Monday, August 18, 2014

The Light Fantastic

Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang
Release date: June 24th 2014
Read July 3rd 2014


Previous book (The Next Generation): The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms
Next book (The Next Generation): Q Are Cordially Uninvited...


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

Spoilers ahead for The Light Fantastic, Immortal Coil, and the Cold Equations trilogy!

From the back cover:
He was perhaps the ultimate human achievement: a sentient artificial life-form—self-aware, self-determining, possessing a mind and a body far surpassing that of his makers, and imbued with the potential to evolve beyond the scope of his programming.

And then Data was destroyed.

Four years later, Data’s creator, Noonien Soong, sacrificed his life and resurrected his android son, who in turn revived the positronic brain of his own artificial daughter, Lal. Having resigned his commission, the former Starfleet officer now works to make his way on an alien world, while also coming to grips with the very human notion of wanting versus having a child.

But complicating Data’s new life is an unexpected nemesis from years ago on the U.S.S. Enterprise—the holographic master criminal Professor James Moriarty. Long believed to be imprisoned in a memory solid, Moriarty has created a siphon into the "real" world as a being of light and thought. Moriarty wants the solid form that he was once told he could never have, and seeks to manipulate Data into finding another android body for him to permanently inhabit . . . even if it means that is Data himself.

Returning to the story begun in the novel Immortal Coil and continuing in the bestselling Cold Equations trilogy, this is the next fascinating chapter in the artificial life of one of Star Trek’s most enduring characters.


My thoughts:

I had a great many thoughts while reading this novel. Regular followers of my reviews will remember than I very much enjoyed the books that preceded this one in the telling of Data's story: Jeffrey Lang's own Immortal Coil, as well as the Cold Equations trilogy by David Mack that finally returned Data to the land of the living.

Is it Data, though?

That's the question I kept asking myself while reading The Light Fantastic. And as troubling as this may be, the answer I was forced to come to was no... and yes.

The new Data, not quite the same as the original.
A lot of the elements that made Data Data are there: the sometimes child-like innocence shows through occasionally, but it is definitely tempered by an "edge" that his character didn't have before. As user "Deranged Nasat" put it on TrekBBS's Trek Literature board, "Data 2.0 is both greatly familiar and alarmingly unpredictable." This is not exactly the Data we've come to know and love, but something new... but still someone who is familiar. And Jeffrey Lang is able to craft his voice perfectly.

The characters in this novel are a real treat to read about. The friendship between Data and Laforge has certainly changed, but still retains many of the elements of the close relationship they had in TNG. And kudos to Mr. Lang for addressing the minor discontinuity between David McIntee's novel Indistinguishable From Magic and the later TNG novels with regards to Laforge's relationship(s). Polyamory (or at least open relationships) seems to be a topic that is being explored lately.

Other characters in the novel such as Lal, Alice, Shakti, and Albert Lee were welcome additions, and each had unique moments that were a pleasure to read. The primary antagonist, Moriarty, and his consort, the Countess Regina Bartholomew, were likewise compelling. Moriarty has the potential to be a very clich├ęd villain, and it is the character's seeming awareness of this that contributes to how well he works in the story.

Moriarty returns to the land of the living in a spectacular fashion.

The continuity connections in this novel are nothing short of spectacular. As with his earlier entry, Immortal Coil, Lang mines the entirety of Trek history for ties to his story, drawing from The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.

I particularly enjoyed the ending of this story. Both ambiguous and sowing the seeds for further adventures, the ending left me excited for further adventures with Data and even, perhaps, Moriarty.

Final thoughts:

In an interview on Trek.fm's "Literary Treks" podcast (an interview in which I had the priviledge of taking part), Jeffrey Lang said that Margaret Clark--editor of the Trek literature line at Pocket Books--called Lang's story a "nice dessert" after the seriousness of The Fall and its political intrigue and machinations. I would have to agree. While the threat in The Light Fantastic is quite real, the story felt like a much-needed bit of lighter fare, and one that I enjoyed immensely. In my opinion, The Light Fantastic is the top Trek novel of the year (so far... we still have Seekers on the way, not to mention another Voyager entry from the amazing Kirsten Beyer!)

Top marks for this one from me. I look forward to seeing many more Jeffrey Lang novels to come!

Connections:

The Light Fantastic continues the story of Data from the following novels (in reading order):

Immortal Coil by Jeffrey Lang
Cold Equations, Book I: The Persistence of Memory by David Mack
Cold Equations, Book II: Silent Weapons by David Mack
Cold Equations, Book III: The Body Electric by David Mack

Further Resources:

Literary Treks 70: Data = Saffron - Podcast interview with Jeffrey Lang, author of The Light Fantastic


Also by Jeffrey Lang:

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Section 31: Abyss with David Weddle (2001)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Immortal Coil (2002)

My next read:

Next up: the much-anticipated first book of the all-new Seekers series: Seekers #1: Second Nature by David Mack!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Interview: Preston Neal Jones, Author of Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture



Over at TrekCore.com, I interviewed Preston Neal Jones, the author/editor of the upcoming behind-the-scenes book, Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Click here to check out the interview! I'm pretty excited about this book. Behind-the-scenes info is always very cool, and the story behind The Motion Picture is a complicated and fascinating one, as becomes apparent when you read this interview!



Return to Tomorrow can be purchased at Creature Features by clicking here!



Saturday, August 9, 2014

New cover! Section 31: Disavowed by David Mack

Late October will see the release of the much-anticipated followup to Bashir's storyline from last year's The Fall miniseries: Section 31: Disavowed by David Mack. On StarTrek.com, the cover for this novel was recently revealed, and boy do I love it! Designed by artist Tim Bradstreet, this cover is definitely my favorite of the year so far. Check it out below, along with the back-cover blurb and links to pre-order Disavowed from Amazon!



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?


I'm definitely very excited about this one! Click below to pre-order Disavowed from Amazon. By doing so, you'll be helping to support Trek Lit Reviews!



Monday, August 4, 2014

Literary Treks 70: Data = Saffron

Hey everyone! Another episode of Literary Treks here for you, this time with the author of the recent amazing TNG novel, The Light Fantastic, Jeffrey Lang! Click to download the episode in whichever format you prefer, and let me know what you thought in the comments.

Also, my review of The Light Fantastic is coming soon. I promise!

Click for download options for episode 70 of Literary Treks, "Data = Saffron."



Monday, July 28, 2014

Literary Treks #69: We Hope Margaret is Listening

I must be doing something right, because the fine folks over at Trek.fm keep having me back on Literary Treks! In this episode, Matthew, Chris, and I all sit down and talk about some of the things we would like to see in the Trek lit line. It was a really fun discussion, and everyone had some great ideas! Go ahead and give it a listen, and if you haven't already, subscribe to Literary Treks and the myriad of other Trek podcasts on Trek.fm! If you're a fan (and if you're reading this, you must be!), you won't regret it.

Click for download options for episode 69 of Literary Treks, "We Hope Margaret is Listening."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Interview: David R. George III on One Constant Star!



Trekcore.com has posted my interview with Trek scribe David R. George III. I spoke with him receontly about his latest novel, The Lost Era: One Constant Star. Click here to check out the interview, and here to check out my review!

And click below for links to purchase One Constant Star from Amazon!

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Release Day! Seekers #1: Second Nature

Okay, so I'm a day late with this one!

But yesterday was the official release date for one of the most anticipated novels of the year (by me, anyway!): Star Trek: Seekers #1: Second Nature by David Mack.

Following up on the tremendously good Vanguard series, Seekers follows the crews of the Sagittarius and Endeavour as they explore the vast Taurus Reach following the end of the Shedai threat.

Many have been finding this one on the shelf already over the past week, but it should be widely available now, including the downloadable e-book edition!

Check out the cover and back-cover blurb below, along with purchasing links!





Publisher's description:

A NEW MISSION
The late twenty-third century—Starfleet’s golden age of exploration. Desperate to stay one step ahead of its rivals, the Federation sends two starships, the scout Sagittarius and the cruiser Endeavour, to plumb the secrets of the vast region known as the Taurus Reach.
A DOOMED RACE
Drawn by mysterious energy readings to a lush green world, the crew of the Sagittarius find the Tomol: a species whose members all commit ritual suicide just as they reach the cusp of adulthood.
AN OLD FOE
The crew of the Sagittarius wants to save the Tomol from their cycle of self-destruction, but first they’ll need to save themselves—from the most nefarious Klingon starship commander in history.


Purchase Seekers #1: Second Nature:

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


Previous Release: The Next Generation: The Light Fantastic
Next Release: Seekers #2: Point of Divergence