Read Constellations Online

Authors: Marco Palmieri

Constellations

POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2006 by CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

STAR TREK and related marks are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc.

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This book is published by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., under exclusive license from CBS Studios Inc.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

ISBN-10: 1-4165-2545-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-2545-5

POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Cover art by Jerry Vanderstelt

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Space…the final frontier.

These are the voyages of the
Starship Enterprise.
Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds…to seek out new life and new civilizations…to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Introduction

by David Gerrold

THE CONTINUING VOYAGES…

In 1966, the world was a lot simpler.

It was a time of innocence and promise. By today's standards, we had barely begun to climb the ladder of possibility.

We didn't have the Internet, we didn't have video games or e-mail, we didn't have laptop computers, and we didn't have phones in our pockets. Telephones were still connected to the wall by a wire, and many of them still had rotary dials. The integrated circuit didn't exist yet. If you wanted music, you listened to an AM station on a tinny transistor radio.

There were only a few places called McDonald's and the number of burgers they'd sold was about 15 million. Gasoline was 35 cents per gallon. You could still drive across country on Route 66. Lyndon Baines Johnson was president. The Beatles hadn't recorded
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
yet. Martin Luther King hadn't yet stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and declared, “I have a dream!” The United States was discovering that Vietnam was more than just a “police action.” The baby boomers were in college and getting restless.

The most popular car in America was the Ford Mustang, with nearly a million copies on the road. In the movie theaters, Hal 9000 hadn't yet locked Dave out of the pod bay, it was still safe to go in the water, Don Corleone hadn't made any offers you couldn't refuse, and even the Force would not be with us for another eleven years.

Oh, and one more thing—there were no footsteps on the moon. That particular dream was still three years away.

Then, on September 8, 1966, NBC broadcast the first episode of a new television series, called
Star Trek.

That moment was a cusp. It was the first pebble rattling down the slope before the rest of the avalanche starts. It was, in a sense, the moment the future arrived in America's living room.

Star Trek
's vision was so far beyond the lives of ordinary Americans that it may very well have been incomprehensible to many of them. It was a vision of a different way of being.

It was startling.

Part of it was the details. The clothes. The hair. Those ears. Doors that slid open as you approached. Handheld communicators that flipped open. Wall-sized viewscreens. Medical scanners and displays. Information stored on credit-card-sized blocks or silvery discs. Beams of light that could be used to heat things or cut through them. Computers that could store an unlimited amount of information, sounds and pictures and video. All of these things, and more, suggested that in the future, life would be
different.

It was the beginning of the beginning. The vocabulary of science fiction was about to enter the mainstream.

Today, we take it for granted that supermarket doors slide open as we approach, that we can flip open a telephone and call anywhere in the world, that television is a 60-inch high-definition display, that we can look at our unborn children with ultrasound scanners, and that we can carry a library of music and movies and photos in a unit smaller than a candy bar. We use hand-lasers for pointing—or for teasing the cat; we use industrial lasers to cut wood and metal and plastic. And if I were to discuss all the things we now use computers for, I wouldn't have room to talk about
Star Trek,
or the stories in this book.

But after we step past the technological predictions, there was something else about
Star Trek,
something far more important than flip-phones and HDTV and laptop connections to the Internet.

Star Trek
represented a different way of being human—because it represented a different way of thinking about humanity. We'd come out of World War II, shocked and horrified to discover the level of brutality that human beings were capable of. In direct reaction, new schools of philosophical thought came into being—new political movements took root all over the world. Many of them had as a central part of their vision, “We can do better, we have to do better. We cannot continue doing the same things we did before.”

A veteran of the war, as well as a veteran of the urban war in the streets, Gene Roddenberry spoke the vision very succinctly: “We are going to show people that the way things are is not necessarily the way they have to be.”

In that simple subversive statement, Roddenberry was declaring that
Star Trek
was about possibilities. Not simply the possibilities of technology—but the possibilities of humanity.

Science fiction, even before
Star Trek,
has always been about the questions “Who are we? What are we doing here? What does it mean to be a human being?”
Star Trek,
the television show, visualized those questions in almost every episode. Sometimes silly, sometimes startling, sometimes melodramatic, sometimes tragic—but always, somehow asking, “What if things were like this instead? What would that be like?”

That's the real legacy of
Star Trek
(and all the best science fiction, for that matter)—it invites you to think. It encourages you to ask questions. It stretches the event horizon of your imagination.

