Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Release Day! Seekers #3: Long Shot

Star Trek: Seekers #3
Long Shot by David Mack

After Second Nature and Point of Divergence last year, Seekers returns with book 3: Long Shot by David Mack! Already having shown up in bookstores all over the world, today is the official release day for the next chapter in the voyages of the Archer-class scout Sagittarius!

Look below for the back-cover blurb and links to purchase Long Shot from Amazon!

Publisher's description:
SCIENCE GONE MAD…Bizarre sensor readings lead the Starfleet scout ship Sagittarius to an alien world where efforts to harness a dangerous and unstable technology have thrown the laws of probability out of balance. Now, events that might have occurred only one time in a trillion are happening constantly—to deadly and dazzling effect.

A PLANET IN PERIL…As disasters and miracles multiply globally at an ever-increasing rate, it’s up to Captain Clark Terrell and his crew to shut down the experiment-gone-wrong before its storm of chaos causes the planet’s destruction. But the odds against their success—and their survival—might be too great to overcome.

Purchase Seekers #3: Long Shot:

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

Next Release: New Frontier: The Returned, Part 2

Monday, July 27, 2015

Literary Treks 113: The Dark Knight Deception

Star Trek: Mere Anarchy: The Centre Cannot Hold
by Mike W. Barr

Because the Enterprise hops from planet to planet with no real connection to what came before, The Original Series is often seen as an anthology show. The literary universe gives the authors the opportunity to show that, just because a specific mission is over, it does not mean that the crew never returns to further the relationship that began in that episode.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther discuss The Centre Cannot Hold, the second book of the Mere Anarchy series. We talk about being back on Mestiko, the cold war era, spanning TOS, the Federation versus the Klingons, the long game, the dangerous game, and give our ratings.

In the news segment, we wrap up The Tholian Webs comic arc with Ongoing number 47.

Literary Treks 113: The Dark Knight Deception
Mere Anarchy: The Centre Cannot Hold by Mike W. Barr

Previous episode: Literary Treks 112: Interview with David R. George III

Next episode: Literary Treks 114:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Things Fall Apart

Star Trek
Mere Anarchy, Book One
Things Fall Apart by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
First Published September 2006
Re-published in the omnibus collection Mere Anarchy in March 2009
Read April 27th 2015

Next book (Mere Anarchy): The Centre Cannot Hold

Original e-book cover

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

Spoilers ahead for Things Fall Apart and the rest of the Mere Anarchy series!

From the back cover:
Mestiko: a world on the brink of interstellar space travel--and under covert Federation observation. When the Payav, Mestiko's dominant nation, learns of a rogue pulsar sweeping through their star system and threatening to destroy all life on their planet, the Federation is faced with a daunting choice: stand by and witness the extinction of a thriving civilization, or violate the Prime Directive and mount a desperate effort to protect the planet from total devastation.

The Starship Enterprise, newly under the command of James T. Kirk, is sent to aid the doomed planet. Kirk and his officers--Spock, Mitchell, Kelso, Scott, Sulu, and Dr. Piper--must use an experimental, untested technology to save the planet before it's too late!

My thoughts:

Before TNG's Slings and Arrows came a TOS e-book miniseries: Mere Anarchy. Following the fate of a newly warp-capable planet called Mestiko, Mere Anarchy takes place over the course of the entire run of the "original series" era of Star Trek, beginning with the early days of Kirk's original mission aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. It is during that period, circa "Where No Man Has Gone Before," in which Things Fall Apart takes place.

Mestiko is a planet on the verge of scientific revolution as one of its nations has just discovered warp drive. However, the planet is facing an extinction level event, and the Federation must decide whether or not to intervene to save Mestiko. Ultimately, the Federation decides to try to save the population, and the Enterprise leads the mission to protect the planet. The crew's response to the crisis and Kirk's reaction in particular are very much keeping with his ethos at this stage in his life, and helps to set the pattern for how he will approach various challenges in the future.

