Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bajor: Fragments and Omens

Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Volume Two
Bajor: Fragments and Omens by J. Noah Kym
Published May 2004
Read March 19th 2015

Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Trill: Unjoined

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Ferenginar: Satisfaction is not Guaranteed

MMPB: | |
Kindle: | |

Spoilers ahead for Fragments and Omens and the rest of the Deep Space Nine relaunch!

From the back cover:
The honeymoon is over. Following the euphoria of Bajor's marriage to the Federation, the real work of making that union work has begun. But even on a world where politics and religion are intertwined, conflicting visions of Bajor's role in the interstellar arena divide the planet's leadership. As newly minted Captain Kira Nerys sets the tone for the kind of Starfleet officer she will be, First Minister Asarem makes a bold move to define Bajor's voice in the Federation, while the returned Benjamin Sisko prepares for a future that only he, as yet, can see.

My thoughts:

Bajor has entered an exciting and daunting new chapter. After having gone through long periods of occupation, rebuilding, and standing on her own, Bajor is now a fully-fledged member of the United Federation of Planets. As with any huge change, there are bound to be a few growing pains, but for the most part, the coming era of Bajoran prosperity is looking very bright indeed.

Until, of course, the unthinkable happens: Sidau, a village on Bajor, is completely destroyed in a huge explosion, seemingly perpetrated by off-world elements. Sidau turns out to have been the village from the first season DS9 episode "The Storyteller," in which a dying religious leader names Chief O'Brien as his replacement. The motive behind this heinous crime seems like it will be the impetus for the story of Deep Space Nine going forward.

The Bajoran village of Sidau is completely destroyed in what appears to be a terrorist attack.

Over the course of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I have come to truly care for Bajor and her people, but I don't think I realized how much until reading Fragments and Omens. As Bajor faces this latest crisis, as well as the huge changes coming following joining the Federation, I found myself feeling very deeply for the psyche and the character of the people of Bajor. In one part of the story, Jake sets out on his own to "find himself," and ends up spending time with a young Bajoran woman named Rena. Through her and her friends, we see what the huge political changes Bajor is experiencing mean to the common Bajoran. Rena struggles between embracing the brave new future Federation membership will bring and maintaining her family's traditional way of life in the village of Mylea.

In Fragments and Omens, we meet Rena, a young Bajoran artist torn between embracing the future and honoring the past.

As Rena's story begins, we see her returning home to Mylea from university. Having experienced life outside of her home village, she has become somewhat jaded with her home community and circle of friends. I myself spent two years away from home teaching English overseas. Upon returning to my hometown in northern Alberta, Canada, I had an experience very similar to Rena's. My time away from home changed me in some fundamental ways, ways that I am still hesitant to share with my friends and family for fear that they won't fully embrace the ways I have changed. Rena's story, therefore, felt very familiar to me. I don't necessarily believe the old saying that "you can't go home again," but going home again can mean seeing it through changed eyes, and one may not always like what they see when they return.

Above all, this is a coming of age story, both for Bajor and for characters such as Jake and Rena. I loved this story's exploration of these changes through the experiences of the strong characters the populate the novel. As the Bajoran Militia aboard DS9 is folded into Starfleet, many Bajorans worry that their identity will be subsumed into the vast Federation. However, these changes will also bring about a lot of good on Bajor, and I believe that the message of the story is that the Bajoran people are strong enough to make their voices heard over the chorus of the Federation. If the characters we see in Fragments and Omens are any indication, Bajorans will be a prominent and vocal member of the Federation.

Final thoughts:

J. Noah Kym writes the Bajoran characters exceptionally well. Kira, Ro, First Minister Asarem, Opaka, Krim, Rena; all of the characters have a unique voice that really establishes the strength and diversity of the Bajoran people. If these stories truly purport to be the definitive representations of the worlds of Deep Space Nine, then Fragments and Omens succeeds brilliantly. Kym gives us a beautiful look at this world and her people, and sets the stage for the next chapter in the Deep Space Nine saga.

More about Fragments and Omens:

My next read:

Next up: The all-new continuation of Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: it's Uncertain Logic by Christopher L. Bennett!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Literary Treks 96: Invited to Sili-Con

Tony Daniel on The Original Series: Savage Trade

One of the joys of Star Trek literature is what it can add to the series, even the bad  episodes can be improved upon through a well written book or comic.

