Friday, February 17, 2017

Literary Treks 180: Seeing Geordis in My Sleep

The Next Generation: Headlong Flight
Exclusive interview with author Dayton Ward!

A long term mission of exploration far beyond the boundaries of the Federation has yielded many surprising discoveries, but none more surprising than the crew of the Enterprise-E crossing not only temporal boundaries, but dimensional ones as well. In the latest TNG novel, generations and realities collide as the crew of the Enterprise-E meets the crew of an alternate timeline's Enterprise-D!

In this episode of Literary Treks, Dan Gunther, Bruce Gibson, and Matthew Rushing are joined by renowned Trek author Dayton Ward about his latest Next Generation book, Headlong Flight. We ask him about alternate versions of our heroes, T'Ryssa Chen, the Romulan angle, the temporal prime directive, homages and references, and what's coming next from Dayton.

In the news segment, we review the latest New Visions issue, #14.

Literary Treks 180: Seeing Geordis in My Sleep
Interview with Dayton Ward about TNG: Headlong Flight

Previous episode: Literary Treks 179: Space Cats
Next episode: Literary Treks 181: DS9: The Siege by Peter David

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Literary Treks 179: Space Cats

Exclusive Interview with IDW Comics'
Sarah Gaydos and Mike Johnson!

As fans, we get our Star Trek fix in many different forms: television, film, novels, and comics. And no comic publisher has been quite so prolific as IDW when it comes to publishing Star Trek stories! Waypoint, Ongoing, Boldly Go, New Visions, and Stranger Worlds are just a few of the titles that IDW publishes on a regular basis.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson welcome Sarah Gaydos and Mike Johnson from IDW to the show! We ask them about their personal Star Trek stories, the Boldly Go series, Crossovers, Waypoint, new series coming up, and then ask some questions submitted by our listeners on the Babel Conference.

In the news segment, we discuss how the delay of Star Trek: Discovery will affect the book and comic release schedule and share our thoughts on the newest issue of the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover comic.

Literary Treks 179: Space Cats
Exclusive interview with IDW editor Sarah Gaydos and writer Mike Johnson!

Previous episode: Literary Treks 178: James Kirk Into James Bond
Next episode: Literary Treks 180: Seeing Geordis in My Sleep

Friday, February 3, 2017

Literary Treks 178: James Kirk Into James Bond

Spectre by William Shatner
with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Captain James T. Kirk: a name that has blazed across the quadrant for over a hundred years, shaping political events and influencing hundreds of worlds. However, his influence is not limited merely to our universe. During his first five-year mission, Kirk convinced Spock from the Mirror Universe to rebel against the evil Terran Empire, and the consequences of that action have now caught up with the Starfleet legend in the 24th century!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson welcome Matthew Rushing to talk about William Shatner's Spectre. We discuss the Shatnerverse, Kirk in the 24th century, responsibility, Kirk and Scotty, looking in the mirror, Janeway, a mirror imposter, the prime directive, and our ratings.

In the news we review Waypoint #3.

Literary Treks 178: James Kirk into James Bond
William Shatner's Spectre

Previous episode: Literary Treks 177: Threatening Facial Hair
Next episode: Literary Treks 179: Space Cats

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Buried Age

Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Buried Age by Christopher L. Bennett
A Tale of The Lost Era
Published July 2007
Read April 21st 2016

Previous book (The Lost Era): The Catalyst of Sorrows

Next book (The Lost Era): Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers

Previous book (The Next Generation): Death in Winter
Next book (The Next Generation): Resistance

Spoilers ahead for The Buried Age!

From the back cover:
Jean-Luc Picard. His name has gone down in legend as the captain of the USS Stargazer and two starships Enterprise. But the nine years of his life leading up to the inaugural mission of the USS Enterprise to Farpoint Station have remained a mystery—until now, as Picard's lost era is finally unearthed. 
Following the loss of the Stargazer and the brutal court-martial that resulted, Picard no longer sees a future for himself in Starfleet. Turning to his other love, archaeology, he embarks on a quest to rediscover a buried age of ancient galactic history… and awakens a living survivor of that era: a striking, mysterious woman frozen in time since before the rise of Earth's dinosaurs. But this powerful immortal has a secret of cataclysmic proportions, and her plans will take Picard—aided along the way by a brilliant but na├»ve android, an insightful Betazoid, and an enigmatic El-Aurian—to the heights of passion, the depths of betrayal, and the farthest reaches of explored space.

My thoughts:

The Buried Age begins with the depiction of a much-discussed event: The battle betwen the U.S.S. Stargazer and an unknown adversary, later learned to be a Ferengi vessel. Although Picard defeated the Ferengi using what later came to be known as the "Picard Maneuver," the Stargazer was too badly damaged and had to be abandoned.

