(written from a Production point of view)
- From the book jacket
- In all of his travels Captain Jean-Luc Picard has never faced an opponent more powerful than Q, a being from another continuum that Picard encountered on his very first mission as Captain of the Starship Enterprise. In the years since, Q has returned again and again to harass Picard and his crew. Sometimes dangerous, sometimes merely obnoxious, Q has always been mysterious and seemingly all-powerful.
- But this time, when Q appears, he comes to Picard for help. Apparently another member of the Q continuum has tapped into an awesome power source that makes this being more powerful than the combined might of the entire Q continuum. This renegade Q is named Trelane – also known as the Squire of Gothos, who Captain Kirk and his crew first encountered over one hundred years ago. Q explains that, armed with this incredible power, Trelane has become unspeakably dangerous.
- Now Picard must get involved in an awesome struggle between super beings. And this time the stakes are not just Picard's ship, or the galaxy, or even the universe – this time the stakes are all of creation...
While on a mission to the Planet Terminus, three parallel Enterprises find themselves in great danger when the entity known as Trelane discovers a power unlike any other. Soon, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew are caught up in a battle not only for their lives, but for the very fabric of existence itself.
"And you accuse me of arrogance? Picard, I could blast this ship out of existence if I felt like it. I could grow hair on your head. Turn your crew into embryos, force Worf to recite doggerel. I could turn your ship inside out, your reality outside in. I am not being condescending, Picard... not that I'm incapable of it, you understand, but this simply isn't one of the times. Now, what I most definitely am, Picard, is arrogant. Why? Because I have a reason to be. I have a right to be. So... mortal... what's your excuse?"
- - Q
"What fascinating creatures those little humans are! And what a true tragedy that they develop into dour, humorless beings called adult humans."
"A tragedy, yes."
- - Trelane and Q
"What... what was that all about?"
"Fate of the universe."
- - Dr. Crusher and Picard.
- The audiobook version was abridged by George Truett.
- The plot of this novel repeatedly shifts among three different parallel universes or "Tracks", consisting of:
- Track A: A variant of the normal Trek universe.
- Jack Crusher is the captain of the USS Enterprise-D.
- Jean-Luc Picard – demoted to commander after the Stargazer court martial – is the ship's first officer.
- Jack and Beverly are divorced, and Wesley died at the age of four after he fell out of a tree trying to see Jack. Picard and Beverly are engaged in a romantic relationship unbeknownst to Jack.
- Geordi La Forge is one of Beverly's nurses in sickbay because of all the medical devices he used when he was young.
- Tasha Yar and Data (this Data being a "human-oid" – a positronic brain in a flesh and blood body) have an ongoing relationship.
- William T. Riker and Kira Nerys are prisoners of the Romulans.
- Will and Deanna Troi are married, and have a eight-year-old son named Tommy.
- Worf lives in the Klingon Empire. He is a high-ranking officer and has aspirations for a seat on the High Council. His parents died on Narendra III instead of Khitomer.
- The bartender in Ten Forward is named Caryn Johnson. (This is also the real name of Whoopi Goldberg, who plays Guinan.)
- James Kirk's middle initial is R.
- Track B: The normal Trek universe as we usually see it. The events in this track take place not long after TNG: "The Pegasus".
- Track C: A version of the "Klingon war" storyline as seen in TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise", but one where the Enterprise-C failed in its mission and the war with the Klingons continues.
- Track A: A variant of the normal Trek universe.
- This novel offers an explanation as to why Captain Kirk's middle initial in TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before" is seen to be R: the events of that episode are said to take place in the Track A universe. Gary Mitchell's power in the episode is also explained as being absorbed from Q, who is hiding from Trelane in the galactic barrier.
- Trelane's name is said to be a shortening of "three lanes", indicating the three timelines that Trelane tried to control. His birth as a Q is also discussed as being a direct result of his death, mainly that when Trelane was destroyed at the end of the novel, a spark of his being remained, was named "Tre-Lane", and then became the Trelane that Kirk and company later encountered in TOS: "The Squire of Gothos". Trelane's entire existence is therefore said to be one continuous loop.
- Jack Crusher
- Captain of the USS Enterprise-D (alternate timeline).
- Caryn Johnson
- Yeoman who runs Ten Forward in this alternate timeline.
- Also the real name of actress Whoopi Goldberg, whose character of Guinan fulfills the same function in Track B.
- Mrs. Claire was a teacher in one timeline.
- Jean-Luc Picard
- Geordi La Forge
- Beverly Crusher
- William T. Riker
- Natasha Yar
- Deanna Troi
- Hikaru Sulu
- Ensign Chafin
- Named after T.A. Chafin.
- runs Ten Forward in the alternate timelines B and C
- Alexander Rozhenko
- Argyle female alternate timeline A
- Ensign Joseph
- Amanda Rogers
- Wesley Crusher
- Sonya Gomez
- Ensign Sanders
- Commodore Hikaru Sulu (hologram)
- Paul Manheim
- Narendra III
- Neutral Zone
- Farpoint Station
- USS Hood
- Starfleet Excelsior-class ship.
- USS Stargazer
- Starfleet Constellation-class ship.
- Sarona VIII
- In this novel, the planet was Sarona 7
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