Monday, November 26, 2012

Silent Weapons

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations - Silent Weapons by David Mack
Published December 2012
Read November 25th 2012


Previous book (The Next Generation): Cold Equations #1: The Persistence of Memory
Next book (The Next Generation): Cold Equations #3: The Body Electric


Click to purchase Silent Weapons from Amazon.com!

Spoilers ahead for Silent Weapons and the rest of the Cold Equations series!

From the back cover:
Three years after the disastrous final Borg Invasion, a bitter cold war against the Typhon Pact has pushed Starfleet's resources to the breaking point. Now the rise of a dangerous new technology threatens to destroy the Federation from within.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew answer a distress call from an old friend, only to become targets in a deadly game of deception. To protect a vital diplomatic mission, they must find a way to identify the spies hiding in their midst, before it's too late.
But Worf soon realizes the crew's every move has been predicted: someone is using them as pawns. And the closer they get to exposing their enemy, the deeper they spiral into its trap...

My thoughts:

Where to begin with Silent Weapons? There is a lot going on in this novel. There is a great deal to like and not very much at all to dislike.

Geordi deals with his feelings about
Data's death and his return.
First of all, I'm enjoying how David Mack is dealing with what we all knew was inevitable at some point: Data's return. I really love the ambiguity that accompanies his "resurrection." Is this really Data? The fact that it's not the same Data, exactly, makes this return an interesting one, not just "oh, everything's back to normal now." Again, is this really Data? We know he's not exactly the Data we've come to know and love over seven seasons and four films. For an artificial lifeform, what exactly is life? On the flip side, what is death? Did Data really "die" in Nemesis, and is he really back now? Or is this something completely different? In addition, I love the effect that his return has had on the people around him, especially Geordi. In some ways, Data's return is a double-edged sword. Geordi expresses the requisite relief and happiness at his return, while at the same time he experiences feelings of anger that the past four years of grief and remorse were a waste. This duality seems to be a theme that comes up a number of times in the novel. Data is both the same but different. Geordi is both happy and angry about Data's return. Beverly is both relieved and annoyed at Picard's easy acceptance of the idea of leaving the Enterprise, and then being both protected and "betrayed" by him when he saves her life. Even the Gorn, presenting two faces to the Federation while engaged in the ruse they were put up to by the Breen.

In Silent Weapons, we learn more about the new security chief, Lieutenant Aneta Šmrhová, who replaces Jasminder Choudhury, brutally and senselessly killed by the Breen in The Persistence of Memory. Šmrhová  is a very different security officer when compared to Choudhury. Jasminder had a personal belief in the ideals of non-violence, while Šmrhová seems to have a very different outlook. She can at times be very violent, but uses it effectively as a security chief. There were times when I was surprised by her use of violence, notably when she uses physical force to coerce people. Both Choudhury's and Šmrhová's tactics and outlook made them effective security officers, but their styles are radically different.

Orion: Libertarian paradise?
One part of the novel that piqued my attention was Mack's descriptions of Orion's society. In many ways, the Orion presented in Silent Weapons is a Libertarian paradise. Not to get onto the topic of politics too heavily, but often when I hear libertarian ideals of "small government" and "personal property rights," I feel that a libertarian utopia might look somewhat like Somalia. On Orion, there is poverty and famine. Mack describes Orion as a society capable of eliminating those problems, but chooses not to. I see a lot of parallels between this and the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" conservative mentality. The comparison as presented in this novel is very obviously not accidental.

The secondary characters of The Next Generation really get a chance to shine in this novel. In addition to the development we see for Lieutenant Šmrhová, another of the novelverse-only characters gets her chance to shine. I've always liked the character of T'Ryssa Chen, but it is in Silent Weapons that I've truly come to love her. While in command of the Enterprise, we see a side of her we've never seen before. At one point, she actually hides her rank insignia from the viewscreen while ordering a superior officer to withdraw the USS Atlas from the area. "That is an order, Commander!" had me almost cheering out loud.

As much as I enjoyed The Persistence of Memory, I feel that this installment is even better. The characterizations are dead-on, the stakes are high, and the drama feels truly real. In addition, I'm a sucker for political drama and intrigue. At one point in the novel, I actually thought to myself, "they're not actually going to kill President Bacco, are they?" Then I looked at the name of the author, and realized that yeah, it really is a possibility!

Final thoughts:

 As it stands, the first two books of the Cold Equations trilogy are, for me, the bar against which TrekLit novels should be measured. Silent Weapons, even better than the preceding novel, was a true pleasure to read and had me awake in the wee hours, saying to myself "just one more chapter!" I can't wait for the final book, The Body Electric, coming at the end of December. In a recent podcast interview, author David Mack said that many readers tend to skip the second book in a trilogy, and advised that readers definitely shouldn't do so for this one. I can't help but wholeheartedly agree. David Mack, you've done it again!

More about Silent Weapons:

Also by David Mack:


My next read:

The next novel on my catch-up list is the first in a series: Kevin Ryan's Star Trek: Errand of Vengeance #1: The Edge of the Sword. Coming soon!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pawns and Symbols

Star Trek #26: Pawns and Symbols by Majliss Larson
Published November 1985
Read August 8th 2012


Previous book (The Original Series): #25: Dwellers in the Crucible
Next book (The Original Series): #27: Mindshadow



Click to purchase Pawns and Symbols from Amazon.com!
Spoilers ahead for Pawns and Symbols!

From the back cover:

Threatened by a deadly famine, the Klingon Empire is on the verge of igniting a mad interplanetary war of conquest.

When an earthquake destroys a remote Federation research station, Jean Czerny, agricultural scientist, succumbs to amnesia.  Stranded on enemy borders, she is imprisoned by Kang, the commander of a Klingon battleship.


Now Kirk must play a dangerous game of mind strategy to prevent a savage attack on the Federation!

My thoughts:

Pawns and Symbols is, above all else, an exploration of the Klingon culture through the eyes of an outsider. I typically really enjoy stories of this nature, especially when they are done really well. Novels that I have reviewed in the past that have exhibited this style particularly well include Diane Duane's The Romulan Way, John M. Ford's exploration of the Klingons in The Final Reflection, and more recently, Una McCormack's look at the Tzenkethi culture in Brinkmanship. While Pawns and Symbols could easily find itself in the company of these greats, it fails in a few areas that serve to make it far less compelling.

The main character in the book, a Federation agent by the name of Jean Czerny, suffers from amnesia and is bewildered and unsure of her surroundings for much of the book. While this makes for a somewhat interesting complication to the main story, I would have preferred more exploration of the Klingons and Czerny's surroundings rather than the time the novel spends on her trying to find herself.

The Klingons in this novel don't really seem to fit in the established continuity of Star Trek. We've seen this before, when the "canon" of Star Trek took a different path with the Klingons than John M. Ford's excellent presentation of them in The Final Reflection. However, the Klingons in Pawns and Symbols do not seem alien enough to even fit into Ford's alternate take on the Klingons. Instead, in this novel, the warrior race seems to be all too human with only a few cultural differences. While I did very much appreciate the dilemma created by the famine and suffering experienced by the Empire, I felt that their reaction to it was not in keeping with any of the versions of the Klingons we've seen in Star Trek. The Klingons of Pawns and Symbols are alone and apart from anything we've seen before and since, and I think the story suffers because of it.

Finally, although the characterization seems a bit off here, I always enjoy when writers utilize some of the better secondary characters from over the years. In this case, it was a pleasure to read about the exploits of Kang, the deep-voiced foil to Kirk in the classic episode "The Day of the Dove." I've always smiled when this character pops up over the years, and it is a pleasure to have him in this story.

Kang and Kirk face off once again in Pawns and Symbols.

Final thoughts:

A fairly middle-of-the-road Star Trek novel. The Klingons as presented are uneven and not really keeping with any of the other portrayals of the regular antagonists we've seen over the years. The character of Jean Czerny is interesting, but I feel that the novel focuses on her confusion and "fish-out-of-water"ness a bit too much. Still, it was an interesting read, and there are certainly fun moments that remain memorable.

Notes on the e-book edition:

Often, the e-book edition of the Star Trek novels I have reviewed here have had some minor defects: things such as small typos and strange line breaks can negatively impact the reading experience, but usually only to a small degree. Such is not the case with my copy of Pawns and Symbols. The sheer number and magnitude of mistakes and errors in this novel is absolutely astounding! There were times that the prose was nearly unreadable thanks to misspelled words and sections which I can only assume were missing words or possibly entire lines or paragraphs. Ordinarily, the worst one can get is an unclear indication of where there is a scene change, and that can be somewhat jarring. Here, I sometimes got completely lost and had to re-read entire sections before I could figure out both what was happening in the novel and what the problems with the actual printed words were. It was a very frustrating experience, and I'm sure it impacted my feelings about the story. These sorts of problems should not be happening, especially when a reader is paying nearly cover price for an e-book version of a book that was published nearly thirty years ago.

My next read:

Just got a copy of the latest release in my hot little hands! Cold Equations, Book II: Silent Weapons by David Mack is ready to be read and reviewed by yours truly. Look for that soon.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Uhura's Song

Star Trek #21: Uhura's Song by Janet Kagan
Published January 1985
Read July 28th 2012


Previous book (The Original Series): #20: The Vulcan Academy Murders
Next book (The Original Series): #22: Shadow Lord



Click to purchase Uhura's Song from Amazon.com!
Spoilers ahead for Uhura's Song!

From the back cover:
Years ago, Lt. Uhura befriended a diplomat from Eeiauo, the land of graceful, cat-like beings.  The two women exchanged forbidden songs and promised never to reveal their secret.
Now the Enterprise is orbiting Eeiauo in a desperate race to save the inhabitants before a deadly plague destroys them.  Uhura's secret songs may hold the key to a cure - but the clues are veiled in layers of mystery.
The plague is killing Humans, threatening other planets - and Kirk must crack the code before the Enterprise succumbs!

About this novel:

On the planet Eeiauo, a Federation world, a deadly plague is ravaging the population. This virus eventually crosses species and threatens other worlds in the Federation. The novel turns into a race against the clock to discover a cure before death due to this plague becomes widespread. Uhura believes that a clue to the true origin of the Eeiauo species is found in an ancient, forbidden song she was taught by an old friend. Believing this to be the only lead to pursue, Captain Kirk takes the Enterprise on a mission to discover the long-lost forebears of the Eeiauoians, hoping that they will have a cure for the disease.

The mission to discover the Eeiauoian ancestors is successful, but Kirk and company must gain the trust of the aliens in order to get their cooperation in helping find the cure. Believing Kirk and the other humans to be children, the landing party must prove themselves by completing a sort of coming of age rite. The rite completed, the Enterprise crew get the cure and race back to Eeiauo in the nick of time to save the population and the rest of the Federation from the deadly plague.

My thoughts:

Uhura's Song was a fun story that I found fairly enjoyable. That said, there are a couple of things about the novel that bothered me a bit. First, the ticking clock aspect of the story seemed to be put aside at times. We are given to understand that the Enterprise crew has an extremely limited amount of time in which to find the cure to this plague before people begin dying en masse. However, in the "few days" they are allotted, the crew manages to follow an ancient clue to a far-off world, make first contact with the inhabitants, spend a few days trying to get on their good side, participate in a grueling trial to prove their adulthood, get the cure, AND get back to Eeiauo in time to cure the plague. This seemed to stretch credibility somewhat for me. I couldn't take the "ticking clock" seriously when the crew were able to accomplish all of this before their time was up.

Secondly, in a novel titled Uhura's Song, I would expect Uhura to have a very prominent role. I've always liked her character in Star Trek, and feel that she has often been criminally underused. I was excited to see her take center stage in this story, and for awhile, she does. Her knowledge of the ancient Eeiauoian songs provide the needed clue to finding the homeworld, but after that she kind of fades into the background. Instead, we have another character take up the slack: Dr. Evan Wilson, an almost superhumanly capable medical officer who steals the limelight for much of the novel. There were times during Uhura's Song that I felt Evan Wilson was almost a "Mary Sue" character, a feeling that persisted until the very end, when we finally find out her true origin and nature. I won't spoil that revelation here, but suffice it to say that it was fun and interesting enough to get me to hold off on the Mary Sue appellation.

Once again, Uhura takes a back seat to other cast members. But this time, it's a supporting character!
If there's one thing that Janet Kagen does extremely well with Uhura's Song, it's world-building. The alien culture we meet in this novel is a true joy to discover and explore. Although this idea may turn many off, the aliens are basically house cats writ large. They were clearly fun to write, and it's equally clear that Janet Kagan is very much a cat person. In addition, the idea that Captain Kirk and his party aren't adults in the eyes of the aliens is a fun concept, and one that really works for the story.

One final complaint, and a very minor one at that: Uhura's Song was published during a period of confusion with regards to Star Trek novel cover art. In this one, for example, we see Spock and Uhura wearing uniforms from two different eras, and the design of the Enterprise on the cover does not match the period that Uhura's uniform is from. The Trek novels published around this time suffered from these sorts of mashups a lot, and one can assume that the artists drew upon many different sources when composing the covers. If only a die-hard Trekkie such as myself were employed to curb these continuity errors before they were published!

Final thoughts:

A few niggling details keep this novel from achieving the "great" status that so many books have, but it was still a very enjoyable and interesting romp. The alien culture introduced is fun to read about, and some surprises along the way help the plot to remain compelling. I'd rate it a "pretty good." Not the best, but also certainly not the worst. A fun Sunday afternoon read.

How to pronouce "Eeiauo":

No idea.

My next read:

Next up is another novel from early on in the original Star Trek series novel run, Pawns and Symbols by Majliss Larson.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Spock's World

Star Trek: Spock's World by Diane Duane
Published September 1988
Read July 21st, 2012

Previous book (The Original Series): #41: The Three-Minute Universe
Next book (The Original Series): #42: Memory Prime


Spoilers ahead for Spock's World!

From the back cover:
"I am Spock ... I hold the rank of Commander in the Starfleet of the United Federation of Planets; I serve as First Officer of the Starship Enterprise. I am the son of two worlds. Of Earth, whose history is an open book... and of Vulcan, whose secrets have lain hidden beneath its burning sands... Until now..."
It is the twenty-third century. On the planet Vulcan, a crisis of unprecedented proportions has caused the convocation of the planet's ruling council - and summoned the USS Enterprise from halfway across the galaxy, to bring Vulcan's most famous son home in its hour of need. As Commander Spock, his father Sarek, and Captain James T. Kirk struggle to preserve the very future of the Federation, the innermost secrets of the planet Vulcan are laid before us, from its beginnings millions of years ago to its savage prehistory, from merciless tribal warfare to medieval court intrigue, from the exploration of space to the development of c'thia - the ruling ethic of logic.
And Spock - torn between his duty to Starfleet and the unbreakable ties that bind him to Vulcan - must find a way to reconcile both his own inner conflict and the external dilemma his planet faces... lest the Federation itself be ripped asunder.

My Thoughts:

After reading the Rihannsu series by Diane Duane, I was excited to read more by this author. A few months prior, I had also read Doctor's Orders, and I really enjoyed her treatment of the TOS characters, especially the interplay between Spock and Dr. McCoy. After seeing a great deal of praise for Spock's World on the TrekBBS, I decided to give it a try, and I was definitely not disappointed.

The story revolves around a coming vote on Vulcan about whether or not to secede from the United Federation of Planets. Presenting arguments against secession, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy are all given a chance to make their cases heard by the citizens of Vulcan. In addition, it becomes clear that there is a diabolical element fueling this movement towards secession, and it takes some cunning detective work by our intrepid Dr. McCoy to ferret it out. The novel alternates between the current crisis and a recounting of the history of Vulcan, giving the readers an insight into one of Trek's most famous and enduring cultures.

The history of Vulcan as presented in alternating chapters is worth the purchase price alone. Much like The Romulan Way, Spock's World acts as a sort of history text, covering millennia of Vulcan history through the eyes of various players in that history. Oftentimes in Star Trek, the aliens are merely humans with bumpy foreheads or different colour skin. The Vulcans, as Trek's first major alien race, are something special. Spock's World shows us how different their culture truly is, and provides reasons why the motivations of the Vulcans can sometimes seem so, well, alien.



The history of harsh and arid Vulcan is explored in Spock's World.
Spock's World was a truly fun read. Diane Duane has long been one of the premiere writers of Trek fiction, and Spock's World showcases some of her best work, in my opinion. In particular, her writing of Dr. McCoy was flawless. I could hear DeForrest Kelley's voice in my head as I read McCoy's dialogue and inner monologues. In addition, the speech that McCoy gives on Vulcan is one of the best selections of Star Trek writing that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. As McCoy himself notes, his speech is "every argument I've ever had with (Spock) rolled up into one." Reading this novel, one can certainly see the love and attention that has gone into getting every tone, every nuance just right.

Continuity Issues:

As Spock's World was published before much of the "canon" of Star Trek was filmed, a number of continuity issues crop up in intervening years. Unlike Star Wars fiction, filmed Star Trek works are under no obligation to take the "expanded universe" of the novels, comics, and other media into account when writing new stories. What follows is a brief overview of areas in which the Star Trek universe has diverged from that which is presented in this novel. Also listed are connections between this novel and other works of Trek fiction.


  • Spock's World presents a different version of first contact between Humans and Vulcans than what we saw in Star Trek: First Contact.
  • Sarek mentions that he attended the 2180 baseball World Series, an event which, according to Deep Space Nine's "If Wishes Were Horses," did not occur, as the final World Series was held in 2042. The final game was attended by only 300 fans.
  • Spock's World ties into other fiction, notably by Diane Duane but by others as well, through the characters of Harb Tanzer and Naraht. Mr. Tanzer is the "recreation officer" of the Starship Enterprise, in charge of maintaining the recreation facilities under the auspices of the ship's medical department. Naraht is the ever-cheerful Horta crewmember who appears in a number of Star Trek novels and comics.


Final Thoughts:

An excellent entry into the panoply of Star Trek fiction, and one that should be a must-read for every fan of Star Trek novels. Diane Duane writes the characters pitch-perfect, and her presentation of the history of Vulcan is every bit as fascinating as the page-turning "contemporary" events of the novel.


My next read:

The next novel on my summer reading catch-up odyssey is Uhura's Song by Janet Kagen. Look for that one to be published soon.




Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In Tempest's Wake

Star Trek: Vanguard: In Tempest's Wake by Dayton Ward
Published October 2012
Read October 3rd 2012


Previous book (Vanguard): Storming Heaven



Click to purchase In Tempest's Wake from Amazon.com. E-book only!

Spoilers ahead for In Tempest's Wake and the rest of the Star Trek: Vanguard series!

From the back cover:
The U.S.S. Enterprise and other starships that participated in the final battle in the Taurus Reach have been remanded to a remote starbase. While evacuees from the station are processed and the ships repaired, restocked, and re-staffed as needed, Captain James T. Kirk is ordered to report to Admiral Heihachiro Nogura, Starbase 47's second and final commanding officer. Through flashbacks intercut with the ongoing conversation between Kirk and Nogura, the Enterprise's involvement in the last days of Operation Vanguard--and the conflict between Starfleet and Tholian forces at Starbase 47--is now told from the perspective of Kirk and his crew.

My thoughts:

In Tempest's Wake is an e-book novella that revisits the end of the Vanguard saga. It is primarily told from the perspective of Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise, and highlights the role they played in the culmination of the Taurus Reach meta-genome storyline. A lot of the story is rehashing events we're already familiar with through other novels, but from a different perspective. In particular, this novella ties the events of the Vanguard story into the third season of The Original Series. Some of the tie-ins are quite inventive, and it was interesting to see exactly when the Vanguard happenings occurred in relation to specific episodes of the series. Also interesting was seeing the genesis of a decision that will come back to haunt Starfleet and the Federation over a century later, in the novel Typhon Pact: Paths of Disharmony, also by Dayton Ward.

In many ways, In Tempest's Wake could be seen as superfluous to the rest of the Vanguard series. I would tend to agree, but what's wrong with a little superfluousness? I think that Pocket Books is in a bit of a quandary with regards to ebooks. They know that not everyone is going to read them, so they don't want to present a story that is vital to the on-going narrative. If they were to do that, there would be many readers who complain that they're missing out on important developments simply because they have decided to stick with "dead-tree" format books rather than embracing ebook technology. And this, of course, runs the risk of people reading this story and thinking that it's a waste of the money spent on it. However, I don't think it's a waste at all. As a novella, In Tempest's Wake is sold at a somewhat lower price than full novels. What we're presented with here can be seen as a bonus story, a little extra insight into the events of Vanguard's conclusion. Non-readers of the ebooks may not necessarily feel that they're missing out on a whole lot, and Pocket Books avoids alienating them. Would I have been more satisfied if this novella had a little more meat? Probably. But I understand the position that the publisher is in.

Is In Tempest's Wake worth reading? As a lover of the Vanguard series, my vote falls on the yes side. I'm a sucker for the "bonus features" on DVDs and enjoy getting any insights into the stories I watch and read, and in many ways, In Tempest's Wake feels like a bonus feature on the special edition blu-ray of Vanguard. I can't resist!

Final thoughts:

There are many who would say that this e-book coda to the Vanguard series was unnecessary, that it covered ground already fully explored in Storming Heaven, and that what we get in In Tempest's Wake is entirely superfluous. And they may be right. However, I personally enjoyed the alternate viewpoint we get of the events surrounding the end of the Vanguard saga. In Tempest's Wake may not be ground-breaking, or even strictly necessary, but as a bookend to one of my favourite chapters of Trek literature, I really think it works.

Also by Dayton Ward:

More about this book:

My next read:

Playing catch-up! My next review will go all the way back to a novel I read in July: Spock's World, by Diane Duane. Until then, DFTBA!


More Trek book NEWS



The Pocket Books 2013 Star Trek release schedule is coming along quite nicely.

The TOS-heavy announcements continue apace with Dayton Ward's The Original Series: From History's Shadow being slotted in the August spot. This marks the sixth TOS book of 2013!

In September, we have a Deep Space Nine novel by David R. George III. Titled The Fall, Book 1: Time and Revelation, the book is the first in a new miniseries. On the Simon and Schuster website, it is listed as a TNG novel, but according to a recent post by the author on his Facebook page, Time and Revelation will indeed be a DS9 novel. If it actually carries the Deep Space Nine title, it will be the first since 2009's The Never-ending Sacrifice by Una McCormack.

Also, Amazon.com has added a listing for Christopher L. Bennett's upcoming Enterprise novel, Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures. Look for that one to be released at the end of June next year.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Persistence of Memory

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations - The Persistence of Memory by David Mack
Published November 2012
Read November 2nd 2012


Previous book (The Next Generation): Indistinguishable From Magic
Previous book (Typhon Pact): Brinkmanship
Next book (The Next Generation): Cold Equations #2: Silent Weapons


Click to purchase The Persistence of Memory from Amazon.com!

Spoilers ahead for Cold Equations!

From the back cover:
A BRAZEN HEIST: Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew race to find out who has stolen Data's android brother B-4--and for what sinister purpose.
A BROKEN PROMISE: One desperate father risks all for the son he abandoned forty years ago--but is he ready to pay the price for redemption?
A DARING MISSION: Against overwhelming odds, and with time running out, Commander Worf has only one chance to avert a disaster. But how high a price will he pay for victory?

My thoughts:

David Mack has long been one of my favourite TrekLit authors. From his amazing work in the Vanguard series to his outstanding Mirror Universe saga, Mack knows his Trek and can craft some truly engrossing stories. Perhaps his best known work is his 2008 Star Trek: Destiny trilogy, which pretty much set the stage for all of the 24th century Trek stories to follow. While this site has not reviewed those books yet, I'm certain I'll have to do so sometime in the future.

The Cold Equations trilogy
is a sequel of sorts to Immortal
Coil
.
The Persistence of Memory is the first book in yet another trilogy from this prolific author. Continuing a story from the 2002 novel Immortal Coil by Jeffrey Lang, David Mack makes the universe of The Next Generation a much more fascinating place than we ever could have imagined. The Persistence of Memory is presented in three parts: in the first, the Enterprise responds to a summons by Captain Bruce Maddox (see: "The Measure of a Man") to his laboratory on Galor IV, where a number of Soong-type androids are being studied, including the remains of Data's "evil" brother Lore, along with B-4 (Star Trek Nemesis), Data's daughter Lal ("The Offspring"), and the three prototype forerunners of Data and Lore ("Inheritance"). Someone has broken into Maddox's lab and made off with the androids, prompting the Enterprise crew to launch an investigation. During the course of their search, they discover a surprising ally in their quest to recover the androids.

The second part of the novel is told in the first person by this ally, none other than Dr. Noonien Soong, Data and Lore's "father" and the foremost genius in artificial life. It seems that his apparent death at the end of the TNG episode "Brothers" wasn't as permanent as we were led to believe. The middle section of this novel covers his exploits during the seventeen years between that episode and this tale. Finally, in the third part, a strike team from the Enterprise must work with Soong to thwart the plans of the kidnappers and derail the horrific plans of one of the Federation's adversaries.

For the most part, I really enjoyed The Persistence of Memory. In particular, the middle section in the form of Soong's first-person recollections was a truly enjoyable read. I cannot recall reading much TrekLit that has employed a similar literary device. Seeing the events of Data's life through the eyes of his creator, especially Data's death, was truly heartbreaking. As usual, David Mack sheds light on aspects of the Star Trek universe in ways I hadn't considered before. For example, numerous times throughout TNG we are told that Data doesn't have emotions. This isn't entirely true, as Soong points out at one point. Data doesn't have human emotions, but he does have emotions, even before Soong's emotion chip is installed. One cannot witness his reaction to Kivas Fajo killing Varia (in "The Most Toys"), for example, and still come away believing that Data is entirely emotionless. They may not be human emotions, but he does indeed possess feelings of a sort. Kudos to Mack for putting this into words perfectly!

The conclusion to The Persistence of Memory is fascinating, compelling, wonderful, and troubling, all at the same time. I won't spoil the ending here, but the events of the final moments of this novel are available online if you choose to look. My advice is to read the novel and make your own judgement. I'm very excited to see where these events lead, and especially eager to get my hands on the next two installments of this already-compelling trilogy!

At the heart of this story is Dr. Soong's relationship with his creations, especially Data.
One final note regarding another large-scale character moment in the novel: Worf just can't catch a break, can he?

Final thoughts:

Another winner from David Mack. The Persistence of Memory was exciting, tragic, and wonderfully written. I highly recommend this novel, and I personally can't wait to read the next two installments.

More about The Persistence of Memory:

Also by David Mack:


My next read:

Next up for my catch-up reviews is Dayton Ward's e-book Vanguard coda, In Tempest's Wake.

Friday, November 2, 2012

NEWS: New Enterprise novel coming next year!


While many Trek readers seemed to be less-than-enamored with the last couple of offerings from Pocket Books' Star Trek: Enterprise line, author Christopher L. Bennett might be able to turn things around. As he recently announced on his blog, Mr. Bennett is currently writing the next chapter of the Enterprise saga. Entitled Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures, this novel will advance the story of Enterprise past the founding of the Federation and feature the first year-and-a-half or so of the fledgling interstellar alliance. Both familiar characters and new faces will be showcased, and Mr. Bennett has even designed the first version of the Federation Starfleet uniforms for this story. A Choice of Futures is currently set to be released in July of 2013. Stay tuned for more about this exciting project!

For the entirety of the known releases from Pocket Books for 2013, click here.


Star Trek novels and short stories by Christopher L. Bennett:

Aftermath, Star Trek: Corps of Engineers e-book (2003)
" ... Loved I Not Honor More" from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Prophecy and Change (2003)
Star Trek: Ex Machina (2005)
"Brief Candle" from Star Trek: Voyager: Distant Shores (2005)
Star Trek: Titan: Orion's Hounds (2006)
"As Others See Us" from Star Trek: Constellations (2006)
Star Trek: Mere Anarchy #4: The Darkness Drops Again (2007)
Star Trek: The Lost Era: The Buried Age (2007)
"Friends With the Sparrows" from Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Sky's the Limit (2007)
Places of Exile, from Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Infinity's Prism (2008)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Greater Than the Sum (2008)
"Empathy" from Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows (2009)
Star Trek: Titan: Over a Torrent Sea (2009)
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)

Also look for Christopher L. Bennett's first all-original novel, the recently-released Only Superhuman. Available now!