Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Release Day! Prey, Book 3: The Hall of Heroes

Star Trek: Prey
Book 3 of 3
The Hall of Heroes by John Jackson Miller

At long last, the Prey trilogy is complete! Today is the official release day for book three, The Hall of Heroes! Find out how this epic saga concludes by picking up your copy at your local bookstore (or downloading the e-book from your favorite vendor) today!

Check out below for the cover art, back cover blurb, and links to purchase from Amazon!

Publisher's description:
Continuing the milestone 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek—an epic new trilogy that stretches from the events of The Original Series movie The Search for Spock to The Next Generation!

The Klingon Empire stands on the precipice. In the wake of violence from the cult known as the Unsung, paranoia threatens to break Chancellor Martok’s regime. Klingons increasingly call for a stronger hand to take control...one that Lord Korgh, master manipulator, is only too willing to offer.

But other forces are now in motion. Assisted by a wily agent, the Empire’s enemies secretly conspire to take full advantage of the situation. Aboard the USS Titan, Admiral William T. Riker realizes far more than the Federation’s alliance with the Klingons is in danger. With the Empire a wounded animal, it could either become an attacker—or a target.

Yet even as hostilities increase, Commander Worf returns to the USS Enterprise and Captain Jean-Luc Picard with a daring plan of his own. The preservation of both the Empire and the Federation alliance may hinge on an improbable savior leading a most unlikely force....

Purchase The Hall of Heroes:

Next Release: The Original Series: The Face of the Unknown

Friday, November 4, 2016

Captain to Captain

Star Trek: Legacies
Book 1 of 3
Captain to Captain by Greg Cox
Release date: June 28th 2016
Read July 5th 2016

Previous book (The Original Series): Elusive Salvation

Next book (Legacies): Book 2: Best Defense

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

Spoilers ahead for Captain to Captain!

Publisher's description:
An epic new trilogy begins—a tie-in for the milestone fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series—that stretches from the earliest voyages of the Starship Enterprise to Captain Kirk’s historic five-year-mission…and from one universe to another!

Hidden aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise is a secret that has been passed from captain to captain, from Robert April to Christopher Pike to James T. Kirk. Now the return of the enigmatic woman once known as Number One has brought that secret to light, and Kirk and his crew must risk everything to finish a mission that began with April so many years ago…

Nearly two decades earlier, April and his crew first visited the planet Usilde, where they found both tragedy and a thorny moral dilemma. Today, the legacy of that fateful occasion will compel Kirk to embark on a risky voyage back to that forbidden world—which is now deep in territory claimed by the Klingon Empire!

My thoughts:

Part of the joy of reading Star Trek novels is the opportunity to learn more about characters who we only briefly got to know in an episode or two of the television series. Such was the case with the previous novel I reviewed, DS9: Force and Motion and its exploration of Benjamin Maxwell. That opportunity arises once again in this novel, Legacies, Book 1: Captain to Captain.

Una, known as "Number One," the enigmatic first officer of the Enterprise under Captain Pike, has long remained a mystery. Seen only in the original unaired pilot, "The Cage" (and then again in reused footage for the Original Series' only two-parter, "The Menagerie"), Number One struck me as a fascinating character about whom I would love to know more. Over the years, there have been a number of stories that go deeper into her character, most notably for me the Star Trek: Crew comic series by John Byrne. However, Captain to Captain explores her character more deeply than any other Star Trek novel has before.

Captain Una feels extreme guilt and and responsibility for the loss of a landing party under her command years ago under Captain Robert April.

This does serve to give the story a bit of a disjointed feel, with Kirk, Spock, and company only featuring at the beginning and end of the novel, with the middle given over to flashbacks showing a mission that Una led years earlier. During the course of this mission, then-Lieutenant Una lost a number of crewmembers, who were transported to an alien universe by a hostile species, the Jatohr.

The drama centers around the "transfer key," a Jatohr device that can instantaneously transport someone from our universe to the alien realm. The key has been secreted away in the captain's quarters of the Enterprise since the days of Robert April, the first captain of the Enterprise. The key has remained the secret of each captain and first officer until now, when Captain Una steals the key in an attempt to rescue the crewmembers she left behind years earlier.

