Attempting diplomatic negotiations with some aliens, James T. Kirk is caught in an Orion ambush, his life saved by an attractive young woman wearing a very tight blue jumpsuit, wielding an unfamiliar model of phaser, and with strange metal bits on her face. . .
A hundred years later, in the Delta Quadrant, Voyager is investigating a 23rd Century Starfleet distress call where there absolutely shouldn't be one. Beaming down, Janeway, Tuvok, Neelix, and Seven discover the source: a monument carved in the likeness of James T. Kirk. Setting off a booby trap, three of the away team are injured and Seven is whisked across time and space.
Stranded in the 23rd Century, Seven must complete a scavenger hunt across space and time to assemble a mysterious device that she can only hope will return her precisely when and where she left, allowing her to save Janeway, Tuvok, and Neelix, all without polluting the timeline, even in the face of a Federation diplomat and a band of Orion pirates intent on using her future knowledge themselves. And with no regeneration alcove on Enterprise, Seven's Borg implants are slowly but surely breaking down. . .
The novel is written in a limited third person, bouncing around between the perspectives of various characters, most prominently Seven herself.
No Time Like The Past contains examples of:
- Agony Beam: The Mavelans have a sonic-based one, which not only handily incapacitates victims, but gives them bleeding ears.
- "Ass" in Ambassador: Commissioner Santiago is a Jerkass. When it comes to trying to get the Yusubi to stop letting the Orions camp on their planet, he's got an excuse: he lost family to Orion raids in that sector. When it comes to pressuring Seven to violate the Temporal Prime Directive, he comes off rather less reasonable. Witnessing the lengths the Orions will go to in order to capture Seven so they can auction her and her future knowledge to the highest bidder, he realizes how wrong he was.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Vaal can connect with Seven's interplexing beacon, and she has to allow this to enter it and search for the second time machine piece. Then she has to apply some Heroic Willpower to avoid becoming a drone in a new and different Collective.
- Central Theme: The danger of knowledge as power. Seven, being from one hundred years in the future, is a vault of extremely dangerous knowledge. Everyone, at some point in the book, is tempted to crack open that vault and see what's inside. Even Seven herself considers, briefly, how many lives she might save by giving the Federation advance warning of the Borg, and sharing some of the technologies developed to fight them, almost fantasizing about the prospect of preventing her own assimilation, of who she would become if the Hansens had never met the Borg. There are debates about if any of Seven's knowledge can be used responsibly, to do good, or if it's all essentially Things Man Was Not Meant to Know.
- Continuity Cavalcade: Chalk full of references to previous adventures of both Enterprise and Voyager.
- Seven recalls Voyager finding Ares IV.
- The Voyager away team discuss Kirk's "demise" aboard the Enterprise-B, complete with noting they Never Found the Body.
- Discussing time travel with Seven, Kirk recalls some rather painful memories of the Great Depression.
- Seven's rather unfortunate choice of alias leads to asking if she's related to Gary.
- Setting up for Seven's verification scan, Scotty notes he's not a fan of them, and Kirk reflects that's understandable, given what happened when Scotty himself was subjected to one.
- Spock refers to the future as "an undiscovered country." Also a slight Continuity Snarl, as when Gorkon proposed his famous toast, he had to clarify what he meant.
- Kirk has learned some valuable lessons from the time he played host for Captain John Christopher.
- Debating whether or not to coerce Seven into revealing information about the future, Kirk posits that "perhaps we need our pain."
- Seven recalls her experience with the timeship Relativity.
- The "scavenger hunt" for time machine pieces leads them to Gamma Trianguli VI. McCoy is less than enthused at the prospect of a return visit. After this, their next stop is Cheron. The final piece is on Sarpeidon.
- Seven asks for Spock's help modifying the Enterprise power systems to recharge her cybernetics, recalling that the Enterprise-D crew will later do the same thing.
- Spock reflects that the galaxy is positively littered with advanced technology left behind by extinct civilizations, on planets like Exo III, Camus II, Mudd's Planet, Arret, and Amerind.
- When Uhura picks up a distress call from the Klingon Neutral Zone, Kirk flashes back to the Kobayashi Maru, and how he took the test three times, finally beating it by reprogramming it, and how that stunt nearly got him kicked out of Starfleet Academy.
- As McCoy is threatened by an Orion pirate and her dagger, he recalls the time Khan held a scalpel at his throat. He even gives her the same advice about cutting the carotid artery.
- Spock notes that the Orions who attempted to disrupt the Babel conference also preferred suicide to surrender.
- Kirk mentions running into another surgically altered deep-cover operative on Deep Space Station K-Seven. He also recalls the time he was surgically altered to look like a Romulan to steal a cloaking device.
- The trip Sarpeidon brings up Spock's son Zar, from The Yesterday Saga, placing this novel outside the Star Trek Novel Verse.
- Continuity Snarl:
- The above-mentioned "undiscovered country" reference.
- Needing to pass off Seven's implants as body jewelry, when Lieutenant Detmer and Lieutenant Commander Airiam demonstrate cybernetic replacement and augmentation, while not common in the 23rd Century, was not unheard of.
