A few days ago I began to read through the fantastic Peter David 'New Frontier' books. Last time I did was about ten years ago now so it's about time I started again and caught up while I am at it.
Currently I'm on the second book, 'Into the Void' but I'm getting through it pretty damn quick.
For those of you who aren't aware, 'New Frontier' is a completely unique series in the Star Trek mythos. It centres around a fairly miss-matched crew on a journey into a relatively unknown region of space that has been thrown into turmoil after the collapse of the ruling Empire in the region. The USS Excalibur is therefore assigned with a mission to gather knowledge and information about the region while at the same time offering humanitarian aid as the Captain sees fit.
Of course a New Frontier requires a frontiersman at the helm. That duty falls to Captain Mackenzie Calhoun. A rather unorthodox officer who was raised on a war torn planet, where he himself led a resistance movement against a vicious occupation. Before the age of 20 he had fought off his peoples enemy and at the suggestion of a certain bald captain in Starfleet, he went to join the academy. Though despite Calhoun's rise from war torn savagery to Federation Civilization, he still maintains the heart of a fighter. He does not desire conflict, but nor does he shy away from it.
Under his command are some familiar faces. His first officer, Commander Elizabeth Shelby, who once assisted the Enterprise crew against the Borg, is always at his side to give him a piercing jibe to deflate his ego when it is necessary and generally finds herself at odds with his more knee jerk method of command. There is however a history between them, and though they don't admit it to each other there is a great affection there. Shelby, in that sense, is the perfect Ying to Calhoun's Yang.
Another familiar face is Lieutenant Robin Lefler, operations officer on board Excalibur and also a character that once helped the Enterprise out of a tricky situation. She is a character that takes everything in her stride. She tries to get on with everyone while at the same time makes sure she knows her place in the chain of command.
As is Dr. Selar, again an old member of the Enterprise crew. Of course, being Vulcan, she always keeps her feeling in check, though even more rigorously than some. Selar holds a deep pain inside her that makes her unwilling to have any attachments at all. Nevertheless she is an excellent Doctor and despite her frigid bedside manner, quickly earns the respect of the crew.
Then there are the more unfamiliar members of the crew. Some may be known to people who read certain other series of Star Trek novels but to me, they are still all new.
Soleta is the ships Science officer. Half Vulcan and half Romulan she has bother a reserved and closed off nature, though she does not hide her emotions nearly as well as Doctor Selar. Soleta has an incessant curiosity which befits her role as Science officer. Also, as one of the few members of the ship that has familiarity with the region of space the Excalibur is entering into she was essentially forced into a role which she did not particularly desire. It was only because of a recommendation from Ambassador Spock himself that she felt a obligation to join the crew, even though her trip to the ship was not entirely trouble free.
Security Chief Kebron is a Brikar. If that is a race that is unfamiliar to you then I think you'd know one to see one. Kebron is built and moves like a mountain. Is thick skin means that he can take all but the most powerful weapons blasts and still keep going like nothing happened. Due to his large mass he is required to wear a gravity harness so as to make it easier for him to move, although when required he can move fast; even if it does mean his ship mates can feel him running from three decks away.
You might be forgiven for believing helmsman Mark McHenry might just be the worst starfleet officer you've ever seen. To most people, he would appear to fall asleep at his post, and seem to tune out when others are speaking to him. But despite his outward appearance McHenry is always on the ball. He can focus on multiple tasks at once and even has the ability to sense when the ship is changing course, even when he can't see stars or instrumentation. His crew mates treat him with a certain level of incredulity but in the end accept that the man simply has a gift that no one can explain... for now.
Bugoyne 172, the ships Chief Engineer, is a Hermat. This means, along with some very confusing pronouns, that Burgoyne is multi-gendered. 'Fully functioning' as S/he tells Dr. Selar. Nonetheless, despite a certain liberal attitude towards sex, Burgoyne is a gifted engineer and officer. S/he has a no nonsense approach to her work. S/he will quibble with her subordinates over matters of a couple of percent if an engine upgrade isn't working as well as was hoped and doesn't like to leave her engines alone if she can avoid it.
A final entry into the crew roster is Si Cwan. A member of the now fallen Thallonian Royal family and stowaway aboard the Excalibur after he forced Soleta to hide him in with her luggage at blaster point. Hardly a good position to find himself in when Soleta told her commanding officer about him as soon as she made it aboard. Despite this however, Calhoun allowed Si Cwan to remain aboard as an unofficial ambassador in the area, despite the qualms of Shelby and Kebron who would rather remove him from the ship as soon as possible.
So that's the crew. I shall update this fairly regularly with where I have reached in my read through, but in the meantime it would be nice to have a few others comment on this great series of books.
Generally I started this because in real life no one, not even the people I know who are Trek fans have read these fantastic books.