Thursday, July 2, 2015

Literary Treks 109: Andorian High School Musical

Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Volume One
Andor: Paradigm
 by Heather Jarman


The Andorians have always been one of Star Trek's most distinctive looking races, yet even by the time the DS9 relaunch started, they had been little more than window dressing. The relaunch team set out to change that by bringing on a new character to the station, allowing the authors to create a vivid culture for the Andorians. It is no surprise that when the Worlds of DS9 series started, Andor was one of the planets visited.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther wrap up the first book in the Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series with Andor: Paradigm. We discuss the differences Enterprise created, the Andorian culture, alien races being alien, science and biology, Prynn and Shar, the Prynn problem, where things end, and our ratings.

In the news segment, we talk about Dayton Ward's newest book In History's Shadow II: Temporal Boogaloo and the possibilities for cover art as well as look at Christopher Jones' new monthly column on StarTrek.com.


Literary Treks 109: Andorian High School Musical
Andor: Paradigm by Heather Jarman





Previous episode: Literary Treks 108: Star Trek Beyond the Thunderdome

Next episode: Literary Treks 110:


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Release Day! DRGIII's Sacraments of Fire

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Sacraments of Fire by David R. George III

Ever since the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine continuity was jumped forward around the time of Star Trek: Destiny, DS9 fans have been wondering what happened to the Ascendants storyline? Why is Kira now a Vedek, and how did Ro become captain? And whatever happened with the whole Iliana Ghemor situation?

If the cover of this month's release is any indication, we may be getting the answer to at least one of those questions, as well as a continuation of the story from The Fall: Revelation and Dust! Check out the cover and publisher's description for the all-new Sacraments of Fire by David R. George III, officially released today!

And look for the continuation of this story in Ascendance, coming at the end of the year!





Publisher's description:
Days after the assassination of Federation President Nan Bacco on Deep Space 9, the unexpected appearance of a stranger on the station raises serious concerns. He seems dazed and confused, providing—in a peculiar patois of the Bajoran language—unsatisfactory answers. He offers his identity as Altek, of which there is no apparent record, and he claims not to know where he is or how he got there. A quick scan confirms the visitor is armed with a projectile weapon—a firearm more antiquated than, but similar to, the one that took President Bacco’s life. But the Bajoran liaison to the station believes that Altek has been sent from the Prophets, out of a nearby wormhole. The last time such an event occurred, it was to reassure Benjamin Sisko of his place as the Emissary. For what purpose has Altek now been sent out of the Celestial Temple?

Purchase Deep Space Nine: Sacraments of Fire:

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


Next Release: New Frontier: The Returned, Part I


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fearful Symmetry

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Fearful Symmetry by Olivia Woods
Published June 2008
Read June 23rd 2015


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Warpath

Next book (Deep Space Nine): The Soul Key

MMPB: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Kindle: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Fearful Symmetry and the Deep Space Nine relaunch!

From the back cover:
In our universe, a Cardassian sleeper agent—Iliana Ghemor—was once surgically altered to resemble and replace resistance fighter Kira Nerys, future Starfleet captain and hero of the planet Bajor's liberation. That plan never reached fruition, and the fate of the agent remained unknown...until now. 
Robbed of the past sixteen years, Iliana Ghemor is back with a vengeance. Over a decade and a half of imprisonment and abuse by her former masters has brought her to the brink of madness, sustained only by the twisted belief that she is, in fact, the real Kira Nerys. She has already made one near-successful attempt on the real Kira's life, but instead of assuming the identity of the woman she was intended to replace, Ghemor has set her sights on the most unexpected target of all: Kira's other double, the malicious Intendant, Bajor's iron-fisted ruler in the alternate reality commonly known as the "Mirror Universe." But far more is unfolding in the Mirror Universe than Ghemor realizes, and the heroes of Deep Space Nine somehow must stop the false Kira without derailing the delicate flow of history that must unfold if both universes, and countless others, are to survive.

My thoughts:

Following the harrowing events of Warpath comes the next novel in the series, Fearful Symmetry. Split into two parts, the story advances the storyline of the "present day" a little, while filling in the backstory of the new nemesis that our heroes face: former Obsidian Order operative Iliana Ghemor.

Iliana Ghemor, surgically altered to look like Kira Nerys and given her memories, is the primary antagonist in the story of Deep Space Nine going forward.

