Wednesday, January 31, 2024

New Comic Day: Picard's Academy #5

 Star Trek: Picard's Academy #5

The fifth issue of Picard's Academy is out today! Check out the various covers below, as well as the synopsis and links to purchase the digital version.

Written by Sam Maggs
Art by Ornella Greco
Cover by Sweeney Boo

Digital (Kindle): | |

Official synopsis:

Starfleet's Evasive Maneuvers exam has turned into an actual battle for survival as Jean-Luc and his classmates find themselves facing the very real threat of death by vacuum of space! They can't reach Starfleet, and enemy Romulans continue invading their ship. Can Picard and his crewmates outmaneuver the enemy in their first-ever ship-on-ship space battle, or will he, in his first role as acting captain, succumb to the chaos and shouting matches among his crew?

Variant covers:

Cover B by Derek Charm

Retailer Incentive Cover A by Sweeney Boo

Previous comic release: Star Trek: Defiant Annual
Next comic release: Star Trek: Defiant #11

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Sons of Star Trek Issue 2 Covers Revealed!

Today, we have the covers as well as the synopsis for the second issue of the upcoming Sons of Star Trek miniseries from IDW, which spins off from the mainline Star Trek and Star Trek: Defiant comic series. And wow... it sounds wild!

Cover A by Jake Bartok

Official synopsis:

Jake, Nog, & Alexander find themselves stuck in a never-ending loop of being blown to smithereens aboard the USS Avery & then revived by Q Jr.—who insists he’s helping them learn some lesson unbeknownst to them. Amid the attack from the Breen, the crew and their strong-willed, bureaucratic captain, Skrain Dukat, refuse to listen to the trio’s musings about an alternate universe. Left with no other choice, they are forced to begrudgingly work together and attempt to step into their Starfleet roles in hopes of helping the ship survive the attack and return home…or be stuck in this alternate reality forever!

Sons of Star Trek #2 is coming in April 2024.

I'm very excited for this. Alternate realities, Q shenanigans, and, if the covers are to be believed, Beckett Mariner, too! Check out the alternate covers below.

Cover B by Megan Levens

Retailer Incentive Cover by Andy Price

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

New Comic Day: Defiant Annual

 Star Trek: Defiant

2024 Annual

It's new comic day again! This week, we have the "Annual" edition of Star Trek: Defiant. Check out the covers and variants below, as well as a synopsis and links to order the digital copy from Amazon/Comixology!

Written by Christopher Cantwell
Art by Ramon Rosanas
Cover by Ramon Rosanas

Digital (Kindle): | |

Official synopsis:

After the classified information she stole from the Klingon High Council fails to earn back her favor with Romulan intelligence, Commander Sela is forced to take drastic action and turns back the clock – literally. But what was supposed to be a surefire plan to correct her failed coup over the Klingons quickly spirals into chaos when the technology malfunctions and sends her to a devastated war-torn past with the last person Sela ever wanted to see again – her mother, Tasha Yar. Written by Christopher Cantwell (Iron Man and Star Trek: Defiant) and drawn by Ramon Rosanas of the Eisner-nominated Star Trek series!

Variant covers:

Cover B by Liana Kangas

Retailer Incentive Cover A by Rahzzah

Online Exclusive Cover by Judd Mercer

Previous comic release: Star Trek #16

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Higher Frontier

Star Trek: The Original Series
The Higher Frontier by Christopher L. Bennett
Release date: March 10th 2020
Read April 2nd 2020

Previous book (The Original Series): The Motion Picture: 40th Anniversary Edition
Next book (The Original Series): Agents of Influence

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

Publisher's description:
Investigating the massacre of a telepathic minority, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise confront a terrifying new threat: faceless, armored hunters whose extradimensional technology makes them seemingly unstoppable. Kirk must team with the powerful telepath Miranda Jones and the enigmatic Medusans to take on these merciless killers in an epic battle that will reveal the true faces of both enemy and ally!

