Sunday, December 21, 2014

Literary Treks 85: Jurassic Park of the Billionth Century

We have a new episode of Literary Treks to present you this week!

In this episode, co-host Matthew Rushing and I discuss the new e-book novella by Christopher L. Bennett, Department of Temporal Investigations: The Collectors. Click below to check it out. Thanks for listening!

Literary Treks 85: Jurassic Park of the Billionth Century - Matthew and I discuss The Collectors by Christopher L. Bennett

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Kirk's Autobiography, Coming Next Fall!

Set for release in September of 2015, it's The Autobiography of James T. Kirk: The Story of Starfleet's Greatest Captain. Ostensibly written by the man, the myth, the legend himself, this book is actually written by David Goodman, who brought us Federation: The First 150 Years back in 2012. StarTrek.com has a first look!

Looking forward to this one! Rest assured, I will have a review of it shortly after release. Check out the cover below, as well as links to pre-order from Amazon.


Kindle E-book: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca


The Collectors

Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations
The Collectors by Christopher L. Bennett
An e-book exclusive novella
Release date: December 8th 2014
Read December 9th 2014


Previous book (Dept. of Temporal Investigations): Forgotten History

Next book (Dept. of Temporal Investigations):



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


Spoilers ahead for The Collectors!

Publisher's Description:
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...

My thoughts:

I am a huge fan of Christopher Bennett's Department of Temporal Investigations novels. The first book, Watching the Clock, was published very shortly after I began writing for Trek Lit Reviews. I remember that novel being one of my most-anticipated reads that year, and it definitely did not disappoint. I enjoyed Watching the Clock immensely, and when the second book, Forgotten History, was announced, I was over the moon. Again, Bennett delivered a quality work based on an exciting and unique premise.

This time around, rather than a full novel, we are treated to an e-book exclusive novella. The Collectors is an adventure centering on our hapless DTI duo, Dulmur and Lucsly, introduced in the wonderful Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations." Although this format is much shorter than the typical paperback novel, there is a lot going on in this story. Dulmur and Lucsly are drawn into a time-twisting adventure with one of their counterparts from the 31st century, Jena Noi, and eventually end up millions of years in the future, where they confront a race of beings who are attempting to preserve all extinct species from every time period across the galaxy. These "Collectors" come under attack from a timeline that has been corrupted due to our characters interfering with one of their collection units. Trapped millions of years "uptime," the three agents must set right what has gone disastrously wrong.

Agents Lucsly and Dulmur are thrust into an adventure that goes beyond the usual bureaucratic duties they're used to.

Whereas the previous two novels featured cameos and larger roles for Star Trek personalities besides the members of the Department of Temporal Investigations (for example, Janeway and others from the 24th century feature in Watching the Clock, while Forgotten History features the TOS crew quite heavily), The Collectors focuses solely on the DTI and other uptime counterparts of the agency. I feel as though this particular format gave Bennett the freedom to maintain this focus. I may be wrong in this assumption, but it seems likely to me that for a full-size novel to be marketable, it would need more "anchors" to the wider Trek continuity in order to attract readers. In this smaller, more "niche" format, it's possible that the author is able to have more freedom to tell a "smaller" story.

This, of course, makes me incredibly thankful that this format exists. I truly enjoyed this story, and I am very happy that we are able to read stories like this from the more obscure corners of the Star Trek universe. In fact, I would be in full support of a Department of Temporal Investigations e-book series. Maybe not as prolific as the prior Corps of Engineers series was; one story a year would be plenty!

Watch for:

There is a moment near the climax of the story in which two extinct species come together to form something from the nightmares of paleontologists and Starfleet officers alike. Pulling this off in a way I didn't think was possible, Christopher L. Bennett had me crying with laughter at one particular moment. I don't want to give it away, but you will know it when you read it!

