Monday, December 31, 2018

Trek Lit 2018: Year in Review

2018: A Pause to Catch Our Breath

Well, here we are again. The end of yet another year of Star Trek novels, and the eighth year that Trek Lit Reviews has been providing you with reviews of those novels. How did 2018 compare to other years? Well, in the realm of Star Trek novels as a whole... not good, I'm afraid.

Carrying over from 2017, 2018 saw a huge delay in the finalizing of an agreement between Simon & Schuster and CBS with regards to the contract for Star Trek novels. The exact reason behind this delay has not been revealed, but thankfully, both parties came to an agreement this year, which bodes well for 2019.

However, this has meant that in 2018, we saw very few new Star Trek novel releases. There were only five Trek novels released this year, of which only three came from Simon & Schuster!

In February, we got the second novel in the Star Trek: Discovery series: Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward, dealing with the massacre on Tarsus IV by Kodos the Executioner (see: TOS - "The Conscience of the King").

In late March, the long-awaited next book in Kirsten Beyer's Voyager relaunch was released: Architects of Infinity, in which the Full Circle fleet encounters a strangely engineered artificial world.

And in June, the latest book in the Discovery series was released: Fear Itself by James Swallow, a story featuring the Kelpien Saru played by Doug Jones, in a prequel story set aboard the U.S.S. Shenzhou.

From Titan books, we got the final two Prometheus novels, translated from the original German: The Root of All Rage, and the conclusion, In the Heart of Chaos, both by German authors Bernd Perplies and Christian Humberg.

In the Star Trek universe at large, 2018 was a big year. The first season of Discovery finished up early in the year, and by all indications was a rousing success for CBS. So much so that, at the Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, Patrick Stewart himself took the stage to announce that a new Star Trek television series featuring Jean-Luc Picard was in development.

A new Star Trek animated series was also announced, spearheaded by Rick and Morty writer Mike McMahan. A comedy series featuring a focus on areas of Starfleet not typically featured in other Trek, Star Trek: Lower Decks will prove to be very different from anything we've seen before.

Star Trek: Discovery season two is gearing up to return to television screens in the new year, but in the meantime Short Treks has made a splash, featuring characters and situations from Discovery to tide us over until then. Unfortunately, Short Treks has not been made available outside of the U.S. and Canada, so many international viewers have not gotten the chance to see them. Hopefully this will change soon!

In my own life, 2018 was a very productive year for this website, and while I am still behind on many of my reviews, I feel like I made great strides in getting caught up! I'm hoping to keep that momentum going in 2019, as it looks like it is going to be a great year for Star Trek novels and the franchise as a whole!

In addition to my output of book reviews on this site, my YouTube channel, Kertrats Productions, made several significant gains this past year. While the subscriber count isn't spectacular, I did gain many new followers to the channel, and I tried my best to put out a video every week. Sometimes I didn't reach that goal, and sometimes I surpassed it. Hopefully my efforts will yield a bit more consistency in 2019!

Here's a list of the Trek novels I reviewed this past year on Trek Lit Reviews sorted by month. New releases are marked in bold and with an asterisk! Links lead to my reviews. Enjoy!


Best Destiny by Diane Carey (Star Trek)
Shield of the Gods by Christopher L. Bennett (Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations)


Prime Directive by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Star Trek)
Enigma Tales by Una McCormack (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Spectre by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Shatnerverse)


Hidden Universe Guide to The Klingon Empire by Dayton Ward
The Siege by Peter David (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #2)
Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference by Christopher L. Bennett (Star Trek: Enterprise)


By the Book by Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Enterprise)
Desperate Hours by David Mack (Star Trek: Discovery)


The Escape by Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Star Trek: Voyager #2)
Dark Victory by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Shatnerverse)


Gamma: Original Sin by David R. George III (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Q-Squared by Peter David (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard: The Story of One of Starfleet's Most Inspirational Captains by David A. Goodman


I, The Constable by Paula M. Block & Terry J. Erdmann (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
The Entropy Effect by Vonda N. McIntyre (Star Trek #2)
Fortune of War by David Mack (Star Trek: Titan)
Ghost Ship by Diane Carey (Star Trek: The Next Generation #1)
Fire with Fire by Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg (Star Trek: Prometheus)


