Saturday, January 26, 2013

Changes to the "2013 Releases" page

I've just made a few changes to the "coming releases" page for 2013. Previously, I only listed novel releases for the year from Pocket Books. After listening to some of the great podcasts from TrekFM (specifically, their Trek Lit podcast, "Literary Treks"), I've been getting more and more excited about Star Trek comics. To that end, I've expanded the upcoming releases pages to include comic book and graphic novel releases. In addition, I've also added blu-ray releases because I believe those to be of import to most fans of Trek. And finally, I've also added the 2014 Star Trek calendars for the coming year because, hey, I like calendars. And with the great news that the decision to cancel the Ships of the Line calendar for next year has been reversed, I'm once again giddy about getting my hands on this always-amazing product! Check out the page. Products are ordered by month of release. I don't have purchasing links up for all of the products yet, but those will be making their appearance soon!

Comics! Now featured on the "coming releases" page for 2013, along with
blu-rays, film release dates, and calendars!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sacrifices of War

Star Trek: Errand of Fury, Book 3: Sacrifices of War by Kevin Ryan
Published January 2009
Read August 24th 2012


Previous book (Errand of Fury): Book 2: Demands of Honor


Previous book (The Original Series): Excelsior: Forged in Fire
Next book (The Original Series): Troublesome Minds



Click to purchase Sacrifices of War from Amazon.com!


Spoilers ahead for Sacrifices of War and the Errand of Fury series!

From the back cover:
Poised on the verge of interstellar war, Captain Kirk's last best hope that the Federation can stop the Klingons is the people of Organia, avowed pacifists.
Forced to disguise themselves as interstellar traders, Captain Kirk and Mister Spock are trapped on the primitive world of Organia as Klingon Defense Forces occupy the planet. Determined to make the Organians see that they need not bow to oppression, the Starfleet officers sabotage Klingon materiel. In retaliation, the Klingon captain, Kor, executes many Organians. Unconcerned, the Council of Elders begs Kirk and Spock to stop the violence.
While in deep space the forces of Starfleet and the Klingon Empire scramble to position their fleets for the first onslaught of what could be a long and deadly war.

My thoughts:

The third and final novel in the Errand of Fury series, and sadly, the final novel in the overarching Errand of... novels by Kevin Ryan. Part one of the this novel, entitled "Errand of War," involves Kirk leading a mission to destroy a Klingon weapons cache in order to prevent them being used against the Federation. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Lieutenant West and Admiral Solow advise the Federation president, Wescott, in the dark days leading up to an inevitable final conflict with the Klingons. I enjoyed the characterization of West in this novel; the feelings of hopelessness and despair when it seems that the war is both inevitable and destined to be disastrous for the Federation weighs heavily on his heart. One can see a glimmer of the attempted assassin he would become in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

During this section of the novel, we also follow Lieutenant Parrish as she travels home to Earth to have her child, the result of a love affair with deceased Klingon spy Kell, alias Jon Anderson, in the previous Errand of Vengeance trilogy. Her transport comes under attack by the Klingons, and she must protect both herself and the crew, as well as her unborn child. This dilemma came across very realistically, and I was truly concerned for Lieutenant Parrish, especially after having gotten to know her over the course of six novels. Like Kell, Karel, and both father and son Fuller, Parrish is written as a well-rounded character. It is clear that Kevin Ryan has a great deal of skill for writing both character-driven and plot-driven tales. He achieves an excellent balance.

Part two of the novel is basically
a novelization of the episode
"Errand of Mercy."
Part two, entitled "Errand of Mercy," is a pretty straight-forward retelling of the classic Star Trek episode of the same name. After all of the tension, all of the build-up, and all of the unavoidable pitfalls that led our heroes to this point, the inevitable happens: the outbreak of open war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Kirk and Spock pay a visit to Organia, a seemingly bronze-age society that lies along the invasion route of the Klingon forces. While the story plays out exactly as depicted in the television episode, it is nice to get the extra detail and insight that comes with a work of novel-style prose as opposed to a teleplay. I did notice a slight change in the tone and feel of the novel as it transitioned into part two. I wonder if that is because I have actually heard the dialogue being spoken in a live action episode, and it just doesn't quite match up with the dialogue from the non-televised portions. Not a major complaint, but it did take me out of the novel just a little bit.

While gauging reactions to this novel online, one opinion that I invariably came across was that in the original releases, the novels were too widely-spaced apart to follow satisfactorily. Seeds of Rage was published in 2005, Demands of Honor a full two years later, and this novel nearly another two years after that. I had the good fortune of being able to read all of them back-to-back (indeed, I was able to read the previous trilogy directly before reading this one as well), and so I was able to follow the story quite easily. It must have been very frustrating to have to wait so long for the next part of an on-going storyline.

