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Literature / The Q Continuum

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The Q Continuum is a trilogy of novels by Greg Cox. The books are Q-Zone, Q-Space, and Q-Strike.

When the Enterprise-E is sent on a mission to study the Great Barrier at the edge of the galaxy, Q suddenly appears and attempts to dissuade them. When Picard refuses, Q takes him on a trip through time to show the captain what really lies beyond the Barrier. In the meantime, the Enterprise crew are left dealing with Q's wife and young son, as well as the scientist who's intent on reaching the Barrier and learning its secrets.

Trope Examples

  • Abusive Parents: More of the neglectful variety, and some of this can be attributed to 0’s influence, but Lem Faal is so dismissive towards the needs of his children that Riker muses that Faal is making his own father look like Father of the Year by comparison.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Q began his explanation to Picard by turning them both into beings that actually existed in the time frame: Aldebaran serpents, which are three-headed. Picard becomes disoriented and uncomfortable (especially when two of his heads look at each other), and implores Q to return him to human form, despite the anachronism. During their later 'trip' through Q's past, Q manifests himself and Picard in old Earth clothing, such as Grecian togas or Georgian tunics, to give a sense of time passing, as well as presenting his younger self as a junior version of the humanoid appearance Picard is familiar with. When presenting Picard with events involving higher beings such as 0's associates, Q confirms that much of what they are witnessing has been 'translated' by him into a form that Picard can more easily perceive, justifying such instances as the One manifesting as a pillar of flame centuries before Christianity created that particular image.
  • A God Am I: The One constantly speaks in the manner of a wrathful god.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • After his attempt to harness the Calamarain like a team of horses fails, 0 flies into a rage and compresses them down into a single inert lump. Picard notes it looks no different than any typical comet, thinking if they'd seen them on the Enterprise's scanners they'd note it and fly right by. And 0 would have kept going, possibly reducing them to a miniature black hole, had Q not stopped him.
    • 0's final fate has him trapped outside our galaxy by the Galactic Barrier, and crippled in some undefined manner that prevents him from travelling at faster-than-light speeds under his own power, Picard compares 0's fate to a man marooned in a distant ocean with the only land in sight forever cut off from him, musing that 0 would be alone for millennia even if he had set off immediately after the Barrier was established to try and reach the nearest other galaxy.
  • Berserk Button: Q finally acts against 0 after he threatens the future Mrs. Q.
  • Cassandra Truth: Not directly depicted, but when Picard asks why Q didn’t just tell him about 0 in the first place to deter him from the experiment to open the galactic barrier, Q asks if Picard would have believed him without sufficient evidence of 0’s threat. Picard privately muses that it's also possible Q just didn't want to admit to this particular old shame until he absolutely had to share this part of his history with Picard, but the captain concedes that he’d be reluctant to take Q’s word about the time of day, never mind something this significant.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • 0's three associates are Gorgan (from "And the Children Shall Lead" episode of TOS), an entity with no name that fed off of conflict (who would appear in the TOS episode "Day of the Dove"), and a monotheistic entity calling himself "The One" (whose head would be imprisoned at the center of the galaxy, where the Enterprise would find Him in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier).
    • One of the random things that past Q creates at the beginning of present Q's story is a familiar-looking energy ribbon.
    • Quite a few of the holoprograms on the Enterprise are references to ones used in previous episodes in the series.
    • When Doctor Crusher is talking with the female Q about how her son is allegedly the first child of the Continuum, Crusher asks about Amanda Rogers ("True Q"), who was born just a couple of decades ago. Q's wife explains that Amanda is basically considered a half-breed as she was conceived, born and grew up in a purely human manner while Q's own son was conceived in the Continuum itself.
    • At one point during the fight against 0's crew, Picard notices a group of individuals off to the side, watching. When he asks, Q dismissively says they're Organians, relative newcomers compared to the Continuum.
    • Q mentions the then-recent Q Continuum Civil War. Likewise, when Riker sees Q with his family, he experiences a brief flash to his own brief visit to Voyager, but he shakes that off as just a dream.
    • Q's visit to Bajoran space is brought up in Q-Zone when he's wondering what's become of Worf in the interim since "All Good Things". Sisko decking Q (and how Q's never been back to DS9) gets brought up. Picard half-jokingly wishes he'd followed Sisko's lead back when his crew first encountered the entity; if he had, Q might have left the Enterprise alone, too. Q is not amused.
  • Divine Conflict: 0 and his gang's actions eventually lead to a confrontation with the Q Continuum, which ends with 0 trapped outside the Great Barrier and The One imprisoned in the center of the galaxy. Gorgan and (*) both escape to do their mischief, dismissed as lesser threats by the Continuum compared to their fellows.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: For undisclosed reasons, 0 is unable to travel at faster-than-light speeds under his own power, represented as his human form having a crippled foot. As a result, when 0 escapes back into the galaxy, his existing 'injury' prevents him instantly returning to his old habits, as he has to essentially hijack the Enterprise to travel to the centre of the galaxy to release the One rather than just go there himself straight away.
