They’re dead, Jim: Star Trek books are killing everyone off, blowing everything up
Star Trek has a long history of original tie-in novels — a great many of them. Unlike Star Wars’ Expanded Universe, which keeps such non-canonical works in a tidy container and sometimes legitimizes elements of them on screens big and small, they are often dismissed, even officially, as “just books.” This only adds to the confusion and frustration for many fans, even as J.J. Abrams’ rebooted vision for the franchise in his 2009 movie messed with the timelines in a more “official” manner.
Since Star Trek faded from television in 2005 when the much-maligned Enterprise ended with a whimper, the books chronicling further adventures of the various Trek spin-offs’ characters have been unusually cohesive, uniting all the various generations in ways a fanboy can only dream. But as the epic Dominion War faded from memory and the Borg struck back in startling fashion, a new coalition of Federation foes known as the Typhon Pact emerged to take advantage of the devastation. While this all gives some of sci-fi television’s most beloved characters new opportunities to show their heroic qualities, some of them won’t be coming back. But with the new movies rebooting the timelines in major ways like the destruction of Vulcan (sorry if I spoiled it, but it was three years ago), maybe this is their way of balancing out the scales?
I’ve read a bunch of these novels, and recommend S.D. Perry’s Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “relaunch” novels Avatar (Parts I and II) and Unity as well as David Mack’s Destiny trilogy — Gods of Night, Mere Mortals and Lost Souls — which involves characters and situations going all the way back to the Enterprise era. The rest I summarize with help from Memory Beta, the unofficial Star Trek “non-canon” wiki.
The Next Generation
Aside from the android Data (who was killed off in their final cinematic outing Star Trek Nemesis) the crew of the USS Enterprise-E has fared reasonably well over the years, despite a catastrophic showdown with the Borg that resulted in a new galactic order and the rise of new enemies in the form of the Typhon Pact. Former first officer Will Riker and his wife, counselor Deanna Troi, left the Enterprise for new adventures as planned after the events of Nemesis for a new life on the deep-space explorer USS Titan. They have a daughter. Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and Dr. Beverly Crusher are married with a son. While their youths and social lives may be dead, with the exception of Data, all the other major characters are alive and well. And they have managed to keep the ship from blowing up and moving onto the Enterprise-F so far — unless you count the MMORPG Star Trek Online, whose canonical status is a complicated issue unto itself.
Deep Space Nine
[media-credit name="Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Unity" align="alignleft" width="237"][/media-credit]The years following the Dominion War have not been as kind to the Alpha Quadrant’s most significant space station. Although Bajor finally joined the Federation and its militia was absorbed into Starfleet (despite the assassination of its First Minister and the determined efforts of the mysterious parasites from the first season of TNG – see Perry’s novel Unity), its crew soon scattered as new conflicts arose. Ezri Dax, the counselor who literally in a former life was the station’s science officer, developed a taste for command and transferred to the top-of-the-line USS Aventine, quickly ascending the ranks and becoming its captain. (She and her ship feature prominently in Mack’s Destiny trilogy.)
Col. Kira Nerys, the Bajoran left in command of DS9 in the TV series’ finale, accepted a Starfleet commission as a captain before ultimately resigning and devoting herself to religious studies, becoming a vedek and the fabled “Hand of the Prophets” — then apparently gave her life in a kamikaze run against the Typhon Pact, the Federation’s new enemies. Who had managed to destroy DS9 itself. (It’s being rebuilt — DS9-A?) Oh, and Capt. Benjamin Sisko, the Emissary of the Prophets, returned from his time with the celestial beings in the wormhole, just in time to see his daughter’s birth, then have a crisis of faith and abandon his family. Kira’s ghost healed their relationship, however.
UPDATE: As Knowles2 kindly points out in the comments, the Typhon Pact also apparently destroyed the Bajoran wormhole itself, which I knew but omitted for some reason. Yeah, that’s pretty big! Especially since the changeling leader Odo was visiting the Alpha side when the wormhole vanished, raising the possibility of a newly belligerent Dominion without his guidance. The wormhole has been collapsed before, so this isn’t to say it won’t return…
FYI, if you like the character of Bajoran misfit Ro Laren, who was played in TNG so superbly by Michelle Forbes, you’ll probably enjoy the DS9 relaunch novels. To say more about her role in them would spoil it a bit too much.
B’Elanna Torres and her quarter-Klingon daughter only faked their deaths during the Borg crisis to avoid the unwanted attentions of Klingon cultists and cover their departure with a new Starfleet expedition to the distant Delta Quadrant, where the USS Voyager was lost for many years. Admiral Kathryn Janeway, the former Voyager captain who led the ship home, ironically was assimilated and became a Borg Queen in their latest and final assault on the Federation, and was among the many casualties. She was reincarnated, however, by the omnipotent Q for some reason, and lives again on the Delta-bound Voyager with her former first mate and now lover, Chakotay. Because why not?