Saturday, April 29, 2017

Homecoming

Star Trek: Voyager
Homecoming by Christie Golden
Published June 2003
Read June 5th 2016


Previous book (Voyager): The Nanotech War

Next book (Voyager): The Farther Shore



Spoilers ahead for Homecoming!

From the back cover:
After seven long years in the Delta Quadrant, the crew of the Starship Voyager now confront the strangest world of all: home. For Admiral Kathryn Janeway and her stalwart officers, Voyager's miraculous return brings new honors and responsibilities, reunions with long-lost loved ones, and for some, such as the Doctor and Seven of Nine, the challenge of forging new lives in a Federation that seems to hold little place for them. 
But even as Janeway and the others go their separate ways, pursuing new adventures and opportunities, a mysterious cybernetic plague strikes Earth, transforming innocent men, women, and children into an entirely new generation of Borg. Now the entire planet faces assimilation, and Voyager may be to blame!

My thoughts:

Ever since the success of Deep Space Nine's Avatar, the Pocket Books Star Trek novel line has shown great interest in setting books after the finales of the various series, with novels such as Enterprise: The Good That Men Do and The Next Generation: Death In Winter kicking off the "relaunches" of their respective series. In some cases, the relaunch attempts to "right the wrongs" of the series finale, most obviously with the revelation of Trip Tucker's true fate in The Good That Men Do, undoing the grave disservice to his character in the Enterprise finale, "These Are the Voyages...". In a similar manner, I feel that Homecoming attempts to fix some of the problematic parts of the Voyager finale, "Endgame."

But what happened after the credits? Homecoming answers that question.

One of the biggest problems I had with "Endgame" is that we don't see the aftermath of Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant in any way. This is a goal they've been struggling towards for seven years. The culmination of that epic journey of over 70,000 light-years is a plaintive "We did it" from Janeway, an order to set a course for home, and the roll of the credits. Regardless of one's thoughts about Voyager, I felt that fans of the show deserved a better ending than that. Thankfully, we get a bit of restitution in Homecoming, which deals with the arrival of Voyager and the repercussions not only for the crew, but for the Federation as well.

It turns out that with all that has happened to the Federation recently, especially the devastating Dominion War, the concerns regarding Voyager and her crew are very much secondary. I thought this was an interesting take on the story, the idea that all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding their return as seen in the future portion of "Endgame" would not be something that a Federation which has just been through a major conflict is interested in. While the return of Voyager is an important event, it really does take a backseat to other issues the Federation is dealing with.

Voyager's return ends up being a little more low-key than some were expecting.

Another issue from "Endgame" that I felt needed "fixing" was the poorly thought-out relationship between Seven of Nine and Chakotay. The entire relationship came out of left field, and I was supremely happy when Christie Golden ended it in Homecoming. However, kudos to her for paying it the respect it deserved. Chakotay and Janeway do not immediately leap into each others' arms; after all, the Chakotay/Seven relationship did happen, and it is at least worthy of acknowledgement even though its ending is most welcome.

Seven and Chakotay's relationship ends in Homecoming, and its ending is quite welcome (in my humble opinion).

There is a lot going on in this novel, and something interesting for each character to do, which is very welcome, especially when it comes to characters who have been under-served by the television series. Conspiracies and hidden plots abound in Homecoming, with some characters perhaps having agendas contrary to what we would expect from them. Unfortunately, Homecoming ends on a cliffhanger, with the story being taken up in the following novel, The Farther Shore. With my commitments to the Literary Treks podcast, I haven't been able to get to that novel, and it looks like I won't be able to for some time. Hopefully I can read it at some point, however, because I'm eager to see how this all plays out!

Final thoughts:

Righting some of the wrongs of "Endgame," Homecoming is the return home that fans of Voyager deserved. However, while it does get a lot right for the Voyager crew, it is certainly far from perfect. The story takes some strange turns plot-wise, but a great deal of intrigue will keep the reader interested enough to pick up part two, The Farther Shore.

Also by Christie Golden:

My next read:

Look for my next video book review, for the David Mack novel Section 31: Control, coming soon! As for written reviews, the next one will be for Enterprise: Kobayashi Maru by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Long Mirage

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Long Mirage by David R. George III
Release date: February 28th 2017
Read March 15th 2017


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Rules of Accusation

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Section 31: Control


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

Spoilers ahead for The Long Mirage!