Preserver by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Shatnerverse)
Mudd in Your Eye by Jerry Oltion (Star Trek #81)
Sarek by A.C. Crispin (Star Trek)
Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward (Star Trek: Discovery)
Echoes by Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, & Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Star Trek: Voyager #15)
A Stitch in Time by Andrew J. Robinson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #27)


Captain's Peril by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Shatnerverse)
Architects of Infinity by Kirsten Beyer (Star Trek: Voyager)
The 34th Rule by Armin Shimerman and David R. George III, from a story by Armin Shimerman & David R. George III & Eric A. Stillwell  (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #23)
Captain's Blood by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Shatnerverse)
Captain's Glory by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Shatnerverse)


Academy: Collision Course by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Shatnerverse)
The Root of All Rage by Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg (Star Trek: Prometheus)
Fallen Heroes by Dafydd ab Hugh (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #5)
A Time to Sow by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Surak's Soul by J.M. Dillard (Enterprise)


A Time to Harvest by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
The Farther Shore by Christie Golden (Star Trek: Voyager)
A Time to Love by Robert Greenberger (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Lost Scenes by David Tilotta & Curt McAloney (Non-fiction reference)
Across the Universe by Pamela Sargent & George Zebrowski (Star Trek #88)
Diplomatic Implausibility by Keith R.A. DeCandido (Star Trek: The Next Generation #61)


The Peacekeepers by Gene DeWeese (Star Trek: The Next Generation #2)
The Fall of Terok Nor by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Millennium, Book I of III)
A Time to Hate by Robert Greenberger (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Fear Itself by James Swallow (Star Trek: Discovery)

2018 was also a great year for the Literary Treks podcast, which I host with Bruce Gibson over on the network. We covered tons of Trek novels and comics, and had some great discussions with Trek authors and creators! Here's a list of the episodes we did in 2018:

Literary Treks Podcast Episodes

Best Trek novel of 2018:

Unfortunately, there were very few new Star Trek novel releases in 2018. In fact, only five novels qualified as new Trek novel releases in this calendar year: Discovery: Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward; Voyager: Architects of Infinity by Kirsten Beyer; Prometheus: The Root of All Rage (English translation) by Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg; Discovery: Fear Itself by James Swallow; and Prometheus: In the Heart of Chaos (English translation) by Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg. It was very close, as all of the novels released this year scored high marks with me. The Discovery novels offered us a glimpse into the lives of the characters brought to life in the new show, and the Prometheus series gave us a fresh perspective on the Star Trek universe with a unique cast of characters and a fun, new voice in the litverse. However, one novel edged out the rest in my opinion. The best new Star Trek novel of 2018 is, in this blogger's opinion:

Star Trek: Voyager: Architects of Infinity by Kirsten Beyer!

The Voyager relaunch novels have consistently been among my favorite Trek novels, and Kirsten Beyer knocked another one out of the part with this story. Tackling some difficult issues, the characters that make up the Full Circle fleet face a new mystery beyond their comprehension. Architects of Infinity ends up being a cautionary tale, an environmental parable, and a fascinating character study all rolled into one terrific novel!

As always, let's finish up by taking a look at next year in Trek Lit.

With the new contract in full force, things are back on track for Trek Lit in 2019! There are already a few novels on the schedule, with news and rumors of other novels coming as well!

Right at the beginning of the year, Discovery is back with a new novel by Una McCormack: The Way to the Stars, with a release date of January 8th. I already have my hands on my review copy, so I'll be sure to bring you a review shortly after that date! The Way to the Stars is backstory for fan-favorite character Sylvia Tilly, the young cadet who bunked with Michael Burnham in season one of Discovery.

In early April, we have a new Star Trek: The Next Generation novel by Dayton Ward: Available Light. Readers who are concerned that the upcoming Picard television series will negatively impact the continuity of the post-Nemesis novels should note that this novel takes place in that continuity, continuing story elements from Section 31: Control, TNG: Hearts and Minds, and the A Time To series!

May sees the release of a new TOS novel by Christopher L. Bennett: The Captain's Oath. According to Bennett, the novel involves Kirk's early Starfleet career, before he took command of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

And in August, we have TOS: The Antares Maelstrom by Greg Cox, centering around the region of space referenced by Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Also in August is the latest of David A. Goodman's Star Trek autobiographies: The Autobiography of Mr. Spock: The Life of a Federation Legend. This was originally supposed to come out this year, but was delayed. No official reason has been given, but there is speculation that it was delayed to incorporate Spock's story from Discovery's second season.

2018 was a bit of a sad year for Trek Lit, but it did give readers a chance to take a breath and catch up on older novels. However, with things back in motion for 2019, I can't wait to crack open new Trek novels and catch up with the adventures of old friends in the Trek universe!

Happy new year everyone, and all the best in 2019! Stay safe, make good choices, and don't forget to be awesome!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Fear Itself

Star Trek: Discovery
Fear Itself by James Swallow
Release date: June 5th 2018
Read June 11th 2018

Previous book (Discovery): Drastic Measures
Next book (Discovery): The Way to the Stars

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

Publisher's description:
Lieutenant Saru is a Kelpien, a member of a prey species born on a world overrun by monstrous predators…and a being who very intimately understands the nature of fear. Challenged on all sides, he is determined to surpass his origins and succeed as a Starfleet officer aboard the U.S.S. Shenzhou. But when Saru breaks protocol in order to prove himself to his crewmates, what begins as a vital rescue mission to save a vessel in distress soon escalates out of control. Forced into a command role he may not be ready for, Saru is caught between his duty and the conflicting agendas of two antagonistic alien races. To survive, he will need to seek a path of peace against all odds, and risk compromising the very ideals he has sworn to uphold….

My thoughts:

Click here to watch my video review of Discovery: Fear Itself, or click play on the embedded video below!

Final thoughts:

An excellent novel digging into what makes one of the most popular Discovery characters tick. James Swallow gives us a fun and fascinating story that gets to the root of Saru's character, and show us that his fearful nature may not be exactly what we or his colleagues expect. 5/5.

More about Fear Itself:

Also by James Swallow:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next up is my wrap-up of the year in Trek Lit!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Literary Treks 253: Basically Watching the News Frankly

Star Trek: Prometheus
In the Heart of Chaos
by Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg

Exclusive interview with author Christian Humberg!

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

In 2016, a new experiment in the world of Trek lit was attempted: for the first time, Star Trek novels would be published outside the United States in a language other than English. German publisher Cross Cult, the company that provides German-translated editions of Pocket Books' Trek novels, published its own Star Trek series: Star Trek: Prometheus, a trilogy of novels that tells the story of the Federation confronting radical terrorism, a story that is very relevant to today's world.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are joined by Star Trek: Prometheus author Christian Humberg to talk about the final book in the Prometheus trilogy: In the Heart of Chaos, co-written with fellow author Bernd Perplies. We discuss the origin of their Trek fandom, how the Prometheus series came about, the ship and crew at the heart of the story, the Son of the Ancient Reds, innocent lives affected by the events of the novel, Raspin and the crew of the I.K.S. Bortas, the Old Ones and their role in ending the crisis, and wrap up with what the authors are currently working on and where you can find them online.

At the top of the show, we review issue #3 of IDW's Star Trek vs. Transformers and respond to your Babel Conference feedback for Literary Treks 251: 5 Missions of Elton John

Literary Treks 253: Basically Watching the News Frankly
Prometheus: In the Heart of Chaos - Exclusive interview with author Christian Humberg!