My thoughts:

Christopher L. Bennett is a Star Trek author whom I have long admired. During his years of writing for the Star Trek IP, he has become known for a number of things: stories set during the Star Trek: The Motion Picture time period, and stories that tie up various, disparate pieces of Trek continuity. In both of these respects, The Higher Frontier is the quintessential Christopher L. Bennett Star Trek novel.

The Aenar were first introduced in season four of Star Trek: Enterprise. A subspecies of the Andorians, the Aenar are blind, but with highly developed telepathic skills. It is these abilities that cause them to be the target of a massacre that sets off the events of this novel. At the time of this novel's writing, the Aenar had never been seen outside of Enterprise, and the decimation of their population here might go some way to explaining why. This was, of course, before we met Lieutenant Hemmer, chief engineer of the U.S.S. Enterprise in season one of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Still, given the reclusiveness of the Aenar as well as their abhorrence of anything approaching violence, it makes sense that they wouldn't be a regular fixture of the wider Trek universe. Heck, we rarely even saw Andorians in the years between TOS and Enterprise.

The Aenar, a subspecies of Andorians, are targeted by hunters.

Another welcome follow-up in this novel is the union between Dr. Miranda Jones and the Medusan ambassador Kollos from the TOS episode "Is There in Truth No Beauty?." Their telepathic bond is the focus of a lot of this novel, and I appreciated the deep dive into Medusans. This is an area, again, that modern Trek has mined from, with the character of Zero in Star Trek: Prodigy. I enjoyed the exploration of the bond between Dr. Jones and Kollos, and was very pleased with the fact that the book acknowledged the very poor treatment of Jones in her appearance in TOS. I love when authors go back to sort of "clean up" some of the more problematic parts of past Trek, and Christopher Bennett is a master at it.

Dr. Miranda Jones and her link to Ambassador Kollos is explored in The Higher Frontier.

Another aspect of the novel that I enjoyed was the exploration of characters other than the "big three" (Kirk, Spock, and Bones). In particular, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov get some much-needed attention, and I very much appreciated the time spent with these characters. In one particularly amusing moment, the three of them discuss the "dramatizations" of their previous missions that have been broadcast back on Earth. Comments are made about the unrealistic special effects, the overly-dramatic acting, and even the ridiculousness of Chekov's hair! It's a nice send-up of Star Trek: The Original Series, implying that what we watched may just have been an in-universe reenactment of the actual events, rather than the sacrosanct "historical documents" that many fans would claim them to be.

Finally, I very much enjoyed Christopher Bennett's exploration of the "New Human" phenomenon, an aspect of Star Trek's depiction of humanity that was first introduced by Gene Roddenberry in his novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This is another piece of Trek lore that seems like it would be difficult to square with what we have seen of humanity's future in the Star Trek produced since 1979, but once again Bennett has found a way to (mostly) seamlessly weave these disparate bits of continuity together. One aspect of this is an explanation for telepathic abilities among humans, as shown in the second TOS pilot episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." Humans who exhibited "extra-sensory perception" were referred to as "espers," and this concept was never really explored outside of that episode. A satisfactory and fascinating explanation for the existence of telepathy among humans is given in The Higher Frontier, and as someone who loves diving into the the minutiae of Star Trek, I love that we finally got it.

The Higher Frontier offers an explanation for human "espers" such as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner and Gary Mitchell from "Where No Man Has Gone Before."

Final thoughts:

As we have come to expect from Christopher L. Bennett, The Higher Frontier serves to weave together bits of disparate Star Trek continuity in ways that are both surprising and entertaining. Add to that strong character work for both major and minor characters and a story that takes place in a unique period of Star Trek history, and the result is another terrific story from an author whose work is always a joy to read.

More about The Higher Frontier:

Also by Christopher L. Bennett:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next on my catch-up list is a Star Trek: Voyager novel: Seven of Nine by Christie Golden.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Positively Trek Book Club Podcast: Godshock

Positively Trek Podcast:

Star Trek: Volume 1

The beginning of the Star Trek ongoing comic by Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly

Hardcover: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Positively Trek 258: Book Club: Godshock
Star Trek #1-6 by Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly

In 2022, IDW began an ambitious project: an on-going Star Trek comic series featuring the return of Benjamin Sisko on a mission from the Prophets: someone is killing “gods,” and it’s up to Ben to stop them!

