Forever, that mysterious archway from the original “Star Trek,” is on our side. The reappearance of this sentient space rock is always a draw, but the plot also includes all the political twists and turns a Trekkie could desire.

How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford

John M. Ford was one of the modern era’s best and most underappreciated writers. With his death in 2006, practically all of his work has gone out of print until recently. Most of his work is still difficult to come across and requires scouring used bookstores for hidden gems. Unfortunately, “How Much for Just the Planet?” from 1987 is one of them. It’s Ford’s second “Star Trek” novel, and it’s a superb absurdist relic in the vein of “Dr. Strangelove.”

“How Much for Just the Planet?” is a bizarre science fiction mash-up: Combine the crew of the Enterprise with opportunistic Klingons and a hitherto unexplored planet brimming with virgin dilithium. Then throw in a bunch of absolutely incomprehensible aliens, put them together in a hotel (with a golf course — it’s a story point), and make them compete in a “Squid Game”-style game that centers on heists and ballroom dancing rather than murder. The idea is to make friends and have a nice time along the way.

Spock Must Die! by James Blish

Spock Must Die by James Blish

The first “Star Trek” novel is still a wonderful read and a good place to start learning about how “Trek” fiction has progressed. In many ways, “Spock Must Die!” feels newer than its 1970 publication date, however keep in mind that it contains some “exotic sexuality” clichés about Spock. Yes, he was the original “Star Trekunusual “‘s sex icon, but Blish’s prose occasionally pushes that to a strange place.

Aside from that, this book introduces some interesting themes long before “Star Trek” wore them out. The evil clone plot line has become a groaner standard, but Blish’s tale adds some frightening fridge logic issues about how the transporter chamber might function with some mad science drive. The science gets a little pulpy after that, but the high-stakes thrills building up to the title reveal – a Spock does have to die — make for a charming, intimate trip through an earlier science fiction age.

Q-Squared by Peter David

“Q-Squared” isn’t canon, like other “Star Trek” tie-ins, but it’s near enough to an imagined truth that fans have adopted it nevertheless. It’s a three-lane timeline pileup, and it’s a little perplexing this time. Because this novel features John de Lancie’s omnipotent trickster, Q, it’s understandable if there’s some uncertainty about what’s going on. And it isn’t a Q narrative unless everyone (even Picard) wonders at least once, “What the hell is going on?”

What’s going on here is a tantrum caused by a young Q known to “Star Trek” fans as Trelane, the Squire of Gothos. Trelane was a goofy, omnipotent brat who futzed around with Kirk and his buddies until his family pulled him in line at the end of the episode, a long-time “Star Trek” classic. David’s work takes the fan-inspired retcon that this legendary figure is actually a Q (a theory shared by John de Lancie) and wraps it all up in a tangle. It’s not always clear, particularly in the semi-metaphorical sword fight ending. Regardless, it’s a fantastic journey across the Continuum’s outskirts.

Spock’s World by Diane Duane

Diane Duane is a contemporary gem. Her fantasy series “Young Wizards” is still one of the best methods to get a child interested in the dreams concealed inside books. She published 1988’s “Spock’s World,” one of the first and best novels to delve into the social subtleties and history of Vulcan, and she is still writing and a part of fandom today.

The framing plot revolves around a fledgling separatist movement attempting to expel Vulcan from the Federation, and it gives Spock and his family a chance to shine. It’s a fantastic political yarn that incorporates elements from classic “Star Trek” episodes, most notably “Amok Time.” The meticulous world building, with lingering glimpses of significant episodes in Vulcan history, is the actual meat here. It’s a nice reminder that the worlds that “Star Trek” explores are what make the show so unique. Duane’s graceful creation continues to influence subsequent “Star Trek” creators, despite the fact that “Spock’s World” is not canon.

The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack

The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack

You can bet that every new “Star Trek” TV series will be accompanied by a slew of new tie-in novels. With “Picard,” the tie-in trend clearly persisted. Within a month following the show’s launch, the first paperback based on Jean-solo Luc’s adventure was released. “The Last Best Hope” is a prequel to “Picard,” and it does a good job of fleshing out a few connections that weren’t explored in the first season.

Though the novel spends a lot of time with Raffi, the damaged intelligence officer we’ve come to love on the show, it’s the glimpses of Romulan society that strike out the most. The Qowat Milat, a religious order established in the episode, is brought into clear light here, helping to round out Elnor’s childhood as our orphaned Romulan Legolas. “The Last Best Hope” has another feature that may appeal to “Star Trek” fans: it is currently as close to canon as a “Star Trek” novel can go until “Picard” disputes it.

Star Trek: The Eugenics War by Greg Cox

The “Khan Trilogy” is a better name for this collection of recommendations. The first two volumes are technically titled “The Eugenics War: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh,” while the third is formally titled “To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh.” Two parts covert war thriller, one part survivalist nightmare make up the trilogy. It tells the whole narrative of one of the most powerful (and bare-chested) adversaries in “Star Trek” history.

“The Eugenics War” takes a look behind the scenes of the doomed attempt to prevent the fabled conflict from ever taking place. As mentioned in the classic episode “Space Seed,” eugenicist science spawned a social rift that even Marvel’s Magneto could not have imagined. The attempt to prevent Khan from gaining control of Earth fails, but internal strife eventually sends the dictator into exile. After the events of “The Wrath of Khan,” the events of “Space Seed” take place after the first two volumes, and the final novel sees Khan struggling to survive on Ceti Alpha V, the sandy death-world introduced in “The Wrath of Khan,” surrounded by loyalists and limited resources. It’s fantastic.

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