  • Enemy Mine: It takes Q and the Calamarain, two mortal enemies, working together to bring 0 down.
  • Even More Omnipotent: In the confrontation with 0 in the present, Q observes that 0 has become more powerful than him due to 0's current insanity, requiring Q and the Calamarain to join forces to gain the necessary power to defeat him.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Most of the flashbacks in the second and third books see Q using his time with Picard to reinforce how he differs from 0, as he always sticks to the rules of his games and allows his 'opponents' a chance to win (even if Picard considers Q's standard of 'playing fair' a flexible one considering the vast power difference between Q and his potential opponents), whereas 0 'changed the rules' to ensure his own victory when it looked like the Tkon were going to pass his test.
    • Later, when 0 reanimates the body of an ensign he just killed to act as a 'pilot' for the Enterprise, not only does Q express disgust at 0's actions, but Picard reflects that this 'obscene desecration' might be so horrific that even the Borg Queen would find it repellent.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Past Q found 0 in a place that was completely frozen over, or at least the present Q presents it to Picard that way. Picard recognizes it as Cocytus, the frozen lake in the ninth circle of Hell.
  • Evil Is Petty: 0 destroys an entire civilisation just because they were about to "win" his game after his actions provoked a civil war across their empire that lasted for around fifty years.
  • Evil Mentor: 0 has shades of this for the younger Q, though he was definitely trying for The Corrupter role.
  • Foil: 0 is basically this to Q; they may both 'test' lesser races for their own agenda, but while Starfleet is frustrated by Q's actions, Picard must concede that Q has allowed his human opponents to 'win' on occasion where 0 would have just changed the rules the second he was about to lose in a similar position.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: Essentially the reason why the Q Continuum don't stop 0 the moment he got out, as in the aftermath of the Q Civil War they're more focused on rebuilding the Continuum and won't be paying attention to an exiled criminal they believe they dealt with millennia ago. Q does concede that they would likely notice 0's return in a couple of hundred years, but by that point it's unlikely there would be anything of the Federation left, and given his own ties to 0 he doesn't want to put his son at risk of growing up in a galaxy contaminated by 0's presence.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: 0 has spent millions of years isolated outside the galaxy (and his inability to travel at light speed precluded him from travelling to distant galaxies), and has turned mad from the isolation, making him even more powerful than Q.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: It doesn't take much to set 0 off, even before he goes insane.
  • Happily Married: Q and Mrs. Q.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Lieutenant Baeta Leyoro, the current chief of security on the Enterprise-E, sacrifices herself to save the Calamarain so that they can help Q stop 0.
  • Hope Spot: Just as it looks like the Tkon have beaten everything 0 and his gang have thrown at them, 0 wipes them out in a fit of pique by destroying their sun.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Essentially applies to how Q and Picard are able to observe Q's younger self; Q admits that his past self would be able to see them if he had any idea they were present, but without any reason to suspect he's being watched, Past Q continues to act as though he's alone.
  • It's All About Me: During the crisis, Faal becomes increasingly fixated on trying to complete his experiment despite the dangers posed by the Calamarain, although some of this can be attributed to 0’s influence egging him on.
  • Kryptonite Factor: The closest thing 0 has to a weakness is that some past injury somehow prevents him from travelling at faster-than-light speeds under his own power, requiring him to either get the young Q to help him get around, attempt to harness the early Calamarain as a means of transport, or take control of the Enterprise to travel that way.
  • Madness Mantra: 0 is almost always humming or singing odd little songs. Then at the end of one book, there's this:
    Q will pay. All the Q will pay. Q and Q and Q and Q and QQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQ...
  • Mad Scientist: After enough of 0's influence, Lem Faal pole vaults into this trope.
  • Mama Bear: Mrs. Q pulls out all the stops to protect her son, and admits to being sad at the idea that she might have 'only' millions of years before her son is the equivalent of an adult.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future…: Most of the trilogy looks at Q taking Picard on a trip through his past while Riker tries to command the Enterprise against the attack of the Calamarian near the galactic barrier. Q's words suggest that he is in some way altering Picard's perception of events to make it easier for a human mind to comprehend, such as the conflict between 0's associates and four other Q lasting for "a mere one hundred thousand years" and yet being covered in just a few pages of the third book.