In this episode of the Positively Trek Book Club, hosts Dan and Brandi take a look at the first collection of stories in the series: Star Trek: Volume One: Godshock. Written by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, the stories take Sisko and the crew of the USS Theseus on a mission from the Prophets. The threat: someone is killing all of the “gods” of the Star Trek universe!

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Previous episode: Making It So - A Memoir

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

New Comic Day: Star Trek #16

 Star Trek #16

"Glass and Bone" Part 4

It's Wednesday, which means it's new comic book day! This week's offering from the Star Trek universe is Star Trek #16, continuing the adventures of Captain Benjamin Sisko and his crew aboard the USS Theseus! "Glass and Bone" continues with part 4. Pick it up today from your local comic shop, or digitally via the links below.

Written by Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing
Art by Marcus To
Cover by Marcus To

Digital (Kindle): | | 

Official synopsis:

The Tzenkethi Festival of Supremacy has come at a heavy cost for Captain Sisko when members of the Theseus crew members lose their lives to gargantuan beasts. But despite seeing through the battle and warding off the ancient reptilian species, Sisko finds himself overshadowed by the Romulans and their efforts to persuade the Tzenkethi into an alliance. All the while, Cardassia joins the bid to win over the reptilian species in hopes of taking advantage of their new war fleet. Can Sisko convince this cunning yet brute force-favoring species of Starfleet ideals... or do the Federation's foes have a point?

Variant covers:

Cover B by Elizabeth Beals

Cover C by Malachi Ward

Next comic release: Star Trek: Defiant - Annual

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

New Comic Day: The Scorpius Run #5

 Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

The Scorpius Run #5

Out today is the final issue in The Scorpius Run, a Strange New Worlds comic miniseries from IDW. Head out to your local comic shop today to pick it up!

Written by Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott
Art by Angel Hern├índez
Cover by Angel Hern├índez

Digital (Kindle): | | 

Official synopsis:

Captain Pike's worst nightmare has come to fruition. Under immense gravitational waves on the racecourse, the Enterprise's shields have collapsed, her hull integrity is failing, and the ship is being torn apart, piece by piece. All the while, Spock is aboard an alien vessel of foreign tech, among a crew desperate to push on and win Zephyx's race. He just may be the Enterprise crew's only hope for survival, but can he persuade the others to defy Zephyx when their home planet is on the line, and can he do so in time?

Variant covers:

Cover B by Sean Von Gorman

Cover C by Suspiria Vilchez

Retailer Incentive Cover A

Retailer Incentive Cover B by Megan Levens

Previous comic release: Star Trek: Picard's Academy #4
Next comic release: Star Trek #16

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Losing the Peace

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Losing the Peace by William Leisner
Published July 2009
Read March 19th 2020

Previous book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): Titan: Over a Torrent Sea
Next book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): Titan: Synthesis

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

Spoilers ahead for
Losing the Peace!

From the back cover:
Fortune has smiled on Lieutenant Jasminder Choudhury, chief of security on the U.S.S. Enterprise. She has survived. But her homeworld, Deneva, one of the planets targeted in the massive Borg invasion, has not. The entire surface has been wiped clean of everything, killing anyone who did not evacuate and rendering the planet uninhabitable. Choudhury is left to wonder whether her family was one of the displaced. Or are they all gone forever? 
The Enterprise is just one ship, and Jasminder Choudhury is just one officer, yet her story is being repeated over and over across the galaxy. Hundreds of thousands of displaced persons haunt the space ways, seeking comfort, looking for someplace safe, somewhere, anywhere to find solace. Captain Jean-Luc Picard is ordered to do everything he can to rescue and if need be to recover the lost souls from the Borg invasion. 
For the first time in generations, citizens of the Federation know want, uncertainty, and fear. Bloodied yet unbowed, the Federation stands on the edge of a precipice. The captain of the Enterprise finds himself in the unenviable position of wondering whether it is true that those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace. 

