It seems like such a strange choice to set so many stories during this specific period. If you're so keen to tell a story with that Enterprise-A crew, what's wrong with a story set in 2292?
These were the first three once-a-year hardcovers that came out after TUC, as I said. The hardcover format meant they were higher-profile, and maybe it was considered appropriate for them to be "current" -- similarly to how the DC comics mostly kept current with the films' timeframe.
Or maybe it's that Diane Carey, Mike Friedman, and Ann Crispin all independently felt they had one more story to tell after the "final adventure." Evidently Christie Golden had the same desire when she later wrote The Last Roundup
As for The Fearful Summons
, that book was written for one specific reason: to recycle the abandoned "Kirk reassembles the crew" sequence that was supposed to open TUC. So it had to be set in a time when the crew had gone their separate ways.
As for The Ashes of Eden
, Shatner tended to base his Kirk novels on where he was in his own life, so naturally he set his story after Kirk's retirement.
As for Mind Meld
, I have no idea why it was set there instead of between TFF & TUC.
At the time, I think I was still viewing the novels as more interconnected, since I assumed the reversal from Best Destiny carried over into Sarek.
But then Sarek completely ignored the end of the movie and had the ship still in service without any explanation.
Which would've been easier to buy if Shadows on the Sun
hadn't come out between them.
Although it's easy enough to assume the books take place out of publication order -- say, the events of Best Destiny
cause a temporary postponement of the decommissioning, then Sarek
and Mind Meld
happen, then the decommissioning goes ahead after all and Shadows on the Sun
happens, followed by The Last Roundup
and The Ashes of Eden
. That's how the chronology in Voyages of the Imagination
does it, anyway.
So this begs the questions that have already been asked:
1. Why are most TOS books set 5YM?
2. Why no Abrams Universe books?
3. Why are other Trek series books set after/before the TV series/movies (is that correct - I don't read them?)
Is the answer to 1. that there are people like me who mostly want 5YM, or because the timeline after the first 5YM is in debate?
Is the answer to 2. that Bad Robot wants to control the reboot universe :waves fits at Abrams:
1. Most TOS books are in the 5-year mission because that's the most popular setting. Apparently movie-era books don't sell as well -- though TWOK-era books are evidently a safer bet than TMP-era ones.
2. There have been Abramsverse books, the young-adult Starfleet Academy
novels, though there don't seem to be any more of those coming up. Otherwise, Bad Robot seems content to focus on comics and video games.
3. The books based on the shows other than TOS tend to be set after the series because there's more storytelling freedom, since characters can grow and change. Particularly for something like DS9, which was heavily serialized, there's not as much room to fit in stories during the series. But TOS was always a more episodic series and so standalone stories that put everything back in the box at the end seem to be better-received by TOS fans.