The Face of the Unknown Annotations

ST Face of Unknown cover

This document explains the continuity references, allusions, in-jokes, and scientific concepts contained in Star Trek: The Original Series: The Face of the Unknown (TFotU).   I assume that the reader is familiar with the basic characters and background of the Trek universe.  Readers seeking further information on references to past Trek episodes or movies are advised to consult the Memory Alpha Star Trek wiki.  Information about Star Trek novels can be found at the Memory Beta wiki.


Be aware that this document contains spoilers for the whole of TFotU and for numerous episodes, films, and novels from various Trek series, particularly the original and animated series.  I would strongly recommend not reading it until one has completed the novel, since many of the notes contain spoilers for things not revealed until later scenes or chapters.

Episode and book titles are TOS unless otherwise indicated.  Episode and short-story titles are in quotes, while film and book titles are italicized.


ENT — Enterprise TOS — The Original Series TAS — The Animated Series
TNG — Next Generation ExM – Ex Machina SANW – Seek a Newer World

Chapter Annotations

Cover This is one of my favorite covers among my own books. I like the rich colors, which correspond to the gold, blue, and red of TOS uniforms. It’s mostly a rather basic photo montage of a CGI shot from the Remastered edition of “The Corbomite Maneuver” (although, contrary to popular misconception, the new CGI shots are the only parts that aren’t remastered, since remastering means going back to the original print to get the purest possible image) plus a shot of the scary Balok puppet from the original footage of same. But the addition of the attacking cluster ships makes it far more dynamic, as well as improving the visual and color balance. It’s really quite effective for something so simple.
  The epigraph is from Kirk’s intercom address to his crew in “The Corbomite Maneuver,” given to reassure them after Balok’s threat. It’s a marvelous statement of what the series stood for. It was also paraphrased in another Kirk address to his crew in Star Trek Beyond. I was pleased to hear that reference when I saw the movie, because I’d already chosen that speech as the epigraph for this book and I appreciated the resonance.
  In my personal chronology, this book starts about 6 weeks after “Turnabout Intruder” with a couple of other novels in between, but your mileage may vary. It immediately precedes The Latter Fire by James Swallow, and I assume TAS begins shortly after that.
1 Gabler was a recurring character in TAS, debuting in “One of Our Planets is Missing.” He was given the first name Frank in Alan Dean Foster’s TAS novelizations. I previously used the character in DTI: Forgotten History.
2 Betelgeusians were background aliens glimpsed in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and featured in my post-TMP fiction and Titan books.
3 As far as I know, there’s been very little previously established about Sulu’s pre-Enterprise career. I named the Arjuna after the hero of the Mahabharata from Indian literature and myth.
7 “the ship appeared to erupt into flames”: Naturally there’s no fire in the vacuum of space. The appearance would be due to portions of the hull vaporizing from the impact and incandescing from the heat, and perhaps from air outgassing from breached compartments.
9 Ardana and its injustices were featured in “The Cloud Minders.”
10 Anne Nored, featured in TAS: “The Survivor,” was the first female security officer with a speaking role in Star Trek (though a few others were glimpsed previously in TAS: “The Lorelei Signal”). This book gave me an opportunity to flesh her out a bit, though only in a minor role.
12 It used to be thought that the spacing of planets in our star system was typical, but in recent years, we’ve discovered many extrasolar planetary systems packed astonishingly close around their primary stars – most famously the TRAPPIST-1 system with seven closely packed planets in resonant orbits within a fraction of an astronomical unit of their star and with orbital periods ranging from 1.5 to 20 days. Of course, we’re finding so many because our detection methods have an easier time detecting planets in such tight orbits (both because they perturb their stars’ motion more and because they transit more frequently so their existence can be confirmed sooner), so they may not be the norm, but they’re certainly more common than we used to think. It’s possible that our own system used to have a larger number of planets and proto-planets, most of which were broken up or expelled by the turbulent interactions of the young system.
13 My original First Federation novel idea would’ve been partly a post-TMP tale with a subplot featuring my Betelgeusian character Uuvu’it. Since it ended up pre-TMP, I decided to make it a sort of prequel to the ’Geusian backstory I established in earlier books. I considered including Uuvu’it himself here, but I felt that would be too Dickensian a coincidence.
15 Spock took command when Kirk was missing or believed dead in three third-season episodes, “The Paradise Syndrome,” “The Tholian Web,” and “That Which Survives.”
17 Sulu’s infamous d’Artagnan episode is from “The Naked Time.”
18 I apologize for the contrivance of the word Federation somehow being decipherable from an alien language even when there was insufficient information to determine much of anything else. This really doesn’t make any linguistic sense, but translation in Trek rarely does.
Chapter 1
