Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 8, edited by Dean Wesley Smith with Elisa J. Kassin and Paula M. Block, Pocket Books (2005)

Now in its 8th year, the Strange New Worlds short story contest has proven to be a great way for Pocket to find new Star Trek writers. Already, a number of past winners have graduated to writing for the myriad fiction lines, and I’m sure we’ll see more yet to come. It’s not easy trying to turn out a professional-quality story in a shared universe with so much history and continuity behind it, trying to tell something new without actually making any changes to established characters, and so my hat’s definitely off to those authors appearing in this collection. The stories cover all of the major Star Trek eras, focusing upon the five television series to date, as well as a final section entitles Speculations, for stories which don’t fit into continuity neatly. It’s probably ironic that the grand prize winner for this year’s contest, then, as well as the second place winner, both fall into the Speculations category.
All in all, it’s a strong collection of Star Trek stories, sure to appeal to Trek fans. They do suffer from the limitations inherent in the contest, focusing on major characters only and unable to actually make any sort of changes to the universe as a whole. But as self-contained episodes in the Trek universe, they succeed nicely. I’ve read enough of this anthology, and the previous entries in the series, to recognize a good thing when I see it. Here’s looking forward to number 9 and beyond.

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