Sunday, November 30, 2014

PODCAST: Literary Treks 83: Walter Bishop's Quantum Window

Hey everyone! Our friends over at Trek.fm's Literary Treks podcast have recently released their latest episode. In episode 83, Matthew Rushing and Christopher Jones sit down with New York Times bestselling author David Mack to discuss his latest book, Section 31: Disavowed. Click below to be taken to the Literary Treks site and check it out! You can download it in any number of formats and onto many different platforms, including iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, and more.

And click here to check out my review of Disavowed!

Literary Treks 83: Walter Bishop's Quantum Window - David Mack on Disavowed

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Left Hand of Destiny, Book Two

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Left Hand of Destiny, Book Two by J.G. Hertzler & Jeffrey Lang
Published April 2003
Read November 6th 2014


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Unity


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



Spoilers ahead for The Left Hand of Destiny!

From the back cover:
"The true test of a warrior is not without...it is within." Sins of the past collide with hopes for the future as Martok fights for the right to lead the Klingon Empire. With the secret of his usurper exposed, the ousted chancellor and his ragtag band of followers embark on a desperate plan to retake the empire.
But while Worf, Ezri Dax, and the crew of the IKS Rotarran go in search of the Klingons' most revered icon of power, Martok is dealt the most crushing blow of all -- driving him to make his final stand on the ice-strewn cliffs of sacred Boreth. As that frozen world reverberates with the song of armies and bat'leths clashing, the mystery of Martok's past, and the future of the Klingon Empire, is revealed.

Notable quote:
Martok looked strange. Which you would think I'd be used to by now, Pharh thought. Every time I turn around there's something going on with this guy. On more than one occasion in the past several days he wondered if perhaps his friend suffered from some sort of neurological ailment. Stares into space a lot, Pharh had noted. Talks to thin air a lot. Doesn't sleep enough, either. Bet there's a pill you could take for whatever he's got. But, no, Martok's problem wasn't a neurological disorder; Martok's problem was a surfeit of destiny. Too much destiny is bad, he concluded. Too much destiny is how you find yourself too often in a disruptor's crosshairs. Pharh was glad that destiny had more or less ignored him. You're just an anonymous little Ferengi and that's a good thing to be.

My thoughts:

In my review of book one, I noted that The Left Hand of Destiny had the feel of a Shakespearean play, with larger-than-life characters and stories of the rise and fall of empires. Now, in book two, the story has coalesced into something a little different. Rather than feeling Shakespearean in tone, the second book has the story take on the feel of something a little more Tolkein-esque.

Many of the characters in this story embody roles that would feel right at home in The Lord of the Rings or another similar story. Martok, the king who would take the throne of an ailing, aging empire, returning honor to the crown. The aging emperor Kahless is very much in the spirit of Gandalf, and is even referred to as a wizard during the course of the story. And of course, Pharh, the ever-loyal servant who at first appears to be unequal to the tasks required of him, but who embodies true bravery and courage in the face of evil. Additionally, I would almost go so far to say that Pharh became my favorite book-only character over the course of this re-read.

Characters in The Left Hand of Destiny embody similar character archetypes as one would see in The Lord of the Rings or other similar fantasy tales.

While The Left Hand of Destiny has this Tolkein-like quality to it, at no point did the story seem out of place in the wider Trek universe. The prose immediately draws the reader into the world of heroic deeds and great victories, while never seeming out of the realm of possibility and maintaining the realistic verisimilitude embodied by the best Star Trek stories.

I was recently asked by a friend of mine what the appeal of reading Star Trek novels is. "Aren't they all just the same story?" she asked me. What people who don't read the novels (or aren't fans of Star Trek) don't realize is that the Star Trek universe is merely a setting, and one that is as rich and as full of depth as any other setting. Granted, when people think of Star Trek, the familiar situation of a crew flying around seeking new life and new civilizations (and fighting the Klingons) is what generally comes to mind. But the world of Star Trek literature is so much more, and The Left Hand of Destiny demonstrates that truth admirably. Whether it's Dr. Bashir battling Section 31 by going deep undercover in the organization or agents Dulmer and Lucsly of the Department of Temporal Investigations keeping an eye on space-time anomalies, there is room in Star Trek for nearly any story you can think of. Even if that story merely involves exploring a new planet or fighting some Klingons from the bridge of a familiar starship.