Final thoughts:

At the heart of The Collectors is a debate between two opposing ideals: constancy and conservatism versus fluidity and change for the sake of change. Which is better? It is interesting that the character of Lucsly, a man notorious for his desire to maintain the status quo including his unassailable belief in the one true unadulterated timeline, is the one to come to the conclusion that everything must eventually change and move on. The eponymous Collectors are concerned with the preservation of what was with no thought given to the changes they themselves have instigated. Co-host Matthew Rushing and I have a very interesting discussion about this battle of ideas on the latest episode of Literary Treks. If you're interested, you can check that out by clicking the link below, under "Further resources."

This battle between maintaining the status quo and moving forward is one that touches all aspects of life. It is funny that this novella, seemingly small and innocuous, talks about such grand themes. This story really made me think as well as laugh uproariously at times. I highly recommend The Collectors, especially if you enjoyed the previous two DTI novels. However, even if you haven't read them, The Collectors is a fun and exciting read.

Further resources:

TrekBBS review and discussion thread for The Collectors
Podcast: Literary Treks 85: Jurassic Park of the Billionth Century - discussion of The Collectors


Also by Christopher L. Bennett:

Star Trek: Ex Machina (2005)
Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock (2011)
Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within (2011)
Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Forgotten History (2012)
Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures (2013)
Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel (2014)

My next read:

Look for my review of the Deep Space Nine relaunch novel, Unity by S.D. Perry, coming after Christmas. Until then, happy holidays to you and yours! May the season be filled with happiness and good cheer.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Intellivore

Star Trek: The Next Generation #45
Intellivore by Diane Duane
Published April 1997
Read November 13th 2014


Previous book (The Next Generation): #44: The Death of Princes

Next book (The Original Series): #46: To Storm Heaven

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

Spoilers ahead for Intellivore!

From the back cover:
The Great Rift lies between the Sagittarius and Orion arms of the galaxy. Stars are scarce there, beyond the authority of the Federation, and legends abound of lost civilizations and of ancient monsters that prey on those who dare to venture into the vast darkness between the stars. When several ships and colonies mysteriously disappear into the Rift, the USS Enterprise leads an expedition to investigate various disturbing reports. Accompanied by two other Federation starships, Picard and his fellow captains discover a bizarre menace of unimaginable power. And the only way to trap this destructive entity is to use the Enterprise as bait.

My thoughts:

Reading a previously un-read book by an author you've come to love is like slipping on an old pair of really comfortable shoes. They may be old and somewhat left behind by newer models, but there's just something about how comfortable, how "right" they feel. Such is the case with reading a Diane Duane novel I've never before had the pleasure of reading. A few years ago, I fell in love with Duane's depiction of the Romulan people and their culture, as well as her singular style of writing. While Intellivore features the TNG crew rather than the classic Trek gang, Duane's style still leaps off the page, feeling both fresh and familiar at the same time.

Intellivore is one of the very few Diane Duane Trek stories I had not yet read prior to reading it for the purposes of this review. As such, I was not sure what to expect. Most of her stories have involved the original Star Trek crew, and I hoped that her wonderful writing style would translate well to the Next Generation setting. For the most part, I was not disappointed. I feel as though Duane's grasp on the original crew is slightly stronger, but I had no problem hearing the voices of the TNG cast in her writing.

In the novel The Romulan Way, the ancient legend of the Intellivore is mentioned almost in passing. Intellivore picks up on that legend and explores the entity behind it. The Intellivore turns out to be a massive, warp-driven planet that consumes the mental energies of intelligent species. In a region known as the Great Rift, the Intellivore has hunted, consuming civilizations and hapless colony ships who wander into its vicinity, leaving its victims as mindless shells with no hope of recovery. Promising a fate more terrifying than death, the Intellivore is a true horror of deep space.