And the proof of that simple assertion can be found in this book of thirteen new stories set in the universe of the original
Star Trek
series. The authors here have not spent much time postulating or predicting startling new technologies that will change our lives in the future. Instead, they've stayed focused on the larger vision of
Star Trek.
The stories you are about to read are all about human beings taking on the challenges of their own humanity.

“First, Do No Harm,” by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, examines one of the most difficult dilemmas of the original series: the Prime Directive. The Prime Directive is a dispassionate rule; detached from specific circumstances, it is only a guideline, not a limit. Sometimes circumstances are so compelling that to stand back and let terrible events occur unchecked is the greater evil. So where does duty lie?

Indeed, one of the continuing themes of
Star Trek
is that the real strength of our heroes is their ability to learn their limits—so they can transcend them. Robert Greenberger explores this in depth as he takes us down to the surface of another new world with “The Landing Party
.”
This time, the focus is on the responsibilities of command—not just the responsibilities of Captain Kirk, but also the responsibilities of Lieutenant Sulu as well.

Likewise, Howard Weinstein, who has considerable experience in the
Star Trek
universe, takes on Pavel Chekov in “Official Record.” As always, there are lessons to be learned—and again, there are uncomfortable parallels to present events. What do you do when duty isn't enough?

In “Fracture,” Jeff Bond takes us out into deep space for some spectacular scenery—and a surprising encounter with the Tholians. Encounters with alien races will also be confrontations with the difficult questions of belief and being. Sometimes the best answer is that there are no best answers, only possibilities.

Stuart Moore brings us back to the
Star Trek
universe in “Chaotic Response,” an examination of Spock's unique commitment to logic. Half human, half Vulcan, Spock lives in two worlds; he is native to none. Here, tested to the breaking point, his only salvation is to use his logical abilities to understand his emotional components. It is the same choice that every sentient being has to make—how to assimilate rationality with the drives and desires of one's inherently animal nature.

In “As Others See Us,” Christopher L. Bennett gives us a very different perspective on the same situation. Don't make hasty judgments. Things are not always as they seem. There will always be surprises. There's a lesson to be learned here—but who needs to learn it is the real surprise.

“See No Evil,” by Jill Sherwin, gives us a welcome (and long overdue) look at Lieutenant Uhura and her importance to the workings of the
Enterprise.
Taking place shortly after Uhura's encounter with Nomad (and subsequent memory loss), Sherwin relates not only Uhura's recovery and resumption of duties, but also her resumption of confidence. Along the way, she shows us a surprisingly insightful side of Scotty as well.

Dave Galanter goes for a more traditional story of action and suspense in “The Leader.” It's a clearly recognizable adventure, taken directly from the basic elements of
Star Trek.
Yes, there is a disabled shuttlecraft and a Klingon threat and the inevitable colonists in danger; but ultimately the story is about the nature of leadership. It's about the quality of character that justifies authority, both human and Klingon.

Taking a situation that evokes some of the best moments of the original series, William Leisner examines the question of “Ambition.” But unlike the original series, he leaves Kirk and Spock behind, so he can show us that the other members of the crew, with their own unique personalities, can also meet the challenges of an encounter with a very unusual alien life-form.

In “Devices and Desires,” Kevin Lauderdale rummages around in Starfleet's attic, taking the time to examine some of the lost treasures that the
Enterprise
and other starships have discovered. The problem is that you usually find a lot more in an attic than the dusty past.

Then, Jeffrey Lang turns his attention to one of
Star Trek
's most beloved characters, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, in “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.” As the
Enterprise
approaches the end of her five-year mission, Dr. McCoy and Mr. Scott step off the ship for an adventure of their own, involving a misguided Klingon and several Denebian slime devils—proving once again that you're only as old as the liquor you drink.

And finally, Allyn Gibson takes a giant step out of the box to tell a story that is both unique and powerful. It's about a different kind of mission, and the result is a very different look at who we are. “Make-Believe” is one of the most insightful stories in the book, because it isn't just about
Star Trek.
It's about
all of us.
Like a great bell, long after you have put this book away, this story will continue to echo in your head.

As you read through these tales, you will notice that the mission of the original
Enterprise
has been fleshed out and expanded in ways that the television series could never achieve, partly due to the limitations of budget and partly due to the conventions of television, but primarily because all of these authors have done their job and taken their tales into undiscovered countries—where none have gone before. They have given us the opportunity to look deeper into the souls of our heroes—so that we can discover ourselves.

And that is the real mission of
Star Trek
—to seek out new vistas of imagination and discovery.

Because after all is said and done, what remains is this simple truth:

Space is not the final frontier. The final frontier is the human soul. Space is where we will meet the challenge.

—David Gerrold

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