Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Literary Treks 206: Almost Too Much Latitude

Star Trek: Discovery
Desperate Hours

Exclusive interview with author David Mack

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

A new Star Trek series is a huge deal to Trek fandom. It's a pretty rare occurrence, and what's even rarer is a first novel that looks and feels anything like the actual show! But thanks to Discovery writer and tie-in guru Kirsten Beyer, the novels and the show are linked together like never before, and we as fans get to read about the adventures of Discovery at almost the same instant the show hits screens!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther welcome author David Mack to talk about his new Discovery novel, Desperate Hours. We discuss the process of collaboration with Discovery's writers, Captain Pike's devotion to duty, Enterprise vs. Shenzhou, the Shenzhou's bridge crew, comparisons to the Vanguard series, Spock and Burnham, the look and feel of the universe, the book's non-canon status, and finish up with what David Mack has on the horizon.

In the news segment, we judge the covers of the upcoming Titan: Fortune of War, and Deep Space Nine: I, the Constable.

Literary Treks 206: Almost Too Much Latitude
Exclusive interview with David Mack about Discovery: Desperate Hours


Previous episode: Literary Treks 205: A Vulcan Mic Drop
Next episode: Literary Treks 207: Video Game Save Point

Monday, October 30, 2017

Literary Treks 205: A Vulcan Mic Drop

Star Trek: Sarek
by A.C. Crispin

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

MMPB: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk
Kindle: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Vulcan Ambassador. Husband to Amanda. Father of Spock and Sybok. Guardian of Michael Burnham. Sarek has been many things during his long life, and few secondary characters have had the impact on the Star Trek universe that he has. But what are the innermost thoughts of this quiet, reserved character? And how will he respond to a crisis that may tear apart one of the founding worlds of the Federation and threaten the cohesion of that great institution?

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are joined by Justin Oser of Earl Grey to talk about Sarek by A.C. Crispin. We discuss the setting, the bond between Sarek and Amanda, Klingon ambassador Kamarag, a timely topic of xenophobia, Kirk's nephew Peter, how Discovery's depiction of Sarek might compare, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news section, we talk about IDW's upcoming comics in December and review issue #11 of Boldly Go.

Literary Treks 205: A Vulcan Mic Drop
Sarek by A.C. Crispin


Previous episode: Literary Treks 204: Bath Time Fun With Mudd
Next episode: Literary Treks 206: Almost Too Much Latitude

Literary Treks 204: Bath Time Fun With Mudd

MMPB: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Kindle: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Harcourt Fenton Mudd: liar, thief, brigand, and frequent thorn in the side of Starfleet captain James T. Kirk. Most who encounter this man would say he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. However, could it be possible that Mudd is now the architect of an unprecedented peace treaty between warring factions who have been fighting for millennia?

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther are joined by The Edge and Melodic Treks' Brandon Shea-Mutala to discuss Mudd In Your Eye. We talk about silly reasons for war, transwarp beaming, the nature of death for the Nevisians, another society run by computer, Stella Mudd, how we think Mudd might compare in this novel to his depiction in the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news segment, we discuss the release of David Mack's Desperate Hours and John Byrne's upcoming appearance at NYCC 2017.

Literary Treks 204: Bath Time Fun With Mudd
Star Trek #81: Mudd In Your Eye by Jerry Oltion


Previous episode: Literary Treks 203: The Ends Justify the Means
Next episode: Literary Treks 205: A Vulcan Mic Drop

Friday, October 13, 2017

Beneath the Raptor's Wing

Star Trek: Enterprise
The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing by Michael A. Martin
Published October 2009
Read June 29th 2016

Previous book (Enterprise): Kobayashi Maru

Next book (Enterprise): The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm

Spoilers ahead for The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing!

From the back cover:
At the start of the twenty-first century, unconditional war swept across the Earth. A war that engulfed the great and the small, the rich and the poor, giving no quarter. Each side strove for unconditional victory, and as battle built upon battle, the living began to envy the dead. Chastised by the cataclysm that they had unleashed, the governments of Earth came together. Humanity vowed to put an end to war and to strive for the betterment of every living creature. A united Earth created Starfleet, an interstellar agency whose mission was to explore the cosmos, to come in peace for all mankind. It was a naïve wish that was battered by interstellar realities, yet man persists in the belief that peace is the way. Banding together with other powers to form a Coalition of Planets, humanity hopes that the strength each can offer the other will allow for peaceful exploration. However, the rise of the Coalition strikes dread within the Romulan Star Empire. They feel its growing reach will cut them off from what is rightfully theirs. The Romulans know that the alliance is fragile, that the correct strategy could turn allies into foes. Perfecting a way of remotely controlling Coalition ships and using them as weapons against one another, the Romulans hope to drive a wedge of suspicion and mistrust between these new allies. One Starfleet captain uncovers this insidious plot: Jonathan Archer of the Enterprise. Determined not to lose what they have gained, outmanned and outgunned, the captains of Starfleet stand tall, vowing to defend every inch of Coalition space until the tide begins to turn. The Romulans now plan to strike at what they see as the heart of their problem. With nothing left to lose, the Romulan Star Empire engages in all-out war against humanity, determined once and for all to stop the human menace from spreading across the galaxy.

My thoughts:

Much like the Deep Space Nine and Voyager relaunches, Enterprise novels were given a fresh start when the authors were allowed to move beyond the series finale and showcase events from a time period that never made it on screen. Beginning with The Good That Men Do, authors Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels told the story of the Starship Enterprise under Archer after we stopped watching their adventures in 2255. The Coaltion of Planets, Trip's fake death, and the run-up to the Romulan War were all explored. Now, we finally reach that fateful conflict. This time, however, Michael Martin is without his longtime writing partner, and is instead penning the novels solo. How does this entry stack up against the ones before it?

Unfortunately, I have to render a verdict of "not well." While the underlying story is certainly interesting, and the exploration of such a crucial period in Star Trek history is very welcome, the execution here is lacking in my opinion. The story at seems seems very ponderous, taking forever to get where it is going, and much of the momentum of the events is lost by the unfocused way the story moves through the early years of the Romulan War. It felt as though just as things are getting interesting, the book would jump ahead in time or to another setting at just the wrong time.

I appreciated that Beneath the Raptor's Wing featured perspectives different from the ones we're used to, including that of the Romulans conducting the war against Earth and her allies.

There are certainly a number of things I appreciated. I liked that the novel featured a variety of perspectives on the conflict, including an investigative journalist as well as colonists who have a different view of the war than either the Earth-born natives or the Starfleet crews that form the backbone of the defense of Earth and her colonies. Additionally, the opportunity to see things from the perspective of the Romulans added an interesting element to the book, although this leads to another issue that many online (myself included) had with this novel.

I don't speak Romulan. Heck, unlike many Trek fans, I don't even speak Klingon! But this book is inundated with Romulan terms and phrases. This is, on the face of it, not a bad thing. However, it got to the point while reading it that it got difficult to understand. I'm all for peppering a story with alien words here and there, but when it gets in the way of following the story, it might just be a bit much.

Perhaps if I were Admiral Valdore, I could have followed the use of Romulan terms in this novel with a little less confusion.

The Romulan War is a critical period in the future history of Star Trek, and it deserves to be showcased. This is the conflict that immediately precedes the founding of the United Federation of Planets, and leads to the world that we know and love from The Original Series one hundred years hence. I certainly wouldn't say that you shouldn't read this book; as I mentioned above, there are a number of very good factors that were enjoyable to read. It is simply that the novel as a whole doesn't hold up as much as I would like it to. Much like some people's opinions of the Voyager relaunch novels that were written before Kirsten Beyer took the helm, I feel that one should read these Enterprise relaunch novels in order to get to the good stuff: Christopher L. Bennett's Enterprise: Rise of the Federation series.

Final thoughts:

Regular readers of this blog will know that I generally dislike giving unfavorable reviews. I'm someone who is usually fairly easily pleased, and I tend to really enjoy a good Star Trek story. This one, however, left me somewhat cold. The story seems too ponderous in places, and the pacing felt off. There are certainly some positive aspects, including the different perspectives presented by the author as well as the expansive feel of the political landscape during this period, but it's not enough to make this one a really compelling read. And it's too bad, really; The Romulan War should be an important story that greatly adds to the mythology of Star Trek history. Unfortunately, Beneath the Raptor's Wing somewhat misses the mark.

More about Beneath the Raptor's Wing:

Podcast: Literary Treks 154: I Don't Speak Romulan

Also by Michael A. Martin:

My next read:

Next up is my video review for Dayton Ward's TNG: Hearts and Minds. On the written review front, look for my review of Kirsten Beyer's first Voyager relaunch novel, Full Circle.