- Cyborg: Seven, naturally, which causes some issues. She refuses to let McCoy examine her until necessary, at which point he's rather shocked at how extensive her implants are. Kirk surmises humans have started cybernetically augmenting themselves whenever Seven is from, but decides he doesn't want to know to protect the timeline. Among the crew who aren't aware that Seven is from the future, they pass her obvious implants off as cosmetic body jewelry from an obscure Federation culture. The lack of a Borg regeneration alcove on Enterprise is another complication.
- Curse of Babel: Somehow, the Orion captain Habroz is able to bypass Uhura's mute button. To discuss defending his ship without Habroz listening in, Kirk uses Morse Code to tell Uhura to shut the universal translator off. Unable to understand the Enterprise crew, Habroz angrily cuts the transmission himself.
- Dark Action Girl: K'Mara, an Orion pirate. Lacking the pheromones of most Orion women, she decides she likes the life of a pirate, and more so being the Number Two for the male Captain. The crew might not as readily follow her, but she can manipulate him into more lucrative courses of action than he could come up with on his own. K'Mara is no slouch in a fight, skilled with disruptors and knives, and has several concealed weapons. . . one in her ruby tongue stud.
- Deadpan Snarker: McCoy is in fine form, as always.Seven: Are all Starfleet physicians so opinionated? I had not realized until now that this was such a defining characteristic of the profession.
McCoy: What exactly do you mean by that?
Seven: Nothing. Merely an observation.
McCoy: I'll have you know my bedside manner is impeccable. All of my surviving patients say so.
Spock: Excuse me, madam. I need to borrow your sidearm.
- And Spock is not about to be outdone, after delivering a nerve-pinch to incapacitate an Orion pirate and grab for her disruptor:
- Distracted by the Sexy: Downplayed. Perhaps predictably, Kirk's perspective frequently mentions how attractive Seven is, but he doesn't let that influence his decision-making. Kirk makes a grand total of two passes at Seven (one perhaps just Kirk being charmingly friendly) and when she fails to respond to either, is content for their relationship to remain warmly professional.
- Distress Call:
- The Voyager portion of the plot is kicked off by finding a 23rd Century Starfleet distress signal in the Delta Quadrant, where and when a 23rd Century Starfleet distress signal has absolutely no business being.
- The same distress call (along with the Starfleet delta emblem) serves as the "X" to mark the spot of the assorted time machine pieces.
- Enterprise picks up a distress call from inside the Klingon Neutral Zone. It's a trap!
- Fanservice: Sadly, Seven does not don the standard 23rd Century Starfleet uniform, nor one of the typically Stripperiffic female civilian outfits, instead wearing a blue suit that explicitly fits over her usual catsuit. This makes her possibly the single most-dressed female of the entire TOS era.
- Faking the Dead: As part of the unspoken plan below, it looks as though Seven blew herself up along with the shuttle, while Scotty beamed her out with expert timing. Believing his prize to be truly out of reach, Habroz has significantly less incentive to continue pursuing Enterprise.
- Final Solution: The black-right Cherons had one prepared, a biological weapon meant to kill all the white-right Cherons. Unfortunately, the two races are Not So Different as religious and cultural dogma insists; the virus affects both equally. White-rights storming the building where the virus is being developed disable the sterilization protocols that could have destroyed it. Then a crashing bomber (unknown and irrelevant if was White-right shot down by Black-rights or vice versa) releases the virus. And that's how everyone on Cheron died before Bela and Lokai got there.
- Free Sample Plot Coupon: The first piece for the time machine Seven needs is in the fertility idol Kirk was handed as a gift by the Yusubi. Seven's first appearance in the narrative is with this idol already in hand.
- Freudian Trio:
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: Seven needs to assemble four pieces to hopefully make a device to return her when and where she first traveled to the 23rd Century.
- Hilarity Ensues: Putting James T. Kirk and Seven of Nine in the same room is a recipe for comedy gold. The novel plays their interactions seriously, but there's still a lot of humor in the fundamental premise.
- Last-Name Basis: Seven introduces herself to Kirk as "Annika Seven," but insists she prefers just Seven. Not "Miss Seven," and certainly not "Annika." McCoy asks if she's any relation to Gary; Seven doesn't get the reference.
- Lie Detector: Seven submits to a verification scan to prove the truth of her story. Made complicated by the fact the she is deliberately withholding information to comply with the Temporal Prime Directive, and Kirk knows she's doing so. They phrase their questions and answers very carefully.
- Make Wrong What Once Went Right: Aside from San Dimas Time (see below), much of the dramatic tension comes from the fact that Seven being from the future makes her inherently dangerous, and it's of paramount importance to return her to her time as quickly and quietly as possible. Kirk even keeps the bulk of the Enterprise crew in the dark. But word leaks out anyway, and now there are people after this woman from the future, so they can use her knowledge to invoke this trope. And when you remember Seven is still quite heavily modified by the Borg, her potential to completely screw the timeline reaches horrific levels.
- The Mole: Cyril Hague, Commissioner Santiago's aide, is a surgically-altered spy for the Orions.
