That omniscient rogue Q is possibly the most popular recurring character ever to appear on Star Trek, having made appearances on all three next generation series, and having spawned a scriptbook, several novels, and a variety of action figures attired in everything from a Starfleet uniform to the robes of the final judgment. Actor John De Lancie, who played Q, has collaborated with author Peter David, who wrote the hysterically funny Q-Squared, on the considerably less funny I, Q.
The new book has certain virtues - for instance, it keeps the homoerotic undercurrents between Q and Picard that were largely missing in Q-Squared (in which Q got in over his head with Lwaxana Troi, to well-deserved and howlingly funny results). But Q comes across as quite mean-spirited, and the terrific Lady Q whom he mated with on Voyager is greatly weakened. I much preferred Q's Guide To the Continuum, a witty 1998 paperback by writers Michael Jan Friedman and Robert Greenberger, who seem to know the character better than De Lancie.
Don't get me wrong, I, Q has some hysterical moments. It's chock full of snide remarks about the 20th century, from a joke about people not being able to program their VCRs to Q's admission that he slept with a night light until he was 13, plus Q's statement as he approached a rushing waterfall, "I had seen enough B-movies to know what it was." In a jealous snit about Jean-Luc, Q describes the captain and Data as resembling "a boy and his computer," complaining about how much time they spend playing on the holodeck together. When Picard's Borg alter ego makes an unexpected appearance, Q states, "Suddenly Locutus was on top of me again -- if I didn't know better, I would have thought he liked me."
But the condescension of the alien has a nasty edge that was largely lacking on the television series. A "What part of 'omniscient' is unclear to you?" gag wears thin, especially when Q tells a series of stories about sadistic godlike behavior, like leading a murderer to an ignominous death and taunting at a parachutist that he pissed God off. Q admits to having been the Greek god Prometheus, then makes a joke about how the first man to see fire burned his head with it. It's not very funny, especially given the weak plot involving (of course) the fate of the universe and the corollary disappearance of Q's wife and son - not that he remembers them very often.
Q's Guide To the Continuum does not tell a story, but rather offers a Q's eye view of the Trek universe, which is delightful. In this sensationally illustrated book with tabloid headlines, Q points out such choice items as the galaxy's most uncertain real estate investment - the planet Meridian, which shifts dimensionally ever 60 years and nearly seduced Jadzia Dax away from Deep Space Nine, though Q wishes Riker would take up residence there. He calls Tasha Yar's murderer Armus "the galaxy's meanest sonuvagun," introduces us to the galaxy's most famous dogsitter - Janeway's ex-love Mark Johnson, an average doofus for whom she turned down Q himself - and praises Klingon divorce law, in which all a woman has to do is declare that her marriage is over, punch her mate and spit on him to gain an annulment.
There's no new story, but there wasn't a single page of Q's Guide To the Continuum that did not make me laugh. The circus clip art and choice photos (Voyager's EMH looking constipated, Riker posturing in command) enhance the well-selected anecdotes, covering all the series with aplomb. This is a real collector's item.
Click here to buy I,Q or Q's Guide to the Continuum from amazon.com.
Trek Book Reviews