In this episode of Literary Treks, Matthew Rushing is joined by author Tony Daniel to talk about his latest novel, Savage Trade that follows up on the classic TOS episode, "Savage Curtain." We discuss the genesis of the book, building from what is seen in the show, good and evil, historical characters, expanding on the Vulcans, writing the ensemble, why Tony chose certain figures from history, creating races for the book, his upcoming projects, and lastly where to find Tony online.

With Dan on a super-secret Section 31 mission we are saving news and comic reviews till the next episode.

Literary Treks 96: Invited to Sili-Con
Tony Daniel on his novel Savage Trade

Previous episode: Literary Treks 95: The Sith Lords of Star Trek

Next episode: Literary Treks 97: TOS's "Family" Episode

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Release Day! Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic

The new Star Trek novel for April hits shelves today: Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic, the latest novel chronicling the early years of the Federation from veteran Trek novelist Christopher L. Bennett.

In fact, Uncertain Logic has been showing up early on the shelves of a few bookstores around the world. For example, here in Canada, I managed to get my hands on a copy this past weekend:

Click the links below to purchase Uncertain Logic from Amazon. You'll be helping out Trek Lit Reviews with each order!

My review of Uncertain Logic

Publisher's description:
Years ago, Jonathan Archer and T’Pol helped unearth the true writings of Vulcan’s great philosopher Surak, bringing forth a new era of peaceful reform on Vulcan. But when their discovery is seemingly proven to be a fraud, the scandal threatens to undo a decade of progress and return power to the old, warlike regime. Admiral Archer, Captain T’Pol, and the crew of the U.S.S. Endeavour investigate with help from their Vulcan allies, but none of them suspect the identity of the real mastermind behind the conspiracy to reconquer Vulcan—or the price they will have to pay to discover the truth.

Meanwhile, when a long-forgotten technological threat re-emerges beyond the Federation’s borders, Captain Malcolm Reed of the U.S.S. Pioneer attempts to track down its origins with help from his old friend “Trip” Tucker. But they discover that other civilizations are eager to exploit this dangerous power for their own benefit, even if the Federation must pay the price!

Purchase Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic:

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

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Oppressor's Wrong

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Slings and Arrows, Book Two of Six
The Oppressor's Wrong by Phaedra M. Weldon
An e-book exclusive novella
Published November 2007
Read February 19th 2015

Previous book (Slings and Arrows): A Sea of Troubles
Next book (Slings and Arrows): The Insolence of Office

E-book (Kindle): |

Spoilers ahead for The Oppressor's Wrong and the rest of the Slings and Arrows series!

From the back cover:
The Enterprise is assigned to ferry demolition experts from Deep Space 9 to Starbase 375, but just as they arrive, Admiral Leyton declares martial law on Earth and the Federation is put in a state of emergency. On the Starbase, Admiral Hahn has gone missing, and there are several unexplained events -- and one of the demolitions experts, Lieutenant Daniels, isn't convinced that it's necessarily Dominion treachery.

Picard and the Enterprise crew must learn the truth -- about what happened to Admiral Hahn and about the truth beyond the martial law declaration -- before the Enterprise herself becomes the next casualty...

My thoughts:

The Oppressor's Wrong is the second book in the six-part series chronicling the first year of service of the Enterprise-E, edited by Keith R.A. DeCandido. As this series takes place concurrently with some of the huge socio-political happenings on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it makes sense that we see the TNG crew coping with some of these events. In this case, we see some of the effects and consequences of Admiral Leyton's attempted military coup in the DS9 episodes "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost."

If book one, A Sea of Troubles, was about the threat of an outside agent to Starfleet's security and values, then The Oppressor's Wrong is about the opposite: what happens when our own fear and paranoia get the better of us. As both the DS9 episodes and this story teach us, we are often our own worst enemy.

Leyton, Star Trek's ultimate "badmiral."

In this story, we learn that Leyton's coup has much farther-reaching intended consequences than we saw in the two-parter episode. More than any other flag officer we've seen on Star Trek, Leyton is deserving of the term "Badmiral," a title coined on the Literary Treks podcast! The Enterprise and her crew become embroiled in one of Leyton's plots at Starbase 375, and with the help of Padraig Daniels, Picard and his people must get to the bottom of it.

We get some much-needed insight into the character of Lieutenant Daniels, seen in First Contact and Insurrection.

I really appreciate that these stories flesh out the new characters we see in the TNG films. In the last book, it was Sean Hawk, and in this story, we learn a lot more about Lieutenant Daniels and how he came to be security chief aboard the Enterprise. A somewhat down-to-earth, "every man" sort of character, Daniels makes for an interesting addition to the Enterprise's senior staff.

