Friday, February 28, 2014

Absent Enemies

Star Trek: Titan
Absent Enemies by John Jackson Miller
E-book exclusive
Release date: February 24th, 2014
Read February 24th 2014


Previous book (Titan characters): The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms
Next book (Titan): Sight Unseen


Purchase (e-book only!) from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Absent Enemies, the outcome of The Fall, and the Titan series!

From the back cover:
Newly promoted Admiral William Riker and the crew of the U.S.S. Titan are ordered to race to Garadius IV—a planet Riker knows all too well from an unsuccessful peace mission when he was still first officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise. But this time, he finds a mysterious new situation: one with the potential to imperil the entire Federation. One of the warring parties has simply vanished…

My thoughts:

First of all, a warm welcome to John Jackson Miller to the Trek universe! After having read his recent Star Wars novel, Kenobi, I've been very excited about his first foray into the world of Star Trek writing. How did Absent Enemies turn out? Read on!

As the first follow-up to The Fall, Absent Enemies presents a very different Riker and Titan than we have come to know in the novel series. No longer a captain, but an admiral, Riker finds himself having to adapt to this new role. Some of the best parts of this novella feature him realizing that he is in danger of becoming the overbearing and self-righteous admiral or Federation official that so often plagued missions aboard the Enterprise. Perhaps my favorite recurring bit is when Riker says "This is outrageous!" in exactly the way that the aforementioned Federation interloper would, rather than taking action the way a Starfleet captain would. Riker, upon realizing this, would scold himself for becoming something he hates.

The story itself is an interesting diversion from the usual inter-connected quadrant-spanning political tales of late. The stakes are lower than usual, and the overall tone of the story is closer to an episode of the television series than full-size novels tend to be. Much like last year's The Stuff of Dreams by James Swallow, Miller has effectively used the size of this novella to his advantage. The temptation might be to tell a huge story but then trim it down to fit the format. Instead, Miller has crafted the perfect tale to fit the parameters of this novella. The end result feels like it should: a small adventure that is easily consumable in an evening.

The flashback to the voyages of the Enterprise-D was very welcome. In some circles, there has been a desire to see stories set aboard the Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager that take place during the timeframe of the respective television series. Although the flashback takes place in a very small part of a small story, it was very nice to see the crew back together again. I also enjoyed the connection to the TNG episode “The Next Phase.” In particular, I have to give points to Miller for his valiant attempts to explain the scientific implausibilities in that episode!

In "The Next Phase," how were Laforge and Ro able to pass through walls but remain standing without falling through the floor? And how could they breathe? Kudos to John Jackson Miller for attempting to explain these questions!

If I have only one complaint, it's that at certain points in the story, the voices of the characters seemed a little off. In the flashback portions in particular, characters such as Picard or Troi didn't quite sound like themselves. However, it is a very minor quibble, and for the most part I found Absent Enemies to be a very enjoyable story!


Final thoughts:

A tightly-plotted and fun little story that is very much in the spirit of classic Star Trek. A good start for John Jackson Miller's Star Trek adventures. And it has been reported that Miller will be writing a full-length Trek novel to be released in 2015. After reading Absent Enemies, I am very much looking forward to more from him!

Further resources:


Also by John Jackson Miller:

My next read:

Next up will be my review of Greg Cox's new novel, No Time Like the Past, featuring an exciting crossover between the original Star Trek and Star Trek: Voyager!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New cover: The Lost Era: One Constant Star

A new cover has been unveiled today: the new release for June, The Lost Era: One Constant Star by David R. George III. The design features a return to the past style of Lost Era novels. This one is pretty fascinating! I look forward to learning more about this novel as the release date nears.

Check out the cover and back-cover blurb below, and also find links to purchase One Constant Star from Amazon and thereby support Trek Lit Reviews!


An original novel set in “The Lost Era” time period between Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation! 
When Captain Demora Sulu leads the crew of U.S.S. Enterprise-B on a mission near Tzenkethi space, they explore Rejarris II, a planet they cannot explain. A strange structure on the surface could hold answers, but when a landing party transports down to study it, chaos erupts. After communication fails with one officer and another is horribly injured, Captain Sulu deems the planet too dangerous to continue exploring. She decides to leave Rejarris II, but not until she can retrieve her lost crew member. But when contact is ultimately severed with the captain, a Tzenkethi force subsequently appears. Could they be behind the mysteries on the planet, or the disappearances of the Enterprise officers?
Once, John Harriman commanded the Enterprise-B, with Demora Sulu by his side as his first officer. Eight years after stepping down as a starship captain—in the wake of the Tomed Incident—Harriman now serves as an admiral based out of Helaspont Station, on the edge of the Tzenkethi Coalition. When he receives a mysterious message from Rejarris II, Harriman realizes that he might hold the key to finding his former crewmate. In choosing to help recover Demora Sulu, though, he could risk losing everything he holds dear. What price is Harriman willing to pay to attempt to rescue his longtime friend?