The crew from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (minus Dr. Dehner) features in this story.

I would imagine that one of the difficulties in writing a story that takes place in an era that hasn't had a lot of coverage would be making it feel genuine to that era. We had only one episode that took place during this time period featuring this particular crew, which means that the source material for writing this story would have been very limited. However, Ward and Dilmore succeed in recreating the feeling of that episode, whether it's through the particular relationships among the crew or through small touchstones such as references to "lateral power" and employing the slight tonal shift in language between "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and the rest of the series.

Final thoughts:

A fascinating setup for the stories to come in this series. Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore capture the tone of this particular slice of Trek history quite well, especially given the limited view of this period we've gotten in the past. I would be interested in seeing more stories featuring this crew, but who am I kidding, I love Bones too much to have him away from the rest of the crew for too long. Regardless, the authors kept my interest and made me genuinely care about the fate of the people of Mestiko. While this was an interesting tale, I'm excited to explore the repercussions of the events in this story in later incarnations of the TOS era.

More about Things Fall Apart:

Also by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore:

My next read:

A classic TNG hardcover novel that I have had in my possession since I was a kid, but only now have finally read: Reunion by Michael Jan Friedman. Come join me as I get to know Picard's former crew from the Stargazer!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Literary Treks 112: A Bajoran Copernican Revolution

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Sacraments of Fire
Interview with author David R. George III

When The Soul Key ended in 2009, Star Trek fans were left with a massive cliffhanger as Illiana Ghemor stood in front of the Ascendants and proclaimed "I am the Fire." Unfortunately, the story of the Ascendants arc was lost as the DS9 books caught up with the rest of the 24th century in the Typhon Pact series. Lost, that is, until now.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther welcome author David R. George III back to discuss is latest DS9 novel, Sacraments of Fire, which begins the final arc of the Ascendants story. We talk about stitching together the DS9 quilt, the different faces of faith, Ro's growth, a place for Sisko, the many plot threads, the new DS9, tidbits about Ascendance, and where to find David online.

Literary Treks 112
Interview with David R. George III, author of Sacraments of Fire

Previous episode: Literary Treks 111: A Pocket Universe of the 24th Century

Next episode: Literary Treks 113: The Dark Knight Deception

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Returned, Part 1

Star Trek: New Frontier
The Returned, Part I by Peter David
An e-book exclusive novella
Release date: July 6th 2015
Read July 7th 2015

Previous book (New Frontier): Blind Man's Bluff

Next book (New Frontier): The Returned, Part II

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

Spoilers ahead for The Returned and Star Trek: New Frontier!

Publisher's Description:
Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and the crew of the U.S.S. Excalibur are back, picking up three months after the stunning events depicted in New Frontier: Blind Man’s Bluff. Calhoun's search of Xenex has failed to find any survivors, and now he is bound and determined to track down the race that killed them—the D'myurj and their associates, the Brethren—and exact vengeance upon them. His search will take the Excalibur crew into a pocket universe, where he discovers not only the homeworld of the D’myurj, but another race that shares Calhoun's determination to obliterate his opponents. But is this new race truly an ally…or an even greater threat?

My thoughts:

When I started this review site back in 2011, the newest New Frontier novel was soon to be released: Blind Man's Bluff. While I didn't enjoy that story as much as I had the previous novels, I considered myself a fan of New Frontier. I first started reading Peter David's ground-breaking Trek novel series back when it began in 1997. As much as I enjoyed the ongoing stories of Kirk, Picard, Sisko, and Janeway, the prospect of an all-new novel-only series was too tempting to pass up. Luckily, New Frontier proved the be a success, and the series paved the way for more original Trek lit such as Stargazer, Corps of Engineers, Vanguard, and Seekers.

Calhoun and his crew are back!
Imagine my surprise when it seemed that 2011's Blind Man's Bluff might be the last New Frontier story. What's worse, the story had a cliffhanger ending, with Captain Calhoun's people being wiped out and Starfleet itself the victim of infiltration by an enemy called the D'myurj. Thankfully, a new New Frontier story has been released: The Returned, presented in three parts by way of e-book exclusive novellas.

I wound up enjoying this story more than the previous one. Peter David is in top form here with the New Frontier characters' trademark wit and charm on full display. Calhoun, of course, comes across as larger-than-life in his typically heroic fashion. I like how far the characters have come: Admirals Jellico and Shelby seemingly "manipulate" Calhoun into taking a course of action that he probably would have taken anyway, while he is all the while completely aware of how his wife and commanding officer think they are guiding the events. Meanwhile, we get Soleta back on the bridge of the Excalibur, and even Mark McHenry returns, bringing his "godlike" powers to bear in the defense of Robin Lefler and her child.

There are a few small issues with the story, but nothing that negatively impacts the experience of the return of one of my favorite series. The cliffhanger ending is, of course, frustrating. Were this a complete trade paperback or mass-market paperback release like previous stories, it would simply be a tense chapter break. However, in this three-part iteration, the ending comes just as I want desperately to read more. This is, of course, the point, but it is frustrating nonetheless!

Finally, I do have to make a comment about the cover of this story. The current U.S.S. Excalibur is a Galaxy-class starship, replacing the Ambassador-class Excalibur lost in a previous novel. Unfortunately, the cover features the older Excalibur for apparently no reason that is revealed in the narrative. Sadly, it just seems to be an oversight on the part of the cover artist. Again, it has no impact on my enjoyment of this story, but it is a little unfortunate. Regardless, the cover is beautiful!

*This* is the Excalibur that should be on the cover!

Final thoughts:

A great start to the next chapter of New Frontier! The story is, of course, difficult to rate without the rest of it to read, but I'm excited for the return of some of my favorite characters, and I very much look forward to the continuation and resolution. Here's to much more New Frontier to come, if the Great Bird of the Galaxy wills it!

More about The Returned, Part 1:

Also by Peter David:

My next read:

Next week, look for my review of the first story in the TOS mini-series, Mere Anarchy. It's Things Fall Apart by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Literary Treks 111: A Pocket Universe of the 24th Century

When the New Frontier series began in 1997, it was a bold experiment for Pocket Books: a series without lead characters from one of the canon Star Trek series. Over the years it's popularity has grown and it has gained a loyal following which has in turn lead to a new three-part e-book series.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther discuss The Returned, Part 1. We talk about New Frontier's return, working for a resolution, jumping in late, popcorn Trek, the legacy of New Frontier, a certain helmsman-turned-demigod, if this is the end, and why people should read the series.

For the news segment, we look at New Visions issue 7 as well as the beginning of The Spectrum War, Star Trek's crossover with Green Lantern.

Literary Treks 111: A Pocket Universe of the 24th Century
New Frontier: The Returned, Part 1

Previous episode: Literary Treks 110: It's All About Soul

Next episode: Literary Treks 112: David R. George III Interview

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sacraments of Fire

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Sacraments of Fire by David R. George III
Release date: June 30th 2015
Read July 9th 2015

Previous book (The Next Generation): The Missing

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Ascendance

Spoilers ahead for Sacraments of Fire!

From the back cover:
Days after the assassination of Federation President Nan Bacco on Deep Space 9, the unexpected appearance of a stranger on the station raises serious concerns. He seems dazed and confused, providing—in a peculiar patois of the Bajoran language—unsatisfactory answers. He offers his identity as Altek, of which there is no apparent record, and he claims not to know where he is or how he got there. A quick scan confirms the visitor is armed with a projectile weapon — a firearm more antiquated than, but similar to, the one that took President Bacco’s life. 
But the Bajoran liaison to the station believes that Altek has been sent from the Prophets, out of a nearby wormhole. The last time such an event occurred, it was to reassure Benjamin Sisko of his place as the Emissary. For what purpose has Altek now been sent out of the Celestial Temple?