  • More Than Infinite: After 0 is released back into the Milky Way, Q explains to Picard that 0's current insanity allows him to 'ignore' certain fundamental rules of reality that the Q must normally acknowledge or risk completely undermining existence, where 0 now no longer recognises any such reality but his own. Picard accepts this argument by reflecting that all humans probably appear equally unstoppable to an ant. Later, Q gains more power by temporarily 'merging' with the Calamarain to overpower 0.
  • Moving the Goalposts: Although 0 inspires Q's interest in testing lesser races, Q is willing to accept failure whereas 0 isn't. When the Calamarain refuse to allow 0 to take control of them, he turns them into a block of ice and leaves them drifting through space for unspecified millennia. When Q asks why he did that, 0 simply says that the Calamarain cheated and must be punished. The next "test" is to put the powerful Tkon Empire (which is trying to replace their dying sun with a new one) into a state of civil war. When the leader of the Empire manages to convince both sides to stop fighting and complete the project after fifty years of conflict, the enraged 0 causes the dying star to become a supernova and destroy the entire race, accelerating the decay into moments where the Tkon expected that they would have considerably more time to take action. Once again, the shocked Q confronts 0 about this. 0 says that any younger race that overcomes a challenge set to it by a powerful entity like 0 must have either cheated, or the challenge wasn't sufficient. Q privately disagreed, and notes that every test he conducts always provides at least one achievable victory condition, and is a relatively Graceful Loser when his opponents "win" (at the very least, no Diabolus ex Machina, even if Picard privately muses that the power difference between Q and his opponents makes the concept of 'fair play' somewhat debatable).
  • My Hero, Zero: The antagonist's name is always written as the numerical "0", not "Zero", reflecting that, while aping "Q" in form and appearance, 0 is lacking in certain essential qualities.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The entity on Sha Ka Ree (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) is named as 'The One' (0 explains that "He invented monotheism"), and the Beta XII-A entity ("Day of the Dove") is 'named' as (*) (Picard reflects that he hopes he is never called on to actually pronounce the name himself as it is so twisted just hearing it gives him a headache).
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: For Riker, the fact that Picard and Q are equally concerned about something is enough to confirm that he should be really worried about the current situation.
  • Oracular Head: The One is reduced to one at the end of the fighting, three Q having collaborated to destroy the rest of his body.
  • Origins Episode: Shows where several of the enemies that Kirk and co. encountered in their original five-year mission came from, as well as exploring how Q got his interest in 'testing' lesser races.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • While Q did have a specific reason to take Picard to Tagus III's distant past to give Picard insight into his younger self's psychological state, it's easy to speculate that he chose that particular planet because he knew of Picard's interest in the historical records of the sky-diving ceremony they witnessed during their visit.
    • After returning Picard to the Enterprise, currently damaged and experiencing a power loss due to the attacks of the Calamarain, Q restores the ship’s artificial gravity just because Picard asks for his assistance.
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: Well, Q's redirection of an asteroid during the battle royale did. This becomes a minor plot point, as Q is tasked with keeping an eye on Earth as penance for what he'd done.
  • Planetary Relocation: This is child's play for the Q. Part of the story has Q taking Picard back in time to the ancient T'Kon Empire, who were preparing to teleport an entire star. Two of them, in fact. Their plan was to replace their dying star with a younger one, but one of Q's companions at the time caused the star to go nova prematurely. Before returning to the present, Q points out the star they intended to replace their own with, along with the teleportation apparatus, still there, unused and forgotten. He suggests Picard might want to have Starfleet send someone to find it before one of their adversaries stumble onto it.
  • Power Born of Madness: 0 after spending countless eons trapped alone is more than a match for Q, as he can twist reality on a level beyond what even Q is capable of. It takes Q teaming up with the Calamarain to finally defeat him.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: When the Tkon seem to be about to beat 0's "test", 0 causes the Tkon star to explode before they can move the planet away.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Inverted. The galactic barrier is essentially the 'can' that keeps 0 out of the galaxy. Played straight with the One's imprisonment at the center of the Great Barrier.
  • Shout-Out: When Q arrives on the Enterprise-E for the first time, he's dressed as an Buckingham Royal Palace Guardsman. He then asks Picard, "What is your name? What is your quest?". Making it even funnier, Picard refuses to play along and Q grumbles that people don't appreciate the classics. In other words, the implication is that even a higher-dimensional entity like Q has seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail and it was an intentional In-Universe Shout Out.
  • Sore Loser: After causing the Tkon star to go nova, Q asks 0 if anyone's ever beaten his games. 0's only response is a Slasher Smile.
  • Supernormal Bindings: After being released, 0 traps Q aboard the Enterprise which is shown by a pair of manacles that will apparently stop him teleporting anywhere off the Enterprise. Q later finds himself in hydroponics trying to pick them with a cactus needle.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The 0- possessed Lem Faal attempts some nasty experiments on baby q. Mama Q nearly rips him to shreds for it later.