One Constant Star continues the adventures of the Enterprise-B as chronicled in David R. George's previous novel, The Lost Era: Serpents Among the Ruins. Click the links below to purchase One Constant Star from Amazon!

Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Release Day! The Original Series: No Time Like the Past by Greg Cox

This month presents two new releases! Yesterday, we had the e-book exclusive, Titan: Absent Enemies by Trek newcomer John Jackson Miller. Today, we have the latest from bestselling author Greg Cox: The Original Series: No Time Like the Past, a time-bending adventure that brings together Captain James T. Kirk and Voyager's Seven of Nine. I don't know about you, but I'm curious to see how the hell Greg Cox is going to pull this one off!

Check out the cover, back-cover blurb, and links to purchase below!

Lots to read this month, so enjoy!

My Review of No Time Like the Past




Publisher's description:
Stardate 6422.5: A diplomatic mission to the planet Yusub erupts in violence when ruthless Orion raiders attempt to disrupt the crucial negotiations by force. Caught in the midst of tense and dangerous situation, Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise finds an unexpected ally in the form of an enigmatic stranger who calls herself “Annika Seven.” 
Stardate 53786.1: Seven of Nine is taking part in an archaeological expedition on an obscure planetoid in the Delta Quadrant when a disastrous turn of events puts Voyager's away team in jeopardy–and transports Seven across time and space to Yusub, where she comes face to face with one of Starfleet's greatest legends. 
Stardate 6422.5: Kirk knows better than most the danger that even a single castaway from the future can pose to the timeline, so he and Seven embark on a hazardous quest to return her to her own era. But there are others who crave the knowledge Seven possesses, and they will stop at nothing to obtain it–even if this means seizing control of the Enterprise!


Purchase The Original Series: No Time Like the Past:

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


Previous Release: Titan: Absent Enemies (e-book)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Release Day! Titan: Absent Enemies by John Jackson Miller

This month sees two back-to-back releases, one the regular monthly mass-market paperback, and the other an e-book exclusive novella!

Today, the e-book novella is released: John Jackson Miller's Titan: Absent Enemies.

Below, find the cover, back-cover blurb, and links for purchasing Absent Enemies.

Happy reading!

My Review of Absent Enemies




Publisher's description:
Newly promoted Admiral William Riker and the crew of the U.S.S. Titan are ordered to race to Garadius IV—a planet Riker knows all too well from an unsuccessful peace mission when he was still first officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise. But this time, he finds a mysterious new situation: one with the potential to imperil the entire Federation. One of the warring parties has simply vanished…


Purchase Titan: Absent Enemies:

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


Previous Release: Voyager: Protectors

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Interview: James Swallow, author of The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice



Trekcore has published the interview with James Swallow, author of the fourth Fall novel, The Poisoned Chalice. Check it out!

Click the links below to purchase The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice. And click here to be taken to my review of it!

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

Also by James Swallow (click to see my review of each):

Star Trek: Titan: Synthesis
Star Trek: Cast No Shadow
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Stuff of Dreams

Friday, February 21, 2014

Cathedral

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Mission Gamma, Book Three of Four
Cathedral by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels
Published October 2002
Read January 25th 2014


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Mission Gamma, Book Two: This Gray Spirit
Next book (Deep Space Nine): Mission Gamma, Book Four: Lesser Evil


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

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

From the back cover:
SIREN SONGS
As a small child, Jules Bashir underwent illegal genetic enhancements that forever altered the natural course of his life. As an adult, ever since the day he discovered what his parents had done, Dr. Julian Bashir has wondered what he might have become if "Jules" had been allowed to live, certain he would never know the answer. But when the lure of a strange alien artifact in the Gamma Quadrant inexplicably begins to reverse Bashir's enhancements, the person he had thought long dead is given a second chance at life.
Ninety thousand light-years away, as the crew of Deep Space 9 tries to comprehend a shocking tragedy, Ro Laren makes a fateful decision about her life aboard the station. And although political maneuverings and failing diplomacy have already extinguished all hope of a real, lasting peace between Bajor and Cardassia, one man's search for his true calling may lay a new foundation for the future.