The origin of the "Picard Maneuver" (no, not that one) is explored in The Buried Age.

This leads into an event I was excited to read about: the trial of Jean-Luc Picard and his culpability in the loss of the Stargazer. In the second season TNG episode "The Measure of a Man," it is revealed that the case was prosecuted by Phillipa Louvois, who was an old flame of Jean-Luc's. I've long been interested in seeing this fascinating backstory play out, so I was happy to learn that it would be featured in this novel. However, during the trial, Louvois came across differently than what I was expecting. I found her character just a little bit too unlikeable, especially with how her actions were regarded by the other characters involved in the trial. In "The Measure of a Man," I had the image of someone who was a little overzealous and a stickler for the law, but in The Buried Age she comes across as almost crazed in her attempt to prosecute the Stargazer case. I suppose that this accounts for the reception Picard gives her in the TNG episode, but I felt that it didn't cast her character in the best light here. Still, the outcome of the trial was a fascinating piece in the puzzle of the life of Jean-Luc Picard.

Phillipa Louvois was one of my favorite guest characters in early TNG, and I was a little disappointed by her portrayal in The Buried Age. Still, it does make sense given the feelings of animosity that Captain Picard has towards her in "The Measure of a Man."
After the fallout from the trial, Picard resigns from Starfleet to pursue academia and archaeology. This was an interesting period in Picard's life, and it was fun to see the former captain free from the world of Starfleet. I'm reminded of Professor Galen's admonition to Picard that he should not be in Starfleet, and should instead be traveling the galaxy with him on archaeological expeditions. The fact that Picard has pursued this for a period of time and come out the other side with the realization that Starfleet is the better choice was illuminating. Although, in this case, it may be that Picard was pressured back into the service, but it is a calling that has certainly dominated most of his adult life.

Much of The Buried Age follows Picard as he attempts to unravel an ancient mystery left behind by beings that lived in our galaxy millions of years ago. One such being is revived from an eons-long sleep by a team led by Picard, investigating an ancient base of operations. Seemingly devoid of any memories, she is called Ariel by her rescuers. Picard feels an immediate attraction to her, and the two of them soon find themselves in a serious relationship. However, because Ariel is so ancient and so far beyond Picard, the end result is all but inevitable. I have recently begun watching Doctor Who, and I feel like this vast power difference is how a relationship between The Doctor and any of his companions would actually play out. A being that is so ancient and evolved would see a human as little more than a pet, and in this way, Ariel is able to thoroughly manipulate Picard to her own ends. The betrayal is equal parts inevitable and shocking in that it happens so fast. Reading this part also reminded me of elements of the film Ex Machina.

One really fun aspect of this novel which I was not expecting was the immediate lead-up to the start of Star Trek: The Next Generation. We see the first meetings between Picard and a few of his senior staff. Of particular interest to me was Picard's recruitment of Data as his Operations Manager. Data's posting prior to meeting Picard was basically as a file clerk aboard a Starbase. Recognizing the great potential that Data possesses, Picard chose him to join a mission, and subsequently offered him a post on the Enterprise. I have to admit, I never gave much thought to Data's career before TNG, and it was interesting to see Bennett's take on his story.

An interesting revelation in The Buried Age is that Picard rescued Data from a dead-end career when he recruited him for a position on his crew.

Jean-Luc Picard in season one of TNG is a hard man to get to know by all accounts, and in The Buried Age, we learn a lot about why that might be. Picard is a man who is shaped by his experiences, and the huge betrayal by Ariel has led him to be a private man who holds himself at a distance from the people around him. Kudos to Christopher Bennett for crafting a fascinating story that explores the motivation behind this character. Picard has always been a favorite of mine, and this story chronicles a very important chapter in his life.

Final thoughts:

As someone who reads a ton of Star Trek novels, a few author names always seem to float to the top of the pile. Christopher L. Bennett is one of them. His stories often have a huge scope and weight to them, and although this word is overused, his works can easily be described as "epic." The Buried Age is quite possibly the quintessential expression of this. A huge story spanning millions of years is the backdrop for an astounding character piece that examines the life of Jean-Luc Picard and explains what made him the man we see when the TNG series begins. At times feeling a bit like Stargate SG-1, The Buried Age is a fun story dealing with ancient races and hidden secrets, while at the same time being a great Star Trek story, celebrating the thrill and excitement of exploration.
5/5 stars.

