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

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

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

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

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,

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!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Literary Treks 279: The Young, Rash, Impetuous Russian

Star Trek: The Original Series
The Antares Maelstrom
Exclusive interview with Greg Cox!

Purchase The Antares Maelstrom:
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A 23rd century gold rush kicks off when a rare element is discovered on planet Baldur III, and it's up to the crew of the Enterprise to maintain order when the small colony world is overrun by pioneers hoping to strike it rich. Complicating matters is the nearby Antares Maelstrom, a treacherous area of space that has claimed the lives of many explorers over the years. With his crew stretched thin, can Kirk manage to prevent tragedy?

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther welcome author Greg Cox to the show to discuss his new Original Series novel, The Antares Maelstrom. We talk about the pergium discovery that starts things off, an old-fashioned western set in space, Sulu's mystery woman and the role they play, a side quest for Spock and Chekov, a major crisis the colony faces, the mysteries of the Antares Maelstrom, and wrap up with projects that Greg is currently working on and where he can be found online.

At the top of the show, we review issue #4 of Star Trek: Year Five from IDW, and respond to listener feedback from the Babel Conference for Literary Treks 277: You're Meant to Be Confused.

Literary Treks 279: The Young, Rash, Impetuous Russian
The Original Series: The Antares Maelstrom - Exclusive Interview with author Greg Cox!

Previous episode: Literary Treks 278: His Losses Continue to "Mount"
Next episode: Literary Treks 280: The Rigellians are Psycho

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Dyson Sphere

Star Trek: The Next Generation #50
Dyson Sphere by Charles Pellegrino and George Zebrowski
Published April 1999
Read July 15th 2019

Previous book (TNG Numbered): #49: The Q Continuum, Book 3: Q-Strike
Previous book (Published Order): Star Trek: Insurrection

Next book (TNG Numbered): #51: Double Helix, Book 1: Infection

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

Spoilers ahead for Dyson Sphere

From the back cover:
Two hundred million kilometers across, with a surface area that exceeds that of a quarter-billion worlds, the Dyson sphere is one of the most astounding discoveries the Federation has ever made. Now the U.S.S. Enterprise has returned to explore the awesome mysteries of the sphere. Intrigued by what is possibly the greatest archaeological treasure of all time, Captain Jean-Luc Picard hopes to discover the origin of humanoid life throughout the galaxy--or perhaps the ultimate secret of the Borg. 
But when a neutron star approaches on a collision course with the sphere, a mission of discovery becomes a desperate race against time. The many sentient species inhabiting the sphere face extinction--can even the Starship Enterprise save them all?

My thoughts:

The massive Dyson Sphere introduced in the TNG episode "Relics" is a true marvel of engineering. In fact, that is a massive understatement. The Dyson sphere as shown would be an absolutely incredible work of a civilization millions of years ahead of us with resources nearing infinite. It's a shame that the episode (one of my favorites) does not do this structure justice. The mere existence of the Dyson sphere would be an incredible coup to the science of the Federation. The surface area of the interior of such a sphere with a radius of 1 AU (astronomical unit - the average distance from Earth to the sun) would be 2.8 x 1017 km2, or about 550 million times the surface area of Earth. While our heroes in "Relics" are somewhat in awe of the sphere, I feel like they are significantly less impressed than they should be.

The Dyson sphere discovered in TNG's "Relics" would be unimaginably immense, and the interior surface seen in this shot represents the tiniest fraction of the total area of the inside of the sphere.

This is one area in which this novel, Dyson Sphere, improves upon the source material. Reading this book, I got a much better sense of the immensity of the sphere, and the sheer audacity of its creators, whoever they may be. The stellar region surrounding the sphere is described as having been completely stripped clean, which accounts for the immense resources that would have to be used to create a Dyson sphere.

Captain Dalen and her crew are descendants of the Horta discovered in TOS's "The Devil in the Dark," seen here.

Joining the crew of the Enterprise is a science vessel, the U.S.S. Darwin, crewed entirely by Horta. I loved this idea, and the character of Captain Dalen is fascinating. The concept of Horta in Starfleet is not unique to this novel, but the authors do some interesting things with the characters.

Unfortunately, Dyson Sphere falls down on a number of levels. What is there is very interesting indeed: the exploration of the interior of the sphere, the inevitable lifeforms discovered there, and the threat of a neutron star on a collision course with the sphere, which it reacts to in an unexpected way. However, the narrative is very disjointed, jumping from situation to situation, and leaving numerous plot threads hanging and unexplored. The book is full of fascinating concepts, but ultimately that's all it is: new and interesting concepts piled upon one another, with no real feeling of resolution.