Previous episode: Literary Treks 252: Continuity Cop
Next episode: Literary Treks 254: A Likely Victim

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Time to Hate

Star Trek: The Next Generation
A Time to Hate by Robert Greenberger
Published June 2004
Read September 12th 2018

Previous book (A Time To): A Time to Love

Next book (A Time To): A Time to Kill

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

Spoilers ahead for A Time to Hate

From the back cover:
The recurring blood feuds between the Bader and the Dorset ended mysteriously a century ago when both races colonized the planet Delta Sigma IV. But, unknown until now, it was a reaction to a naturally occurring gas that led to their harmonious existence... a reaction that would eventually mean certain death for the planet's inhabitants. What the Enterprise crew believed was a cure for the population -- a treatment introduced into Delta Sigma IV's environment by Kyle Riker, a man at odds with his son, Commander William Riker -- has instead triggered worldwide carnage, as long-suppressed aggression and hostility are suddenly and violently unleashed. 
Caught in a world on the brink of self-destruction, Captain Picard -- a man still waging his own personal battle for redemption in the eyes of his commanding officers -- must somehow find a way to resolve this catastrophic event and save his crew, even as the implications of his actions may ultimately doom an entire race... 

My thoughts:

Sometimes, all of the options to solve a particular situation are bad, and the person making the decision must choose the lesser of two evils. This is the dilemma facing Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise in A Time to Hate, the conclusion to Robert Greenberger's duology that started in A Time to Love, and the sixth book overall in the A Time To series.

On planet Delta Sigma IV, the violence gripping the two species who live there is worsening. The Bader and the Dorset, historically enemies, came together a century earlier on this colony world and flourished, exhibiting a level of cooperation unprecedented among the two races. Unfortunately, Dr. Crusher has discovered the alarming truth: the cooperation between the Bader and the Dorset was brought about by exposure to a gas that occurs in the atmosphere of Delta Sigma IV, a gas that is also unfortunately responsible for a shortening of both species' lifespans. Captain Picard must decide whether or not to allow both species to revert to their "natural" state, the likely result of which would be the two sides wiping each other out, or engineer the gas so that the life-shortening effects are eliminated while retaining the "sedative" effects that led to the peace between the Bader and the Dorset. In the end, Picard orders Crusher to reformulate the gas so that it retains the sedative effects but no longer kills the inhabitants of Delta Sigma IV, a decision that is obviously a difficult one.

Kyle and Will Riker spend much of this novel together, adding much depth to their relationship as father and son.

The strength of this story lies with the characters, rather than the plot elements, in my opinion. We get to see Will Riker interacting with his father and trying to come to terms with the kind of man that Kyle Riker is. Sadly, we don't get to see how that relationship will progress in the future as Kyle is killed while saving Will's life towards the end of the novel. This has a profound effect on Will, and I have to admit that it was something I did not see coming. This part of the story was very well-written, and I found myself experiencing shock that Greenberger took this step.

At the end of the novel, we see Riker proposing to Deanna Troi, setting up the marriage we see in Star Trek Nemesis. It was nice to have the dots connected and see where this development came from. During their whirlwind tour of Delta Sigma IV, the Rikers were apparently in a place where Will was able to purchase an engagement ring. It seems odd to me that during this crisis he would be able to go into an alien jewelry store and buy a ring for Deanna while accompanying his father (who is a fugitive from the Delta Sigma IV government) without arousing any kind of suspicion, but sure. I'll go with it.

The other major character development we see in A Time to Hate is the deepening of a rift between Picard and Crusher. Beverly has been offered a position as head of Starfleet Medical, and while she has discussed it with other members of the crew, she hasn't brought it to Jean-Luc at any point. Picard has, of course, learned of the offer, and is frustrated that Crusher hasn't seen fit to confide in him. This was frustrating to read, as this breakdown of communication will obviously lead to greater problems between the two of them. While it was sad to read about, it struck me as eminently realistic and, sadly, something that happens often in the real world. Healthy communication is important, people, in any relationship!

While I was slightly disappointed in A Time to Love, I found myself enjoying A Time to Hate much more. In the former novel, I felt that too much time was dedicated to setting things up and treading water, seemingly to stretch the story out. Things are paced much better in this novel, and I found myself much more invested in both the main plot and the character work in A Time to Hate.

Final thoughts:

An improvement over the previous novel, A Time to Hate does some much-needed character advancement, both between Will and his father, and among the rest of the crew. The overall plot with Delta Sigma IV still felt somewhat rote, but the dilemma that faced Picard added a compelling element to that story. I'm interested to see if there will be any fallout from his decision in the remaining novels in the A Time To series. 3.5/5.

