Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Star Trek
Spectre by William Shatner
Published January 1998
Read January 18th 2017

Previous book (Shatnerverse): Avenger

Next book (Shatnerverse): Dark Victory

Spoilers ahead for Spectre!

From the back cover:
Retired and happily in love, Kirk believes his adventuring days are over. But as he returns to Earth for the first time since his apparent "death" upon the Enterprise-B, events elsewhere in the galaxy set in motion a mystery that may provide Kirk with his greatest challenge yet.  
The Enterprise-E, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, is exploring an unstable region of space on a scientific mission of vital concern to Starfleet when they discover the last thing they ever expected to find: a lonely, battle-scarred vessel that is instantly recognizable to every member of Picard's crew. Five years after being lost with all hands in the Delta Quadrant, the Starship Voyager has come home!  
The commander of Voyager, one Tom Paris, explains that Captain Kathryn Janeway and half of the original crew is dead, but if that is true, who is the mysterious woman who has kidnapped Kirk back on Earth, pleading with him to assist her against a threat to the entire Federation?  
All is not as it seems, and soon Kirk is forced to confront the hideous consequences of actions taken more than a hundred years prior, as well as his own inner doubts. After years of quiet and isolation, does he still have what it takes to put things right-and join with Captain Picard to save the lives of everyone aboard a brand-new Enterprise 
An unforgettable saga peopled by old friends and ancient enemies, Star Trek: Spectre propels Kirk on a journey of self-discovery every bit as harrowing as the cataclysmic new adventure that awaits him.

My thoughts:

Once again, the 24th century is in danger, and once again, only James T. Kirk can save it!

Spectre is the first book of William Shatner's Mirror Universe trilogy, and again this book series features the retired captain being brought back into service to counter a new threat to the safety of the Federation. It seems, of course, that he is uniquely suited to countering this enemy and winning the day, all while the "next generation" of starfleet sits in the wings, seemingly impotent against the threat of the mirror universe. Picard, for instance, loses the Enterprise to the enemy who has ventured into our universe from the mirror universe, and falls victim to them a number of times, having to be rescued by Kirk on a few occasions. He even finds himself irresistibly attracted to Kirk's wife, Teilani, because she's just that beautiful and alluring. Or her pheromones are in overdrive because she's pregnant. Could go either way, actually.

Of course, it's William Shatner's world, and you're all just playing in it!

Still, it is quite frustrating when Kirk is the one to solve all of the problems with the TNG crew sitting on sidelines saying the equivalent of "I dunno." With that being said, there is a lot to enjoy in this "Shatnerverse" outing.

First, I love the "mirror" debate as it is presented in Spectre. Is someone who has our face and our DNA the same as us deep down, shaped solely by the different experiences they have had in their lives, or are they two fundamentally different people? Star Trek Nemesis attempted to tackle this question with Picard and his clone, Shinzon, to limited success in my opinion. I much prefer the juxtaposition in Spectre between "our" Jean-Luc Picard and his Mirror Universe counterpart. The idea that someone exactly like myself in every way except for our life experiences could turn out to be a cold-blooded killer is a chilling thought, and Spectre plays with that idea quite well.

Spectre handles the "dark reflection" for Picard better than Nemesis does, in my opinion.

Part of the reason that Kirk is so willing to become involved with the mirror universe again is his feeling of responsibility for what has happened there. In the century since his initial visit in the TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror," the Terran Empire has collapsed, defeated by "The Alliance," a pact that consists of the Klingons, the Cardassians, and later the Bajorans. Kirk feels that this was due to his attempt to convince Spock of the illogic of the empire, and the mirror Spock and Janeway believe this to be the case as well. Kirk's speech at the end of "Mirror, Mirror" convinced mirror Spock to dismantle the empire by becoming emperor and instituting a number of reforms. However, I disagree that Kirk is responsible. The denizens of the Mirror Universe had their own decisions to make, and pinning everything on Kirk is unfair. I mean, sure, Kirk's speeches are legendary, but I think that taking sole responsibility for the fate of an alternate universe is taking it a bit far. I instead agree with the Spock of "our" universe, who says to Kirk, "Jim, can you honestly believe that a handful of words you exchanged with my counterpart can have led to such far-reaching consequences in the mirror universe?"

Regardless, Kirk sees it as his responsibility to right the wrongs of the past and help steer the Mirror Universe onto a better path, and Spectre is the first chapter in a story that will force Kirk to come face to face with the greatest enemy he has ever faced: Tiberius, his mirror universe counterpart who is a powerful megalomaniacal tyrant, and will surely be an incredibly formidable opponent.