Final thoughts:

When these novels first came out, I remember being a little wary. At this point in the Deep Space Nine relaunch, I was eager to get back to what was going on on the station, with the parasites from TNG's "Conspiracy" making a dramatic return and the crew of the Defiant returning to the Alpha Quadrant with Jake and Kai Opaka. I felt that taking a break from that and going back in time for a Klingon story would be a mistake. However, when I saw that it was J.G. Hertzler who co-wrote the novels, I changed my mind somewhat. What really sold me was when I finally read them. This duology is an incredible read, and there are moments while reading it that I actually became quite emotional. The story is an epic one, and the characters are very memorable. Hertzler and Lang draw you in and leave you absolutely emotionally invested in this story. The Left Hand of Destiny has gone on to become one of my favorite Star Trek stories of all time, and this re-read was nearly as rewarding as when I first read it over a decade ago.

My next read:

Provided I get enough free time for reading this week, you can look forward to a review of New York Times bestselling author Greg Cox's latest Trek work, The Original Series: Foul Deeds Will Rise next Thursday! Until then, Qapla'!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Release Day! Foul Deeds Will Rise by Greg Cox

From New York Times Bestselling Author Greg Cox, author of such fine Trek works as The Eugenics Wars novels, The Q Continuum trilogy, and this year's excellent No Time Like the Past, comes this month's new release: The Original Series: Foul Deeds Will Rise!

Foul Deeds Will Rise is available today in bookstores and for download to your Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or other favorite e-reading device!

My review





Publisher's description:
2288. The U.S.S Enterprise-A is on a vital peacekeeping mission in a remote solar system beyond the boundaries of the Federation, where two warring planets—Pavak and Oyolo—are attempting to end years of bitter conflict. Crucial peace talks are being conducted aboard the Enterprise, even as Starfleet weapons inspectors oversee the disarmament process. Losses and atrocities on both sides have left plenty of hard feelings behind, so Captain James T. Kirk has his work cut out for him, even as he unexpectedly runs into a disturbing figure from his past: Lenore Karidian. 
Twenty years ago, the deadly daughter of Kodos the Executioner tried to kill Kirk, but she has since been declared sane and rehabilitated. Kirk wants to give her the benefit of the doubt and a second chance at life, but when a mysterious assassination threatens the already fragile peace process, all clues point toward Lenore–and the future of two worlds hangs in the balance.


Purchase The Original Series: Foul Deeds Will Rise:

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


Previous Release: Section 31: Disavowed
Next Release: Department of Temporal Investigations: The Collectors


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dawn of the Eagles

Star Trek: Terok Nor (A Saga of The Lost Era)
Dawn of the Eagles, 2360 - 2369 by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison
Published June 2008
Read October 24th 2014

Previous book (Terok Nor): Night of the Wolves
Next book (The Lost Era): One Constant Star


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

Spoilers ahead for Dawn of the Eagles and the Terok Nor miniseries!

From the back cover:
As violence all across Bajor continues to escalate, Cardassian forces tighten their grip on the captive planet, driving back the resistance at every turn; but on Terok Nor and elsewhere, the winds of change are stirring -- the beginnings of a hurricane that will alter the landscape of the Occupation. And while secret dealings, shifting alliances, and personal demons buoy the wings of revolution, a mysterious shape-shifting life form begins a journey that will decide the fate of worlds.

My thoughts:

In the first book of the Terok Nor trilogy, Day of the Vipers, James Swallow presented us with the seeds of the occupation: the initial contact and eventual entrenchment of the Cardassians on Bajor. In book two, Night of the Wolves, Perry and Dennison show us a world under the heel of Cardassian authority: bowed, but not completely broken. It is in this final book that the future of Bajor is to be determined. Will this world and her people bow to Cardassian rule and continue down the path of enslavement and eventual extermination, or will the Bajorans finally come together to throw off the shackles of Cardassian oppression once and for all? And, perhaps more importantly, how many more tired literary cliches can I include in this review? Read on to find out!

Natima Lang and Quark
As in the previous novel, there is a lot going on in Dawn of the Eagles. The story follows the paths of a great many characters as the final years of the Cardassian occupation are chronicled. There are a number of stand-outs: Kira and the Shakaar resistance cell dealing with the extreme conditions created by the anti-Bajoran sensor system implemented by the Cardassians was a compelling tale. Natima Lang, the Cardassian propagandist-turned-dissident and her ill-fated relationship with Ferengi bartender Quark was also a treat to read about. The authors obviously have a firm grasp on the characters in their story, and do an excellent job of making their motivations and actions seem realistic. However, my favorite character in this part of the trilogy was Odo.

In Dawn of the Eagles, we learn the true extent of Odo's role in the final years of the Cardassian occupation. Were it not for Odo, some of the Bajoran resistance's greatest triumphs would never have come to pass. We see this young and in some ways naive Changeling on a journey that will have him work for the Cardassians on Terok Nor, yet never truly be called that most dreaded of titles: "collaborator."

Odo as head of security on Terok Nor under the Cardassians.

At this point in his journey, Odo is still quite inexperienced in his dealings with "solids," an aspect of his character that the authors illustrate very well. Often perplexed at humanoid behavior, Odo sees his way through the world with an overriding sense of justice, and applies that philosophy to every situation he comes across. While Gul Dukat dreams of turning Odo to the Cardassian cause, Odo himself only sees that idea of justice as his master. It is fascinating to see him confront the situation on Bajor and Terok Nor, and witnessing these events through his eyes lends a new perspective to the Cardassian occupation.

As I mentioned above, there is a great deal happening in the pages of this novel. We see a myriad of plot threads tied up, and most importantly, we see characters we've grown to love over seven years of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and beyond at the beginning of their journeys. Readers who want to understand the motivations of characters such as Kira Nerys, Odo, Kai Opaka, and even Gul Dukat will love where this series takes their characters.

Final thoughts:

An eminently satisfying conclusion to the Terok Nor trilogy. While the final push by the Bajoran resistance leading to the Cardassian withdrawal felt a little rushed, the true heart of the story was what really counted: the characters. Perry and Dennison have a great feel for what makes these characters tick, and that expertise came through on every page of Dawn of the Eagles.

As a whole, the Terok Nor trilogy was a rewarding read for someone like me, who is a very big fan of Deep Space Nine. This trilogy of books makes an excellent companion piece to both the Deep Space Nine television series and the "relaunch" post-finale novel series.

Also by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison:

Star Trek: Terok Nor: Night of the Wolves (2008)
Star Trek: Inception (2010)

My next read:

Next up is the resolution to The Left Hand of Destiny by J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One by J.G. Hertzler & Jeffrey Lang
Published April 2003
Read October 14th 2014


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Rising Son

Next book (Deep Space Nine): The Left Hand of Destiny, Book Two


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

Spoilers ahead for The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One!

From the back cover:
"The Klingon Empire is dying...and I think it deserves to die." 
With those words, Lieutenant Ezri Dax propelled Lieutenant Commander Worf to the most fateful decision of his life -- to vanquish Klingon leader Gowron in honorable combat and install in his place a low-born, one-eyed soldier of the empire who might lead their people back to the path of honor.
Under the weighty mantle of chancellor, General Martok led the forces of the empire to victory in the final Allied assault against the Dominion. Now, with Worf at his side as the newly appointed Federation ambassador to Qo'noS, Martok at last is coming home, bringing with him the hope of a bright new future for his people.
But the new chancellor's triumphant return to the Klingon homeworld is met by treachery and upheaval. As the demons of the general's past rise up, so too does a usurper to the Imperial Throne, one who knows exactly how to crush Martok and all who stand with him -- and who won't be satisfied until they are ashes under the foundation of a new Klingon Empire.

My thoughts:

J.G. Hertzler brought a wonderful presence to the screen as Klingon General Martok, and that presence carries over into this novel, co-written by Hertzler and author Jeffrey Lang.

One of the many highlights of Deep Space Nine for me was the panoply of supporting characters, many more recurring guest characters than any other Star Trek series. We had many memorable "baddies" such as Dukat, Damar, Weyoun, and Brunt, while at the same time a whole host of "good" characters such as Rom, Nog, Leeta, and Shakaar, to name but a few. However, one of my favorite in this category was the remarkable Klingon General Martok, played perfectly by actor J.G. Hertzler. How fitting, then, that we get a pair of novels that explore the depths of this character, co-written by the actor himself?

The Left Hand of Destiny is a bit of an outlier in the Deep Space Nine "relaunch." In this duology, we take a break from the goings-on in the Bajoran system and flashback to a point just after the television series ended. Newly elevated Chancellor Martok returns to the Klingon homeworld with his flagship, the Negh'var, victorious at the end of the Dominion War. However, upon his return (with Ambassador Worf at his side), the Chancellor is witness to a scene of horrible destruction: a usurper named Morjod has destroyed the Great Hall of the Klingon Empire and declared himself Emperor. Now, Martok must fight to save his Empire and his family from a madman and a mysterious woman from Martok's past named Gothmara.

