Saturday, February 28, 2015

Trill: Unjoined

Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Volume Two
Trill: Unjoined by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels
Published May 2004
Read February 9th 2015


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Andor: Paradigm

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Bajor: Fragments and Omens


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



Spoilers ahead for Unjoined and the rest of the Deep Space Nine relaunch!

From the back cover:
They are a people with secrets. For centuries they kept their true nature hidden, even taking disturbing steps to protect the small population of near-immortal symbionts with whom a privileged few Trill are joined, body, mind, and soul. They are a people who hold memory to be sacred, yet deny their own past. Now amid a whirlwind of scandal, accusations, and growing civil unrest, Ezri Dax must penetrate millennia of lies and deceptions, and rediscover what should never have been forgotten, before her civilization rips itself apart.

My thoughts:

One thing that these "Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" stories have done well (so far) is to make the societies they highlight feel very real. This is especially true for Trill. In Unjoined, we see a planet in turmoil. The tension between the joined minority and the unjoined majority seems to be at a boiling point, with unjoined radicals employing violent methods to overthrow the joined.

Trill is also a society of secrets, and Martin and Mangels use that history to great effect in Unjoined. We learn about the origins of the parasites, which have been the primary antagonists of the Deep Space Nine book series of late, and where they come from is a very dark secret indeed. It would seem that their deep-seated hatred of the Trill may be somewhat understandable.

Not only does Unjoined delve into the society of the humanoid Trill, it also showcases and reveals much about the symbionts. These long-lived species are much more than the small slug-like beings we see joined with humanoid hosts; symbiont society exists also in the form of massive beings far underwater on Trill.

A Trill symbiont about to be joined with a humanoid host. These small symbionts, however, are very young compared to the massive creatures who live deep beneath the surface of Trill.

If there is one thing that the writing team of Martin and Mangels excels at, it is world-building. The revelations about Trill's society and past are alarming and very well-written. One criticism, however, is their handling of the relationship between Bashir and Ezri Dax. There were times where it felt very ungenuine. While the final development in this novel between the two of them is not wholly unexpected, it was still disappointing. I feel that these two characters deserve better than what was portrayed here. However, this may just be hurt feelings on my part on behalf of both characters. Relationships are difficult, and not every one turns out the way you would like.

Ezri Dax and Julian Bashir


Final thoughts:

A very good exploration of Trill society that doesn't shy away from examining big issues. Secrets are anathema to open, functioning society, and Unjoined illustrates this beautifully. I enjoy the writing style of the team of Martin and Mangels, and the way they craft their story is fun to watch unfold. For example, at the beginning of the novel, we see Bashir bristling at the way that the Trill hospital he is in is favoring the treatment of joined patients while neglecting the unjoined ones. The reader, of course, agrees with Bashir that this is wildly unfair, and we are left thinking that the protests are overwhelmingly justified. However, later in the story, we learn the reason for this preferential treatment in this specific case, and new light is shed on the situation. The universe is most certainly not black and white, and the authors do an excellent job of showing this.

More about Trill: Unjoined:

Also by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels:

My next read:

Next up is my review of the brand-new TOS novel by Tony Daniel: Savage Trade. Until then, LLAP!


Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy - In Memoriam

Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

Outpourings of grief and condolences—from Star Trek fans and non-fans alike—are all over the Internet today as it has been reported that Leonard Nimoy, 83, has passed away. Most well-known, of course, for the role of Mr. Spock, Nimoy will be remembered by legions of his fans.

Mr. Nimoy will always be remembered as a wonderful man with a happy and joyful soul. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a convention in Calgary, Alberta in 2010. He was a thrill to meet and a distinct pleasure to talk to. He was really the first "celebrity" I met in real life, and I remember thinking that he seemed very friendly and open to meeting his fans. I will always remember that afternoon in Calgary and the joy I felt in talking to him one-on-one and listening to him speak to the assembled group of fans.



Star Trek author David Mack put it best on his Facebook page this morning:
"He lived long, he prospered, and he inspired. He was more than Spock; he was someone's son, someone's father, and a friend to many more. He was our fellow traveler. And now he is legend. Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy."

And finally, I had to share this: Leonard Nimoy's final tweet, a fitting farewell from this treasure of a man:


Goodbye, Leonard. You will be sorely missed.

(Also posted on David Mack's Facebook page today - too good not to share!)


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Release Day! TOS: Savage Trade by Tony Daniel

A brand-new adventure set during Kirk's original five-year mission hits stores today: The Original Series: Savage Trade by Tony Daniel!

Check out the publisher's description below, where you will also find links to purchase Savage Trade from Amazon.

My review: coming soon!





