Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Literary Treks Podcast: Tower of Babel by Christopher L. Bennett

The fine folks over at Trek.fm were kind enough to invite me on to their Star Trek books and comics podcast, Literary Treks. We talked about Christopher Bennett's new novel, Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel. Click below to give the episode a listen, and find out how I sound in real life! (Although I had microphone issues, so the audio of my part isn't the best, I'm afraid!)

Click to be taken to the show page for episode 57 of Literary Treks!
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Best part: they're planning to have me on again in the future! Thanks so much for the opportunity to be a part of the show, guys, I really appreciate it!

Also, I have to put in a hearty recommend for the Literary Treks podcast in general. I've been listening since their first episode, and they do a great job bringing Star Trek books and comics news and reviews to a wide audience. They feature interviews with the authors of new releases, as well as retrospectives about past entries in the Trek lit world!

Let me know what you thought of the show!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

New cover revealed: October's Acts of Contrition by Kirsten Beyer!

Today marks the reveal of another new cover, this time for Acts of Contrition by Kirsten Beyer, the next novel in her on-going Voyager series. The best part? The "New York Times Bestselling Author" that now precedes her name. Congratulations, Kirsten, and well-earned!

Check out the cover below, along with the "back-cover blurb" and links to purchase Acts of Contrition from Amazon! Be warned: the blurb does contain spoilers for previous books in the Voyager relaunch series!

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?

Sounds exciting! You can pre-order Acts of Contrition by following the links below. By doing so, you'll be supporting Trek Lit Reviews!

Tower of Babel

Star Trek: Enterprise
Rise of the Federation
Tower of Babel by Christopher L. Bennett
Release date: March 25th 2014
Read March 27th 2014

Previous book (Enterprise): Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures
Next book (Enterprise): Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic

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

Spoilers ahead for Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel!

From the back cover:
The United Federation of Planets has weathered its first major crisis, but its growing pains are just beginning. Admiral Jonathan Archer hopes to bring the diverse inhabitants of the powerful and prosperous Rigel system into the Federation, jump-starting the young nation's growth and stabilizing a key sector of space. Archer and the Federation's top diplomats journey to the planetoid Babel to debate Rigel's admission…but a looming presidential race heats up the ideological divide within the young nation, jeopardizing the talks and threatening to undo the fragile unity Archer has worked so hard to preserve. 
Meanwhile, the sinister Orion Syndicate recruits new allies of its own, seeking to beat the Federation at its own game. Determined to keep Rigel out of the union, they help a hostile Rigelian faction capture sensitive state secrets along with Starfleet hostages, including a young officer with a vital destiny. Captain Malcolm Reed, Captain T'Pol, and their courageous crews must now brave the wonders and dangers of Rigel's many worlds to track down the captives before the system is plunged into all-out war.

My thoughts:

Christopher L. Bennett is a master of tying together disparate bits of Star Trek continuity. Tower of Babel is no exception. By my reckoning, Tower of Babel references the Enterprise episodes "Civilization," "Bound," "Dead Stop," and others, while at the same time tying together plot points from the TOS episodes "The Cage," "Mudd's Women," and of course, "Journey to Babel." Bennett has the uncanny ability to make seemingly completely separate plot points tie into one another almost seamlessly. People have used the term "continuity porn" before, but I'm not that what Bennett does qualifies. As the author himself has said, he uses continuity to serve the plot, never the other way around.

I really did enjoy Enterprise when it was on the air. However, one of the areas in which it fell short (with the exception of season four) was in taking advantage of the opportunity to create meaningful ties to The Original Series. This is something that Bennett has done wonderfully with the two books of the Rise of the Federation series. But not only does he tie it to TOS, his story also makes very good use of elements of Enterprise. There seem to be many Trek fans who did not enjoy Enterprise, and I feel like the temptation would be there to wipe the slate clean, start over, and ignore many of the elements from the television show. Bennett, however, doesn't do that. He takes elements from some very middle-of-the-road episodes, and fleshes them out in unexpected and refreshing ways. There is a lot in this book for the avid Star Trek fan to pick up on.

The three Orion sisters from "Bound." Interestingly, a plot twist revealed in this novel was guessed by me while reading the previous book, A Choice of Futures. However, when the story didn't go that way in that novel, I had forgotten. So Bennett was able to surprise me with the same plot twist this time around!
I really enjoyed Bennett's treatment of the villains of the piece. In particular, the rounding out of the characters of "The Three Sisters," Navaar, D'Nesh, and Maras, was very welcome, as was the further characterization of Garos, first seen in "Civilization," and who also played a large role in the last Rise of the Federation novel. It is refreshing to have villains who are multi-faceted, round characters, rather than the one-note villains we often see.

