Spock travels back to the time and place of Here Come the Brides, a television program loosely based upon Asa Mercer's efforts to bring civilization to 1860s Seattle by importing the marriageable Mercer Girls from the war-ravaged East Coast of the United States. The show's premise was that eldest brother Jason Bolt bet his entire logging operation that he could persuade one hundred marriageable ladies to come to Seattle and stay for a full year. Much of the dramatic and comic tension revolved around the efforts of their benefactor Aaron Stempel (played by Mark Lenard who also played Spock's father Sarek in Star Trek) to thwart the deal and take control of the Bolts' holdings.
Spock discovers a Klingon plot to destroy the Federation by killing Stemple (it is spelled Stemple in the book) before Stemple could thwart an attempted 19th-century alien invasion of Earth. During most of the story, Spock has lost his memory and is cared for by Stemple, who passes him off as his nephew "Ishmael" and helps him hide his alien origins. At the end of the story, Spock discovers that Stemple is one of his mother's ancestors, which ties in with Mark Lenard playing both Stemple and Spock's father, Sarek. The novel also resolves the fate of the characters from the TV show, which never occurred on-screen due to the series' cancellation after two seasons.
Several other television characters appear throughout the book. In San Francisco, Spock plays chess with a gunfighter dressed in black who matches the description of Richard Boone's character Paladin in the TV series "Have Gun Will Travel" (pages 180-182).
The British TV series Doctor Who is referenced at least four times: the Fourth Doctor is described on page 13, Metebelis crystals from the serials The Green Death and Planet of the Spiders are mentioned on page 57, the Second Doctor is described on page 154, and Kirk recalls legends of a planet of stagnant time-travellers in the Kasteroborous galaxy on page 200.
Numerous other Western and science fiction characters make cameo appearances throughout the book. Page 13 features Han Solo ("a scruffy-looking spice smuggler") from Star Wars as well as Apollo and Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica ("a pair of brown-uniformed pilots from some down-at-the-heels migrant fleet"). Pages 153-154 feature Little Joe Cartwright and his brother Hoss Cartwright from Bonanza ("a good-looking boy in the dusty clothes of a a trailhand just in from Virginia City, and his oxlike older brother") and Bret or Bart Maverick from Maverick. Emperor Norton and his dogs also appear.