My thoughts:

As with the two previous Mission Gamma novels, Cathedral features two main storylines, one taking place on the Defiant as she continues her mission of exploration in the Gamma Quadrant, and the other taking place on Deep Space Nine, where preparations are underway to bring Bajor into the United Federation of Planets.

In the Gamma Quadrant side of things, a survey crew aboard the shuttlecraft Sagan discovers a massive artifact in space, seemingly partially in our universe and partially in another. The crew, which consists of Nog, Bashir, and Dax, each exhibit peculiar symptoms upon their return to the Defiant. Ezri begins to reject her symbiont, Bashir begins losing the mental edge that his genetic enhancements provide, and Nog begins re-growing the leg he lost in "The Siege of AR-558."

While these stories provide a great opportunity to explore these characters in a way we've never seen before and consider "what might have been," I felt that the Defiant story was the weaker part of the novel. There were some interesting character tidbits that were fun to learn, such as Bashir's method of storing information in a sort of mental Haggia Sophia, and the journey that the four characters (Ezri, Nog, Bashir, and Dax) go on is a great character study, but too much about the "cathedral" is left unexplored.

As has tended to be the case with the books of Mission Gamma so far, I find myself drawn more towards the story of Bajor and Deep Space Nine than the goings-on in the Gamma Quadrant. For unknown reasons, Bajoran First Minister Shakaar is sabotaging the normalization of relations between the Bajorans and the Cardassians, instead pushing for Federation membership before that can happen. Things come to a head as tragedy strikes just as the historic deal is about to be finalized.

For me, the most interesting part of this story is the partial redemption of Vedek Yevir. Yevir had been the one to push through Colonel Kira's attainder after she uploaded the Ohalu prophecies to Bajor's public comnet. The prophesies had been deemed heretical by the Vedek Assembly, and Yevir felt that making them available to the general public would unnecessarily threaten the Bajoran faith. In the tradition of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine at its finest, Yevir is revealed to be a complex character with many facets in Cathedral. Rather than simply a one-note foil to our heroes, Yevir begins on the path towards redemption, seemingly about to fulfill the destiny he believes the Emissary set him on in the episode "Rapture."

Vedek Yevir may finally be following the path that The Sisko laid out for him...

Final thoughts:

The writing team of Martin and Mangels maintains the high quality of this miniseries for the most part. As has been the case with the previous books, I was more engaged by the story happening on the station than the Gamma Quadrant portions. However, that story wasn't bad. The characters in this novel come across as real and dynamic rather than one-note villains or heroes. Also, as a special bonus, it was a treat to see the enigmatic Garak, even if only for a few short pages.

Overall, I would give Cathedral a solid four out of five. An excellent entry in what has been the very strong Deep Space Nine relaunch.

More about Cathedral:

Also by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels:

My next read:

Due out on Monday the 24th is an e-book exclusive by Star Wars veteran John Jackson Miller: Titan: Absent Enemies, the first follow-up to last year's The Fall. This is Miller's first foray into Trek novels, and I am looking forward to seeing what he does with Riker and his crew! I recently read his Star Wars: Kenobi, the first Star Wars novel I've ever read, and I very much enjoyed it.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Finally! Absent Enemies E-book Cover Revealed!

This one's a little later than usual!

Simon and Schuster has finally revealed the cover for the upcoming Titan e-book, Absent Enemies, scheduled for release on February 24th!

Check it out below, along with the back-cover blurb and link to purchase from Amazon. And, as always, we will have a review of the novella for you shortly after release!



Newly promoted Admiral William Riker and the crew of the U.S.S. Titan are ordered to race to Garadius IV—a planet Riker knows all too well from an unsuccessful peace mission when he was still first officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise. But this time, he finds a mysterious new situation: one with the potential to imperil the entire Federation. One of the warring parties has simply vanished…

Purchase (E-book only!) from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Protectors

Star Trek: Voyager
Protectors by Kirsten Beyer
Release date: January 28th, 2014
Read February 2nd 2014


Previous book (Voyager): The Eternal Tide
Next book (Voyager): Acts of Contrition

Purchase Protectors (paperback): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
(e-book): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Protectors and the Voyager relaunch continuity!