Garos, from the episode "Civilization," seen here undercover in an Akaali disguise.

Christopher Bennett is also very good at writing inter-personal and professional relationships. His exploration of the working relationship among T'Pol's crew aboard the Endeavour is a highlight of this novel. The tension that Thanien believed existed between himself and Hoshi Sato rang very true. Many people feel threatened by a co-worker who is believed to hold favor with their superiors. Real or imagined, that stress can have a large impact on productivity and decision-making. I felt that Bennett's treatment of this issue was excellent. On the flip side of that issue is the tension between Reed, T'Pol, and Archer. Because Reed used to be a subordinate of both T'Pol and Archer, he feels that they don't trust him enough to take care of a situation. Reed feels that he must prove himself capable of captaining a Federation starship in a crisis.

One aspect I loved in Tower of Babel was the characterizations of Valeria Williams and Sam Kirk, who are implied to be the ancestors of future Captain James T. Kirk. Rather than just relying on the feeling of "ooh, cool, Kirk's ancestors!," Williams and Sam Kirk are fully fleshed-out characters in their own right. Williams is a truly fascinating character with a lot of potential to be explored in further novels, as is Kirk. I'm really looking forward to seeing where Bennett takes these characters next!

Final thoughts:

There is a lot going on in this novel. My review didn't even touch on Trip's role, or the story of Maltuvis, the Saurian dictator with aspirations of galactic domination, or the unexpected reveal at the very end of the novel of a familiar threat to the Federation looming on the horizon. The prose is very dense, but still very accessible. As is the case with Kirsten Beyer's take on the Voyager universe, I think that people who were initially not fans of Enterprise will still very much enjoy this series. Not only does it continue the Enterprise story, it shows the building blocks of the Federation itself, a story that resonates through the entire rest of the Star Trek universe.

I very much recommend Tower of Babel. Rise of the Federation has become one of my most anticipated novel series in the Star Trek lineup. I can't wait to see where Christopher Bennett takes us in the next instalment!

Also by Christopher L. Bennett:

Star Trek: Ex Machina (2005)
Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock (2011)
Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within (2011)
Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Forgotten History (2012)
Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures (2013)

My next read:

At the request of a reader, next up is the first book in the Terok Nor series: Day of the Vipers by James Swallow, a part of the Lost Era of Star Trek!

Friday, April 4, 2014

New cover time! TNG: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang

We have another new cover to unveil today! This time, we take a look at this summer's new TNG book, The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang. Check out the cover below! Then, read the "back-cover blurb" and click the links to pre-order the novel from Amazon. If you do, you'll be helping out Trek Lit Reviews, and we really appreciate it!

He was perhaps the ultimate human achievement: a sentient artificial life-form—self-aware, self-determining, possessing a mind and a body far surpassing that of his makers, and imbued with the potential to evolve beyond the scope of his programming. 
And then Data was destroyed. 
Four years later, Data’s creator, Noonien Soong, sacrificed his life and resurrected his android son, who in turn revived the positronic brain of his own artificial daughter, Lal. Having resigned his commission, the former Starfleet officer now works to make his way on an alien world, while also coming to grips with the very human notion of wanting versus having a child. 
But complicating Data’s new life is an unexpected nemesis from years ago on the U.S.S. Enterprise—the holographic master criminal Professor James Moriarty. Long believed to be imprisoned in a memory solid, Moriarty has created a siphon into the "real" world as a being of light and thought. Moriarty wants the solid form that he was once told he could never have, and seeks to manipulate Data into finding another android body for him to permanently inhabit . . . even if it means that is Data himself. 
Returning to the story begun in the novel Immortal Coil and continuing in the bestselling Cold Equations trilogy, this is the next fascinating chapter in the artificial life of one of Star Trek’s most enduring characters.

Pre-order The Light Fantastic from Amazon using the links below!

E-book: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cover Art and Blurb for DS9: The Missing

Happy April! We have some interesting book news. First up is the artwork and back cover blurb for Deep Space Nine: The Missing by Una McCormack. The release date for this one is December 30th, so we have awhile to wait! However, Doug Drexler recently revealed the artwork that is going to be used on the cover on his Facebook page. Take a look!

