The next novel to be released with my name on the cover will be Star Trek: The Original Series: Serpents in the Garden. That's right, two colons in one title. Wanna make something of it? It goes on sale April 29, but you can preorder now. And you should!
Given that fact, I thought I should tell you a little about my history with Star Trek publishing.
That started when I was an editor at WildStorm Productions/DC Comics, and we won the Star Trek comic book license, and the line was assigned to me. Star Trek comics had been around for decades, from a number of different publishers. I decided that, instead of having regular, ongoing series featuring the TV show crews, I wanted to mix things up a bit. I wanted to bring in science fiction writers, ideally folks who loved Star Trek, but had never (or rarely) had the chance to write it. I wanted to bring in artists who weren't the same names who followed the license from publisher to publisher. Knowing these folks were busy with other work, I wanted to put them on miniseries or one-shots, so they could make their marks on the world of Star Trek.
Writers I lined up included folks like Kevin J. Anderson, David Brin, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith, Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Janine Ellen Young, K.W. Jeter, A.C. Crispin, Scott Ciencin, and others. I also turned to people associated with Star Trek novels, like John Ordover, David Mack, Keith R A. DeCandido, Howard Weinstein, Jeffrey Lang, Andy Mangels and Mike Martin, and Peter David, who wrote the first ST: New Frontier comic ever. And I turned to people mostly associated with comics, but who hadn't done a million ST stories, like Tony Isabella and Bob Ingersoll, Ian Edginton, Ben Raab, and more. I lined up some great artists, and we made terrific comics. Some of them were collected in trade paperbacks featuring stunning covers by the incomparable Drew Struzan.
I got to know some of the people editing Star Trek fiction at Pocket Books, and was invited to take part in what was then a grand experiment--original e-books! Pocket had created a line called Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers. Each was an original novella, initially released only electronically. Later they were collected into paperback. The one I wrote, No Surrender, became the title of the collection that contained it.
On the strength of that, I was asked to write a full-length novel, part of a series called "The Lost Era," which explored the years between The Original Series (TOS) and The Next Generation (TNG). My book, ST: The Lost Era: Deny Thy Father, was mostly about Will Riker, and how his troubled relationship with his father had affected his life.
After that it was a few years before I tried another, but 2013 saw the release of Star Trek: The Original Series: The Folded World. It was about Kirk, Spock, McCoy--the whole crew I had grown up with.
Some folks liked it, for which I'm deeply grateful:
"With The Folded World, Jeff Mariotte delivers a novel that is at once satisfying for Star Trek fans, but also an intelligent science fiction story that could really satisfy any average reader of sci-fi. The structure of the novel that includes brief sections involving a primitive culture that seem disconnected at first wraps up in a clever fashion, and when you are finished, all the strings tie together into a compelling whole."
"The Folded World is a mind-bending, psychologically thrilling adventure for the crew of the Enterprise. Kirk and company face a dimensional fold that leaves reality itself in question. How do you survive when you are not sure you can trust your senses, which is all you have to determine reality? Jeff Mariotte weaves a fast-paced and harrowing tale that leaves readers guessing until the end."
--Matthew Rushing, Trek.fm
"Characterisations of the main cast are pretty spot on with some exceptional sparring between Spock and McCoy which is absolutely in character. McCoy here is at his transport-hating, counselling and grumbling best, getting a chance to show off all sides of his personality during their off-ship activities. There's some of Kirk's past on show here, reflections on a fondly remembered childhood after trauma - mention of the incident on Tarsus IV which played a part in the episode The Conscience of the King - which helped him regroup. While not initially evident that this is relevant to the plot, it does become so as we move further into the story and echoes the experiences of Miranda Tokolo which help in making her such an interesting addition to this story. We also get to know a girl named Aleshia pretty early on and her story is the strand which seems initially separate to the main narrative. The way in which Mariotte has played this piece is very different, especially opening the book through unknown eyes. While she is questioning the events occurring around her we are left in the same position knowing nothing of what is happening but learning a bit more with every return to her village. Fairly insignificant within her community this girl has a terrible life ruled by famine and 'domestic' violence it is just the tip of the iceberg. The conclusion of which is perhaps one of the pivotal moments of the story."
"The entire story, in fact, is a significant accomplishment. What he manages to weave is compelling, engaging, peril-inducing goodness with both a strong degree of thought required to embrace some of its wider concepts, as well as little though required to enjoy the action/adventure side of the coin.
Some of the people who have helped me on my voyage into the world of writing Star Trek books include Keith DeCandido, Marco Palmieri, John Ordover, Greg Cox, Margaret Clark, Ed Schlesinger, and the invaluable Paula Block and John Van Citters. I've enjoyed meeting cast members Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Jonathan Frakes, and seeing a bunch more at cons and in the Paramount cafeteria. The camaraderie of ST authors has been a wonderful bonus.
So here comes Star Trek: The Original Series: Serpents in the Garden. The back cover says: "Early in his five-year mission commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk found himself caught up in a grow-ing conflict on the planet Neural. To maintain the balance of power against a force being armed by the Klingons, he provided weapons to his new friends, the Hill People. Years later, Admiral Kirk learns that the Klingon presence on Neu-ral has grown considerably, and in possible violation of the Treaty of Organia. Did his impulse as a young captain turn out disastrously wrong? Could he have done more to eliminate the Klingon threat? To find out, Kirk must embark on a secret mission back to Neural--where he might just be the only person who can prevent an interstellar war. . . ."
If you like Star Trek, I hope you'll give it a try. For me, it's the culmination of a long, long trip.