ROTF: Uncertain Logic
Years ago, Jonathan Archer and T’Pol helped unearth the true writings of Vulcan’s great philosopher Surak, bringing forth a new era of peaceful reform on Vulcan. But when their discovery is seemingly proven to be a fraud, the scandal threatens to undo a decade of progress and return power to the old, warlike regime. Admiral Archer, Captain T’Pol, and the crew of the U.S.S. Endeavour investigate with help from their Vulcan allies, but none of them suspect the identity of the real mastermind behind the conspiracy to reconquer Vulcan—or the price they will have to pay to discover the truth.
Meanwhile, when a long-forgotten technological threat re-emerges beyond the Federation’s borders, Captain Malcolm Reed of the U.S.S. Pioneer attempts to track down its origins with help from his old friend “Trip” Tucker. But they discover that other civilizations are eager to exploit this dangerous power for their own benefit, even if the Federation must pay the price!
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Now that the Federation was past its teething pains and finding itself on a firmer footing, I decided that it was time to explore how it would deal with a threat to others, exerting itself as a peacekeeping power. I also wanted to vary the mix of antagonists and bring in a new threat to give the Malurians and Orions a rest, and to allow certain other threads to simmer in the background for a while. I wanted to do something more action-oriented, but I generally prefer to avoid writing space combat scenes too much, since I don’t like having my protagonists kill if it can be avoided. Also, canon strongly suggests that the Federation managed to avoid major wars for the first century of its existence.
But I’ve always been interested in the automated repair station from the second-season episode “Dead Stop,” wondering what its origins and purpose were. It occurred to me that a purely robotic enemy would be just what I needed — I could do space battles without the usual moral qualms, and it wouldn’t be a war per se. More importantly, it would be a chance to answer those lingering questions from the episode, and maybe to touch on why the later Federation seems so mistrustful of robotics and automation. Such a tale would also let me further my exploration of the Andorian Guard division of the early Starfleet and the role they play in the Federation’s defense.
Meanwhile, a parallel plotline on Vulcan was kind of dictated by the fact that I was moving into 2165 — the year Sarek was born. The birth of Sarek was one of the first story possibilities my editor Margaret Clark suggested when she offered the Enterprise books to me. That was why I introduced the pregnant T’Rama (Sarek’s mother) in the previous volume, since I knew I’d be featuring her and her husband Skon more heavily here. Skon’s established role as the translator of The Teachings of Surak into English suggested a story focusing on the Kir’Shara — Surak’s true writings as later rediscovered — through Skon’s perspective, which pointed to a larger examination of how the Kir’Shara and its revelations and reforms had transformed Vulcan society, how those invested in the old status quo were resisting those reforms, and how 22nd-century Vulcan society evolved into the form we first encountered on Enterprise in the first place. Tobin Dax’s established relationship with Skon in the books also gave me an opportunity to bring him to Vulcan and depict a certain part of his backstory that was alluded to in Deep Space Nine, namely his encounter on Vulcan with a Cardassian exile named Iloja of Prim. What was a Cardassian doing on Vulcan over a century before formal Federation/Cardassian contact? That was worth telling, and offered a valuable additional perspective on the political and social upheavals affecting Vulcan at this time.
This time around, I was contracted for a longer book, around 100,000 words instead of 80,000. This gave me room to tell the story in more depth — and to work in that subplot I had to excise from Book 2 for space. However, the Vulcan plot (which I mostly wrote first) still ran much longer than I expected, requiring me to streamline the other plot. Fortunately, I was also under contract for two books this time, and it had always been my plan to explore the automated technology (the Ware, as I call it) in two phases. So I was able to restructure my plans and save much of the story for Book 4. I think it actually works better this way, making for a more focused narrative.
I’m quite pleased with the cover for this one, partly because it was my idea. I normally don’t have a say in cover design, but it occurred to me one day, out of the blue, that if you superimposed the pyramidal shape of the Kir’Shara onto the globe of Vulcan, it would resemble the Vulcan IDIC medallion representing the philosophy of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. It struck me as a perfect symbolic image for the story, both for the IDIC and for the image of the Kir’Shara looming over Vulcan and exerting its sway on the whole planet. It struck me so powerfully that I had to write to my editor and suggest it, though with no expectation that my idea would be accepted. But apparently someone liked it, because there it is.