Notable quote:
"I am Taran'atar," he said again. "I am dead. I go into battle to reclaim my life. This, I do gladly ... for my friend, Kira Nerys. Victory is life."

My thoughts:

In 2009, Pocket Books released the DS9 novel The Soul Key, which set in motion a plot in which the Ascendants, a group of zealots bent on the destruction of all who blaspheme in their eyes, are led by Iliana Ghemor, an insane Cardassian operative who wants nothing more than the death of Kira Nerys. Unfortunately, due to editorial regime change at Pocket, this storyline was effectively dropped and the Deep Space Nine series moved forward in time about five years to catch up with the ongoing post-Nemesis continuity. This left us with a rather glaring time gap in which a number of startling changes took place. Ro Laren is now captain of Deep Space Nine with Kira Nerys having moved on to become a vedek in the Bajoran faith. What happened during that time gap? What became of Iliana Ghemor, the Jem'Hadar Taran'atar, and the "independent courier" Even Odds? How did Bajor overcome the Ascendant threat, and at what cost? In this novel, we finally get a story that begins to answer those questions.

This novel is the Full Circle of DS9.
In many ways, this novel serves that same function that Voyager's Full Circle by Kirsten Beyer did. In that novel, Beyer advanced the Voyager story to catch up with the main continuity post-Destiny. However, Sacraments is almost more creative in some ways. Rather than simply going back and filling in the gap, David R. George actually uses the gap as a plot point, having Kira travel back in time and be a player in the events. This makes the gap in the story almost feel planned, an organic part of the story rather than a failing. While this was obviously not the intent from the beginning, DRG is able to craft a story that makes use of what has been a glaring oversight for years.

One thing I noticed about Sacraments of Fire is that it contains a lot of recapping. This makes sense, as the storyline that it picks up was last touched six years ago. Not everyone reading this novel has just completed a whirlwind re-read of WarpathFearful Symmetry, and The Soul Key like I have done! Having just read those stories, I found the recapping bogged the story down a bit, but had I not recently read them, I bet that the reminder of what came before would have been very welcome.

Taran'atar has been one of my favorite characters in the Deep Space Nine relaunch. I really enjoyed what DRGIII has done with him in this story. His freedom from being in thrall to the Founders was very refreshing, as was his unwavering loyalty to Kira, which seems to have been earned rather than forced. We have hints about what his fate is in the battle to come. Will that history play out, or will history be changed?

Another storyline in this novel is the discovery that the Bajoran moon Endalla hides a massive "falsework," which looks to be left over from the construction of the wormhole. This sets in motion a spiritual crisis for some Bajorans, exemplified by the character of Colonel Cenn Desca, the first officer of DS9. I really felt for him in this story, as his belief system is seemingly shattered by this discovery. It is unfortunate that he seems unable to reconcile this discovery with his faith as others seem able to do. I look forward to following his journey as this story plays out.

We all know that the Bajoran Wormhole was artificially constructed. Does the manner in which it was constructed make all the difference in whether or not the Prophets are gods or "merely" wormhole aliens?

Final thoughts:

There are many more things in this story that I haven't even touched on in my review. In many ways, Sacraments of Fire is like the middle book in a trilogy consisting of The Fall: Revelation and Dust and next year's Ascendance. It is difficult to judge the finished story with a lot of the plot still in the air. Still, I loved this setup for what is to come and if Ascendance is as gripping as this novel has been, I'm on board. I'm overjoyed to finally have answers to what happened during the time jump, as well as this story's efforts at moving the current timeline forward. Bring on Ascendance!

More about Sacraments of Fire:

Also by David R. George III:

My next read:

Another new release! Next week, look for my review of Peter David's continuation of the New Frontier saga, the e-book exclusive The Returned, Part 1.