Star Trek #1650: Buying Time

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: S.C.E. #32, Pocket Books, October 2003

CREATORS: Robert Greenberger

STARDATE: Unknown, a little over a week since Ishtar Rising, and about 10 years earlier

PLOT: Detective chroniton waves, the da Vinci investigates a hollow asteroid with ancient alien tech now being operated (badly) by Lant, a Ferengi who's using time travel to make a fortune. Gomez, Corsi and Carol are forced to go naked in order to follow him back 10 years downtime to a less civilized Ferenginar, along with Tev, acting as their "owner". When they finally catch up to him, they force him to lose everything again before it disrupts Ferengi markets and return home just as the asteroid is about to implode, and escape with only scratches to their pride.

CONTINUITY: An ancient artifact with time travel capabilities makes the crew worry that it's another Guardian of Forever and name-check a couple of other time travel incidents, the Temporal Cold War, and Temporal Investigations (Tribbles and Tribble-ations). They use Voyager's antichroniton trick (Before and After) to get there, having read the data Voyager is now sending to the Alpha Quadrant (not home yet, it's only a year or so after the end of the Dominion War). They travel to Zek's Ferenginar, not Rom's (which they note). They meet Brunt (DS9) and Tev puts money on agricultural futures on Sherman's Planet (The Trouble with Tribbles).

DIVERGENCES: Oddly, Tev's look on the cover has those dark mask holes for eyes, like the Tellarites from Journey to Babel. By 2003, Star Trek: Enterprise had given us a more realistic look for them.

REVIEW: The episode that could never be shot! Bob Greenberger has fun with the premise, but if you get any prurient lasciviousness from his prose, it's really on you, the reader. Once they take their clothes off in resignation, there are no descriptions or anything untoward except the fact that Zek-era Ferengi leer at them (but then, they would even if clothed). It's still a physical ordeal on rainy Ferenginar, and of course, there are altercations with the more handsy types, but otherwise, it's a pretty tame version of the story. As line editor, Greenberger certainly knows where the, well, the line is. To me, all the instances of oo-mox are more disturbing anyway. Nice to see anything new for the big homeworlds, of course, and there are some fun bits at the Exchange and on the streets. Corsi's a badass, Tev's starting to warm up to the team. The way a Ferengi uses time travel is what they would obviously do with it and well handled. I do wonder about the shipboard subplot about one of the new ensigns thinking Bart is attractive and getting a lesson in how scuttlebutt works. It's cute, but doesn't really do anything in line with the themes (unless it's "buying time" i.e. page count, ha). I like that the series explores some of its lower decks characters - like it IS a small ship - but I don't know that Ensign Falc√£o reappears in a substantial role (they often just turn into extras). Will have to wait and see, I suppose, but I hope to see her again.