As Kira and Ro slowly recover from their ordeal at the hands of a berserk Taran'atar, the crew makes progress in learning why the Jem'Hadar observer turned on them. Their investigation eventually reveals that Iliana Ghemor has crossed over to the "mirror universe," where she has killed Intendant Kira and taken her place in a scheme to become the Emissary of the Prophets in that universe.

Even after his death, Dukat casts a long shadow.
In the second half of the story, we get Iliana's backstory and learn where she was following the beginning of her mission to impersonate Kira Nerys and take her place, a mission that never actually commenced. In her story, we learn that she was thrall to Gul Dukat, who tortured and assaulted her on a regular basis while keeping her prisoner in his own private dungeon. This story made Iliana a very sympathetic character, while making Dukat even more of a monster than he already was. In many ways, the shadow of Dukat looms long over Bajor even after his death; he is still responsible for the horrors visited upon that world even now.

Corbin Entek, another architect of the current crisis.
The format of the book itself is interesting, with the first half of the story being presented normally, and the second half being on the "flip side" of the book. While a little gimmicky, the format does emphasize the "symmetry" between Kira and Ghemor. Story-wise, there were a number of elements that showed the symmetry between their lives as well. The most striking to me was in the characters of Dakahna Vaas and Ataan Rhukal. Dakahna was a friend of Kira's in the resistance who was captured by the Cardassians and used in Iliana's training, while Ataan was Iliana's lover who was killed by Kira's cell while stationed on Bajor. Because Iliana was given Kira's memories, when she later realized who and what she was, she both remembered loving and killing Dakahna, while also both loving and killing Ataan. It is moments such as these that lend a credibility to Iliana's madness. She is a product of the people who manipulated her, such as Gul Dukat and her Obsidian Order overseer, Corbin Entek. Rather than simply being a one-note insane villain, we learn the motivations behind her actions.

Final thoughts:

While Fearful Symmetry is well written and great insight into the character of Ghemor, it doesn't advance the overall storyline a great deal. The backstory is very much appreciated, but I found myself wanting the story to get under way. Additionally, due to the fact that I have been spoiled by the very high quality of writing in the Deep Space Nine relaunch series so far, I felt that Fearful Symmetry was just a tiny bit lower on the scale than the previous books. The gimmick of the "flip book" idea was interesting, but it wasn't enough to save the story from getting into over-the-top territory at times with suspect motivations for many of the characters. Still, a welcome entry in the current storyline that helps the reader understand the reasons behind Iliana Ghemor's actions.

My next read:

Onward and upward in the DS9 relaunch! Next up is The Soul Key, the final Deep Space Nine relaunch novel before getting to the new release, Sacraments of Fire, which promises to continue the Ghemor/Ascendants storyline!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Literary Treks 108: Star Trek Beyond the Thunderdome

Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Cardassia: The Lotus Flower
 by Una McCormack


The Dominion War left Cardassia ravaged. The planet is on the edge of a knife as its people scrounge for food, power, and answers, trying to rebuild a once proud civilization. The question becomes: do they look to the past for answers or forge something new?

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther talk about Una McCormack's book Cardassia: The Lotus Flower, which kicks off the Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series. We discuss a broken world, faith and belief, rehabilitating a vedek, being out of Miles' shadow, science's purity, and give our ratings.

In our news segment, we look at the new Ongoing #46 as it starts a new story: The Tholian Webs.


Literary Treks 108: Star Trek Beyond the Thunderdome
Worlds of Deep Space Nine: Cardassia: The Lotus Flower





Previous episode: Literary Treks 107: Death Star DeLorean

Next episode: Literary Treks 109: Andorian High School Musical


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture
by Preston Neal Jones
Published by Creature Features
Read June 16th 2015




Purchase from Creature Features' website
or
Purchase from Amazon.com


From the back cover:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) is one of the most beguiling and important science fiction films ever made. Its spectacular realization of Gene Roddenberry's inspirational future and humanistic storytelling are a cinematic achievement unlikely ever to be matched. At the same time, the film was a deeply troubled production that rolled without a complete script and saw a wholesale change in visual effects companies--barely making its release date. 
In 1979, Preston Neal Jones was given unparalleled access to the cast and creators of Star Trek: The Motion Picture for what was intended to be a cover story for Cinefantastique magazine. Owing to the late completion of the film and ambitious scope of the manuscript, it was never published--until now. 
This book is a priceless time capsule, an oral history in the words of 60 of the film's cast and creators, interviewed as the film was being prepared for release--and nobody had any idea if it would succeed or even be finished on time. 
From the stars (William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and the entire cast) to the filmmakers (Gene Roddenberry, Robert Wise) to the brilliant visual effect artists, illustrators, model builders and technicians who realized the 23rd century on screen (costumes, sets, props, models, music, sound FX and more), no aspect of the film's creation is overlooked. 
Go behind the scenes of this pivotal sci-fi masterwork and hear the unvarnished, uncensored truth of how it was created. 