Publisher's description:
The U.S.S. Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, is en route to the extreme edge of the Alpha Quadrant, and to a region known as the Vara Nebula. Its mission: to investigate why science outpost Zeta Gibraltar is not answering any Federation hailing messages. When the Enterprise arrives, a scan shows no life-forms in the science station. Kirk leads a landing party and quickly discovers the reason for the strange silence—signs of a violent firefight are everywhere. Zeta Gibraltar has been completely raided. Yet there are no bodies, and the entire roster of station personnel is missing...

Purchase The Original Series: Savage Trade:

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


Next Release: The Original Series: Shadow of the Machine (e-book)


Monday, February 23, 2015

Sequel to FROM HISTORY'S SHADOW is on the way!



Good news from Trek author Dayton Ward this evening! On his Facebook page, he announced that the outline for his follow-up to 2013's From History's Shadow has been approved today, meaning we will definitely see his sequel soon.

From his post:
"You know what that means, right? More UFOs! More aliens! More time travel shenanigans!"

While the 2015 Trek book lineup is full, it is likely that we will be seeing it sometime in 2016, just in time for Star Trek's 50th anniversary! Stay tuned!




Star Trek fiction by Dayton Ward:

Star Trek: S.C.E. #4: Interphase, Part One with Kevin Dilmore (2001)
Star Trek: S.C.E. #5: Interphase, Part Two with Kevin Dilmore (2001)
Star Trek #97: In the Name of Honor (2002)
Star Trek: Vanguard: Open Secrets (2009)
"Almost Tomorrow" from Star Trek: Vanguard: Declassified (2011)
Star Trek: Vanguard: What Judgments Come with Kevin Dilmore (2011)
Star Trek: That Which Divides (2012)
Star Trek: Vanguard: In Tempest's Wake (2012)
Star Trek: The Original Series: From History's Shadow (2013)
Star Trek: The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms (2014)
Star Trek: Seekers #2: Point of Divergence with Kevin Dilmore (2014)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Literary Treks 92: Good Thing Riker Doesn't Listen to Amy Winehouse

Interview with John Jackson Miller about his new novel, Takedown

Star Trek fans have been pitting captains against each other since Picard came on the scene in 1987. The debate on whether Kirk or Picard is better still rages on internet message boards or any given weekend in any city hosting a sci-fi convention. But what if Picard went up against his protege, William Riker? Who would be the victor?

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther talk to John Jackson Miller about his first full length Star Trek novel Takedown, in which Picard and Riker do go head-to-head. We discuss John catching up with the continuity, inspirations for the story, being concurrent with The Missing, humor in the book, major spoilers, as well as writing Admiral Riker and Captain Dax.

In the news, we talk about the new Almighty Flow Chart on The Trek Collective as well as Gary Seven's upcoming appearance in John Byrne's New Vision comics in issue, you guessed it, seven.





  



Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Sea of Troubles

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Slings and Arrows, Book I
A Sea of Troubles by J. Steven York & Christina F. York
An e-book exclusive novella
Published October 2007
Read January 18th 2015


Next book (Slings and Arrows): The Oppressor's Wrong


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

Spoilers ahead for A Sea of Troubles and the rest of the Slings and Arrows series!

Publisher's description:
The USS Enterprise-E has launched, with Captain Jean-Luc Picard in command. In addition to many familiar faces, the new ship also has some new crew members -- among them, conn officer Sean Hawk and security chief Linda Addison.

But soon Picard is devastated to learn that there's a saboteur on board -- in the form of a changeling infiltrator from the Dominion! Picard and his crew must learn who the changeling replaced and stop it before it destroys the fleet's finest ship...

My thoughts:

Slings and Arrows is a six-part e-novella series, released in 2007 as part of Simon & Schuster's celebration of the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Edited by veteran Trek author Keith R.A. DeCandido, the series gives us our earliest glimpse at the Enterprise-E and her crew. You may recall that in Star Trek: First Contact, Geordi mentions that the Enterprise-E has been in space for nearly a year. Personally, I have always wondered what the Enterprise crew was up to for much of that year. Finally, in Slings and Arrows, we find out!

This first instalment, A Sea of Troubles, introduces a new character whom we first canonically met in First Contact: Lieutenant Sean Hawk, the conn officer in that film. I really enjoyed the brief appearance of Hawk in First Contact, and I felt that Neal McDonough brought a lot to the character with only a few small scenes. While his stint in canon Trek was short-lived, we get a few much-needed insights into his character in this novella.

We see Lieutenant Hawk's introduction to the Enterprise in A Sea of Troubles.
Some of the character work with the antagonist of the piece, a Changeling infiltrator aboard the Enterprise, was very interesting. It was fun to get into the mind of one of the Founders and find that (she?) is not exactly what we expected. Granted, much of the interaction between Picard and the Changeling was an attempt by both parties to engage in subterfuge and deception, but it was still interesting to hear the thoughts of one of the Founders beyond the usual "solids are chaotic, we must impose control" rhetoric we usually get.

