Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Time to Die

Star Trek: The Next Generation
A Time to Die by John Vornholt
Published March
Read March 20th 2013

Previous book (The Next Generation): A Time to Be Born
Next book (The Next Generation): A Time to Sow

Click to purchase A Time to Die from!

Spoilers ahead for A Time to Die and the rest of the A Time to... series!

From the back cover:
It was supposed to be a mission of mercy, until the unthinkable occurred: the destruction of the U.S.S. Juno, killing all hands on board. Starfleet Command has unjustly assessed the actions of Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew during that fateful assignment to the Rashanar Battle Site -- the sector that saw one of the fiercest conflicts of the Dominion War, and which is now a hazardous interstellar graveyard filled with hundreds of devastated starships. While the court-ordered medical evaluation that relieved Picard of command is ongoing, there is growing speculation that his illustrious career may be coming to an end.
To clear his former commander, acting captain William Riker and a demoralized skeleton crew agree to conduct a covert operation, and must venture the Starship Enterprise back into Rashanar to track down a mythical menace -- one that may already be responsible for the annihilation of countless fully armed starships. Unbridled hostility and the promise of death lurk at every turn, but they could never imagine that their only chance of survival may lie in the unexpected return of a long-absent friend...

My thoughts:

A Time to Die is the second book in the A Time To... nine-part book series, and the conclusion to the first duology made up of A Time to Be Born and this novel. Like the first part of this story, the novel is competently written and certainly exciting in parts, but overall A Time to Die just wasn't as satisfying as the set up in A Time to Be Born.

Points in the book's favor are awarded for the "fish out of water" scenarios experienced by Captain Picard, who is aboard the Enterprise, but not in the role of her commanding officer. Rather, the captain must take a back seat to Commander Riker, whom Starfleet has placed in temporary command. It was interesting to see Picard not as the competent commander who is always in control of the situation around him, but rather brought low by the circumstances that have led to the current crisis.

While it was nice to see Wesley Crusher in action again, I was not sold on the romance between him and Colleen Cabot, Picard's therapist. In A Time to Be Born, I found Cabot to be a level-headed and experienced presence, but in this novel, her character has changed dramatically. As Wesley's love-interest, I was unconvinced. Star Trek has a long tradition of featuring whirlwind romances, but after only a few short scenes together, Vornholt has Wesley and Colleen declaring their love for each other. Sure, there is precedent: Kirk fell in love with Rayna Kapec over the course of one TOS episode; I, however, remain unconvinced.

Finally, the last somewhat disappointing aspect of A Time to Die was the resolution of Wesley's storyline. Throughout these two novels, we've seen Wesley concerned that his interference in the lives of his friends is jeopardizing his standing within the Traveler community. In fact, he is convinced that aiding his former shipmates will lead to his being unable to be a Traveler at all. However, at the end of this novel, the consequences of his actions are simply waved away, and we learn that most of the dramatic tension involved in his actions aren't even an issue. This resolution, to me, is very unsatisfying.

Final thoughts:

After the promising set-up that was A Time to Be Born, I found myself somewhat disappointed in this novel. While it was well-written with some exciting action and interesting moments, the overall resolution rang a little hollow. I suppose that after the exciting beginning to this duology, I was expecting a little more from A Time to Die.

More About A Time to Die:

Also by John Vornholt:

A Time To...

My next read:

On the go at the moment is Dayton Ward's new TOS novel, From History's Shadow. Very promising so far! Look for my review soon.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

GORGEOUS new cover for David Mack's A Ceremony of Losses!

Hey everyone, another new cover has been revealed today, this time for David Mack's entry in The Fall, A Ceremony of Losses! Check it out:

A Ceremony of Losses is scheduled for release on October 29th. Looking forward to this one!

Despite heroic efforts, the Andorian species is headed for extinction. Its slow march toward oblivion has reached a tipping point, one from which there will be no hope of return. With countless lives at stake, the leaders of Andor, the Federation, and the Typhon Pact all scheme to twist the crisis to their political gain—at any price. Unwilling to be a mere bystander to tragedy, Doctor Julian Bashir risks everything to find a cure for the Andorians. But his courage will come at a terrible cost…

Click below to pre-order A Ceremony of Losses:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Time to Be Born

Star Trek: The Next Generation
A Time to Be Born by John Vornholt
Published February
Read January 30th 2013

Previous book (The Next Generation): Do Comets Dream?
Next book (The Next Generation: A Time To...): A Time to Die

Click to purchase A Time to Be Born from!

Spoilers ahead for A Time to Be Born and the rest of the A Time to... series!

From the back cover:
The site of one of the Dominion War's fiercest battles, the Rashanar Sector now contains a vast interstellar graveyard littered with the lifeless hulks of hundreds of devastated starships. The explosive destruction of so many varied warp drives has severely distorted the space-time continuum in this region, resulting in dangerous unleashed energies and bizarre gravitational anomalies.
The Enterprise has been assigned to patrol the perimeter of the danger zone, while other vessels carry out the difficult and highly hazardous task of retrieving the bodies of the dead from the wrecked warships.
To some alien races, the former battleground is hallowed space. To others, including the rapacious Androssi, it is a scavenger's paradise, ripe for salvage. None expect this ship's graveyard to hold a deadly secret that will force the android Data to make a heart-wrenching decision about the path his life will take -- and that will endanger not only the Enterprise, but Picard's future in Starfleet.

My thoughts:

A little over two years ago, I started this blog primarily as a way to keep track of the Star Trek novels I had read and my own thoughts about them. In a way, A Time to Be Born and the subsequent novels in this series can be seen as the impetus for the creation of this site. You see, a few years ago, I read this novel and the four that immediately followed it, and I remember practically nothing from them. It was while trying to recall the events of this novel that it occurred to me that it may be a good idea to chronicle my thoughts on each of the novels I read so as to better remember them years later. And thus, Trek Lit Reviews was born.

In A Time to Be Born, the Enterprise is assigned to the Rashanar battle site along with the U.S.S. Juno under the command of Captain Leeden, which has been there for some time. Every single vessel that took part in the large Dominion War battle at Rashanar was destroyed or completely disabled. Why and how this occurred is a complete mystery. However, the Enterprise crew soon learns that whatever caused all of the combatants to fight to the death may still be operating in the massive starship graveyard. Working with the Ontailians, who control the sector that contains the battle site, Starfleet is attempting to retrieve their war dead as well as any materiel that can be salvaged from the dead hulks. Making that job more difficult, maybe even impossible, are scavengers and pirates who are raiding the "boneyard" for anything they can get their hands on. The mission is met by one setback after another, including the theft of the Enterprise's captain's yacht by Androssi scavengers. The untenable situation comes to a head when the U.S.S. Juno is lost with all hands. Finally, an incident in which the Enterprise seemingly destroys an Ontailian cruiser on Picard's orders brings the mission to an inauspicious end. The Enterprise returns home in disgrace, Picard faces a formal inquiry, and relations between the Ontailians and the Federation seem dire indeed.

The A Time To... miniseries is made up of nine books set during the time between Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek Nemesis. While there is a certain amount of throughline story-wise in all nine books, they are essentially four sets of duologies plus a final book by Keith DeCandido. Therefore, A Time to Be Born sets up the story, with the conclusion in the following book, A Time to Die. For the most part, A Time to Be Born does a very good job in setting up a compelling story. It was interesting, if a little unsettling, to see Picard brought low and somewhat disgraced. As someone who is typically portrayed as a paragon of virtue and justice, it is fascinating to see how he responds to scandal. Vornholt has a very good handle on the characters, and it is to his credit that he is able to show the characters realistically reacting to situations they've never experienced before. He is even able to throw Wesley Crusher into the mix, and we see his abilities as a Traveler showcased for the first time. I thought that the way he insinuated himself into events as the nondescript and unnoticed Ensign Brewster was truly inspired.

A Time to Be Born sets up an interesting situation for Picard and his crew. Disgraced and under psychiatric care, Picard remains determined to return to the Rashanar battle site and clear his name, his crew eager to do so as well. With some unlikely allies, it looks as though the second part will showcase just that. It has a lot to live up to, as I found the setup in this novel to be very well done.

Final thoughts:
It is interesting that I recall so little from this book after having read it years ago. I expected the story to be quite forgettable (seeing as I forgot it), but I was definitely into it this time around. The action, pacing, and characters were all pitch-perfect. While not necessarily the best-written Trek story, there is certainly no reason to think that it's forgettable or uninteresting. A pretty solid character exploration for Picard and others, with some unexpected twists and turns that make it fairly compelling. A solid 4/5.

More About A Time to Be Born:

Also by John Vornholt:

A Time To...

My next read:

Part two of this duology, A Time to Die, coming soon!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

NEWS: Cover and blurb for Una McCormack's The Crimson Shadow!

Just unveiled today, the cover art as well as the back-cover blurb for Una McCormack's book in The Fall miniseries, The Crimson Shadow:

From the back cover:
Cardassia Prime is home to a prideful people who, for centuries, forged alliances with those they believed would strengthen them and their place in the Alpha Quadrant, and expanded their empire at great cost to other worlds. For generations, dissenting voices were silenced either by fear or an early grave. When their wartime ally, the Dominion, suddenly turned on them, seeking to transform Cardassia into a tomb for every last member of their race, their old adversary—the United Federation of Planets—put an end to the carnage, and even now works to help rebuild Cardassia Prime. 
To celebrate this alliance, the Castellan of the Cardassian Union is to welcome the Federation president to Cardassia Prime. As a symbol of this deepening friendship, the U.S.S. Enterprise-E is tasked to carry the Cardassian ambassador to the Federation back home. For his part, Ambassador Elim Garak is working with Captain Jean-Luc Picard to oversee the diplomatic reception that will commemorate the last of Starfleet’s personnel finally leaving the homeworld. However, there are malevolent forces at work, who even now strive to “restore Cardassia to its proper place and glory,” and are willing to do anything to achieve their goal...

The Crimson Shadow is available for preorder! Follow the links below to reserve your copy: