Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Release Day! TOS: Crisis of Consciousness

The new Star Trek novel for May hits bookstores and online retailers today: The Original Series: Crisis of Consciousness by Dave Galanter! A very talented Trek writer, Galanter wrote one of my favorite standalone TOS novels, Troublesome Minds.

Check out the cover art and back cover blurb below, and as always, use the links to purchase Crisis of Consciousness from Amazon!

Publisher's description:
The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is completing a diplomatic mission with the Maabas, an alien race with whom they’d been sent to sign a treaty. The Maabas are a peaceful people who are not native to the star system they now inhabit, but were refugees from a great war long ago. Several hundred thousand took shelter on their new planet, and have been there for thousands of years. While they have warp capability, they do not travel the stars, but seek to explore within. The Federation’s interest is in the Maabas’s great intellectual resources. Their science, while behind Federation standards in some areas, excels in others. They are highly intelligent, with unique approaches, and their philosophy is in line with that of the Federation. But just as the pact is signed, the Enterprise is attacked by an unknown ship. They manage to show enough force to keep the alien vessel at bay…but a new danger arises, as their mysterious foes are the Kenisians—a race that used to inhabit this planet thousands of years ago, and now want it back.

Purchase The Original Series: Crisis of Consciousness:

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

Next Release: The Next Generation: Armageddon's Arrow

Saturday, April 25, 2015

That Sleep of Death

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Slings and Arrows, Book Four of Six
That Sleep of Death by Terri Osborne
An e-book exclusive novella
Published January 2008
Read April 19th 2015

Previous book (Slings and Arrows): The Insolence of Office
Next book (Slings and Arrows): A Weary Life

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

Spoilers ahead for That Sleep of Death and the rest of the Slings and Arrows series!

From the back cover:
In the wake of increased concern over the Dominion threat, Dr. Beverly Crusher has attempted to improve morale on the Enterprise by starting up her theatre company -- starting with a production of A Christmas Carol. But before opening night, a devastating malady starts striking down the crew.

Forced to rely on a piece of technology she despises -- the Emergency Medical Hologram -- Dr. Crusher must find a cure before it's too late!

My thoughts:

Slings and Arrows has been a generally entertaining series. The first three books have been fascinating insights into the characters, both primary and secondary, and have given us some interesting glimpses into the reasons behind many of the changes between Star Trek: Generations and First Contact. I enjoyed learning more about Lieutenants Hawk and Daniels, and witnessing the series of events that led to Geordi transitioning from his VISOR to the ocular implants he wears in the later TNG films.

However, with this novella, the series takes a bit of a downward turn. For one thing, it's short. Really short. Don't get me wrong, I understand that all of the books in this series are only novellas and are all somewhat short, but this one, coming in at approximately 43 printed pages, is by far the shortest. This serves to undermine the story quite a bit, in my opinion. The main crisis of the story barely gets off the ground before it is solved in a very anticlimactic way.

There are a couple of positives worth noting, however. One of the biggest disappointments of the TNG films was how divorced they are from the television series. Much of the time, the characters feel very different and the general atmosphere feels quite separate from the day-to-day reality of TNG. In That Sleep of Death, Terri Osborne takes steps to rectify that by introducing some elements from the television series, most notably Dr. Crusher's theatre company. These little touches would have been very welcome in the TNG films, rather than much of the action schlock that we got. Additionally, Barclay is a favorite character of mine, and I was pleased that he had a role to play in this story.

Dr. Crusher's theatre group makes a welcome return in That Sleep of Death.

Also, I have to compliment this book on the cover art, something that has been lacking in this series. This cover is by far the best, and a marked improvement over the somewhat disturbing cover on the last installment!

Final thoughts:

The first true disappointment of the Slings and Arrows series. An overly rushed setup and payoff meant that I felt no sense of the stakes or danger in this story. A quick resolution to the plot that was barely explained left me scratching my head at the end of the book. However, small touches such as the return of Dr. Crusher's theatre company from the TNG series make the TNG film era a little more palatable.

