Dayton Ward By... Dayton Ward

By Dayton Ward - February 25, 2012

What happens when you learn about a mysterious spatial energy field surrounding a small planet, except for a brief period every three years? If you’re the civilization on the neighboring planet, you try to have a look around. Eventually, you figure out that the planet is rich in natural resources, more than enough to serve your world’s needs for generations.

Over time, you set up a mining operation; a self-contained colony tasked with gathering the valuable minerals and preparing them for transport home. Then, for a few weeks every three years, you launch a massive effort to move that ore through the energy field to your home planet, while at the same time transferring personnel to and from the colony, sending new supplies and other materiel to support the ongoing operation, and try to get it all done before the energy rift closes again for another three years.

If you’re Starfleet, you send a science vessel to investigate this energy field, and see what all the fuss is about.

And when that ship crashes on the planet and is in danger of being trapped there for three years, you send Captain Kirk and the Enterprise to unknot that situation. While they’re at it, you’re hoping they might learn something about that energy field, how it was created, and maybe even by whom. That’d be cool, right?

Oh, and you try to do all that while keeping the Romulans from sniffing around, because now they’re curious, too.

Such is the basic premise of That Which Divides, the Star Trek novel I wrote for Pocket Books, and which is due to hit book shelves on or about February 28th. How did it come about? The way a lot of these types of projects are born, I suppose; my editor called me and asked if I was interested in writing “a straight-up original series novel.” No long, epic story arcs covering multiple books; no mini-series or maxi-series or crossover series; just a good, old-fashioned adventure with Kirk and the Enterprise.

Oh, heck yeah.

As a kid, I’d read the collections of original series episode adaptations written by James Blish (and later, with the assistance of his wife) and most of the novels published by Bantam Books during the 1970s. I was 12 years old when Pocket Books first acquired the license to publish Star Trek novels beginning with their adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I started collecting and reading them before Pocket decided to go back and put those little numbers on them, and I kept reading them as the numbers continued to increase. Every book was a self-contained story, wrapping itself up by the time you got to the last page. Some of the books took place during the time of The Original Series, while others were tales woven in and around the movies featuring the classic characters. The best of those novels felt like they could have been episodes or films all by themselves.

I’d been reading those books for almost twenty years by the time I sold my first Star Trek short story to Pocket. As it happens, the first Star Trek novel I wrote, In the Name of Honor, was the last of the “numbered” books featuring the original crew. However, that story was set during the “movie era,” taking place between the fifth and sixth films and with the Enterprise crew in the twilight of their careers. Though I’d been writing Star Trek fiction for Pocket for more than a decade at the time I was approached about this new book, I’d never had the chance to write a novel featuring Kirk and the gang from the time of the original series.

So, when my editor asked me if I’d like to do something along those lines, I leaped at the chance. My friend and frequent writing partner, Kevin Dilmore, and I sat down and fleshed out a story in the grand tradition of the original Star Trek, of which we are both lifelong fans. Here we have the Enterprise and her crew in their prime. Spock and McCoy bicker a bit. Scotty worries about his poor engines. Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura all have things to do, and there also are roles for several of the other crew members you might remember seeing from this or that episode. Our heroic captain gets into a knock-down, drag-out fight, complete with torn shirt and the application of some well-timed “Kirk Fu.” There might even be an unlucky security guard or two. And, of course, there are those pesky Romulans, always mucking about and making life difficult.

That Which DividesThough fate and circumstances saw to it that Kevin was unable to commit the time necessary to co-write the book with me, the novel as completed is very faithful to the outline on which we collaborated. It was my intention to carry out our primary objective on his behalf, by making That Which Divides what we both hope is a tribute not only to the original series, but also those “old-school” Star Trek novels from days gone by. For my money, you can never have too many stories featuring Kirk and the gang, and I’m thrilled that I got the opportunity to add to a catalog that shows no sign of stopping more than 45 years after the first such story was added to the list.

“Whoa,” I can hear someone calling out from the audience, “what about that title? ‘That Which Divides?’ Sounds an awful lot like that old episode with the lady who played Catwoman.”

What? You mean “That Which Survives?”

Wow. That’s odd. I wonder if there’s a connection....

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Dayton Ward is the author or co-author of numerous novels and short stories, including a whole bunch of stuff set in the Star Trek universe, and often working with friend and co-writer Kevin Dilmore. He’s also written (or co-written) for Star Trek Communicator, Star Trek Magazine, Syfy.com, and Tor.com, and is a monthly contributor to the Novel Spaces writers blog. As he is still a big ol’ geek at heart, Dayton is known to wax nostalgic about all manner of Star Trek topics over on his own blog, The Fog of Ward: http://daytonward.wordpress.com.

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