Monday, October 14, 2019

Literary Treks 284: Smoothing Over the Rough Edges of Canon

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Greater Than the Sum
by Christopher L. Bennett

Purchase:
Mass-market Paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

In recent months, the Borg have returned again and again to threaten the peace of the Federation. Now, Picard and his crew must team up with unexpected allies to prevent the Borg from acquiring quantum slipstream technology, an advancement that would give the Borg unprecedented power to assimilate the Federation. Along with a new and untested crewmember, the men and women under Captain Picard's command face incredible odds in their latest round with the Borg.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson discuss the TNG novel Greater Than the Sum by Christopher L. Bennett. We talk about Lieutenant T'Ryssa Chen, Christopher Bennett's amazing ability to "fix" glitches in Star Trek continuity, a star cluster filled with strange new worlds, an old friend named Hugh, a plan to destroy the Borg once and for all, the ending that leads into David Mack's Destiny trilogy, how this story jives with what we know about Star Trek: Picard, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

At the top of the show, we respond to listener feedback from The Babel Conference for Literary Treks 282: And Then Wonder Woman Shows Up!


Literary Treks 284: Smoothing Over the Rough Edges of Canon
The Next Generation: Greater Than the Sum by Christopher L. Bennett





Previous episode: Literary Treks 283: Everyone's Tilting at Windmills
Next episode: Literary Treks 285: Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Gene Roddenberry - 40th Anniversary Edition

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Release Day! TNG: Collateral Damage by David Mack

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Collateral Damage
by David Mack

It's already been showing up on bookshelves, but today is the official release day for the latest entry in the ongoing Star Trek saga: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Collateral Damage by David Mack!

Continuing the fallout from Section 31's exposure in Control, this novel sees Captain Jean-Luc Picard return to Earth to face the consequences of his actions in the ouster (and subsequent assassination) of disgraced Federation President Min Zife.

I'm very much looking forward to reading this one, and you can be assured we will be covering it on an upcoming episode of the Literary Treks podcast, as well as here on Trek Lit Reviews!

Check out below for the back-cover blurb and links to purchase from Amazon.




Publisher's description:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours comes an original, thrilling novel set in the universe of Star Trek: The Next Generation!

The past returns to haunt Captain Jean-Luc Picard—a crime he thought long buried has been exposed, and he must return to Earth to answer for his role in a conspiracy that some call treason. Meanwhile, the U.S.S. Enterprise is sent to apprehend pirates who have stolen vital technology from a fragile Federation colony. But acting captain Commander Worf discovers that the pirates’ motives are not what they seem, and that sometimes standing for justice means defying the law….

Purchase Star Trek: The Next Generation: Collateral Damage:

Trade Paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


Next Release: Discovery: Dead Endless

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Release Day! The Motion Picture Novelization: 40th Anniversary Edition!

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
by Gene Roddenberry
40th Anniversary Edition

Available today is a re-release of the only Star Trek novel penned by the creator of Trek, Gene Roddenberry! Pick up the 40th anniversary edition of the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in trade paperback edition wherever you buy books.

Check out below for the back-cover blurb and links to purchase from Amazon!




Publisher's description:
Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Trek: The Motion Picture with this classic movie novelization written by legendary Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry!

The original five-year mission of the Starship Enterprise to explore strange new worlds and to seek out new life and new civilizations has ended. Now James T. Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy, and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise have separated to follow their own career paths and different lives. But now, an overwhelming alien threat—one that is ignoring all attempts at communication and annihilating all opposition in its path—is on a collision course with Earth, the very heart of the United Federation of Planets. And the only vessel that Starfleet can send in time to intercept this menace is a refitted Enterprise, with her old crew heeding the call to once again boldly go where no one has gone before….

Purchase Star Trek: The Motion Picture: 40th Anniversary Edition:

Trade Paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


Next Release: The Next Generation: Collateral Damage

Monday, September 30, 2019

Literary Treks 283: Everyone's Tilting at Windmills

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Vendetta
by Peter David

Purchase:
Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

The Borg: the Federation's most lethal adversary. A force of nature, nearly unstoppable, and the harbinger of doom for any civilization unfortunate enough to come to the attention of this cybernetic menace. The crew of the Enterprise thwarted their attack on the Federation once; but now, when this relentless enemy comes again in force, can the Federation once again be saved?

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther discuss the TNG novel Vendetta by Peter David. We talk about Picard's mysterious connection to a woman with a vendetta, the horrors of a Borg attack, Geordi's quixotic role in the novel, new types of Borg, Picard's rival, the Doomsday Machine, the theme of Vendetta, how this book compares to its sequel, Before Dishonor, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news section, we talk about a number of new releases: issue #2 of Star Trek: Aftermath, the 40th anniversary edition of the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Gene Roddenberry, and Star Trek: The Next Generation: Collateral Damage by David Mack. We also review issue #6 of Star Trek: Year Five, and respond to listener feedback from the Babel Conference for Literary Treks 281: The Next Evolutionary Step of the Borg.


Literary Treks 283: Everyone's Tilting at Windmills
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Vendetta by Peter David





Previous episode: Literary Treks 282: And Then Wonder Woman Shows Up!
Next episode: Literary Treks 284: Smoothing Over the Rough Edges of Canon

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Literary Treks 282: And Then Wonder Woman Shows Up!

Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series
by Aaron Harvey & Rich Schepis
Exclusive interview with Aaron Harvey!

Purchase:
Hardcover: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

An often-overlooked corner of the Star Trek universe, the animated Star Trek series of 1973-'74 was the first time Trek would make a comeback. Utilizing most of the original voice talent, TAS approached storytelling in much the same way as its predecessor. A comprehensive guide to this groundbreaking series has never been made available... until now!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are joined by Aaron Harvey, Trek.fm host and co-author of Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series. We discuss his passion for the animated adventures of Star Trek, how he and co-author Rich Schepis got the job of creating this guide, the process of putting the book together, the layout of the book, some interesting surprises that were revealed about the series, and wrap up by talking about where Aaron can be found online.

In the news section, we talk about the release of issue #1 of Star Trek: Discovery: Aftermath from IDW, get a sneak peek of Dayton Ward's upcoming Kirk Fu manual, and judge the cover of the upcoming novel Star Trek: Discovery: Dead Endless by Dave Galanter. We also respond to your Babel Conference feedback for Literary Treks 280: The Rigellians are Psycho.


Literary Treks 282: And Then Wonder Woman Shows Up!
Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series - Exclusive Interview with author Aaron Harvey!





Previous episode: Literary Treks 281: The Next Evolutionary Step of the Borg
Next episode: Literary Treks 283: Everyone's Tilting at Windmills

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Before Dishonor

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Before Dishonor by Peter David
Published November 2007
Read August 26th 2019

Previous book (The Next Generation): Q & A
Previous book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): Titan: Sword of Damocles

Next book (The Next Generation): Greater Than the Sum


Purchase:
Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Before Dishonor
!

From the back cover:
An enemy so intractable that it cannot be reasoned with. The entire race thinks with one mind and strives toward one purpose: to add our biological distinctiveness to their own and wipe out individuality, to make every living thing Borg.

In over two centuries, the Federation has never encountered a greater threat. Twice Starfleet assembled and threw countless starships to stand against them. The Borg were stopped, the price paid in blood. Humanity breathed a sigh of relief, assuming it was safe. And with the destruction of the transwarp conduits, the Federation believed that the killing blow had finally been struck against the Borg.

Driven to the point of extinction, the Borg continue to fight for their very existence, for their culture. They will not be denied. They must not be stopped. The old rules and assumptions regarding how the Collective should act have been dismissed. Now the Borg kill first, assimilate later.

When the Enterprise manages to thwart them once again, the Borg turn inward. The dark places that even the drones never realized existed are turned outward against the enemy they have never been able to defeat. What is revealed is the thing that no one believed the Borg could do.

My thoughts:

Following the defeat of the Borg in the novel Resistance, the massive cube has appeared dormant. Starfleet has assigned the U.S.S. Einstein to lead the investigation of the cube, and Admiral Kathryn Janeway insists on accompanying them, ignoring the warnings of "Lady Q," the consort of the Q we have come to know and "love." Once Janeway and her team board the cube, the unthinkable happens: having evolved beyond the need for traditional assimilation, the cube "absorbs" Janeway and the rest of the away team, transforming the former captain of Voyager into their new Borg Queen. Seven of Nine, sensing that Janeway has been captured by the Borg, attempts to convince Starfleet to send her to investigate. When Admiral Jellico ignores her warnings, she sets out to make her own way to the cube, enlisting the aid of Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise along the way.

The massive, damaged Borg cube from Resistance is not as dead as Starfleet thought...

Before Dishonor has a rather infamous place in the annals of Trek Lit among many of its readers, for a variety of reasons. Many people cite the mis-characterizations of both the regular characters and the newcomers, others take issue with the loss of a particular character (more on that later), and others decry the seemingly out-of-place humor that pervades the novel. On the other side, many readers love this novel, praising its action-packed nature and fascinating depiction of an evolved threat from the Borg. I myself read this novel years ago when it was first released, and my reaction to it was quite mixed.

One character that I feel Peter David got right is Seven of Nine. Now serving as an instructor at Starfleet Academy, Seven's journey to attempt a rescue of Admiral Janeway was one of the highlights of the novel. Along the way, she meets a smuggler named Grim Vargo. I also enjoyed this character, and would not be opposed to seeing him pop up again in a future novel.

Speaking of characterizations, however, I felt that the novel dropped the ball on the TNG crew. Picard in particular comes across as quite "jokey" and a bit irreverent, which is not how I see Captain Picard at all. Additionally, it felt like the progress that Worf has made as a character was thrown out the window, and he is back to being the brawler from the early days of TNG, rather than the more thoughtful, reserved, and diplomatic Worf we've come to know in recent years. However, even more egregious to me was the depiction of the newer officers on the Enterprise, specifically Kadohata, Leybenzon, and T'Lana. The three of them are instrumental in leading a mutiny against Picard when he doesn't follow Starfleet's orders to return to Earth when the Borg attack, instead proceeding to "Trophy World" to attempt to revive the "Planet Killer" (from TOS's "The Doomsday Machine") to counter the Borg threat. While I can buy these officers becoming involved in a mutiny, the steps leading to this outcome didn't ring true for me. Kadohata has been shown to be a more reasoned individual before, and would likely show more loyalty to Picard, having served with him since the early days of the Enterprise-D. Leybenzon seemed entirely too hot-headed, actually yelling at Picard on the bridge at one point, while T'Lana refused to even entertain the possibility that she might be wrong, even when confronted by Ambassador Spock. While I was never a fan of T'Lana, I expected more sense from her than this.

Picard hatches a plan that makes this novel a sequel to one of my favorites: Vendetta, also by Peter David.

My favorite part of the novel comes from Picard's plan to use the "Doomsday Machine" against the Borg. This aspect of the story serves as a direct sequel to David's earlier novel, Vendetta, in which a woman named Delcara waged a one-woman war against the Borg with a larger and deadlier version of the Doomsday Machine. Without wanting to ascribe intention to Peter David which I know nothing about, it felt like he was much more invested in this part of the story. Seven of Nine is chosen to "pilot" the weapon, and her interaction with the device and the way it seems to tempt her to stay with it forever cast my memory back to Vendetta and the tragedy of Delcara. This was by far the most interesting part of the story, and I would have liked more of a focus on these events.

Towards the end of the novel, the massive Borg cube (which now has the ability to simply absorb starships and other matter) threatens to destroy Earth unless Captain Picard is turned over to them. Along the way, the Borg cube "eats" Pluto (which is now apparently once again classified as a planet, flying in the face of current scientific understanding). Adding to the silliness is almost-comedic commentary by Admirals Jellico and Nechayev. Despite the fact that the Earth is facing an existential crisis, I did not feel the tension at all, and the tone of the novel seemed in direct contrast to the events being depicted.

Admiral Janeway meets an unexpected fate in this novel.

Finally, we have to tackle the event that immediately comes to mind when talking about Before Dishonor: the apparent death of Kathryn Janeway. Many Janeway fans malign Peter David (unfairly, in my opinion) about this event. Personally, I don't have an issue with it, and in fact I applaud that the novels were audacious enough to kill a canon character of such importance. It does strike me as odd that it takes place in a TNG novel rather than a Voyager one, but at this point, the stories are so enmeshed that it makes little difference. We, of course, all know just how permanent "death" is in the Star Trek universe, and with Janeway walking with "Lady Q" into an uncertain future at the end of this novel, we can all be pretty sure that she'll be back... right?

Final thoughts:

Before Dishonor occupies a strange place in the Trek Lit world. I feel like if it were more of a standalone novel, rather than in the middle of an on-going continuity, it would be more palatable; however, given that the tone of the story is so markedly different from the previous and subsequent novels, it feels very much out of place. Normally, I enjoy Peter David's trademark comic-style humor, but it feels like it is dialed up to eleven in this novel. This stands in stark contrast to the heavy elements of the plot: an existential threat to the Federation, a mutiny, and the death of a major character. I also recently re-read Vendetta, and I feel like a much better balance of tone and stakes was struck in that novel. For me, Before Dishonor greatly misses the mark. There are a couple of elements I enjoy, but they are not enough to make this an enjoyable read overall. My score for Before Dishonor is 2/5.

More about Before Dishonor:

Also by Peter David:

My next read:

Next up is my review of Star Trek: The Next Generation: Greater Than the Sum by Christopher L. Bennett.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Literary Treks 281: The Next Evolutionary Step of the Borg

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Before Dishonor
by Peter David

Purchase:
Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

The Enterprise has fought a costly battle with the Borg. Now, the massive cube they faced seems to be dormant, and Starfleet sends a team led by Admiral Kathryn Janeway to investigate. However, the Borg ship comes alive without warning and captures the admiral, using her to lead a direct attack on the heart of the Federation. Now, it's up to the crew of the Enterprise, along with Spock and Seven of Nine, to counter the renewed Borg threat.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther discuss Star Trek: The Next Generation: Before Dishonor by Peter David. We talk about the newly-evolved Borg, Seven of Nine's role in the story, Ambassador Spock, unexpected actions taken by Picard's crew, the Doomsday Machine, Admiral Janeway's fate, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

At the top of the show, we review Star Trek: Year Five #5 from IDW and respond to listener feedback from The Babel Conference for Literary Treks 279: The Young, Rash, Impetuous Russian.


Literary Treks 281: The Next Evolutionary Step of the Borg
The Next Generation: Before Dishonor by Peter David





Previous episode: Literary Treks 280: The Rigellians are Psycho
Next episode: Literary Treks 282: And Then Wonder Woman Shows Up!