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New Frontier: No Limits

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at October 20, 2003 - 9:39 AM GMT

Title: Star Trek: New Frontier: No Limits
Edited by: Peter David
Release Date: October 2003
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 0-7434-7707-3

In his introduction to No Limits, an anthology of eighteen short stories involving the New Frontier characters, Peter David notes that when this volume was first announced some fans expressed reservations at the idea of having authors other than David himself dabbling in the New Frontier sandbox. If you've got doubts, you can put them to rest. This is an excellent collection of rewarding stories by authors who amply demonstrate that they know the characters they are writing about.

It's fitting that stories devoted to New Frontier's two main characters, Mackenzie Calhoun and Elizabeth Shelby, bookend the anthology. The first story, "Loose Ends" by Dayton Ward, is a follow up of sorts to the Next Generation episode "The Pegasus" and is set while Calhoun was working in an unofficial capacity for Starfleet Intelligence. "All that Glitters" by Loren L. Coleman features Elizabeth Shelby, but a different Shelby than the officer most fans know in the pages of New Frontier. Set before the events of the TNG episode "The Best of Both Worlds", Shelby is serving as the chief engineer of the U.S.S. Yosemite and she's not exactly a happy camper.

"A Little Getaway" by Peter David, the story of Calhoun and Shelby's honeymoon on Xenex, is the final tale and the only story set during the New Frontier novel era. The rest of the stories are set before the characters become one big happy family aboard the Excalibur. Fans have been waiting a long time for this story and it doesn't disappoint. Quintessential Peter David is how I'd sum up this hilarious recounting of the honeymoon from hell.

My personal favorite of the stories in this anthology is "Waiting for G'Doh, or How I Learned to Stop Moving and Hate People" by David Mack. "Waiting for G'Doh" is an extremely amusing Zak Kebron story and details the longest day in the Brikar's life. It also goes a long way toward explaining Kebron's fondness for goldfish.

Coming back to back in the volume are two stories that offer quite a bit of contrast. Robin Lefler chronicles her unhappy childhood in the poignant vignettes that comprise "Lefler's Laws" by Robert Greenberger. The source of much of that childhood anguish, her mother Morgan Primus, tells her side of the story in the creepy tale "Alice, on the Edge of Night" by Ilsa Bick.

The U.S.S. Excalibur herself has quite a history and under the command of Calhoun's predecessor Captain Morgan Korsmo was one of the numerous vessels to face off against the Borg during the events of Star Trek: First Contact. "Making a Difference" by Mary Scott-Wiecek is the absolutely spellbinding recitation of that fateful encounter.

Soleta has two entirely different types of stories devoted to her in No Limits. The first, "Revelations" by Keith R.A. DeCandido, is set during the first year of Soleta's graduation from Starfleet Academy while she is serving aboard the U.S.S. Aldrin and tells the tale of a mission that will change the direction of the young Vulcan's life. The second Soleta story, "Out of the Frying Pan" by Susan Shwartz, has a much lighter tone. Both of these character pieces expand significantly on events New Frontier readers already have some familiarity with, namely the disclosure of Soleta's heritage and her escape from Thallon.

The Arex tale, "The Road to Edos" by Kevin Dilmore, is utterly delightful, especially if you are a fan of the animated series. Allyn Gibson's "Performance Appraisal", which features Commander Kat Mueller is another highlight that offers the added bonus of being set on Calhoun's old ship the U.S.S. Grissom, but before Calhoun's posting to that vessel.

The archetypal Vulcan, Doctor Selar, finds herself called upon to aid the Q in a clever and involving story that has numerous continuity nods" "'Q'uandary" by Terri Osborne. Burgoyne 172, like Soleta, has two stories. In both "Oil and Water" by Robert Jeschonek and "Through the Looking Glass" by Susan Wright, the authors attempt to take full advantage of the Hermat's duel nature in their stories but neither quite worked for me.

The eccentric and gifted pilot Mark McHenry takes center stage in "Singularity" by Christina F. York, while the Si Cwan story "Turning Point" by Josepha Sherman gives us a look at a young nobleman growing up in the Thallonian court and goes a long way toward explaining the ambassador he is to become.

Two more stories round out this diverse volume, Peg Robinson's story of Calhoun's brother D'ndai, "A Lady of Xenex", and the slightly bizarre but strangely compelling Xant story, "Redemption" by Glenn Haumam and Lisa Sullivan. As an added bonus for diehard fans the timeline to the major events of New Frontier makes a great reference.

One of the pleasures of reading a large collection such as this is that the order you read the stories in doesn't matter, as every time you pick the volume up there is something new and different to look forward to. Some stories will capture your imagination more than others but within the pages of No Limits the reader gets to experience a little bit of everything: comedy, drama, action and adventure.

The various authors effectively use their individual storytelling styles to explore key moments in the characters' lives, and every story adds to the overall tapestry of New Frontier to some degree. And while my own personal favorites of the collection, "Waiting for G'Doh", "'Q'uandary", "Lefler's Logs", "Performance Appraisal", "Making a Difference", "The Road to Edos", "A Little Getaway" and "Out of the Frying Pan", may not be your own, I have no doubts that anyone reading No Limits should find plenty to satisfy.

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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.

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