Reviews of stories from Strange New Worlds 9 may contain minor spoilers.
At least three stories deal with Earth's formative years that paved the way for Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets.
The Enterprise episode "Carbon Creek" introduced the character Mestral, a Vulcan science officer who elected to stay on Earth in 1957. "Mestral" by Ben Guilfoy takes place a century later. The long-lived Vulcan has a significant impact on the events that paved the way for Star Trek:First Contact. It's a great use of the character and won third place in the collection.
"The Rules of War" by Kevin Lauderdale opens with the line "A spray of bullets sent chips of cement flying from the building's wall across Archer's face." That very gritty opening leads into a story about the start of the Eugenics War and Jonathan Archer's grandfather. Archer described this incident briefly in the episode "Hatchery." Now we get to see it fleshed out.
What did it take to get from the world as we see it today to the virtual utopia of the twenty-third and twenty-fourth centuries? This is a story that helps answer that question, showing a time when national flags and the United Nations still exist, and one of the battles that got us from here to there.
"The Immortality Blues" by Marc Carlson is another take on the pre-First Contact time period. In this instance it's told from the point of view of the immortal Flint from "Requiem for Methusela" (TOS). We even get to see an earlier incarnation of Rayna (as a computer, not an android). The story nicely weaves together many pieces of Star Trek pre-history that are scattered throughout the dialogue and events of the various series. Reading this story I finnally understood what Lily yelled in First Contact when the Borg attacked the missle complex: "It's the E-Con!" (Which stands for the Easter Coalition of Nations - countries that orginally banded together under the leadership of Kahn Noonian Singh.) Mestral is also mentioned in passing as one of the many people Flint met during his life.
Reviews of other stories to follow . . .