My thoughts:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture has always held a special place in my heart. Years ago, my mom brought home a rented VHS of the film, and we sat down to watch it with a bowl of popcorn between us. Looking back, I realize that this was the moment of a parent handing down a love of Star Trek to her child, and boy did it ever work! The moment the camera passed over the Klingon Battle Cruiser as it approached the immense V'Ger cloud, I was hooked. To me, for all of its flaws, The Motion Picture has always been my real introduction to Star Trek and the beginning of a love affair with that franchise that continues unabated to this day.



Many fans, however, have mixed feelings about The Motion Picture. While it is a beautiful film and responsible for the continuation of Star Trek, many have complained about the pacing of the film, or that it is "dull," or doesn't have enough action. However, I would counter that there is no film that reflects what Star Trek is more than The Motion Picture. And reading Return to Tomorrow only helped to reinforce that belief.

Return to Tomorrow is absolutely bursting at the seams with behind the scenes tidbits about the production of TMP. Through first-hand accounts from nearly every person involved with creating the film, the book outlines absolutely every single step of the production, from the early days of the proposed television series Star Trek: Phase II, to the incredibly rushed push to finish the film in time for its release date.



If there is any small complaint to be made about Return to Tomorrow, it's that there are no production photos or supplementary material to accompany the stories that make up the book. However, it is completely understandable that these are missing given the unlikely trajectory this book had to take to get published! Also, the book is so packed with material that to add anything on top of that would simply make it unwieldy or, heaven forbid, necessitate removal of some of the incredible stories that are the main draw of the book.

Reading Return to Tomorrow, I was often overcome with a strong desire to re-watch The Motion Picture. While I have seen it many times in the past, I am eager to give it another look with the stories behind its fraught production fresh in my mind. I foresee Return to Tomorrow being a companion on this rewatch, as well as having the book occupy an honored place on my bookshelf for years to come.

Final thoughts:

Reading through the first-hand accounts of the crazy days of the production of The Motion Picture, one cannot help but look at the film in an entirely new light. Even for me, as someone who already loved this movie, TMP became enhanced by the stories surrounding the production. I would imagine that someone who had a dim view of this film might have their mind changed by reading this book and reliving the experiences of the people who poured their hearts and souls into its production.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be in front of my television watching the Director's Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, with Return to Tomorrow within easy reach!



My next read:

This weekend, look for my review of Fearful Symmetry by Olivia Woods, the next book in my re-read of the post-finale Deep Space Nine novels!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Warpath

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Warpath by David Mack
First Published March 2006
Read June 18th 2015


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): The Dominion: Olympus Descending

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Fearful Symmetry

MMPB: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Kindle: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Warpath and the Deep Space Nine relaunch!

From the back cover:
They were created to be killing machines. Highly intelligent, resourceful, and deceptively complex, the Jem'Hadar are a species engineered for war and programmed at the genetic level for one purpose: to fight until death as soldiers of the sprawling stellar empire known as the Dominion. No Jem'Hadar has ever lived thirty years, and not even their masters, the shape-shifting Founders, know what such a creature is capable of becoming were it to be freed of its servitude. 
One Founder, however, has dared to wonder. 
Appointed by Odo himself to learn peaceful coexistence aboard Deep Space 9, Taran'atar, an Honored Elder among the Jem'Hadar, had for months been a staunch, if conflicted, ally to the crew of the station, ever struggling to understand the mission on which he was sent… until something went horrifically wrong. 
Consumed by self-doubt and an ever-growing rage, Taran'atar has lashed out against those he was sworn to aid. While Captain Kira Nerys and Lieutenant Ro Laren both lie near death aboard DS9, their assailant has taken a hostage and fled into Cardassian space, pursued by Commander Elias Vaughn on the USS Defiant. But as the hunt unfolds, Taran'atar's true objective becomes increasingly less certain, as the rogue Jem'Hadar leads the Defiant to a discovery even more shocking than his crime.

My thoughts:

The Jem'Hadar: mindless killers, or something more?
As a long-time fan of Star Trek, I love the stories where a former foe becomes an ally. The Organians' prediction in the TOS episode "Errand of Mercy" that the Federation and the Klingons would become "fast friends" was fulfilled when we saw Lieutenant Worf grace our screens every week on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Thus, I was intrigued when I learned that a Jem'Hadar soldier would be a main character in the Deep Space Nine relaunch novels. The other characters were wary of him, of course, worried that he might turn on them at any moment. Nog especially feared the powerful warrior, which was understandable given his wartime experiences facing off against the Jem'Hadar. I, however, was not worried. After all, Odo had ordered Taran'atar to obey Kira as though she were a Founder, and no Jem'Hadar would ever betray the will of a Founder. No, Taran'atar would prove that the Jem'Hadar could work alongside other species in mutual cooperation and overcome their breeding as killers.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

At the end of The Dominion: Olympus Descending, Odo's great experiment goes horribly wrong. Taran'atar brutally attacks Lieutenant Ro and Captain Kira, leaving them for dead. As Warpath opens, he flees the station, taking Ensign Prynn Tenmei captive in the process. Now it is up to her distraught father, Elias Vaughn, to take chase in the U.S.S. Defiant in an attempt to bring back both alive.

Warpath is classic David Mack. He superbly juggles a number of different stories throughout the book, bringing everything to a head on the Cardassian world Harkoum, where we learn who exactly was behind everything. It turns out that Taran'atar was not acting on his own volition, and that he may not be completely at fault for his actions after all. Present here is some great action sequences, as well as some great character work, notably for Vaughn and Prynn, and also for Taran'atar himself as he struggles with his own identity and place in the universe.

Warpath suffers a little bit from being setup for what is to come, but it is also a very strong story in its own right. I especially enjoyed Prynn's struggles against Taran'atar, as well as the cat-and-mouse game of tactics between Taran'atar and Vaughn aboard the Defiant as each attempts to out-think the other. Also, look for some fun references, most obviously to the 1984 anime NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind. It turns out that the Nausicaans of Star Trek borrow more from that film than just their name!

Final thoughts:

A fun and exciting novel filled with great action and some fantastic setup for the stories to come. This is classic David Mack: a number of stories come together with some fantastic payoff, while still setting up the novels to come. Four out of five stars is my rating for Warpath. Not to be missed.

More about Warpath:

Also by David Mack:

Star Trek: S.C.E. #7: Invincible, Part One of Two with Keith R.A. DeCandido (2001)
Star Trek: S.C.E. #8: Invincible, Part Two of Two with Keith R.A. DeCandido (2001)
Star Trek: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind (2007)
Star Trek: Vanguard: Precipice (2009)
Star Trek: Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of Empire, expanded edition (2010)
"The Stars Look Down" from Star Trek: Vanguard: Declassified (2011)
Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions (2011)
Star Trek: Vanguard: Storming Heaven (2012)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations, Book I: The Persistence of Memory (2012)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations, Book II: Silent Weapons (2012)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations, Book III: The Body Electric (2013)
Star Trek: The Fall: A Ceremony of Losses (2013)
Star Trek: Seekers #1: Second Nature (2014)
Star Trek: Section 31: Disavowed (2014)

My next read:

This week, I will be featuring my review of the behind-the-scenes interview book about Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Preston Neal Jones' new Return to Tomorrow. And then, in a week, if I can keep my reading pace up, look for Fearful Symmetry, the next book in the Deep Space Nine relaunch by author Olivia Woods.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Literary Treks 107: Death Star DeLorean

Talking Armageddon's Arrow with Dayton Ward!

It has been a long road of recovery for the Federation since the events of Destiny. Captain Picard once asked during a previous war, "Does anyone remember when we use to be explorers?". Now the time has come for the Enterprise to once again boldly go, and author Dayton Ward has given us a front row seat in Armageddon's Arrow.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther are joined by Dayton Ward to talk about this latest adventure for the TNG crew. We discuss changing course in the 24th century, the new crew with the old, Picard's changes, creating races and technology, being careful what you wish for, section 1701, what Taurik saw, the ending, trying to surprise reader,s and upcoming things from Dayton.

In the news section, we find out exactly what Dan was doing for Section 31 in Iceland and talk about the upcoming release of The Wit and Wisdom of Star Trek.


Literary Treks 107: Death Star DeLorean
Interview with Dayton Ward on Armageddon's Arrow





Previous episode: Literary Treks 106: Completely Incomplete

Next episode: Literary Treks 108: Star Trek Beyond the Thunderdome