Sunday, September 30, 2018

Captain's Glory

Star Trek
Captain's Glory by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Published August 2006
Read March 6th 2018

Previous book (Shatnerverse): Captain's Blood

Next book (Shatnerverse): Academy: Collision Course

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

Spoilers ahead for Captain's Glory!

From the back cover:
With the civil war on Romulus averted, Kirk is finally free to seek out the truth behind the death of his oldest and closest friend. Was Spock killed by the shadowy organization known as the Totality? A generous offer from Starfleet provides him with the starship he needs in order to reach his goal. Their only proviso: that they can call on his help if they need him. But what happened to Spock is not Kirk's only worry: Joseph, his son, is rebelling wildly against the restrictions placed on him as the price of Romulan peace. Is the Totality somehow also linked to Joseph's rage? But before he can find the answers to either troubling question, Kirk receives a call from Admiral Janeway, telling him she needs him to save the Federation. Torn between his mission and his duty, the cause of the Federation must claim him one more time before he can turn his attention either to his friend or to his son. 
Pop culture icon William Shatner returns with another breathtaking Star Trek adventure in which both generations must battle an unstoppable enemy for the existence of all life in this galaxy – and beyond.

My thoughts:

At the end of the previous novel, Captain's Blood, Spock is seemingly killed by The Totality, led by Norinda, in their campaign to bring "love" to the universe and unite everyone within the Totality. In the time since that event, several Starfleet officers have gone missing, replaced by the Totality. Additionally, warp drives have been malfunctioning across the quadrant with disastrous results.

On Vulcan, Jim Kirk's son, Joseph, goes missing, leading the legendary captain on a quest to get him back. Meanwhile, Kirk is convinced that Spock is still alive, despite Starfleet's belief that he is, in fact, dead. However, there remains a tenuous link between Kirk and Spock, with the former seeming to hear the latter's voice in his head saying, "we're life, Jim, but not as they know it." The meaning behind this cryptic phrase will become clear towards the end of the novel.

I found myself surprised by how much I enjoyed Captain's Glory. Readers of my earlier reviews know that I'm not exactly the biggest fan of the "Shatnerverse" novels, with their rampant Kirk-worship and outlandish plots that serve to feed the "Kirk is a god" narrative. However, I found a lot to enjoy in this novel. It's almost a shame that this is the final Shatnerverse novel set in the 24th century.


One aspect I very much enjoyed was the facing off between Picard and Kirk. I remember when Star Trek: Generations came out, and a number of fans were disappointed we didn't get the "superhero fight" between the two captains, each on a bridge facing each other down with starships. We do get that scene in Captain's Glory, and even though the premise of the scene does bug me, I truly enjoyed the psychology at play between the characters. They match each other move for move, and because the two of them know each other so well at this point, they each are able to get into the other's head and anticipate their next move. The result is a fun scenario that uses both of these characters to their full potentials.

Fans who were looking for a Kirk vs. Picard situation in Star Trek: Generations kind of get that in this novel. While they are still friends, there is a situation that is engineered to pit the famous captains against one another.

The revelation of the nature of the Totality was fascinating as well. The idea that they make up 96% of the universe while traditional matter makes up only 4% was a fun concept, and fits well with the ideas that scientists have today about dark matter. The fact that the motivation of the Totality is not one of evil but rather one of misunderstanding and good intentions is a very Star Trek idea.

Surprising to me as well were the tie-ins to other Star Trek books in Captain's Glory. I tend to think of the Shatnerverse novels as very separate from the rest of the litverse, so it was a pleasant surprise that Captain's Glory used so much of the rest of Trek literature to fill out the universe. We see Riker's crew aboard the U.S.S. Titan, including first officer Christine Vale, tactical officer Tuvok, helmsman Aili Lavena, and others. Additionally, there was a "blink and you'll miss it" reference to the Q Continuum novels by Greg Cox!

Final thoughts:

I suppose if the Shatnerverse novels set in the 24th century are to end, this is a good one to end on. Easily the strongest novel of the back half of the series, if not the entire series, Captain's Glory finally seems to get it right. I can't exactly say that I'll miss reading about the exploits of James T. Kirk in the 24th century, as I found many of the novels to be pretty sub-par. However, Captain's Glory is a fun exception with some great character moments and excellent ideas within its pages. A very strong note to end on. 4/5.

Also by Williams Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens:

More about Captain's Glory:

My next read:

At last, the final Star Trek novel penned by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens: Academy: Collision Course.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Exclusive Interview with Star Trek Comic Artist J.K. Woodward!

Hey everyone! This past weekend, at the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo, I had the opportunity to interview artist J.K. Woodward, a supremely talented creator who currently works for IDW's Star Trek comic line. He has been involved in a number of great projects for them over the years, including the adaptation of Harlan Ellison's original "City on the Edge of Forever" script, the TNG/Doctor Who crossover, TNG: Mirror Broken, and much more!

Check out the interview below, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Cover revealed for 2019's TNG: Available Light!

Hey folks! We have a new cover reveal for the next TNG novel, coming in April of next year (MAN that feels good to say!).

Below you'll see the newly-revealed cover along with the back-cover blurb and links to pre-order Star Trek: The Next Generation: Available Light from Amazon! And if you use those links to pre-order, you'll be helping out Trek Lit Reviews!

Available Light by veteran Trek author Dayton Ward is set to be released in April of 2019 in Trade Paperback and E-book formats.

Back-cover blurb:
Section 31, the covert organization which has operated without accountability in the shadows for more than two centuries, has been exposed. Throughout the Federation, the rogue group’s agents and leaders are being taken into custody as the sheer scope of its misdeeds comes to light. Now Starfleet Command must decide the consequences for numerous officers caught up in the scandal — including Admirals William Ross, Edward Jellico, Alynna Nechayev, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard who, along with many others, are implicated in the forced removal of a Federation president. 
Meanwhile, deep in the distant, unexplored region of space known as the Odyssean Pass, Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must put aside personal feelings and political concerns as they investigate a massive mysterious spacecraft. Adrift for centuries in the void, the ship is vital to the survival of an endangered civilization which has spent generations searching for a world to sustain what remains of its people. Complicating matters is a band of marauders who have their own designs on the ancient ship, with only the Enterprise standing in their way....

Pre-order Available Light:

Trade Paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Captain's Blood

Star Trek
Captain's Blood by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Published December 2003
Read February 7th 2018

Previous book (Shatnerverse): Captain's Peril

Next book (Shatnerverse): Captain's Glory

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

Spoilers ahead for Captain's Blood!

From the back cover:
Following the explosive events of Star Trek Nemesis, the Romulan Star Empire is in disarray, and Ambassador Spock attempts to render aid by launching a last-ditch effort to reunify the Romulans with their distant forebearers, the Vulcans. But when Spock is publicly assassinated at a Romulan peace rally, Starfleet and the Federation are unable to search for the criminals responsible without triggering an intergalactic war. 
Thus, it falls to James T. Kirk, now retired, to investigate his beloved friend's murder. Given clandestine assistance by Captain William T. Riker of the Starship Titan, and accompanied by his good friend Jean-Luc Picard, Kirk travels to Romulus as a civilian, along with his five-year-old child, Joseph, the cantankerous Doctor McCoy, retired Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, as well as several members of Picard's crew, still waiting to return to duty on the badly damaged USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E. But on Romulus' sister world, Remus, Kirk unexpectedly encounters an alluring enemy from his past as Picard and he discover Spock's apparent murder hides an even deeper mystery, reaching beyond the limits of the galaxy. 
Trapped on a deadly, alien world on the eve of a Romulan civil war that could plunge the galaxy into a civilization-ending conflict, Kirk's investigation brings him to the heart of a staggering conspiracy. As he discovers the true threat facing the Romulans, he realizes that he must sacrifice the freedom of his son, whose very blood holds the secret to his destiny. Captain's Blood brings together both generations in a battle for the existence of all life in this galaxy, and beyond.

My thoughts:

Captain's Blood is the second book in William Shatner's "Totality" trilogy, and as such, I feel like it learned a few lessons from the first book, Captain's Peril. For one thing, in both books, certain characters are under the impression that a major Star Trek character has perished. In Captain's Peril, the authors attempted to maintain that charade for a large portion of the book, much to its detriment, in my opinion. However, in Captain's Blood, the readers are made aware of the deception very early on, a tactic that I felt worked much better.

However, this assumed death brings me to my first big complaint about Captain's Blood. Spock's reasoning for faking his death in front of a crowd of 3000 Romulans is apparently because he wanted to remove himself from the public stage in a very dramatic fashion so that his message of peace and reunification between the Vulcans and Romulans would be enhanced. Does this seem at all logical? I have a hard time believing that Spock would be a willing part of this plan, let alone conceive of it himself. Deception on this scale does not seem to be Spock's style.

Spock makes what I feel to be an oddly illogical decision in Captain's Blood.

However, there is a lot more to like in this novel than in the previous one. The Totality feels like a real threat, and tying it into the events and revelations from Star Trek Nemesis worked quite well. I enjoyed the exploration of the Remans, including their origin as well as learning a bit more about their culture. I felt that Nemesis didn't really do enough to explain them, and I appreciated that we got a chance to discover more about them here. The idea of "Shinzon" being a title rather than a proper name was a nice retcon, and the role that Kirk's son, Joseph, played in the story as the new Reman Shinzon was fascinating.

Captain's Blood provides a better exploration of the Remans than Star Trek Nemesis, in my opinion.

Speaking of Kirk's son, Joseph Kirk turns out to be a particularly interesting character. Possessing a number of odd characteristics thanks to his blend of Human, Romulan, and Klingon heritage, Joseph was born intersex; in fact, his full name is Joseph Samuel T'Kol T'Lan Kirk, a name that combines masculine and feminine qualities. By his own choice, he is referred to as male by the other characters in Captain's Blood.

The threat faced by James T. Kirk and the rest of the galaxy, the Totality, is personified in the character of Norinda, the alien woman who "tested" Kirk in the flashback portion of the story from the previous novel, Captain's Peril. I find it oddly coincidental that she would be at the center of a story that Kirk just happened to tell Picard shortly before she resurfaces as the primary threat facing the Federation in this novel. However, that strange detail aside, I think the Totality works as a threat. The menace they represent is certainly worthy of the story, and they provided a great deal of tension in the novel.

The end of the novel is, expectedly, a cliffhanger as we head into the final book in the trilogy: Captain's Glory.

Final thoughts:

While Captain's Blood is plagued by many of the same issues that the rest of the "Shatnerverse" novels suffer from (an over-abundance of Kirk-worship, Picard and his crew being forever upstaged by the legendary James T. Kirk), the novel is a definite improvement over the previous story, Captain's Peril. The events of that novel seem starkly unconnected to this book and the one that follows, despite ostensibly being the first part of a trilogy. A few strange character motivations are offset by an interesting exploration of the Remans (better than in Nemesis, in my opinion), as well as an interesting threat posed by the Totality. 3/5.

Also by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens:

More about Captain's Blood:

My next read:

Next up: the conclusion to the Totality trilogy: Captain's Glory by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Literary Treks 243: An Upside-Down Tellarite Organ

DS9: Millennium: Book I of III
The Fall of Terok Nor
by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens

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

All three books in the Millennium trilogy are also available in this omnibus edition:

Trade paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Mysterious events are taking place on Deep Space Nine: Quark is accused of murdering a visiting Andorian, Jake and Nog reveal a mysterious, hidden holosuite deep in the bowels of the station, and a fearsome Cardassian scientist arrives for sinister purposes. All of these events relate to a mystery that has lain dormant since the withdrawal of the Cardassian forces from DS9 following the end of the Occupation of Bajor: a lost set of orbs that may have the ability to set the apocalypse in motion! 

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther discuss the first book in the Deep Space Nine: Millennium trilogy: The Fall of Terok Nor by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. We talk about the periods of time the book covers, a somewhat confusing but compelling plot, some fun elements of the story, the varied cast of villains, questions we're left with at the end of the novel, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news segment, we talk a bit about Star Trek: Discovery: The Making of Season One, available now from Titan books!

Literary Treks 243: An Upside-Down Tellarite Organ
Deep Space Nine: Millennium Book I: The Fall of Terok Nor by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Previous episode: Literary Treks 242: A Starship Without Coffee
Next episode: Literary Treks 244: Less Hair, Pointier Head

Thursday, September 20, 2018

December's Star Trek Comics from IDW, Plus J.K. Woodward Tease!

Hey everyone! We have some news today regarding IDW's December solicitations.

First up is issue #4 of Star Trek vs. Transformers.

With the Enterprise disabled by the Klingon-Decepticon alliance, things look dire for Spock, Optimus Prime, and the landing team. But with the Autobots’ help, can Captain Kirk come up with a solution to save the day from a massive Cybertronian threat?

Star Trek vs. Transformers #4 is written by John Barber and Mike Johnson, with art by Phillip Murphy.

There will be an A and a B cover, plus a retailer incentive cover. The A cover, by artist Phillip Murphy, has not yet been released, but the other two can be viewed below.

B cover by Priscilla Tramontano

Retailer Incentive cover by George Caltsoudas

Next up is the conclusion to the Terra Incognita series, issue #6, by Scott and David Tipton, with art by Angel Hernandez.

The latest installment of THE NEXT GENERATION Mirror Universe saga comes to a twisted conclusion as Mirror Barclay unleashes his fiendish plan on Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D!

Terra Incognita comes to you with four cover options. The photo cover as well as the variant cover by Elizabeth Beals haven't been revealed yet, but we do have two other covers to show you!

Tony Shasteen's A cover

Variant cover by J.K. Woodward

Speaking of J.K. Woodward, the artist has been active on Instagram lately, posting in-progress works, including this fascinating little tidbit:

Using my teeny weeny brush to paint teeny weeny characters in a teeny weeny amount of time to create a colossal double cover for a huge new project that’s going to give you a whopper of a Trek-gasm when @idwpublishing announces it!!!

To coin a phrase: Fascinating! What could this project be? We see will Riker and Crusher, with Riker wearing a TNG film-era uniform. To add an even more interesting twist to this story, Woodward posted this the day before:

Good morning instagram! I’m up WAY too early on Saturday morning, painting Quark.theres gotta be a rule of acquisition that can get me out of this?? Yes? #startrek #startrekart #wip

Could this piece featuring Quark be a part of the same "colossal double cover"? Woodward wasn't forthcoming when asked on Twitter, but I do plan on seeing him at his table this weekend at the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo. I'll be sure to ask if there is anything he can reveal!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The 34th Rule

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #23
The 34th Rule by Armin Shimerman & David R. George III
From a story by Armin Shimerman & David R. George III & Eric A. Stillwell
Published January 1999
Read February 1st 2018

Previous book (DS9 published order): The Dominion War, Book Four: Sacrifice of Angels

Previous book (DS9 numbered): #22: Vengeance
Next book (DS9 numbered): #24: Rebels, Book One: The Conquered

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

Spoilers ahead for The 34th Rule!

From the back cover:
For once, business is going well for Quark, not that anyone on Deep Space Nine truly appreciates his genius for finding profit in the most unlikely of circumstances. Quark is even looking forward to making the deal of a lifetime -- when he suddenly finds himself stuck right in the middle of a major dispute between Bajor and the Ferengi Alliance. It seems that the Grand Nagus is refusing to sell one of the lost Orbs of the Prophets to the Bajoran government, which has responded by banning all Ferengi activity in Bajoran space. With diplomatic relations between the two cultures rapidly breaking down, Quark loses his bar first, then his freedom. But even penniless, he still has his cunning and his lobes, and those alone may be all he needs to come out on top -- and prevent an interstellar war!

My thoughts:

The Ferengi, a creation that came from the early days of Star Trek: The Next Generation, suffered from an image problem. Initially meant to be the "big baddies" of TNG, the Ferengi were never really taken seriously. Many fans saw them as comical and over-the-top, and certainly not as the Klingons of The Next Generation as they had been intended to be.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did much to "rehabilitate" the Ferengi. With a Ferengi bartender, Quark, as a member of the main cast, DS9 lent a sort of credibility to the Ferengi, acknowledging that they were not on the level of Star Trek's great villains from the past, but nor were they just a laughing stock. Still, there were humorous Ferengi moments, and not everyone took the diminutive profit-obsessed species seriously.

Armin Shimerman as Quark, and also one of the authors of The 34th Rule.

A notable exception, however, was the actor who played Quark: Armin Shimerman. You can tell by watching his performance that he took his role as Quark very seriously, seeing the character as much more than just comic relief or a foil to the Starfleet members of the main cast. Quark is very much the hero of his own story, whether that's playing the role of the romantic lead in the episode "Profit and Loss," or getting caught up in a story with a strong social message like "Rules of Acquistion." The 34th Rule, written by Armin Shimerman (along with David R. George III), continues the DS9 rehabilitation of the Ferengi. The story takes the character and his species quite seriously, and confronts head-on the somewhat discriminatory and bigoted attitudes that characters in the Trek universe sometimes have towards the Ferengi.

Contrary to what certain factions on the internet would have you believe, Star Trek has always been about promoting a social justice message and advancing the cause of liberalism. It hasn't always gotten it perfect, but for the most part, Trek has promoted a progressive worldview. Racism is a topic that Trek has tackled, both directly and indirectly, a number of times. Growing up watching Trek, I didn't notice the racism that pervaded the show whenever the Ferengi came up. For example, in the TNG episode "The Perfect Mate," the Enterprise rescues a pair of Ferengi, after which Riker orders Worf to assign them quarters, "not too close to mine." When viewed through the lens of racism, this flippant remark speaks volumes.

A dispute over a Bajoran orb leads to war between Bajor and the Ferengi Alliance.

In this novel, Grand Nagus Zek is in possession of a Bajoran Orb of the Prophets (see the DS9 episode "Prophet Motive"). The Bajorans obviously want it, and are willing to bid for it in an auction held by the Nagus, but Zek bars them from participating. In response, Bajor issues an edict expelling all Ferengi citizens from Bajoran space, which cuts off Ferengi from the wormhole, which has a significant impact on Ferenginar thanks to the loss of trade with the Gamma Quadrant. In retaliation, the Ferengi Alliance institutes a blockade on Bajor, which is still reliant on foreign aid to recover from the decades-long Cardassian occupation.

In response to the Bajorans' expelling of Ferengi citizens from their territory, Grand Nagus Zek institutes a blockade of Bajor.

Quark and Rom decide to remain on Deep Space Nine, whereupon they are imprisoned on Bajor in the old Galitep forced labor camp, formerly used by the Cardassians during the occupation. They are under the control of a former inmate of the camp, and under him, they are regularly beaten and tortured. A major theme of The 34th Rule seems to be the cycle of violence; the victims of horrific violence can often become the abusers themselves. The trauma that Quark and Rom experience at the hands of their overseer is chilling, and these parts were extremely vivid and well-written.

Despite the seriousness of the plot of The 34th Rule, there are some amusing moments as well. Armin Shimerman previously played three other roles prior to taking on the role of Quark, and he "cameos" in this story as all three of them at various points, which was a fun touch.

Quark comes across very well in the pages of this novel, which is to be expected seeing as it was co-written by the actor who played him. The rest of the characters "sound" right as well, and it was fun to get to go back and visit a story that takes place during the television series. I love DS9, and reading The 34th Rule really did feel like I was watching a lost episode. Armin and David know these characters and this setting quite well, and The 34th Rule was a truly enjoyable read with a very poignant and important message.

Final thoughts:

The 34th Rule was a great read. Armin Shimerman and David R. George III have crafted an excellent tale that fits very well into the Deep Space Nine continuity, and forces the reader to look at the Ferengi in a way that is all-too rare: not as silly, over-the-top antagonists, but as well-rounded characters fully deserving of respect and consideration. The messages regarding racism and the cycle of violence are well-represented in this novel's pages, and the story carries on the proud Trek tradition of shedding light on issues of social justice and liberal ideals. 5/5.

More about The 34th Rule:

My next read:

Next up: continuing the Shatnerverse reviews, Captain's Blood.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Literary Treks 242: A Starship Without Coffee

TNG #61: Diplomatic Implausibility
by Keith R.A. DeCandido

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

At the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Worf traded his life as a starfleet officer for a career as a Federation diplomat. While some aspects of that life are similar to the years he spent in service to starfleet, there are many new challenges and attitudes to overcome. When a rebellion on a Klingon-controlled planet threatens to involve the Federation, it's up to Worf to sort out the issue, facing a difficult challenge in diplomacy on his first assignment as Ambassador to the Klingon Empire!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson discuss the TNG novel Diplomatic Implausibility by Keith R.A. DeCandido. We talk about Worf's new role, the crew of the I.K.S. Gorkon, the aliens of the week, Federation/Klingon relations, the oddity of this being a TNG novel, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

At the top of the show, we review the newly-released third issue of TNG: Terra Incognita.