The year prior to First Contact is one that is full to the brim with political intrigue and huge changes for the Federation. A war with the Klingons, rising tensions with the Maquis, and the fear of Dominion infiltration and attack are only a few of the events that this period of Trek history faced. The Slings and Arrows series finally gives us a chance to see what the flagship of the Federation was up to during this period. and with so much happening, there is surely a lot to draw upon for the writers. I very much look forward to the other books in this series tackling the weighty issues that face the Federation at this time.

Final thoughts:

A solid first entry in the series, A Sea of Troubles was a fascinating story showcasing a Changeling infiltration of the Enterprise. The story truly reflects the tension that was inherent during this period of "cold war" leading up to open warfare with the Dominion. We get a strong introduction to one of my favorite "minor" characters, Lieutenant Hawk, and some insight into an enemy that we were not really provided with before.

As many of you know, I recently began co-hosting the Literary Treks podcast with Matthew Rushing over on Trek.fm. That podcast has been doing regular features on the Slings and Arrows series. Look below for a link to the episode in which Matthew Rushing and Christopher Jones discuss A Sea of Troubles. As I make my way through this series on Trek Lit Reviews, I will post links to the appropriate episodes of Literary Treks. Give them a listen, and be sure to check each week for new episodes, which I will also post here at Trek Lit Reviews!


Further resources:



My next read:

Next week, my Deep Space Nine relaunch re-read continues with Worlds of Deep Space Nine, Volume Two: Trill: Unjoined by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels. Until next time!


Friday, February 20, 2015

Armageddon's Arrow gets a beautiful cover!

Happy Friday! Today, we have a cover unveiling for you, courtesy of the folks at StarTrek.com. They have done a First Look feature on Dayton Ward's upcoming Next Generation adventure, Armageddon's Arrow. Check out the cover!


Beautiful, no? They have also revealed the back-cover blurb for the novel:

It is a new age of exploration, and the U.S.S. Enterprise is dispatched to “the Odyssean Pass,” a region charted only by unmanned probes and believed to contain numerous inhabited worlds. Approaching a star system with two such planets, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew find a massive alien vessel, drifting in interstellar space for decades. Sensors detect life aboard the derelict—aliens held in suspended animation. 
Thought to be an immense sleeper ship, the vessel actually is a weapon capable of destroying entire worlds . . . the final gambit in a war that has raged for generations across the nearby system. Now caught in the middle of this conflict, Captain Picard attempts to mediate, as both sides want this doomsday weapon . . . which was sent from the future with the sole purpose of ending the interplanetary war before it even began! 

Armageddon's Arrow will be released at the end of May at bookstores and your favorite e-book retailer. Click the links below to pre-order Armageddon's Arrow from Amazon!



Monday, February 16, 2015

Literary Treks 91: Pulaski Fights Crime

Interview with Una McCormack about Deep Space Nine: The Missing

The end of The Fall left the Star Trek universe in a little more hopeful place than it was when the series began. There is a new focus on exploration in the Federation and even with all that the characters have experienced there is still the drive to boldly go.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther are joined by author Una McCormack to talk about her latest book The Missing. She talks about following up The Fall, writing a "day in the life" of DS9, the fun of exploring the new station, writing the character of Pulaski, as well as featuring the women of Star Trek, deepening the Tzenkethi, the themes of preconceived notions about people and atonement, all while reminding us that DS9 is truly a home for the homeless.

In the news segment we discuss Mike Johnson's interview on what coming up for the Star Trek Ongoing comic as well as some well known villains who may make an appearance soon.





  



Monday, February 9, 2015

Literary Treks 90: Through the Brita Filter

Fade In: The Writing of Star Trek: Insurrection by Michael Piller

When the lights went down in the theater in 1998, we all sat there with trepidation. We hoped that the new Star Trek movie would live up to it's predecessor, First Contact, and when it didn't, many of us wondered what had gone wrong. Jonathan Frakes had directed and Michael Piller had written the script; this should have been a dynamic duo!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther are joined by Larry Nemecek and Daniel Proulx to discuss Michael Piller's unpublished book Fade In. We wonder why Trek is always trying to relive it's glory days, talk about the first story idea, Star Trek: Stardust, what happens after Rick Berman and Patrick Stewart see the script, the stripping away of the Star Trekness, Ira Steven Behr's thoughts, what the studio wanted, as well as ask the questions of whether fans really know what's best and if this book helps us feel better about the movie.

In the news segment we judge a book by it's cover as well as look forward to James Swallow's newly announced Five Year Mission novel.





  



Sunday, February 8, 2015

Takedown

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Takedown by John Jackson Miller
Release date: January 27th 2015
Read January 31st 2015


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

Next book (The Next Generation): Armageddon's Arrow



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


Spoilers ahead for Takedown and the current post-The Fall novel continuity!