22 The briefing room set rarely had a wall screen, but it featured one in “Space Seed.” I have no idea if the set was larger there than in other episodes, but let’s just pretend.
  Nancy Hedford and the post of assistant commissioner were established in “Metamorphosis.” It’s my own extrapolation that she was a diplomatic commissioner, the post I’ve given Soval in the Rise of the Federation series.
24 Tyree is from “A Private Little War,” a friend Kirk made on a survey mission 13 years before the episode (2255). King Stevvin is from Howard Weinstein’s 1981 novel The Covenant of the Crown, a benevolent monarch who mentored Lieutenant Commander Kirk a year or so after the 2257 destruction of the Farragut. Ren’xaan is a name I made up, presumably a member of the Arkonian species seen in ENT: “Dawn.” Assuming this list is in chronological order, it suggests that Kirk spent time on Arkoni at some point between 2255 and 2258.
26 The original intention of the Romulan ship design in “Balance of Terror” was that it was copying Starfleet designs, hence the similar saucer and warp nacelles. This didn’t make it into the final episode, and ENT: “Minefield” established that the general shape of the Romulan Birds of Prey existed before they contacted humanity, but Scotty’s line about Romulan nacelles here is a nod to the original concept.
32 There’s no indication on the Fesarius miniature or the more detailed digital TOS-Remastered version that it has any kind of hatch, but I realized there had to be some such thing if it were a mining/cargo vessel as I’d asserted. Either it blends in perfectly when closed, or it was on the side of the ship we didn’t see.
37 I assume the mining beam emitters are the circular, washer-like features visible in the black layer between and beneath the domes in the TOS-R close-up shot of the Fesarius.
Chapter 2
43 The name “Dassik” is derived from the name of Ted Cassidy, who did the voice of the Scary Balok Puppet.
46 I’m afraid I don’t know anything about Euler angles other than what I read on Wikipedia. I wanted to find a coordinate system that would have three terms expressed in three numbers, but was different from the usual polar coordinates we use for astronomy (right ascension, declination, and distance).
47 Balok’s family cell’s interest in ethnology and folklore is a nod to TNG: Gulliver’s Fugitives, which featured a pair of First Federation ethnologists whose study of alien (and human) myth and lore was a significant plot point. I’m implicitly suggesting that those characters are related to Balok.
47-8 Thanks to my rusty math skills, I seem to have conflated active coordinate transformations, in which a point actually changes position within the coordinate system, with passive ones where the same position is merely expressed in a different coordinate system. The polar-to-cylindrical transformation Bailey mentions is passive, while the ones Spock discusses are active. Reflection is just inverting the values (self-explanatory), translation is moving a geometric object to a different position (like sliding it sideways), and rotation is also pretty self-explanatory – though in this case they’re rotating the course vector around the center point (themselves) rather than rotating a geometric shape. I think I probably fumbled the terminology more than a little here.
  Honestly, the whole clue-deciphering sequence here feels a bit too Batman ’66 to me, with the characters making improbable deductive leaps to the right answers.
49-50 The giant impact hypothesis for the formation of the Moon has been around for a few decades, and it’s supported by a fair amount of evidence, though it’s not entirely confirmed and some questions remain. This passage could end up sounding rather dated if the idea is later debunked, but that’s the inevitable occupational hazard of the science fiction author.
  It could’ve been worse, though. I originally had Spock say, “The Jovian is quite massive and apparently expelled all other large planets from the system during its migration to this position. As a result, the K-Class planet has remained unperturbed. The emergence of such a formation is improbable, but there is no mystery to why it survived.” After copyedits, I read a article on the Centauri Dreams blog, “‘Warm Jupiters’ and Nearby Worlds” from July 21, 2016, about a new paper establishing that “warm” Jovians at the distance I had in mind for this planet being more likely to form in place than to migrate from elsewhere. Luckily, I was able to insert the correction in the galley edits, my last chance to make the fix.
57 The wormhole risk to which Scotty refers is a nod to the wormhole malfunction seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Within the novel continuity, the danger of a warp imbalance resulting in a wormhole was discovered by the crew of the U.S.S. Pioneer in 2162, as seen in ENT: Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures.
59 This Jovian planet (Cherela) falls into Class II of the Sudarsky classification system. It’s dominated by water clouds because it’s in the same temperature range as an Earthlike, “Class M” planet. However, its intense radiation belts are like those around Jupiter.
Chapter 3
61-2 Here’s “Radio Storms on Jupiter,” a NASA article about radio emissions on Jupiter and the sounds they make.
65 The Enterprise briefly flew within Earth’s atmosphere in “Tomorrow is Yesterday.” I left the number of atmospheric flights vague to leave room for possible tie-in stories depicting them.
65ff The descent into the atmosphere and the discovery of the Web is one of the longest portions surviving largely intact from Seek a Newer World (SANW); the rest are mostly action sequences. Since that book was to be a tie-in to the new movies, I tried to make it as cinematic as possible, with grand, epic vistas and big action. I was particularly proud of the Web of Worlds and didn’t want to let it go to waste.
