(written from a Production point of view)
It was first used for a four-part series of thematic crossover novels released by Pocket Books in the summer of 2001 – one of several such series produced annually by the company at that time. The books spanned the four major Trek television tie-in novel series of the time – the Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.
The Star Trek: Section 31 banner title was used for by David Mack for the 2014 novel Disavowed and the 2017 novel Control, novels which detailed the continuing efforts of Julian Bashir and Sarina Douglas to bring down the organization, as established in other novels like Abyss, Zero Sum Game, Plagues of Night, Raise the Dawn, and A Ceremony of Losses.
Premise of the crossover series
The common theme among all these books was the influence of Section 31 on each ensemble cast.
The TNG outing is Rogue (written by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin), which features Lt. Hawk (from Star Trek: First Contact) as a protagonist, and the revelation that Picard's Academy classmate Cortan Zweller (TNG: "Tapestry") has had a career as a Section 31 agent when the diplomatic incident resulting from the loss of his assigned starship is on the USS Enterprise-E's mission agenda.
The USS Voyager segment is entitled Shadow (written by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch) and features the revelation that a Section 31 mole has been part of the crew since the beginning of the voyage through the Delta Quadrant.
An early encounter of 31 agents by James T. Kirk takes place in Cloak (written by S.D. Perry). It tells the backstory from VOY: "The Omega Directive" of Dr. Bendes Ketteract and his foolish attempt at harnessing the power of an Omega molecule which ultimately destroyed the fabric of subspace throughout the entire Lantaru sector, and the covert operations Section 31 used to foment that situation.
Finally, the crew of Deep Space 9 are involved also, in Abyss (written by David Weddle and Jeffrey Lang), a story which continues the ongoing "Relaunch" series set after "What You Leave Behind". Set a few days after Avatar, Abyss focuses on Doctor Julian Bashir fighting a Section 31 rogue agent, Ethan Locken, who has left Section 31, after being assigned to create Jem'Hadar for use by Section 31. Instead, Locken uses the Jem'Hadar, who are loyal only to him, to create a new rise of the teachings of Khan Noonien Singh from the Eugenics Wars, with Locken himself being genetically enhanced. Bashir is assisted by Elias Vaughn, Deep Space 9's new first officer, who reveals he is a member of a Starfleet group who have opposed Section 31 in the past and continue to do so.
- Marco Palmieri commented: "From the moment the concept was introduced in the Deep Space Nine episode "Inquisition" I knew I wanted to do Section 31 stories. Here was a secret, autonomous black ops agency, willing to take whatever action was needed for the safety and security of the Federation, and the elimination of all threats to it. The controversy that erupted in fandom over Section 31 didn't surprise me; in fact, it only fueled my desire. Some fans argue that it goes against the fundamental ideology and the basic philosophical assumptions that Star Trek is built upon. Others say it adds texture and greater complexity to the Star Trek universe by retroactively introducing the idea of a necessary evil. What I realized is that this very argument is what's so compelling about the concept in terms of storytelling. These were the kinds of questions the familiar heroes of Star Trek would wrestle with in the novels, because Section 31 is an enemy their training doesn't prepare them for". (Voyages of Imagination)
- Palmieri also commented: "The reason I wanted to do Section 31 as four novels was in part to explore the organization's effects upon different crews beyond the DS9 milieu, and in part because I thought too many of our miniseries in those days were multi-part stories, where the reader would have to sometimes read four, six, or more volumes in order to get a complete story. By contrast, Section 31 is four standalone novels. No connecting story, no numbers on the books to denote a reading order, just the unifying theme. The idea was to give the reader the option to read as many or as few of the Section 31 novels as he or she wanted, in any order. I think readers appreciated that approach; the Section 31 novels ended up being the top-selling mass-market Star Trek titles that year. (Voyages of Imagination)
- Palmieri resisted developing any further Star Trek: Section 31 novels despite the success of the four original novels in 2001. Palmieri commented: "My boss at that time, associate publisher Scott Shannon, urged me to follow up with more Section 31 books right away. I resisted the idea for several reasons. I hated the thought of beating a story concept into the ground – I hated it then, and I hate it now. I also think Section 31, like the Borg, works best when used sparingly, and only when the right story presents itself. Lastly, I wanted to develop other Star Trek story concepts. I'm glad the miniseries was popular, but I'd much rather go on to the next cool idea than repeat myself so soon. I think that's one of the key ways to keep the Star Trek fiction line fresh and interesting". (Voyages of Imagination)
- Palmieri was also satisfied with the four covers of the original novels: "I was really pleased with how the covers turned out. They were simple, elegant, conveyed just the right mood, and were completely unlike anything we'd done up to that point". (Voyages of Imagination)