Another interesting aspect of the story was Data's development following the installation of his emotion chip in Star Trek: Generations. While a lot of his behavior didn't ring exactly true to me, it makes sense that he would have a long period of difficulty adjusting to the integration of emotions into his life. In the films, we see his initial difficulties in Generations, while the consequences of these new emotions are largely ignored in the subsequent movies. In this story, we finally get a welcome insight into that initial adjustment period.

Final thoughts:

A solid entry in the Slings and Arrows series. Not spectacular, but it achieves its purpose of showcasing the Enterprise crew dealing with one of the biggest crises the Federation faces during the year prior to Star Trek: First Contact. It was fun to have the TNG and DS9 crews interacting somewhat, and it was especially good to learn more about the criminally-underused security chief from First Contact and Insurrection. I mean, this is a man who wasn't even invited to the staff meeting when Picard briefs his crew about a current Borg invasion of the Federation! I bet he was really happy when Worf just waltzed onto the bridge and took over tactical...

Further resources:

My next read:

Next week, look for my review of Bajor: Fragments and Omens by J. Noah Kym, the next story in my on-going Deep Space Nine retrospective re-read.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Literary Treks 95: The Sith Lords of Star Trek

Deep Space Nine: Mission Gamma: Lesser Evil

Season 8 of the DS9 relaunch is quickly coming to a close as Mission Gamma comes to an end. On their way home, Elias Vaughn and the crew of the USS Defiant make a shocking discovery. Meanwhile, Kira Nerys pursues Shakaar Edon's supposed assassin to Trill, while Ro Laren, Admiral Akaar, and General Lenaris investigate why Hiziki Gard assassinated the Bajoran leader.

In this episode of Literary Treks, Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther dive into Lesser Evil, the last book in the Mission Gamma series. We discuss our initial thoughts, how DS9 makes things their own, the hardest part of the book to read, the fast-paced plot, and our ratings.

In the news segment, we pay our respects to Leonard Nimoy by talking about some of the best Spock books, then move to recent comic issues of the Apes/Trek crossover, Ongoing #42 and New Visions #5.

Literary Treks 95: The Sith Lords of Star Trek
Deep Space Nine: Mission Gamma: Lesser Evil by Robert Simpson

Previous episode: Literary Treks 94: I'm Getting Too Old for This Bleep

Next episode: Literary Treks 96: Invited to Sili-Con

Covers for New Frontier e-book trilogy!

Coming later this year is a trilogy of New Frontier e-books, from New York Times bestselling author Peter David! The Returned continues the New Frontier saga for the first time since 2011's Blind Man's Bluff. I'm really looking forward to the return of Calhoun and Shelby and the rest of the New Frontier crew. Look below for the covers, as well as the publisher's description for the trilogy!

Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and the crew of the U.S.S. Excalibur are back, picking up three months after the stunning events depicted in New Frontier: Blind Man’s Bluff. Calhoun's search of Xenex has failed to find any survivors, and now he is bound and determined to track down the race that killed them—the D'myurj and their associates, the Brethren—and exact vengeance upon them. His search will take the Excalibur crew into a pocket universe, where he discovers not only the homeworld of the D’myurj, but another race that shares Calhoun's determination to obliterate his opponents. But is this new race truly an ally…or an even greater threat?

Part 1 coming July 6th

Part 2 coming August 3rd

Part 3 coming September 7th

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Shadow of the Machine

Star Trek: The Original Series
Shadow of the Machine by Scott Harrison
An e-book exclusive novella
Release date: March 9th 2015
Read March 11th 2015

Previous book (The Original Series): Savage Trade

Next book (The Original Series): Crisis of Consciousness

Kindle: | |

Spoilers ahead for Shadow of the Machine!

Publisher's Description:
After its recent encounter with V’ger, the U.S.S. Enterprise has returned to dry dock to finish its refit before commencing its continuing mission. The crew has been granted a two-week period of shore leave before preparations for their next voyage begin. Shaken by their encounter with V’ger, Kirk, Spock and Sulu travel to their respective homes and must reflect upon their lives—now forever changed.

My thoughts:

Once again, Simon & Schuster has treated us to a Star Trek e-book exclusive novella, the latest in their continually growing line of stories to supplement their monthly novel releases. And, as usual, they have chosen a story that highlights one of the many strengths of this shorter format: an intimate character study of three of our beloved characters.

