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Star Trek: Myriad Universes #3: Shattered Light [Paperback]

David R. George III , Steve Mollmann , Michael Schuster , Scott Pearson
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Book Description

Dec 14 2010 Star Trek: All
It’s been said that for any event, there are an infinite number of possible out­comes. Our choices determine which outcome will follow, and therefore all possibilities that could happen do happen across alternate realities. In these divergent realms, known history is bent, like white light through a shattered prism—broken into a boundless spectrum of what-might-have-beens. But in those myriad universes, what might have been . . . is what actually occurred.

THE EMBRACE OF COLD ARCHITECTS. “Mister Worf—fire.” With thosewords, William T. Riker defeated the Borg—and destroyed Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Now, a heartsore Captain Riker must carry on the legacy of thecommanding officer and friend whose death he ordered. But crises face himat every turn, from Cardassian aggression to the return of Data’s creator,Noonien Soong. But it is Data’s creation of a daughter, Lal, that may prove to beeveryone’s undoing. . . .

THE TEARS OF ERIDANUS. Commander Hikaru Sulu of the Kumari—finest ship of the Interstellar Guard, the military arm of the Interstellar Union that includes Andor, Earth, and Tellar—is sent to rescue an observation team on a primitive desert planet. The world has many names—40 Eridani A-II, Minshara, T’Khasi, Vulcan—and its savage natives have taken the team hostage, including Sulu’s daughter, Demora. Even as Captain Sulu negotiates with the fierce T’Pau, Demora meets the elderly S’oval, and with him the only hope for the planet’s future. . . .

HONOR IN THE NIGHT. Former Federation president Nilz Baris has died. After losing Sherman’s Planet to the Klingons thanks to poisoned quadrotriticale, the agriculture undersecretary parlayed that defeat into years of political battles with the Klingon Empire, and eventually the Federation’s highest office. Now, the Federation News Service wants the story of his life, a quest that digs up many secrets—including the mystery of why his final words were “Arne Darvin.”

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About the Author

With Plagues of Night and Raise the Dawn, David R. George, III returned not only to the world of Star Trek, but to the ongoing storyline involving the Typhon Pact. David previously contributed to the Pact saga with Rough Beasts of Empire, a tale of Romulan politics and deception that also introduced the theretofore unseen Tzenkethi. Additionally, David has written more than a dozen articles for Star Trek Magazine. His work has appeared on both the New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller lists, and his television episode was nominated for a Sci-Fi Universe award. You can chat with David about his writing at Facebook.com/DRGIII.

STEVE MOLLMANN is studying for a Ph.D. in English at an unknown university at an unknown location in the United States. He is not being coy; at the time this was written, he simply had no idea where he would be by the time you read this. He obtained his M.A. in English at the University of Connecticut, and hopes to pursue a career as a scholar, specializing in British literature, especially its intersection with science and technology. Also in that gap of time, he will have gotten married to his then-fiancée, Hayley. He has met Michael Schuster on more than one occasion.

MICHAEL SCHUSTER lives in a picturesque Austrian mountain valley, with half a continent and one entire ocean between him and Steve Mollmann. A bank employee by day, he likes to come up with new (or at least relatively unused) ideas that can be turned into stories with loving care and the occasional nudge. With Steve, he is the co-author of two short stories in the anthology Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Sky's the Limit. Their first novel, The Tears of Eridanus, will be released as part of the collection Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Shattered Light this December. Currently, the two are hard at work building their own universe-sized sandbox to play in. More information about them (including annotations for The Future Begins) can be found at http://www.exploringtheuniverse.net/.

Scott Pearson contributed stories to Strange New Worlds VII and Strange New Worlds 9 as well as to the Star Trek: The Next Generation twentieth anniversary anthology The Sky’s the Limit. His novella Honor in the Night is in Star Trek Myriad Universes: Shattered Light. Most recently he has had stories in three ReDeus shared-world anthologies alongside many other Star Trek writers. He lives with his wife, Sandra, and daughter, Ella, in personable St. Paul, Minnesota, near the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, fabled in story and song, where he endeavors to make a living as a freelance writer/editor. Visit him on the web at YeahSure.net and GenerationsGeek.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter. You can listen to Generations Geek, the podcast he does with his daughter, at Chronicrift.com and on the iTunes he’s heard people mention over the water cooler.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1

Like the waters of a vast ocean, the voices threatened to drown him. They surrounded him, weighed him down, pulled him inexorably into their midst. As uncountable as sea waves and as unsympathetic, they battered him from all sides.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard lay on his back, the metal table beneath him once cold and hard, but now beyond his ability to feel. He stared blindly upward, no longer seeing the complex equipment pervading the alien vessel. Numbness suffused his body, a welcome release from the thousand natural shocks to which his flesh had been heir.