Deep Space 9 is once again becoming an important way station in the Alpha Quadrant for many different people with many different agendas. Uniquely crewed by representatives of different species from both the Khitomer Powers and the Typhon Pact, the Federation science and exploration vessel Athene Donald stops at the station as its final port of call before heading into uncharted territories. The whole project is the brainchild of Dr. Katherine Pulaski, who hopes that science will do what diplomacy alone cannot, and help various powers put aside the tensions of recent years, returning to scientific research and the exploration of space On DS9, base commander Ro Laren has her hands full with the sudden arrival of a ragtag flotilla of small ships crewed by a group calling themselves the People of the Open Sky. Ro is not keen on handling this first-contact duty, but becomes increasingly intrigued by the People, who are made up of several hitherto unknown species. Describing themselves as explorers, they are interested in everything about the station. Ro begins to enjoy her assignment, particularly as she takes counsel from the logs of Jean-Luc Picard. Blackmer, however, is more suspicious about these apparently friendly arrivals and monitors their movements around DS9...
Sounds pretty interesting! You can pre-order The Missing from Amazon using the links below!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lesser Evil

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Mission Gamma, Book Four of Four
Lesser Evil by Robert Simpson
Published October 2002
Read February 23rd 2014

Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Mission Gamma, Book Three: Cathedral
Next book (Deep Space Nine): Rising Son

Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Lesser Evil, Mission Gamma, and the rest of the Deep Space Nine relaunch!

From the back cover:
Chaos erupts aboard Deep Space 9 as the crew begins a desperate search for a killer in their midst, catapulting Colonel Kira Nerys on a dangerous chase into the heart of the Federation. But the crime she seeks to avenge is part of a plot more ancient and far-reaching than anyone suspects, and that secret, if exposed, could divide worlds throughout the Alpha Quadrant.
Meanwhile, as the starship Defiant makes its way back toward the wormhole and home to DS9, a startling discovery shakes Commander Elias Vaughn to his core and brings to light the truth behind the most tragic mission of his long life. As the crew struggles with the implications of what they've found, their captain's judgment comes into question… and casts doubt on the final outcome of their historic voyage through the Gamma Quadrant.

My thoughts:

Lesser Evil is somewhat of a departure from the previous three novels in the Mission Gamma series. Whereas the previous novels in the series had a high page count, Lesser Evil is significantly thinner, and also has a larger typeface. However, the shorter length means a faster pace, which actually serves the story quite well.

Kira once again dons a Starfleet uniform and accompanies the Gryphon on a mission to capture Shakaar's assassin.
Once again, the narrative is divided between two settings: the Defiant mission in the gamma quadrant, and the on-going story back on Deep Space Nine. At the conclusion of Cathedral, Bajoran first minister Shakaar Edon is assassinated by the security officer who came with the Trill delegation to DS9. In Lesser Evil, we learn the reason behind that attack. Shakaar was not really Shakaar at all; rather, he had been taken over by a bug-like parasite, apparently the same species that nearly took over the Federation during the first season of The Next Generation. Colonel Kira must face down an officer who has been taken over by another parasite as she races toward Trill aboard the U.S.S. Gryphon.

The parasites from "Conspiracy" return to wreak havoc on Deep Space Nine and the Federation.
Meanwhile, in the gamma quadrant, the Defiant comes across a startling discovery: a crashed vessel that was infiltrated by the Borg. Faced with the alarming possibility of the Borg having encountered the Dominion, Vaughn's crew urges him to make for the wormhole and report their findings to Starfleet. However, Vaughn has a much more personal stake in the matter when he discovers a connection to a mission he ordered years earlier, which threatens to tear his newly-renewed relationship with his daughter asunder.

As I mentioned above, the faster pace in this novel serves the story. I particularly enjoyed the story of Kira aboard the Gryphon. The reintroduction of the parasites is an interesting twist, and I feel that they are handled much better here than in the episode in which they were featured. My one complaint about this story is how easily Kira was duped, as I had figured out one particular plot twist well ahead of its revelation.

The gamma quadrant story is a little slower and strains credibility somewhat, but was still interesting enough. My favorite part occurred after the main story had wrapped up, when the Defiant comes across some unexpected characters in what is an intriguing set-up for stories to come.

Final thoughts:

A faster-paced story that ups the stakes for future stories in the Deep Space Nine relaunch. Some good character moments for Vaughn and his daughter, Prynn, but the real meat of this story comes in the DS9 portions. The re-introduction of the parasites from TNG's "Conspiracy" makes for some exciting prospects for stories to come. Maybe not quite as satisfying a story as the previous entries in the Mission Gamma mini-series, but still a very solid effort and a fun read. I'm very excited for where the story goes from here!

My next read:

My next review will be for this month's new release, Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel by Christopher L. Bennett. I've been looking forward to this one for some time!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New interview with Greg Cox, author of No Time Like the Past!

We have another new interview over at TrekCore.com. Recently, I spoke with New York Times Bestselling Author Greg Cox, author of many fine Star Trek novels, and the man who brought you last month's The Original Series: No Time Like the Past, an exciting adventure bringing two generations together! Click here to be taken to the interview, and check out the reviews of written on a few of his other novels below!

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

Also by Greg Cox: