Thursday, May 28, 2015

Literary Treks 105: And Now For Something Completely Different

Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation²

In 1963, a BBC production by the name of Doctor Who premiered, and just four years later Star Trek would premiere on NBC. Little did anyone know that these two shows would continue for so long or become such a part of the cultural zeitgeist. Yet the two franchises would not be brought together until 2012 in the form of a comic crossover.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther talk about the Star Trek: The Next Generation and Doctor Who crossover comic, Assimilation². We discuss the post-Wolf 359 Federation, the timeline of the story, being a Doctor Who fan verses a novice, whether Guinan is part Time Lord, the art, crossovers in general, and give our ratings.

For our news segment we judge the covers for Atonement, Star Trek Costumes, and Child of Two Worlds, then review Ongoing #45 and New Visions' Resistance.

Literary Treks 105: And Now For Something Completely Different
TNG/Doctor Who: Assimilation²

Previous episode: Literary Treks 104: WWKD and WWSD

Next episode: Literary Treks 106:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Release Day! TNG: Armageddon's Arrow

It has already been showing up on bookstore shelves all over North America, but today is the official release date for the latest entry in the TNG series: from Dayton Ward, it's Armageddon's Arrow! This one sounds like an exciting new direction for the series, and I'll be picking up my own copy ASAP!

Publisher's description:
It is a new age of exploration, and the U.S.S. Enterprise is dispatched to “the Odyssean Pass,” a region charted only by unmanned probes and believed to contain numerous inhabited worlds. Approaching a star system with two such planets, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew find a massive alien vessel, drifting in interstellar space for decades. Sensors detect life aboard the derelict—aliens held in suspended animation. Thought to be an immense sleeper ship, the vessel actually is a weapon capable of destroying entire worlds...the final gambit in a war that has raged for generations across the nearby system. Captain Picard is now caught in the middle of this conflict and attempts to mediate, as both sides want this doomsday weapon…which was sent from the future with the sole purpose of ending the interplanetary war before it even began!

Purchase The Next Generation: Armageddon's Arrow:

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

Next Release: Deep Space Nine: Sacraments of Fire

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Slings and Arrows, Book VI
Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment by Keith R.A. DeCandido
An e-book exclusive novella
Published March 2008
Read February 21st 2015

Previous book (Slings and Arrows): A Weary Life

E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment and the rest of the Slings and Arrows series!

From the back cover:
A new Federation President has been elected, and his first order of business is to attempt to restore the alliance with the Klingon Empire. To that end, he sends Captain Picard to Deep Space 9, in the hopes that Picard's relationship with Chancellor Gowron might lead to a normalization of relations.

At first, things go well, as Gowron agrees to meet with Picard and Captain Sisko of DS9 on a neutral planet -- but when their runabout is shot down, it's up to Commanders Worf and Data to find out the truth before their captains are killed!

My thoughts:

Here we are: the final entry in the Slings and Arrows e-book series. This sixth book is written by the series' editor, Keith R.A. DeCandido, a long-time staple in the Trek fiction world. So, how does he fare in wrapping up this series? Read on to find out!

First of all, a true Deep Space Nine/The Next Generation crossover was something that I always wanted to see, especially during the two seasons that both series overlapped each other. Sure, we got a few cameo appearances in the TNG episodes "Birthright, Part I" and "Firstborn," but we never got to see the two crews working together during a mission. In Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment, we see both crews working together to complete a mission given to them by the new Federation President: convince Chancellor Gowron to re-sign the Khitomer Accords and end the war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.

Throughout this series, I have lauded the authors' attempts to bring the TNG cast into the political intrigue and conflict that marked this period of Trek history. Enterprises does this quite well by involving Picard and company in the Klingon war story. It makes a great deal of sense, given the history between Gowron and Picard.

Picard's capture and assimilation by the Borg leads to a strained history between him and Captain Sisko.

I enjoyed a lot of the character work that DeCandido does in this story, especially with regards to the relationship between Captains Sisko and Picard. In DS9's premiere episode, "Emissary," we discover that Sisko lost his wife at the battle of Wolf 359. As Locutus of Borg, Picard unwillingly led the Borg during that battle, and Sisko harbors a great deal of resentment towards him. While Picard wasn't personally responsible for his actions as Locutus, Sisko's feelings are certainly understandable.

In First Contact, Worf commands the Defiant. Why not Sisko?
In this story, Picard and Sisko come face to face once again and must work together despite the mutual discomfort they feel in each others' presence. By the end of the story, the two become much more comfortable with one another, and even share a certain amount of admiration and respect. Finally, when Admiral Hayes orders Picard to keep the Enterprise out of the battle with the Borg (Star Trek: First Contact), we see another way in which Picard and Sisko can relate to one another. You may recall that the U.S.S. Defiant took part in that battle, but was under the command of Worf instead of Sisko. I remember not giving much thought to that when watching the film (after all, they wanted Worf in the TNG movies, and why should Sisko be there?), but DeCandido provides a great explanation for Sisko's absence in the battle. Just as Hayes had qualms about Picard's history with the Borg, he felt that Sisko's experiences at Wolf 359 disqualified him taking part in the current battle. In this shared sidelining, Picard and Sisko have reason to sympathize with one another.

