Sunday, December 30, 2012

Treklit 2012: Year in Review

2012, where on earth did you go? It seems like the year had only begun, and now we're preparing to welcome 2013. Crazy.

2012 was a great year for Trek fiction in my opinion. We began the year with a couple of great TOS novels, saw the conclusion to the ground-breaking and terrific Vanguard series, witnessed further troubles for the Federation in the form of the Typhon Pact's political and military machinations, had the pleasure of another wonderful entry in the Voyager relaunch by Kirsten Beyer, and closed out the year with a new, amazing trilogy from the inimitable David Mack.

In my own life, 2012 was a year of profound change. In August, I left my position as foreign English teacher at Sinsang Middle School in Seoul, Korea, to return to my native Canada. However, rather than simply flying directly back, some friends and I decided to take the "long way" home. Taking the ferry from Korea to Vladivostok, Russia, we hopped on the trans-siberian railway and traveled the entire length of Asia and Europe on rail. Visits to Lake Baikal, Irkutsk, Suzdal, Moscow, and St. Petersburg were highlights of the Russian portion of the journey. From there, rail travel through Krakow, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Calais, and a ferry ride to Dover and then on to London rounded out our overland journey. One last stop in Reykjavik, Iceland, and I finally made it home to Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada, nearly two months after I had left Seoul. A life-changing, wonderful experience that made 2012 the best year of my life (so far).

The end of 2012 also saw the beginning of a new experiment: another blog, called The Contented Reader, in which I review books that aren't from the world of Star Trek and report on news from the wide world of books and literature. There isn't much there yet, but I'm hoping to expand it greatly during the coming year.

Below you will find a chronological list of the books I reviewed this past year. New releases are marked with an asterisk. Each month saw reviews of both new releases and older novels with a couple of exceptions. Most notably, September is devoid of activity due to my travels during that time.


The Return by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (The "Shatnarrative")
The Never-Ending Sacrifice by Una McCormack (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Synthesis by James Swallow (Star Trek: Titan)
Doctor's Orders by Diane Duane (Star Trek: The Original Series)
I, Q by John de Lancie and Peter David (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Troublesome Minds by Dave Galanter (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Gateways, Book 1 of 7: One Small Step by Susan Wright (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Gateways, Book 2 of 7: Chainmail by Diane Carey (Star Trek: Challenger)


*The Rings of Time by Greg Cox (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Gateways, Book 3 of 7: Doors Into Chaos by Robert Greenberger (Star Trek: The Next Generation)


Gateways, Book 4 of 7: Demons of Air and Darkness by Keith R.A. DeCandido (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
*That Which Divides by Dayton Ward (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Gateways, Book 5 of 7: No Man's Land by Christie Golden (Star Trek: Voyager)


*Storming Heaven by David Mack (Star Trek: Vanguard)
Gateways, Book 6 of 7: Cold Wars by Peter David (Star Trek: New Frontier)
Gateways, Book 7 of 7: What Lay Beyond by various authors (All series)
The Rift by Peter David (Star Trek: The Original Series)


*Forgotten History by Christopher L. Bennett (Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations)
Hollow Men by Una McCormack (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Shadow Lord by Laurence Yep (Star Trek: The Original Series)


*Plagues of Night by David R. George III (Star Trek: Typhon Pact)


*Raise the Dawn by David R. George III (Star Trek: Typhon Pact)
*The Assassination Game by Alan Gratz (Starfleet Academy)
The Rings of Tautee by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Ex Machina by Christopher L. Bennett (Star Trek: The Original Series)


*Fallen Gods by Michael A. Martin (Star Trek: Titan)
Do Comets Dream? by S.P. Somtow (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Corona by Greg Bear (Star Trek: The Original Series)


*The Eternal Tide by Kirsten Beyer (Star Trek: Voyager)
*Brinkmanship by Una McCormack (Star Trek: Typhon Pact)
Immortal Coil by Jeffrey Lang (Star Trek: The Next Generation)


