The crew of Excalibur have been hurled headlong into
the mysteries and dangers of a gelatinous form of space, where
they are soon caught up in a genocidal interstellar war. Captain
Calhoun - who himself grew up as a freedom fighter battling
the forces of an aggressive conqueror - must decide whether
to ally himself with alien warmongers who offer his only hope
of getting his crew home...
harshest criticism of the New Frontier series is that
the gaps between the releases are too great! It's been more
than a year since the previous novel, After
the Fall, and I had to re-read the cliffhanger
ending to that book in order to reacquaint myself with what
had happened to the various characters. Not that re-reading
a Peter David book is ever really a hardship.
USS Excalibur has done a Voyager, first by getting
lost in space and then by ending up in a universe that resembles
a denser form of the fluidic space inhabited by Species 8472,
seen in the two-part Borg episode Scorpion.
The author acknowledges the similarity and even throws in
a brief appearance by the Borg themselves, though sadly this
is restricted to the book's prologue.
the events of the movie Star
Trek: Nemesis catch up with the half-Vulcan
half-Romulan Soleta and the crew of her new command, the Romulan
stealth ship Spectre. And New Thallon faces a devastating
attack as the already less than stable New Thallonian Protectorate
threatens to fall apart completely. The space-bound chapters,
alternately dealing with the crews of the Excalibur,
the Spectre and Captain Kat Mueller's USS Trident
are generally more riveting than the New Thallon sequences.
However, the whole affair coalesces around a common foe, with
Babylon 5-like qualities of the legendary ancient race
known as the Wanderers, who were mooted in the previous novel,
come to the fore here. Like the Shadows in B5 (a series
for which David was an occasional writer), the Wanderers provoke
a war in order to destabilise a fledgling interstellar alliance.
Events also come to a distinctly B5-style resolution.
Like the Centauri before them, the Wanderers' allies wish
to become a mighty galactic power, but end up coming to an
appropriately karmic fate. And like Commander Sinclair and
Captain Sheridan, the embattled Robin Lefler learns to use
the media to her advantage.
Shelby, Captain Mueller, Soleta, Robin Lefler... There is
a remarkably and refreshingly large proportion of powerful
women in the realm of New Frontier. All of them take
matters into their own hands during the course of this novel,
and, without wanting to give too much away, the demography
of people in positions of authority has shifted even more
in favour of the female gender by the end of the book.
this and other important respects, Missing in Action
is powerful stuff. Miss this and you'll miss out.