Strange New Worlds VI, edited by Dean Wesley Smith

strange-new-worlds-vi-edited-by-dean-wesley-smith coverGenre: Star Trek
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 2003
Reviewer Rating: two stars
Book Review by Steven Sawicki

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When you play in an established universe you face challenges, as a writer, that you don’t face when you create everything yourself. These challenges come from both the inside and the outside. The internal challenges have to do with format, character and setting while the external challenges have more to do with trying to fit into an established fan base. Simply put, your characters are expected to act in a certain way and if they don’t there are thousands of people ready to tell you so. One way to get around this is to not use major characters but to use either less established characters or newly created characters. The downside to this is that readers may not care about the characters you write about as they are lusting after the main players.

Before going too much further I should point out that this anthology contains the winning and runner up entries in the Star Trek Strange New Worlds VI contest. The contest rules state that you must be a nonprofessional writer. This explains much.

There are twenty three stories in this anthology running the full range from Star Trek the Original Series through Enterprise and, new this year, beyond. Each incarnation has between three and six stories so you know that this played some part in the selection process. The first story, set in the STOS universe is “Whales Weep Not,” by Juanita Nolte. It’s a story involving a detective who investigates the disappearance of Dr. Gillian Taylor. For those of you not up on your ST minutia, Taylor was the one who was in charge of the whales. The story is well written but it’s about something that I really cared little about. I suppose it might have some appeal to those who need to have every dusty corner of a universe revealed. The story won third prize in the competition.

“Protecting Data’s Friends” by Scott William Carter is set in the STNG universe and is about how Data develops a set of mechanical spiders which will act as bodyguards for his friends. The spiders run off the ship’s computer and Data’s neural network. Unfortunately, they begin to replicate and eat up processing time, which leads to some rather serious on-board problems. The story is well done and does revolve around the major characters and the ship. This story was not a prize winner.

Kevin Hosey’s “Seven and Seven” takes place in the Voyager universe, although it involves a character from STOG as well. As the title indicates the story revolves around Seven of Nine and Gary Seven. Seven, Gary, not Nine, is on a mission to save a planet and is going to use the Enterprise to do it. Now, giving up on arguing the somewhat coincidental nature of this, Hosey manages to capture not only the setting but also the characters as well to produce an interesting story. This story was also not a prizewinner.
The remaining stories run the full gamut from talented fan to neo-pro with most falling somewhere in the middle. For the completest this is obviously a must have, for those interested in the Star Trek universe there’s probably enough here to keep you interested. But, if this is your first or even your second or third dip into the worlds of Star Trek you’d be better off looking elsewhere. The 2003 contest is closed and that anthology should see print sometime around June 2004.

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