Star Trek: The Fall, Simon & Schuster and Pocket Books’ five-part mini-series, continues today with the release of book four, The Poisoned Chalice. Penned by James Swallow (Star Trek: Titan – Synthesis), it follows on from David Mack’s A Ceremony of Losses and sets the stage for the finale, Peaceable Kingdoms, by Dayton Ward.
Here’s a synopsis direct from Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books:
“One simple act, and the troubles of the United Federation of Planets have grown darker overnight. The mystery behind the heinous terrorist attack that has rocked the Federation to its core grows ever deeper, and William Riker finds himself beset by rumors and half-truths as the U.S.S. Titan is ordered back to Earth on emergency orders from the admiralty. Soon, Riker finds himself drawn into a game of political intrigue, bearing witness to members of Starfleet being detained—including people he considered friends—pending an investigation at the highest levels. And while Riker tries to navigate the corridors of power, Titan’s tactical officer, Tuvok, is given a series of clandestine orders that lead him into a gray world of secrets, lies, and deniable operations. Who can be trusted when the law falls silent and justice becomes a quest for revenge? For the crew of the U.S.S. Titan, the search for answers will become a battle for every ideal the Federation stands for. . .”
Boldly seeking more information, StarTrek.com reached out to James Swallow, who took the time to answer a few questions about bringing The Poisoned Chalice to life.
For you, what's at the heart of The Poisoned Chalice? What makes it tick?
SWALLOW: I think the novel is about good people who find themselves caught up in something beyond their control, something that has the potential to become ugly and dangerous. How does someone of good conscience and strong character react to a thing like that? When events are moving quickly, when the momentum is strong and emotions are running high, how hard is it to plant your feet against the flow and say No, wait, stop? It’s at times like that lines are crossed, and the better angels of people’s nature are drowned out – so putting characters like Will Riker, Deanna Troi, Christine Vale, Tuvok, Nog and others in the middle of it makes for some interesting drama.
In The Fall novels, we’re dealing with the shockwaves of a terrible event that will have long-lasting effects on the politics of the United Federation of Planets – the shot heard around the galaxy, as it were – and the crew of the USS Titan are dragged into it when they are summoned back to Earth. Riker finds himself as the man on the spot, in very different circumstances to what he’s been used to, and he has to work to stay ahead of everything happening around him.
The themes that run through The Poisoned Chalice are certainly those we see in the real world – it’s a story about terrorism and the mark it leaves, both morally and culturally, and that’s a challenging thing to put against the backdrop of the Federation, who have always tried to be a paragon of virtue. And of course, it wouldn’t be a book by me if it didn’t also have some action in there too…
What was it like to be involved in a project like this, following previous books in the series and setting the stage for the next author?
SWALLOW: It’s complex and it does have its difficulties. I’ve written books in ongoing series before, but never one as closely-plotted as The Fall is, so that was new to me and it was part of the appeal of the project. I guess the best analogy is that it’s like a relay race – David R. George took off from the blocks, passed the baton to Una McCormack, Una passed it to David Mack, now Dave gives it to me and I’ll pass it on to Dayton Ward to carry it to the finish line. Each of us has the responsibility for our piece of the race, to do it as best we can and not trip up!
As the guy writing the penultimate novel, I had to make sure my story dovetails with what Dave did in A Ceremony Of Losses and leave enough undone for Dayton to come in and bring it all to a thrilling climax in Peaceable Kingdoms. Threads run back and forth through all five of the novels, and while we all have our differing styles and stories, at the end I think people will see The Fall as a single coherent, exciting tale that just happens to have five writers behind it.
It’s been a team effort all the way, and working with these great authors has made all of us raise our game. I’m really pleased to have been a part of it, and also to have the opportunity to write another Titan novel into the bargain!
Star Trek: The Fall -- The Poisoned Chalice runs 384 pages and is available as a mass market paperback (for $7.99) and for Kindle. Click HERE to order from Amazon.com.