*Cold Equations, Book 1 of 3: The Persistence of Memory by David Mack (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
*In Tempest's Wake by Dayton Ward (Star Trek: Vanguard ebook)
Spock's World by Diane Duane (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Uhura's Song by Janet Kagan (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Pawns and Symbols by Majliss Larson (Star Trek: The Original Series)
*Cold Equations, Book 2 of 3: Silent Weapons by David Mack (Star Trek: The Next Generation)


Errand of Vengeance, Book 1 of 3: The Edge of the Sword by Kevin Ryan (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Errand of Vengeance, Book 2 of 3: Killing Blow by Kevin Ryan (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Errand of Vengeance, Book 3 of 3: River of Blood by Kevin Ryan (Star Trek: The Original Series)

What will 2013 bring? Well, we already have a few ideas with regards to the world of Star Trek fiction. The first half of the year is almost entirely taken up by TOS novels, possibly to capitalize on the release of the much-anticipated film, Star Trek Into Darkness in May. Along with that film will be a novelization by Alan Dean Foster.

The last half of 2013 looks to be dominated by a multi-series crossover event entitled The Fall. Taking place in the 24th century era of Treklit, The Fall will feature five novels, written by Trek veteran authors David R. George III, Una McCormack, David Mack, James Swallow, and Dayton Ward. I'm really looking forward to learning more about this series!

Another highly-anticipated event for 2013 is the continuation of the story of the early days of the Federation, in the form of Christopher L. Bennett's July release, Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures. I'm a huge fan of Bennett's Trek work, and I can't wait to see what he has in store for this largely-unexplored era of future history.

Check out the 2013 Releases page for all of the Trek fiction due out in the next year!

In my own life, 2013 will see me relocate to Calgary, Alberta. I hope to continue to bring you news and reviews from the world of Star Trek fiction, as well as a few special surprises from the year to come. I can't wait to read all that the 2013 lineup has to offer, and I can guarantee I'll be in a movie theatre on opening night for Star Trek Into Darkness! 2013 looks to be a banner year for Trek, hopefully the vanguard for many more such years to come.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Best Trek gift ever!

Got a terrific present this year, perfect for any die-hard Trekkie such as myself:

I've taken a brief flip through it, and it is pretty amazing. After reading the first few pages, it is absolutely clear that David A. Goodman is a true Star Trek fan. His depth of knowledge about the Trek universe (and cute tongue-in-cheek in-jokes) make this one a true winner so far! I may just post a full review of this one after I finish, even though I don't traditionally review "non-fiction" Trek books. Non-fiction, of course, being a bit of a misnomer in this case!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

River of Blood

Star Trek: Errand of Vengeance Book Three: River of Blood by Kevin Ryan
Published August 2002
Read August 14th 2012

Previous book (The Original Series): Errand of Vengeance #2: Killing Blow
Next book (The Original Series): Gemini

Next book (Errand of...): Errand of Fury #1: Seeds of Rage

Click to purchase River of Blood from!

Spoilers ahead for River of Blood and the Errand of Vengeance series!

From the back cover:
Every person has a story, and those who are lucky enough to share the voyages of Capt. James T. Kirk aboard the Starship Enterprise have stories like anyone else's. Some live, some die, but even those who serve below deck sometimes make all the difference in the universe!
The news from Starfleet Command is grim: a full-scale war against the Klingon Empire is coming, a war that the Federation may not be able to win. In anticipation of a monumental conflict, the U.S.S. Enterprise is assigned to guard a vital starbase located perilously close to Klingon space.
But even as Kirk's mission brings him into a tense confrontation with an invading Klingon battle cruiser, an equally deadly menace lurks within the ranks of his own crew: Klingon infiltrator agents, posing as Starfleet officers and sworn to destroy the enemies of the Empire - even at the cost of their own honor!

