Thursday, November 30, 2023

Positively Trek Book Club: IDW's Star Trek #400

Star Trek #400
IDW's 400th Star Trek Issue
With stories by Wil Wheaton, Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly, and More!

Purchase (Kindle Edition):
Paperback: | |

Positively Trek 252: Book Club: IDW’s Star Trek #400
Stories from Across the Final Frontier

The Positively Trek Book Club returns! Dan and Brandi are kicking off a year of Star Trek comic catch-up with our thoughts on 2022’s Star Trek #400 from IDW, marking a landmark in publishing from the current Star Trek comic license holder!

We discuss all 6 stories in this collection, including a story by Wesley Crusher himself, Wil Wheaton, as well as a prequel story to the ongoing Star Trek flagship comic series by writers Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing!

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Previous episode: Strange New Worlds: The Illyrian Enigma

Friday, November 24, 2023

The Fearful Summons

Star Trek #74
The Fearful Summons by Denny Martin Flinn
Published June 1995
Read January 5th 2020

Previous book (Star Trek Numbered): #73: The Lost Years, Book 4: Recovery
Next book (Star Trek Numbered): #75: First Frontier

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

Spoilers ahead for The Fearful Summons

From the back cover:
Captain Sulu of the U.S.S. Excelsior and his crew are kidnapped. When Federation-conducted negotiations come to a standstill, Captain James Kirk and the former officers of the U.S.S. Enterprise reunite to rescue their old comrade.

The officers learn carrying out their mission could prove difficult when they encounter the kidnappers -- a greedy little-known race called the Thraxians, who believe their way is the only way. Now the Thraxians are demanding super-powerful weapons in exchange for the hostages.

With no other alternatives, Kirk is forced to consider giving in to the Thraxians to save the Excelsior crew -- a decision that could save a few, but endanger the lives of an entire star system...

My thoughts:

I remember first reading this novel many years ago. I was a fairly new Star Trek fan, whose first Trek theatrical experience was watching Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country with my parents. I loved the film (even though I had a heck of a time properly pronouncing "Excelsior" while I gushed about all of the things I loved about the film to all who would listen). So when it was announced that a follow-up novel was coming out, written by one of the people credited with writing that wonderful sixth Trek film, I was ecstatic! While I don't completely recall all of my thoughts upon reading it when it was first published, I do remember that it wasn't exactly what I expected.

Now, years later, I decided to pick The Fearful Summons up off of my shelf and give it a re-read. After having done so, I am left to ponder the question: why did I do that?

The plot involves Captain Sulu of the Excelsior (I can pronounce it now!) and 10 others of his crew being captured by the antagonists of the novel, an alien species called the Thraxians on the back cover and inexplicably referred to only as Beta Prometheans within the book itself. They are being held hostage in exchange for weapons, but of course the Federation is unwilling to bargain with the group holding Sulu and his crew. Enter the heroics of Captain James T. Kirk! (Or is it Admiral Kirk? The author can't seem to decide.)

Captain Sulu and some of his fellow Excelsior crewmember are captured by a group hoping to exchange weapons for their hostages.

Kirk reassembles his crew, who are off doing the things that retired starship crews do. This, I can say, was probably my favorite part of the novel. Seeing where each of the members of Kirk's former crew have ended up was somewhat fun, and accounts for almost all of the enjoyment I got out of the book. Which is unfortunate, because there is still a lot of book left after this point.

Unfortunately, I found the characterizations extremely weak, with many actions taken by Kirk and company to be wildly out of character. The Vulcans are rather un-Vulcany, Captain Sulu is astonishingly incompetent in how easily he and his crew walk into an obvious trap, and other elements that are necessary to the universe of Star Trek seem frustratingly out of reach for the author. It amazes me that Denny Martin Flinn co-wrote the screenplay of The Undiscovered Country, because his seeming lack of familiarity with the common tropes of the Trek universe is very apparent.

I also have to question the editing of this novel. As mentioned above, the back-cover blurb doesn't jibe with the content of the novel with regards to the name of the antagonists. Similarly, Kirk alternates between being a captain and an admiral. Recall that at this point, Kirk is a captain, having been demoted at the conclusion of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. And finally, Starbase 10 inexplicably changes to Starbase 499 partway through the novel. I'm sure there are many more such examples within the book, as the editing seems to have been very much lacking throughout.

A retired Captain Kirk rounds up his former crew to rescue Captain Sulu and the crew of the Excelsior. However, there is always time for a little romance on the side! 

Finally, there is a romance subplot included for Kirk that seems to exist for no other reason than, well, it's Kirk. I don't want to seem ageist here, but many of the more racy scenes written for this novel seem very out of place when you think of where Kirk is in his life. His partner is extremely young, relatively speaking, and while I have no problem with age gaps in relationships between consenting adults, there seems to be no real reason for this one besides adding a bit of romance to the story, with a possible bit of hero worship thrown in. It feels squicky.

Final thoughts:

A sadly disappointing re-read. I remember not entirely loving this novel as a young man, but I didn't recall it being quite this frustrating. The rough characterizations of the TOS crew don't match at all with what we know of the characters, the plot itself is very thin, and the huge errors that stem from a seeming lack of editorial insight are extremely disheartening and throw the reader right out of the story. I wish I could say better things about this novel, but I will have to leave it with a strong not recommend from me.

My next read:

Next up is Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Battle of Betazed by Charlotte Douglas and Susan Kearney.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Release Day! The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko

 The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko
The Life of Starfleet's Legendary Captain and Emissary

(Edited by Derek Tyler Attico)

I've been waiting with eager anticipation for this one! Today sees the release of the latest of Titan Books' in-universe Star Trek autobiographies: The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko. "Edited" by Derek Tyler Attico, this book features Sisko's story of his Starfleet career and his life as a religious figure to the people of Bajor. In my opinion, there is no one better suited to writing this book than Derek Tyler Attico, who has penned some of my favorite stories in the Strange New Worlds short fiction writing contest over the years, including the amazing Benny Russell story "The Dreamer and the Dream."

Check out below for the back-cover blurb and links to purchase from Amazon!

Publisher's description:
The fascinating life of Starfleet’s celebrated captain, and Bajor’s Emissary of the Prophets, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Benjamin Sisko tells the story of his career in Starfleet, and his life as a father and Bajor’s Emissary to the Prophets. Chart his rise through the ranks, his pioneering work designing the Defiant class, his critical role as ambassador and leader during the Dominion War, and his sacred standing as a religious leader of his adopted home.
Explore the hidden history of his childhood and early career in Starfleet, and the innermost thoughts of the man who made first contact with the wormhole aliens and opened safe passage to the Gamma Quadrant, and united Starfleet, Klingon and Romulan forces to defeat the Dominion. Discover Sisko’s personal take on his confidantes Lieutenant Dax and Major Kira Nerys, the enigmatic Garak, and his adversaries, Gul Dukat and Kai Winn, as well as his fatherly advice for his son Jake. 
Passing on lessons from father to son, from his experiences with the Prophets to the writings of Benny Russell, Sisko’s story is a unique phenomenon in Starfleet and human history, told in the way only he can.

Purchase The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko:

Hardcover: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |


Saturday, November 18, 2023

New 2024 Cover Reveals!

 Hey everyone! We have a couple of Trek novel cover reveals today from TNG and TOS. I'm very much looking forward to both of these!

First up is the cover of Dayton Ward's Star Trek: The Next Generation: Pliable Truths. Back cover blurb and links to purchase below.

Publisher's Description:

A thrilling new Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine adventure from New York Times bestselling author Dayton Ward!

2369: Shortly after Starfleet thwarts a Cardassian attack on a Federation star system, the Cardassian government orders an end to its fifty-year occupation of the planet Bajor. As a result, a newly installed Bajoran government requests immediate assistance from the Federation to mediate how the withdrawal will proceed and what recompense, if any, Bajorans are owed from their brutal oppressors. Captain Jean-Luc Picard is ordered by Starfleet Command to oversee these tense negotiations on Terok Nor, the massive Cardassian space station still orbiting Bajor, even as he still deals with his own recent trauma as a prisoner held and tortured by a Cardassian interrogator.

As these critical peace talks get underway, Ensign Ro Laren receives a call for help from a friend thought long dead, exposing an insidious secret from inside Cardassian space. Now, Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must act to prevent an interstellar incident from reigniting deadly hostilities between the Federation and the Cardassians, and shattering any hope of justice for the Bajoran people…

Pre-order Pliable Truths:

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

But that's not all! We also have the cover revealed for an upcoming TOS novel: Lost to Eternity by Greg Cox. Let's take a look!

Publisher's Description:

A thrilling new Star Trek “movie era” novel from New York Times bestselling author Greg Cox!

Three Eras. Three Mysteries. One Ancient Enemy?

2024: Almost forty years ago, marine biologist Gillian Taylor stormed away from her dream job at Sausalito’s Cetacean Institute—and was never seen or heard from again. Now a new true crime podcast has reopened that cold case, but investigator Melinda Silver has no idea that her search for the truth about Gillian’s disappearance will ultimately stretch across time and space—and attract the attention of a ruthless obsessive with his own secret agenda.

2268:The USS Enterprise’s five-year mission is interrupted when Captain James T. Kirk and his crew set out to recover an abducted Federation scientist whose classified secrets are being sought by the Klingons as well. The trail leads to a barbaric world off limits to both Starfleet and the Klingon Empire—and an ageless mastermind on a quest for eternity.

2292: The Osori, an ancient alien species, has finally agreed to establish relations with its much younger neighbors: the Federation, the Klingons, and the Romulans. A joint mission involving ships from all three powers, including the Enterprise-A, turns explosive when one of the Osori envoys is apparently killed. Each side blames the others, but the truth lies buried deep, nearly three hundred years in the past…

Pre-order Lost to Eternity:

Trade Paperback: | |
E-Book (Kindle): | |
Audiobook: | |

As always, you can keep up to date on the latest Star Trek book and comic releases on my 2024 Releases page!

Friday, November 17, 2023

A Singular Destiny

Star Trek: The Next Generation
A Singular Destiny by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Published February 2009
Read December 31st 2019

Previous book (Chronological): Destiny, Book III: Lost Souls
Next book (Chronological): Titan: Over a Torrent Sea

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

Spoilers ahead for A Singular Destiny

From the back cover: 
The cataclysmic events of Star Trek: Destiny have devastated known space. Worlds have fallen. Lives have been destroyed. And in the uneasy weeks that follow, the survivors of the holocaust continue to be tested to the limits of their endurance.

But strange and mysterious occurrences are destabilizing the galaxy's battle-weary Allies even further. In the Federation, efforts to replenish diminished resources and give succor to millions of evacuees are thwarted at every turn. On the borders of the battered Klingon Empire, the devious Kinshaya sense weakness -- and opportunity. In Romulan space, the already-fractured empire is dangerously close to civil war.

As events undermining the quadrant's attempts to heal itself become increasingly widespread, one man begins to understand what is truly unfolding. Sonek Pran -- teacher, diplomat, and sometime adviser to the Federation President -- perceives a pattern in the seeming randomness. And as each new piece of evidence falls into place, a disturbing picture encompassing half the galaxy begins to take shape...revealing a challenge to the Federation and its allies utterly unlike anything they have faced before.

My thoughts:

Star Trek frequently has an issue with following up on major events. With the exception of "Family" exploring the aftermath of the events of "The Best of Both Worlds" (as well as chapters of Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, and more modern Trek), major happenings within the Star Trek universe are often treated in the episodic nature of the series in which they take place.

However, when the event in question involves the loss of over sixty billion people and the destruction of multiple worlds throughout the Federation, Klingon Empire, and beyond, exceptions must be made.

The Star Trek: Destiny trilogy by David Mack depicted a truly horrific cataclysm for the United Federation of Planets, as well as much of the Alpha and Beta quadrants. With such far-ranging and lasting consequences, it would be truly baffling if there weren't some sort of follow-up. Thankfully, the publishers of the Star Trek novels recognized this fact, and we were treated to the unorthodox and fascinating novel A Singular Destiny by Keith R.A. DeCandido. The book features a number of different plots and vignettes detailing the aftermath of the Borg invasion, from small personal stories of victims and survivors, to large quadrant-spanning political fallout among the major powers.

A Singular Destiny explores the inner workings of the Federation government, as Keith DeCandido has become known for doing.

The stories themselves are a fascinating insight into life in the Federation both on and off the bridge of a starship. As he has become known for, DeCandido does an amazing job of making the lives of characters within the Star Trek universe feel very real. We don't often get very much insight into the lives of civilians when we watch Trek, and it's refreshing to get that perspective.

With Destiny impacting all corners of the Trek universe, it makes sense that A Singular Destiny would touch on many different characters and situations throughout the intricate literary universe. In the pages of this novel, you will find stories involving the crew of the Enterprise-E, the Aventine, the Titan, the government of the Federation at the Palais de la Concorde in Paris, the crew of the USS daVinci from the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, the Klingon series I.K.S. Gorkon, and many more. However, I feel that it is not necessary to be up-to-date on all of those series in order to enjoy A Singular Destiny. I myself was not very familiar with the Corps of Engineers or the I.K.S. Gorkon stories when I first read this novel, and was still very much able to enjoy and understand it. I would say that Destiny is required reading, but anything beyond that, while certainly adding to the experience, is optional.

While A Singular Destiny features crews from across the Star Trek literary universe, the ship and crew that features most heavily is the USS Aventine and the crew under the command of Captain Ezri Dax.

A new character created for this novel is Professor Sonek Pran, recruited by Federation President Nan Bacco to troubleshoot various political situations between the Federation and the neighboring powers. In the wake of the Borg invasion, trade has been disrupted, refugees are numerous, and there are elements at work to take advantage of the precarious situation. Over the course of the novel, Sonek Pran will ultimately uncover the next "big bad" that will dominate the political landscape in the books that follow.

Additionally, there are a few tantalizing threads left hanging in this novel that will entice readers to continue on to the next Star Trek adventure. For example, pay close attention to a casualty list that appears at one point. There may be a familiar name or two that will pique one's interest...

Final thoughts:

I very much enjoyed A Singular Destiny, and this novel is a perfect demonstration of why I love Keith DeCandido's writing. The stories that are woven together form a fascinating tapestry of life within the Federation and beyond in the aftermath of one of the most horrific events imaginable. I have always loved stories that explore the politics of the Federation and its neighbors, and DeCandido has done so here in a way that makes that fantastical future setting seem very real. A Singular Destiny has at its core two main objectives: first, to take a breath after the action-packed Destiny trilogy and regroup, taking the time to really reflect on what the calamity and incredible loss of life from those novels has wrought. And second, to set up the shape of things to come by introducing the next major obstacle to challenge the Federation. In my humble opinion, it absolutely excels at both, while at the same time delivering all of the heart and humanity one comes to expect from a Star Trek story.

More about A Singular Destiny:

My next read:

Next up is a movie-era novel from back in the TOS numbered novel days: The Fearful Summons by Denny Martin Flinn!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

2024 Releases Page Added!

 Hi everyone! Just a heads-up, I'm currently working at bringing back into active status. You may have noticed that the links over on the right side of the page have finally been updated, showing the next four major book releases:

The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko - "Edited" by Derek Tyler Attico - November 21, 2023

Star Trek: Picard: Firewall by David Mack - February 27, 2024

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Pliable Truths by Dayton Ward - May 21, 2024

Star Trek: The Original Series: Lost to Eternity by Greg Cox - July 23, 2024

I've also created a new page detailing the upcoming releases for 2024, including novels, comics, graphic novels, and non-fiction books. The page can be found here

In the coming weeks, I'll be starting the huge task of catching up on reviews of books I've read over the past couple of years, working to get the site back up to full functionality and relevance! I've also been covering the odd novel over on the Positively Trek podcast. I won't be linking specific episodes from the past few years here (there's just too many to flood the blog with), but I will be providing links to any future books covered on the show. This will include the recently-released Making It So: A Memoir by Sir Patrick Stewart, as well as the upcoming Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko by Derek Tyler Attico.

I'm really looking forward to getting things going over the next few weeks, and I hope you'll join me! Thank you so much to the loyal readers of Trek Lit Reviews, I truly appreciate all of you!