After reading, and being largely pleased with, "Infinity's Prism," I eagerly awaited and purchased "Echoes & Refractions," the second "Myriad Universe" trio of Star Trek novellas that explore the what-ifs of temporal paths not taken in official Trek canon. Unfortunately I was moderately and unexpectedly disappointed with two of the three novellas offered in this volume.
THE CHIMES @ MIDNIGHT: Takes the alternate scenario depicted in the animated series episode "Yesteryear" of Spock perishing in his childhood kas-wahn ordeal with his eventual place as Kirk's first officer and boon companion taken by the Andorian Thelin and projects it forward into the TOS movie era. This part of the story was very well done, other than that Kirk came across like Janice Lester (from "Turnabout Intruder") was still in possession of his body. The big-picture events of the third and fourth movies fade to the background as different, non-Spock-centered ones come to the fore. Yet their outcome, while not the same, is equivalent to, and true to the spirit of, the original.
That covers about sixty percent of the story. The remainder degenerates into an anti-nuclear weapons metaphor chock full of risible implausibilities, flagrant eviscerations of Trek canon, and wanton character destruction that made me glad Harve Bennett and Leonard Nimoy killed off David Marcus in Star Trek III, and that Spock went back in time as his own "cousin" to save his younger self, sparing Thelin the humiliation Mr. Trowbridge inflicts on him here.
A GUTTED WORLD: What if the Cardassians had discovered the Bajoran wormhole before withdrawing from Bajor? Keith R.A. DeCandido answers that question with a masterpiece of dark realism absolutely and scrupulously faithful to the spirit of the best of the Treks, Deep Space Nine. Indeed, contrary to the lamentations of some, Trek SHOULD be depressing when the storytelling calls for it. Not every tale can, or should, have a happy ending, and KRAD's definitely resides in this category.
For those who gagged on Roddenberrian utopianism years and years ago, this tome earns a standing ovation.
BRAVE NEW WORLD: I'm an android, he's an android, she's an android, it's an android, wouldn't you like to be an android too?
You can't call Chris Roberson's premise implausible, I suppose. If "synaptic uploading" into positronic brains became possible, it would be an irresistible lure to functional immortality, and make enfranchising artificial life forms a fait accompli. It's almost surprising that that angle hasn't been developed more fully in Trek canon. On the other hand, since doing so would have removed Data as a metaphor for exploring humanity from "the outside" - his primary purpose on the show - maybe it isn't so surprising after all.
I would have preferred a tale that examined that issue, along with its ethical conundrums, a lot more directly. Instead, Mr. Roberson gives us a more or less standard TNG episode. It wasn't bad by any means, but it wasn't gripping, either.
Of course, Picard's "solution" to the story's jeopardy premise would rapidly destabilize the quadrant and lead to all-out war in a matter of months, if not weeks, as opposed to the depicted, and insufferably smug, Roddenberryan epilogue. Hopefully DeCandido will write the sequel and we'll get to see what REALLY happened.
As with "Infinity's Prism," one of the trio - in this case, "A Gutted World" - is worth the price of the whole book. Read the other two at your own risk.