Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Stuff of Dreams

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Stuff of Dreams by James Swallow
Release date: March 25
th, 2013
Read March 26th 2013

Previous book (The Next Generation): Cold Equations, Book III: The Body Electric
Next book (24th Century Continuity): The Fall: Revelation and Dust

Click to purchase The Stuff of Dreams from! (e-book only)

Spoilers ahead for The Stuff of Dreams!

About the book:

Simon and Schuster have not provided a "back cover blurb" this time around, so my brief summary will have to suffice:

The Stuff of Dreams features a return to the Nexus, the mysterious space-time anomaly from the feature film Star Trek: Generations. Soran's machinations during that film have altered the course of the ribbon to such a degree that its orbit is significantly different from its previous route. It will soon enter Kinshaya space, one of the member states of the somewhat antagonistic Typhon Pact. On the scene is the starship Newton, and when the Enterprise joins her, the Newton's captain outlines his plan: destroy the Nexus before it can make its way into Kinshaya space and fall under the control of a potentially hostile nation. While Picard disagrees with this course of action, he goes along with it, seeing the greater good that it serves. However, things soon go awry when a saboteur derails the mission and the Kinshaya insert themselves into the goings-on.

My thoughts:

The Nexus: an enigma, and a damned annoying plot device at times!

The Nexus has long been one of the most vexing plot devices in Trek. Its appearance in Generations was used, for the most part, as a way of bringing Captain Kirk into contact with Captain Picard with seemingly not a lot of thought as to the true power of the phenomenon. The writers gave it far too much power, in my opinion. In that film, Guinan tells Picard that when he leaves the Nexus, he can go "anywhere, anytime." While that ability is used to face-palmingly little effect in Generations, The Stuff of Dreams handles the Nexus's effects much more intelligently. One character really does use the Nexus to go somewhere very far removed from the current situation in a way that I would expect that ability to be used.

Soran's echo's appearance is very
welcome in this novella.
Of course, if one writes a story about the Nexus featuring Captain Picard, he or she would be very remiss if the story didn't feature Picard re-entering the Nexus at some point. The Stuff of Dreams delivers on this point. Through Picard, we witness the power and enticement of this strange pocket universe which feels like being "inside joy," as Guinan described it. For me, Picard's experiences during this second trip into the Nexus were the highlight of this novella. His encounter with Soran's echo, in particular, was very revealing and gave layers to that character which were evident but not fully explored in Generations.

One of my recurring complaints with regards to ebook novellas is that the shorter form makes them feel rushed or incomplete. Not so with The Stuff of Dreams. Swallow has crafted a story that fits the format perfectly. Nothing is too rushed or left unsaid. The story has a very clear beginning, middle, and end, and it is paced perfectly.

Final thoughts:

A quick, fun read that adds a lot to the mythos of the Nexus and Picard's experiences from Star Trek: Generations. One thing that I kind of appreciated was that this story kept the origins of the Nexus obscured. A number of the characters ruminate on the reason for the Nexus, but nothing concrete is revealed. I believe that oftentimes, Star Trek is guilty of "over-explaining" things, and in this instance, the fact that the origin and purpose of the Nexus remain a mystery is a good thing. One more thing about the story for which I was also thankful is the lack of an appearance by James T. Kirk's Nexus "echo." I went into the story expecting that it might happen and was pleasantly surprised when it didn't. It wouldn't have added anything to the story, and I'm glad that Mr. Swallow resisted the temptation to include such an appearance.

More about The Stuff of Dreams:

Also by James Swallow:

My next read:

Computer troubles have delayed my publishing of my review of John M. Ford's How Much for Just the Planet?, but I'm hoping to have those issues resolved soon. Currently, I'm reading Greg Cox's latest novel, new this month, The Original Series: The Weight of Worlds.


  1. I loved this book! I thought that it was just brilliant in it's portrayal of Picard!

  2. Agreed. Mr. Swallow did a top-notch job in writing Picard!

  3. Bought it, just have to read it....Dan, what are your thoughts about Pocket Books maybe doing something like this on a regular or semi-regular basis instead of releasing short story collections?

  4. Preferably, I'd like to see the market able to support both. However, I do enjoy the ebook-only exclusives, and I can see more people willing to buy them than trade paperback story collections, which I hear haven't been doing well lately. I also feel like a Star Trek audience would tend to be more tech-friendly than fans of other genres. I'd be curious to know what the sales of the ebook novellas have been like.