Publisher's description:
More than two years have passed since the destruction of the original Deep Space 9. In that time, a brand-new, state-of-the-art starbase has replaced it, commanded by Captain Ro Laren, still the crew and residents of the former station continue to experience the repercussions of its loss. For instance: Quark continues his search for Morn, as the Lurian—his best customer and friend—left Bajor without a word and never returned. Quark enlists a private detective to track Morn down, and she claims to be hot on his trail. Yet the barkeep distrusts the woman he hired, and his suspicions skyrocket when she too suddenly vanishes. At the same time, Kira Nerys emerges from a wormhole after being caught inside it when it collapsed two years earlier. She arrives on the new DS9 to discover Altek Dans already there. While inside the Celestial Temple, Kira lived a different life in Bajor’s past, where she fell in love with Altek. So why have the Prophets moved him forward in time…and why have They brought him and Kira together?

My thoughts:

Click here to watch my video review of The Long Mirage, or click play on the embedded video below!





Final thoughts:

The Long Mirage finally continues the story of DS9 beyond the whole Ascendant arc, and I’m really happy to see some movement forward. It’s sadly a long time between novels, so the progress feels slow, but the story is finally moving in a direction that I’m really enjoying. It’s great to see Vic back, and I really appreciate that David R. George focuses so much on the really strong characters of DS9 and their relationships to one another.

More about The Long Mirage:


Also by David R. George III:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next up is a Christie Golden Voyager novel, set right after the finale, "Endgame": Homecoming!


Sunday, April 16, 2017

New Cover Art! Garak Returns in DS9: Enigma Tales!

We have another new cover to reveal today, this time for the next Deep Space Nine novel: Enigma Tales by New York Times bestselling author Una McCormack! Castellan Garak returns in this new tale, featuring Dr. Pulaski and Peter Alden from Una's previous novels, Brinkmanship and The Missing.

Check out the cover art below, as well as links to pre-order Enigma Tales from Amazon!




Publisher's Description:

Elim Garak has ascended to Castellan of the Cardassian Union... but despite his soaring popularity, the imminent publication of a report exposing his people's war crimes during the occupation on Bajor looks likely to set the military against him. Into this tense situation come Dr. Katherine Pulaski — visiting Cardassia Prime to accept an award on behalf of the team that solved the Andorian genetic crisis — and Dr. Peter Alden, formerly of Starfleet Intelligence. The two soon find themselves at odds with Garak and embroiled in the politics of the prestigious University of the Union, where a new head is about to be appointed. Among the front-runners is one of Cardassia’s most respected public figures: Professor Natima Lang. But the discovery of a hidden archive from the last years before the Dominion War could destroy Lang’s reputation. As Pulaski and Alden become drawn into a deadly game to exonerate Lang, their confrontation escalates with Castellan Garak—a conflicted leader treading a fine line between the bright hopes for Cardassia’s future and the dark secrets still buried in its past...

Pre-order Enigma Tales from:

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


Monday, April 10, 2017

Literary Treks 186: Tragedy in Every Sense of the Word

Section 31: Control
Exclusive interview with David Mack



Section 31: The Federation's dirty little secret. Amoral, operating in the shadows, and accountable to no one, the secretive group has become a cancer in the body of the Federation. But what are Section 31's true origins? And can Julian Bashir finally succeed in bringing them down once and for all?

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are joined by author David Mack to talk about his latest novel, Section 31: Control. We discuss the origins of the story, the surveillance state, a chapter written in computer code, the nature of the intelligence behind Section 31, the roles of Data and his daughter Lal, Sarina's part in the story, what's next for the Federation, and wrap up with some hints for future Trek novels as well as some upcoming convention appearances for David Mack.

In the news segment, we preview an upcoming George Takei project with IDW comics and review issue number six of Boldly Go.

Literary Treks 186: Tragedy in Every Sense of the Word
Section 31: Control - Exclusive interview with author David Mack







Previous episode: Literary Treks 185: Damiano's Pizza
Next episode: Literary Treks 188: Lucsly's Head Would Explode


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Avenger

Star Trek
Avenger by William Shatner (with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens)
First published May 1998
Read June 1st 2016


Previous book (Shatnerverse): The Return
Next book (Shatnerverse): Spectre

Hardcover: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Mass-Market Paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

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


Spoilers ahead for Avenger!

From the back cover:
A lethal virus, inimical to all conventional forms of plant life, threatens the entire Federation with starvation and dissolution. With the Federation already on the brink of overpopulation, Starfleet's resources are stretched to the limit. Whole worlds and even complete star systems are placed under quarantine, causing interstellar food supplies to run dangerously low, and hostile alien empires to eye the weakened Federation with malevolence. But now, in this moment of Starfleet's greatest need, Captain James T. Kirk, long believed dead, embarks on a desperate quest to find the source of the mysterious virus.