In many ways, this first book has a very "Shakespearean" tone, like many good Klingon stories. In particular, the DS9 episode "Blood Oath" often made me think of Shakespeare-like stage directions in the way the action and dialog were presented. I got very much the same feeling while reading this novel. I felt as though that tone shifted somewhat into something else in the second book, but I'll address that in my review dedicated to book two.

After all, Shakespeare is best when read in the original Klingon!
(Image by Patrick Faricy, from A Very Klingon Khristmas by Paul Ruditis)

While there certainly is a lot of plot in the pages of the this novel, the story feels primarily character-driven. The characters in The Left Hand of Destiny are the best part of the book. Figures such as Martok and his wife Sirella seem larger than life at times, so other characters are needed to "ground" the story somewhat. A couple of characters that serve this purpose are Worf's son, Alexander, as well as a great Ferengi character named Pharh. I cannot overstate what a wonderful character Pharh is; his experiences bring a wonderful perspective to this grand story of the rise and fall of empires.

Final thoughts:

When I first read the DS9 relaunch novels back in the early 2000s, I recall The Left Hand of Destiny as one of the highlights. Upon re-reading, the story did not disappoint. This epic, sweeping tale of the challenges faced by Chancellor Martok shortly after the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a wonderful adventure, full of incredible action, great character moments, and the sort of grand storytelling one might expect in a cinematic Shakespearean drama. The story itself is incredibly well-written, and the insights into Martok's character provided by J.G. Hertzler make you realize that this actor truly understood the heart of the character.

Look forward to my review of the second part in a couple of weeks. The characters in this novel will do great deeds in the coming days, worthy of story and song!

My next read:

My next review will be for the third and final chapter in the Terok Nor trilogy: Dawn of the Eagles by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cover art for Dept. of Temporal Investigations novella revealed!

Today, we can show you the cover art for the forthcoming e-novella Department of Temporal Investigations: The Collectors by the supremely talented Christopher L. Bennett! Additionally, check out the publisher's description below, where you will also find links to purchase the Kindle version of The Collectors from Amazon.

The Collectors will be released on December 8th!



The dedicated agents of the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations have their work cut out for them protecting the course of history from the dangers of time travel. But the galaxy is littered with artifacts that, in the wrong hands, could threaten reality. One of the DTI's most crucial jobs is to track down these objects and lock them safely away in the Federation’s most secret and secure facility. When Agents Lucsly and Dulmur bring home an alien obelisk of incredible power, they are challenged by a 31st-century temporal agent who insists they surrender the mysterious artifact to her. But before they know it, the three agents are pulled into a corrupted future torn apart by a violent temporal war. While their DTI colleagues attempt to track them down, Lucsly and Dulmur must restore temporal peace by setting off on an epic journey through the ages, with the future of the galaxy hanging in the balance...

You can pre-order The Collectors using the links below!






Thursday, November 6, 2014

Disavowed

Star Trek: Section 31
Disavowed by David Mack
Release date: October 28th 2014
Read October 30th 2014


Previous book (Deep Space Nine characters): Lust's Latinum Lost (and Found)
Next book (Deep Space Nine): The Missing
Next book (Section 31): Control

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

Spoilers ahead for Disavowed and the current 24th century continuity, including last year's The Fall miniseries!

From the back cover:
Amoral, shrouded in secrecy, and answerable to no one, Section 31 is the mysterious covert operations division of Starfleet, a rogue shadow group committed to safeguarding the Federation at any cost. Doctor Julian Bashir sacrificed his career for a chance to infiltrate Section 31 and destroy it from within. Now it's asking him to help it stop the Breen from stealing a dangerous new technology from the Mirror Universe–one that could give the Breen control over the galaxy. It’s a mission Bashir can’t refuse—but is it really the shot he’s been waiting for? Or is it a trap from which even his genetically enhanced intellect can’t escape?

My thoughts:
I've made my mistakes. Committed my sins of action and omission. But whatever else history might tell of me ... at least now it can say I deserved to be called a doctor.
Julian Bashir: hero, traitor, and the man who hopes to bring down Section 31 once and for all.
Julian Bashir has had a roller coaster of a life of late. Having committed a felony against the United Federation of Planets by appropriating scientific data on the Shedai meta-genome (see: Vanguard) and using it to assist Andoria in overcoming its fertility crisis, Bashir has become a hero to some, and a villain to others. How appropriate is it, then, that this story involves an organization that belongs to both of these categories in the minds of some as well?