Sadly, the reasons for this might have been quite out of the control of the authors. According to one of the authors, Charles Pellegrino, following Paramount's approval of the manuscript for Dyson Sphere, the editor made a number of very questionable changes to the novel. Allegedly, this editor removed a significant amount of the information about the characters, and even entire chapters from the book. This is according to Pellegrino, commenting on another reader's review on Goodreads. How much of that contributed to my dissatisfaction in parts of this novel is unknown, but it goes a long way toward explaining why much of the story feels so disjointed.

The Dyson sphere, an unimaginably immense structure, was much better represented in this novel than in its original appearance on TNG.

Another aspect that bothered me was the tendency of the characters, Picard in particular, to make grandiose assumptions or hypotheses about the nature of the Dyson sphere and the predicament it finds itself in. Picard theorizes that the Borg might have something to do with the Dyson sphere, and that the neutron star was launched towards it by a species who is at war with the builders. Both of these suppositions come with zero evidence, but are mere musings. Interesting thoughts, yes, but usually Star Trek does a better job of building a semi-solid scientific basis for its theories.

Final thoughts:
While Dyson Sphere impressed me with the ideas that it contained, it is unfortunately marred by a lack of cohesion in the plot. Sadly, this would seem to be due to forces beyond the control of the authors, as there have been reports of some strange editorial decisions with regards to this novel. Still, it was an enjoyable read with some audacious science fiction concepts that are a lot of fun to explore. 

On the possibility of a real-life Dyson sphere:

Popular Mechanics has a pretty great article about Dyson spheres and Dyson swarms, and why the former is completely unfeasible (at least at our, and Star Trek's, current level of technology and understanding). 

My next read:

Next up: Star Trek: Titan: Sword of Damocles by Geoffrey Thorne!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Literary Treks 278: His Losses Continue to "Mount"

Star Trek: Discovery
The Enterprise War
Exclusive interview with John Jackson Miller!

Purchase The Enterprise War:
Trade Paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

At the end of Star Trek: Discovery's first season, we encounter the U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike. A long and costly war with the Klingons has taken its toll on Starfleet, but the Enterprise was kept out of the fray. What was this storied starship up to for the duration of the war, and why was she out of contact with Starfleet for so long? The answers to these questions and more can be found in the subject of this week's episode!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are joined by John Jackson Miller to talk about his latest book, Star Trek: Discovery: The Enterprise War. We discuss how the novel ties into seasons one and two of Discovery, the Lurians and the atypical Baladon, Enterprise's revolving door of engineers, the mysterious Boundless, Lt. Evan Connolly, this novel's links to the wider Trek litverse, the final shocking reveal, and wrap up with what Miller is currently working on and where he can be found online.

In the news segment, we break down the 2020 book schedule as revealed at STLV, as well as news of an upcoming comic prequel to Star Trek: Picard. We also respond to listener feedback from the Babel Conference for Literary Treks 276: There's a Line We Can't Cross.

Literary Treks 278: His Losses Continue to "Mount"
Discovery: The Enterprise War - Exclusive Interview with John Jackson Miller!

Previous episode: Literary Treks 277: You're Meant to Be Confused
Next episode: Literary Treks 279: The Young, Rash, Impetuous Russian

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The IDIC Epidemic

Star Trek #38
The IDIC Epidemic by Jean Lorrah
Published February 1988
Read July 9th 2019

Previous book (TOS Numbered): #37: Bloodthirst
Previous book (Published Order): Final Frontier

Next book (TOS Numbered): #39: Time for Yesterday

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

Spoilers ahead for The IDIC Epidemic

From the back cover:
I.D.I.C -- Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination. More than just a simple credo, for those of the planet Vulcan it is the cornerstone of their philosophy.

Now, on the Vulcan Science Colony Nisus, that credo of tolerance is being being put to its sternest test. For here, on a planet where Vulcan, Human, Klingon, and countless other races live and work side by side, a deadly plague has sprung up. A plague whose origins are somehow rooted in the concept of I.D.I.C. itself. A plague that threatens to tear down that centuries-old maxim and replace it with an even older concept.

Interstellar War.

