Monday, September 16, 2019

Literary Treks 281: The Next Evolutionary Step of the Borg

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Before Dishonor
by Peter David

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

The Enterprise has fought a costly battle with the Borg. Now, the massive cube they faced seems to be dormant, and Starfleet sends a team led by Admiral Kathryn Janeway to investigate. However, the Borg ship comes alive without warning and captures the admiral, using her to lead a direct attack on the heart of the Federation. Now, it's up to the crew of the Enterprise, along with Spock and Seven of Nine, to counter the renewed Borg threat.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther discuss Star Trek: The Next Generation: Before Dishonor by Peter David. We talk about the newly-evolved Borg, Seven of Nine's role in the story, Ambassador Spock, unexpected actions taken by Picard's crew, the Doomsday Machine, Admiral Janeway's fate, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

At the top of the show, we review Star Trek: Year Five #5 from IDW and respond to listener feedback from The Babel Conference for Literary Treks 279: The Young, Rash, Impetuous Russian.


Literary Treks 281: The Next Evolutionary Step of the Borg
The Next Generation: Before Dishonor by Peter David





Previous episode: Literary Treks 280: The Rigellians are Psycho
Next episode: Literary Treks 282: The Official Guide to the Animated Series

Friday, September 13, 2019

Cover of Discovery: Dead Endless Revealed!

On the Star Trek twitter feed, as well as on Facebook by the author, Dave Galanter, the cover for the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery novel Dead Endless has been revealed! Focusing on the character of Stamets, Dead Endless tells the story of the U.S.S. Discovery's encounter with the mysterious mycelial network. Check out the cover art below, as well as the publisher's description and links to pre-order from Amazon!

Star Trek: Discovery: Dead Endless is set to be released on December 17.



Publisher's Description:

An all-new novel based upon the explosive Star Trek TV series! 

The U.S.S. Discovery’s specialty is using its spore-based hub drive to jump great distances faster than any warp-faring vessel in Starfleet. To do this, Lieutenant Paul Stamets navigates the ship through the recently revealed mycelial network, a subspace domain Discovery can briefly transit but in which it cannot remain. After responding to a startling distress call originating from within the network, the Discovery crew find themselves trapped in an inescapable realm where they will surely perish unless their missing mycelial fuel is found or restored. Is the seemingly human man found alone and alive inside the network the Starfleet officer he claims to be, or an impostor created by alien intruders who hope to extract themselves from the mycelial plane at the expense of all lives aboard Discovery?
Pre-order Dead Endless:

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


Monday, September 9, 2019

A Flag Full of Stars

Star Trek #54
The Lost Years Book Two
A Flag Full of Stars by Brad Ferguson
Published April 1991
Read July 29th 2019

Previous book (The Lost Years): Book One: The Lost Years
Previous book (TOS Numbered): #53: Ghost-Walker

Next book (The Lost Years): Book Three: Traitor Winds
Next book (TOS Numbered): #55: Renegade


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

Spoilers ahead for A Flag Full of Stars
!

From the back cover:
It has been eighteen months since the Starship Enterprise completed her historic five-year mission and her legendary crew has seperated, taking new assignments that span the galaxy.

On Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk has married and started a new life as the Chief of Starfleet operations where he is overseeing the refit of his beloved ship, now commanded by a new Captain -- Willard Decker. Kirk's only tie to his former crewmates is his Chief of Staff, a young Lieutenant Commander named Kevin Riley.

But Kirk's new, quiet life changes when he meets a scientist named G'dath who is on the brink of perhaps the greatest scientific discovery in a century. G'dath's invention could mean tremendous strides in Federation technology, or -- in the wrong hands -- the subjugation of countless worlds.

When Klingon agents capture this new technology, Admiral Kirk and Lt. Commander Riley are all that stands between peace and devastation for the entire Federation.

My thoughts:

It's been a long time since I read The Lost Years, but I finally sat down and read the follow-up: A Flag Full of Stars, marketed as the second book in the Lost Years saga.

I love when books "fill in the gaps" in Star Trek future history, and the so-called "lost years" are one of my favorite gaps to fill! The years between The Original Series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture represent big changes, not just in the lives of the characters, but in the whole look and feel of the Star Trek universe.

Admiral Kirk continues to adapt to his life without the Enterprise, and balances his new job with his marriage to Admiral Lori Ciana.

However, it is the changes for our characters that are the most meaningful. Kirk's role as a newly-minted admiral, as well as the breakup of the crew we were familiar with in TOS are significant changes, and the exploration of these changes is very interesting to me. Kirk in particular continues to deal with his feelings regarding his promotion to admiral, seeing his chances to be on the Enterprise slip away from him. His role at the beginning of the novel has him overseeing the refit of Enterprise, as well as other starships, but Starfleet Commander-in-Chief Nogura sees something else in Jim that leads him to appoint Kirk as Starfleet's media relations officer.

One of the aspects of this novel that I enjoyed was the glimpse of life on Earth outside of Starfleet. Part of the story centers around a Klingon named G'dath, who lives on Earth and teaches a junior high class. We learn that his experience is much like the experiences of many immigrants into a society unfamiliar with them: he faces judgement and fear by those who live around him, all of it unwarranted. G'dath is a thoughtful and intelligent person, with expertise that is being underutilized in his current role. In his spare time, he works on a project that yields unexpected results: a seemingly unlimited power source that is able to propel an object at unimaginable speeds. Of course, agents of the Klingon Empire who have G'dath under observation learn of the discovery and make a move to acquire the technology for themselves. G'dath approaches Starfleet through Kirk and a news reporter named Nan Davis for protection, while the Klingon agents continue to pursue him, eventually putting his students in danger as well.

The main plot of the novel was compelling, and I enjoyed the look at life outside of Starfleet. G'dath is a fascinating character, and I would love to see more of him in future stories. His students are also an interesting group, with some of them more wary of the Klingon teacher than others. Civilian life within the Federation has always been interesting to me, and I wish that we would get more of this sort of thing in Star Trek as a whole.

Kirk's Chief-of-Staff is a familiar face: Kevin Riley, now a lieutenant commander, who is facing his own personal problems as well as a demanding job.

Kirk's Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Commander Kevin Riley, also plays a significant role. Like Kirk, there is a lot going on in his personal life, and it impacts his job performance significantly. I liked his arc in this novel, and I look forward to it (hopefully) continuing in the remaining Lost Years books.

I have to admit, I had been spoiled on certain elements of the climax of this novel with regards to the role the U.S. space shuttle Enterprise plays in the outcome of the story. I was generally worried about that plot element, thinking it to be far too implausible to work. Amazingly, Ferguson is able to make use of the shuttle in a way that wasn't completely outlandish. It still strikes me as fairly implausible, but not completely out of the realm of possibility. Some readers may find it a bridge too far, however.

Final thoughts:

I was pleasantly surprised with A Flag Full of Stars, finding it to be an enjoyable adventure with characters I found to be quite interesting. Even an implausible finish to the story didn't detract too much from my enjoyment, and it was fun to see Kirk in a situation other than starship command, and still succeeding brilliantly. Plus, there is a kitten in the story, and who wouldn't love that?

My next read:

Next up is a video review for the latest Star Trek new release: The Original Series: The Antares Maelstrom by Greg Cox!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Release Day! The Official Guide to The Animated Series

Star Trek:
The Official Guide to the Animated Series
by Aaron Harvey and Rich Schepis

Amazingly, there has never been an official companion to the animated series of Star Trek that ran for two seasons in the 1970s... until now! From Aaron Harvey (host of Trek.fm's Saturday Morning Trek podcast) and Rich Schepis comes the first official guide to the animated series.

Check out the publisher's description below, along with links to purchase from Amazon!




Publisher's description:
Star Trek was left for dead in 1969, after the cancellation of The Original Series (TOS). However, even though new adventures of the Enterprise and its crew were not being produced, it remained in the zeitgeist due to syndication and fan-run conventions. As a result, Star Trek became more popular and led to Gene Roddenberry and Filmation Studios continuing the Enterprise’s original five-year mission on Saturday morning television.

Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS) was a critical success, airing 22 episodes over two seasons and earning the franchise its first Emmy Award in 1975. The show featured the voices of almost the entire original cast, including William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, along with TOS writers Dorothy Fontana (“Journey to Babel”), David Gerrold (“The Trouble with Tribbles”), acclaimed science-fiction author Larry Niven, and many more. 

This book is the first officially dedicated to TAS, and provides fans with behind-the-scenes production documents, never-before-seen art, and all-new interviews with the people who produced the Enterprise's new animated adventures. 

Star Trek: The Official Guide to The Animated Series reveals the efforts it took to translate TOS into animated form, includes a Databank encyclopedia of new and returning characters, ships, and planets, as well as trivia, bloopers, and TAS's connections to other Star Trek shows.

Purchase Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series:

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


Monday, September 2, 2019

Literary Treks 280: The Rigellians Are Psycho

Star Trek: Early Voyages
Issues #1-4
With special guests Shashank Avaaru & Barry DeFord!


Captain Christopher Pike has played a large role in the Star Trek universe over the past year, and we have made a concerted effort to take a look at the books that chronicle the adventures of this captain of the Enterprise. So it only makes sense to cast our gaze back to the late '90s, when Marvel Comics briefly held the licence to print Star Trek comic books, and released a series based on the voyages of the U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of Chris Pike.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are joined by Shahank Avaaru and Barry DeFord of the Trek Geeks podcast Poli-Treks to discuss the first four issues of Star Trek: Early Voyages. We talk about the crew's introduction in "Flesh of My Flesh," a face-off with the Klingons in "The Fires of Pharos," the crisis on Rigel VII in "Our Dearest Blood," and revisit Talos IV from a new perspective in "Nor Iron Bars a Cage." We wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings and where Barry and Shashank can be found online.

At the top of the show, we respond to your feedback on the Babel Conference for Literary Treks 278: His Losses Continue to "Mount."


Literary Treks 280: The Rigellians Are Psycho
Star Trek: Early Voyages, Issues 1-4





Previous episode: Literary Treks 279: The Young, Rash, Impetuous Russian
Next episode: Literary Treks 281: The Next Evolutionary Step of the Borg

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Enterprise War

Star Trek: Discovery
The Enterprise War by John Jackson Miller
Release date: July 30th 2019
Read August 4th 2019


Previous book (Discovery): The Way to the Stars
Next book (Discovery): Dead Endless


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

Publisher's description:
A shattered ship, a divided crew—trapped in the infernal nightmare of conflict!

Hearing of the outbreak of hostilities between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire, Captain Christopher Pike attempts to bring the U.S.S. Enterprise home to join in the fight. But in the hellish nebula known as the Pergamum, the stalwart commander instead finds an epic battle of his own, pitting ancient enemies against one another—with not just the Enterprise, but her crew as the spoils of war.

Lost and out of contact with Earth for an entire year, Pike and his trusted first officer, Number One, struggle to find and reunite the ship’s crew—all while Science Officer Spock confronts a mystery that puts even his exceptional skills to the test…with more than their own survival possibly riding on the outcome….

My thoughts:

Click here to watch my video review of Discovery: The Enterprise War, or click play on the embedded video below!



Final thoughts:

With The Enterprise War, the Star Trek: Discovery novels are five for five! John Jackson Miller has crafted an excellent story that fills in the gaps in the Discovery television series. It was fun to follow the adventures of the Enterprise for the year before season 2 and discover new insights into that season's storyline. Jackson nails the delivery of the characters, especially Captain Pike and Number One. The actors' voices are clearly heard when reading this novel. Top marks, definitely looking forward to Miller's next contribution to the Star Trek litverse!

More about The Enterprise War:



Also by John Jackson Miller:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

My next review is for the second book in the old Lost Years saga: Star Trek #54: A Flag Full of Stars by Brad Ferguson.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Sword of Damocles

Star Trek: Titan
Sword of Damocles by Geoffrey Thorne
Published December 2007
Read July 19th 2019

Previous book (Titan): Orion's Hounds
Previous book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): The Next Generation: Q & A

Next book (Titan): Destiny, Book 1: Gods of Night
Next book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): The Next Generation: Before Dishonor


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

Spoilers ahead for Sword of Damocles
!

From the back cover:
Fate: It is an idea as old as life itself. Do our choices shape the future, or is it the other way around? And if the path we walk is predestined—if the way we are to meet our end is knowable—what might that knowledge compel us to do?

Titan's travels take it to a world at the edge of reason. Orisha is a planet whose people have lived for centuries beneath an unfathomable celestial body in their sky. From the moment it first appeared, the object was thought to be something unnatural, an ill omen that has made them feel watched, exposed, vulnerable—provoking a primal fear that has steered the course of their civilization. The Orishans call it "the Eye," and because it has consistently defied every scientific attempt to decode its true nature, many are convinced it represents an intelligence that is studying their world...and perhaps waiting to destroy it.

But the secret behind the Eye threatens Titan as well as Orisha... and it holds a special meaning for one member of Captain Riker's crew in particular, whose lifelong quest to balance faith and scientific truth is tested against the harsh, unblinking glare of inevitability.

My thoughts:

In Greek literature, Damocles was a man who greatly admired King Dionysius for his wealth and power. Dionysius offered Damocles the opportunity to take his place on the throne for one day so that Damocles could experience having the king's fortune that he so greatly desired. Damocles eagerly accepted the proposal. However, in order to illustrate the true lot of a king, Dionysius arranged to have a sword hanging directly above the throne. The sword, suspended by single hair of a horse's tail, threatened to drop at any time, surely killing Damocles. The sword evoked the fear and anxiety the king experienced, having made many enemies during his reign.

Sword of Damocles
By Richard Westall - own photograph of painting, Ackland Museum, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3437614

Nowadays, we use the Sword of Damocles as an allusion to this tale, a metaphor representing impending doom, ready to crash down on us at a moment's notice. It is an appropriate title for this Star Trek: Titan novel, representing the doom that hangs over the planet Orisha, home to a native species who worship "Erykon's Eye," an anomaly in the sky visible from the planet's surface, which rains down destruction periodically.

The U.S.S. Titan's fate becomes linked with Orisha's when the starship finds herself becalmed in the midst of a dangerous region of space. Unable to free the ship, Riker sends a team via shuttlecraft to the nearby Orisha, believing that experiments carried out by the inhabitants have led to the Titan's predicament. As the team nears the planet, they encounter what would seem to be "Erykon's Eye," which causes them to crash land on Orisha. However, while Vale, Troi, Keru, and Ra-Havreii end up a couple of days in the past, Jaza Najem and Ensign Modan find themselves closer to a thousand years in Orisha's past.

The story from this point forward is, admittedly, a little confusing. It is sometimes difficult to discern who is where and what each person is experiencing. We as the readers slowly learn the circumstances in which the characters find themselves, and the pieces begin to fall into place. However, reading reviews online, there are many readers who still found this story very confusing right through to the end.

In fact, reviews I've read online for this novel tend to be very mixed. There is certainly a contingent who very much dislike it, but there are also a significant number of readers who enjoyed the story. I count myself in this latter group. Jaza Najem, Titan's science officer, plays a significant role in the story. He is a character I quite like in the series, and Sword of Damocles is his novel. Jaza is person of faith, and the themes of science and faith come into play here as well. Star Trek traditionally tends to steer clear of religion, but the Bajorans have always been an exception since the early days of Deep Space Nine, and Jaza's faith in the Prophets and the path They have laid out for him play a large role in his journey in this novel.

However, this novel continues a tradition that I've come to resent a little in the Titan series: the loss of a character in each book. In Sword of Damocles, Jaza follows the path of Nidani Ledrah, T'Lirin, and Orilly Malar before him. Ah, Jaza, we hardly knew ye.

One other item of note: this novel features the first look at the actual design of the U.S.S. Titan, thanks to a design contest put on by Simon & Schuster. The winner, Sean Tourangeau, has his design featured both on the cover of the novel and in a schematic shown in the novel. This design has been established as the Titan such that I actually own a licensed Eaglemoss model of the ship. Crazy!

The U.S.S. Titan, designed by Sean Tourangeau, in Eaglemoss collection form!

As I said above, I quite enjoyed this novel. The predicament the away team finds itself in, as well as the situation faced by the crew left behind on the Titan, made for an exciting and interesting mystery. The true nature of Orisha and Jaza's ultimate role in the history of that world gave me a lot to think about after finishing Sword of Damocles. I appreciate when a story makes me think, and doesn't just leave my mind when the reading is finished.

Final thoughts:

Sword of Damocles is not a typical Star Trek novel. The style of the writing is a significant departure from the "norm," but in my opinion, the story is all the better for it. There is some great character work in this novel, and some interesting time-twisting adventures that, while maybe a little confusing, serve to make the story a fascinating one. I would have liked to have seen Geoffrey Thorne tackle more Star Trek novels after Sword of Damocles.

More about Sword of Damocles:

My next read:

Next up is my video review of John Jackson Miller's Star Trek: Discovery: The Enterprise War!