Section 31 is the infamous bogeyman of many Trek stories. A secret organization that has remained hidden in the shadows since the very beginnings of Starfleet, before the Federation even existed, and the bane of one Julian Bashir. In this novel, he and his partner, Sarina Douglas, set out to enact a plan to bring down the enigmatic organization. However, like many of the machinations set in motion in this novel, it doesn't exactly go according to plan.

In fact, if I were to pick a theme from the pages of this novel, it would be that no matter how much thought is put into a grand scheme, it is not enough. Or, to put it in cliché terms, "the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Julian and Sarina plan to take down 31, but the organization is wise to their plans. The Breen have an intricate plan to hijack a Galactic Commonwealth "jaunt ship," but the Commonwealth and Section 31 are able to thwart them at every turn. And 31 itself has a plan to steal intel from the Commonwealth, but find that they are stopped by Saavik and her team at Memory Omega.

Which brings me to one of the aspects of Disavowed that I truly loved: a return to the Mirror Universe continuity established by David Mack in The Sorrows of Empire and Rise Like Lions. Ever since the epilogue of Rise Like Lions, I have been craving a story that revisits the Mirror Universe and the Galactic Commonwealth. With Taran'atar's appearance at the close of that novel being such a tempting lure, I was thrilled to see that story continued in Disavowed.

I was very excited that the mirror universe Taran'atar made an appearance in Disavowed.
Disavowed's depiction of the "mirror" Dominion was absolutely brilliant. Like "our" Dominion, the Founders set out to bring order to the galaxy, but in a much different manner. This Dominion is based on the absolute rule of law and justice. Rather than acting as the frightened, abused shapeshifters of our universe who founded the Dominion in order to subjugate the solids of the galaxy, the alternate Dominion has ensured security by employing justice in the broadest – and fairest – possible sense. In fact, characters in this novel speculate (half-jokingly) that the universes must have swapped Odos at some point in the past, in a particularly sublime example of David Mack's excellent writing.

There are many such examples in this novel, and I found it a true delight to read. The "plans within plans" angle of the story, combined with the double-crossing and surprises at every turn meant that I was up late into the night, saying to myself "just one more chapter" over and over again.

Final thoughts:

Another incredible tale from David Mack, telling a story that incorporated many of my favorite elements from recent Trek lit: Julian Bashir, the Mirror Universe Galactic Commonwealth, action, suspense, and superb writing that compelled me to blast through this novel in two evenings.

With only one novel left before the end of the year, I can see that I will have my work cut out for me in naming the best Star Trek novel of 2014. The writers seem to have been pulling out all of the stops this year, and I'm having trouble choosing a clear front runner. One thing is apparent, however: Section 31: Disavowed is certainly in contention! I am also very much looking forward to Section 31: Control, hinted at in the final pages of this novel.

More about Disavowed:


Also by David Mack:



My next read:

A return to the Deep Space Nine relaunch, but taking a break from the goings-on on the station for the first book of an epic two-part Klingon story by J.G. Hertzler & Jeffrey Lang: The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

New cover art: TNG: Takedown!

We have some brand-new cover art to show you today, and this one is a stunner! Have a gander at the cover for next year's The Next Generation: Takedown by John Jackson Miller. And below, you'll find links to pre-order, as well as the back-cover publisher's description. Based on the blurb, this one sounds like it's going to be very exciting!



When renegade Federation starships begin wreaking destruction across the Alpha Quadrant, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are shocked to discover that the mastermind behind this sudden threat is none other than Picard’s protégé and friend: Admiral William T. Riker. The newly minted admiral is on board the U.S.S. Aventine as part of a special assignment, even as the mystery deepens behind his involvement in the growing crisis. But the Aventine is helmed by Captain Ezri Dax—someone who is no stranger to breaking Starfleet regulations—and her starship is by far the faster vessel . . . and Riker cannot yield even to his former mentor. It’s a battle of tactical geniuses and a race against time as Picard struggles to find answers before the quadrant’s great powers violently retaliate against the Federation. . .

Looking forward to this one! Takedown's official release date is January 27, 2015. Look for it then in bookstores and for download to your favorite e-reading device. In the meantime, here are some links to pre-order Takedown from Amazon!

Purchase the mass-market paperback from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Purchase the e-book (Kindle) version from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk