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Commander Riker fights for survival on a desolate world!

A Rock and a Hard Place is a Pocket TNG novel – #10 in the numbered series – written by Peter David. Published by Pocket Books, it was first released in January 1990.


From the book jacket
Under the best circumstances, terraforming is a tough, dangerous task that pits the hardiest of pioneers against an unforgiving environment. When the terraformers on the planet Paradise fall behind schedule, Commander Riker is given temporary leave from the USS Enterprise and sent to assist.
Riker's replacement on the Starship Enterprise is a volatile officer named Stone whose behavior soon raises questions about his ability and his judgment. Meanwhile, Commander Riker has become enmeshed in a life and struggle with Paradise's brutal landscape. However, he soon learns that not all of the planet's dangers are natural in origin – as he comes face to face with Paradise's greatest danger and most hideous secret.

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.

Memorable quotes[]

"It sounds to me as if Stone, despite his enthusiasm… may not be Starfleet material."
"Jean-Luc, he beat the Kobayashi Maru Simulation."
"…What? Without cheating?"
"Yes. Stone blew it out of the water. Programmers were in mourning for a week."

- Captain Picard and Admiral Karen Williams (Chapter Two)

"The transporter is the great equalizer… And I'm in charge of it all. Y'see, to me, everybody is just molecules, that's all. And nobody's molecules are more important than anybody else's."
"Speak for yourself, Mr. O'Brien."

- Chief O'Brien and Captain Picard (p. 102)

"You're judged on your handshake. The handshake was originally a way of making sure your opponent wasn't carrying a weapon. But it's also a way of showing that you can defend yourself without a weapon."

- Quintin Stone (p. 45)

"And what feelings were you getting from him?."
"Calm. Inner peace."
"Counselor, are you familiar with the concept of kamikaze pilots?"
"No, Captain."
"Japanese pilots, particularly during the Second World War on Earth, who were perfectly willing to sacrifice their lives. I'm quite certain that they were calm and had inner peace as well, just before their planes exploded into fireballs."

- Captain Picard and Deanna Troi, on Commander Stone (Chapter 13)

"At the Academy they taught us the Picard Maneuver. If your trick had failed and destroyed your ship, it would have been called 'The Picard Blunder' or 'Picard's folly'. Success forgives everything."

- Quintin Stone (p. 139)

"When you go outside procedures and it blows up in your face, you're an idiot. When you go outside procedures and it works, you're an original thinker"

- Quintin Stone (p. 139)

"He would have played by the rules, and perhaps the ambassadors would be dead, and Ryne would still be in power, but at least the rules would be satisfied."

- Quintin Stone (p. 140)

Background information[]

  • This novel, fairly uncommonly, has an original character (Commander Quintin Stone) as one of the protagonists, the other being Riker.
  • It should be noted that some of Stone's traits are similar to those of Mackenzie Calhoun from the Star Trek: New Frontier novels – including his facial scar, checkered history and disrespect for authority.


Jean-Luc Picard
William T. Riker
Geordi La Forge
There's tension between Worf and Troi due to the events of "The Child", where he was in favor of terminating her pregnancy.
Deanna Troi
The counselor once again demonstrates her psychic link with Will Riker when he subconsciously calls out to her. This occurs twice in this novel, both times when Riker is near death.
Beverly Crusher
Crusher has recently returned to the Enterprise after her stint at Starfleet Medical.

This places the novel near the beginning of Season 3, after the departure of Dr. Pulaski and Dr. Crusher's return.

Wesley Crusher
Miles O'Brien
Quintin Stone
Starfleet executive officer, Commander Riker's "replacement" during his assignment, the real purpose of his presence on the Enterprise is to receive some discipline under Captain Picard. Rising through the ranks of Starfleet, he was considered intelligent, charismatic, and potentially an excellent leader – one of Starfleet's best and brightest. More recently, however, he has proven to be disrespectful of authority, scarred (figuratively and literally) and probably psychopathic (this last term describes most of his actions). If Capt. Picard and Counselor Troi can't set him on a more useful path, it is likely that his days in Starfleet will be short-lived.

The character of Quintin Stone, a scar-faced maverick, is reincarnated in one of Peter David's later series – the character of Mackenzie Calhoun in Star Trek: New Frontier shares a large number of character traits with Stone.

Andrew Borjas
Captain of the Nimitz.
Karen Williams
Four-year-old child aboard the Enterprise.
Security officer, part of the away team to the planet Culinan.
Vernon Detwiller
Geophysicist on the Enterprise, part of the team dispatched to Paradise.
Security officer, part of the rescue team sent after Riker on Paradise.
Security officer, part of the rescue team sent after Riker on Paradise.
Security officer, part of the rescue team sent after Riker on Paradise.
Member of Dr. Crusher's medical staff.
Member of Dr. Crusher's medical staff.
Paul Estin
Nicknamed Scooter, a friend of Wesley Crusher.
Mark Masters
Head scientist of the Paradise terraforming colony.
Jackson Carter
Childhood friend of Riker, two years older than him; leader of the Paradise colony.
Eleanor Carter (née Buch)
Wife of Jackson Carter; childhood acquaintance of Riker.
Stephy Carter
Fifteen-year-old daughter of Jackson and Eleanor Carter.
Colonist on Paradise.
Colonist on Paradise.
Dave Mosley
Colonist on Paradise. A few years older than Stephy Carter.
Praedor (monarch) of the planet Culinan.
Staff member at the communications center on Culinan.
Ebunan A'T'siva
Elected praetor of Culinan, successor of Ryne.
Qumwl the Eminently Quotable
Son of Kahless the Unforgettable, source of many Klingon sayings (according to Worf).


planet in the Roze system, trying to join the Federation. A coup d'état took place while a Moniter away team led by Quintin Stone was on the planet three years earlier. Atrocities were committed during the coup. Stone wasn't allowed to intervene due to the Prime Directive. These events made him the borderline lunatic he is today.
Federation starship. Quintin Stone was serving on the Moniter three years earlier.
Federation starship, commanded by Captain Andrew Borjas. First officer was Quintin Stone, until his reassignment to the Enterprise.
Definitely a misnomer for this inhospitable planet. Paradise is best described by the term "frozen wasteland". Commander Riker is chosen for this assignment partly due to his upbringing in Alaska, the other being the need to rotate in a "problem officer" in his place on the Enterprise.
The city of the terraformers on Paradise. So far, it is the only place on Paradise where weather conditions are generally tolerable. Venturing outside its limits is highly dangerous. This is compounded by the fact that the usability of transport, scanning and communication equipment is severely limited on the rest of the planet.
Wild Things
Part wolf, part husky, all survival. These dog-like beasts (one is depicted on the cover) were genetically engineered specifically to survive Paradise's harsh conditions. When they were declared a failure, they were to have been destroyed; however, the majority of them managed to escape, with dire consequences. The Wild Things are dedicated to a pack mentality: though there is no naturally occurring food source on Paradise, the pack nonetheless survived by cannibalizing its weaker members.

External links[]

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