More about A Time to Hate:

Also by Robert Greenberger:

A Time To...

My next read:

My much-delayed video review of Star Trek: Discovery: Fear Itself by James Swallow is up next!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Literary Treks 252: Continuity Cop

Star Trek: The Next Generation
A Time for War, A Time for Peace
Exclusive interview with author Keith R.A. DeCandido!

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

Following the multiple crises of the past year, the Enterprise crew has nearly been vindicated; all that stands in their way is an inspection by Starfleet. Meanwhile, however, the Klingon Emperor has gone missing, Klingon terrorists have attacked the Federation Embassy on Qo'noS, and a surprise Federation presidential election has threatened to turn nasty. After nine books and nearly 3000 pages, the A Time To series is coming to an end!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are joined by renowned Trek author Keith R.A. DeCandido to talk about his novel A Time for War, A Time for Peace, the final book in the A Time To series. We discuss the series as a whole, Die Hard at the Federation embassy, Worf's son Alexander, Nan Bacco, the politics of the Federation, linking this story to Star Trek Nemesis, the theme of moving on, and wrap up by discussing what's coming up from Keith as well as where you can find him online.

At the top of the show, we review issue 5 of the TNG: Terra Incognita comic miniseries and respond to your Babel Conference feedback about Literary Treks 250: Tom Clancy Without Technobabble.

Literary Treks 252: Continuity Cop
A Time for War, A Time for Peace: Exclusive interview with author Keith R.A. DeCandido!

Previous episode: Literary Treks 251: 5 Missions of Elton John
Next episode: Literary Treks 253: Basically Watching the News Frankly

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Fall of Terok Nor

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Millennium, Book I of III
The Fall of Terok Nor by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Published March 2000
Read September 9th 2018

Previous book (Deep Space Nine): The Lives of Dax

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Millennium, Book II of III: The War of the Prophets

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): | |

Spoilers ahead for The Fall of Terok Nor

From the back cover:
Bajor is in flames. The corridors of Terok Nor echo with the sounds of battle. It is the end of the Cardassian Occupation -- and the beginning of the greatest epic adventure in the saga of Deep Space 9...

Six years later, with the Federation losing ground in its war against the Dominion, the galaxy's greatest smugglers -- including the beautiful and enigmatic Vash -- rendezvous on Deep Space 9. Their objective: a fabled lost Orb of the Prophets unlike any other, rumored to be the key to unlocking a second wormhole in Bajoran space -- a second Celestial Temple. 
Almost immediately, mysterious events plague the station: Odo arrest Quark for murder; Jake and Nog lead Chief O'brien to an eerie holosuite in a section of the station that's not on any schematic; and a Cardassian scientist whom even the Obsidian Order once feared makes an unexpected appearance. With all those events tied to a never-before-told story of the Cardassian withdrawal, Captain Benjamin Sisko faces the most dangerous challenge of his career. Unless he can uncover the secret of the lost Orb, what began with the fall of Terok Nor will end with the destruction of Deep Space 9...or worse.

My thoughts:

The Millennium trilogy is a series of books I had heard a lot about but took a long time to get around to reading. Thankfully, my co-host on the Literary Treks podcast, Bruce Gibson, is a big fan of these books, and made sure to schedule them to cover on the show. Finally, I would be forced to read these books, which have taken up real estate on my bookshelf for quite some time.

There is a lot going on in this story, and the authors drop the reader into the middle of it right away. The characters in the "present day" (towards the end of season 6, between the episodes "The Sound of Her Voice" and "The Tears of the Prophets") are dealing with a number of mysteries: first, the murder of a visiting Andorian named Dal Nortron, the prime suspect for which is Quark. The second mystery arises when two Cardassian bodies are discovered embedded in Deep Space Nine's hull, dating back six years to the end of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor.

The mysteries in The Fall of Terok Nor date back to the Cardassian withdrawal from Bajor, 6 years prior to the main time-frame of the novel.