He is, after all, William Shatner deep down as well, isn't he?

Final thoughts:

Spectre, like most of the novels of the Shatnerverse, suffers a bit from the ego of William Shatner, in my opinion. It seems that Kirk has to be superhuman and can never have an equal among the people around him. And fair enough, it's written by William Shatner (along with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens), and his face is on the cover, so it's understandable the story has to be centered on him. However, the TNG crew's "voices" never seem to ring true for me, and the idea of Kirk being this awesome this late in his life strains credibility as the books go on. However, there is enough to like in this novel that I can give it a safe three out of five stars, and the story itself was interesting enough to make me want to pick up the next book, Dark Victory.

More about Spectre:

Also by William Shatner (with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens):

My next read:

Next up is another video review, this time for Dayton Ward's Hidden Universe Travel Guide to the Klingon Empire!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Enigma Tales

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Enigma Tales by Una McCormack
Release date: June 27th 2017
Read July 7th 2017

Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Section 31: Control
Next book (Deep Space Nine): Gamma: Original Sin

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

Spoilers ahead for Enigma Tales!

Publisher's description:
Elim Garak has ascended to Castellan of the Cardassian Union...but despite his soaring popularity, the imminent publication of a report exposing his people's war crimes during the occupation on Bajor looks likely to set the military against him. Into this tense situation come Dr. Katherine Pulaski—visiting Cardassia Prime to accept an award on behalf of the team that solved the Andorian genetic crisis—and Dr. Peter Alden, formerly of Starfleet Intelligence. The two soon find themselves at odds with Garak and embroiled in the politics of the prestigious University of the Union, where a new head is about to be appointed. Among the front-runners is one of Cardassia’s most respected public figures: Professor Natima Lang. But the discovery of a hidden archive from the last years before the Dominion War could destroy Lang’s reputation. As Pulaski and Alden become drawn into a deadly game to exonerate Lang, their confrontation escalates with Castellan Garak—a conflicted leader treading a fine line between the bright hopes for Cardassia’s future and the dark secrets still buried in its past...

My thoughts:

Click here to watch my video review of DS9: Enigma Tales, or click play on the embedded video below!

Final thoughts:

Another winner in Una McCormack's catalog! She has crafted a compelling story that goes, at times, to some very dark places, but that is offset by a great sense of humor. McCormack captures the voices of the characters magnificently, especially Garak, which is no surprise. McCormack has become a master of writing for the enigmatic Cardassian tailor/spy/leader of Cardassia!

More about Enigma Tales:

Also by Una McCormack:
Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next up is my review of the Shatnerverse novel Spectre, the first book of William Shatner's Mirror Universe trilogy.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Literary Treks 220: I Wanna Know What Love Is

Captain's Blood
by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Hardcover: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
MMPB: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle):  Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

In front of a crowd of thousands of Romulans, Ambassador Spock is apparently killed in a terrorist bombing. Captain James T. Kirk, retired, is enlisted by Starfleet to lead a team to Romulus to investigate. However, not all may be as it seems, and this particular mission will have consequences that stretch throughout the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, and with a very personal connection to Kirk's own family!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson discuss the Shatnerverse novel Captain's Blood, the second book in the Totality trilogy. We talk about Spock's apparent death, Reman society, Kirk's son Joseph, the threat of the Totality, crews of different generations coming together, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news this week, we discuss the release of the latest Discovery novel, Desperate Measures by Dayton Ward, and review the most recent New Visions comic, "Isolation."

Literary Treks 220: I Wanna Know What Love Is
Captain's Blood by Williams Shatner (with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens)

Previous episode: Literary Treks 219: No Such Thing as a Ferengi Customer Service Department
Next episode: Literary Treks 221: Different Flavors of Vulcan

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Literary Treks 219: No Such Thing as a Ferengi Customer Service Department

Deep Space Nine #23: The 34th Rule 
by Armin Shimerman and David R. George III
Exclusive Interview with David R. George III!

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

Deep Space Nine was known for, among other things, the quality of its writing and the depth of its characters. The care that the writers put into developing each character along with the obvious passion the actors themselves had for the roles made the character development on DS9 second to none. With that in mind, what better way could there be to explore a character in novel form than to turn the reigns over to a prolific writer and a talented actor who knows his own character inside and out?

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther welcome author David R. George III back to the show to discuss The 34th Rule, a novel he co-wrote with DS9's Armin Shimerman, whom you may know as Quark! We talk about the genesis of the story, the Ferengi belief system, politics, racism towards the Ferengi, the cycle of violence, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings and where you can find David R. George III online.