From the back cover:
When renegade Federation starships begin wreaking destruction across the Alpha Quadrant, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are shocked to discover that the mastermind behind this sudden threat is none other than Picard’s protégé and friend: Admiral William T. Riker. The newly minted admiral is on board the U.S.S. Aventine as part of a special assignment, even as the mystery deepens behind his involvement in the growing crisis. But the Aventine is helmed by Captain Ezri Dax—someone who is no stranger to breaking Starfleet regulations—and her starship is by far the faster vessel . . . and Riker cannot yield even to his former mentor. It’s a battle of tactical geniuses and a race against time as Picard struggles to find answers before the quadrant’s great powers violently retaliate against the Federation. . .

My thoughts:

John Jackson Miller made his Star Trek literature debut last year with the e-book novella Absent Enemies, featuring Admiral Riker and the Titan crew. As I noted in my review of that story, I had very much enjoyed his Star Wars novel Kenobi, and looked forward to his take on the Trek universe. I enjoyed the novella for the most part, with the small exception of feeling that he didn't have the characters' voices quite "right." That minor quibble, however, has been completely rectified with Takedown.

Miller has a terrific grasp on the voices of the main characters, with old standbys like Picard and Riker coming across perfectly. And indeed, the secondary original characters that Miller introduces in this novel are a lot of fun to read about as well.

Captain Ezri Dax and the
Aventine feature in Takedown.
This is probably the closest we've come to Captain Ezri Dax of the Aventine having a novel of her own, and Miller proves that such a story can be truly great! I've come to really enjoy reading about her and her crew ever since their introduction in David Mack's Destiny trilogy. Takedown has renewed my interest in seeing more of Dax and her ship in future stories.

The premise of Takedown is an enticing one: Picard and Riker going head to head in a battle of wits and tactics. While the story itself turns out to be much more complicated than that, we do get some interesting scenes seeing these two tactical minds facing off. Miller channels his love and knowledge of Trek into some great plot twists and reveals, making Takedown a fun roller coaster of a story.

While I did enjoy his earlier work, Absent Enemies, I felt that some parts were a little too "silly" or uncharacteristic of Star Trek. However, with Takedown, Miller has struck a perfect balance. The story is rich and compelling, while still having a lightness to it that made it a lot of fun. Many of the current slate of Trek authors will include small winks and nods, such as in-jokes or subtle references that are amusing, but most don't have the perfectly irreverent tone that Miller has managed with Takedown. In this way, Miller's tone in very evocative of that of one of my favorite Trek authors, Peter David. Take, for example, this description of an inept Romulan senator, Bretorius, who turned into one of my favorite characters by the end of the book:

Unfortunately, Bertorius had found mediocrity too high a bar. He had advanced in the fleet the old-fashioned way: he'd stuck around so long they had to give him a command, or muster him out. He'd commanded a vessel that had managed to miss every major engagement the Romulan Star Empire had participated in during his tenure. The critical battle of the Dominion War was waged without Bretorius's ship, when his entire crew came down with food poisoning after an ill-advised prebattle celebration. And during the time that Shinzon was courting allies in the Imperial Fleet for his eventual coup, Bretorius was never contacted once. It wasn't that Bretorius wanted to overthrow the government, but it would've been nice to have been asked.

The risk is that the story will devolve into complete silliness (as has happened with a few of Peter David's works), but that never happens here.

Final thoughts:

A fun and exciting entry into the post-The Fall continuity of Trek novels. It was great to see the continuity touchstones that John Jackson Miller used to craft this story, including the reintroduction of a species from TNG that I've always been curious about (I won't include that particular spoiler here as I feel it guts the story to know it in advance). A definite improvement over Miller's previous foray into Trek literature, and hopefully a portent of many more great stories to come!

Further resources:


Also by John Jackson Miller:

My next read:

Next up is my review of A Sea of Troubles, the first book in the TNG e-book series, Slings and Arrows.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Literary Treks 89: Elephant in the Room

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Slings and Arrows, Book V: A Weary Life

The TNG episode "Second Chances" gave us a duplicate of William Riker and the DS9 episode "Defiant" left that duplicate, Tom, in a Cardassian prison. What we never got a chance to see was the effect all of these things had on Will until the Slings and Arrows' entry, A Weary Life.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Matthew Rushing and Dan Gunther talk about this penultimate book in the Slings and Arrows e-book series. We ask the question of where Tom is, discuss the trio of Riker, LaForge, and Daniels, the genuine emotion of Riker, the news media and Maquis problem as well as our ratings.

In our news segment we remind everyone that Takedown by John Jackson Miller is out, discuss the Axanar announcement of an anthology collection that's on the way, as well as celebrate 20 years of Star Trek: Voyager by discussing our favorite Voyager books.