Thursday, October 16, 2014

Acts of Contrition

Star Trek: Voyager
Acts of Contrition by Kirsten Beyer
Release date: September 30th 2014
Read October 10th 2014


Previous book (Voyager): Protectors
Next book (Voyager): Atonement


Purchase (MMPB): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Purchase (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Acts of Contrition and previous books in the Voyager relaunch series!

From the back cover:
Admiral Kathryn Janeway has now taken command of the Full Circle Fleet. Her first mission: return to the Delta Quadrant and open diplomatic relations with the Confederacy of the Worlds of the First Quadrant, a civilization whose power rivals that of the Federation. Captain Chakotay knows that his choices could derail the potential alliance. While grateful to the Confederacy Interstellar Fleet for rescuing the Federation starships from an alien armada, the Voyager captain cannot forget the horrors upon which the Confederacy was founded.

More troubling, it appears that several of
Voyager’s old adversaries have formed a separate and unlikely pact that is determined to bring down the Confederacy at all costs. Sins of the past haunt the crew members of the Full Circle Fleet as they attempt to chart a course for the future. Will they learn much too late that some sins can never be forgiven . . . or forgotten?

My thoughts:

Acts of Contrition is the sixth post-"Endgame" Voyager novel penned by Kirsten Beyer, and under her direction, the series continues to be a highlight of the year's slate of Trek novels. As I've mentioned before, Voyager was easily my least favorite of the Star Trek television series, but Kirsten's novels are fantastic. Her handling of character, plot, and theme are all truly superb.

This novel was a terrific read. There is so much to love between the covers of Acts of Contrition, I scarcely know where to begin. Kirsten's handling of the canon characters such as Janeway, Chakotay, and even Harry Kim is excellent, while the novel-exclusive characters such as Hugh Cambridge and Dr. Sharak are equally entertaining. Dr. Sharak in particular gets his chance to shine in this novel as he accompanies Seven to Earth to investigate the growing threat of a "catomic plague," seemingly borne of the exotic matter that replaced Borg components at the end of the events of the Destiny novels. As a Tamarian (introduced in the Next Generation episode "Darmok"), Dr. Sharak brings a unique perspective. I loved his conversation with a fellow Tamarian, and his interactions with Lt. Samantha Wildman as she learned to see things in his species' unique way was a treat to read.

Dr. Sharak is a Tamarian, like  Captain Dathon (pictured). The  Tamarians usually speak only in metaphor, making for an interesting perspective on the world.
If I were to describe what I took to be the theme of Acts of Contrition, it would be something along the lines of "every action we take has consequences, whether they're good or bad, and intended or not." We see this theme of consequences come up in every sub-plot in this novel (and there are more than a few sub-plots to be found!). Tom and B'Elanna's actions in protecting the life of their daughter has brought the wrath of Tom's mother down upon the family. The Doctor's action of ridding himself of his feelings for Seven of Nine has had a profoundly negative effect on his program. And, perhaps most important to the plot, the actions of the Confederacy of the Worlds of the First Quadrant early in its history have shaped what it has become now.

Another issue that came up in this novel was the idea of a clash of cultures. Granted, this has been explored in Trek before, but never with this level of subtlety, nuance, and verisimilitude (in my humble opinion). Many times, notably in Voyager, the crew would encounter a civilization that seemed compatible with the Federation's ideals. Inevitably, towards the end of the hour, they would come up short, and Janeway would take Voyager away in a huff, possibly after exchanging a few torpedoes with them. (See: The Sikarians in "Prime Factors," the Trabe in "Alliances," Riley's Borg Cooperative in "Unity," the Malon in "Night," the Vaudwaar in "Dragon's Teeth," etc. etc.) I was very happy to see Acts of Contrition take a different and more nuanced approach to relations between the Federation and other civilizations. Of course, the fleet is in a better position than Voyager was during the series and has the luxury of Starfleet support. However, it is still interesting to juxtapose this approach with that of Voyager years earlier.

A coalition of Voyager's former adversaries has formed, threatening both the Full Circle Fleet and the Confederacy.

Finally, it is with Voyager's prior experiences in the Delta Quadrant in mind that we turn to another revelation in this novel: a number of Voyager's adversaries have teamed up to form a coalition of sorts, one that is threatening the Confederacy. Among this group's members are the Devore ("Counterpoint"), the Turei and the Vaudwaar ("Dragon's Teeth"), and most distressingly, it seems that the very powerful Voth ("Distant Origin") may have a role to play in this alliance. This feeds back into the aforementioned theme: actions have consequences, and the consequences doled out by this coalition are dire indeed.