In our news segment, we review issue 16 of Boldly Go, the fourth part of the "I.D.I.C." miniseries.

Literary Treks 219: No Such Thing as a Ferengi Customer Service Department
The 34th Rule by Armin Shimerman and David R. George III
Exclusive Interview with David R. George III!

Previous episode: Literary Treks 218: You Oatmeal-Headed Scotsman!
Next episode: Literary Treks 220: I Wanna Know What Love Is

Friday, February 9, 2018

Prime Directive

Star Trek
Prime Directive by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
First published September 1990
Read December 13th 2016

Previous book (TOS - Hardcover): Spock's World

Next book (TOS - Hardcover): Probe

Spoilers ahead for Prime Directive!

From the back cover:
Starfleet's most sacred commandment has been violated. Its most honored captain is in disgrace, its most celebrated starship in pieces, and the crew of that ship scattered among the thousand worlds of the Federation... Thus begins Prime Directive, an epic tale of the Star Trek universe. Following in the bestselling tradition of Spock's World and The Lost Years, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens have crafted a thrilling tale of mystery and wonder, a novel that takes the Star Trek characters from the depths of despair into an electrifying new adventure that spans the galaxy.

Journey with Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the former crew of the Starship Enterprise to Talin-- the planet where their careers ended. A world once teeming with life that now lies ruined, its cities turned to ashes, its surface devastated by a radioactive firestorm-- because of their actions. There, they must find out how-- and why-- this tragedy occurred and discover what has become of their captain.

My thoughts:

The "Prime Directive" has a storied place in Star Trek history. Also known as Starfleet General Order One, the prime directive governs the interaction of Starfleet officers with other cultures that are not a part of the Federation. The directive is particularly concerned with societies that have not yet achieved warp drive. All effort must be made to prevent interference with the natural development of a planet's society by Starfleet officers, especially if they have not yet crossed this important technological milestone.

Many times throughout Star Trek, various crews have found themselves in conflict with the idea of the prime directive. After all, drama is born of conflict, and it makes sense that the writers of Trek would use this all-important rule to generate story ideas. This means, however, that there are many instances in which our heroes have, if not outright violated the prime directive, at least come very close and have skirted it from time to time.

Because of the events of Prime Directive, Kirk loses command of the Enterprise and must clear his name to get her back.

In this novel, thought by many to be one of the best Star Trek novels ever written, Kirk and his crew are accused of violating the directive in the worst way imaginable, an event that culminates in the complete destruction of an alien society. However, how this came to pass is not immediately apparent when reading this novel. Instead, we join the story after the tragedy has occurred, and see where life has taken our valiant crew since.

Kirk is working as a laborer, having been cashiered out of Starfleet, while the other members of his command staff are scattered around the Federation. Their goal is to ultimately clear Kirk of any wrongdoing in the affair, and Prime Directive follows their efforts to do so.

Eventually, through flashbacks, we get to see what transpired to destroy all life on the planet Talin. On the face of it, it would seem that Kirk and company had some responsibility in the calamity, but of course, we will eventually find out that the ultimate cause is much more complicated and Kirk and company will be exonerated.

There is a lot to love about Prime Directive, and it certainly earns its reputation as one of the best Trek novels of all time. The Reeves-Stevenses have crafted a very compelling story that puts each of the characters in a really interesting place. I would have loved to have seen this story adapted for the big screen, as it has a very epic, cinematic feel to it. The writers of the Kelvin Timeline films have cited Prime Directive as one of their influences, and I can't help but think that I would have enjoyed an adaptation of the novel a great deal more than what we got in, say, Star Trek Into Darkness.

The character work in Prime Directive is excellent, and the Kirk-Spock-McCoy triumvirate is particularly well-represented.

The character work in particular is top notch, with the authors capturing the voices of the main characters brilliantly. The holy trinity of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are in perfect form here, and the story feels like it has real consequences to the lives of the characters. My only complaint story-wise is the "side quest" that Sulu and Chekov undertake to get where they need to be in the story; there were times that this particular part of the novel felt a bit ridiculous.

The final piece of the puzzle that solves the mystery of the destruction of the planet Talin was also a highlight of Prime Directive. The force that was ultimately responsible is a fascinating concept, and without spoiling it outright, I will say that the entity that caused the calamity is something that I would love to see explored more. Prime Directive adds much to the lore of the Star Trek universe in ways that were very surprising. Note: for a more spoilery discussion of the conclusion of Prime Directive, check out episode 174 of the Literary Treks podcast, in which Matthew Rushing, Bruce Gibson and I discuss the book in more depth.