A glimmer of recognition darted through Picard’s awareness. Shakespeare, he thought, grasping for the paraphrased fragment of dialogue, desperate to latch onto something—anything—familiar. Shakespeare, The Tragedy … The Tragedy of …

William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, said a voice in his head—said all the voices, knit together as one. Hundreds of Borg—perhaps a thousand or more—spoke in unison, a chorus of unremitting pressure. Until now, their refrain had articulated only pronouncements of conquest: Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own.

A single voice loosed itself from the whole and spoke to him through the continued din of the aggregate. To die, to sleep—no more; and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. The words came in flat tones, devoid of emotion, the cadence robotic. Act Three, Scene One, of Hamlet.

How do they know that? Picard wondered. Had they extracted the information from his brain, or had they gleaned it from some other source? Even as he posed the question, he understood the answer. Though he and the Enterprise crew had discovered from their first encounter with the Borg that the physically augmented humanoids procreated, it had grown clear just how they added the “biological distinctiveness” of other species to their own: by brute force. The restraints that bound Picard prevented him from peering down at himself, but earlier he’d heard the awful sound of a drill penetrating the side of his skull, he’d felt the strange sensation of tubes pushing into newly opened holes in his torso, he’d watched a dark, plated mechanism being secured to the right half of his face.

And he had begun to hear their voices, no longer without, but within, side by side with his own thoughts. As he resisted, they continued to tell him that he had been chosen to speak for the Borg in all communications, in order to facilitate their introduction into Federation societies. The Borg would make him one of their own, both physically and mentally—just as they had with so many others. Their knowledge of Shakespeare had not come from him, but from some other individuals they had incorporated into their hive.

When did you learn Shakespeare? came another lone voice, barely distinguishable from that of the Borg mass, yet divergent enough to impose a primacy of attention.

Where did you learn Shakespeare? asked a second.

Why did you learn Shakespeare? demanded a third.

Picard did not intend to respond in any way, but his mind’s eye conjured the image of a classroom. He saw himself in school at the age of fourteen, listening to Ms. DeGiglio, his literature instructor. He knew at once that the Borg had in that moment ascertained the answers they’d just sought, and more: the appearance and name of his teacher. The mere act of hearing their questions had amounted to an irresistible interrogation.

More voices peeled away from the ongoing swell of Borg thought rushing through Picard’s mind.

What else did you learn?

What scientific concepts did you learn?

What scientific applications did you learn?

Though he made no conscious effort to do so, Picard thought about the warp-field effect, about the equations he’d studied during his years at Starfleet Academy. He envisioned the classroom, the campus in San Francisco, diagrams in textbooks, and schematics he’d seen in Enterprise’s engineering section. Distressed by the idea of the Borg gathering any information at all about Starfleet and its abilities, Picard attempted to blank his mind. He understood that the human brain did not function as a computer did, or even as Data’s positronic brain did. The Borg could not simply download his organic intelligence and memory, so that they could then scour the data for useful information, but after connecting their collective mind to his psyche, they could “see” and “hear” his waking thoughts. If they could compel him to think of some particular detail, then they could incorporate that detail into their own body of knowledge.

Despair washed over Picard like the tide, carried along by the unrelenting voices of the Borg. They had already exhausted his body and his mind, leaving him with a faltering resolve that he knew he couldn’t maintain for much longer. He had promised to resist the Borg with his last ounce of strength, but once they had worn him down, what then? It required no guesswork to determine the information they wanted most—information he retained as the captain of Enterprise.

No! Picard cried without opening his mouth. He would not think of his starship. Instead, he struggled to envisage the night sky above his childhood home in La Barre. As a boy, he’d often stood out in his family’s vineyard, gazing upward and identifying the constellations and stars that so fascinated him. He’d spent more than a few nights imagining himself aboard a starship, warping through space.

Your vessel possesses warp capabilities, stated a Borg voice. What other technologies does it employ?

Cepheus, the constellation of the King, Picard forced himself to think. He recalled the formation of stars from memory. Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, he thought next. Draco, the Dragon.

What are your vessel’s armaments?

Alderamin and Errai in Cepheus, Picard recited to himself—to himself and to the Borg. Polaris and Kochab in Ursa Minor. Eltanin and—

What are your vessel’s newest technological developments?

Newest, Picard echoed, the word shining in his mind bright as a nova. Newest, he thought again. The newest technological developments aboard Enterprise.

His thoughts drifted backward to—when? Hours ago, perhaps? Or had days passed? The perception of time had slipped away from him beneath the constant assault of the Borg intelligence. Still, whenever he had last been aboard Enterprise, he’d witnessed firsthand his crew’s most recent technological achievement. In a flash, related sights and sounds, thoughts and feelings, emerged from his memory.

The Borg saw everything.

The turbolift glided to a stop, its doors easing open with a whisper. Captain Picard stepped out onto deck twelve and strode purposefully down the corridor, headed for one of Enterprise’s numerous science laboratories. His presence there had been requested by Commander Riker, who had just contacted him about a highly unusual—and wholly unauthorized—project undertaken by Lieutenant Commander Data. Unclear as to precisely what he would find in the lab, the captain feared the worst-case scenario, already rehearsing what he would say to Starfleet Command in such a circumstance.

Picard approached Room 5103 and reached for the door control. The panels parted before him to reveal Riker standing beside Data and Counselor Troi at the periphery of the raised octagonal platform that dominated the space. Lieutenant Commander La Forge and Ensign Crusher stood off to one side. Each of the officers faced the experiment chamber at the center of the room, though they all peered over at Picard as he entered. Whatever conversation they might have been having immediately ceased.

Gesturing toward the chamber as Picard mounted the platform, Riker said, “Captain, this is Data’s—” He hesitated, seeming to search for the appropriate word. “—creation,” he finished.

Picard regarded the humanoid figure. Slight of form, perhaps a meter and a half tall, it projected a neutral, unfinished appearance. It wore no clothing, and its bronze skinlike covering showed neither hair nor sexual characteristics. Its nose had no nares. Narrow slits formed its eye sockets and mouth.

“Lal,” Data said, “say hello to Captain Jean-Luc Picard.”

The android looked first to Data, then to Picard. Its head did not turn smoothly, but incrementally, much as Data’s often did. “Hello, Captain Jean-Luc Picard,” it said, its voice possessed of a vaguely electronic quality, not really masculine, not really feminine.

Picard did not reply. Of Data, he asked, “How similar is this android to you?”

“Lal is very similar to me,” Data said, “though I have attempted to improve those design elements I could.”

Any hope Picard nurtured for an uncomplicated resolution to the situation vanished. He studied the android, and began slowly working his way around the experiment chamber to examine it further. It had not been so long ago that Picard had fought Starfleet to establish Data’s own rights as an individual. While a reasonable argument could be made to apply that decision to Data’s new creation, the captain doubted that Command would agree so readily.

“Lal has a positronic brain much like my own,” Data continued. “I began programming it during my time at the cybernetics conference on Galtinor Prime.” Data had attended the confe...

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Certainly Worth a Checkout Jan. 6 2011
Format:Paperback
As soon as I heard there was going to be another Myriad Universes anthology coming out, I was interested but wary. The first in the MU series I read was "Infinity's Prism," and I was not disappointed, but the second, "Echoes and Refractions," satisfied me with little but the knowledge that I had wasted my time. "Shattered Light" may not be as good as IP, but it is still a very nice read, and unlike E&R's stories, with its endings either too depressing or too easily resolved, SL does quite well making a believable and satisfying conclusion.

The first in this anthology, "The Embrace of Cold Architects" by David R George III, shows what would have happened had Commander Riker been able to defeat the Borg at Wolf 359 and Data had preserved his android daughter, Lal. While this may seem to be two what-ifs in one, it's explained early on that a sudden storm on Galtinor Prime (the planet where Data learned of the cybernetic technology that inspired him to create Lal) accounts for both. The changes are considerable and well thought out; with Captain Picard's death, Riker is given control of the Enterprise, and Data learns the complexities of being a father, which get even more complex when Star Fleet intervenes with their own plans for his `offspring.' Being a Data lover, I got a lot out of this story, and it also makes me wonder why there are so many creep admirals in the Federation...

While the second story, "The Tears of Eridanus" co-written by Steve Mollmann and Michael Schuster, is probably my least favourite of SL's three tales, it was still an enjoyable, thought provoking read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the other two, but still decent Dec 27 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I greatly enjoyed the other two Myriad Universes anthologies, and was looking forward to this one. As it turns out, the story that I was most looking forward to in this anthology, "The Embrace of Cold Architects", was the weakest, and the story that I initially didn't really care about, "Honor in the Night" turned out to be a very gripping read and the best story in the anthology.

Warning - spoilers below.

"The Embrace of Cold Architects" diverges when the Enterprise's attack on the Borg cube after Picard is assimilated (in the episode "The Best of Both Worlds") is successful, destroying the Borg cube and killing Picard. I thought there was a lot of potential with this story, and it appeared to be living up to that potential, at least until the last two pages, when one plotline ends with a shaky cliffhanger, and one simply ends with a thud - no resolution at all. With more resolution, this would have easily been an A+ story. As it is, it gets a B-/C+ from me at best.

