Monday, May 14, 2018

Literary Treks 229: Spaceballs From the Gamma Quadrant

Deep Space Nine #5:
Fallen Heroes by Dafydd ab Hugh


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

Deep Space Nine under siege! A seemingly indestructible and implacable foe is tearing through DS9 deck-by-deck, destroying everyone in their path. Salvation will come from an unlikely place, however, and it is up to Quark and Odo to work together to solve the mystery and save the station!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther are joined by guest host Brandon Shea-Mutala to discuss the Deep Space Nine novel Fallen Heroes by Dafydd ab Hugh. We talk about when the novel was written, a Quark and Odo team-up, whether the author captured the voices of characters adequately, time travel shenanigans, the alien of the week, the resolution of the novel, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news section, we review issue #18 of Boldly Go, which is sadly the final issue of the series.


Literary Treks 229: Spaceballs From the Gamma Quadrant
Deep Space Nine #5: Fallen Heroes by Dafydd ab Hugh





Previous episode: Literary Treks 228: Wesley 2.0
Next episode: Literary Treks 230: How Much for Just the Planet?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Escape

Star Trek: Voyager #2
The Escape by Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Published May 1995
Read April 15th 2017


Previous book (Voyager): #1: Caretaker

Next book (Voyager): #3: Ragnarok


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

Spoilers ahead for The Escape!

From the back cover:
The U.S.S. Voyager is in desperate trouble, her systems damaged, her warp engines failing. Without immediate repairs the starship and her crew will be trapped forever between the stars. Captain Kathryn Janeway must guide her ship to an ancient, deserted planet that could hold the key to their survival -- a planet that is hiding more than one deadly secret.

My thoughts:

Back when Star Trek: Voyager first premiered in 1995, I had it in my head that I would collect every novel that was published in the Voyager series. It was a new, shiny Trek series, and I was pretty excited to embrace the journey full steam from day one. That goal didn't last very long, but I did pick this novel up back when it was first published. I remember devouring it, really enjoying the time-twisting plot and the very cool depiction of a society whose people travelled through time as easily as you or I might get on a flight to a sunny beach destination. When I recently re-read The Escape for the Literary Treks podcast, I hoped I wouldn't be disappointed, as I remembered really enjoying this story.

For the most part, I wasn't disappointed. While The Escape is the first original Voyager novel, and thus is vulnerable to the pitfalls of not knowing much about the source material beyond the series bible and scripts of the first few episodes, the story manages to stay very true to the Voyager series with characters who, for the most part, feel much like the characters we get to know on the show.

Voyager characters, such as Paris and Torres, are well-represented in The Escape, especially given how early this novel was written, before any episodes of the series had even aired!

There are certainly a couple of exceptions: Neelix in particular feels very out of character. Sure, he was annoying and a little troublesome in Voyager's first season, but his ineptitude and "bumbliness" in this novel is a bit over-the-top. Also, The Doctor is given a name: Doctor Zimmerman, which was apparently to be his name on the show before the producers decided to go in a different direction. However, this is a minor detail that is easy to overlook while reading The Escape.

One character who unfortunately misses the mark a bit is Neelix. He was never quite as annoying as he is in The Escape.

The story itself is quite fascinating, focusing on a culture that employs time travel to an extensive degree. Citizens of Alcawell travel into the distant past, governed by a strict set of laws whose purpose is to protect history from being altered by a significant margin. Voyager's crew, of course, inadvertently runs afoul of these laws when an away team accidentally travels back in time while exploring the deserted remains of the planet. Watching Paris, Torres, and Neelix come up against an implacable bureaucracy was, at times, very amusing, and reminded me a lot of every time I have to call my phone, internet, or other utility providers. The brick wall they come up against is as frustrating as it is familiar.

The resolution to the plot is satisfying, with the Voyager crew coming to an understanding with the authority that governs the planet Alcawell. It's certainly nice to see someone come out ahead when dealing with ridiculous bureaucracies; I would probably do well to get Captain Janeway to call my internet provider on my behalf the next time I'm subjected to the torture of having to deal with them!

Final thoughts:

Voyager, more than any other Star Trek series, dealt with crazy anomalies and confusing time paradoxes on a fairly regular basis. In that respect, The Escape does a very good job in predicting the tone of Voyager and crafting a tale that feels right at home in that series. This, combined with fantastic world-building and the nearly spot-on representations of the Voyager crew, make The Escape one of my favorite "in-series" Voyager novels, quite a feat by the authors given how early in Voyager's run it was written. Four out of five stars.

More about The Escape:


Also by Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

My next read:

Next up is my video review of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Gamma: Original Sin by David R. George III!


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Literary Treks 228: Wesley 2.0

The Next Generation: A Time to Be Born
by John Vornholt


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

In 2004, Pocket Books undertook an ambitious project: a nine-book series that bridged the gap between the films Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis. Dubbed the "A Time To..." series, the nine novels have titles that will be familiar to readers of the Ecclesiastes book of the Old Testament, or those who know the pop hit by The Byrds, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" Good luck getting that one out of your head!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson talk about the first book in the series, A Time to Be Born. We discuss Wesley Crusher's surprise return, the dangers of the Rashanar battle site, the damage to Picard's reputation, Data's role in the story, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news segment, we review the first issue of the new Star Trek: Discovery: Succession miniseries.


Literary Treks 228: Wesley 2.0
The Next Generation: A Time to Be Born by John Vornholt





Previous episode: Literary Treks 227: Hogwarts Academy
Next episode: Literary Treks 229: Spaceballs From the Gamma Quadrant

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Literary Treks 227: Hogwarts Academy

Star Trek: Academy: Collision Course
by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens


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

James T. Kirk. He has crossed the galaxy, fought Klingons, Romulans, and Borg, and lived through more than anyone ever thought possible. But how did this remarkable Starfleet captain get his start? While the story of his academy years has been told in a number of different stories, never before have we seen his young life from the perspective of the man who played him: William Shatner.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther discuss the final Shatnerverse novel, Academy: Collision Course. We talk about this novel's relationship with Star Trek 2009, Jim Kirk's relationship with Starfleet, his family dynamic, Spock in his youth, another perspective on Tarsus IV, how Collision Course fits in with Trek canon, why the Academy book series was cancelled, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news segment, we judge the upcoming Discovery novel Fear Itself by its cover and review the latest New Visions comic, "The Enemy of My Enemy."


Literary Treks 227: Hogwarts Academy
Star Trek: Academy: Collision Course by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens





Previous episode: Literary Treks 226: Nintendo Hwii
Next episode: Literary Treks 228: Wesley 2.0

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Desperate Hours

Star Trek: Discovery
Desperate Hours by David Mack
Release date: September 26th 2017
Read October 2nd 2017


Next book (Discovery): Drastic Measures


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

Publisher's description:
Aboard the Starship Shenzhou, Lieutenant Michael Burnham, a human woman raised and educated among Vulcans, is promoted to acting first officer. But if she wants to keep the job, she must prove to Captain Philippa Georgiou that she deserves to have it.

She gets her chance when the Shenzhou must protect a Federation colony that is under attack by an ancient alien vessel that has surfaced from the deepest fathoms of the planet’s dark, uncharted sea.

As the menace from this mysterious vessel grows stronger, Starfleet declares the colony expendable in the name of halting the threat. To save thousands of innocent lives, Burnham must infiltrate the alien ship. But to do so, she needs to face the truth of her troubled past, and seek the aid of a man she has tried to avoid her entire life—until now.

My thoughts:

Click here to watch my video review of Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours, or click play on the embedded video below!



Final thoughts:

A story that features strong character moments and insights, not only for the Discovery characters Burnham, Saru, and Georgiou, but also for "special guest stars" Pike, Spock, and Una. A fairly typical Trek story plot-wise, but still very enjoyable and a fun adventure set aboard the U.S.S. Shenzhou. Four out of five stars!

More about Desperate Hours:


Also by David Mack:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next up is the first Star Trek: Voyager original novel from 1995: The Escape by Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Literary Treks 226: Nintendo Hwii

The Next Generation: Dark Mirror
by Diane Duane


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

In the year 2267, four Starfleet officers found themselves trapped in a strange alternate universe, a dark and deadly mirror of their own reality. There, a brutal empire ruled in place of the Federation, and advancement came through deceit and murder. Now, a century later, the crew of the Enterprise-D find themselves pulled into that same mirror reality, and this time they must work to prevent a full scale invasion of the prime universe!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther talk about the TNG novel Dark Mirror by Diane Duane. We discuss how the novel compares to other stories set in the mirror universe, a dolphin scientist named Hwii, his theory of hyperstrings, the evil and powerful Counselor Troi, the origins and nature of the mirror universe, Diane Duane's particular brand of technobabble, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news section, we talk about the upcoming Autobiography of Mr. Spock, judge the cover of James Swallow's novel Star Trek: Discovery: Fear Itself, and discuss the news of the new comic miniseries, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Terra Incognita, coming later this year.


Literary Treks 226: Nintendo Hwii
The Next Generation: Dark Mirror by Diane Duane





Previous episode: Literary Treks 225: A Ship Full of Legends
Next episode: Literary Treks 227: Hogwarts Academy

Monday, April 9, 2018

Literary Treks 225: A Ship Full of Legends

Voyager: Architects of Infinity
Exclusive Interview with Kirsten Beyer!


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

A strange planet with an enticing mystery is also the perfect destination for shore leave for the Full Circle fleet led by the U.S.S. Voyager. However, the mission to investigate this mysterious world may uncover a force that has the power to completely overwhelm the crews of the four Federation starships that comprise the fleet. Will the unintended consequences of the fleet's actions ultimately destroy them?

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are joined by guest host Matthew Rushing and New York Times bestselling author Kirsten Beyer to talk about her newest novel, Architects of Infinity. We discuss a medical situation that has ethical concerns for all involved, the nature of Kriosians and Ensign Aytar Gwyn's choices, Icheb's budding relationship, the plight of the junior officers aboard Voyager, a mystery that is way above the heads of even the brightest Starfleet officers, and an ending that left us all shocked. We also briefly touch on Kirsten's role as the media tie-in guru in the Star Trek: Discovery writers' room.

In the news segment, we talk about an April Fools' gag that briefly tricked us, the upcoming Incredibuilds Star Trek 3D wooden model kits with accompanying books written by author Dayton Ward, and review the first issue of the new Star Trek: Discovery Annual series written by Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson.


Literary Treks 225: A Ship Full of Legends
Exclusive Interview with Voyager: Architects of Infinity author Kirsten Beyer!





Previous episode: Literary Treks 224: Archer Showing Off His Veins
Next episode: Literary Treks 226: Nintendo Hwii