Final thoughts:

In many ways, Prime Directive exemplifies the best of what Star Trek novels have to offer. A compelling story with real stakes for our characters, and all brought to life with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens' penchant for crafting a tale that had me turning pages late into the night. A solid 5/5 Trek novel, and quite possibly the best book to give to someone who is interested in reading Trek fiction but has never picked up a Star Trek novel before. Great stuff!

More about Prime Directive:

Also by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens:

My next read:

Next up is my video review of Una McCormack's latest Cardassian epic, Deep Space Nine: Enigma Tales.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Literary Treks 218: You Oatmeal-Headed Scotsman!

The Gold Key Archives, Volume 4
Part 2

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

The voyages of the Starship Enterprise continue as the valiant crew faces off against exotic stellar phenomena, emotionally-stunted geniuses, and corrupt Starfleet officials who aim to ruin Kirk's career! That's right: it's a return to the bizarre other-world of the Gold Key comics!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson review the three remaining issues in the Gold Key Archives, Volume 4. We discuss the mysterious "black hole" phenomenon in "Siege in Superspace," a planet full of kids playing a deadly game in "Child's Play," and Kirk's shocking transformation in "The Trial of Captain Kirk!"

In the news section, we take a look at the Architects of Infinity cover and read the blurb, discuss the news of the new Star Trek: Discovery: Succession comic and review Star Trek: Discovery #2.

Literary Treks 218: You Oatmeal-Headed Scotsman!
The Gold Key Archives, Volume 4, Part 2


Previous episode: Literary Treks 217: Agree to Disagree
Next episode: Literary Treks 219: No Such Thing as a Ferengi Customer Service Department

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Release Day! Discovery: Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward

Star Trek: Discovery
Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward

Going by the currently-available release schedule from Simon and Schuster, we won't be getting many releases this year, so it's doubly embarrassing that I didn't post this on time! However, better late then never as the cliche goes. Yesterday was the official release day of the latest offering from the world of Trek fiction: Discovery: Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward! It has already been showing up on bookshelves around the world, so go pick up your copy today! And check out below for the cover art, back cover blurb, and links to purchase Drastic Measures from Amazon.

Publisher's description:
An original novel based upon the explosive new Star Trek TV series on CBS All Access!

It is 2246, ten years prior to the Battle at the Binary Stars, and an aggressive contagion is ravaging the food supplies of the remote Federation colony Tarsus IV and the eight thousand people who call it home. Distress signals have been sent, but any meaningful assistance is weeks away. Lieutenant Commander Gabriel Lorca and a small team assigned to a Starfleet monitoring outpost are caught up in the escalating crisis, and bear witness as the colony’s governor, Adrian Kodos, employs an unimaginable solution in order to prevent mass starvation.

While awaiting transfer to her next assignment, Commander Philippa Georgiou is tasked with leading to Tarsus IV a small, hastily assembled group of first responders. It’s hoped this advance party can help stabilize the situation until more aid arrives, but Georgiou and her team discover that they‘re too late—Governor Kodos has already implemented his heinous strategy for extending the colony’s besieged food stores and safeguarding the community’s long-term survival.

In the midst of their rescue mission, Georgiou and Lorca must now hunt for the architect of this horrific tragedy and the man whom history will one day brand “Kodos the Executioner”….

Purchase Discovery: Drastic Measures:

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

Previous Release: Prometheus: Fire with Fire

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Literary Treks 217: Agree to Disagree

Captain's Peril by William Shatner
(with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens)

Hardcover: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
MMPB: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Audiobook: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Saving the galaxy on a regular basis is pretty tiring work, and for Starfleet's finest, rest and relaxation is important. But when two legendary Starfleet captains decide to take a vacation on Bajor, it isn't long before another crisis arises, and it's up to Captain James T. Kirk and Captain Jean-Luc Picard to once again save the day.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther discuss the Shatnerverse novel Captain's Peril, the first book in the Totality trilogy. We talk about the murder mystery plot, philosophical differences between Kirk, Spock, and Picard, different ideas about risk, the Prime Directive debate, the huge left turn the story takes at the end, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news segment, we discuss a poll in our Goodreads group about where our listeners get their Star Trek novels.

Literary Treks 217: Agree to Disagree
Captain's Peril by William Shatner


Previous episode: Literary Treks 216: He Should Have Served Prune Juice
Next episode: Literary Treks 218: You Oatmeal-Headed Scotsman!