The series as a whole:

I really enjoyed the Errand of Fury series. The further exploration of the Klingons and the shift their culture undergoes between TOS and TNG makes for a fascinating backdrop for some great storytelling. Errand of Fury carries forward many of the topics and themes that made Errand of Vengeance so enjoyable. The reality and horror of war, coupled with the supreme personal sacrifices involved, makes for very compelling drama.

One thing that sets Fury apart from Vengeance is the slight shift of focus away from the group experience to the personal one. In Errand of Vengeance, we got to see how the Enterprise's security detail dealt with war and loss as a group. Errand of Fury changes the focus to a more personal level. What are the sacrifices and experiences of the individual as opposed to the group? Through Parrish, Fuller, Karel, and West, we find the effects of the ensuing conflict exact a very real and personal price for each individual.

A new novel coming in
2013. Note the title change:
"Star Trek: The Original Series"
Because the Star Trek: The Original Series "reboot" experiment was not continued much past the Errand of Fury and Janus Gate series, it was very fortunate that we were able to get a continuation of the story of the characters from the prior trilogy. It seems that generic, "five-year mission" type stories sell better than the on-going narrative Pocket Books was going for with the reboot, as the novel line reverted to that style rather quickly. Interestingly enough, the Star Trek novels scheduled for release in 2013 have once again been titled Star Trek: The Original Series rather than just Star Trek. However, from the descriptions we've gotten so far, this seems to just be a name change rather than another attempt to change the dynamic of the series.

One last note: I am disappointed that Sacrifices of War was the last Star Trek novel penned by Kevin Ryan. I would love to see another novel by this outstanding writer. I realize it has only been four years since this book was released, so it is possible that we may still see another entry by him in the future. I for one am very hopeful that we do, as I find his work to be, quite simply, fantastic!

Final thoughts:

An exciting conclusion to this six-part saga, expertly penned by Kevin Ryan, leading nicely into a top-notch novelization of one of the most memorable episodes of the original Star Trek. The stakes were high, the characterizations were well done, and I have very little to complain about. The tone of the novel did change noticibly when it transitioned into the "Errand of Mercy" section, so it wasn't quite as seamless as it could have been. But all-in-all, I was very satisfied with the conclusion to the Errand of Fury trilogy.

Also by Kevin Ryan:

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Requiem with Michael Jan Friedman (1994)

Star Trek: The Original Series: Errand of Vengeance Book One: The Edge of the Sword (2002)
Star Trek: The Original Series: Errand of Vengeance Book Two: Killing Blow (2002)
Star Trek: The Original Series: Errand of Vengeance Book Three: River of Blood (2002)
Star Trek: Errand of Fury Book One: Seeds of Rage (2005)
Star Trek: Errand of Fury Book Two: Demands of Honor (2007)

My next read:

I let myself get way too far behind in publishing these reviews! I'm still finishing up a few more from last year. Next up on the list is a fan-favourite: from 1994, Federation by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Demands of Honor

Star Trek: Errand of Fury, Book 2: Demands of Honor by Kevin Ryan
Published January 2007
Read August 20th 2012


Previous book (Errand of Fury): Book One: Seeds of Rage
Next book (Errand of Fury): Book Three: Sacrifices of War


Previous book (The Original Series): Crucible: Spock: The Fire and the Rose
Next book (The Original Series): Crucible: Kirk: The Star to Every Wandering



Click to purchase Demands of Honor from Amazon.com!


Spoilers ahead for Demands of Honor and the Errand of Fury series!

From the back cover:
The United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire stand on the brink of war. Captain James T. Kirk and the Starship Enterprise are sent back to System 7348--site of a previous skirmish with the Klingons--for a confrontation with the IKS D'k Tahg under the command of Captain Koloth.
Even as the two great ships face each other, trouble is brewing among their crews. On the Enterprise, Lieutenant Leslie Parrish is pregnant with a half-Klingon child and must face a critical decision about her future, while Section Chief Michael Fuller still carries the wounds of the twenty-five-year-old Battle of Donatu V, of which he was one of the few survivors--not to mention his grief over the death of his son, recently killed in battle against the Klingons.
On the D'k Tahg, First Officer Karel finds himself trapped between the scheming, dishonorable Councillor Duras and his commanding officer, Koloth. While the stakes only seem to be the possession of a single star system, the ramifications may spread throughout the Klingon Empire, as they find themselves at a crossroads between conquest and honor!

