Saturday, December 31, 2016

Trek Lit 2016: Year in Review

2016: Star Trek's 50th anniversary. A time for celebration, as our beloved franchise passes an historic milestone! So, how did this year's crop of novels stack up? As usual, a bit of a mixed bag, but overall, a very successful year for Trek lit!

There were certainly some excellent stories this past year. Once again, we kicked off the year with a Deep Space Nine novel, Ascendance: the long-awaited revelation of the resolution to the Ascendant crisis from earlier in DS9 lore. From there, the always-spectacular Kirsten Beyer gave us our next Voyager adventure: A Pocket Full of Lies. We also learned that there will be a slight delay before her next novel, but the reason is a fantastic one: Beyer is one of the writers for the new Star Trek: Discovery television series!

March saw a new TOS adventure, The Latter Fire, by veteran writer James Swallow, and April gave us a continuation of the excellent Rise of the Federation series with Live By the Code by Christopher L. Bennett. A much-anticipated followup to Dayton Ward's From History's Shadow was next, titled Elusive Salvation. After that, a Nog/O'Brien buddy adventure by Jeffrey Lang, Deep Space Nine: Force and Motion, which many fans were torn about. I, however, loved it.

Moving into the second half of the year, the 50th anniversary really got going with a couple of epic trilogies. First, the Legacies trilogy celebrating The Original Series, with Book 1: Captain to Captain by Greg Cox, Book 2: Best Defense by David Mack, and Book 3: Purgatory's Key by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore. And finally, the year ended on a very high note with the Prey trilogy John Jackson Miller, set in the TNG post-Nemesis shared continuity: Hell's Heart, The Jackal's Trick, and The Hall of Heroes.

2016 also continued the trend of e-book exclusive novellas, with some fascinating stories in that category. We got an Enterprise-A adventure with Greg Cox's Miasma, a fun DS9 Ferengi romp in Rules of Accusation by Paula M. Block & Terry J. Erdmann, and the continuation of the fan-favorite series Department of Temporal Investigations with Time Lock by Christopher L. Bennett. I'm very happy to see these e-book adventures continue, and I'm excited to see what 2017 will bring in that arena!

Regular readers may remember my saying last year that my productivity on the book review side of things may suffer somewhat due to my involvement in a number of other projects. Judging by the list of reviews from the past year below, that statement was certainly prophetic! In 2015, I managed to keep up a pace of about a review a week; this past year has seen a substantial drop-off from that. My work on the Literary Treks podcast has certainly eaten up a huge chunk of time, and it looks like it may take even more in 2017, with my co-host Matthew Rushing moving on to other projects. I and my new co-host, Bruce Gibson, certainly have some big shoes to fill! By the way, if you haven't yet subscribed to Literary Treks, you should check it out! We talk about books and comics from all corners of the Trek universe, and even interview the authors behind the books we love! Head on over to and subscribe, or search for Literary Treks on iTunes!

2016 was also a huge year for my YouTube channel, Kertrats Productions. In the past year, it has grown to about 1600 subscribers and 70 videos! A modest showing for YouTube, but I'm hoping to grow the channel more in 2017. Most of the videos are about Star Trek (big surprise there!), and if you want to know the latest in news from the world of Trek as well as episode reviews and interesting discussions, check it out!

Well, without further ado, let's take a peek at the reviews posted on Trek Lit Reviews in the past year. With a definite slowdown from last year, there were actually a few months in which I didn't post a review. While I new that I wouldn't have as much time in 2016, I'm still disappointed with my showing. As you will see in the list below, it's pretty clear that I made a huge effort to play catchup in December! I did get all of the new releases reviewed, but that also means there is a backlog of older novels that I read, but didn't write a review for. Look for those in 2017! Links below to all of my reviews from 2016, and new releases are in bold and marked with an asterisk (which, to be fair, is nearly all of them!).


*Ascendance by David R. George III (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
The Good That Men Do by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin (Star Trek: Enterprise)


*A Pocket Full of Lies by Kirsten Beyer (Star Trek: Voyager)
The Ashes of Eden by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (The "Shatnarrative")


*Miasma by Greg Cox (Star Trek: The Original Series)
*The Latter Fire by James Swallow (Star Trek: The Original Series)


*Rise of the Federation: Live By the Code by Christopher L. Bennett (Star Trek: Enterprise)


*The Star Trek Book: Strange New Worlds Boldly Explained by Paul Ruditis, Sandford Galden-Stone, and Simon Hugo


*Elusive Salvation by Dayton Ward (Star Trek: The Original Series)


*Force and Motion by Jeffrey Lang (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)


*Legacies, Book 1: Captain to Captain by Greg Cox (Star Trek: The Original Series)


*Rules of Accusation by Paula M. Block & Terry J. Erdmann (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
*Legacies, Book 2: Best Defense by David Mack (Star Trek: The Original Series)
*Legacies, Book 3: Purgatory's Key by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore (Star Trek: The Original Series)
*Time Lock by Christopher L. Bennett (Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations)
*Prey, Book 1: Hell's Heart by John Jackson Miller (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
*Prey, Book 2: The Jackal's Trick by John Jackson Miller (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
*Prey, Book 3: The Hall of Heroes by John Jackson Miller (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Best Trek novel of 2016:

As always, picking my favorite Trek novel of 2016 was difficult. There were a lot of great entries this year, including the Kirsten Beyer's A Pocket Full of Lies, Christopher Bennett's Live By the Code, and certainly the Prey trilogy was a huge highlight! I also loved Dayton Ward's Elusive Salvation, and the e-books Rules of Accusation by Block & Erdmann and Time Lock by Bennett were terrific. However, I can only pick one, I'm afraid. As difficult as it is to do that, I have to give Star Trek novel of the year to:

Star Trek: Prey, Book 3: The Hall of Heroes by John Jackson Miller!

In books one and two, Miller set up an incredible story, but it is in book three that it all pays off. This was a fantastic tale that truly celebrated the 50th anniversary of Star Trek! With plot twists and turns that I didn't suspect, Prey was an absolute highlight of the year, with a completely satisfying conclusion that hit all the right notes. In the end, The Hall of Heroes in particular was a celebration of what makes the Klingons great, and a tribute to the grand alliance between the Empire and the Federation. John Jackson Miller, while initially making his name in the Star Wars novel-verse, clearly knows his Trek, too. Props to him for crafting a wonderful tale worthy of song!

Prey, Book 3: The Hall of Heroes by John Jackson Miller: The Best of Trek for 2016!

Well, let's end off by taking a look at what's on deck for 2017 in Trek lit!

January's novel is a TOS adventure by Christopher L. Bennett: The Face of the Unknown, a sequel to the classic TOS episode "The Corbomite Maneuver," a favorite of mine. This was just released in the last couple of days, so look for my review soon!

In February, Dayton Ward continues the voyage of the Enterprise-E in its mission of exploration of the Odyssean Pass in Headlong Flight.

March's novel is David R. George III's newest foray into the world of Deep Space Nine with The Long Mirage. Kira returns from her extended stay in the wormhole, and Quark searches for Morn!

Next up, April brings us the long-awaited continuation of Bashir's story in Section 31: Control by David Mack. This looks to be an exciting novel if the previous entry, Disavowed, is any indication.

May will be a big month for Trek with the premiere of the new television series, Star Trek: Discovery! However, did you know that David Mack is also writing the first tie-in novel, released in the same month? I'm awaiting this one with barely-restrained enthusiasm!

June brings us another TNG adventure by Dayton Ward, Hearts and Minds. He has said that this one relates back to his From History's Shadow series, which also includes the TOS novel Elusive Salvation. Color me intrigued!

June also features an e-book exclusive novella, with Christopher L. Bennett continuing the Department of Temporal Investigations series in Shield of the Gods. Always love this series!

July features another Deep Space Nine novel by one of my favorite authors, Una McCormack: Enigma Tales. Look for lots of Cardassian Garak-y goodness in this one!

Later in the year, we get the next instalment in Christopher L. Bennett's Rise of the Federation series with Patterns of Interference. A strong series in the current Trek lit lineup, these are always fun and excellently written.

Architects of Infinity comes afterwards, the latest in Kirsten Beyer's Voyager series. This series always produces contenders for the best book of the year, and Beyer has yet to disappoint. Great character work and strong plots abound!