My thoughts:

The third and final book in the Errand of Vengeance series brings most of the plot threads introduced in the previous two books to a close. The story of Kell (aka "Jon Anderson") is wrapped up in a somewhat predictable fashion. Interestingly enough, I was surprised by how little his story actually featured in this novel. Most of his journey had been laid out in the previous two novels, all that's left here is for the setup to be played out to its logical conclusion.

The Klingons' war preparations mean
they need a great deal of dilithium
For the end of the miniseries, author Kevin Ryan came up with the "big event" of a Klingon siege on Starbase 42 in order to steal a mother lode of starship-grade dilithium crystals to fuel the Empire's war machine. The focus on action in this particular novel does mean that many of the character moments that made the first two books so good are pared down quite a bit; however, most of the characters introduced earlier in the series have at least one chance to shine. Of special note is Admiral Justman, whose exploits in River of Blood are particularly exceptional. Many of the situations depicted in this novel are very well-written. The action is compelling and held my attention. Like the preceeding books, River of Blood is a pretty quick read. The characters we've come to love in the Errand of Vengeance series are consistently written with Ryan's usual aplomb.

If I have one major gripe with River of Blood, it is once again in the editing of the novel. Several small errors and mistakes creep into the prose, and while they are indeed minor, they still serve to pull me out of the story. For example, on more than one occasion, the name of the starbase is incorrectly given: it changes from 42 to 43 and back again in only a few pages. It is somewhat frustrating when small details can't be kept consistent in a novel such as this.

The series as a whole:

Duty, honor, redemption, and sacrifice: all of these topics feature heavily in the Errand of Vengeance series. Author Kevin Ryan has a terrific handle on the Klingon psyche. The seeds of the gradual evolution of mainstream Klingon culture from the conniving, scheming baddies of The Original Series into the honor-bound, warrior society of The Next Generation planted in this series are a joy to read about. The so-called "Cult of Kahless" will one day come to define the Klingon way of life and aid in the eventual creation of the alliance between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.

War is a bloody, messy business, and Errand of Vengeance doesn't shy away from depicting this. Through the eyes of the Enterprise's security forces, we see the horrible effects of violence and warfare, and the very personal sacrifices that its execution entails. Much like the original Star Trek television series itself, Kevin Ryan's books do a masterful job of presenting difficult questions without clear-cut answers. What makes an enemy? Or a friend? Is being "honorable" doing one's duty? And what happens when doing what is morally right is in direct odds to following one's orders or fulfilling one's obligations? Hardly the first work of literature to tackle these age-old questions, but presenting them the way they were here was a real treat to read.

The Errand of Vengeance series was published during a time of experimentation with the Original Series line of Trek books. This "reboot" of the series examined the original five-year mission of the Enterprise from a "lower decks" perspective; rather than following the usual tactic of featuring Captain Kirk and the "principal" cast members, these books were written from the perspective of people traditionally outside the main narrative of Star Trek. I felt this device was used to great effect in this series; a fresh perspective is always welcome and worked quite well in the Star Trek universe. Unfortunately, this experiment didn't last very long. As much as I love traditional Star Trek novels, I enjoy when things are shaken up a bit.

Although this is the end of this particular miniseries, the stories of many of the characters introduced and explored in Errand of Vengeance will return in the follow-up series. Begun in 2005 with Seeds of Rage, the Errand of Fury series follows on directly from the end of River of Blood, and will continue the story up to and including the actual outbreak of war between the Federation and the Klingons in the classic Trek episode "Errand of Mercy."

Final thoughts:

A solid ending to a wonderful series. If you are a fan of action and fast-paced storytelling, you will love this book. Some of the wonderful character moments from the first two books in the series are done away with here to make room for the compelling action sequences, but if you're like me, you'll enjoy the ride as a thrilling climax to this compelling story arc. Editing problems abound, as in the first two volumes, which unfortunately lower the book's rating somewhat. The story continues in Errand of Fury!