Elsewhere in the galaxy, Ambassador Spock, his diplomatic efforts stalled by the spread of famine and chaos, returns to his native world of Vulcan to confront a mystery of a deeply personal nature. Did Sarek, his legendary father, really die of natural causes - or was he murdered? Determined to learn the truth, Spock begins a highly logical investigation that soon leads him to a reunion with a long-lost friend he never expected to see again. 

Kirk and Spock, together again, must join forces to save a new generation from an awesome menace unleashed by ruthless interplanetary conspiracy.

My thoughts:

At the end of The Return, Captain Kirk found himself in dire circumstances. Sacrificing his life once again to save countless others, it looked as though we had lost a Starfleet legend for the second (or perhaps third) time. However, in 1998, William Shatner (along with collaborators Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens), once again resurrected galactic hero James T. Kirk. And yet again, he would be in a position to save the Federation of the 24th century. Honestly, how did the Federation cope before Kirk was resurrected, anyway?

Avenger pits the retired captain against an ecological menace: a "virogen," wreaking havoc across the Federation, destroying plant life and, consequently, food supplies and entire ecosystems on many different worlds. I found this aspect of the book to be quite fascinating. I really enjoy when Star Trek stories kind of push against the basic ideas behind Star Trek. Boldly going, exploring, and seeking out strange new worlds; what could be the harm in that? Well, as we learn, the environmental impact of Starfleet and the Federation's program of exploration is a great deal more dire than we ever suspected. I definitely appreciated this "ecological" aspect to the story.


The death of Sarek plays a large role in Avenger. His death may not have been as natural as it appeared...

Another part of this story involves Ambassador Spock and his discovery about the truth behind the death of his father, Sarek. Spock comes to suspect that Sarek was murdered, a suspicion that is borne out in the course of Avenger. It turns out that his death was engineered by a group of renegades called the "Symmetrists." This organization began as an ecological lobby group on Vulcan, and over the centuries, evolved into a cabal of ecological terrorists. The two stories come together when it is revealed that the virogen was engineered by the Symmetrists, hoping to cause the collapse of the Federation.

There is a lot to like about Avenger. The ecological storyline is a welcome one, and I enjoy what the story has to say about unfettered exploitation of new environments versus a policy of ecological preservation. The use of continuity is excellent as well, tying the Symmetrists into known Trek canon, most notably the crimes committed by Governor Kodos on Tarsus IV (see: "The Conscience of the King" - TOS).

I appreciated Avenger's attention to Trek canon, tying events in the novel into known historical events such as the massacre by "Kodos the Executioner."

There were a couple of things about the story that irked me, however. Because it is a book in the "Shatnerverse," there is of course a sort of demigod quality to James T. Kirk. That is to be expected, but it does get in the way of the story at times. In particular, at the end of the novel, Kirk becomes the "Avenger" for Spock's father because of the special relationship they had. I was somewhat disappointed at the novel shoehorning Kirk into this role, and it felt somewhat unnatural. However, as I said, the overall story was definitely enjoyable, and I appreciated a lot of what it had to say.


Final thoughts:

A generally enjoyable outing in the "Shatnerverse," and a satisfying conclusion to the Odyssey trilogy. Despite a couple of annoying things about the story, including Kirk's continual elevation to superhuman levels, Avenger is a lot of fun, with an interesting ecological lesson to boot. For more thoughts on Avenger, check out our discussion on the Literary Treks podcast, episode 151. Link is below!

More about Avenger:


Also by William Shatner (with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens):

My next read:

Next up for written reviews is Voyager: Homecoming by Christie Golden. And keep an eye out for my video review of new release Deep Space Nine: The Long Mirage by David R. George III!


Literary Treks 185: Damiano's Pizza

Enemy Unseen, Part One
"Perchance to Dream" by Keith R.A. DeCandido



Captain Picard and the intrepid crew of the Starship Enterprise must stop a political assassination by extremists on a newly-admitted Federation world, all while battling their own inner demons thanks to a terrifying telepathic weapon. And the key to defeating that weapon can be found in the most unlikely place: the mind of Jean-Luc Picard!

In this week's episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson discuss "Perchance to Dream" by Keith R.A. Decandido, the first part in IDW's comic collection Enemy Unseen. We talk about Data's dreams, how the Damiano scandal mirrors our own society, Worf's security shortcomings, the crew's inner fears, Picard's multiple personalities, and finish with our ratings.

In the news segment, we preview new comics coming in June from IDW and review issue #4 of the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover series, Stranger Worlds.

Literary Treks 185: Damiano's Pizza
Star Trek Classics Vol. 2: Enemy Unseen, Part 1: Perchance to Dream







Previous episode: Literary Treks 184: Don't Scratch Your Sand Pimples!
Next episode: Literary Treks 186: David Mack - Section 31: Control