Final thoughts:

Once again, Kirsten Beyer has knocked it out of the park. This story was beyond outstanding. I barely touched on the sub-plot that had Tom Paris fighting in family court for custody of his own children against his mother. Scenes in that courtroom were incredibly moving. Also barely mentioned in my review was the catomic plague that Seven and Dr. Sharak are investigating. Kirsten Beyer has said that Acts of Contrition acts as the middle book of a trilogy, consisting of the previous novel, Protectors, and the up-coming Atonement. I believe that we will learn more about this catomic threat in that novel. Unfortunately, it looks as though Atonement won't be released until September of 2015. That's a long time to wait, especially given the cliffhanger ending of this novel! Ah, well. It will most certainly be worth the wait, at least!

Further resources:

TrekBBS review and discussion thread for Acts of Contrition

Also by Kirsten Beyer:

Star Trek: Voyager: Unworthy (2009)
Star Trek: Voyager: Children of the Storm (2011)
Star Trek: Voyager: The Eternal Tide (2012)
Star Trek: Voyager: Protectors (2014)

My next read:

Coming next week: this month's all-new e-book exclusive novella by Rudy Josephs, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Q Are Cordially Uninvited...


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rising Son

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Rising Son by S.D. Perry
Published January 2003
Read April 15th 2013


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Mission Gamma, Book Four: Lesser Evil
Next book (Deep Space Nine): The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One


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

Spoilers ahead for Rising Son and the rest of the Deep Space Nine relaunch!

From the back cover:
Months ago, young Jake Sisko came upon a mysterious prophecy in the ruins of B'hala, one that told of a Son destined to enter the Celestial Temple of the Prophets and return home with a lost Herald. Certain that the ancient text was intended for him, Jake entered the wormhole to bring back his father, Captain Benjamin Sisko -- missing since his final, fateful confrontation with Gul Dukat in the Fire Caves of Bajor. But Jake's quest has failed. Or so he believes.
Flung across the galaxy by a power beyond his understanding, Jake is rescued by a strange ship with an even stranger alien crew. Joining them on a voyage unlike any he has ever experienced, Jake learns that his search for the truth will lead him to find the last thing he ever expected, and to discoveries far beyond his wildest imaginings.

My thoughts:


With this novel, we get something that happened far too infrequently in the run of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: a Jake story, through and through. Sure, he was featured a few times in plots of episodes, such as "The Ascent," "The Muse," and most notably in the episode "In the Cards." However, for a main character, Jake was extremely underutilized.

Jake Sisko is the central focus of this novel.

In Rising Son, we finally catch up with his story. As you'll recall, Jake went through the wormhole in Avatar in order to bring back his father... or so he believed. It turns out that while he is indeed a part of the Prophets' "plan," and he has a role to fulfil in the prophecy, it's not the one he initially assumed.

There is a lot to love in this novel. There is, of course, the "coming of age" aspect as Jake embarks on a long adventure outside of his regular elements. We see his character grow in ways we never got to see in the television series. Also, the crew of the Even Odds was particularly memorable, and we get some surprisingly emotional scenes with them. These are people I genuinely care about by the end of the novel. I would love to see a return by the Even Odds and her crew in a future novel or story.

S.D. Perry does a wonderful job of writing her characters. As mentioned above, the original characters in this novel are very well-written, but her grasp on Jake's character is equally impressive. We get inside the head of Jake and learn a lot about what he has been going through since Ben Sisko left to be with the Prophets. The heart of the story is this young man and his difficulty coping with, and eventual acceptance of, the circumstances in which he finds himself. While I have not lost my father, I have had periods in my life when I felt lost and directionless, and I found myself empathizing with Jake at many points in this novel.

Kai Opaka returns! However, the surprise
is somewhat ruined by the cover art.
Towards the end of the story, we meet up with (former) Kai Opaka and learn the story of how she finally escaped the world she was stranded on way back in Deep Space Nine's "Battle Lines," an episode from season one. It is at this point that we learn the true implications of the prophecy that led Jake on this adventure. Unfortunately, the "surprise" of Opaka's role in the story is gutted by having her appear on the cover. Having Kai Opaka on the cover of this novel is like having movie posters for The Empire Strikes Back feature the tagline "the greatest father and son story ever told." Okay, so perhaps that is overstating things, but I would certainly have preferred to have been surprised at Opaka's role in the story.