My thoughts:

Demands of Honor continues the Errand of Fury trilogy from the previous novel, Seeds of Rage. In this novel, Kirk and the Enterprise square off against Koloth and the D'k Tahg, while the characters we have been following deal with the issues plaguing them.

Aboard the Klingon cruiser D'k Tahg, the brother of deceased Klingon spy Kell, Karel, must grapple with doing the honorable thing versus following the orders of Councillor Duras, whose machinations are intended to propel the Klingon Empire into a dishonorable war with the Federation. Meanwhile, on the Enterprise, Leslie Parrish continues to deal with the fallout of her discovery that she carries the unborn child of Klingon spy Kell. Finally, Michael Fuller (father of deceased section chief Fuller from Errand of Vengeance) struggles with his grief over the death of his son, while plagued by memories of his first-hand experiences with the Klingons at the Battle of Donatu V.

Like the previous novel, Demands of Honor feels like it could easily take a nose-dive into the overly-melodramatic, but Ryan manages to keep his head above water while crafting a compelling story that is truly touching. Parrish's internal struggle over what to do about the unborn child she carries inspired true sympathy; I can't imagine what the character must be going through in making her decision. In addition, Fuller's struggle is a difficult one. While I didn't completely buy Kirk's outrage and hatred of the Klingons in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Fuller's conflicting feelings about the Klingons really do ring true in Demands of Honor.

I also enjoyed the further exploration of the Klingon off-shoot race first introduced in Errand of Vengeance. I like that they are essentially Klingons as we know them in later series, concerned primarily with honor and loyalty without the corrupting influence that has plagued the Empire in the twenty-second and twenty-third centuries.

The Legacy of Duras:

Duras, Son of Toral: the first in a long
line of corrupt, dishonorable Durases!
Finally, just how many Durases must the Empire endure before they realize that they are just not a good lot? We originally had the infamous Council Member Duras, killer of K'Ehleyr, in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The second season of Enterprise introduced us to an earlier Duras, this time a starship captain bent on vengeance against Captain Archer. Now we have another, this time in the twenty-third century, using underhanded means to push a dishonorably-waged war against the Federation. I think we naturally tend to bristle at the idea that "the sins of the father" are visited upon his sons, but in the case of the Klingons, I'm starting to think that might be a truism!

Final thoughts:

A fine continuation of the Errand of Fury series. While the potential exists for the story to devolve into melodrama and pathos, Kevin Ryan manages to craft a realistic, compelling tale, setting us up for the final entry in the series.


Also by Kevin Ryan:

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Requiem with Michael Jan Friedman (1994)

Star Trek: The Original Series: Errand of Vengeance Book One: The Edge of the Sword (2002)
Star Trek: The Original Series: Errand of Vengeance Book Two: Killing Blow (2002)
Star Trek: The Original Series: Errand of Vengeance Book Three: River of Blood (2002)
Star Trek: Errand of Fury Book One: Seeds of Rage (2005)
Star Trek: Errand of Fury Book Three: Sacrifices of War (2009)

My next read:

The final novel in the Errand of Fury miniseries, Book Three: Sacrifices of War. Coming soon!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Seeds of Rage

Star Trek: Errand of Fury #1: Seeds of Rage by Kevin Ryan
Published March 2005
Read August 17th 2012


Previous book (Errand of...): Errand of Vengeance #3: River of Blood
Next book (Errand of Fury): Errand of Fury #2: Demands of Honor


Previous book (The Original Series): Engines of Destiny
Next book (The Original Series): Vulcan's Soul #2: Exiles



Click to purchase Seeds of Rage from Amazon.com!


Spoilers ahead for Seeds of Rage and the Errand of Fury series!

From the back cover:
Following the harrowing events of the Errand of Vengeance trilogy, tensions between the Federation and the Klingon Empire are the highest they've been since the Battle of Donatu V twenty-five years earlier. Even as Federation Ambassador Fox engages in tense negotiations with the Klingon ambassador to maintain the peace, Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise sees his vessel refit from a ship of exploration into a ship of war.  The coming conflict will take its toll on many personal lives as well...
Leslie Parrish: The security supervisor is stunned to learn that she is pregnant by her recently killed lover, Jon Anderson - and that Anderson was, in fact, a Klingon spy, surgically altered to pass as human.
Karel: Brother of the Klingon agent posing as Anderson, and responsible for his death, Captain Koloth's new first officer faces a crisis of faith as he sees the Klingon Empire falling into dishonorable ruin.
Michael Fuller: Father of Enterprise security supervisor Sam Fuller, who was killed in a battle with the Klingon, his son's death reminds him of Donatu V, of which he was one of the few survivors. Has Fuller reenlisted in Starfleet and joined the Enterprise security team out of loyalty - or vengeance?
The first in an all-new series!