68-9 On the scale of a Jovian, I’m not sure even world modules 1200 km wide would be spaced closely enough to be naked-eye visible. It could be that some regions have world modules clustered closer together than others.
Chapter 4
81 Both of the security innovations Kirk contemplates are present in TAS – the phaser defense module is in “Beyond the Farthest Star,” and the second bridge exit (to the left of the main viewscreen) is seen repeatedly throughout the series.
86 The name “Linnik” is derived from the name of Clint Howard, the child actor (at the time) who played the real Balok (with Walker Edmiston dubbing his voice).
93 The Kalandans were an ancient civilization established in “That Which Survives” as having died out several thousand years in the past. Shenchorig were mentioned in DTI: Watching the Clock as the species that wiped out the Ky’rha civilization thousands of years ago. Promellians were established in TNG: “Booby Trap” as a race that died out with their enemies the Menthar in a war waged in the 14th century CE.
Chapter 5
  No notes.
Chapter 6
111 Other telepathic species that have little to no nudity taboo include Deltans and Betazoids, although it’s unclear whether the latter were known to the Federation as of 2269.
123 I feel Spock was often written out of character in the third season, particularly in his embarrassingly flirtatious interaction with Droxine in “The Cloud Minders.” (I find it odd that Leonard Nimoy, normally so protective of his character, allowed that dialogue to go unchallenged. Maybe seeing Diana Ewing in that dress caused his brain to shut down.) I was glad to come up with an explanation for his odd behavior and use it to give him an arc within the novel, as well as using it to explore his mental state in the wake of “Amok Time.”
  The name “Charvanek” for the Romulan Commander from “The Enterprise Incident” was coined by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz in Vulcan’s Heart. It’s derived from “Charvon,” the name used for the character in the 1970s Bantam novels The Price of the Phoenix and The Fate of the Phoenix by Sondra Marshak & Myrna Culbreath.
127 The dynamic of Sulu trying and failing to get Chekov interested in exotic foods was established in several of L.A. Graf’s novels.
  “Irina” is Irina Galliulin from “The Way to Eden.” Way back in Ex Machina, I established that Chekov’s absence from the animated series was due to an extended leave he took to explore whether a relationship with Irina could work. Here, I get to set that up and maintain continuity among my books.
  The bit about Sulu’s extended leave the year before is to explain why the character was missing from so many second-season episodes while George Takei was off filming The Green Berets.
Chapter 7
143 Carter Winston was Anne Nored’s fiance in TAS: “The Survivor.” The high-gravity colony world Pangea was established by Keith R.A. DeCandido in TNG: A Time for War, A Time for Peace.
Chapter 8
  No notes.
Chapter 9
172 It seems contrived for a grunt like Koust to be familiar with the Linnik’s ancient language. But maybe the Dassik teach it in military training as some sort of “know your enemy” thing, just in case they needed to decipher Linnik data banks or communications. Or maybe Koust just has more layers than it initially appears.
Chapter 10
189 Kirk’s father George and mother Winona were established as Starfleet officers serving on the U.S.S. Kelvin in the 2009 movie. His great-grandparents on the Pioneer, Samuel Kirk and Valeria Williams, are regular characters in my ENT: Rise of the Federation series. The other ancestors I mention are in-joke references to a couple of other William Shatner characters; he played Moon base commander Buck Murdock in Airplane 2: The Sequel in 1982, and Venus explorer Jeff Barton in The Outer Limits: “Cold Hands, Warm Heart” in 1964. My original, longer draft of this passage mentioned ancestors including the owner of a law firm (Boston Legal), a police officer (T.J. Hooker), and a clerk at the Nuremberg Trials (Judgment at Nuremberg), among others, but I decided that was belaboring the joke.
Chapter 11
208 It was part of TOS art director Matt Jefferies’s design philosophy in creating the Enterprise that all its components should be serviceable from within the ship so that personnel didn’t need to spacewalk to fix them – which is the reason the hull is so smooth compared to so many later starship designs.
210 The Romulan remote-control tech for taking control of other vessels was featured in the ENT novels The Good That Men Do and Kobayashi Maru by Andy Mangels & Mike Martin and the duology The Romulan War by Martin.
221 My original concept was similar to what Commissioner Gopal proposed in Chapter 1, that the Scary Balok Puppet represented the mature form of Balok’s own species (albeit as a third life phase sometime after the procreative years), and Balok’s people, the Firsts, had suppressed that stage of their development to escape the tyranny of the mature stage, the Seconds (hence “First Federation”). I changed it to two related species because the initial idea was too similar to the premise of the first two Star Trek: Seekers novels – and because the “First/Second” nomenclature was too clunky.
Chapter 12
231 In my first draft, when Kirk talked about having no door, only a wall, he rhetorically asked, “How do you pick a wall?”, then answered in his internal monologue, Hire an interior decorator. My editor nixed this as too silly.