My thoughts:

If you are a long-time reader of Trek Lit Reviews, you may remember my review of the TOS novel The Vulcan Academy Murders by Jean Lorrah. I was very impressed with that novel, not so much by the plot (which was a fairly by-the-numbers murder mystery), but by the character exploration. I found the relationships depicted in that novel to be very touching, so when I learned that The IDIC Epidemic was a sequel, I resolved to pick it up and check it out. Sadly, it's taken a number of years to finally get to it, but I have finally read Jean Lorrah's second Star Trek novel. Does it hold up as well as The Vulcan Academy Murders?

The Vulcan I.D.I.C., representing Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, a concept central to The IDIC Epidemic.

Taking place a few weeks after TVAM, The IDIC Epidemic features a number of the same characters and following on almost immediately from the events of that novel. Nisus, a science colony populated by numerous species, has been hit by a highly contagious plague that is swiftly mutating and striking down the population one-by-one. It seems that, once the virus encounters a host that is of mixed heritage, it quickly mutates into a highly lethal strain that swiftly kills. The Enterprise, having just left Vulcan, is diverted to assist. The Vulcan antagonists from TVAM are aboard the Enterprise, and see this property of the virus as vindication of their anti-IDIC beliefs, and dub it the "IDIC epidemic."

At first blush, they would seem to be right. However, as the story goes on, we learn more about the virus and how it propagates, and more importantly, how it can be cured. It turns out that the Klingons are key to halting the virus, and greater cooperation among species becomes essential to the solution, rather than merely the cause of the epidemic. In fact, my favorite character in the novel is Korsal, a Klingon engineer living on Nisus who, along with his sons, becomes vital to the solution to the crisis. Many people see the Klingons as nothing more than hardened warriors who crave battle and victory, so it was refreshing to get a different type of Klingon, especially in an Original Series novel.

There is also a secondary plot in which the colony is threatened by a failing dam, a crisis that Korsal and his son also have a hand in averting. There are a number of good old fashioned suspenseful moments as the initial scope of the crisis becomes apparent, and during the subsequent disaster and rescue attempts. They may be standard tropes in storytelling, but they are still effective!

As someone who doesn't usually enjoy "medical mystery" stories, The IDIC Epidemic had a lot to overcome to win me over. However, my problem with that sort of story usually has to do with the eleventh hour "eureka" moment as a cure is discovered and the plague is stopped. The solution in The IDIC Epidemic was much more meaningful and fit very well with the Star Trek ethos, and therefore sat much better with me. While I didn't enjoy this novel as much as The Vulcan Academy Murders, I still found it to be a worthy sequel and a nice reaffirmation of Star Trek's ideals.

Final thoughts:

A medical mystery story that has a meaningful resolution keeping with Star Trek's ideals and ethics. The IDIC concept has become central to what Star Trek is all about, and I enjoyed reading a story that ended up reinforcing that concept. I didn't enjoy the story as much as the novel it is a sequel to, The Vulcan Academy Murders, but I very much appreciate Jean Lorrah's singular take on the Star Trek universe and the optimism of her characters.

Also by Jean Lorrah:

My next read:

Star Trek: The Next Generation #50: Dyson Sphere by Charles Pellegrino and George Zebrowski.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Release Day! The Antares Maelstrom by Greg Cox

Star Trek: The Original Series
The Antares Maelstrom
by Greg Cox

The newest book in the Star Trek: The Original Series line officially goes on sale today, but it has been popping up early in bookstores everywhere. Pick up/download The Antares Maelstrom by Greg Cox now!

The Antares Maelstrom was first mentioned by Khan in Star Trek II, and we now finally get to see the phenomenon he was referring to!

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

Publisher's description:
An epic new Star Trek saga by New York Times bestselling author Greg Cox set during the original Five-Year Mission!

The final frontier erupts into chaos as vast quantities of a rare energy source are discovered beneath the surface of Baldur-3, a remote planet beyond the outer fringes of Federation space. Now an old-fashioned “gold rush” is underway as a flood of would-be prospectors, from countless worlds and species, races toward the planet to stake their claim. The galactic stampede threatens the stability of neighboring planets and space stations, as widespread strife and sabotage and all-around pandemonium result in a desperate need for Starfleet assistance. Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise are dispatched to deal with the escalating crisis…which lies on the other side of a famously perilous region of space known as the Antares Maelstrom.