My thoughts:

The galaxy is in turmoil. The recent Borg invasion has devastated many worlds throughout the Federation and the surrounding powers. Billions of lives have been lost, and the traumatic effects are keenly felt by both governments and individuals. With all that has transpired, it would be foolish to think that everything would be back to normal for the Federation simply because the Borg threat has been neutralized. Losing the Peace is about picking up the pieces and licking the wounds inflicted by the Borg conflict. While it would not serve the overall story to remain mired in the post-invasion doldrums forever, it is necessary to take a breath and address the massive damage inflicted on the Federation. Ultimately, Losing the Peace is the first step in moving forward from Destiny, and the story rightfully takes its time in doing so.

The Federation is hurting, and part of the Enterprise's assignment is to relieve some of those pains. The state of the Federation mirrors that of the characters in the novel, such as Jasminder Choudhury. Her family was lost in the Borg invasion, and she is understandably suffering. She is but one of countless people whose lives have been completely upended by the invasion, not to mention the billions who are now displaced due to the loss of their homeworlds. I appreciated the time the book takes with Choudhury's story, as well as the role Worf plays in it. As has been a hallmark of this period of Trek literature, Worf is shown to be much more than the hot-headed security chief he was often portrayed as during the TNG days. A thoughtful and caring partner for Choudhury is a role that is fitting for the man Worf has become.

Worf has experienced a great deal of growth since his early days aboard the Enterprise-D.

The best Star Trek (in my opinion) deals with issues that resonate with the current day, and Losing the Peace is no exception. The refugee crisis experienced by the Federation has obvious parallels to the ongoing and worsening refugee crises we are going through here in the 21st century. Many of us can't imagine experiencing something that completely upends our way of life (although the events of recent years may have done a bit to disabuse some of that notion). Most refugees from war-torn regions or victims of environmental disasters likely didn't imagine that they would find themselves in that situation either, but end up in horrible circumstances through no fault of their own. Written back in 2009, with each passing year, the message of Losing the Peace becomes more and more relevant.

Leading the charge to assist the refugees on the planet Pacifica is Dr. Beverly Crusher. I appreciated the novel's focus on her character, as oftentimes she is relegated to background status, especially in the TNG films. In Losing the Peace, she works alongside Miranda Kadohata assisting the refugees with their medical needs, and ultimately advocating for them in the face of a hostile populace. We even get a few flashbacks to earlier in her career, fleshing out her character in ways I wasn't expecting. 

Dr. Crusher coordinates relief efforts on Pacifica, and we get more insight into her character than I anticipated.

The other main plot in the novel has Captain Picard dealing with the president of Alpha Centauri, who is threatening to withdraw his world from the Federation over the refugee issue. Picard's solution is one that I desperately wish would work in the real world. He essentially kidnaps the president, bringing him aboard the Enterprise to witness first-hand the plight of displaced Federation citizens. This causes the president to have a change of heart and open his world to the refugees. If only compassion were able to be elicited from world leaders in this way today!

Final thoughts:

Much like Keith DeCandido's A Singular DestinyLosing the Peace by William Leisner serves as connective tissue between the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy and what comes next. Readers may be disappointed that there are no huge battles, no amazing feats of Starfleet derring-do, but to me, this is a strength of Losing the Peace. With a focus on the characters and their trauma, this novel is a thoughtful and poignant look at issues that are relevant to today's world. I feel like it would be easy for Losing the Peace to be forgotten among the larger "event" novels, but dismissing this story would be a mistake. The novel has a lot to say, and does a very good job of crafting a tale that becomes more relevant with each passing year.

More about Losing the Peace:

Also by William Leisner:

My next read:

From 2020: Christopher L. Bennett's Star Trek: The Original Series: The Higher Frontier.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

The Last Best Hope

Star Trek: Picard
The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack
Release date: February 11th 2020
Read February 27th 2020

Next book (Picard): The Dark Veil

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

Publisher's description:
A thrilling novel leading into the new CBS series, Una McCormack’s The Last Best Hope introduces you to brand new characters featured in the life of beloved Star Trek captain Jean-Luc Picard—widely considered to be one of the most popular and recognizable characters in all of science fiction.

My thoughts:

Una McCormack has earned a reputation as a stellar, thoughtful, and compelling author within the Star Trek literary universe, and is one of my absolute favorite writers currently producing Trek fiction. So when it was announced that she would be penning the debut novel for the (at the time) new Star Trek: Picard series, I was thrilled. The author who has become known for her deftness at weaving together political stories, usually involving Cardassians, was going to handle some of the toughest political storytelling in the Star Trek mythos: the impending destruction of the Romulan Star Empire, Picard's impossible mission to save the Romulan people, and the fallout of the mission and supernova on the United Federation of Planets. As a doctor of sociology, Dr. Una McCormack is singularly equipped to handle these stories!

I was not disappointed. McCormack deftly crafts a story that fills in some of the blanks from the years prior to Star Trek: Picard's first season. The passion and humanity with which Jean-Luc Picard tackles the problem of the Romulan evacuation is a perfect reflection of the character as we have known him throughout The Next Generation: a man who believes wholeheartedly in the principles of justice and compassion. This, of course, puts him at odds with the reality of the situation: as much as Picard wants to save everyone and ensure justice for all who are being evacuated, the "situation on the ground" makes this impossible. As the mission drags on and Picard faces numerous barriers, he continually finds himself having to compromise in the face of heated opposition from both the Romulan government itself, and eventually, even Starfleet and the Federation.

One of the obstacles that Picard faces feels very familiar to us here in the 21st century: denial of reality. There are many in the Romulan Empire who try to convince their citizens that the threat of the supernova isn't real; that it is "fake news," basically. When this novel was written, there were obvious parallels to climate change denial and the undermining of media by public figures. In the years since, even more obvious examples have made themselves known in the form of science denial, specifically in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now that the first season of Picard is a few years in the past, we all know where this story is leading: the eventual falling-out between Admiral Picard and the upper echelons of Starfleet, resulting in Picard's parting of ways with the service. Although the outcome is known, The Last Best Hope does an admirable job in showing us how it got to that point. There is almost a mounting horror as the Romulan evacuation efforts go more and more awry, and a feeling of crushing inevitability that is not ruined by knowing the outcome, but rather, is enhanced by it.

Raffi and Picard during the final days of the Federation's Romulan evacuation efforts.

I truly appreciated the background the novel provides, setting up the status quo in Picard season one. While reading the book isn't necessary to enjoy and fully understand the show, it does act as a nice bonus for viewers wanting more insight into things such as Picard's relationship with Raffi, the animosity shown to Picard by Admiral Clancy, and even some insights into the relationship between Jurati and Maddox. Viewers of Picard who chaffed at Raffi regularly calling Picard "JL" will perhaps understand their relationship more after reading this novel. Given the events of this book, the casual familiarity between the two characters made a lot more sense to me.

One final aspect of the novel that I wish would be picked up on by future canon Trek projects: there are hints in this story that there is more to the Romulan supernova than meets the eye. Given the speed at which its effects propagated through Romulan space, as well as the massive destruction it caused, an artificial origin for the supernova would do a lot for the verisimilitude of this tragedy within the Star Trek mythos. I would love it if some future Star Trek television show or film picked up these threads and crafted the story behind the causes of the destruction of the Romulan Star Empire.

Final thoughts:

The Last Best Hope is a thoughtful and mature examination of the events leading into the first season of Star Trek: Picard. Una McCormack is one of my favorite Trek authors, and the perfect choice to capture the political climate and the personal struggles of Picard in this period. I loved the answers to lingering questions that arose from the first season, and while reading this novel isn't necessary to enjoy and fully appreciate that season of Picard, the novel works very well as a supplement and is a terrific read for hardcore Trek fans, as well as those who might be wanting just a little more insight into the events of Picard.

More about The Last Best Hope:

Also by Una McCormack:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next up is The Next Generation: Losing the Peace by William Leisner.