What follows is a fairly convoluted plot involving the "Red Orbs of Jalbador," which many believe to be a myth. However, they are proven to be anything but when, over the course of the novel, all three orbs are discovered and brought together with disastrous consequences. The novel ends in a cliffhanger when the orbs cause the appearance of a red wormhole which seemingly destroys Deep Space Nine. While many people are still aboard, many are able to escape, including a number of characters aboard the U.S.S. Defiant. However, the Defiant is caught up in the red wormhole and swept 25 years into the future where they are confronted by Captain Thomas Riker of the U.S.S. Opaka, imploring Sisko and his crew to take sides in "The War of the Prophets."

The Fall of Terok Nor is a little difficult to review, given that it is only the first part of a trilogy. There are a lot of story elements set up here, and many of the main characters get an interesting part of the story. Most of the characters are handled very well; Quark's voice, for example, comes through incredibly clearly. However, I had a few issues with some of the characterizations. For example, Jake Sisko, who is 19 years old at the time of this novel, feels like he is written a bit more like an earlier-season version of the character, coming across as a little more "childish" than we're used to at this point. Similarly, there are moments when Major Kira feels more like she does in season 1 or 2 than in season 6: a little more quick to anger and less willing to engage in thoughtful analysis. One final character issue I had: I found it frustrating that Odo was so focused on accusing Quark of murdering Nortron. I feel like Odo usually wouldn't suspect Quark of a crime that serious with a total lack of evidence; cheating, swindling, and petty theft, yes. Murder? I don't think so.

I felt that Odo's dogged belief that Quark committed murder was a bit out-of-character.

These minor character quibbles aside, in my opinion Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens have crafted a superbly compelling start to this trilogy, with mysteries and plot twists that I did not see coming at all. The book held my rapt attention throughout, and when I was finished, it was incredibly difficult to not immediately start reading book 2. Alas, the next book we covered on Literary Treks needed to be read first, so I had to exercise a lot of patience!

The authors' attention to detail is something to behold. Because of the nature of this story, there are a number of plot elements that remain unsolved and mysteries that I am sure will be followed up on in the next two books. I can only imagine the flowchart that they probably had to work from to keep all of the details of the story straight!

Final thoughts:

There were times that the plot felt a little too overloaded, with the characters jumping from situation to situation as the mysteries unfold, but a little more attention to the finer points of a story in order to follow along isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm glad I finally got the chance to read this story, as it has been taunting my from my bookshelf for some time. Thankfully, it didn't disappoint, and I'm happy to report that the reputation this story has from other fans seems to be well-earned, at least at the end of book one. 4/5.

More about The Fall of Terok Nor:

Also by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens:

My next read:

Next up is book 6 of the A Time To series: A Time to Hate by Robert Greenberger.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Literary Treks 251: 5 Missions of Elton John

Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon, Book Two
Honor Bound
by Keith R.A. DeCandido

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

The Children of San-Tarah have emerged victorious over Klag and the crew of the I.K.S. Gorkon, and Klag has promised that the Klingon Empire will leave their planet in peace. However, General Talak, Klag's superior, has different ideas and orders the conquest of San-Tarah. Now, Klag must put out the call to The Order of the Bat'leth and defend both the Children of San-Tarah and Klingon honor itself!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther are joined by Justin Oser to discuss I.K.S. Gorkon, Book Two: Honor Bound by Keith R.A. DeCandido. We talk about The Order of the Bat'leth, Leader Wol, Klag as the Klingon Kirk, Klingon duplicity, the San-Tarah and their role in the Empire, some hanging threads for future novels, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news section, Bruce and Dan are joined by Larry Nemecek to discuss his updated version of Star Trek: Stellar Cartography. In the feedback segment, Bruce and Dan discuss your thoughts on Literary Treks 249: A Fun Labor of Love.