More about this book:

My next read:

Next week, look for my review of the final story in the Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series: The Dominion: Olympus Descending by David R. George III!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Literary Treks' 100th Episode! In the Shadow of the Emissary

Deep Space Nine: Rising Son by S.D. Perry

The last time Jake Sisko was seen in the Deep Space Nine relaunch, he had bought a ship from Quark and was headed into the wormhole in an effort to fulfill a prophecy that seemed to indicate he would be reunited with his father. It would not be until six books later that we would have an answer to the question, "What happened to Jake?".

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther talk about Rising Son. We discuss our first impressions, Opaka's escape, Jake's life in his father's shadow, how we live, free will, predestination, responsibility, life's purpose, planting the seeds for the future, and our ratings.

In our news segment, we talk about the way the Star Trek books hold up, judge a book by it's cover, and then celebrate the 100th episode by talking about some of the favorite books we've covered, interviews, and a sincere thank you to all of the listeners for their support as well as to the authors for being so generous with their time.

Literary Treks 100: In the Shadow of the Emissary
Deep Space Nine: Rising Son by S.D. Perry

Previous episode: Literary Treks 99: Dr. Seuss Trek

Next episode: Literary Treks 101: 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ferenginar: Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed

Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Volume Three
Ferenginar: Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Published February 2005
Read April 3rd 2015

Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Bajor: Fragments and Omens

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

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

Spoilers ahead for Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed and the rest of the Deep Space Nine relaunch!

From the back cover:
Quark's profit-driven homeworld is rocked with scandal as shocking allegations involving his brother's first wife, the mother of Nog, threaten to overthrow Rom as Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance. Making matters worse, Quark has been recruited by Rom's political adversaries to join their coup d'etat, with guarantees of all Quark ever dreamed if they succeed in taking his brother down. While Ferenginar's future teeters on the edge, the pregnancy of Rom's current wife, Leeta, takes a difficult turn for both mother and child.

My thoughts:

Deep Space Nine accomplished many things during its seven-year run as a television series. One of the most important things it did was to redeem the Ferengi in the eyes of many Star Trek fans, including me. The DS9 Ferengi were no longer trying to be the supposed threatening antagonists they were branded as initially in TNG. Instead, through the characters of Quark, Rom, and Nog, we got to know the Ferengi on a more personal level. The Ferengi became people rather than comical profit-driven buffoons. While there was still a certain amount of buffoonery, these characters were now dynamic and certainly more realistic.

The government of Grand Nagus Rom is under threat in Satisfaction Is Not Guaranteed.

Satisfaction Is Not Guaranteed continues that trend admirably. While it certainly is comical, this story explores the Ferengi homeworld and presents it in a realistic way. From the perspective of the Federation and its values, the Ferengi can seem "backwards" or overly silly, but to the Ferengi, profit is a serious business. I enjoyed how even the non-Ferengi took the situation seriously when it would be easy to laugh off the politics of Ferenginar. Lieutenant Ro and her experiences on Ferenginar gave us an interesting outsider's perspective to the events in the novel.

I remember my trepidation regarding this novel years ago when I read the back-cover blurb. While I definitely understand that Quark is an old-school Ferengi who dislikes the direction the new Ferenginar is taking, I was worried about the damage done to his character if the story made him actually participate in a coup against his brother Rom. However, my fears were ill-founded, as DeCandido handles Quark's character with his usual sensitivity and style. I enjoyed the internal struggle that Quark experiences while wrestling with whether or not to support his brother's government despite his misgivings. The fact that his old adversary, the slimy FCA Liquidator Brunt, returns in this story makes Quark's decision much easier!

Once again, Brunt is scheming to become Grand Nagus.

The Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series is touted as a look into the cultures of Star Trek, in much the same way that Spock's World explored Vulcan. In that respect, Satisfaction Is Not Guaranteed is very satisfying. While we visited Ferenginar a couple of times during Deep Space Nine, we never really got a feel for what life on the planet was like day-to-day. This novella gives us more of that experience, and we see a lot more of Ferenginar than we have before. Ferenginar feels like a real place in the pages of this story.

Final thoughts:

A generally lighthearted story that still has huge repercussions for the Ferengi. While there are many comical elements to the story, Satisfaction Is Not Guaranteed still treats the Ferengi with respect and dignity in the style of the best Ferengi episodes of Deep Space Nine. Over the course of the series, Quark turned into a truly round and multi-faceted character, and one of my favorites. I enjoyed the look into his beliefs and the choices that have led him to where he is now. The glimpses into the day-to-day life of the average Ferengi citizen was very interesting as well.

A great addition to the Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series, and one that any Quark fan should enjoy immensely.

Also by Keith R.A. DeCandido:

Star Trek: S.C.E. #2: Fatal Error (2000)
Star Trek: S.C.E. #6: Cold Fusion (2001)
Star Trek: S.C.E. #7: Invincible, Part One of Two with David Mack (2001)
Star Trek: S.C.E. #8: Invincible, Part Two of Two with David Mack (2001)
Gateways, Book Four: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Demons of Air and Darkness (2001)
"Horn and Ivory" from Star Trek: Gateways, Book Seven: What Lay Beyond (2001)

Star Trek: S.C.E. #10: Here There Be Monsters (2001)
The Klingon Art of War (2014)

My next read:

Next week, part four of the Slings and Arrows series: That Sleep of Death by Terri Osborne.

Literary Treks 99: Dr. Seuss Trek

The Gold Key Comics, Volume One

The first company to produce Star Trek comics was Gold Key. Armed in the beginning with only production art and never having seen the show, these comics give fans a picture of what Star Trek might have been without the philosophy and hope for the future Roddenberry instilled in the franchise.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther go back to issues 1 through 3 of the Gold Key comics, collected in IDW's stunning Volume 1. We discuss the impact of creators who had never seen Star Trek beyond publicity stills and how this impacts the look, feel and interpretation of Star Trek, asking the question; "If this was what Star Trek had been, would it have lasted 50 years?". We walk through each issue and conclude with our ratings for the first 3 issues.

In our news segment we talk about the upcoming Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover as well as take a look at the last issue of the Trek/Apes series.

Literary Treks 99: Dr. Seuss Trek
Gold Key Comics Volume One

Previous episode: Literary Treks 98: Vulcan Mandalorians

Next episode: Literary Treks 100: In the Shadow of the Emissary

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Some Assembly Required

Star Trek: S.C.E. #12
Some Assembly Required by Scott Ciencin and Dan Jolley
Published January 2002
Re-released in print form as part of the S.C.E. compilation Some Assembly Required in April 2003.
Read April 9th 2015

Previous ebook (S.C.E.): #11: Ambush
Next ebook (S.C.E.): #13: No Surrender

Original e-book cover

Compilation of SCE #'s 9 - 12
Some Assembly Required from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Some Assembly Required and the rest of the Corps of Engineers series!

From the back cover:
Keorga is a haven for artists and musicians, a place of contemplation and artistic appreciation. When their request for a planet-running computer is denied by Starfleet, they go elsewhere; unfortunately, the instruction manual is in a language they cannot understand.
A team from the U.S.S. da Vinci is brought in to help them, but soon they realize there's more to this than a simple translation problem. The computer seems to be running a test -- one that the Keorgans are failing! If the S.C.E. team can't get the information they need out of the recalcitrant Keorgans and figure out how to stop the rampaging computer, Keorga may well lie in ruins!

My thoughts:

In Some Assembly Required, Bart Faulwell, Carol Abramowicz, and Soloman travel to Keorga, a planet recently contacted by the Federation. They have purchased a computer for the management of their world, but unfortunately, no one seems to know how to operate it. The computer's true purpose and effects on Keorga are set up as the central mystery in this story.

While the mystery and build-up are interesting, I found the payoff to be somewhat lacking. Not only is the resolution kind of thin in its explanations, the ending itself feels very rushed. Of course, the length of the novella sets a limit on what can be done, but I feel that more time could have been devoted to explaining the ending more fully and showing a more realistic resolution. The end came so quickly, I was reminded of the worst episodes of Voyager when the dilemma central to the plot was cleared up with a few lines of technobabble followed by a captain's log.

There is some character development attempted with Abramowicz, but unfortunately it comes across as somewhat forced. There are allusions to her childhood, but nothing is really explained. I understand that this is an ongoing story and that the writers may want to keep some revelations in reserve, but there is simply too little about her backstory here to really latch on to.

One aspect that I did like was the development of Soloman. In this story more than any previous one, he seems to be developing a distinct voice and personality all his own. I look forward to seeing where his character goes in future installments of S.C.E..

Final thoughts:

I like that Soloman is given a little more depth to play with here, but unfortunately the rest of the story falls short in my opinion. An interesting setup is marred by a rushed conclusion, and what could have been some real character development for Carol Abramowicz feels a little forced with not enough given to me to really make me care. I hope that the character work that was done in this story is built upon in the future, but sadly I felt that there wasn't enough here for the authors to play with.

My next read:

Next up is my review of Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Ferenginar: Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed by David R. George III. Look for that review this weekend!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Star Trek: S.C.E. #11
Ambush by Dave Galanter and Greg Brodeur
Published December 2001
Re-released in print form as part of the S.C.E. compilation Some Assembly Required in April 2003.
Read April 8th 2015

Previous ebook (S.C.E.): #10: Here There Be Monsters
Next ebook (S.C.E.): #12: Some Assembly Required

Original e-book cover

Compilation of SCE #'s 9 - 12
Some Assembly Required from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Ambush and the rest of the Corps of Engineers series!

From the back cover:
What started out as a simple supply run turns into a life-or-death struggle! The crew of the USS da Vinci thought they were just bringing mining supplies to Beta Argola. But en route they find out that the planet has been attacked—by the same superior forces that are now overwhelming the da Vinci! 
Overmatched by three enemy vessels that will not rest until the da Vinci is destroyed, the SCE crew must use all of their wits to figure out how to take on a more powerful foe. And they have to do it soon, because the miners on Beta Argola are quickly running out of time before their reactor goes critical…

My thoughts:

Ambush gives us something that happens often in Star Trek, but hasn't previously made an appearance in the S.C.E. series: cat-and-mouse starship combat! The U.S.S. da Vinci is attacked by raiders as she is delivering supplies to a mining colony. Captain Gold and his crew must contend with the damage to the da Vinci while using all of their expertise to turn the tide of battle against the aggressors.

Needless to say, the engineering know-how of Commander Gomez's S.C.E. team is put to the task of defending the ship. I've been waiting for a story like this! Not that Star Trek is all about ship battles and destroying your enemies, but I've been fascinated to see how the engineering gurus of S.C.E. tackle a tactical problem, and the characters do not disappoint. As usual, they come up with several creative solutions to their difficulties.

I also really enjoyed the scenes shown from the perspective of the colonists waiting for rescue. The tension and danger felt very real, and I found myself developing an emotional connection not only with the da Vinci crew, but with the struggling colonists as well. For a story with such a short page count, that is quite a feat! Additionally, the colonists show a great deal of ingenuity themselves, giving the S.C.E. crew a run for their money in the smarts department.

Final thoughts:

Some of Star Trek's most memorable episodes involved situations where the crew deals with damage during a combat or emergency situation and must outwit their foes using unconventional means. The da Vinci crew finally gets their chance to show how they deal with that particular scenario. I felt that this was the strongest entry in Some Assembly Required, and Dave Galanter and Greg Brodeur should be very proud of the story they have written. Very enjoyable, and a great outing for the da Vinci and her crew!

My next read:

Tomorrow's review: the final story of the third S.C.E. omnibus collection: Some Assembly Required by Scott Ciencin and Dan Jolley.