- No-Sell: Kirk, naturally, tries turning on the charm for Seven. Seven, naturally, complely ignores it. McCoy, naturally, finds the whole thing funny as hell.
- Planet of Hats: The Mavelans are literally called "Space Gypsies" by Chekov. They invoke Magical Romani by claiming to have precognitive powers. Even their ship's version of a veiwscreen is a Crystal Ball.
- Poison Ring: Or, Poison Tongue Piercing. K'Mara has a ruby tongue stud that's actually a miniature hypospray containing a deadly toxin; she uses it to kill a Red Shirt in a brawl.
- Red Shirt: Oh, good grief.
- The Yusubi landing party consists of Kirk, Commissioner Santiago, his aide, and security guard Lieutenant Elaine Bergstrom, a rare Red Skirt. She doesn't make it past Page 13.
- Lieutenant Jadello joins Kirk, McCoy, and Seven for their trip to Gamma Trianguli VI. He's also vaporized by Orions shortly thereafter.
- Spock, McCoy, and security guard Lieutenant Daniel Tang beam to the Mavelan ship to respond to their distress call. Tang dies preventing K'Mara from killing McCoy, she even calls him "Red Shirt" before delivering the fatal blow.
- Ensigns James Pierce and Michelle Robins accompany Scotty and Seven on an unspoken plan to secure her from an Orion boarding party. Pierce takes friendly stun fire to the leg and insists on being left behind. Ensign Robins is last seen pulling a phaserfire distraction on some Orions that would make Han Solo proud. Both of them survive the battle.
- Reset Button: Upon finally completing the time machine, Seven meets a hologram of its creator, who explains the mystery and offers Seven a choice: take and use the device, or destroy it in the past so it never exists in the future. Out of time herself, Seven selects the latter, and her whole trip never happened. . . though she still remembers it. A very Voyager end to a jaunt through The Original Series.
- San Dimas Time: Played With. The story derives some dramatic tension from the fact that Seven traveled to the 23rd Century shortly after Janeway, Tuvok, and Neelix were critically injured by chroniton radiation, and only Seven was in a position to get them proper medical attention in time. She's well aware that the clock isn't ticking in the future while she's in the past, but the lives of three of her crew depend on her returning to the precise point in time and space she left. Thus, enough variables are in play that her best bet is the Dismantled MacGuffin scavenger hunt.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Unintentionally. After hitting the Reset Button, Seven looks for deviations in time caused by her trip that didn't happen, and discovers the book's first Red Shirt was her maternal grandmother, and there is no record of her death on Yusub. Because Kirk remembers Seven's trip, as well, and the Reset Button sent him back to the start of the novel, where he uses his foreknowledge to thwart the Orion ambush that claimed Elaine Bergstrom's life initially.
- Shout-Out: Seven muses that her assimilation of Earth literature is getting a workout as Voyager investigates the Starfleet distress signal.
- Janeway quotes Clarke's Third Law as Neelix relates a local legend about a wizard who bent time and space to his will (which also sounds like a veiled reference to The Doctor).
- Upon seeing the massive carving of Kirk's head, Janeway remarks "curiouser and curiouser." Seven later repeats the sentiment.
- When they find the way in, Janeway remarks "Open Sesame."Seven: Ali Baba.
Janeway: Minus the forty thieves, I hope.
- Seven notes that Vaal bears a resemblance to a large, radioactive lizard from Tom Paris' holodeck simulations.
- Stock Ness Monster: Apparently, Nessie and her underwater breeding grounds will be discovered late in the 21st Century.
- Temporal Paradox: Invoked as a bluff by Kirk. The Orions threaten to kill a captive Spock if Kirk doesn't hand over Seven. Kirk claims Seven told him Spock in the future invented the device that brought her back in time, thus killing Spock would make Seven vanish from the current time, as she could never have traveled to it in the first place. The Orion captain, being no great thinker or expert on temporal mechanics, is precisely as confused by this as Kirk hoped.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: A deliberately self-inflicted version. Rather than surrender and face Federation justice, the Orion boarders on Enterprise open the space doors in the cargo bay, blowing themselves out into space.
- Underestimating Badassery: The Orions think plucking "the woman from the future" from the hands of the oh-so-civilized Starfleeters will be easy plunder with minimal risk. They quickly realize that taking Starfleet head-on, especially Captain James T. Kirk aboard his own beloved Enterprise, is the very definition of "bad idea."
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: To escape the Orion raiders and rescue Spock and McCoy, Seven has a plan she all but whispers in Kirk's ear. Get Seven to the shuttlebay, make it look like she's abandoning Enterprise because she's no longer safe, let the Orions capture the shuttle with their prize aboard while making it look like they're trying to kill Seven to keep her out of Orion hands, then blow up the shuttle once it's inside the Orion ship. It works, though not without some delays.
- We Will Not Use Stage Makeup In The Future: Averted when Kirk and Seven use exactly that to pass as native Cherons, of the dominant black-on-the-right-side race. It comes off as Kirk and Seven have an altercation with some guards, revealing them as aliens.