Friday, April 13, 2012

Cold Wars

Gateways: Book Six of Seven: Star Trek: New Frontier: Cold Wars by Peter David
Published October 2001
Read March 14th, 2012

Previous book (Gateways): Book 5 of 7: Star Trek: Voyager - No Man's Land
Next book (Gateways): Book 7 of 7: What Lay Beyond

Previous book (New Frontier): Excalibur, Book Three: Restoration
Next story (New Frontier): "Death After Life," in Gateways, Book 7: What Lay Beyond

Spoilers ahead for Cold Wars, the New Frontier series, and the Gateways miniseries!

From the back cover:
Missing for two hundred millennia, the legendary Iconians have returned, bringing with them the secret of interdimensional teleportation across vast interstellar distances.  Awakened once more, their ancient Gateways are rewriting the map of the galaxy, and nowhere more than in the New Frontier...
A century ago, the imperial Thallonians separated two feuding alien races, depositing each of them on a new world safely distant from that of their ancestral enemies.  Now, however, the Gateways have made it possible for the long dormant blood feud to begin anew.  Captain Mackenzie Calhoun of the USS Excalibur-A and his partner, Captain Elizabeth Shelby of the USS Trident, find themselves fighting a losing battle to keep the horrific violence from escalating, even as they gradually realize the catastrophic danger posed by the Gateways themselves!

About the Novel:

Cold Wars introduces us to the Gateways dilemma through the eyes of Captains Calhoun and Shelby of the Excalibur-A and Trident, respectively.  Ordered by Admiral Ross to investigate a group of gateway signatures deep in Sector 221-G, the two crews set out.  Soon, they become embroiled in a dispute between two alien races, separated long ago by the Thallonian Empire.  Gateway technology has allowed a strike team to bridge the gulf of space between them, killing nearly the entire royal family of their enemy.  Now, both sides are pushing for war against the other.  Caught in the middle are the crews of the Excalibur and Trident, as well as a little girl, the only surviving member of the aforementioned royal family.  The experience of seeing her entire family murdered has left her in a catatonic state, and even if Dr. Selar is able to get her to respond, it is uncertain if her people will accept her leadership and avoid genocide between the two warring civilizations.

My Thoughts:

Cold Wars takes place during what, to my mind, was the heyday of the New Frontier series.  The stories were fresh and the characters were vibrant and alive.  Much like the Deep Space Nine story Demons of Air and Darkness, I initially read Cold Wars years ago not as part of the Gateways miniseries, but as a part of the larger narrative of the New Frontier series.  Reading it as tied into the other stories has allowed me to appreciate it more, but I still like it primarily for the continuation of the story of New Frontier.

I really enjoyed Peter David's characters during this period.  Mac Calhoun, as captain, is definitely not like any Starfleet captain we've seen previously.  He's not afraid of flouting the rules of Starfleet, but because he is usually in complete control of any situation he is in, it tends to work out for the best.  The crew of Excalibur is in top form here, with Burgoyne 172 promoted to first officer and the ensuing hilarity that results.

Many people I've talked to have grown a little tired of the particular brand of humour that Peter David injects into his Star Trek stories.  Indeed, I found it somewhat tiresome in later volumes such as his latest New Frontier story, Blind Man's Bluff.  However, here it seems to work.  A particular part of this story that had me laughing out loud at times was the introduction of Ensign Pheytus (pronounced as "fetus") to the engineering staff of Excalibur.  There are many who say that puns are the lowest form of humour, but I challenge anyone to not at least crack a smile while reading the jokes exchanged by the crewmembers in engineering.

Cold Wars also marks the introduction of two crewmembers from Captain Kirk's crew, displaced in time, into the New Frontier series.  Originally introduced in the 1970s animated series, Lieutenant M'Ress and Lieutenant Commander Arex both join the crew of the USS Trident in this novel.  M'Ress's frustration and difficulty in coping with her new circumstances are very well-written, and contrast nicely with Arex's seeming ease with his new surroundings.  Peter David has a good handle on his characters, and Cold Wars was a pleasure to read.  Of course, as with all the previous entries in the Gateways series, Cold Wars ends on a cliff-hanger, resolved in the final volume, What Lay Beyond.
New crewmembers: Lt. M'Ress ...
... and Lt. Commander Arex

Final Thoughts:

From a good period in the New Frontier series, Cold Wars is a nicely-written addition to the Gateways saga.  It doesn't necessarily mesh well with the other stories in the series, but then again, that seems to be the hallmark of this particular miniseries.  For example, the Petraw, the species behind this quadrant-wide swindle, are nowhere to be found and are not even mentioned.  As far as the story itself goes, Peter David has a solid handle on his characters at this point, and Cold Wars comes across honestly and true to the characters that have been established previously.

Final score for Cold Wars: 8/10.  I've always been a fan of New Frontier, and this novel carries on the grand tradition of that series quite well.

Also by Peter David:

My next read:

The next novel to be reviewed is the finale to the Gateways series, the final volume that resolves all of the storylines from the previous six novels: What Lay Beyond.

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