Tie-in books often get to tackle things the shows they are based on do not. Sometimes it’s things that would need too many special effects; sometimes it’s letting the X-Men visit the Star Trek universe. In the case of Q-in-Law, it’s letting two giant guest star characters meet. Like the epic meeting between Q, who is arrogant and omnipotent, and Lwaxana Troi, who is pretty much the same.
Picard has the face of a migraine given flesh. (Image: Cover of Q-in-Law, Simon and Schuster)
Q-in-Law was a Star Trek: The Next Generation novel which exists solely so author Peter David could put Q and Lwaxana, mother of Commander Deanna Troi, in the same room. It’s something that never could have happened on the show, because there would be no scenery left unchewed if it had ever actually let John de Lancie and Majel Barrett — Nurse Chapel in the original Star Trek series, and the voice of all computers in the franchise — share a scene.
The plot of Q-in-Law is very simple: The Enterprise is to be the host of a wedding between two children of warring houses of a race of space merchants called the Tizarin, because it’s the flagship of the United Federation of Planets, so of course it’s also a floating hotel ballroom for people to rent out for their weddings.
And because this wedding is a big important to-do, Lwaxana Troi pops up as a guest and a representative of the Betazoids. Also Q shows up because, well, he’s Q and he just does that when he’s bored. I mean, he’s there to “examine the idea of love”. (He’s there to be a dick for funsies.)
Everyone hates everyone, Q’s there to stir the pot, and Lwaxana is the champion of love. The book only makes this work through sheer audacity. At one point, Picard actually delivers the “A plague on both your houses!” line, just so you know that Peter David knows what reference he’s making.
Q also decides, in what is truly a stupid move, that he’ll go along with Lwaxana’s amorous attention. Again, I’m pretty sure this is just because Q is bored and playing with fire amuses him. Because when, stoked by Q, the two families nearly ruin their kids’ wedding, Q gives Lwaxana powers — a classic Q technique for being a dick that he tried out on Riker first — and she steps in. Then, at the end of the book, he declares love destructive and bad, insults Lwaxana, and makes clear that anything he said or did with her was basically a joke.
At which point, still endowed with Q powers, Lwaxana Troi just beats the crap out of Q. She blasts him through one of the Enterprise’s nacelles and right into the warp core. In my head, it looks something like this:
Then Lwaxana punches him through a wall. Q just gives up and starts running. Which is about when Lwaxana kicks him in the balls. He keels over, leaving himself far too vulnerable, because:
Lwaxana stood over him, boiling mad. She kicked him over and over for emphasis as he twisted on the floor, trying to get away, as she bellowed. “And keeper [kick] of the Holy [kick] Rings [kick] of Betazed!” and she booted him once more, sending him skidding down the corridor.
Oh, yeah, did I mention that while she’s ruining Q’s entire image, Lwaxana is also reciting that annoying list of titles she has? Because she is. “Daughter of the Fifth House” is what sends Q into the matter/antimatter chamber.
Anyway, she also shrinks Q down to the size of an action figure and tries to stomp on him while he yells for Picard’s help. And she uses him for racquetball (or rather, its futuristic equivalent, rocketball) practise. And she turns him into a tree and chops him down. There are many inventive punishments, is what I’m getting at here.
Of all of them, I would like you to please imagine a tiny John de Lancie dodging the glittery heels of Majel Barrett. And then weep that this was never a real episode.
It’s very silly. It is meant to be very silly. And I admit that I have a soft spot for the comedy tie-in book. But, while very little else about the book has stuck with me, every beat of Q and Lwaxana’s final confrontation is lodged in my memory. It’s so gloriously dumb and weird and excessive and it’s really the best use of Lwaxana. Her material on the show wasn’t nearly as good.