At long last, summer is here! School’s out and many of us are relishing the opportunity to kick back in our back yards or by the neighborhood pool or on a nearby beach and relax after the century that was 2020. What better way to pass the time in such settings than with a good book in your lap or even in your ears?
By having it be a Star Trek book, of course. Hey, if you wanted something else, you should be reading a different website, but here? We’re quite understandably all about the Trek in these parts.
Given Star Trek’s publishing history dating back to the late 1960s when The Original Series was still in production, creating any list of recommended reads from this vast pantheon is never an easy proposition. While I certainly have my favorites and have no problem promoting them to anyone who will listen, whenever I write articles of this sort I prefer to “crowdsource” a list of candidates. I did the same here and gleaned what I thought was a compact, diverse list of responses while sprinkling in a few favorites of my own. Behold:
Perhaps you’re interested in sweeping tales with plenty of characters and subplots weaving together and pulling you down into the pages. Federation by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens chronicles Zefram Cochrane’s life after his discovery of warp drive and the how that breakthrough would haunt him well into the 24th century. Though the paperback edition is long out of print, it’s still available as an eBook as well as an abridged audiobook read by Mark Lenard. Despite being “overwritten” by later Star Trek screen adventures, Federation remains a fan favorite since its initial publication in 1994.
Another tale covering a lot of ground is Full Circle, Kirsten Beyer’s first Star Trek: Voyager novel set after the events of the television series. Beyer brings Admiral Janeway and the crew of the Starship Voyager into the larger Star Trek novel continuity and sets them on a course for their new mission: returning to the Delta Quadrant that was their home for seven years. Full Circle is the first of ten novels Beyer would write in this new setting, available in both paperback and eBook editions.
Maybe something in the vein of a spy thriller is what you’re after. Let Charles “Trip” Tucker III bring it to you in Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin’s The Good That Men Do. Despite viewers believing him dead after the events of the Star Trek: Enterprise television series, this novel reveals Enterprise’s chief engineer actually faked his death in order to work with Section 31 to stop a Romulan attack designed to thwart the forming of the Coalition of Planets. This is the first of eight books set after the series which feature Tucker working behind the scenes of the Romulan War and the eventual founding of the Federation. You can still find it in eBook format.
Considered by many fans to be a linchpin of the extended Star Trek novel continuity, Keith R.A. DeCandido’s Articles of the Federation offers a peek behind the curtain of 24th-century Federation politics. President Nanietta Bacco governs the welfare of billions of citizens across hundreds of worlds, and makes the hard decisions that send Starfleet vessels into harm’s way. The paperback edition is out of print and hard to find, but an eBook version is ready for your device du jour.
A trio of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novellas penned by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann offer a change of pace to something more “slice of life” aboard everyone’s favorite Cardassian space station turned Federation outpost. Lust’s Latinum Lost (and Found) finds our favorite Ferengi, Quark, scheming to secure rights to a popular holonovel, but finds himself once again up to his lobes in trouble. In Rules of Accusation, Quark once again plots a financial windfall, this time with the help of his brother Rom, the Grand Nagus himself. Of course, nothing could go wrong with that idea, right? Finally, I, the Constable finds Odo playing detective and trying to learn why Quark has suddenly gone missing, only to find the Ferengi has gotten himself involved in a truly sordid criminal plot. All three novellas are available as eBooks!
If something like a thrilling mystery is what you’re looking for, we’re digging deep into the Star Trek novel vault with a couple of classics based on The Original Series. First, Jean Lorrah’s The Vulcan Academy Murders brings Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew to Spock’s homeworld, where patients at the Vulcan Academy’s hospital are dying under sinister circumstances. Popular with fans since its initial publication in 1984, the novel remains available as an eBook. Meanwhile, writers Bob Ingersoll and Tony Isabella channel a bit of Erle Stanley Gardner in The Case of the Colonist’s Corpse, in which Samuel T. Cogley, Attorney at Law, is Star Trek’s version of Perry Mason while attempting to solve a murder on a remote colony world shared by the Federation and the Klingon Empire. This title is also available in eBook format.