232 The “mental suggestion technique” Kirk is referring to was seen in “A Taste of Armageddon” (Eminiar) and “By Any Other Name” (the Kelvan settlement) – a rare instance of inter-episode continuity in TOS, since the latter episode actually referenced the former incident.
239 It took some doing to convince CBS to let me describe the escape vehicle as an airplane rather than a generic “vessel” or “craft”; they apparently considered the idea anachronistic, given that most Trek air vehicles are antigrav-based. In copyedits, wrote a whole long comment in the margin of the Word document explaining why it made sense for it to be an airplane – and then I realized that explanation was something I should include in the actual text, since if it wasn’t clear to CBS, it wouldn’t be clear to the readers. This is why it’s good to have other eyes peruse your work – sometimes you take too much for granted.
243 The Redheri were encountered in my novelette “As Others See Us” in the TOS anthology Constellations. I assume that story takes place shortly after “All Our Yesterdays” (it takes place in the Sigma Niobe system, which would be in the same constellation as Beta Niobe from “Yesterdays”), so that puts it just a couple of months before this novel.
Chapter 13
  No notes.
Chapter 14
284 There’s a strong hint of flirtation between Uhura and Spock in the early first season, notably “The Man Trap” and “Charlie X.” Presumably the network cracked down on this for fear of any hint of an interracial romance. But it’s a clear precedent for the Spock-Uhura romance in the Kelvin Timeline movies, and it provides a foundation for at least hinting at the possibility in Spock’s thoughts here.
287 The “weird mythology videos” Bailey mentions are another reference to Gulliver’s Fugitives and the methods of the First Federation representatives therein.
293 Sometimes, when I’m writing and I need to invent a character name and description, I draw from whatever I see around me in the room. The character of Targus was named after the label on the gray backpack I carry my laptop in. Normally I try to alter or anagram the name to obscure the source, but I just thought “Targus” was a good name for a Trek alien.
Chapter 15
309 Ensigns Gardner and Davis are a reference to a couple of engineers mentioned in Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of TAS: “Beyond the Farthest Star.” Although the former’s name is actually given as “Gradner” in my edition of the Star Trek Logs, and Davis is established to be a lieutenant in a later Log.
Chapter 16
323ff The idea of using Cherela’s radiation belts as a weapon came from Seek a Newer World, and in that story, it actually did save the day, since there was no additional incoming fleet. But when I developed TFotU, I realized that I’d been so taken with the scientific cleverness of the idea that I’d allowed myself to violate one of the most important rules I try to hold myself to: never to portray weapons and brute force as the solution to a crisis. Of course, I also realized there was a pretty basic counterattack, the use of comets to bombard from a distance, so it never would’ve worked as a lasting solution anyway. That required me to come up with a better, more humane, more Trekkish resolution to the story, which is one reason that I feel TFotU ended up being a considerably better, deeper novel than SANW would’ve been. (Having more character history and continuity to draw on also helped. SANW was fun to write, but I was hampered by having only one movie to build on, so in retrospect I feel it was a bit superficial. So I’m glad it worked out the way it did, allowing me to keep the best parts of SANW and incorporate them into a much richer story.)
327 “Courage is being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway” is a slight paraphrase of a line spoken by the Doctor in the 1973 Doctor Who serial “Planet of the Daleks.”
346 I tried to find some established Trek aliens from the 24th-century series that I could use as First Federation members here, so that I could avoid the common problem of aliens appearing in one Trek story and then being nowhere to be seen in later stories. But I didn’t find any species that really worked for my purposes. So I went with my original Web of Worlds member species plus the Linnik, and used the line that rebuilding the First Federation would be “the work of centuries” to justify why we don’t see Tessegri, Bogosrin, Kisaja, or the rest interacting with the Federation in later stories – they’re just too busy. But of course, knowing me, I’ll probably toss in a reference to them somewhere in some future Trek tale.
  My original intention in SANW was to have the Web implicitly be a civilization that was never discovered in the Prime timeline, to explain why its races were unknown there. That was why I made it so well-hidden. I wanted to use the new-timeline setting to tell a story that couldn’t have happened in the Prime reality, as opposed to some generic TOS plot that only tweaked a few details. But that was a rather dark idea, because it would mean that the entire civilization had been destroyed in the Prime timeline without anyone ever having known about it. In retrospect, that’s one more reason I’m glad that version didn’t go forward.
348 The Ulysses is named in honor of the Tennyson poem that contains the line “’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.” I thought I’d toss in a little nod to the book that ended up evolving into this book. I suppose the thought of that ship is what inspires Kirk to quote the poem at the end of the scene.


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