As I have stated in many earlier reviews, the e-book novella format allows for many types of stories that probably wouldn't fly in a full-length novel. Shadow of the Machine presents us with one such story. Above all else, Shadow of the Machine is a very introspective story, providing us with insights into the characters of Kirk, Spock, and Sulu. Each of our heroes must face a very personal challenge upon returning home following the incident with V'Ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The loss of Decker and Ilia in The Motion Picture weighs heavily on Kirk's mind, and Shadow of the Machine explores the psychological fallout from that event.

Post-The Motion Picture and pre-The Wrath of Khan is a period that is not often explored in Trek fiction. This era is ripe for exploration, and I was very happy to discover that Shadow of the Machine takes place in this period.

One small issue I have is that Shadow of the Machine is not in continuity with some of my favorite Star Trek novels. Christopher L. Bennett's outstanding Ex Machina is one novel that portrays the period following The Motion Picture quite well, and I am slightly sad that it is irreconcilable with what we are presented with in Shadow of the Machine. Similarly, this novella shows Sulu's child and family life in a way that doesn't fit with another of my favorite books, Peter David's The Captain's Daughter. Neither of these qualms are deal-breakers, however, and Shadow of the Machine is a compelling and well-told story on its own merits. There is no rule that the novels need to be in continuity with one another, only that they don't contradict "canon," or what has been portrayed on-screen in Star Trek television shows or films.

Final thoughts:

In Shadow of the Machine, Scott Harrison seems to have set out to write the TNG episode "Family" for the TOS crew, and it works quite well for the most part. The character notes are nearly perfect, and the insight into the lives of Kirk, Spock, and Sulu are handled very nicely. Kirk's visit with his family in Iowa was very interesting, especially since insights into his extended family are few and far between. I have always wondered what became of his nephew, Peter, following the harrowing events of the TOS episode "Operation: Annihilate!".

In "Operation: Annihilate!", Kirk's nephew Peter is rescued from Deneva colony, where his parents were killed by alien creatures. In Shadow of the Machine, we find out what has become of him.

Stories that explore the fallout of huge events are always necessary, in my opinion. It is one of the reasons I loved TNG's "Family," and always felt just a little disappointed that we never saw Picard truly dealing with the aftermath of his lifetime lived as Kamin of Kataan following the wonderful episode "The Inner Light." These are real people with real struggles, and it makes sense that huge events would take their toll on the psyches of our heroes. Shadow of the Machine explores this idea, and does it quite well.

More about Shadow of the Machine:

My next read:

My next review will be for the second book in the TNG series, Slings and Arrows. Look for my review of The Oppressor's Wrong by Phaedra M. Weldon, coming soon!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Literary Treks 94: I'm Getting Too Old For This Bleep

Keith DeCandido: Slings and Arrows: Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment

From the moment First Contact hit the screens and Geordi mentioned the Enterprise-E had been in space for a year, fans wondered what transpired that year. With huge events on DS9, fans knew the crew of the Enterprise had to be involved somehow. Luckily, Treklit came to the rescue with the Slings and Arrows series.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther are joined by author Keith DeCandido to talk about the last book in Slings and Arrows, Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment, as well as the series. We discuss the conclusion, the genesis of the series, choosing the writers, Keith's installment, Sisko and Picard, tying it all together, favorite moments, Keith's future in Treklit, his work outside Star Trek, and where to find him on-line.

In the news, we talk about a new book and cover to judge, The Wit and Wisdom of Star Trek, and one more thing from Dayton Ward.

Literary Treks 94: I'm Getting Too Old for This Bleep
Keith DeCandido on Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment

Previous episode: Literary Treks 93: Riker Goes Full Fabio

Next episode: Literary Treks 95: The Sith Lords of Star Trek

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Savage Trade

Star Trek: The Original Series
Savage Trade by Tony Daniel
Release date: February 24th 2015
Read March 9th 2015

Previous book (The Original Series): Foul Deeds Will Rise

Next book (The Original Series): Shadow of the Machine

MMPB: | |
Kindle: | |

Spoilers ahead for Savage Trade!

From the back cover:
The U.S.S. Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, is en route to the extreme edge of the Alpha Quadrant, and to a region known as the Vara Nebula. Its mission: to investigate why science outpost Zeta Gibraltar is not answering any Federation hailing messages. When the Enterprise arrives, a scan shows no life-forms in the science station. Kirk leads a landing party and quickly discovers the reason for the strange silence—signs of a violent firefight are everywhere. Zeta Gibraltar has been completely raided. Yet there are no bodies, and the entire roster of station personnel is missing...

My thoughts:

Tony Daniel's first Trek novel, 2013's Devil's Bargain, was an excellent entry into the Trek panoply of novels. He took a fascinating species, the Horta, and crafted a very cool story around them. In that novel, Daniel was able to find the voices of the TOS characters and provide a truly fascinating role for them, particularly Spock.

This latest entry, Savage Trade, is similar to his previous novel in a number of ways. For one thing, it is a sequel to an episode of The Original Series; in this case, the third season's "Savage Curtain." Additionally, it takes a species from Star Trek, also rock-based, and fleshes them out in an unexpected way. While the Excalbians are not nearly as interesting (to me) as the Horta, Daniel still manages to make them readable and a fascinating species.

Savage Trade features the return of the enigmatic Excalbians from the episode "Savage Curtain."

I would have been interested to see the research that went into writing this novel. I am a student of history, and while American history is not my speciality, I am always fascinated in the differences between actual history and our perceptions of it, especially with regards to revered historical figures. While Washington is hailed as the first President of the United States and was in many ways a great man, I appreciated that the novel did at least mention his shortcomings and failings. Everyone is human and has many different facets, even historical figures who are revered and reviled alike.

The Excalbians, as before, appear to the Enterprise crew as historical figures. Instead of President Lincoln, we get President Washington this time around.

While Savage Trade was a fun story with an interesting premise, there were a few things about the novel that caused it to lose a few points in my eyes. For one, a storyline featuring the central antagonists of the piece, a L'rah'hane pirate army and the remnants of the Hradrian slaver empire that was presumed to have been eradicated in the 22nd century, was never resolved. In some ways, I liked the way the novel dealt with them, leaving the new government formed by the Excalbians to the task of following up with these plot points, but I would have liked to have learned more about the threat. Also, a new, terrible threat is revealed in the final few chapters of the novel, a storyline that felt just a little too "tacked on" for my tastes.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how welcome a story featuring Spock was during this recent period after having lost the great Leonard Nimoy. Tony Daniel's insights into both his character and the exploration of Vulcan society and history in general was very welcome at this time. It was a pleasure to picture Nimoy "playing" Spock once again in my head as I read Savage Trade.

Spock's role in Savage Trade, as well as the background on Vulcan life, was very welcome, especially during this period following the death of Leonard Nimoy.

Final thoughts:

An interesting read, and one that fleshes out an alien race that wasn't particularly compelling the first time, the Excalbians. I definitely appreciated the work that must have gone into researching this novel, and I found the depictions of the historical characters to be quite fascinating. However, I was curious as to why there were no historical figures from the current century or very many from the one before. For that matter, why not have a few appearances of historical figures from the 22nd century? Can anyone say Jonathan Archer cameo?

Aside from these potentially missed opportunities and a plot that jumps around a little bit too much, I found Savage Trade to be a satisfactory diversion. While I enjoyed Daniel's previous Trek novel more than this one, I am still looking forward to more from this author in the future. There are plenty more Star Trek episodes that deserve a follow-up, and Tony Daniel has proven that he can deliver!

More about Savage Trade:

Also by Tony Daniel:

My next read:

Next week, look for my review of the newly-released e-book exclusive novella, Shadow of the Machine by Scott Harrison.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Release day! Shadow of the Machine by Scott Harrison

Out today: A new adventure set immediately after Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Star Trek: The Original Series: Shadow of the Machine, an e-book exclusive novella, is available for download now!

My review of Shadow of the Machine

Publisher's description:
An all-new original e-novella set in the Original Series universe—taking place immediately after the events of the 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture!

After its recent encounter with V’ger, the U.S.S. Enterprise has returned to dry dock to finish its refit before commencing its second five-year mission. The crew has been granted a two-week period of shore leave before preparations for their next voyage begins. Shaken by their encounter with V’ger, Kirk, Spock, and Sulu travel to their respective homes and must reflect upon their lives—now forever changed.

Purchase The Original Series: Shadow of the Machine:

E-book (Kindle): | |

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Literary Treks 93: Riker Goes Full Fabio

The Gorn Crisis

The Original Series of Star Trek gave us many aliens that became iconic, even though they may have only been seen once or twice. Andoians, Tellarites, Tholians, and of course, the Gorn. Seen only twice in Star Trek, the Gorn have become fan favorites.

In this episode of Literary Treks, Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther talk about the comic series, The Gorn Crisis. We discuss the story, if the comic captures the TNG characters, the art work, the impact this comic has on the novels, and our ratings.

In the news segment, we talk about the latest issue of Star Trek Ongoing: Behemoth and the upcoming May comics.