From the back cover:
Following the destruction of four fleet vessels at the hands of the Omega Continuum, the U.S.S. Voyager and U.S.S. Demeter set course for a region of the Delta Quadrant far beyond anything previously explored. Captain Chakotay is determined to prove to Starfleet Command that the fleet’s ongoing mission is vital to Federation interests…and the key to doing so may lie in a distress call Voyager received nine years earlier, but could not investigate. 
Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway is recalled to the Alpha Quadrant for an evaluation period to determine her next assignment. Given the trauma she has recently endured, Admiral Akaar, Starfleet’s Commander-in-Chief, questions Janeway’s fitness to command the fleet. Janeway’s primary concern remains the fleet’s safety. For their mission to continue, she must find a way to secure the resources they require. But the uncertainty of her superior officers has left her powerless to act in their best interests...

My thoughts:

One of the highlights of Trek Lit in recent years has been the excellent novels of the Voyager relaunch series helmed by Kirsten Beyer. The first three, Full Circle, Unworthy, and Children of the Storm were some of my favorite novels. The most recent entry, last year's The Eternal Tide, didn't quite rise to the level of the previous books, but was still very enjoyable and an excellent entry in the series. So, how does this month's new release, Protectors, compare?

In many ways, Protectors seems like a bit of a return to the style of Children of the Storm. If you read my review of that novel, you know that I was HUGELY impressed by it. The tone and style of Protectors seems to be modeled on that earlier work. Back once again is that Star Trek ideal of seeking out new life and adding to the sum of our knowledge.

One thing about Protectors that was very impressive was the ability of Kirsten Beyer to take what is the very definition of a "meh" episode and craft an utterly fascinating tale from it. Near the beginning of the second season of Voyager was an episode called "Twisted," in which the structure of Voyager is warped such that crew-members get lost and no one can find their way to critical areas of the ship. In the end, the anomaly that causes this effect leaves without explanation after having dumped a huge amount of data into Voyager's computers. This data is never mentioned again. In the "A plot" of Protectors, Captain Chakotay leads the Voyager and Demeter to the area of space near where Voyager first encountered the anomaly. Lieutenant Kim, having pieced together some of the information that was uploaded to Voyager's computer, believes that the initial contact was in fact a distress call. They hope to make contact with the "waveform" anomalies to find out how they can assist.

"Twisted" - A very lackluster episode, but Kirsten Beyer was able to revisit it to craft an amazing tale!

Kathryn Janeway is recalled by Starfleet, who wish to evaluate her condition following her rather unorthodox "resurrection." Meanwhile, in the beta quadrant, a frontier outpost makes a shocking discovery: a former Borg drone who did not join the Caeliar Gestalt. This person turns out to be Axum, Seven of Nine's former "acquaintance" from Unimatrix Zero.

More than anything else, Protectors is a character study. Kathryn Janeway is completely de-constructed in her counseling sessions and must build herself back up again. Kirsten Beyer shows incredible aplomb in handling her character in particular. As someone who was never really a Voyager fan, and a Janeway fan even less-so, the fact that Beyer made me truly care and appreciate this character is astounding.

Other characters are handled perfectly by Beyer as well. The Doctor stands out in particular, so when his reactions to Seven aren't what we expect, it comes across as all the more strange because he is written so closely to how he was portrayed in the series. From the heart-wrenching decision that The Doctor made about his programming to the heartbreak and rash decisions made by Julia Paris, Tom Paris's mother, every character great and small has their moment. Even the description of Axum's torture by the Borg Queen was absolutely heart-wrenching and horrible.

Axum, Seven's companion from Unimatrix Zero, is found by Starfleet.

I love that Kirsten Beyer is so averse to using the dreaded "reset button" that was such a hallmark of the Voyager television series. Rather than glossing over what happened previously and returning to business as usual, Janeway and company must face the fallout from the events of the previous novels. This is very refreshing in a universe that has, in the past, used the reset button an alarming number of times.

Final thoughts:

Protectors was a truly great read. The high point of the Voyager relaunch is, for me, still Children of the Storm, but Protectors comes very close to reaching that level as well. The plot points left hanging are very enticing, and I can't wait to find out more about the Paris family situation as well as learn more about The Worlds of the First Quadrant in the next instalment!

An absolutely excellent and enthralling story that returns to what I love about the Voyager relaunch. A scientific mystery combined with seeking out new life and new civilizations. Mix equal parts character study. Stir in excellent writing, and add genuinely emotional moments to taste. Perfect!

More about Protectors:

Also by Kirsten Beyer:

My next read:

Continuing my re-read of the Deep Space Nine relaunch, my next review will be for Mission Gamma, Book Three: Cathedral by the writing team of Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels.