Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Literary Treks 266: Bringing the Truth Out of the Shadows

The Next Generation:
Available Light
Exclusive interview with author Dayton Ward!

Trade Paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

For the past couple of years, the post-Nemesis novels have been in a sort of limbo. Contract negotiations dragged on, and at times it felt like the next chapter of the story would never come. Thankfully, that is all behind us with the release of the newest TNG novel, picking up on plot points from Section 31: Control, the previous TNG novel Hearts and Minds, and even going as far back as the Tezwa incident in the A Time To series!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson welcome author Dayton Ward back to the show to discuss his newest Next Generation novel, Available Light. We talk about the fallout from the end of Section 31, Picard's actions in the ousting of disgraced Federation President Min Zife, a mysterious apparent derelict hiding a technological marvel, the Jirol Salvage Guild, the importance of truth, Picard's decision at the end of the novel, the origin of the title Available Light, and wrap up with what Dayton is working on now and where you can find him online.

In the news segment, we talk about the upcoming Star Trek: Year Five series and Star Trek: Discovery: Aftermath miniseries, both from IDW. We also review issue #3 of The Q Conflict and respond to listener feedback from the Babel Conference for Literary Treks 264: No Member Berries.

Literary Treks 266: Bringing the Truth Out of the Shadows
The Next Generation: Available Light - Exclusive interview with author Dayton Ward!

Previous episode: Literary Treks 265: The Music of Big Pink
Next episode: Literary Treks 267: That Word "Sacrifice" Keeps Coming Up

Monday, April 22, 2019

Belle Terre

Star Trek #90
New Earth, Book Two of Six
Belle Terre by Dean Wesley Smith with Diane Carey
Published June 2000
Read January 21st 2019

Previous book (New Earth): #89: Book One: Wagon Train to the Stars
Next book (New Earth): #91: Book Three: Rough Trails

Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Belle Terre

From the back cover:
A six-month distance from the Federation, the planet Belle Terre offers a new life to more than 30,000 families, pioneers, scientists, expatriates, go-getters, loners, and entrepreneurs, all under the watchful eye of Captain Kirk and his crew. But the would-be colonists have barely settled in the untamed wilderness of their new home when Spock makes a startling discovery: not only does the planet's moons contain a rare ore of almost inestimable value, that same moon is also violently unstable. Within months, it will inevitably explode -- destroying all life on Belle Terre!

My thoughts:

The fleet of colony ships, escorted by the USS Enterprise, has finally arrived at their destination: the glistening world they have called Belle Terre. However, their adventure to colonize this planet, located far outside the borders of the Federation, may end before it has a chance to really begin. One of the moons orbiting this new world has a core made up of a material called quasar olivium, an extremely rare substance that exists in a state of quantum flux and thus is also highly unstable. While olivium would make the perfect power source for the Federation, it will also soon cause the moon to violently explode, destroying Belle Terre and the colonists who have settled there.

Of course, it's up to Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise to stop this disaster from happening. Eventually, they are able to hit upon a partial solution, using another space body to puncture a hole in the olivium moon, relieving some of the pressure, but still impacting the environment of Belle Terre significantly. The solution is a costly one, requiring the use of nearly the entire fleet of colony ships to implement. After a series of setbacks and false starts, the fleet is ultimately successful in preventing the worst of the disaster.

After the somewhat disappointing start to this series, Wagon Train to the Stars, I found myself pleasantly surprised by Belle Terre. The threat of the olivium moon was an interesting one, and while you know that the crew will succeed in their plan, it was close enough to complete disaster at a couple of points to certainly keep the tension high. I also appreciated that it wasn't a complete success, and that there is still a great deal of fallout from the nearly-extinction level event that the explosion of the moon represents.

The central conflict of Belle Terre is obviously people vs. nature, a fact that I certainly appreciate after the cartoonish villainy of the antagonist in Wagon Train to the Stars. It is gratifying to see the characters grapple with a scientific dilemma rather than a one-note villain like Billy Maidenshore.

There is also a secondary story in which one of the colony ships, a cutter called the Rattlesnake, sets off to find another habitable world in case the colonists need to evacuate Belle Terre permanently. This storyline is left somewhat open-ended; in the course of their investigation into the disappearance of a nearby civilization, the crew of the Rattlesnake discover a "darkness" that passes through the system at regular intervals. The ship gets a little too close to the phenomenon and loses all power, leaving them unable to alert the rest of the colonists or the Enterprise of the danger the darkness presents, nor are they able to send a signal for rescue. I rather enjoyed this little side story, even though it had a tragic ending. I really hope that these events are followed up on in a later novel in the series.

