This week I decided to review Star Trek: The Next Generation: Headlong Flight by Dayton Ward.
The story takes place across three universes at three different points in time. One is the primary Star Trek novel setting where the Enterprise 1701-E is exploring the Odyssean Pass near Romulan space in 2386. Another is a universe where Captain Picard was killed during the events of the episode Best of Both Worlds and the region is being explored by Enterprise 1701-D commanded by William Riker in 2367. And the final universe is one where the Enterprise 1701 was apparently destroyed during the events of The Original Series episode The Balance of Terror and the area is being explored by the Romulan warship Bloodied Talon and its escorts in 2266.
Each vessel discovers a planet that mysteriously appears then vanishes while sending a warning message to stay away. The Enterprise-E sends a shuttle that is on the planet Ushalon when it disappears and the away team makes contact with the Sidrac who are on the planet. They explain that in their universe, Ushalon was the base for a project to launch probes into other universes using a quantum-field generator. At first the project went well, but then an accident caused the planet to shift between the various universes probes had reached, stranding the project's scientists with no way home.
While the planet is in the Bloodied Talon's native universe the Romulans send a team in an attempt to seize the Sidrac technology, then launch an orbital bombardment in an attempt to prevent the generator from shifting the planet away. This results in all of the Romulan ships and the alternate Enterprise-D being shifted to the Enterprise-E's home dimension along with Ushalon. This leaves Picard struggling to forge an alliance to launch a risky plan to return the Sidrac to their homes while the Romulan Commander Sarith plots to use the disruptions recent events have inflicted on the various ships to seize one or both Federation vessels and the quantum-field generator.
I give this book 8.5 out of 10. The overall story is well-written and has some interesting characters and interactions between them. I also liked the combat sequences. The single major issue I have with this book is the number of unanswered questions I had when it was over. Usually I am more forgiving of this because I see them as possible hooks for later stories but in this case almost all of these questions are tied to the alternate universes encountered by the Enterprise-E and the characters native to those universes. This means I find it highly unlikely that they will be answered in later books.