Final thoughts:

The character moments between Sisko and Picard are the true shining gems in this story by the always on-point Keith DeCandido. An excellent wrap-up to what has been a pretty good series for the most part. I have been reading a lot of DeCandido's work lately, and this is a writer who needs to have more new Trek fiction published. Come on Pocket Books, give this guy a contract for a new Star Trek novel already! I'm missing my dose of DeCandido awesomeness!

More about this book:

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)
Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Ferenginar: Satisfaction Is Not Guaranteed (2005)
The Klingon Art of War (2014)

My next read:

In two weeks, look for my review of Dayton Ward's new release, The Next Generation: Armageddon's Arrow. In the meantime, I'm off on vacation to Iceland! Cheers, and LLAP!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Literary Treks 104: WWKD and WWSD

Dave Galanter Interview: Crisis of Consciousness

Star Trek books have always been good at filling in the gaps and giving us a deeper understanding of the decisions the characters make on screen; it's one of the joys of Treklit.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther are joined by author Dave Galanter to talk about his newest TOS book, Crisis of Consciousness. We discuss his Star Trek story, coming up with new adventures, his influences, writing the TOS cast and having them working together, dovetailing with his first book, the psychology of Star Trek, and where to find him online.

In the news segment, we take a look at the newest Titan novel cover and talk about the blurb.

Literary Treks 104: WWKD and WWSD
Interview with Dave Galanter on Crisis of Consciousness

Previous episode: Literary Treks 103: I Can Be Your Hero, Baby

Next episode: Literary Treks 105: And Now For Something Completely Different

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Weary Life

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Slings and Arrows, Book V
A Weary Life by Robert Greenberger
An e-book exclusive novella
Published February 2008
Read January 11th 2015

Previous book (Slings and Arrows): That Sleep of Death
Next book (Slings and Arrows): Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment

E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for A Weary Life and the rest of the Slings and Arrows series!

From the back cover:
A team from the Enterprise -- Riker, La Forge, and Daniels -- are sent to deal with the latest threat from the Maquis. For La Forge and Daniels, it's just another mission, but Riker must face the spectre of his transporter twin Tom Riker, who left Starfleet to join the Maquis.

When the Enterprise team is caught between the Maquis and the Cardassians, Riker finds himself with an important decision to make -- one that may affect his future in Starfleet...

My thoughts:

The Thomas Riker storyline is one that has always intrigued me. From his introduction in TNG's "Second Chances" to his surprise appearance on Deep Space Nine in the episode "Defiant," Tom has presented an interesting complication in the lives of the characters. It is also clear that Jonathan Frakes enjoyed playing the character. There is an exuberance that he displays whenever he is on screen that makes it apparent that the character was a joy to play. Therefore, you can imagine that I was very happy to see him on the cover of this e-book. A story about Tom Riker? I'm in!

Starting A Weary Life, I was expecting a story featuring Will and Tom Riker facing off against one another, but I was surprised to discover that Tom doesn't actually appear in the story.

Unfortunately, I had gotten a little ahead of myself. While the "spectre" of Tom Riker looms heavily in this novella, the character himself never actually appears. The story is still a strong one with a lot of emotional resonance, but I would still have liked to have an appearance by the transporter twin. However, this only takes a small bit away from what is a pretty good story.

There were a few story and language choices that took me out of the story at times. For example, Greenberger's description of some of the actions taken by the characters caused me to raise an eyebrow. Perhaps this is overly nitpicky, but on more than one occasion, Geordi is described as using his "beloved" toolkit, or similar language. Sometimes the language seems overly flowery or padded out. However, these were minor stumbles that I experienced while reading the story.

One problem I had with the plot was how quickly Riker sided with the Maquis and took arms against the Cardassians in the initial encounter. Given the current state of relations between Cardassia and the Federation, and the status of the Maquis at this point, I found it strange that Riker would so quickly fire on the Cardassian vessels. I do understand that these actions were taken in the service of the overall mission, but I find it odd that there would be no repercussions. Also, the plot requires the characters to be less than intelligent at times. Their entire mission is to recover the mysterious "cargo" the Maquis possess, but at no time does Starfleet inform the team what the cargo is, nor do any of our characters check the crate they recover to see if what they captured is indeed the correct cargo. In order for the plot to continue forward, we have to accept these oversights, something that I have difficulty with.