Final thoughts:

A definite improvement over the first book in the series, Belle Terre presents the crew with an interesting scientific mystery and dire consequences if they fail to find a solution. While it wasn't exactly the most gripping Star Trek novel ever, I felt that the jeopardy was ratcheted up enough to hold my interest and attention throughout. The crew is, of course, ultimately successful, but they still end up paying a high price for their relative victory. There are storylines begun in this novel that I hope are picked up again later in the series. Definitely a solid entry in the New Earth series.

My next read:

Next up is my review of the final I.K.S. Gorkon novel: Klingon Empire: A Burning House by Keith R.A. DeCandido.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Literary Treks 265: The Music of Big Pink

Articles of the Federation
Exclusive interview with author Keith R.A. DeCandido!

Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

In Star Trek, we are used to seeing mighty Federation starships exploring space and boldly going where no one has gone before. However, there is more to Federation society in the 24th century than the men and women of Starfleet: newly-elected Federation President Nan Bacco finds herself embroiled in one crisis after another as she and her administration deal with the fallout from the Tezwa affair and the surprise resignation of her predecessor. The first year of her tenure as president will be her trial by fire, and marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the United Federation of Planets.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther welcome author Keith DeCandido back to the show to discuss his landmark novel, Articles of the Federation. We talk about The West Wing of the 24th century, linking this novel to the other novels in the literary universe, the huge cast of characters, various issues that the Bacco administration has to deal with, answer some questions listeners posted in The Babel Conference, and wrap up with what Keith is working on now and where you can find him online.

In the news segment, we announce the upcoming Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series co-written by Trek.fm's very own Aaron Harvey, and report on the tragic loss of a Star Trek literary legend, author Vonda McIntyre. We also respond to listener feedback from The Babel Conference about Literary Treks 263: Traveling at the Speed of Plot.  

Literary Treks 265: The Music of Big Pink
Articles of the Federation by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Previous episode: Literary Treks 264: No Member Berries
Next episode: Literary Treks 266: Bringing the Truth Out of the Shadows

Friday, April 12, 2019

Wagon Train to the Stars

Star Trek #89
New Earth, Book One of Six
Wagon Train to the Stars by Diane Carey
Published June 2000
Read January 8th 2019

Previous book (The Original Series): #88: Across the Universe
Next book (New Earth): #90: Book Two: Belle Terre

Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Wagon Train to the Stars

From the back cover:
After saving Earth from the threat of V'Ger, James T. Kirk is called again to the final frontier. His new mission: to lead a valiant group of settlers to a distant world, to defend the struggling colony from alien threats, and to explore the diverse mysteries and dangers of a strange new Earth!

Far from the Federation, a newly discovered M-class world has been eyed as a potential home by a group of hardy and determined colonists. Starfleet can spare only one starship to escort the would-be settlers on their perilous voyage, but that ship is none other than the legendary starship Enterprise, commanded by the most well-known captain in the quadrant. Now Kirk finds himself responsible for the lives of 30,000 men, women, and children -- a task that grows all the more difficult when the expedition is caught in the middle of an ancient feud between two dangerous alien races!

Notable quote:
"I don't know why you let him get to you Jim. It wouldn't be the first time a corrupt carpetbagging hair-oil peddler decided he wanted some kind of public adulation and actually got suckers to vote for him by promising them whatever they want." 
Kirk leaned forward a little more, and met him with a glare of absolute agreement. "And anyone who promises you everything you want," he stated, "wants everything you have."

My thoughts:

Wagon Train to the Stars kicks off a six-book series that features the Enterprise  escorting a fleet of colony ships to a planet well off the beaten track. Along the way, they have to contend with pirates, differing attitudes, and even a villain within their own ranks. The colonists intended on making the journey alone, but Starfleet insisted on sending an escort along with them, giving James T. Kirk yet another excuse to eschew his Admiral role and once again sit in the center seat of his beloved U.S.S. Enterprise.

Making sure to ditch the "pajamas" they were saddled with in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Kirk and his crew don the "monster maroons" and head out into the unknown with a fleet transporting 30,000 colonists and their supplies to a far-flung world that lies well outside Federation space. The colonists are very independent-minded and wish to be free of the strictures of the Federation, intending to found the colony on this new planet, called Belle Terre, with the principles of self-determination and individual liberty. This is no surprise, given the political leanings of the author, Diane Carey, who is very famously libertarian.

Before embarking on the mission, Kirk ensures that his crew get the spiffy new uniforms, casting aside the "pajamas" from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

This, of course, leads to conflict between the leader of the colonists and the regimented Starfleet crew of the Enterprise, who are still tasked with protecting the flotilla even when it seems, at times, that the colonists don't want that protection. However, Kirk and his crew continue to provide the colonists with protection and administrative duties during their long trek to Belle Terre.

Speaking of administration of the fleet, this is another area in which Diane Carey's real life has a large influence over the novel. Carey is an avid sailor with a great deal of experience in navigating ships on the open ocean, experience that she brings to bear in writing this novel. The duties that the crew of the Enterprise have with regards to the fleet are couched in naval terms and the entire endeavor has the feeling of a terrestrial ocean-going voyage. Star Trek and naval tradition have long gone hand-in-hand, so this works quite well in my opinion.

Because this is the first novel in a miniseries, we get setup for a number of elements that will presumably play a role in the books to come. The first is a war between two groups: the Blood and the Kauld. For the most part, I enjoyed the fleshing out of these species and their long-standing feud. They look as though they will be an ongoing thorn in the side of the colonization efforts, and I admit to not quite knowing what to make of Shucorion, a Blood who is playing the long game and setting himself up to be a guide that the Belle Terre fleet must rely on. I have read a novel that takes place after the New Earth series, Star Trek: Challenger: Chainmail in the Gateways crossover series, so I know a bit about what the future holds for this character; I am quite curious about what will happen with him along the way.

One aspect of the story that I didn't really like at all was the primary antagonist: Billy Maidenshore, a con man and thief who has previously crossed paths with Kirk. His actions later in the story go so far beyond the pale that I can't think of him as anything other than a sociopath. I prefer the villains to generally be a bit more relatable, but there is nothing redeemable about this character. Any time he shows up in the story, I found myself mentally checking out, which is definitely an unfortunate reaction when reading any novel.

Instead of seeking out strange new worlds, the Enterprise leads a flotilla of colony ships with the mission to tame one.

New Earth is an interesting concept that has been done frequently in other science fiction settings, and it's fun to see it played out in the Star Trek universe. I find myself concerned, however, that it may not hold my attention for a six-novel series. This first novel wasn't bad per se, but I wouldn't exactly call it gripping, either. I can see this story working for a duology or even a trilogy, but I am curious to see how sustainable it is for six consecutive novels. Hopefully the novels that follow (by different authors, I might add) are much more exciting than this one was, or this may feel like a *very* long series indeed.

Final thoughts:

For the most part, Wagon Train to the Stars is a generally enjoyable beginning to the New Earth series, but it didn't really "wow" me. I'm curious to see how things go once the fleet finally makes planetfall, but there is nothing that really stands out as truly memorable or exciting. I did in fact start reading this series years ago when it first came out, but didn't make it very far before losing interest. I'm determined to get through it this time, however, and give it a fair chance. While this first entry is enough to keep my interest throughout, it doesn't make me excited to continue the series. That said, let's see where it goes from here! New Earth may yet surprise me.

Also by Diane Carey:

My next read:

Next up is book two in the New Earth series: Belle Terre by Dean Wesley Smith with Diane Carey.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Release Day! TNG: Available Light by Dayton Ward

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Available Light
by Dayton Ward

In Section 31: Control, the crimes committed by Section 31 came to light, including their role in the ousting of disgraced President Min Zife. However, fallout from these revelations has tainted the reputation of one of our heroes: Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

Now, we are finally getting a followup to Control and the previous TNG novel, Hearts and Minds. Look for Available Light, available in bookstores or online retailers now!

Check out the back cover blurb and links to purchase below.

Publisher's description:
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....