"The Tears of Eridanus" takes place in a universe where the Vulcans never embraced logic and are still a savage, emotional race locked in unending civil wars. Decent story, but I agree with the earlier reviewer that this universe was divergent enough that it didn't feel like a Star Trek story. I also kind of lost track of the multitude of Andorian characters in this story. I'd give it a B.

"Honor in the Night" is by far the best story in this anthology. It takes what seems like a minor divergence point (no tribbles on Station K7) and spins it into a very interesting take on the progress of Federation-Klingon relations from the original series forward. Once I started reading this story I didn't stop until the end. This story gets an A from me.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven, but averages to a good book Dec 16 2010
By Travis M. Keshav - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The Embrace of Cold Architects" is a wonderful story until it ends. It is rather abrupt, and was very unsatisfying to me. There are two main plots in the story; one is questionably resolved, and the other ends at a cliffhanger. Story would have been significantly better as a full-length book.

"Tears of Eridanus" is interesting, but wasn't particularly compelling. The premise was fine, but when things are 'too' divergent it sometimes doesn't feel like a real Star Trek story.

"Honor in the Night" was very good. I thought, despite the lack of linearity, that it was a good, focused novel, that dealt sufficiently with tangential characters that it was barely an alternate universe story. The ending was a surprise -- not what I expected.

Overall, it was alright, but the ending to the first story bothers me sufficiently that I'm tempted to drop the rating to 3.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Abrupt Ending, Deriviative, and Good Ole Arne Darvin Feb. 16 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A trekker for over 40 years (and god, I hate how that sounds), I am finding it harder and harder to finish Star Trek books. And I suspect that the fact that fewer and fewer of them are being published indicates that I am not the only one who feels that way. You would think by reducing the quantity of books published that, somehow, the quality of the stories would improve. Sadly, this has not proven to be tha case.

I have also enjoyed the Mirror/Myriad universe series and hoped for more of the same. I got a Next Generation story with an ending so abrupt I was looking for the "continued on page...", a Hikaru Sulu/Demora Sulu/Vulcan story with an almost identical plot to an Enterprise episode and a Next Generation episode, and a story about what could have happened to Nilz Baris and Arne Darvin (of "The Trouble with Tribbles" fame) that was the most well written of the lot, but had the least interesting premise.

I would hate to think that it is time to retire Star Trek Books in general, but given the dissapointing Typhon Pact series and this offering, it seems as if the writers have run out of interesting stories to tell (Forgive me David Mack....you are not included). Let's hope that this is just a momentary blip and not the beginning of the end of something that has entertained me for my entire adult life.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Most Disappointing of all the Myriad Universe Books. Feb. 25 2011
By A. Arviso - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am an avid reader of all things Star Trek. I have purchased all of the Myriad and Mirror universe books and have LOVED everyone of them. This one, however, was a disappointing break from that streak of greatness. It is the one of the few books in a long while that I just could not finish. I got through the first 2 stories but the third was just too out of context for me to finish. Perhaps it is because I am not as huge of a fan of the original series as I am of the newer series. It is very uncharacteristic of me to put down a book before finishing it. But I felt like I was being FORCED to read it instead of actually enjoying it.

The First story was good. Probably my favorite of the three. Good take on a 'What if' scenario. I like to think about what may have happened if one small decision had changed. I will agree with other reviewers about the fact that the story seems to drop off very suddenly, almost without resolution. It definitely leaves part of the story WITHOUT a resolution.

The second story was ok. It was hard to follow all the unfamiliar characters and the abundance of alien names left me confused at times. I found myself struggling to keep track of which characters were which. But once I got past the struggle to identify the characters it was a decent story.

The third story was, as I stated, unenjoyable to me. As I said it may be due to the fact that I am unfamiliar with the TOS stories and characters, but I just could not finish it. I felt no connection to the characters and no desire to discover what had become of them and why.

Overall very disappointed in this book in the series. I gave it 2 stars because the first 2 stories were worth reading but the book as a whole, in my opinion, is NOT worth a full price purchase. If you can get it used for cheap it might be worth it. Maybe you can even buy mine, as it will be one that I WILL be selling.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!! It answers the questions of, "What if...?" May 9 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
All of the Myriad Universes are great, but especially if you know the Star Trek universe extremely well. They use characters from all of the series, both canon and non-canon. Some of the characters used were only seen in one episode, or one movie. Not everything is centered around any main cast of characters solely. This book has three stories that answer the questions:

1) What if Picard died when Riker fired on the Borg cube while Picard was still Locutus?

2) What if Vulcan never helped form the Federation?

3) What if Arne Darvin's poisoning of the quadrotriticale (grain) on Sherman's planet was not discovered?

"What if..." is a question that haunts all of us at some time or another. At least we have answers for these...
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