Where the story shines, however, is in the exploration of Riker's emotional state and his reaction to his "brother's" actions. A Weary Life explores the idea of mirror images and how different choices affect who we are, and does it in a much better way than, say, Star Trek Nemesis. We really get the feeling that Tom and Will are the same person except for a few life experiences, and if Will were in Tom's place, it's possible that he might have made the same choices and may now be in a Cardassian prison instead of his brother. While we do of course know that Will won't disobey his orders and join the Maquis, it's a very interesting introspective journey he takes in this story.

Final thoughts:

A strong introspective story about Riker, marred only by a few questionable language and plot choices by the author. It's nice to get a good Riker-centric story, as they sometimes feel few and far between. A solid three out of five story with some good character moments, but far from the best story of this series. Also, however, very far from being the worst.

More about this book:

Also by Robert Greenberger:

Gateways, Book Three: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Doors Into Chaos (2001)
"The Other Side" from Star Trek: Gateways, Book Seven: What Lay Beyond (2001)

My next read:

Next week: The exciting conclusion to the Slings and Arrows series: Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment by Keith R.A. DeCandido!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Plethora of Covers Revealed!

Three qualifies as a "plethora," right?

Today, we have three different novel covers to reveal. The first is for the upcoming Voyager novel: Atonement by Kirsten Beyer, set to be released at the end of August:

Admiral Kathryn Janeway faces a tribunal determined to execute her for supposed crimes committed during Voyager’s maiden trek through the Delta Quadrant. Captain Chakotay knows that the Kinara, several species now allied against the Full Circle fleet, are not all they appear to be. The Confederacy of the Worlds of the First Quadrant—a pact he cannot trust—is his only hope for unraveling the Kinara’s true agenda and rescuing Admiral Janeway. Meanwhile, Seven and Tom Paris are forced to betray the trust of their superiors in a desperate bid to reveal the lengths to which a fellow officer has gone in the name of protecting the Federation from the legendary Caeliar.

Pre-order Atonement:

Coming at the end of November, it's another Greg Cox TOS novel! Taking place in the Pike-era, Child of Two Worlds is a Spock-centric novel from the veteran Trek author:

The year is 2255, not long after the events of the Original Series episode “The Cage.” A young Spock is science officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise, under the command of Captain Christopher Pike, when an outbreak of deadly Rigelian fever threatens the crew. Reviewing the Starfleet medical database, Dr. Phillip Boyce comes up with a highly experimental and untested new treatment that might save the crew. Just one problem: it requires a rare mineral substance, ryetalyn, which is not easily obtained…except on a remote alien colony near the Klingon border. But borders are somewhat blurry in this part of galaxy. Pike will need to tread carefully in order to avoid provoking an armed conflict with the Klingons—or starting an all-out war.

Pre-order Child of Two Worlds:

And finally, one of the most-anticipated Trek novels in a while: Deep Space Nine: Ascendance by David R. George III, coming at the end of December!

On the original Deep Space Nine, Captain Kira Nerys watches as the nearby wormhole opens and discharges a single, bladelike vessel. Attempts to contact its crew fail, and the ship is soon followed by another vessel of similar design. When an armada subsequently begins to emerge from the wormhole, it seems clear that DS9 is under attack. Kira orders her first officer, Commander Elias Vaughn, to board the U.S.S. Defiant and defend the station, and alerts Starfleet to send additional forces as her crew prepares DS9’s shields and weaponry for the onslaught to come.
Meanwhile, on the lead ship, Iliana Ghemor considers launching an attack on DS9 and finally ending the life of Kira, the fountainhead of all the ills in her miserable life. Her vengeance demands more than mere death, though—it requires pain. Ghemor refocuses, choosing to follow her plan to mete out her revenge on the captain by first decimating the population of Bajor…

Pre-order Ascendance:

Check out all the new releases from Pocket Books on my 2015 Releases page, as well as the single entry on my all-new 2016 Releases page!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Literary Treks 103: I Can Be Your Hero, Baby

Mere Anarchy: Things Fall Apart by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore

2006 saw the celebration of 40 years of Star Trek, and to celebrate, Pocket Books put together an e-book series comprised of six books that would span the entire Original Series timeline. Each story would build on the next as Kirk and his crew deals with the aftermath of a disaster on the planet Mestiko.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther talk about the first book in the Mere Anarchy series, Things Fall Apart. We discuss the setting, the dilemma of the people on Mestiko, Kirk's burden, The Prime Directive, and the series' long game.

In our news segment, we rave about Rob Caswell's new Seekers book covers for Long Shot and All That's Left.

Literary Treks 103: I Can Be Your Hero, Baby
Mere Anarchy: Things Fall Apart by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore

Previous episode: Literary Treks 102: What You Leave Behind

Next episode: Literary Treks 104: WWKD and WWSD