Purchase The Next Generation: Available Light:

Trade Paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-Book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Monday, April 8, 2019

Literary Treks 264: No Member Berries

Titan: Taking Wing
by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels

Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

A new ship, a new crew, and a new mission! Captain William Riker takes command of the brand new U.S.S. Titan, and along with the most diverse crew in Starfleet history, undertakes a mission to Romulus for negotiations that will shape the future of the quadrant. A number of dangerous factions are vying for control of the Romulan Empire, and Riker and his crew are caught in the middle!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson discuss the first novel in the Star Trek: Titan series: Taking Wing by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels. We discuss the new ship and her diverse crew, a potential Romulan civil war, Spock's role in the novel, a surprise appearance by Tuvok, Riker's unorthodox solution to the crisis, the cliffhanger ending, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

At the top of the show, we respond to listener feedback to Literary Treks 262: We Almost Had a Spit Take from our Facebook group, The Babel Conference.

Literary Treks 264: No Member Berries
Titan: Taking Wing by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels

Previous episode: Literary Treks 263: Traveling at the Speed of Plot
Next episode: Literary Treks 265: The Music of Big Pink

Friday, April 5, 2019

In the Heart of Chaos

Star Trek: Prometheus
In the Heart of Chaos by Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg
Release date: November 27th 2018
Read December 10th 2018

Previous book (Prometheus): The Root of All Rage

Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Publisher's description:
The situation in the Lembatta Cluster is deteriorating rapidly. Fleets from the Federation and Klingon Empire are heading for the borders. The crews of the U.S.S. Prometheus and I.K.S. Bortas are racing against time to break the cycle of violence that is spreading through the Alpha Quadrant. Adams and Kromm are on the trail of a secret weapons facility, but instead discover an enemy from their pasts who seems utterly unstoppable. Together, they search for the answers to their questions, before the galaxy goes down in flames.

My thoughts:

The Star Trek: Prometheus trilogy represents a pretty significant milestone in Star Trek literature: the first time an original liscenced Star Trek story has been originally published in a language other than English. Conceived of by German publisher Cross Cult for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Trek, the Prometheus trilogy featured the mission of Captain Richard Adams and the crew of the U.S.S. Prometheus into the Lembatta Cluster to confront a growing terrorist threat to both the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. To represent the Empire's interests, accompanying the Prometheus is the I.K.S. Bortas, former flagship of Chancellor Gowron, and commanded by Captain Kromm.

In this, the third and final novel, the foe that the Federation faces is becoming more apparent: the so-called "Son of the Ancient Reds" from the mythology of the Renao is all too real, and causing feelings of xenophobia, racism, and bigotry to bubble up to the surface for nearly everyone in the Lembatta Cluster. Star Trek fans might remember the "Beta XII-A Entity" from the TOS episode "The Day of the Dove," a non-corporeal being who fed on feelings of hatred and pitted the crew of the Enterprise against the Klingons led by Kang. The entity that Prometheus must confront is a similar one, but much more powerful.

The Starship Prometheus confronts forces that threaten to tear Renao society apart.

According to the ancient legend, the Son of the Ancient Reds was defeated by the "White Guardian," which turns out to be another energy being. Locating others of their kind, the Prometheus sets off to try to convince another being to battle the Son and free the Lembatta Cluster from its influence. However, they are unwilling to risk themselves, instead allowing Jassat ak Namur to carry some of their energy and use it to end the life of the Son. I enjoyed this part of the novel in particular as it allowed the Prometheus to leave the Lembatta Cluster and engage in a more "exploration" type mission while still serving the goals of the main mission.

The Klingons also play an interesting part in the novel. Over the past two books, Kromm has been getting more and more aggressive, obviously also partially under the influence of the Son of the Ancient Reds. However, in this novel, we see a bit of a return to what I would call "good" Klingon behavior. At the end of the novel, I would say that Kromm comports himself quite well, and while he and his first officer never did see eye-to-eye, he once again becomes "honorable" in my eyes.

Initially, I had issues with including Spock in this series, feeling that it made the universe feel very small. However, with this novel, I find myself having to eat my words. Spock's inclusion makes the story much better, linking it to the events of The Original Series, as well as providing some great moments with this classic character.

I initially chaffed against the inclusion of Spock in these novels, but I found him to be an important part of the story when all was said and done.

I've long said that one of the things that Trek does very well is provide a mirror for current societal issues, and in that respect, the Prometheus trilogy excels. Sometimes the parallels might be a bit "on the nose," but seeing issues like terrorism, xenophobia, racism, and the "alt-right" being explored in a Star Trek setting is definitely a good thing. In this novel, we see those issues played out through th eyes of the Renao, who are seeing their way of life destroyed by these issues. One particular story that's followed throughout the novel is the relationship between a father and son, with the son being radicalized by propaganda and, of course, the influence of the Son of the Ancient Reds. While in the case of the real world, our issues aren't being caused by a malevolent entity, Trek can still be a good forum for exploring these issues and presenting them in a way that might cause some of us to reflect on what is going wrong in the world and make changes for the better. I'm obviously not saying that a Star Trek novel will change the world, but if it sparks even one conversation that can nudge things in the right direction, it will have done its job.

The conclusion to the novel was satisfying, but in some ways it seems to have ended a little too perfectly. I'm not saying that I wanted a tragic ending, but there is definitely a lot of "happily ever after" going on here. However, I do like where things are left and would most certainly not be opposed to seeing these characters again in the future. Perhaps another kick at the can with more Star Trek: Prometheus novels from Cross Cult? Or, barring that, incorporating some of the characters and situations into future Star Trek novels from Simon & Schuster would also be very welcome.

Final thoughts:

In the Heart of Chaos and the entire Star Trek: Prometheus trilogy are worthy additions to the Star Trek universe. Humberg and Perplies have put together a fun crew with a lot of potential, and I'm genuinely sad that we may not see them again. I can only hope that the voyages of the U.S.S. Prometheus might continue in some way, shape, or form in the future. It was certainly an interesting take on the novelverse, and I'm sure the authors have some ideas about where to take things from here. If you're interested in hearing from one of the authors, please listen to episode 253 of the Literary Treks podcast, in which Bruce Gibson and I spoke with author Christian Humberg about this novel and the trilogy as a whole. Find the link below!

More about In the Heart of Chaos:

Also by Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

The first book of the New Earth miniseries: Wagon Train to the Stars by Diane Carey.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Enemy Territory

Star Trek: I.K.S. Gorkon
Book Three
Enemy Territory by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Published March 2005
Read December 30th 2018

Previous book (I.K.S. Gorkon): Book Two: Honor Bound
Next book (Klingon Empire): A Burning House

Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Enemy Territory

From the back cover:
The Elabrej Hegemony 
For centuries, the Elabrej firmly believed that they were alone in the universe, and that no sentient life existed outside their home star system. But their beliefs are shattered when a controversial exploration vessel of their own making encounters -- and fires upon -- an alien ship. The aliens return fire and destroy them -- then come to Elabrej to investigate....   
The Klingon Empire 
While exploring the uncharted Kavrot Sector, the crew of the I.K.S. Gorkon learn that their brother ship, the I.K.S. Kravokh, was fired on by an alien vessel and subsequently destroyed it. After setting course to investigate this new people, the Kravokh disappears -- but a massive alien fleet is gathering at their last known location. Captain Klag must determine what has happened to the Kravokh, and who this new foe of the empire is.... 
As two civilizations prepare for war, the secret agendas of both the Elabrej oligarchs and Klingon Imperial Intelligence may serve only to deepen the conflict -- and Captain Klag may also face a mutiny.

My thoughts:

The adventures of the crew of the I.K.S. Gorkon continue in the third book of the series. Continuing to explore the Kavrot sector, one of their fellow Chancellor-class starships, the Kravokh, is attacked and destroyed by a ship hailing from a planet governed by the "Elabraj Hegemony." A civilization that has just recently acquired warp drive, the Elabrej have not encountered extraterrestrial intelligence until their fateful meeting of the Klingons. The Gorkon sets course to investigate this new world and to determine the fate of the Kravokh, and possibly avenge their deaths.

The Elabrej turn out to be a non-humanoid species who find the Klingons as "weird" looking as they themselves are to the Klingons. I enjoyed this look at the Klingons (and by extension other "humanoid" species") through the eyes of an alien species who would find them repulsive. Star Trek has occasionally presented things from the perspective of the "other," most notably in the TNG episode "First Contact." As the novel progresses, we learn more about the Elabrej society and see the social stratification at work. I found their interactions with the Klingons to be a truly interesting juxtaposition to what we're used to with Starfleet crews encountering alien societies. The influence that the Klingons have on their society flies in the face of the values we usually see espoused in a Star Trek novel, but since this series focuses on the Klingon perspective, that seems to very much be the point.