My thoughts:

Seeds of Rage starts off another trilogy of books by Kevin Ryan, sequels to his Errand of Vengeance trilogy released in 2002. Picking up where River of Blood left off, Seeds of Rage reintroduces us to several characters and introduces a couple of new ones. Returning from that prior trilogy is Lieutenant West, who is now advising Admiral Herbert Solow on the Klingon situation. Karel, brother of Klingon spy Kell, whom he killed at the end of River of Blood, begins to see the hypocrisy and dishonor around him while serving under an honorable commander, Captain Koloth (cf. "The Trouble with Tribbles"). Finally, we once again see Leslie Parrish, the former lover of Kell, who receives some shocking news from Dr. McCoy: she is pregnant with the Klingon spy's child. Reeling from the revelation, Parrish is unsure of what to do with this news.

Actress Leslie Parrish in the role of Lt.
Carolyn Palamas in "Who Mourns for
Adonais?," in all her soft-focused glory.
I found Seeds of Rage to be a worthy successor to the previous trilogy. Kevin Ryan's style is a pleasure to read, and he writes action very well. I'm also a sucker for political intrigue and stories that have wider ramifications than just to the immediate characters, and as Errand of Fury chronicles the Federation's head-long stumble into a major war with the Klingon Empire, it certainly qualifies. Ryan also does character development quite well, and although Parrish being pregnant with Kell's child occasionally delves into melodramatic soap opera-ish territory, it is written in such a way as to come across believably, and I found myself truly caring for Lt. Parrish and empathizing with the decision she is forced to make. One small note: there was never a Leslie Parrish in The Original Series; however, Lt. Carlolyn Palamas, the archaeology and anthropology officer from "Who Mourns for Adonais?," was played by actress Leslie Parrish. This had the effect of making me picture Parrish the actress while reading about Parrish the character, and to my mind this particular actress didn't really fit the character. Not a big deal, but I'm curious as to what the author's intent was in naming this character after the actress who played a different character in the same series...

Also a pleasure was finding out more about Captain Koloth, and what makes him different from the average Klingon of the time. Some of the actions he takes during these books are difficult to reconcile with how he played the character in the original episode "The Trouble with Tribbles," but part of that may be me conflating his seeming flamboyance with that of the character Trelane from "The Squire of Gothos." An atypical Klingon, to be sure.

Final thoughts:

A strong start to what seems to be another interesting trilogy from Kevin Ryan. I'm glad the story from Errand of Vengeance had the chance to be continued, as I truly cared about the characters that were introduced in those books. The story of how the war between the Federation and the Klingons in season one of TOS began is one that deserved a bit of exploration, and Kevin Ryan has continued that effort admirably here.


Also by Kevin Ryan:

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Requiem with Michael Jan Friedman (1994)

Star Trek: The Original Series: Errand of Vengeance Book One: The Edge of the Sword (2002)
Star Trek: The Original Series: Errand of Vengeance Book Two: Killing Blow (2002)
Star Trek: The Original Series: Errand of Vengeance Book Three: River of Blood (2002)
Star Trek: Errand of Fury Book Two: Demands of Honor (2007)
Star Trek: Errand of Fury Book Three: Sacrifices of War (2009)

My next read:

Next review is for the next book in the Errand of Fury trilogy: Book 2, Demands of Honor.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

NEWS: Cover for Greg Cox's The Weight of Worlds

A new cover has been revealed for the 2013 Star Trek novel lineup from Pocket Books, and this one takes a bit of an unconventional turn. Scheduled for release on March 26, Greg Cox's new Original Series novel, The Weight of Worlds, has been given a decidedly retro style cover. Check it out below:


Pretty cool, if you ask me. The Weight of Worlds is available for preorder from Amazon.com. Click this link to purchase it! Also, check out my 2013 Releases page for all the news with regards to Star Trek fiction in 2013.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Body Electric

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cold Equations: The Body Electric by David Mack
Release date: December 
26th 2012
Read December 26th 2012

Previous book (The Next Generation): Cold Equations, Book II: Silent Weapons
Next book (The Next Generation): The Stuff of Dreams (ebook only)


Click to purchase The Body Electric from Amazon.com!

Spoilers ahead for The Body Electric and the rest of the Cold Equations trilogy!

From the back cover:
At the center of the Galaxy, a planet-sized Machine of terrifying power and unfathomable purpose hurls entire star systems into a supermassive black hole. Wesley Crusher, now a full-fledged Traveler, knows the machine must be stopped ... but he has no idea how. He enlists the help of Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew, who also fail to halt the unstoppable alien juggernaut's destructive labors. But they soon divine the Machine's true purpose, which threatens to exterminate all life in the Milky Way Galaxy. With time running out, Picard realizes he knows of only one person who might be able to stop the Machine in time to avert a galactic catastrophe--but he has no idea how to find him.

Notable Quote:

"I do not believe you have met my fellow prisoner. This is Akharin, a six-thousand-year-old immortal human from Earth. Akharin, this is Wesley Crusher, a human who has evolved into an extradimensional being known as a Traveler."
- Data introduces Wesley and Akharin, highlighting the absurdity of the situation in a way only the galaxy's best straight-man can.

My thoughts:

Here it is, the third and final book in the Cold Equations trilogy by David Mack. A bittersweet ending, to be sure. This has been a fun rollercoaster of a series. Very different from his last trilogy, Cold Equations isn't a big, interconnected, galaxy-changing event like Destiny was. That is, until this installment, The Body Electric.

Wesley Crusher seeks out
his former shipmates to
assist in defeating a threat
to the galaxy.
This novel does in fact feature a foe that may potentially wipe out the Milky Way galaxy: a massive artificial construct whose purpose seems to be to destroy star systems one at a time by hurling them into a massive black hole. Wesley Crusher witnesses the destruction of an entire civilization he had come to know and love, and realizes that trillions of sentient beings will share their fate unless something is able to be done. Abandoned by his fellow Travelers, Wesley seeks out the only people he knows who might be able to stop it in time by following Q's advice: "Go bother Picard."

The secondary plot of this novel follows Data's attempts to find "Akharin," formerly known as the immortal Flint, among other names. He had been kidnapped by the Fellowship of Artificial Intelligences in the previous novel, Silent Weapons. Data, who knows that Akharin was able to revive Juliana Tainer after a cascade failure, is seeking him out in order to learn how to do the same for his late daughter, Lal (see: "The Offspring").

The same AI civilization that repaired and upgraded V'Ger
is responsible for the massive machine at the center of the galaxy.
The Body Electric attempts to bring a "hard sci-fi" sensibility to Star Trek, and for the most part I think it works. The origins and motivations of "The Body Electric" are certainly fascinating, and it was a treat to get some more insight into the origins of V'Ger and the AI civilization that created it. However, there were times when I felt that the crisis was almost too much to wrap my head around. I expected to feel a little more concerned about the fate of the galaxy from the threat of The Body Electric, but the stakes were just too high for me to really feel anything about, if that makes sense. The eventual solution to the problem, however, is beautiful in both its simplicity and huge scope and scale.

Akharin (formerly: Flint, Brack, DaVinci,
Methuselah, Merlin, et al) features a
great deal in The Body Electric.
It should be noted that The Body Electric contained a multitude of positives. It was an immense pleasure to see the return of a few great characters from Trek's past. Most obviously, Wesley's return was fun, and the exploration of how he fits in with Picard and Crusher's new family dynamic was interesting. It was also great to follow the exploits of "The Immortal" once again, at various times known as Brack, Flint, Vaslovik, etc. And finally, the return of Rhea McAdams was very much welcome! Her chemistry and relationship with Data was something the fascinated me in Immortal Coil by Jeffrey Lang, and I was hoping we'd see her again.

If the overarching existential threat to the galaxy was too much, the decision facing Data and the very personal cost to him at the end is just enough to really rend the heartstrings. One particular line in chapter 26 had me swearing out loud at the unfairness of the situation. In addition, the epilogue of the novel nearly had me in tears. David Mack is good at writing galaxy-changing events, but he is equally adept at tender character moments that really pack an emotional punch.

Final thoughts:

The Body Electric was a satisfying conclusion to the Cold Equations trilogy. Each entry in this trilogy almost represents a different "genre" of novel. The first, The Persistence of Memory, is a black-ops thriller with a bit of personal memoir thrown in. Book two, Silent Weapons, is more of a political/action thriller, while The Body Electric brings a hard sci-fi element to the story. My favourite entry in the series was Silent Weapons, as I'm a sucker for the political stuff. But The Body Electric was a highly compelling and well-told novel that had me guessing until the end.

One question that has been raised and I want to know the answer to: has Data been reunited with Spot? Some pet owner!

More about The Body Electric:


Also by David Mack:


My next read:

Working on finishing up some reviews from last year! First up is Kevin Ryan's Star Trek: Errand of Fury, Book 1: Seeds of Rage