Final thoughts:

Rising Son does an amazing job of tying up the threads from the Avatar duology, while at the same time introducing new directions for the Deep Space Nine story to take. This was one of the most enjoyable reads of the Deep Space Nine "relaunch" so far, and I'm eager to continue following the story as it progresses. This re-read of the DS9 post-finale novels has been incredibly rewarding, and I look forward to revisiting later chapters in this story!


Also by S.D. Perry:

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Avatar, Book One (2001)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Avatar, Book Two (2001)
Star Trek: Inception with Britta Dennison (2010)

My next read:

In the coming weeks and months, I am attempting to maintain a more regular schedule here on Trek Lit Reviews. My aim is to publish new reviews every Thursday. New releases will be reviewed as they come out, and as for the older novels, I am trying a new schedule: the main thrust of my reviews will be of the Deep Space Nine relaunch and, eventually, the larger 24th century novel continuity. Alternating with that, however, will be other novels so that there is a little more variety in the subjects of my reviews. With that in mind, here is the tentative schedule for the coming weeks:

Next up: an all-new Voyager novel by the wonderful Kirsten Beyer: Acts of Contrition, which should go live next Thursday, October 16th.

On October 23rd, this month's e-book exclusive will be reviewed, TNG: Q Are Cordially Uninvited... by Rudy Josephs.

October 30th will see book two of the Terok Nor miniseries get its review.

So, unfortunately, it will be a little while before the Deep Space Nine series gets picked up again, but rest assured there will be plenty of great material for you to enjoy in the meantime. And remember, we take requests! The Terok Nor trilogy is being reviewed at the request of a reader. If there is a particular Trek novel or miniseries you would like to see us tackle, let us know in the comments! Or email us at treklitreviews@gmail.com.

Live long and prosper!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Release Day! Q Are Cordially Uninvited...

Available to download today wherever e-books are sold: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Q Are Cordially Uninvited... by Rudy Josephs!

Find out the real story of the wedding of Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher, featuring mischievous shenanigans by the omnipotent Q!





Publisher's description:
The wedding of Captain Jean-Luc Picard to Doctor Beverly Crusher was a small, private affair overseen by the mayor of La Barre, France, and witnessed by the groom’s sister-in-law and the mayor’s wife. At least, that’s what the happy couple always told their friends. On the anniversary of that blessed day, however, Worf and Geordi La Forge manage to coax the real story out of the pair, to discover a tale of mythical treasure and a lost civilization in the Delta Quadrant. It all begins when the omnipotent being Q crashes the festivities, declaring himself best man and bringing along an unwilling guest as a surprise for the groom.


Purchase The Next Generation: Q Are Cordially Uninvited...:

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Previous Release: Voyager: Acts of Contrition
Next Release: Section 31: Disavowed


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Impressive cover art for DS9: The Missing! *UPDATED*

We have a new cover to show you today: To be released on December 30th, it's Deep Space Nine: The Missing by Una McCormack! Check out the impressive cover art by Doug Drexler below, and read the publisher's description. This one sounds like it's going to be good! But then, when are Una McCormick's novels not terrific?

As always, links are included below to pre-order The Missing from Amazon. Ordering using these links helps out Trek Lit Reviews. So, thank you!


UPDATE:

The cover art has been tweaked slightly to great effect (in my humble opinion)! Gone is the weird purple background in favor of a much more contrast-y black. Looks much better!


The entire sector is waiting to see what the newly reopened Bajoran wormhole will mean for the shifting political landscape in the Alpha Quadrant. On Deep Space 9, Captain Ro Laren is suddenly drawn into the affairs of the People of the Open Sky, who have come to the station in search of sanctuary. Despite the opposition of the station's security officer, Jefferson Blackmer, Ro Laren and Deep Space 9's new CMO, Doctor Beverly Crusher, offer the People aid. But when Dr. Crusher’s highly secure files are accessed without permission—the same files that hold the secrets of the Shedai, a race whose powerful but half-understood scientific secrets solved the Andorian catastrophe—the People seem the likeliest suspects.

As tensions rise on the station, the science vessel Athene Donald arrives as part of its journey of exploration. The brainchild of Doctor Katherine Pulaski, this ship is crewed by different species from the Khitomer Accords and the Typhon Pact. Pulaski’s hope is that science will do what diplomacy has not: help the great powers put aside their hostilities and work together. But when the Athene Donald is summarily stopped in her voyage by the powerful vessel of a hitherto unknown species, Pulaski begins to wonder—will this first contact bring her crew together or tear them all apart?