The characters of I.K.S. Gorkon continue to impress me in this novel. Wol in particular is an absolute joy to read about. As leader of the 15th squad of the Gorkon's troops, she provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Klingon "ground-pounders," a perspective we don't usually get, as most Trek stories, Klingon or otherwise, tend to focus on the officers. In Enemy Territory, she has the challenge of dealing with changes in her squad and being captured and experimented on by the Elabrej. Her subsequent escape and rescue of the remaining crew of the Kravokh cemented her in my mind as an all-time favorite character in Star Trek literature. After her ordeal in this novel, Wol bares her soul to her squad, and finds herself the subject of praise from them, even after admitting she was actually from a noble house and not the person they initially thought her to be.

Kurak's trials and tribulations continue in Enemy Territory.

Another character whose story is explored further in this novel is Kurak, the reluctant chief engineer of the Gorkon. A ship designer by trade, she was forced into serving the Klingon Defense Force due to familial obligations, and very much does not want to be serving aboard the Gorkon. Her severe depression over this has led her into becoming an alcoholic and exhibiting severe despondency, which is threatening her health and quality of life. This exploration of depression, from a Klingon perspective, was wholly unexpected and a welcome part of the novel. I suspect that a lot of people will find themselves identifying with Kurak's stuggle, as she feels trapped by forces beyond her control. The journey to mastering those forces and taking charge of one's life can seem to be an impossible one, and the pain that Kurak experiences in Enemy Territory certainly impacts her in destructive ways.

Meanwhile, there is also a mutiny in the works on the Gorkon, led by crew who have transferred over from the I.K.S. Kreltek, a ship that fought on the side of General Talak in the previous novel, Honor Bound. Through this part of the story, we get to see how the security chief, Lokor, operates. He has access to a great deal of intelligence on the crew of the Gorkon, and utilizes any means necessary to get information and quell threats to the security of the ship to a quite frankly frightening degree. It is also opposition to this mutiny that finally prompts Kurak to pick herself up and perform her duty when she takes command of the Gorkon at a critical moment in the novel.

Rodek's true identity seems to be threatening to come out.

Finally, there is also movement on the Rodek story. You may recall that "Rodek" is actually Kurn, Worf's brother, surgically altered and with his memories adjusted to lead a new life as Rodek when the House of Mogh was disbanded during Deep Space Nine, as seen in the episode "Sons of Mogh." Ever since an injury in an earlier I.K.S. Gorkon novel, Rodek has been experiencing flashes of memory of his life as Kurn, as well as gaining more confidence and a more forceful personality. While things don't come to a head yet in this novel, it's clear that his memories as Kurn are being set up to return to the forefront in the next novel.

Final thoughts:

Enemy Territory continues the excellent I.K.S. Gorkon series with terrific character development for this crew of Klingons whom I have come to love as much (if not more) than any of the Starfleet crews of other novel series. Keith DeCandido has managed to imbue these characters with a life of their own, and I find myself truly invested in the outcome of the lives of the crew of the Gorkon. Add to that the truly fascinating world-building and the story of cultures clashing, and Enemy Territory ends up hitting all the right notes for me. I.K.S. Gorkon continues to be one of my favorite corners of the Star Trek literary universe!

More about Enemy Territory:

Also by Keith R.A. DeCandido:

My next read:

Next up is my review of the third and final Star Trek: Prometheus novel: In the Heart of Chaos, the English translation of the novel by Christian Humberg and Bernd Perplies.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Literary Treks 263: Traveling at the Speed of Plot

Spirit Walk, Book Two:
Enemy of My Enemy
by Christie Golden

Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

A rogue Changeling on the loose, having replaced Captain Chakotay, threatens the crew of Voyager, while the Cardassian war criminal Crell Moset performs dangerous experiments on Chakotay and his sister, Sekaya. It's up to Dr. Kaz, Harry Kim, and some help from Admiral Janeway and Tom Paris to free Voyager from the grip of forces determined to tear the crew apart.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are once again joined by Live From the Edge's Brandi Jackola to discuss Enemy of My Enemy, the conclusion to the Star Trek: Voyager: Spirit Walk duology. We talk about the Changeling's plan, Jarem vs. Gradik Kaz, "Super Chakotay," Tom Paris's role in the story, B'Elanna's continuing search for answers on Boreth, the conclusion to the story, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news section, Bruce and Dan announce the release date for TNG: Collateral Damage by David Mack. We also review the special Star Trek: Discovery comic Captain Saru, and respond to listener feedback from the Babel Conference for Literary Treks 261: A Gem of a Novel.

Literary Treks 263: Traveling at the Speed of Plot
Voyager: Spirit Walk, Book Two: Enemy of My Enemy by Christie Golden

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