Diane Duane brings her particular brand of intelligent and beautiful prose to the pages of Intellivore. I have always loved her ability to take a scientific idea and create real jeopardy around it, all the while drawing the reader in with her colorful descriptions of the depth and loneliness of deep space. It's difficult to describe the exact feelings that her writing elicits, but I always get a sense of wonder and enchantment while reading Duane's work, whether it's her explorations of the history of Vulcan, or a depiction of the battle of wills between the Intellivore and one of its humanoid victims.

Final thoughts:

Diane Duane novels are always a treat to read, and in that respect, Intellivore did not disappoint. In some ways, it is a "smaller" story than her other novels, such as the Rihannsu series or Spock's World. However, the stakes are high, and Intellivore comes replete with the numerous character moments that I love. There is real emotion in this novel, and while it is most probably Diane Duane's least-known Trek work, it holds to the high standard of writing I've come to love from her.

Look for my review of her novel Dark Mirror in the coming months!


Also by Diane Duane:

Star Trek #13: The Wounded Sky (1983)
Star Trek #18: Rihannsu #1: My Enemy, My Ally (1984)
Star Trek #35: Rihannsu #2: The Romulan Way with Peter Morwood (1987)
Star Trek: Spock's World (1988)
Star Trek #50: Doctor's Orders (1990)
Star Trek #95: Rihannsu #3: Swordhunt (2000)
Star Trek #96: Rihannsu #4: Honor Blade (2000)
Star Trek: Rihannsu #5: The Empty Chair (2006)

My next read:

The brand-new e-book exclusive novella from Christopher L. Bennett, Department of Temporal Investigations: The Collectors. Really looking forward to this one!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Literary Treks 84: The Maroon Jacket Era

Hi everyone! Recently, I was honored to accept a permanent co-host position on Trek.fm's Star Trek books and comics podcast, Literary Treks! This is a huge honor, and I am eager to sit down each week with Matthew Rushing and talk about the latest Star Trek novels and comics. We often interview authors on the show, too, which I am extremely excited about as you can well imagine!

In the first episode in which I co-host, Matthew Rushing and I speak with New York Times bestselling author Greg Cox about his latest novel, The Original Series: Foul Deeds Will Rise. Click below to check it out, and take a look at my review of this novel by clicking here!

Literary Treks 84: The Maroon Jacket Era - Greg Cox on Foul Deeds Will Rise

Monday, December 8, 2014

Release Day! DTI: The Collectors

A new story in one of my favorite Trek lit series, and by one of my favorite Trek lit authors, is released today: the new e-book novella, Department of Temporal Investigations: The Collectors by Christopher L. Bennett!

The Collectors is available NOW for download onto your favorite e-reading device, including Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, and more. Look below for links to purchase The Collectors from Amazon!

My review: coming soon!





Publisher's description:
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...

Purchase Department of Temporal Investigations: The Collectors:

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


Next Release: Deep Space Nine: The Missing


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Foul Deeds Will Rise

Star Trek: The Original Series
Foul Deeds Will Rise by Greg Cox
Release date: November 25th 2014
Read November 28th 2014


Previous book (The Original Series): The More Things Change (e-book)

Next book (The Original Series): Savage Trade

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

Spoilers ahead for Foul Deeds Will Rise!

From the back cover:
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.

Notable Quote:
"What we want is the truth," he said emphatically. "Nothing more, nothing less." 
"But truth is often just a matter of appearances. All the world's a stage, remember, and all we men and women merely players." She kept staring at her raised hands. "If I am typecast as a killer, what does it matter who I truly am behind the greasepaint ... or what parts I might have foolishly dreamed of playing?"
- Lenore Karidian, questioned about a murder, responds to Captain Kirk's inquiry.


My thoughts:

Can a murderer be rehabilitated? To what extent do past actions have an impact on future behavior? Or, more specifically, what impact do those actions have on the perceptions of others when it comes to behavior? These questions and more are examined in Greg Cox's Foul Deeds Will Rise.