You can check out all of the new releases for 2017 by clicking here. You can also pre-order all of them from Amazon! A portion of the revenue generated from the links comes back to Trek Lit Reviews, so you'll be helping out the site! Links are provided on the new releases page.

It's been a terrific year with Literary Treks and Kertrats Productions really taking off, but I am disappointed in my output here on Trek Lit Reviews. I don't think I'll ever be back up to 2015 levels of a review a week, however, I am trying to manage my time a little better, and Trek Lit Reviews is still one of my favorite things to do!

Here's hoping the 2017 is a wonderful year, and I wish everyone reading all the best in the new year!

DFTBA, and Live Long and Prosper, my friends!

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Hall of Heroes

Star Trek: Prey
Book 3 of 3
The Hall of Heroes by John Jackson Miller
Release date: November 29th 2016
Read December 7th 2016

Previous book (Prey): Book 2: The Jackal's Trick

Next book (The Next Generation): Headlong Flight

Mass-market paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for The Hall of Heroes!

Publisher's description:
Continuing the milestone 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek—an epic new trilogy that stretches from the events of The Original Series movie The Search for Spock to The Next Generation!

The Klingon Empire stands on the precipice. In the wake of violence from the cult known as the Unsung, paranoia threatens to break Chancellor Martok’s regime. Klingons increasingly call for a stronger hand to take that Lord Korgh, master manipulator, is only too willing to offer.

But other forces are now in motion. Assisted by a wily agent, the Empire’s enemies secretly conspire to take full advantage of the situation. Aboard the USS Titan, Admiral William T. Riker realizes far more than the Federation’s alliance with the Klingons is in danger. With the Empire a wounded animal, it could either become an attacker—or a target.

Yet even as hostilities increase, Commander Worf returns to the USS Enterprise and Captain Jean-Luc Picard with a daring plan of his own. The preservation of both the Empire and the Federation alliance may hinge on an improbable savior leading a most unlikely force....

My thoughts:

An Empire in disarray, relations between the Klingons and the Federation on a knife's edge, and a usurper who vows to make the Klingon Empire great again is attempting to seize power. And now, even foreign powers such as the Breen and the Kinshaya are getting involved! After an amazing set-up in books one and two, it all comes down to this. How does the final book in the Prey trilogy compare?

The alliance between the Federation and the Klingon Empire is once again put at risk thanks to the machinations of Korgh.

John Jackson Miller has set a difficult task before himself. Up to now, the Prey trilogy has been wonderfully fresh and intriguing, with plot twists and turns that haven't failed to surprise. Thankfully, in The Hall of Heroes, Miller sticks the landing, and even gets full marks from the judges, if you will indulge my tortured metaphor. Continuing the strong character work and tight plotting of books one and two, book three was an incredibly satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.

One character who is especially intriguing is Shift, seen in the first two books as the Orion assistant to Buxtus Cross. She would often be seen to adopt a guise along with Cross in order to lead the Unsung in their attacks on Klingons and other targets. However, with the death of Cross at the end of The Jackal's Trick, Shift's true allegiances are revealed. Working for the Breen, Shift has been deep undercover in Cross's "Truthcrafter" group, biding her time. I really loved this character. Shift's motivations for joining the Breen and their true egalitarian society make a lot of sense for an Orion woman who has spent her entire life being valued mainly for her appearance. With their full-body suits, all Breen look alike, and that sort of anonymity would be very tempting to someone like Shift.

The Breen, with their philosophy of conformity and egalitarianism, are very alluring to someone like Shift, who comes from a society where looks are all that matters.

As with many Klingon tales, redemption is a motif that plays out in Prey. The crimes of the Unsung are at least partially redeemed by their actions in The Hall of Heroes, and by their continued service after the end of the story. Also, Kahless himself experiences a form of redemption, after having languished in isolation for many years. He once again has a purpose to serve, and his role as Emperor is once again valued by him.

A great lesson imparted in this story is the idea that history should be remembered. The Unsung became such a huge problem partly because they were forgotten by the Empire. Being discommendated made them less than nothing in the eyes of the Empire, and therefore beneath their notice, allowing them to be corrupted by Korgh and his confederates. If the Klingons had felt it necessary to keep track of them, it's likely that these events would not have happened.

In the end, rather than seeing the end of the alliance between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, Prey becomes a celebration of it. While the Federation and the Empire are both very different, it is in those differences that they find strength. A beautiful cameo appearance by a character who had a direct hand in originally bringing the two powers together ties the story up nicely, and cements it as a perfect celebration of 50 years of Star Trek.

Final thoughts:

The end of the Prey trilogy, and the final part of this novel in particular, are supremely satisfying. I feel like it would be difficult to craft an ending that sufficiently matches the high notes of the previous two books, but John Jackson Miller has accomplished that and more. The Hall of Heroes is the highlight of an already great trilogy, a wonderful celebration of 50 years of Star Trek. These books were a lot of fun to read, and I look forward to seeing where both the shared continuity and John Jackson Miller's contributions to it will go from here!
5/5 stars!

More about The Hall of Heroes:

Also by John Jackson Miller:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Coming up tomorrow: my annual wrap-up of the year in Trek Lit! Keep an eye out for the 2016 Trek Lit Year in Review!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Jackal's Trick

Star Trek: Prey
Book 2 of 3
The Jackal's Trick by John Jackson Miller
Release date: October 25th 2016
Read November 9th 2016

Previous book (Prey): Book 1: Hell's Heart

Next book (Prey): Book 3: The Hall of Heroes

Mass-market paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for The Jackal's Trick!

Publisher's description:
Continuing the milestone 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek—an epic new trilogy that stretches from the events of The Original Series movie The Search for Spock to The Next Generation!

The Klingon-Federation alliance is in peril as never before. Lord Korgh has seized control of the House of Kruge, executing a plot one hundred years in the making. The Klingon cult known as the Unsung rampages across the stars, striking from the shadows in their cloaked Birds-of-Prey. And the mysterious figure known as Buxtus Cross launches a scheme that will transform the Klingon Empire forever.

Into danger flies Admiral William T. Riker and the USS Titan, charged with protecting the peace forged nearly a century before during the Khitomer Accords. Aided by Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the USS Enterprise, Riker and his officers scour the stars, seeking to find the Unsung and uncover the truth behind the conspiracy before time runs out.

Yet even as Commander Worf departs on a deeply personal mission of honor, hidden sinister forces seek to turn the crisis to their advantage. And the conspirators’ plans threaten to spiral out of control, jeopardizing the very empire they aspire to rule.

My thoughts:

The Prey trilogy continues in book two, The Jackal's Trick! In this instalment, Galdor (recently revealed to be the treacherous Korgh) has seized the House of Kruge through dishonorable means. His troops, The Unsung, believe they are being led by the legendary Kruge himself. However, "Kruge" is actually a Betazoid con artist by the name of Buxtus Cross. Book one, Hell's Heart, was an examination of the history of Galdor/Korgh, while this book takes a look at what led Buxtus Cross to where he is now.

Cross was a former Starfleet officer who had murdered a fellow officer. Escaping from prison thanks to some skilled "truthcrafters," Cross now leads the troupe as they ply their schemes across the galaxy. "Truthcrafters" are basically con artists who use tricks and illusion to hoodwink unsuspecting victims. Think Ardra from the TNG episode "Devil's Due," who used cloaking technology, transporters, and holography to convince the people of Ventax that she was their version of Satan, returned to collect on an ancient debt. Cross, in his guise as Lord Kruge, has taken control of the Unsung in order to carry out Korgh's scheme. However, he has his own goals in mind as well.

The people manipulating the Unsung have created a cult of personality around their fake version of Lord Kruge.

One thing that stood out to me in The Jackal's Trick is the way in which the Unsung are manipulated. It has a very familiar feel to it. They have an unwavering belief in and support of Kruge, to an extent that is downright scary. It does, however, make a lot of sense. The Unsung are discommendated Klingons, which makes them among the most vulnerable in that society. People who have had everything taken from them can be very easily manipulated. Weakened or oppressed people have always been easy targets of a charismatic leader. Germany's disillusioned population after World War One fell under Hitler's sway, and cults will often target new arrivals to a city because they are cut off from family and may feel lonely and vulnerable. In fact, the Unsung feels very much like a cult. One Klingon in this book says to Worf that it "doesn't matter" that their leader may not truly be Kruge; he is nonetheless "saying the right things." This all seems eerily familiar, which makes it all the more terrifying.