Purchase The Original Series: The Antares Maelstrom:

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Next Release: Star Trek: The Motion Picture 40th Anniversary Edition

Monday, August 5, 2019

Literary Treks 277: You're Meant to Be Confused

Star Trek: Titan
Sword of Damocles
by Geoffrey Thorne

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

The Starship Titan continues its mission of exploration in the Gum Nebula, encountering a strange phenomenon that stops the vessel dead in its tracks. Tracing the cause back to a planet called Orisha, an away from Titan encounters a strange anomaly that has wreaked devastation on the Orishans for millennia, and will cause one member of Titan's crew to come face to face with his destiny...

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther discuss Star Trek: Titan: Sword of Damocles by Geoffrey Thorne. We talk about the non-linear nature of the novel, the planet Orisha and its inhabitants, the risky mission to save the Titan, the fate of Jaza Najem, the unorthodox solution that saves the ship, the design of the U.S.S. Titan by Sean Tourangeau, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news segment, we discuss the fate of the post-Nemesis novelverse following the news from SDCC. We also respond to listener feedback from The Babel Conference for episode 275: Q is a YouTube Comment Troll.

Literary Treks 277: You're Meant to Be Confused
Titan: Sword of Damocles by Geoffrey Thorne

Previous episode: Literary Treks 276: There's a Line We Can't Cross
Next episode: Literary Treks 278: His Losses Continue to "Mount"

Friday, August 2, 2019

Q & A

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Q & A by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Published October 2007
Read July 2nd 2019

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

Next book (The Next Generation): Before Dishonor
Next book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): Titan: Sword of Damocles

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

Spoilers ahead for Q & A

From the back cover:
Nearly two decades ago, Jean-Luc Picard took command of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D. The captain knew it was an honor without equal. His new command bore the name of Enterprise. The people who had commanded other like-named starships had gone down in Starfleet's annals. Some officers would be intimidated, but they would not have been given command of Enterprise

On her first mission, the Enterprise was sent to Farpoint Station. A simple, straightforward investigation. Perfect for a crew that had never served together. Then there was Q. An omnipotent lifeform that seemed bent on placing obstacle after obstacle in the ship's -- and in particular in Picard's -- way. And it hadn't ended with that first mission. When he was least expected, Q would appear. Pushing, prodding, testing. At times needling captain and crew with seemingly silly, pointless, and maddening trifles. Then it would turn all too serious, and the survival of Picard's crew was in Q's hands. 

Why was it today that Picard was remembering the day he took command of the Enterprise-D? Now he commanded a new ship, the Enterprise-E. His crew was different. There was nothing about Gorsach that in the least resembled Farpoint. But Picard couldn't shake the feeling that something all too familiar was going on. All too awful. All too Q.

My thoughts:

The post-Nemesis voyages of the Enterprise continue! In this novel, Picard is assigned to explore the planet Gorsach IX, a strange, seemingly artificial world with an odd symmetry to everything on the surface. Complicating matters is the appearance of Q, Picard's nemesis from the very earliest days of his captaincy of the Enterprise-D. It seems that Gorsach IX is much more than it appears, with the fate of the entire universe resting on Picard passing the latest of Q's tests.

Q's ultimate goals finally come to light in Q & A.

In my time reading Star Trek novels, I've likened Q to the Borg: both are elements of Star Trek lore that can be a little overdone. Many novels and comics have gone to the Q well, to the point that the stories get watered down and a visit from Q is no more exceptional than a trip to a nebula or another "planet of the week." So, years ago, it was with a bit of reluctance that I picked up Q & A by Keith R.A. DeCandido. After Q popping up in numerous novels, I dreaded yet another story that would use the character in a way that seemed less than warranted.

However, I was very pleasantly surprised by the story that Mr. DeCandido crafted. While the whole "fate of the entire universe" might feel a little over-the-top and overdone, DeCandido really makes it work here. In Q & A, he has woven together all of Q's canon appearances in TNG into one cohesive narrative, providing a reason for each and every action the supposedly-omnipotent being has performed, even if that reason was simply wanting to see how Picard looks in tights (referencing the escapade in Sherwood Forest in "Qpid").

Another aspect of the novel that I enjoyed was the continued integration of the new crewmembers with the cast of characters we are already familiar with. Part of this involved Geordi coming to terms with Data's replacement, Commander Kadohata. There were some lovely scenes where Geordi becomes introspective and examines the reasons behind his feelings. He even seeks professional advice from the Enterprise's new Vulcan counselor, T'Lana (introduced in Resistance). I appreciate the illustration of how professional therapists can be useful in our day-to-day lives. Mental health is just another aspect of physical health and should not be ignored!

