Please welcome Elizabeth Bonesteel to The Qwillery. Remnants of Trust (A Central Corps Novel 2)
was published on November 8th by Harper Voyager.
Star Trek premiered in 1966 when I was two, less than three years after John Kennedy was assassinated, less than four years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, a short 21 years after the end of World War II. Right in the thick of the Vietnam War. The space race was a big deal, and was largely motivated by the Cold War; but Star Trek suggested that it might not be war that we got out of it. That maybe, just maybe, instead of war and threats, we could have a positive future.
For me, largely oblivious to world politics, Star Trek was space stories. It shared our television with Mercury news and Apollo launches, fiction and reality taking turns. I grew up with the assumption that the Apollo program would someday give us warp drive and the starship Enterprise. All of the civil unrest would give us women and men working together, nationality and skin color dividing no one. Star Trek was fiction, but to Small Liz, it showed a universe that seemed perfectly attainable.
It’s much easier to be optimistic when you’re a kid, and you blithely believe your parents will fix any wrong that enters your life. Of course we will have a Star Trek future, because we will do the Right Things.
Not that the show was an egalitarian utopia. Science fiction and its predictions of the future were largely the purview of 1960s men, and they could only get so far on that point. But the existence of someone like Uhura—not just a bridge officer, but a kickass bridge officer who actually once got to slug Sulu (although be fair it was Mirror Universe Sulu and so not quite the same thing, but damn, this is not a woman you want to cross)—was massive, mostly because she wasn’t treated, on the show, as anything unusual. Of course women would be officers. Of course we’d carry weapons and know how to fight and defend ourselves. Logic. For a show that frequently extolled the virtues of human sentiment, it was often logical in exactly the right ways.
Some of my favorite episodes as a kid were the ones that don’t hold up so well when viewed through an adult lens. “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” is about the most unsubtle diatribe against racism you could possibly compose, but as a child I found its anger and sense of futility genuinely affecting. It’s a frequent trick of the show that has continued through all of its iterations: use an alien species to represent present-day Us in order to both make the point and suggest that Future Us will have been able to fix our mistakes. Hopelessness for today, but maybe some hope for tomorrow.
“The Alternative Factor” doesn’t make a lick of sense if you think about it, but that was another I loved as a kid. The existential horror of being trapped with an insane version of yourself for eternity—wow. Fear of death? Feh. Everlasting life with yourself? Nightmares. It’s an oddly-paced, substantially less horrific version of “I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream.” It evokes C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader and the island where dreams come true. It’s the original Grimm Fairy Tale, where the wicked stepmother dances in red-hot shoes until she drops dead.
Okay, I was a weird kid.
“The Galileo Seven” always scared me at the end, even when I knew they would be beamed out in time. (And wasn’t Spock’s characterization odd in that one? It always seemed like if they wanted to inject random conflict in an episode, they’d have Spock go extra-Vulcan and piss everybody off.) And to this day I leave the room when Decker dies in “The Doomsday Machine,” which is still, even by modern standards, one of the loveliest hours of television ever produced (and violates one of the show’s usual rules of making the threatening aliens at least partially sympathetic).
And of course there were the humorous episodes, intentional and unintentional. “Spock’s Brain” is a brilliant piece of sexist camp, complete with what’s actually quite a nice performance from Marj Dusay (later an accomplished soap opera actress). And there were tribbles and hordes of beautiful twin androids, and oh, the cringing when I watch “I, Mudd” today, but it still makes me laugh.
Even the grimmest of Star Trek episodes had shades of optimism. This is still true (although lately they’ve been pushing it, and seriously, people, stop blowing up my Enterprise), and it is, in some ways, cheating. It shows us the great distance we have yet to travel without giving us any clues about how we’re supposed to get there. But sometimes, when the world is unsettled, when you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow…sometimes, a little blind optimism is exactly what you need.
Remnants of Trust
A Central Corps Novel 2
Harper Voyager, November 8, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages
In this follow-up to the acclaimed military science fiction thriller The Cold Between, a young soldier finds herself caught in the crosshairs of a deadly conspiracy in deep space.
Six weeks ago, Commander Elena Shaw and Captain Greg Foster were court-martialed for their role in an event Central Gov denies ever happened. Yet instead of a dishonorable discharge or time in a military prison, Shaw and Foster and are now back together on Galileo. As punishment, they’ve been assigned to patrol the nearly empty space of the Third Sector.
But their mundane mission quickly turns treacherous when the Galileo picks up a distress call: Exeter, a sister ship, is under attack from raiders. A PSI generation ship—the same one that recently broke off negotiations with Foster—is also in the sector and joins in the desperate battle that leaves ninety-seven of Exeter’s crew dead.
An investigation of the disaster points to sabotage. And Exeter is only the beginning. When the PSI ship and Galileo suffer their own "accidents," it becomes clear that someone is willing to set off a war in the Third Sector to keep their secrets, and the clues point to the highest echelons of power . . . and deep into Shaw’s past.
The Cold Between
A Central Corps Novel 1
Harper Voyager, March 8, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages
Deep in the stars, a young officer and her lover are plunged into a murder mystery and a deadly conspiracy in this first entry in a stellar military science-fiction series in the tradition of Lois McMaster Bujold.
When her crewmate, Danny, is murdered on the colony of Volhynia, Central Corps chief engineer, Commander Elena Shaw, is shocked to learn the main suspect is her lover, Treiko Zajec. She knows Trey is innocent—he was with her when Danny was killed. So who is the real killer and why are the cops framing an innocent man?
Retracing Danny’s last hours, they discover that his death may be tied to a mystery from the past: the explosion of a Central Corps starship at a wormhole near Volhynia. For twenty-five years, the Central Gov has been lying about the tragedy, even willing to go to war with the outlaw PSI to protect their secrets.
With the authorities closing in, Elena and Trey head to the wormhole, certain they’ll find answers on the other side. But the truth that awaits them is far more terrifying than they ever imagined . . . a conspiracy deep within Central Gov that threatens all of human civilization throughout the inhabited reaches of the galaxy—and beyond.
Elizabeth Bonesteel began making up stories at the age of five, in an attempt to battle insomnia. Thanks to a family connection to the space program, she has been reading science fiction since she was a child. She currently works as a software engineer and lives in central Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and various cats.