Literary Treks 242: A Starship Without Coffee
The Next Generation #61: Diplomatic Implausibility by Keith R. A. DeCandido

Previous episode: Literary Treks 241: The Bromance Episode
Next episode: Literary Treks 243: An Upside-Down Tellarite Organ

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Architects of Infinity

Star Trek: Voyager
Architects of Infinity by Kirsten Beyer
Release date: March 27th 2018
Read April 4th 2018

Previous book (Voyager): A Pocket Full of Lies
Next book (Voyager): To Lose the Earth

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

Publisher's description:
As the Federation Starship Voyager continues to lead the Full Circle Fleet in its exploration of the Delta Quadrant, Admiral Kathryn Janeway remains concerned about the Krenim Imperium and its ability to rewrite time to suit its whims. At Captain Chakotay's suggestion, however, she orders the fleet to focus its attention on a unique planet in a binary system, where a new element has been discovered. Several biospheres exist on this otherwise uninhabitable world, each containing different atmospheres and features that argue other sentient beings once resided on the surface. Janeway hopes that digging into an old-fashioned scientific mystery will lift the crews' morale, but she soon realizes that the secrets buried on this world may be part of a much larger puzzle—one that points to the existence of a species whose power to reshape the galaxy might dwarf that of the Krenim.

Meanwhile, Lieutenants Nancy Conlon and Harry Kim continue to struggle with the choices related to Conlon’s degenerative condition. Full Circle’s medical staff discovers a potential solution, but complications will force a fellow officer to confront her people’s troubled past and her own future in ways she never imagined…

My thoughts:

Click here to watch my video review of Voyager: Architects of Infinity, or click play on the embedded video below!

Final thoughts:

Another home run from Kirsten Beyer! The Voyager relaunch has consistently been among my favorite Star Trek novels, and Architects of Infinity is no exception. Previously, Children of the Storm was my favorite of her novels, but this one might seriously be giving it a run for its money. Top-notch work by one of the most talented writers working for Trek today, both on-screen and in the novels! 5/5.

More about Architects of Infinity:

Also by Kirsten Beyer:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next is a Deep Space Nine novel by Quark himself: The 34th Rule.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Captain's Peril

Star Trek:
Captain's Peril by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Published October 2002
Read January 9th 2018

Previous book (Shatnerverse): Preserver

Next book (Shatnerverse): Captain's Blood

Hardcover: | |

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

Spoilers ahead for Captain's Peril!

From the back cover:
The Dominion War is over. The Federation is at peace. What better time for two legendary starship captains to set aside the demands of duty and simply take some well-deserved time off?  
But when James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard arrive on Bajor to dive among the ruins of an ancient sunken city, conditions are far from what they had planned. The small group of scientists the captains have joined suddenly find their equipment sabotaged -- isolating them from Deep Space Nine and any hope of rescue -- as one by one, a murderer stalks them. 
Cut off from the people and technology on which they have always depended, Kirk and Picard must rely more than ever on their own skills and abilities, and their growing friendship, to solve the mysterious deaths and protect one of Bajor's greatest living treasures. 
At the same time, Kirk finds the events he and Picard struggle with are similar to one of the first challenges he faced as the new captain of the Starship Enterprise, less than six months into his first five-year mission. 
Now, with time running out for a dying child trapped in the scientists' camp, and Picard missing after a diving disaster, Kirk must search his memories of the past to relive one of his earliest adventures, propelling him into a harrowing personal journey that reveals the beginning of his path from young Starfleet officer to renowned legend, and the existence of a new and completely unsuspected threat to the existence of all life in the universe. 
From the breathtaking shores of Bajor's Inland Sea to the welcoming arms of a seductive and deadly alien commander intent on making Kirk her own, Star Trek: Captain's Peril is the exciting new novel that spans space and time to present Captain Kirk's most personal, and most extreme, adventure yet.

My thoughts:

Captain James T. Kirk has had an eventful few years in the 24th century after having been resurrected by the Borg in the novel The Return. Along with Picard and the crew of the Enterprise, he has saved the galaxy from the likes of Vulcan extremists, interlopers from the Mirror Universe (including his own mirror counterpart), and The Preservers, a "super race" that manipulates events throughout the universe to conform to their own design.

Now, he faces his greatest challenge yet: a vacation on Bajor with Picard.

I'm serious. The A plot of this novel has Kirk and Picard enjoying a holiday together, a vacation which includes an orbital sky-diving accident that nearly claims their lives. This is an interesting enough development, but the sky-diving incident takes up three chapters of this novel alone.

I found much of the A plot of Captain's Peril to be a plodding, slow-moving, confused mess. After the near-death experience of a sky-dive with faulty equipment (which is totally down to negligence on the part of Kirk in my opinion), Kirk and Picard get swept up in a murder investigation among a community of rural Bajorans. The pair play investigators until an incident at sea leads to Picard being presumed dead. This is a part of the novel that truly annoyed me. We (the readers) know for a fact that Picard cannot be dead. The book takes place in between Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek Nemesis, and Picard would never be killed off in a novel. Nevertheless, I got the impression that Captain's Peril tried very hard to convince me that he was really, actually dead. While the reactions that Kirk has to this are interesting, the jeopardy is completely manufactured as, over the course of a number of chapters, the book continues to attempt to convince the reader that Picard has died.

We also get the latest in a series of situations in which Kirk has to show that he is the absolute best. In this case, it has to do with his newfound knowledge and understanding of the Bajoran religion. He and he alone is the one to determine the true nature of a sea creature and the link it has to the Bajoran Prophets (yes, I am aware of how strange that sentence is). Not only does he routinely outsmart Picard and his crew in these books, but now he's even better at the Bajoran religion than Sisko, who is the Prophets' Emissary! Thanks to Kirk's deep understanding of the relationship between the Bajorans and the Prophets (acquired over the course of a few chapters in this novel, it seems), he is able to save the life of a Bajoran girl and solve a mystery that has stumped everyone else.

Another issue I had with Captain's Peril is its treatment of the Bajorans. Granted, the Bajorans we see in this novel are particularly rural and provincial, but they are depicted as "backwater" and prejudiced to a degree that I found to be patronizing. Kirk and Picard swoop in and "save" them, but of course are initially misunderstood and feared. The way the book treats the Bajorans is, frankly, insulting.

The B plot of the book, which is a flashback to Kirk's earliest days as captain of the Enterprise, is much better than the rest of the story. We see Kirk coming face to face with an enigmatic alien woman, and he must compete with the Klingons for access to her advanced technology. This story was fascinating, and obviously sets up events to come in the next two novels. I especially liked Kirk and Spock's early interactions, as they lent an interesting perspective to the close relationship that would eventually form between the two life-long friends.

Another positive is the epilogue, in which the U.S.S. Monitor (previously seen in the novel The Return) comes face-to-face with The Totality in interstellar space. The hook at the end was just enough to get me interested in the novels that follow.

Final thoughts:

The "Shatnerverse" books have had their ups and downs; there are some genuinely great reads among them. Sadly, Captain's Peril is not one of those. The story wasn't one that captivated me at any point, and instead served to further inflate the already-over-the-top image of Captain Kirk's greatness. The book's depiction of the Bajorans also disappointed me. The story is somewhat elevated by the flashback scenes to the early days of Kirk's first five-year mission, as well as an exciting epilogue, but overall the story can't escape its pedestrian A-plot. 1/5.

Also by Williams Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens:

More about Captain's Peril:

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Next up: a video review of Kirsten Beyer's latest Voyager novel: The Architects of Infinity!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Literary Treks 241: The Bromance Episode

TNG: A Time to Love
by Robert Greenberger

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As Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise continue to deal with the fallout from their disastrous mission at the Rashanar battle site, a new crisis threatens to unravel the civilization on an alien colony. A murder has been committed in a society that has known nothing but peace for a century, and at the center of it all: Kyle Riker, Commander William Riker's father!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther discuss A Time to Love, the fifth novel in the A Time To series and the first part of a duology by Robert Greenberger. We talk about the Enterprise's damaged reputation, Troi's efforts to deal with a despondent crew, Kyle Riker's role in a unfolding planetary crisis, a particularly bad case of gas, changes on the horizon for the command crew of the Enterprise, a strange b-plot that has Geordi trading with the Ferengi, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

Literary Treks 241: The Bromance Episode
TNG: A Time to Love by Robert Greenberger

Previous episode: Literary Treks 240: It Rings a Bit Holo
Next episode: Literary Treks 242: A Starship Without Coffee