(written from a Production point of view)
A mission of peace could trap Spock halfway across the galaxy, forever...
- From the back cover
- Every fifty years, a rift in space connects the Federation with a mysterious race called the Calligar who live on a planet hundreds of light years away – much too far to travel in a Starship. Captain Kirk and the U.S.S. Enterprise are dispatched to transport a Federation delegation of diplomats, scholars and scientists who will travel to Calligar directly during the brief period of time that the rift will be open.
- Mr. Spock leads the Federation party as they travel by shuttle through the rift just as a group of the aliens arrive in Federation space. The meetings go smoothly until the Calligar take Spock's party hostage and Kirk discovers that the aliens are keeping a deadly secret. With angry Tellarite and Andorian fleets ready to attack the Calligar, Kirk must save Spock and the others before war breaks out and the rift closes for another fifty years.
"You carry around in your head the findings of all ships in any given sector for the past three years, Lieutenant?"
"No, sir. The past five years."
- - Captain Pike and Number One
"Someday, you'll pull a hypo out of there and give me a heart attack."
- - Captain Pike, to Dr. Boyce, who is mixing drinks from his medical bag
"You appear puzzled. This is the correct Earth greeting, is it not?"
"It is one of the better-known ones. They taught us at the academy, however, not to be presumptuous. There are at least five known planets where a handshake is considered an obscene gesture, and one where it's a declaration of war."
- - Master Builder Zyo and Captain Pike, shaking hands at their first face-to-face meeting
"Should I be concerned about my command future, Number One, vis à vis your ambitions?"
"I'll be wanting a bigger ship, sir."
- - Captain Pike and Number One, after Number One explains that she programmed the ship's computer with her own voice because she wanted it to have a voice that commanded respect
"There is an old saying in the field of diplomacy."
"And that is?"
"The entire key to diplomacy is sincerity. Once that can be faked, the rest is simple."
- - Spock and Kirk, discussing Ambassador Fox's new attitude
"Did you attempt to insult me, Andorian?"
"No, I succeeded."
- - Shondar Dorkin and Thak
- Like many back-cover summaries, this one is inaccurate. Despite what the second paragraph says, only one Calligar comes through the rift; there are no Andorian and Tellarite fleets, only single ships; only the Tellarite are ready to attack; and the rift's cycle is 33 years as opposed to the "fifty" mentioned.
- Chapters 1-7 take place about 2254, a few days after the events of TOS: "The Cage". Chapters 8-26 take place about 2287, between the events of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
- Introduces a new (non-canon) Gamma Quadrant race, the Calligar, who are technologically more advanced than the Federation, but not as advanced as the Borg.
- Offers a (non-canon) look at the crew of Pike's Enterprise.
- Canon characters listed below are linked to the main article about them. Non-canon characters are not linked, but those that recurred, appearing or being mentioned in more than one story, are defined further in Pocket TOS characters.
Regular and recurring characters
- José Tyler
- Starfleet commodore. Was a lieutenant and the Enterprise's navigator at the time of first contact with the Calligar. Falls in love with a Calligarian woman, Ecma, during first contact, and insists on being aboard the Enterprise during the second contact.
- Christopher Pike
- Number One
- Robert Fox
- Ambassador assigned to the second contact with the Calligar; seems to have learned a few lessons in humility since Eminiar VII.
- Leonard McCoy
- Montgomery Scott
- Richard Daystrom
- Inventor of the duotronic computer and the failed M-5 computer; has recovered from the nervous breakdown he had subsequent to the failure of the M-5 but is still emotionally fragile.
- Calligarian Master Builder; father of Ecma and Macro.
- Calligarian Master of the Status.
- Zyo's daughter and successor as Master Builder.
- Zyo's son and Ecma's husband (Calligarians do not have problems with recessive genes and brother-sister marriages are accepted, if not encouraged, among them).
- Ecma and Macro's son, the next Master Builder.
- Shondar Dorkin
- Described as a "top Tellarite expert in societal development." Assigned to the second contact with the Calligar. "Shondar" is his title. He is as much of a blowhard as any Tellarite.
- Andorian chargé d'affaires and scientist assigned to the second contact with the Calligar. Cannot resist needling Shondar Dorkin.
- Long-time Enterprise crewman. Tyler asked Spock what had become of Valdini, whom he remembered as standing next to the turbolift door, looking out of place. Spock informed Tyler that Valdini was one of many crewmembers slaughtered by the cloud creature encountered at Argus X.
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