One thing that John Jackson Miller excels at is writing exciting, beautifully visual scenes. There are a few in this book that certainly jump out. At one point, the Unsung are attacking a conference being held at H'Atoria. During the battle, just when you think the Starfleet forces are completely outmatched, Riker issues a coded order and Starfleet troops emerge from beneath the water in a brilliant counterattack. Not only is the sequence amazing to imagine, but it is reflective of part of the story being crafted in this trilogy. Throughout the narrative, Korgh and his schemes makes some headway, seeming to embarrass Starfleet and harm their standing in the Klingon Empire. However, at no point are they completely defeated, and the result is a sort of cat-and-mouse game in which both sides score their own victories from time to time. This makes for an exciting story in which you are never really sure what will happen next.

Admiral Riker and his flagship, the Titan, put in an appearance in the Prey trilogy.

Also fun to see is Riker and the Titan getting some more "screen time." The crossover aspect of these event trilogies are always a highlight, and it's great to see the various crews working together to solve a problem. With the Aventine set to show up in book three, Prey is looking like a more epic story all the time. While maybe not on the level of Destiny, it's still good to see these larger stories being undertaken by the novels.

As with Hell's Heart, The Jackal's Trick ends on a completely unexpected note. In this second book, we learned a lot about Buxtus Cross and what makes him tick, but in book three, it seems as though there is yet another mastermind behind what has been happening. Her story is yet to come...

Final thoughts:

Another strong entry in this exciting trilogy! I'm really getting into the story of Korgh, and once again, Miller has crafted a tale with plot twists that I didn't see coming at all. After reading a few hundred Trek novels in my life, I would not have thought it possible, but there you go. Setting up an exciting conclusion for book three, this trilogy just keeps getting better and better.
4.5/5 stars.

More about The Jackal's Trick:

Also by John Jackson Miller:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

The Prey trilogy concludes in Book 3: The Hall of Heroes by John Jackson Miller!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hell's Heart

Star Trek: Prey
Book 1 of 3
Hell's Heart by John Jackson Miller
Release date: September 27th 2016
Read October 14th 2016

Previous book (The Next Generation): Armageddon's Arrow

Next book (Prey): Book 2: The Jackal's Trick

Mass-market paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for Hell's Heart!

Publisher's description:
Continuing the milestone 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek—an epic new trilogy that stretches from the events of The Original Series movie The Search for Spock to The Next Generation!

When Klingon commander Kruge died in combat against James T. Kirk on the Genesis planet back in 2285, he left behind a powerful house in disarray—and a series of ticking time bombs: the Phantom Wing, a secret squadron of advanced Birds-of-Prey; a cabal of loyal officers intent on securing his heritage; and young Korgh, his thwarted would-be heir, willing to wait a Klingon lifetime to enact his vengeance.

Now, one hundred years later, while on a diplomatic mission for the United Federation of Planets, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise are snared in the aged Korgh’s trap—and thrust directly in the middle of an ancient conflict. But as Commander Worf soon learns, Korgh may be after far bigger game than anyone imagines, confronting the Federation-Klingon alliance with a crisis unlike any it has ever seen!

My thoughts:

The Star Trek universe has an extremely rich history, featuring heroes of villains of many different stripes. One of the strengths of the Trek novelverse is its ability to draw upon the multitude of previous adventures, pulling on a thread here and there and teasing out a compelling story about a character or situation that was previous only given a limited amount of screen time. One such villain is Commander Kruge, the main baddie from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. However, I suppose it makes sense that we never got more about this character. After all, he was killed by Admiral Kirk at the climax of that film. Or was he...?

The legacy of Klingon Commander Kruge plays a big role in the Prey trilogy.

While Kruge was apparently killed on the Genesis Planet, his legacy has endured well into the 24th century. Leaving behind a house initially in disarray, the nobles of the House of Kruge have banded together to rule the house as a group. However, a young Klingon named Korgh, who fancied himself Kruge's true heir, began a century-long plot to lead the wealthy House of Kruge. Now, as the Empire prepares to enter into negotiations with the Federation and a number of other powers for the establishment of a free-flight corridor through Klingon space, Korgh begins to enact his plot.

The story itself is divided into three acts. The first act introduces the main players in the 24th century: the nobles of the House of Kruge, as well as the caretaker for the house: an elderly Klingon by the name of Galdor. Act two involves a flashback to the 23rd century, following the events of The Search for Spock. This part of the story features the Enterprise-A under Captain Kirk and their encounter with a group of dishonored Klingons, fallout from the death of Kruge. They are allowed to take refuge in a nebula called Klach D'kel Brakt, or as the Federation calls it, the Briar Patch.

The Unsung operate from a planet located within the Briar Patch, seen in Star Trek: Insurrection.

In act three, these dishonored Klingons enact the plan, having come under the control of Korgh. Calling themselves the "Unsung," they use a fleet of birds-of-prey called the "Phantom Wing" to carry out attacks on behalf of Korgh. Most of their action is seen through the eyes of Valandris, one of the Unsung who turns out to be a truly fascinating character. While her life as a dishonored Klingon is the only one she has known, it seems as though there may be cracks in her conviction to follow the cause of the Unsung.

Like his previous stories in the Trek universe, Miller has created some truly interesting characters. They all feel real, with a depth that is sometimes lacking in one-off secondary characters. The machinations of Korgh are a definite highlight, and I found myself unable to guess what would happen next. The story is anything but predictable. While Korgh's plan may seem fairly simple, it is clear that there are wheels within wheels, and we are in for quite the ride throughout the rest of this trilogy.

Given the long life of the Klingons involved and the length of time this plan has been in motion, the Prey trilogy serves as an excellent celebration of Star Trek's 50th anniversary, with a story that spans a century and includes both the original and Next Generation crews. Not to mention the fact that the Klingons are a fan-favorite, and this story dives deep into Klingon lore. Fans of everyone's favorite lumpy-headed honor-bound warriors will find a lot to love in this story!

Final thoughts:

An exciting kick-off to what is sure to be a great trilogy in the Trek novelverse! If you found yourself somewhat underwhelmed by the Legacies trilogy, be sure to pick this one up. This is definitely shaping up to be an exciting trilogy, and a fun way to celebrate the 50th anniversary. Not everything is as it seems with regards to the characters in this story, and if the rest of the trilogy is anything like this first book, we are in for a lot of exciting twists and turns in our quest for the conclusion of Prey.
4/5 stars.

More about Hell's Heart:

Also by John Jackson Miller:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

The Prey trilogy continues in Book 2: The Jackal's Trick by John Jackson Miller!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Release Day! The Face of the Unknown

Today is the official release day for the next adventure for the crew of the classic U.S.S. Enterprise under James T. Kirk: a sequel to one of my favorite episodes, "The Corbomite Maneuver"!

Check out below for the cover art, back cover blurb, and links to purchase from Amazon! And look for my review of The Face of the Unknown, coming soon!

Publisher's description:
Continuing the milestone 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek—a brand-new novel of The Original Series featuring James T. Kirk, Spock, and the crew of the USS Enterprise!

Investigating a series of violent raids by a mysterious predatory species, Captain James T. Kirk discovers that these events share a startling connection with the First Federation, a friendly but secretive civilization contacted early in the USS Enterprise’s five-year mission. Traveling to the First Federation in search of answers, the Enterprise suddenly comes under attack from these strange marauders. Seeking refuge, the starship finds its way to the true home of the First Federation, an astonishing collection of worlds hidden from the galaxy beyond. The inhabitants of this isolated realm are wary of outsiders, and some accuse Kirk and his crew for bringing the wrath of their ancient enemy down upon them. When an attempt to stave off disaster goes tragically wrong, Kirk is held fully accountable, and Commander Spock learns there are even deeper forces that threaten this civilization. If Kirk and Spock cannot convince the First Federation's leaders to overcome their fears, the resulting catastrophe could doom them all!

Purchase The Hall of Heroes:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Time Lock

Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations
Time Lock by Christopher L. Bennett
An e-book exclusive novella
Release date: September 5th 2016
Read September 26th 2016

Previous book (Dept. of Temporal Investigations): The Collectors

Next book (Dept. of Temporal Investigations): Shield of the Gods

E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for Time Lock!

Publisher's description:
An all new Star Trek e-novella from the world of Deep Space Nine, featuring the fan-favorite Federation bureau the Department of Temporal Investigations!

The dedicated agents of the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations have their work cut out for them protecting the course of history from the dangers of time travel. But the galaxy is littered with artifacts that, in the wrong hands, could threaten reality. One of the DTI's most crucial jobs is to track down these objects and lock them safely away in the Federation’s most secret and secure facility. As it happens, Agent Gariff Lucsly and his supervisor, DTI director Laarin Andos, are charged with handling a mysterious space-time portal device discovered by Starfleet. But this device turns out to be a Trojan horse, linking to a pocket dimension and a dangerous group of raiders determined to steal some of the most powerful temporal artifacts ever known...

My thoughts:

Star Trek stories can be many things. They run the gamut from dark and intensely personal to fun and whimsical. The novels and novellas in the Department of Temporal Investigations series definitely fall into the latter category. Above all else, these stories are fun, and Time Lock continues the tradition of clever and playful storytelling that has been a hallmark of this highly entertaining series.

The Eridian Vault, the department's repository of dangerous time-related artifacts, comes under siege by a paramilitary group intent on stealing an item from the vault. The vault goes into a special lockdown called a "time lock," during which time on the inside of the vault slows down incrementally as compared to the space-time continuum outside the vault. Trapped inside with the attackers are Agent Lucsly along with a number of other DTI agents as well as the director, Laarin Andos. As time continues to slow, it's up to them and the rest of the DTI, working outside the vault where time continues forward normally, to stop the militants led by a mysterious woman named Daiyar.

Despite the fact that Time Lock separates them both by light years and the actual flow of time, the close relationship between Dulmur and Lucsly plays a big role in how this story unfolds.

Meanwhile, stationed on Denobula, Lucsly's former partner Dulmur must marshal his resources to aid his friend in this unstable predicament. An interesting aspect of the story is the forward progression of events in his life while only a few minutes pass in the Eridian Vault. Dulmur's experiences of falling in love and moving on in his life provide an excellent illustration of the extreme time difference between the two halves of this story.

The main thrust of the story is a pursuit through the vault, in which the antagonists use some of the various temporal artifacts against our heroes. The result is a jumbled mess of time-related shenanigans, some of which are quite confusing. I'm reminded of a frustrated O'Brien alongside a temporal copy of himself bemoaning, "I hate temporal mechanics." However, Bennett utilizes his usual skill in navigating these complexities with the same level of competence in temporal matters as the protagonists he writes about. My favorite illustration of this mastery of time comes when Lucsly communicates with Dulmur from within the temporally-slowed vault. After imparting the information critical to the plot, he pauses briefly, and ends the message with "Happy Birthday." In order for Dulmur to have gotten the message on the correct day, Lucsly would had to have timed the message perfectly within a fifteen second window. This is an example of the fun stuff that Bennett does with time in this story!

The end of the story reveals that not all is as it seems (and really, when is it ever?). There is a very clear set up here for a sequel, and indeed word has come down that a third Department of Temporal Investigations e-book is in the works: Christopher Bennett is currently working on Shield of the Gods, the next entry in the DTI series! I'm really looking forward to seeing this story continue.

Final thoughts:

Department of Temporal Investigations has become one of my favorite series within the world of Trek lit. I'm always excited to see it pop up on the schedule, and Time Lock once again delivers a fun and entertaining story. It never ceases to amaze me that Christopher Bennett is able to craft such fascinating stories and development for characters who got only about three minutes of screen time in a Deep Space Nine episode. I hope for many more DTI stories to come, and I am beyond thrilled to see another story is coming for these officious, time-babbly bureaucrats. 5/5!