Lenore Karidian, convicted murderer, now supposedly rehabilitated.
Lenore Karidian, the daughter of the infamous Kodos the Executioner (see "The Conscience of the King," TOS), is working as a Federation aid worker on the devastated world of Oyolo in the midst of peace talks between that planet and neighboring Pavak. Captain Kirk invites Lenore aboard the Enterprise in an attempt to put past demons to rest, but when the Pavakian representative is discovered to have been killed, Lenore becomes a prime suspect. Given her past murders of seven innocent people, as well as her attempted murders of Lt. Kevin Riley and Captain Kirk himself, it is somewhat understandable that she becomes a target of inquiry.

This is the one area in which the logic of the novel kind of falls apart for me. I have a hard time accepting that Captain Kirk would so quickly invite Karidian aboard. While hindsight is 20/20, and there is no way Kirk would have known that the murders would happen, I still believe that allowing Lenore aboard the Enterprise was very irresponsible. Perhaps I'm simply not as "good" or forgiving as Captain Kirk. Even if Lenore is not responsible for the murders, her mere presence serves as a distraction in the investigation, diverting attention away from other possible suspects. I found myself agreeing with Kevin Riley, now a Federation ambassador: allowing Lenore Karidian aboard the Enterprise while the sensitive negotiations were taking place was a mistake.

Kevin Riley, now a Federation Ambassador, has grown far beyond the young, green Lieutenant from The Original Series' first season.

This minor nitpick aside, Foul Deeds Will Rise was very enjoyable on several levels. Whereas most TOS novels are set during the classic five-year mission, this one is set two decades later, in the period between Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Greg Cox, the ever-impressive font of Trek continuity knowledge, continues his tradition of making numerous small references to events in the lives of the Enterprise crew. Setting the story during this period serves to widen the pool from which his references can be drawn. Additionally, setting the novel in this period lends a feeling of freshness to the story. Not many stories use this time period, and a change from the norm is always welcome.

Star Trek's late movie era has a particular look and feel that Foul Deeds Will Rise managed to capture quite well. For one thing, the crew is much more seasoned and at-ease with each other. Greg Cox managed to write the interactions among Kirk's crew in a manner that made this story feel right at home in the period around The Final Frontier.

Greg Cox uses a number of literary devices to very good effect in his novels. One such device is known as "Chekhov's Gun." The name comes from a quote by playwright Anton Chekhov, who said, "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there." In Foul Deeds Will Rise, there is a very apparent "Chekhov's gun," and it turns out to be "Chekov's Sneeze." Watch for Pavel Chekov's allergic reaction to be a seemingly minor inconvenience that turns out to have a much larger impact on the plot!

Speaking of Chekov, it was a lot of fun to see him in his role as chief of security in this novel. Although he supposedly had this role in the films, we never really got a chance to see him shine in the job. The closest we got was Star Trek VI, in which he investigates the assassination of Klingon Chancellor Gorkon. However, the entire crew was involved in that investigation. In Foul Deeds Will Rise, we get a more detailed look at how Chekov has really grown into his role as security chief.

In Foul Deeds Will Rise, we see Chekov acting in his role as Chief of Security of the Enterprise.

Final thoughts:

Foul Deeds Will Rise was a fun read, with plenty of action, suspense, and the high quality of storytelling we've come to expect from Greg Cox. Making ample use of the back catalog of Star Trek stories and tropes, Foul Deeds Will Rise is one of the better Original Series novels to be published in some time. My final rating for this novel is four stars out of five. A lot of fun to read, and one that deserves a place on your bookshelf!

Further resources:

Trek BBS review and discussion thread for Foul Deeds Will Rise
Podcast: Literary Treks 83: The Maroon Jacket Era - Interview with Greg Cox

Also by Greg Cox:

Star Trek: The Rings of Time (2012)
Star Trek: The Original Series: The Weight of Worlds (2013)
Star Trek: The Original Series: No Time Like the Past (2014)

My next read:

Next week features my review of an older Next Generation novel: Intellivore by the supremely talented Diane Duane!