Purchase the mass-market paperback from: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Purchase the e-book (Kindle) version from: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


Day of the Vipers

Star Trek: Terok Nor (A Saga of The Lost Era)
Day of the Vipers, 2318 - 2328 by James Swallow
Published April 2008
Read March 18th 2014

Previous book (The Lost Era): The Next Generation: The Buried Age
Next book (Terok Nor): Night of the Wolves


Purchase (MMPB): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Purchase (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Day of the Vipers and the Terok Nor miniseries!

From the back cover:
A seemingly benign visitation to the bountiful world of Bajor from the resource-poor Cardassian Union is viewed with cautious optimism by some, trepidation by others, and a calculating gleam by unscrupulous opportunists. What begins as a gesture of compassion soon becomes something very different. Seen through the eyes of participants on both sides -- including those of a young officer named Skrain Dukat -- the personal, political, and religious tensions between the Bajorans and the Cardassians quickly spiral out of control, irrevocably shaping the futures of both worlds in an emotionally charged and unforgettable tale of treachery, tragedy, and hope.

My thoughts:

The Cardassian occupation of Bajor is a 60-year period of history that was explored at various times in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and the aftermath of which is the setting of the series itself. In the course of several episodes (such as "Necessary Evil," "Things Past," and "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night"), we have seen what Bajor and Terok Nor were like during the occupation, but what about before the Cardassians arrived? What was Bajor like, and what led to the beginning of the occupation? It is the answers to these questions that make Day of the Vipers so compelling.

Many episodes of Deep Space Nine have shown us flashbacks of Bajor during the occupation (such as this scene from "Ties of Blood and Water"), but how did the occupation begin? Day of the Vipers answers this question.

Dramatic irony is used throughout the story. As readers familiar with the occupation of Bajor, we know where this is all headed: to a very dark, disastrous place. However, the characters in the story aren't privy to that information, and their plight is made all the more tragic due to the inevitability of what is to come. At times, you just want to reach into the pages to grab characters by the lapels and scream, "don't you see what is happening?!?" It is frustrating to witness the mistakes and deceptions that led to the horrors of the Cardassian occupation.

The true tragedy is the fall of two worlds, Bajor and Cardassia. Like Bajor, Cardassia was once a verdant planet with a population that lived in peace with nature. However, Cardassia has forgotten this and is now a desolate wasteland, home to a people who are desperate. This desperation is visited upon the Bajorans, who can't conceive of a people who would take what is theirs because they have none of their own.

The occupation is not only the story of Bajor, but of Cardassia as well. The famine and hardships experienced by that world directly led to the occupation of Bajor, a resource-rich world that proved extremely tempting to the resource-poor Cardassians.

Reading a few on-line reviews of Day of the Vipers, I noticed that some readers seemed to have been put off by the slower pace of the novel. However, I felt that the pacing of the story was very fitting. The Cardassian occupation was not an event that happened all at once; rather, there was a slow build-up. The Cardassians didn't arrive and invade Bajor militarily en masse, but instead insinuated themselves into Bajoran government and day-to-day life. The build-up to the occupation was slow and methodical, culminating in a horrific "false flag" incident in which a Bajoran fleet was destroyed by Cardassians acting as allies, while pinning the blame for the attack on the Tzenkethi. The slow build-up was perfect for the monumental importance of these events.

Final thoughts:

Day of the Vipers is an excellent beginning to the Terok Nor miniseries, setting up the horrors of the Cardassian occupation very well. At times quite dark and depressing (we all know where this story is headed), this novel nonetheless shows the resilience and pride of the Bajoran people. This is not the most accessible of Star Trek novels. I think that a casual fan of Star Trek would have a much harder time picking up this novel than a more conventional TOS or TNG novel. However, for ardent fans, Day of the Vipers introduces a pivotal piece of Star Trek history, and I would recommend this novel for any reader who loves Deep Space Nine and the rich, well-developed lore of that series.

Also by James Swallow:

Star Trek: Titan: Synthesis (2009)
Star Trek: Cast No Shadow (2011)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Stuff of Dreams (2013)
Star Trek: The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice (2013)

My next read:

Continuing my series of reviews of the Deep Space Nine relaunch novels, my next review will be for S.D. Perry's Rising Son. Look for that soon!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Release Day! Voyager: Acts of Contrition

It's already been showing up on bookshelves, but today is the official release date for Kirsten Beyer's latest addition to the Voyager post-series novel-verse: Acts of Contrition!