More about The Buried Age:

Also by Christopher L. Bennett:

My next read:

The final part of William Shatner's first Trek trilogy: Avenger!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Release Day! Headlong Flight by Dayton Ward

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Headlong Flight by Dayton Ward

Although it has already been showing up on bookstore shelves, today is the official release date for the latest TNG adventure by Dayton Ward: Headlong Flight, continuing the voyages of the Enterprise-E as they explore the Odyssean Pass.

Check out below for the cover art, back cover blurb, and links to purchase from Amazon! And look for my review of Headlong Flight, coming soon!

Publisher's description:
An exhilarating thriller from bestselling author Dayton Ward set in the universe of Star Trek: The Next Generation, following Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew as they explore the previously uncharted and dangerous Odyssean Pass.

Surveying a nebula as part of their continuing exploration of the previously uncharted “Odyssean Pass,” Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise encounter a rogue planet. Life signs are detected on the barren world’s surface, and then a garbled message is received: a partial warning to stay away at all costs. Determined to render assistance, Picard dispatches Commander Worf and an away team to investigate, but their shuttlecraft is forced to make an emergency landing on the surface—moments before all contact is lost and the planet completely disappears.

Worf and his team learn that this mysterious world is locked into an unending succession of random jumps between dimensions, the result of an ambitious experiment gone awry. The Enterprise crewmembers and the alien scientists who created the technology behind this astonishing feat find themselves trapped, powerless to break the cycle. Meanwhile, as the planet continues to fade in and out of various planes of existence, other parties have now taken notice….

Purchase Headlong Flight:

Next Release: Deep Space Nine: The Long Mirage

Monday, January 30, 2017

Literary Treks 177: Threatening Facial Hair

Star Trek Archives Volume 6: Best of Alternate Universes
The Mirror Universe Saga

The mirror universe: an alternate reality where humans value treachery, personal gain, and avarice over friendship, community, and shared triumph. A place where history has crafted a very different Starfleet made up of vicious, brutal barbarians bent on galactic conquest. Can our heroes overcome an all-out war with their evil counterparts from this horrific universe?

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson talk about Star Trek Archives Volume 6: The Mirror Universe Saga. We discuss the story, continuity errors, lower decks characters, mirror Spock, pity, deviations, wrapping up, and our ratings.

In the news segment, we talk about the upcoming Star Trek Deviations comic, comic covers in March, the Classic UK Comics Vol. 2 release, and the Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection from Eaglemoss.

Literary Treks 177: Threatening Facial Hair
Star Trek Archives Vol. 6: Best of Alternate Universes

Previous episode: Literary Treks 176: Trek Archaeologists
Next episode: Literary Treks 178: James Kirk into James Bond

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Face of the Unknown

Star Trek: The Original Series
The Face of the Unknown by Christopher L. Bennett
Release date: December 27th 2016
Read January 4th 2017

Previous book (The Original Series): Legacies, Book 3: Purgatory's Key

Next book (The Original Series):

Mass-market paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for The Face of the Unknown!

Publisher's description:
Continuing the milestone 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek—a brand-new novel of The Original Series featuring James T. Kirk, Spock, and the crew of the USS Enterprise!

Investigating a series of violent raids by a mysterious predatory species, Captain James T. Kirk discovers that these events share a startling connection with the First Federation, a friendly but secretive civilization contacted early in the USS Enterprise’s five-year mission. Traveling to the First Federation in search of answers, the Enterprise suddenly comes under attack from these strange marauders. Seeking refuge, the starship finds its way to the true home of the First Federation, an astonishing collection of worlds hidden from the galaxy beyond. The inhabitants of this isolated realm are wary of outsiders, and some accuse Kirk and his crew for bringing the wrath of their ancient enemy down upon them. When an attempt to stave off disaster goes tragically wrong, Kirk is held fully accountable, and Commander Spock learns there are even deeper forces that threaten this civilization. If Kirk and Spock cannot convince the First Federation's leaders to overcome their fears, the resulting catastrophe could doom them all!

My thoughts:

This year, with new releases, I'm trying something a little different. Click here to watch my video review of The Face of the Unknown on YouTube, or watch the embedded video below!

Final thoughts:

As usual from Christopher Bennett, we get top-notch storytelling with a compelling link to current-day events. Revisiting the First Federation was fun, and Bennett has succeeded in his mission to create the definitive story about that civilization. The tranya-loving Balok is a fun character, and it was terrific to get a follow-up to Bailey's mission from "The Corbomite Maneuver."

More about The Face of the Unknown:

Also by Christopher L. Bennett:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

I have a lot of books that were read in 2016 that I have to catch up on. First up is a tale from The Lost Era, all about Captain Picard shortly before the beginning of The Next Generation: The Buried Age by Christopher L. Bennett.