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Exploring the Sci-Fi Concept of Dyson Spheres

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Updated 19 June 2023

Star Trek The Next Generation Dyson Sphere
Photo: Reading Star Trek Dyson Sphere at my coffee table. Enjoying a bit of java out of my Star Wars mug. Yes, fans can cross genres. This isn't Ghostbusters where you cannot cross the streams.

What Draws Me to Dyson Sphere?

The allure of Star Trek, the joy it brings, it's like a trusty old friend, always there to whisk me away to the stars. And Dyson Sphere? That's a fascinating beast in its own right. Picture this - an enormous shell, completely encapsulating a star, harnessing its energy. Mind-boggling, right? That's the stuff of dreams for us science fanatics.

In fact, the concept of Dyson Spheres has always tickled my curiosity. It's a staple of sci-fi that's rarely given the limelight it deserves, often left simmering on the back burner. But not in this case, not in this Star Trek tale. This book grabs it, thrusts it center stage, and says "Hey, look at this incredible marvel of imagination!"

And then, there's the Horta. Oh, the Horta. These silicon-based lifeforms, these intelligent beings that look like nothing more than mounds of rock lava, they're the underdogs of the Star Trek universe. Their role in Star Trek lore is so unique, so delightfully out of the box, you can't help but root for them. So, you bet I was thrilled to see them working alongside our dear Captain Picard.

In short, why am I reading Dyson Sphere? It's simple. It's Star Trek, it's Dyson Spheres, it's the Horta. It's the joy of exploring the unknown, and the thrill of finding the familiar in the most unlikely of places. So, let's put on our reading glasses, and embark on this adventure together, shall we?

A science fiction romp inside the Dyson Sphere

I find that it is often worth rummaging around the community book fairs for decent science fiction at a reasonable price. I think that the going rate for a novel at the moment is around two bucks, if you are not looking for the latest blockbuster. This has brought me to the extensive range of Star Trek novels that are always on offer. Star Trek novels represent value as the characters are well established, the story universe is broad, and the quality of the stories tend to be good.

Dyson Sphere is No. 50 in the Star Trek: The Next Generation universe. Captain Jean-Luc Picard works with the silicon-based life forms, the Horta, to conduct an archaeological dig of the Dyson Sphere. This is not so much a character-led story as an adventure on a grand scale. The Dyson Sphere is an excuse to have a swashbuckling good time. The troubling aspect of an invading Dyson Sphere is the scale; it's just too vast—mankind appears insignificant by comparison. Neutron Stars are flung through the universe, large suns slam into immeasurable oceans and sentient ocean-based life forms working together with self-aware rock machines to escape an inter-dimensional nightmare. In the end the reader is left to dwell on the mysterious Dyson Sphere builders and their possible galactic war with the Borg.

The troubling aspect of an invading Dyson Sphere is the scale; it's just too vast—mankind appears insignificant by comparison.

Good science fiction examines alternative possibilities and technologies to find new ways for telling a compelling story. Many classic sci-fi writers claim that this is half the fun of storytelling. Unfortunately, many writers focus on obvious humanoid variations or interactions between species. Very few writers can re-imagine new worlds constructed beyond living on spaceships and space-boulders. This is where the Dyson Sphere comes in. Whole worlds clustered into a flying spaceship to escape the shackles of their former thermodynamic limitations. I consider Dyson Spheres to be futuristic arks inhabited by countless lifeforms. Very few stories focus on exotic planets. And this is what makes this novel so exciting.

Diving into the Dyson Sphere

Now, let's replicate the main course of this book—the Dyson Sphere itself. This thing is colossal, folks. Imagine a star, now picture a gigantic shell surrounding it, harnessing all its energy. It's like putting a leash on a supernova. The sheer magnitude of it is mind-boggling. And what I love about this book is that it doesn't shy away from the scale of it all. It's there, front and center, making mankind look like ants at a picnic.

But here's the thing about the Dyson Sphere in Star Trek: It's not just a setting, it's a character. It has a presence, a weight that you can feel throughout the story. It’s a silent protagonist, an enigma that keeps you turning the pages. Who built it? Why did they build it? What are they using all that star power for? It's these questions that kept me hooked. It's like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, and I couldn't wait to unwrap it. In the end, you're left contemplating the architects of this marvel and their potential galactic conflict with the Borg. Now, that's a story for the ages!

Engaging with the Horta

On to the silicon-based nitty-gritty of the Horta. These sentient rock-lava beings are more than just a novelty – they're the oddballs of the Star Trek universe, and in a universe full of oddities, that's saying something! They're intelligent, resourceful, and vastly misunderstood. I've always had a soft spot for them. There's something about a species that breaks the mould of humanoid characters that always gets my warp engines firing.

In Dyson Sphere, the Horta get to shine. They're working alongside Captain Picard, digging into the mysteries of the Dyson Sphere. It's a real treat to see them in action, to see them contribute in their unique way to the plot. But here's where I raise my Vulcan eyebrow – the book doesn't delve deep enough into who they are. These aren't just rock creatures – they're a deeply intelligent species with a rich backstory. I would have loved to see more of their character, their culture, their history. The Horta deserve more than just a punchline, they deserve a spotlight, and I hope to see them get it in future Star Trek adventures.


I love the concept of Dyson Spheres but, ultimately, they have not taken off as a story telling vehicle. The scientific premise is there. It is easy to suggest that Dyson Spheres are seen as a product of the Star Trek: The Next Generation universe. I think that the roots of the problem are dug deep in how they have been used as fictional pieces. ST:TNG Dyson Sphere is a story on an ultimate scale, however, there is very little if the what-if, or alternative reality, that the reader can connect to. How am I expected to engage in deciding what who is just and who is evil when the builders of the Dyson Sphere are never revealed?

I felt that the story really didn't explain who the Horta are. In The Original Series, the Horta is a highly intelligent, silicon-based species. In the television episodes they look like mounds of rock lave moving through dark caves. The is a strong fan-base for them and they even make an appearance in the Little Golden Book series. It sits uncomfortably with me when the story makes a joke of the species.

If you see this novel on sale at the second-hand markets then you should consider giving it a read. It introduces a Dyson Sphere into the universe and pits the Captain against the Horta. The action in this book starts strong then hits a warp speed sugar rush.

Read Dyson Sphere online

Thank you to the Internet Archive for making this wonderful book available online. The book is rights protected so you will need to get yourself a free Internet Archive login. The book is a scanned version of the novel. It is still very readable online. The online version of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dyson Sphere is also searchable. It is disapointing to read so many misquotes online from the book. The search function allows readers to find their favorite quotes from the book, and read them in context.

Read Star Trek: The Next Generation - Dyson Sphere

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