Go download the e-book copy or grab the dead tree version today! And look below for the publisher's description and ordering links. By ordering through us, you'll be helping to support Trek Lit Reviews!

My review of Acts of Contrition.





Publisher's description:
Admiral Kathryn Janeway has now taken command of the Full Circle Fleet. Her first mission: return to the Delta Quadrant and open diplomatic relations with the Confederacy of the Worlds of the First Quadrant, a civilization whose power rivals that of the Federation. Captain Chakotay knows that his choices could derail the potential alliance. While grateful to the Confederacy Interstellar Fleet for rescuing the Federation starships from an alien armada, Voyager’s captain cannot forget the horrors upon which the Confederacy was founded.
More troubling, it appears that several of Voyager’s old adversaries have formed a separate and unlikely pact that is determined to bring down the Confederacy at all costs. Sins of the past haunt the crew members of the Full Circle Fleet as they attempt to chart a course for the future. Will they learn much too late that some sins can never be forgiven…or forgotten?


Purchase Voyager: Acts of Contrition:

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


Thursday, September 25, 2014

These Are The Voyages: TOS, Season Two

THESE ARE THE VOYAGES: TOS, SEASON TWO
by Marc Cushman with Susan Osborn
Foreword by Walter Koenig
688 pages
Published by Jacobs/Brown Press

Read August 27, 2014



These Are the Voyages TOS Season Two.jpg
Hardcover: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca



Publisher’s Description:
In the 1980s Gene Roddenberry and Robert H. Justman gave Marc Cushman permission to write the definitive history of the first Star Trek. They backed their stamp of approval by providing documentation never before shared with the public. These Are The Voyages, published in three volumes - one designated for each season of TOS (The Original Series) - will take you back in time and put you into the producers’ offices, the writers’ room, onto the soundstages, and in front of your TV sets for the first historic broadcasts. Included are hundreds of memos between Roddenberry and his staff, production schedules, budgets, fan letters, behind-the-scenes images, and the TV ratings. Buckle your seat belts; the trek of a lifetime continues with Season Two.

My Thoughts:

As with the first These Are the Voyages, Marc Cushman has provided fans with a gargantuan, meticulously-researched volume of facts, trivia, and first-hand accounts of the creation of Star Trek, this time chronicling the classic television show’s second season.

The opening chapters focus on the transition from season one to season two, including the suspense with regards to whether or not the expensive-to-produce show would be renewed. The story of Star Trek behind the scenes is just as exciting as the Star Trek we got on our television sets each week. The very real sense of franticness and difficulty in producing Star Trek is palapble as one reads the pages of this section.

Individual episodes are featured in production order as the discussion between the producers, writers, and the network is chronicled, with each episode getting a separate chapter. The cast of characters featured by Cushman are at times both larger-than-life and surprisingly human. Through their memos regarding each episode’s script and production, we hear the voices of each of the producers and writers: Gene Roddenberry often insisting on a larger “message” to include in each script, Gene Coon focused on creating and maintaining a consistent “Star Trek feel,” Dorothy Fontana and her brilliant eye for characters and drama, and Robert Justman’s protestations about budget and believability couched in a sometimes dark sense of humor.

Also included in each episode’s summary are reminiscences of guest actors and writers, the Neilsen ratings, and the historical context in which each episode was produced. Reportedly, Cushman’s editor did a lot of work to get him to trim back the amount of information included in this book. I can see how it would have been easy to get carried away. Even with the trims, there is a lot here, more than in the first book. And I’m informed that the third volume has even more with which to fill its pages!

Interstitial chapters feature various writers and other background personnel as they join the production, such as David Gerrold and John Meredyth Lucas. Other sections are included, such as depictions of Star Trek in the popular media of the time and, of particular interest, an overview of story ideas that were purchased and in some cases even developed, but never aired.

As with the first volume, the real joy in These Are the Voyages: TOS, Season Two comes in sitting down with the hefty tome and re-watching the episodes. Even someone such as myself, who has seen each episode an uncountable number of times, can pick new things out of the show while following along with Cushman as he revisits the world of 1960s television production.

Final Thoughts:

Above all else, this book is a lot of fun to read. Even the most ardent Star Trek fan will find something new and exciting about their favorite entertainment in the pages of These Are the Voyages. And, as mentioned above, season 3 has even more to talk about. I am very fascinated to learn more about that troubled season, and I am very much looking forward to the third and final volume of These Are the Voyages: TOS.

My next read:

Next up, as promised months ago, is my review of James Swallow's Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers, a tale of The Lost Era!