Literary Treks 251: 5 Missions of Elton John
I.K.S. Gorkon, Book 2: Honor Bound by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Previous episode: Literary Treks 250: Tom Clancy Without Technobabble
Next episode: Literary Treks 252: Continuity Cop

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Peacekeepers

Star Trek: The Next Generation #2
The Peacekeepers by Gene DeWeese
Published September 1988
Read August 28th 2018

Previous book (The Next Generation): #1: Ghost Ship

Next book (The Next Generation): #3: The Children of Hamlin

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

Spoilers ahead for The Peacekeepers

From the back cover:
Exploring a deserted alien spaceship, Lt. Commander Data and Lt. Geordi La Forge suddenly find themselves transported light years away – into the middle of a deadly conflict! 

While Captain Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise search feverishly for the missing crewmen, Data and La Forge discover they are in a station almost identical to the one they were exploring, high in orbit around an Earth-type world. Years before, the occupants of that planet accidentally stumbled onto the ship and its advanced technology – and since then have used its weapons to keep the nations on the planet below disarmed, and at peace. 

Now their own arrival has precipitated a crisis on the station. Somehow Data and La Forge must find a way to restore trust between the planet below and the station's guardians up above – before a final, destructive war breaks out!

My thoughts:

A planet on the brink of nuclear war suddenly discovers they are not alone in the universe when mysterious alien technology appears in orbit. One man takes control of the technology and uses it to halt the impending war by targeting the nuclear weapons on the surface and eliminating them. Can this imposed peace last? And just what is the purpose of the mysterious ship in orbit? The man in control of it hopes to find out when two visitors suddenly appear aboard the ship: Data and LaForge, who are believed to be the creators of the fantastic technology. They aren't, of course, but they must find a way to get back to the Enterprise without destabilizing this world or violating the prime directive.

The Peacekeepers was the second original Star Trek: The Next Generation novel written around the time of the series premiere and published in the fall of 1988. As such, there are a few issues with the characters not quite sounding like their on-screen personas, but these issues are much less blatant than in the previous novel, Ghost Ship. In this novel, for example, Deanna Troi repeatedly calls Captain Picard "Jean-Luc," which is a familiarity we don't see her share with the captain, especially while on duty on the bridge. Minor quibbles such as this one aside, the characters are actually pretty spot-on, including the burgeoning friendship between Data and Geordi.

One thing that The Peacekeepers handles well is the growing friendship between Geordi LaForge and Data. Good things happens when stories put these two characters together!

The story itself is an interesting one. I enjoyed the exploration of an alien society that was inadvertently affected by the introduction of advanced alien technology and the effect that it has had on their culture and beliefs. As far as our TNG characters are concerned, the main focus is on Data and LaForge as they find themselves cut off from the Enterprise and must attempt to solve the mysteries of this alien society.

The "guest" characters were interesting as well. The main focus is a man named Shar-Lon who believes himself to be a sort of "chosen one," destined to use the alien technology that has appeared in orbit of his world to keep the warring nations from destroying themselves. Eventually, of course, he is disabused of this notion, which has a profound effect on him. I appreciated the exploration of what it means when our expectations and reality are shattered and things don't turn out the way we expect. He had based his entire belief system on his interpretation of the alien technology, and when all of that is turned on its head he understandably has a very difficult time coping. As much as I resented his actions earlier in the novel, my heart really did go out to him as he faced this new reality.

The ending of The Peacekeepers feels like it fits with the philosophy of Star Trek, with our characters finding a way to resolve the situation with a minimum of violence and allowing for the sovereignty of an alien world. The story itself isn't particularly groundbreaking or radical, but it is a solid Star Trek: The Next Generation adventure that utilizes the characters and tropes of Trek in a satisfying manner. While far from the best novel, it certainly seems to be to be an improvement on the previous story.

Final thoughts:

In many ways, I felt that The Peacekeepers works well as a TNG adventure. While some of the characterizations are still not quite what we see on screen, you can tell that the book series is starting to better align with the show as we go forward. The guest characters have an interesting role to play, and while the plot isn't the most exciting, this novel still managed to keep my interest throughout. Overall, a satisfactory early adventure for the TNG crew.

Also by Gene DeWeese:

My next read:

The first book in the Deep Space Nine: Millennium trilogy: The Fall of Terok Nor by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens!