(written from a Production point of view)
- From the book jacket
- The year is 2298. Five years after the presumed death of Captain James T. Kirk, the USS Excelsior, commanded by Captain Hikaru Sulu, is at the forefront of exploration, diplomacy, and the defense of the Federation. Unprecedented peace talks with the violently xenophobic Tholian Assembly trigger a deadly confrontation aboard the Excelsior. Now Sulu and his crew – including Chekov, Rand, Chapel, Tuvok, and Akaar – are thrust into an unexpected conflict between the Tholians and a mysterious new enemy, the Neyel… whose origins, if revealed, could lead to war with Earth itself. As the Tholians weave a web of vengeance, the Excelsior is flung beyond the galaxy to discover the hidden truth about the alien Neyel, forcing Sulu to question where his responsibilities lie – with the fragile peace he must preserve, or with the victims of his own world's tragic past.
In the early 2030s, Earth was threatened by the probable collision of near-Earth objects (asteroids). By this time Human technology had progressed to allow Humanity to stave off its own extinction from such threats. The asteroids were halted from collision and given the ability to achieve geostationary orbit around the Sun near Lagrange Point 5.
Because the former asteroids were heavy in mineral resources, many companies and nation-states sought to put colonies on them to either extract resources or perform scientific experimentation. These colonies were called O'Neill habitats, after the scientist who devised the idea. One of the habitats, named Vanguard, was a premier scientific laboratory run by NICHOLCORP, a very lucrative company that was known for its patenting and manufacture of transparent aluminum.
By 2053, when World War III broke out, it destroyed many major cities, including New York, Washington, DC, London, and several middle-eastern and far eastern cities. The denizens of Vanguard and the other O'Neill habitats believed that the fate of the post-atomic Human civilization rested squarely upon their efforts to bring energy to the planet suffering from effects of nuclear winter that could destroy most, if not all, of the Human race and other lifeforms on Earth.
By about the time of 2058, the Vanguard colony was in contact with Dr. Zefram Cochrane, in Bozeman, Montana who was working on the Phoenix project. Vanguard partnered with Dr. Cochrane's team to create a stable warp field as part of his tests for warp drive. These were tests that Vanguard scientists believed would be beneficial to the development of safe, renewable, non-fossil energy to distribute to the planet and possibly a way for Humanity to leave planet Earth and colonize other worlds.
Unfortunately during the test a problem occurred in which the Vanguard mysteriously vanished from Earth orbit. All radio contact was lost and the colony could not be located via telescope. Dr. Cochrane believed that Vanguard colony was destroyed and felt responsible for the destruction of the habitat and everyone on board. However, unbeknownst to him and history, this was not the case. The Vanguard asteroid colony was transported approximately one hundred light years away from Earth instantaneously.
The crew of the Vanguard clearly figured out that they were nowhere near Earth as the stars didn't match up with what they were used to seeing. They believed that the warp field test incident may have destroyed Earth, and that they were possibly the only Humans left.
The crew of the Vanguard, made up of some of Earth's finest scientific minds, made first contact with several alien species, whom the crew arrogantly presumed would be benign because alien civilizations with spacecraft capable of deep space travel were believed to be beyond hate, greed, and other negative and violent traits common to Humans. They were quickly proven wrong when extraterrestrials boarded in order to raid the asteroid for its resources. The director of the Vanguard colony was a casualty of this, as her head was cut off by a Nausicaan blade.
- Author Martin was inspired by the early work of Robert Heinlein. He handled most of the worldbuilding for the Neyel people, while Mangels developed the Tholian species. (Voyages of Imagination, p. 455)
- During the initial phases of development on the novel, with contracts still unsigned, Martin and Mangels happened to be interviewing George Takei for Star Trek Magazine. Aware of his desire for further stories featuring Sulu, the pair sought to get his approval to take to editor Marco Palmieri. Ultimately, they decided not to use their recording of Takei discussing the possibility, and relied purely on the basis of their story pitch. (Voyages of Imagination, p. 455)
- The Star Trek: Titan novel The Red King, likewise by Martin and Mangels, is a sequel to this novel. William T. Riker, Tuvok, and Leonard James Akaar appear in both novels.
- Cover design by John Vairo, Jr..
- Hikaru Sulu (β)
- Pavel Chekov (β)
- William T. Riker (β)
- Tuvok (β)
- Janice Rand (β)
- Lojur (β)
- Christine Chapel (β)
- Leonard James Akaar (β)
- Terim Azleya (β)
- Aidan Burgess (β)
- Shandra Docksey
- P'mu'la Hopman
- Zefram Cochran (β)
- Christopher Brynner (β)
- Avram Baruch
- Kasrene (β)
- Keel (β)
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