Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Literary Treks 118: Footie Pajamas

Mere Anarchy, Book Three
Shadows of the Indignant by Dave Galanter

There are very few times in The Original Series where the trinity of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy is not a part of an episode, but during the years between TOS and TMP the characters had taken different paths. Kirk was an admiral, McCoy a country doctor, and Spock was on Vulcan attending to a private matter. With the Mere Anarchy series spanning the entirety of TOS, the writers were given an opportunity to do something a little different with the characters.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther talk about Shadows of the Indignant. We discuss the e-book series, the Motion Picture era, dissatisfaction, a buddy cop feel, strange bedfellows, greed, and our ratings.

In our news segment, we remind everyone that Atonement is out now!

Literary Treks 118: Footie Pajamas
Mere Anarchy: Shadows of the Indignant by Dave Galanter

Previous episode: Literary Treks 117: Read The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy

Next episode: Literary Treks 119:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Best and the Brightest

Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Best and the Brightest by Susan Wright
Published February 1998
Read August 14th 2015

Previous book (TNG publishing order): #46: To Storm Heaven

Next book (TNG publishing order): Planet X

Spoilers ahead for The Best and the Brightest!

From the back cover:
Every year, Starfleet Academy in San Francisco attracts many of the most talented and ambitious young people in the Federation. They come from all over the Alpha Quadrant, from hundreds of worlds and species, to prepare themselves for the challenges of the final frontier. 
Meet a new generation of cadets: a newly joined Trill just beginning the first of many lives; a Bajoran vedek who finds himself torn between his vows and an unspoken love; a reckless young man fond of pushing the limits; a feline alien raised among Humans; a brilliant but immature young woman with a lot to learn; and a native-born Earth woman with a talent for engineering. 
Together they will learn about courage, life, teamwork, and themselves. Their future is just beginning—but one of them will not survive!

My thoughts:

I first read The Best and the Brightest years ago when it first came out. I was in high school at the time, and I suppose that much of what the main characters were going through echoed a lot in my own life. Looking ahead to college and what I wanted to eventually do with my life, I found myself facing the same problems that confronted the cadets in this novel. What if what I chose ended up not being what I wanted to do? What if I failed? What if the expectations I set for myself or that others set for me turned out to be too high? Reading this novel years ago helped me to confront those questions, though I may not have been entirely aware of it at the time. All I knew is that this story spoke to me on a basic level, and I developed a fond remembrance of The Best and the Brightest.

So, re-reading The Best and the Brightest years later, how does it hold up? Truly, I am torn.

I did enjoy the re-read, mostly through the lens of nostalgia. I remembered loving the characters and enjoying the exploration of the heady days of young adulthood when the entire world lay before me. Since first reading this novel, I have had a wonderful amount of life experiences (with still much more to come, hopefully). Looking back with a more experienced eye, it was a little harder to identify with the characters and where they were in life, which detracted from the experience somewhat. That's not to say that these issues aren't still a part of my life; they really are, even though I'm at a much different stage than I was all those years ago.

The cadets at Starfleet Academy contend with their own life decisions as well as the political goings-on of the galaxy at large.

While I enjoyed the story and the characters, I couldn't help feeling that there wasn't quite enough there. The story flies through the years, jumping from one situation to the next, and never lingering long enough on the individual stories to give us a complete picture of the lives of the cadets (with a couple of exceptions). With six different characters to explore, I could have used a more deliberate pace, allowing us to go beyond the fast impressions we get. That said, if the pace were more deliberate, would my fifteen year old self have been as enamored with this book as I was? Maybe it is just written more for the young adult sensibility, and I have to make my peace with that.

Even with the fast pace, there is a lot to recommend the story. I really enjoy the interactions among the characters, and the insight into the wider world of the Federation from a perspective other than the Enterprise or Deep Space Nine was very interesting. The novel takes place over a tumultuous period in Star Trek history, tackling things like the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole, the loss of the Enterprise-D, the rise of The Maquis, the introduction of The Dominion, and much more. It is a crossroads in Federation history, and The Best and the Brightest gives us a unique perspective on these events. The cameos by familiar characters such as Jadzia Dax and Guinan serve to tie the story to the wider Trek universe as well.

A dark moment in Star Trek history takes on an even deeper meaning for the characters in this novel.

Finally, I have to acknowledge one aspect of the story that I absolutely loved, both then and now. In The Best and the Brightest, two of the cadets enter into a romantic relationship. Moll Enor and Jayme Miranda, both female, go through the same things that any two people go through during young love: crushes, awkwardness, and silly, day-to-day concerns. These days, this is far less out of the ordinary than it was for fifteen year old me. This was the first exposure I had to a same-sex relationship that seemed just as "normal" as any other. None of the other characters batted an eye, and it was treated as genuinely as any other romantic relationship. Since those days, I have learned terms like "heteronormativity," and I understand now how big a deal this story was and how much it helped to shape my values and beliefs to this day. So, for this reason as well as the enjoyment I got out of reading this novel: thank you, Susan Wright. You made a difference in my life.

Final thoughts:

While the story may have lost some of the luster it had when I first read it seventeen years ago, it remains a fun story with characters I truly came to care about. It taught me about friendship, love, grief, and the importance of recognizing the importance of people who are different from me, and about the validity of another's experience, all lessons that resonate in my life to this day. While I would have appreciated a slower, more deliberate pace and, ultimately, more time with these characters, I can't fault the story for playing to its audience. Adolescent me was very thankful to have read this story, and adult me was happy to rediscover it.

Also by Susan Wright:

My next read:

Next week: the much-anticipated new release by Kirsten Beyer: Voyager: Atonement!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Release Day! Voyager: Atonement

Star Trek: Voyager
Atonement by Kirsten Beyer

Long-time readers of this site will know that one of my favorite Trek Lit series has been the Voyager post-finale novels by author Kirsten Beyer. It's always a treat when another chapter in her tales of the Full Circle mission to the Delta Quadrant is released, and this month sees the release of Atonement! Following up from the previous novels Protectors and Acts of Contrition, Atonement continues the story of Voyager's dealings with the Worlds of the First Quadrant, with Janeway on trial by a coalition of former Delta Quadrant foes for her actions during Voyager's first trek through the region.

Check below for links to purchase Atonement from Amazon. Look for my review soon!

Publisher's description:
An original novel set in the universe of Star Trek: Voyager—and the sequel to Protectors and Acts of Contrition!

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.

Purchase Voyager: Atonement:

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

Next Release: New Frontier: The Returned, Part 3

Monday, August 24, 2015

Literary Treks 117: Read The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy

Interview with author David Mack
Seekers #3: Long Shot

What if the laws of probability were no longer a factor, and the most improbable and unthinkable things began to happen? This is exactly what the crew of the Sagittarius runs into in the latest Seekers novel, and the solution may just cost them more than they bargained for.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther welcome back author David Mack to discuss his latest book: Seekers #3: Long Shot. We talk about its creation, being villainless, illustrating the Prime Directive, scientific research, crew interactions, personal connections, life to the fullest, what’s next for David, and where to find him online.

In the news section we talk about TNG: Warped and its humorous ideas for a season 8 of The Next Generation.

Literary Treks 117: Read The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy
Interview with David Mack, author of Seekers #3: Long Shot

Previous episode: Literary Treks 116: Bajor's John Hughes Story

Next episode: Literary Treks 118: Footie Pajamas

Saturday, August 22, 2015

No Surrender

Star Trek: S.C.E. #13
No Surrender by Jeff Mariotte
Published March 2002
Re-released in print form as part of the S.C.E. compilation No Surrender in 2003.
Read May 11th 2015

Previous ebook (S.C.E.): #12: Some Assembly Required
Next ebook (S.C.E.): #14: Caveat Emptor

Original e-book cover

Compilation of SCE #'s 13 - 16
No Surrender (Paperback) from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca
No Surrender (Kindle) from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

Spoilers ahead for No Surrender and the rest of the Corps of Engineers series!

From the back cover:
The Kursican Orbital Incarceration Platform -- known as "the Plat" -- is the primary prison facility for Kursican, a world applying for Federation membership. When the Plat malfunctions, the U.S.S. da Vinci is sent to Kursican to board and repair the out-of-control orbital station.
But the da Vinci crew finds itself in the midst of a political firestorm, as the malfunction is the result of sabotage by a group of political agitators -- one of whom is Augustus Bradford, an old friend of Captain Gold's. While Commander Gomez and her crack S.C.E. team try to put the Plat right, Gold must balance his duty against his loyalty to his friend -- before Kursican explodes!

My thoughts:

It's been a few months since I've posted a Starfleet Corps of Engineers review, so I figure it's time to give that series a bit of attention once again. Next up is number 13, No Surrender, the first story in the fourth S.C.E. omnibus, also titled No Surrender.

In this story, the da Vinci is called upon to repair an out-of-control orbital prison and to rescue a number of Federation officials who are visiting the station. Complicating matters is the involvement of an old friend of Captain Gold's. Years ago, Gold and Augustus Bradford were good friends who attended the academy together, but over the years, Bradford became disaffected with the Federation and Starfleet. Now living in the Kursican system, Bradford has become politically active, opposing ties between the system and the Federation.

Each of the characters seem to be getting their own "story" in turn, and No Surrender is primarily a Captain Gold story. We see how he reacts when he has to choose between his duty and loyalty to an old friend, a story that is by no means new or unique. Still, we get some good insights into Gold's character, and it was nice to learn more about him.

There are some fun moments in this story, including an exciting sequence in which a rescue team from the da Vinci must infiltrate the out-of-control prison complex via a dangerous spacewalk, all the while avoiding automatic weapon fire and the relentless forces of Newtonian physics. A fun, ably-told story, although there is nothing supremely groundbreaking here.

Final thoughts:

Captain David Gold finally gets some interesting character moments, and we see what duty to the Federation and Starfleet means to him. The primary antagonist comes across as fairly deluded and a little off-his-rocker. I would have been interested to see a more reasoned debate from him, with a legitimate argument rather than the dangerous threat of violence that automatically makes his character unreasonable. Still, an interesting story with a few good action sequences that made this a sufficient afternoon read.

Also by Jeff Mariotte:

My next read:

The Next Generation: The Best and the Brightest by Susan Wright, an unorthodox tale about cadets attending Starfleet Academy. Look for that review next week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Literary Treks 116: Bajor’s John Hughes Story

Unity saw Bajor finally make it into the Federation as a member world, fulfilling one the earliest storylines of the Deep Space Nine television series. Transition is never easy and Bajor now finds itself experiencing the growing pains of integrating itself into the interstellar community.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther talk about the Worlds of DS9 story Bajor: Fragments and Omens. We discuss the different pace, the changing times, Jake Sisko's role, Bajoran conspiracy theories, the endgame, theology and science, how people make the place, and our ratings.

In the news segment, we rejoice at the announcement of a new edition of The Star Trek Encyclopedia, the Star Trek: Prey trilogy, new books from Christopher L. Bennett, and review Star Trek/Green Lantern #2.

Literary Treks 116: Bajor's John Hughes Story
Worlds of Deep Space Nine: Bajor: Fragments and Omens by J. Noah Kym

Previous episode: Literary Treks 115: Maybe He's Not An 80s Fan

Next episode: Literary Treks 117: Read the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy

Sunday, August 16, 2015

TNG: Season 8 Book Coming This Fall!

Some fun news for you today: coming in October is Star Trek: The Next Generation: Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season! Based on parody Twitter account @TNG_S8, Warped is by account creator Mike McMahan, with illustrations by Jason Ho.

Publisher's Description:

In the basement of the Star Trek archives, behind shelves of U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D models, bags of wigs, and bins of plastic phasers, sits a dusty cardboard box. Inside is a pile of VHS tapes that contain never-before-seen episodes and behind-the-scenes footage for something truly amazing. The world thinks there are only seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but there’s one more. A secret season.
Actually, not really. But that didn't stop Mike McMahan, creator of the parody Twitter account @TNG_S8, from making a guide full of: 
REAL* TNG SEASON 8 FACTS AND STORIES!REAL* TNG SEASON 8 DIALOGUE AND IMAGES!(* Again, not really, of course. This is humor. Sorry.)

Release date: October 13, 2015.

Click here to pre-order Warped from Simon and Schuster!