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Literature / I, Q

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"Know you that I, Q, am the trickster. I, Q, am the lord of chaos. I, Q, defy you to the last, and if you think you can stop me by ending the universe, then I'm here to tell you that you're going to have to do better than that!"

I, Q is a standalone Star Trek novel set mainly in The Next Generation era. Published in 1999, I, Q was co-authored by Star Trek writer Peter David and Q's actor John de Lancie.

The main story is narrated by Q, the character that John de Lancie played in various Star Trek episodes. Q's story begins with him and his family enjoying some deep sea fishing at the bottom of a mighty ocean. (The Q family is omnipotent, the crushing depths of a mere ocean is nothing to them.) Suddenly a giant fissure opens up on the ocean floor, and a massive whirlpool above it begins to pull everything in the ocean down into the newly formed canyon, including Q's wife and son. Strangely enough, the whirlpool disaster wasn't exclusive to just the one ocean. Every body of water in the galaxy was completely drained into the single canyon, even virtual bodies of water like the holodeck environment Picard and Data were fishing in. Fortunately, Q was able to save himself, Picard, and Data; unfortunately, Q was unable to save his family, and is now mad as a hornet about their disappearance.

Q, Picard, and Data grudgingly decide to team up to find out what caused the metaphysical whirlpool, albeit for different reasons. Picard and Data fear the possibility that the universe is ending, Q only cares about finding his wife and son. Either way, the three have to work together to figure out what kind of force is behind it all.

The novel contains examples of:

  • A Boy and His X: Q snarkily refers to Picard and Data as "A boy and his computer".
  • Above Good and Evil: Right? Wrong? Trivial notions.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Melony chuckles at Q's rant, which is what saves the Universe.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Melony is a being — maybe God herself — far more powerful than anyone in the Q continuum.
  • Anvil on Head: Happens to someone about to attack Q, courtesy of M.
  • Apocalypse How: Class Z.
  • Apologetic Attacker: While our heroes are fighting their way through a chaotic train car, Data apologizes to everybody he hits. Q admits that it would be funny if not for the life-threatening danger.
  • Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: Melony appears different to everyone who sees her. Only Q's son sees her in her true form (or, at least, what the narrative suggests is her true form); Q sees Lady Q, Picard sees Vash, and Data...well, it's never revealed how Data sees her.
  • Badass Boast: Q's declaration that they'll have to do better than ending the universe to stop him. AND HE'S RIGHT!
  • Bird-Poop Gag: Happens to Q when he gets turned into a statue.
  • Bold Inflation: Data vs. M: Not just Bold inflation, but Font inflation as well; to illustrate the rage in each participant's voice, several pages are written in fonts at least five times bigger than normal.
  • Brought Down to Normal: What the crevasse does to Q's powers. The longer you stay in one place, the more powerful you become...but Q isn't staying in one place for very long due to his wanting to find his wife and son.
  • Burning with Anger: M, when Data's angry rhetoric turns the crowd against her.
  • Censor Suds: Invoked by Melony. While otherwise an Innocent Fanservice Girl, she creates a dress out of sea foam when she finds Q's son.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Melony.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Q—endlessly. His narration is filled with wit, from the beginning:
    "I, Q. My instinct is to start with me. It's a natural instinct, I suppose, since I was there at the beginning. I've been around for as long as I can remember."
  • Despair Event Horizon: As per the Five Stages of Grief metaphor that our heroes are trapped in, the Death World after the merchant bazaar is a representation of this.
  • Deus ex Machina:
    • Invoked and lampshaded in the anger level when Q finds himself trying to survive on a raging battlefield and is surprised that he's lasted this long. The next time a rabid fighter charges him he just stands there until he's about to be torn apart anvil falls on his attacker. Q is quite disappointed with this largely because the Deus in question turns out to be M.
    • Q himself has played this more than a few times as well, such as the time when he made sure that a skydiver with a faulty parachute landed in a haystack (after telling him that something about him just pissed Q off).
  • Disappeared Dad / Missing Mom: Q comments that the reason he finds raising q appealing is because he has no memory of any parents himself.
  • The Discovery of Fire: Q claims responsibility for this, saying he did it as a joke. His punishment led to the myth of Prometheus.
  • Divine Conflict: The novel gives us the Q Continuum's counterpart the M (both sides being Sufficiently Advanced Aliens that screw with the universe for their own amusement, or so it would appear). Neither side has any particular reason for being at war with the other (the initial reason was, quote, "Because there's something about you that really pisses us off"), but apparently one of the M invoking Your Mom was reason enough, even though nobody could figure out exactly whose mother had been insulted and nobody in the Q Continuum had a mother in the first place. And really, that's as much sense as the whole thing ever makes.
  • Even Jerkasses Have Standards Q is disgusted by the attack on Times Square that ends up taking Melony's life. She gets better in the end
  • Droste Image: Data stops in the Hall of Mirrors to observe one of these. Q can't resist asking him how many reflections he sees. Data gives a number in the trillions, only to be cut off with a patented "Thank you, Mr. Data".
  • Face, Nod, Action: Heavily discussed by Q.
    "Mr. Data—" said Picard, and then he motioned toward the far wall of the boxcar. At first, I thought that he was asking Data for suggestions. But then, as I saw Data nod, I understood that since the two of them had been working together for so long only a few words from Picard were necessary. All he needed to do to set the android into motion was nod.
    I hate to admit it, but to some degree I envied them that relationship. For all the uncounted centuries that I've strode the galaxy, I had never really had anyone with whom I communicated on that level. Not even the Lady Q. Granted, we were able to communicate by sharing thoughts, as were all the Q in the Continuum. But there was a difference between that and not even having to think because the other person knows what you're thinking. That entailed a level of confidence and trust that was—remarkable as it may seem—outside of my experience.
  • Failing a Taxi: After Q fails several times to flag down a taxi in the Continuum (because they deliberately ignore him), Picard and his revolver succeed in persuading a driver to take them to HQ.
    Driver: I'm off duty.
    Picard: (shoots the "off-duty" sign on his taxi) Your shift was just extended.
  • Five Stages of Grief: It turns out the entire universe is going through this, as a ploy by the Continuum to make Q accept the end of the universe. It doesn't work.
  • Flipping the Bird: Q tries while he's turned into a statue, but fails.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: As always with the Q Continuum...but it goes even further, as Picard's own mind adjusts the Continuum into a Dixon Hill novel...while Data's lack of ability to filter the Continuum makes him overload from the sensory perception and shut down.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: At a Mardi Gras party, Q punishes several people who play a "red dot" prank on him by showing them the secrets of the universe. They promptly fall apart.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Q's anecdote about The Funniest Joke in the Universe.
  • A Good, Old-Fashioned Paint Watching: According to Q, this is Serious Business on Sraticon IV. They even have a Large-Ham Announcer for it.
  • Hall of Mirrors: The trio go through one in "God's" tent. Includes the Droste Image above.
  • Happily Married: Q and Lady Q.
  • I Have Many Names: Q. Given the number of worlds where he's considered some sort of Trickster God, that's no surprise.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Lampshaded by the ever Genre Savvy Q, who mentions having seen enough B-movies to see it coming.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Melony's eyes are described as being brilliant cobalt blue, crossing with Heavenly Blue.
  • It's All About Me: Q makes no attempt to deny it, downplay it, and happily illustrates it.
    Me...Myself, and I. Three of the best pronouns in the language.
  • Kangaroo Court: M puts Q through one, during which she makes him The Scapegoat for the End of the Universe.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Picard has a pained reaction when he learns that Q Continuum's 'Central Headquarters' is simply known as 'HQ'.
  • Large Ham: Data, of all people, when he and M start trying to outshout each other. See Bold Inflation.
  • Literal Genie: How Q tricks the Nagus into losing the wager.
  • Message in a Bottle: Q sums up his experience and puts it in a bottle, the one Melony found in the beginning.
  • Nothing Left to Do but Die: God. And she wants to take the rest of creation with her.
  • Oh, Crap!: Plenty of these moments given the circumstances, but the one that leaves Picard completely shaken is when he sees Locutus.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Both Q and Picard are shocked when Data starts shouting with genuine rage.
  • Papa Wolf: Q's family is in trouble. Fuck the end of the Universe.
  • Painting the Medium:
    • Data and M, see Bold Inflation above.
    • When the universe ends, the next several pages of the book are blank. The first indication that Melony has changed her mind upon reading Q's manuscript is her chuckling written in the center of an otherwise blank page.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": When a dying Romulan starts begging to Q to save him and saying "Please," Q responds, "I don't think 'Please' is the magic word today; you'll have to try again. How about Swordfish?" The Romulan promptly dies.
  • Plummet Perspective: Q, Picard, and Data experience this while standing over a bottomless abyss. It's when Q fully realizes that he's about to plunge into a situation where he can't see the outcome, and finds that he envies Picard's ability to do so with far less trepidation.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Q gets an awesome rant at the climax. It's so epic that God herself is impressed enough to forestall the end of everything and hit the Reset Button.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: Q lampshades the former trope namer during the shout-off between Data and M, musing that Data's volume control had gone up to eleven. The end result is several pages of bold and vastly enlarged text, M going mad, and Q being briefly impressed with Data's speech.
  • Rousing Speech: Picard gives one on the train, encouraging everyone to rise up and take control. As much as Q admits to it being a good speech, it is unfortunately directed to the most unresponsive audience ever and falls completely flat.
  • Shout-Out: They take advantage of the fact that Wallace Shawn played Grand Nagus Zek to deliver a nice one to The Princess Bride.
  • Silly Reason for War: The Q and the M. They have trouble finding a reason pointless enough to start one, until somebody shouts "Your mother!" and the war is on.
  • Skewed Priorities: How Q thinks about Picard's reaction to seeing him with a giant clamp on his mouth, courtesy of M.
    Picard, for his part, took one look at my trussed-up mouth and promptly smiled. That figured. The universe collapsing around our ears, and he would find it funny that I had a large clamp across my mouth. His priorities were as out of sync as M's.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: When Picard and Data are apprehended and brought before M, she asks Q why he never asked about them. Picard claims that Q was simply trying to keep their presence hidden (which Q knows is bullshit), and M acts like it's convincing.
  • Taken for Granite: The Q's first try to stop Q has them turning him into a statue. He's able to talk Bernsen!Q into releasing him.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Picard tries to talk AU!Locutus to death...on top of a train that's going to be incinerated while everyone aboard is in denial about it. It fails, leading to a Traintop Battle.
  • Technobabble: When Q visits Q Continuum, which is in a state of utter chaos, he describes it in technobabble, then after his lengthy, jargon-ny description of what the heck's going on, he proceeds to hang the lampshade:
    Q: This must sound like a lot of technobabble to you. In layman's terms: The shit had hit the fan.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: When our heroes are trapped in the house in the despair world. Q and his son escape; Picard and Data don't.
  • Worth Living For: Q decides that his son is this, giving him what it takes to defy the End of Everything.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: According to Q, this is called "mindality", a combination of "mind" and "reality". Picard takes advantage of this in the Q Continuum (which looks to him like a Dixon Hill novel) to make whatever he needs appear, be it a revolver or a thousand-dollar bill.
  • Your Mother: How the war between the Q and the M got started. More hilarious: none of the Q (or the M, for that matter) actually had a mother to insult.
  • Zee Rust: In the book, there's a terrorist bombing in Times Square on New Year's ringing in 2000.