Searching for a little romance to spice up your beach read? Look no further than Peter David’s classic Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Imzadi. Readers get the whole story about the intense love affair William Riker shared with Deanna Troi years before they both arrived aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. All of this is a backdrop to an adventure that sees Commander Riker crossing time itself as he seeks to save Troi from a tragic fate. A frequent inclusion on many “Best of” lists, Imzadi and its sequel, Triangle: Imzadi II are available as a collected trade paperback and eBook, while Imzadi itself is also available as an abridged audiobook read by Jonathan Frakes.
How about a few adventure tales harkening back to those thrilling days of yesteryear? Leaping from the Starship Voyager’s holodeck comes Captain Proton: Defender of the Earth! This collection of throwback stories is a loving homage to the science fiction magazines of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s complete with rockets, laser guns, and evil robots! Author Dean Wesley Smith pulls out all the stops as he channels the great pulp SF writers like E.E. “Doc” Smith, Robert Heinlein, and Norman Spinrad. Sure, you could settle for the eBook version, but you might want the trade paperback edition just to complete the whole “pulp mag” vibe.
No list like this is complete without a few laughs thrown in for good measure. First up? Peter David delivers again with Q-In-Law, which brings the mischievous Q back to make life difficult for Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew. But, the omnipotent scoundrel may well have met his match when he faces off against a worthy adversary: Lwaxana Troi. The paperback edition is long out of print, but Q-In-Law is available as an eBook as well as a can’t miss abridged audiobook read by John de Lancie and the First Lady of Star Trek herself, Majel Barrett Roddenberry.
Coming for laughs from a whole other direction is this interesting question: What if Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew didn’t give up television after seven years before heading to the silver screen? What if there was a “secret” eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, filmed and forgotten until it was “discovered” by author Mike McMahan? From the creator Star Trek: Lower Decks comes Warped, a complete episode-by-episode breakdown of this magical “eighth year,” complete with dialogue snippets, “behind the scenes” trivia, and other juicy infonuggets. Check out this hilarious tome in trade paperback or eBook editions.
Looking for a story with a sympathetic character on their own in unfamiliar territory? After traveling to the distant 32nd Century, Michael Burnham spent a year searching for her crewmates aboard U.S.S. Discovery. Find out how she survived all those months in a strange future, gaining allies like Cleveland Booker and making no small number of enemies along the way. Available as a trade paperback and eBook along with an audiobook read by actress January LaVoy, Una McCormack’s Wonderlands is set between the first and second episodes of Star Trek: Discovery’s third season.
Cristóbal Rios is one of the more popular characters introduced during the first season of Star Trek: Picard. In Rogue Elements, readers will learn what really happened with Rios during his days in Starfleet, and how he struggled to find solitude and solace as captain of La Sirena. Written by John Jackson Miller, the new novel is available beginning August 17th in hardcover and eBook formats as well as an audiobook version read by Robert Petkoff.
And because I’m completely shameless as the author of this article, I can’t let you get away without offering these invaluable guidebooks for two fantastic Star Trek vacation destinations: the Hidden Universe Travel Guides for Vulcan and The Klingon Empire. Everything you need to know about these incomparable tourist-friendly hot spots is included in these volumes, including travel tips, language primers, and numerous insights into local culture and history. Where to go, where to stay, what to do, and what to eat? It’s all here. Both books are available in trade paperback and eBook formats.
Of course we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to Star Trek books, but this list should provide a strong start to your leisurely summer reading. Just don’t forget your sunscreen!
Dayton Ward (he/him) is a New York Times bestselling 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. As he’s 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.
Star Trek: Picard streams on Paramount+ in the United States, in Canada on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave, and on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories.
Star Trek: Discovery streams on Paramount+ in the United States, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada, and on Netflix in 190 countries.