More about Time Lock:

Also by Christopher L. Bennett:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

The first book of an all-new Star Trek: The Next Generation trilogy: Prey, Book 1: Hell's Heart by John Jackson Miller.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Purgatory's Key

Star Trek: Legacies
Book 3 of 3
Purgatory's Key by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Release date: August 30th 2016
Read September 21st 2016

Previous book (Legacies): Book 2: Best Defense

Next book (The Original Series): The Face of the Unknown

Mass-market paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for Purgatory's Key!

Publisher's description:
The conclusion to the epic trilogy that stretches from the earliest voyages of the Starship Enterprise to Captain Kirk’s historic five-year-mission—and from one universe to another—just in time for the milestone 50th anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series!

Eighteen years ago, the Starship Enterprise thwarted an alien invasion from another universe, and Captain Robert April took possession of the interdimensional transfer device that made it possible. Since then, each captain of the Enterprise, from Christopher Pike to James T. Kirk, has guarded this secret with his life.

Now, Romulan agents have succeeded in stealing the device and using it to banish Ambassador Sarek and Councillor Gorkon to an unknown realm in the midst of their groundbreaking Federation-Klingon peace negotiations. With time running out as interstellar war looms in one universe—and alien forces marshal in another—will Captain Kirk and his crew preserve the tenuous peace and reclaim the key between the dimensions?

My thoughts:

A crew to rescue, an enemy to overcome, and the fundamental nature of a strange, otherworld reality is revealed. Just another day for the brave crew of the Starship Enterprise!

In many ways, Purgatory's Key had a simple task: wrap up the storylines that had been set up in the previous two books in the Legacies trilogy. Purgatory's Key could easily do that in a simple, 1-2-3 manner, but good Star Trek stories are seldom simple. The writing team of Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore have applied their usual skill to craft a story that concludes Legacies in an interesting and compelling manner.

For me, the most fascinating part of Purgatory's Key was the slow revelation of the nature of the alternate universe that people from our universe are banished to by way of the Jatohr transfer key. The idea of it being not so much a physical space and instead a sort of mindscape "waiting room" makes sense, given the effect over the environment that Captain Una is able to exert. I thought it was a fascinating development that tracks with the clues we have been given over the two previous books.

It was fun to see Gorkon as a Klingon warrior, rather than the diplomat and head of state seen in The Undiscovered Country.

Additionally, getting to spend time with Gorkon and Sarek in the alternate reality was a lot of fun. It was interesting to see how various people react to the strange environment of the other universe. Sarek tackles things from a purely analytical perspective, while Gorkon embraces his Klingon-ness and fights alongside the Usildar against the Jatohr. Seeing this side of Gorkon after only knowing him as a diplomat from his appearance in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was a nice change of pace. Sarek's story had another interesting aspect: his telepathic link with his wife, Amanda. The way there were able to communicate was reminiscent of the bond shared between Trip and T'Pol, shown in the Enterprise episode "Affliction."

The strong bond between Sarek and Amanda plays a significant role in Purgatory's Key.

Ward and Dilmore have a great command of the voices of the main characters, and I thought their interactions were pitch-perfect, especially the dynamic between Kirk, Spock, and Bones. It was also nice to see that many of the often-forgotten crew are given lots to do. Chekov, Uhura, and Sulu all get their moments to shine in this story.

Another aspect of this story that I appreciated was the representation of both the Jatohr and and Usildar. Oftentimes in Star Trek, alien races are presented as monolithic cultures. Klingons are all warriors, Ferengi are all scheming capitalists, et cetera. However, this story does a good job of presenting the Jatohr as not just an enemy to overcome, but a multifaceted culture with individuals who have varied interests and goals. While the story could have taken the easy way out and given us an implacable "other" whom we must overcome, it instead gave us something deeper. This is another element that comes through in the best Star Trek stories.

Final thoughts:

A competent and mostly fun ending to the Legacies trilogy. There are a lot of high-minded concepts in this story that were fun to see play out. While I felt that some of the action and excitement from book two was missing in this third part, it was still on par with other Star Trek adventures that I have enjoyed. Again, not quite at the level of the second book, but certainly above the first book in the series. 4 out of 5 stars is my rating for Purgatory's Key!

More about Purgatory's Key:

Also by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

A brand new adventure for the Department of Temporal Investigations: it's the e-book exclusive Time Lock by Christopher L. Bennett!