Leybenzon, another of the new characters, gets some attention in the novel as well. In his role as the Enterprise's new security chief, Leybenzon finds himself in a position unfamiliar to him: as an officer having to lead other officers. We are told that he started out as a non-commissioned officer, having earned a battlefield commission during the Dominion War. He still considers himself one of the "grunts," and found his career propelled in an unexpected direction when he takes the offer of the security chief position on the Enterprise. Save for Chief O'Brien, non-coms are rarely seen in Trek, and I appreciated this perspective, different from the ones we are used to.

Worf has come a long way since his earliest days aboard the Enterprise-D.

Another character who has come a long way in his Starfleet career is Worf, currently serving as first officer of the Enterprise. Throughout TNG, Worf was characterized as being quick to fight, and often rushing headlong into combat without giving adequate thought to the consequences. Now, after having served for many years in Starfleet and even a stint as ambassador, we see a more mature and thoughtful Worf. When Q appears, it is Worf who suggests the tactic of ignoring him completely, much to the surprise of Counselor T'Lana who believed she had the Klingon pegged as a hothead. The fact that he has become much more cool-headed has shown that he makes a very good first officer. Also, the experience he had traversing quantum realities in the TNG episode "Parallels" comes into play in this novel, as the Enterprise faces a similar situation at the climax. It turns out, of course, that Q was responsible for the events of that episode, knowing that the knowledge Worf gained would come in handy at this juncture.

The episode that really ties everything together is "All Good Things...," the incredibly great finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In that episode, Picard learned what he needed to navigate the strange, multiverse-jumping finale of this novel. The conclusion of the plot in Q & A is equal parts silly and poignant, and perfectly keeping with the tone that Q has set for Picard in the past. I truly enjoyed how things played out, and I felt it was the perfect culmination to Q's shenanigans.

Final thoughts:

Q & A exceeded my expectations. In a literary universe that at times seems inundated with Q's misadventures, I was glad that this novel didn't feel like more of the same. It really did feel like the "ultimate" Q story, with meaning retroactively applied to all of Q's previous canon visits. The concept of Q is a dangerous one and very easy to overuse, but Keith DeCandido has the writing skill to make this feel fresh and unique. One of my favorite novels in the post-Nemesis continuity, Q & A was a lot of fun to revisit. Highly recommended for any fan of Q!

More about Q & A:

Also by Keith R.A. DeCandido:

My next read:

The sequel to the classic novel The Vulcan Academy Murders - by Jean Lorrah: The IDIC Epidemic.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

New Books Coming in 2020, including Picard & Kelvin Timeline!

Hey folks, we have some news from the Star Trek books panel at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention, happening right now!

First, we have a rough outline for the release schedule for 2020, which includes a few surprises! Lets start with February:

February kicks off the year with a new novel by Una McCormack: Star Trek: Picard: The Last Best Hope. Described as a prequel novel to the Star Trek: Picard television series by Dayton Ward, I'm excited to get this first glimpse at the world of Picard from one of my favorite writers!

In March, we have Star Trek: The Original Series: The Higher Frontier by Christopher L. Bennett.

April sees the release of a novel set in the Kelvin Timeline! The Order of Peace by Alan Dean Foster is apparently his novel from the initially-announced four novels set in the new Star Trek universe around the time of the 2009 film. According to Dayton Ward, this novel (and the one later down the line by David Mack) was "freshened up" by Foster for its release.

In June, another Star Trek: The Original Series novel: Agents of Influence by Dayton Ward.

And in August, another Kelvin Timeline novel: More Beautiful Than Death by David Mack. Like Alan Dean Foster's novel, this one was originally written years ago, but then cancelled. Glad to know that these will finally see the light of day!

The original soliciation cover for More Beautiful Than Death from back in 2010.
Additionally, there are a couple of other novels not yet scheduled but reportedly coming in 2020: the first is another Star Trek: Discovery novel by John Jackson Miller. No word on a title or what this one is about yet.

And finally, Kirsten Beyer's latest Star Trek: Voyager novel is reportedly coming in 2020. Presumably this is the previously announced To Lose the Earth.

And one final bit of new from John Jackson Miller: apparently, one of the characters introduced in his recent Star Trek: Discovery: The Enterprise War is featured in one of the upcoming Short Treks episodes. I'm partway through that novel at the moment, looking forward to finding out who he is talking about!

More news as we learn it, and links to pre-order as soon as they are available!