Also by Kevin Ryan:

My next read:

I am currently reading the third and final book in David Mack's exciting Cold Equations series: The Body Electric. During this hectic holiday season, I will try to find time to type out my thoughts on this latest release. Until then, happy holidays and merry Christmas to everyone out there. Stay warm!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Killing Blow

Star Trek: Errand of Vengeance Book Two: Killing Blow by Kevin Ryan
Published August 2002
Read August 10th 2012

Previous book (The Original Series): Errand of Vengeance #1: The Edge of the Sword
Next book (The Original Series): Errand of Vengeance #3: River of Blood

Click to purchase Killing Blow from!

Spoilers ahead for Killing Blow and the rest of the Errand of Vengeance series!

From the back cover:
There are more than four hundred sagas aboard the Starship Enterprise, one for each of the unique men and women serving under the command of Capt. James T. Kirk.  For years their personal adventures, their individual struggles and successes, have gone largely untold... until now.

The U.S.S.
Enterprise is patrolling the Klingon border when sensors detect a massive power source on a planet supposedly populated only by a race of primitive humanoids.  Suspecting some sort of Klingon plot, Captain Kirk decides to investigate the matter personally, beaming down to the planet with Dr. McCoy and a team of security officers.

But Kirk is in more danger than he knows.  Among the landing party is Lt. Jon Anderson, a Klingon infiltrator on an undercover mission aboard the
Enterprise.  Anderson does not know if the Empire is at work on the unnamed planet, but if it is, then his duty demands that Kirk be stopped--by all means necessary.

My thoughts:

A continuation of the story begun in the previous novel, The Edge of the Sword. Kell, an undercover Klingon intelligence officer posing as a Starfleet security officer aboard the Enterprise, is assigned the task of killing Captain James T. Kirk. However, as Kell witnesses first-hand the bravery and honor displayed by the crew of the Enterprise, he begins to doubt more and more the veracity of the propaganda about "Earthers" he has learned his entire life.

Following Kell on his journey was truly fascinating, as he is continually torn between his new-found respect for the humans of the Federation and his drive to fulfill his duty for the Empire. The conflict within him is very well-written by Kevin Ryan, and I found myself often empathizing with Kell. Added to his admiration of Kirk and his crew is the fact that he is beginning to fall in love with another member of the security contingent, Lieutenant Leslie Parrish. As you can imagine, this complicates Kell's mission further.

Stories from the "second string"
characters, such as Lt. West, are
continued in Killing Blow.
In addition to Kell's story, the other stories begun in The Edge of the Sword are continued to good effect. Kell's brother, Karel, gets caught up in a plot by an honorless Klingon and his bid to gain the captaincy of the Klingon cruiser D'k Tagh. Back at Starfleet Command, Lieutenant West's knowledge of the Klingons continues to come in handy as he works with Admiral Justman and Ambassador Fox to avert the coming war with the Klingon Empire. Finally, I really enjoyed Justman's remembrances of the Donatu V conflict with the Klingons. This aspect of the story gave another layer to the Admiral's character, as well as outlining the stakes of failure in maintaining peace with the Empire.

One aspect of this novel that was somewhat vexing, however, was the appearance of a few errors in the text. On a few occasions, characters are referred to by the incorrect name. In other cases, some words are incorrect, and in place words that are spelled similarly are used. I am uncertain if this issue is only with the ebook version that I read, or if these errors crop up in the dead-tree edition as well.

Final thoughts:

A generally good continuation of the Errand of Vengeance story. The flashbacks to the decades-earlier battle of Donatu V are particularly welcome, as they illustrate the dangers of losing the peace. Kell's struggle is compelling, and while we know that Kirk will not be killed, the conclusion to Kell's personal journey is a mystery that makes me very eager for the final book in the trilogy. Also somewhat fun are the homages and "shout outs" to Trek production personnel. "Lt. Okuda" comes to mind!

Also by Kevin Ryan:

My next read:

Next up is the final book in the Errand of Vengeance series, River of Blood.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

NEWS: New cover and blurb

A few bits today about books being released next year:

First up, newcomer to Trek Lit, Tony Daniel, has a TOS novel coming out at the end of February 2013, and cover art has just been released. In addition, we've learned that the story involves the Horta, the silicon-based rock-eating lifeforms from the first season episode "The Devil in the Dark." Check it out below:

Next up, William Leisner also has a TOS novel coming in the new year, The Shocks of Adversity, taking up June's publication spot. The back-cover blurb has just been revealed by Simon & Schuster, and you can read that below:

Located far beyond the boundaries of explored space, the Goeg Domain is a political union of dozens of planets and races. When the U.S.S. Enterprise arrives in its territory to investigate an interstellar phenomenon, Commander Laspas of the Domain Defense Corps is at first guarded, then fascinated to discover the existence of an alliance of worlds much like his own, and finds a kindred spirit in Captain James T. Kirk. And when the Enterprise is attacked by the Domain’s enemies, crippling the starship’s warp capability and leaving its crew facing the prospect of a slow, months-long journey home, the Goeg leader volunteers the help of his own ship, offering to combine the resources of both vessels to bring the Enterprise to a nearby Domain facility to make the necessary repairs.
But what at first seems to be an act of peace and friendship soon turns out to be a devil’s bargain, as Kirk and the Enterprise crew learn that there are perhaps more differences than similarities between the Federation and the Domain. When the Goeg’s adversaries strike again, the Enterprise is drawn deeper and inexorably into the conflict, and Kirk begins to realize that they may have allied themselves with the wrong side…

Check out the 2013 releases page for information on all new Star Trek fiction coming in 2013, including links to purchase the titles on I'm looking forward to finishing the year with a few more reviews, and bringing you much more in the new year, both old and new! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. Take care!

Monday, December 10, 2012

I have another blog: Check it out!

In April of 2011, I began this blog as a way to catalog my own thoughts and feelings about the Star Trek novels I had read, as reminders to myself about what the books were about and how I felt about them. To my surprise, other people were interested as well. Each month saw a steady increase in readership, and November 2012 was the first month that Trek Lit Reviews had over 3000 page-views. That may not sound like a lot, but I was astounded that people were actually interested in reading what I had to say about these books.

As much as I like Star Trek novels, I do enjoy reading other books as well. The world of literature is an endless field of exciting stories and infinite possibilities, in which an author can guide a reader anywhere from seventeenth-century Britain to alternate worlds and histories. From epic, sweeping trilogies that involve the rise and fall of galactic civilizations to the quiet, simple struggle of a single life. In short, I absolutely love books, and I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings about them. To this end, I have started another blog, The Contented Reader. This blog will be about the books that I read and love (or hate!), as well as anything literature-related that catches my eye. There is a great deal to report on in the world of books, including prizes in literature, new releases from favourite authors, competitions such as Canada Reads from the CBC, and a myriad of other events in the world of books. Join me as I delve into this world head-first and communicate to you what I hope is an honest and abiding love of books!

If you are interested, please check out The Contented Reader. I look forward to continuing both blogs for a long time to come!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

NEWS: Teaser Trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness!

Again, with the non-book news! However, this is too good to not share. A teaser trailer for next year's Star Trek Into Darkness has just been released. Check it out on YouTube (don't forget to click the HD option!).

So, what does everyone think? I for one love actor Benedict Cumberbatch, and hope he's his usual excellent self in this film.

Monday, December 3, 2012

NEWS: New Teaser Poster for Star Trek Into Darkness

Not book news per se, but Paramount released the teaser poster for next year's Star Trek Into Darkness.

So, what do people think of the poster? Excited? Annoyed? I'd love to know your opinions!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Edge of the Sword

Star Trek: Errand of Vengeance, Book 1 of 3: The Edge of the Sword by Kevin Ryan
Published July 2002
Read March 26th, 2012

Previous book (The Original Series): The Last Roundup
Next book (The Original Series): Errand of Vengeance, Book 2 of 3: Killing Blow

Click to purchase The Edge of the Sword from!

Spoilers ahead for The Edge of the Sword!

From the back cover:
More than four hundred men and women serve aboard the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701, "boldly going where no man has gone before." What are their stories? We know of Kirk and Spock, but what of those who live, and sometimes die, under their command? Those are the best and brightest of the Federation, men and women of exceptional courage and skill.
But not all of them can be trusted.
Lt. Jon Anderson is the newest security officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. He joins the crew at a time of mounting tension between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Previous battles have been inconclusive, but Starfleet Command fears that the Klingons are gearing up for a major offensive. The Enterprise would be on the front lines of an all-out interstellar war.
But Lieutenant Anderson has a secret: he is actually a Klingon infiltrator assigned to sabotage Starfleet from within. His first mission: kill Capt. James T. Kirk.

My Thoughts:

The first book in this trilogy by Kevin Ryan is a very interesting take on the familiar world of The Original Series's "five-year mission." Many novels are set in this era, but these novels represent an experimental departure from the traditional Trek story set during this time. Rather than a wholly-original story that takes place between the episodes we know and love, or after them, the Errand of Vengeance trilogy runs concurrently with the first season of TOS, and makes references to events that occur during those episodes. The twist is that, behind of the scenes of the episodes we know and love, another story is taking shape. You may recall that the Federation and the Klingon Empire briefly go to war near the end of the first season, in the episode "Errand of Mercy." In Errand of Vengeance, we see the slow build-up to that conflict, and how the Enterprise was on the front lines of several skirmishes and incidents related to that later exchange.

Additionally, this trilogy was part of an experiment in which the Original Series novels were "re-booted" somewhat, and stories were told from perspectives other than that of the main "heroes" such as Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. The Edge of the Sword follows a number of original characters, all of whom are written very dynamically and well. Jon Anderson is one such character; as you read in the plot summary/blurb above, he is actually a Klingon operative who is undercover aboard the Enterprise, on a mission to assassinate Captain Kirk. As the novel progresses, we see the actions of the Enterprise crew and Captain Kirk through his eyes. Indoctrinated to believe that Starfleet is oppressive, deceitful, and treacherous, "Jon Anderson" (actually named Kell) learns that not everything he has been taught is true. Another character we learn about is Patrick West, a young xenoanthropologist who is assigned to work with Admiral Justman at Starfleet Command to prepare for the coming Klingon hostilities. He would later gain infamy as Colonel West of the assassination conspiracy in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Finally, another point-of-view character is Karel, brother to Klingon infiltrator Kell. Karel, who serves as a weapons officer aboard a Klingon battlecruiser, believes his brother to have been killed in a Federation attack.

Crewman Matthews - maybe more
than meets the eye?
These alternate points of view lend a fresh feeling to this story. It is fascinating to see the episodes of The Original Series from a new perspective. Although I've seen these episodes an umpteen number of times, The Edge of the Sword managed to make me see things in them I'd never thought of before. Characters we thought were one thing are revealed to be something completely different. This book was a lot of fun to read, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series, as well as the second trilogy, Errand of Fury.

Final Thoughts:

I actually read this novel a number of months ago, and only recently got around to continuing the series. It was originally introduced to me as something to fill the void that was left when the Vanguard series of novels came to an end: a smart, interesting, mature take on The Original Series era, with a point of view other than the usual Star Trek cast. It did not disappoint. Now that I am finally continuing the series, I can't wait to see what Kevin Ryan has in store for these characters.

Also by Kevin Ryan:

My next read:

Next up is the second book in the Errand of Vengeance series, Killing Blow.