Captain to Captain is certainly an interesting start to the Legacies trilogy, but it wasn't exactly what I was expecting. The focus of so much of the story on Robert April's days on the Enterprise and the spotlight on the character of Una surprised me, and it took some time to get used to.

The "transfer key" is the central plot device of this trilogy, a weapon that is very reminiscent of the Mirror Universe's "Tantalus Field," and may have similar origins.

As far as setups go, Captain to Captain does its job, laying the groundwork for the adventure yet to come. The central conceit of an artifact handed down from "captain to captain" doesn't really work for me; the logic of the situation tends to tall apart upon close examination. However, it is an adequate MacGuffin to get the plot in motion.

There are certainly some exciting parts in this novel: the Enterprise's chase of Captain Una as she makes off with the Transfer Key was a lot of fun, and did a lot to establish just how impressive this character is. Additionally, the cliffhanger ending does a great deal to make me excited for the next chapter in this series. As far as plot twists go, the final chapter is something I certainly did not see coming.

Final thoughts:

A little unfocused, Captain to Captain nonetheless does a competent job of setting up the Legacies trilogy. While the bulk of the story is not quite as attention-grabbing as the first book in a trilogy should be, this novel does redeem itself with a cliffhanger ending that has me hooked. Limited "screen time" for Kirk and company makes this a bit of an odd one for a 50th anniversary celebration of The Original Series, but I'm sure they will get ample attention in the follow-ups.

3/5 stars.

More about Captain to Captain:

Also by Greg Cox:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next up, a review of the Deep Space Nine e-book exclusive by Paula M. Block & Terry J. Erdmann: Rules of Accusation!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Release Day! Prey, Book 2: The Jackal's Trick

Star Trek: Prey
Book 2 of 3
The Jackal's Trick by John Jackson Miller

Book 2 of the century-spanning Klingon epic, Prey, Book 2: The Jackal's Trick by John Jackson Miller, is officially released today! Already appearing on bookshelves everywhere, The Jackal's Trick continues the story of Korgh's attempt to rise to power in the Klingon Empire!

Check out below for the cover art, back cover blurb, and links to purchase from Amazon!

Publisher's description:
Continuing the milestone 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek—an epic new trilogy that stretches from the events of The Original Series movie The Search for Spock to The Next Generation!

The Klingon-Federation alliance is in peril as never before. Lord Korgh has seized control of the House of Kruge, executing a plot one hundred years in the making. The Klingon cult known as the Unsung rampages across the stars, striking from the shadows in their cloaked Birds-of-Prey. And the mysterious figure known as Buxtus Cross launches a scheme that will transform the Klingon Empire forever.

Into danger flies Admiral William T. Riker and the USS Titan, charged with protecting the peace forged nearly a century before during the Khitomer Accords. Aided by Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the USS Enterprise, Riker and his officers scour the stars, seeking to find the Unsung and uncover the truth behind the conspiracy before time runs out.

Yet even as Commander Worf departs on a deeply personal mission of honor, hidden sinister forces seek to turn the crisis to their advantage. And the conspirators’ plans threaten to spiral out of control, jeopardizing the very empire they aspire to rule.

Purchase Hell's Heart:

Previous Release: Prey, Book 1: Hell's Heart

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Force and Motion

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Force and Motion by Jeffrey Lang
Release date: May 31st 2016
Read June 10th 2016

Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Ascendance

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Rules of Accusation

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

Spoilers ahead for Force and Motion!

Publisher's description:
A thrilling original novel set in the universe of Star Trek: The Next Generation / Deep Space Nine!

In 2367, Captain Benjamin Maxwell of the starship Phoenix ordered the destruction of a Cardassian warship and a supply vessel, killing more than six hundred crew members. Maxwell believed that the Cardassians were arming for a new attack on the Federation, and though history eventually proved he was probably correct, the Federation had no choice but to court martial and incarcerate him.

Almost twenty years have passed, and now Maxwell is a free man, working as a maintenance engineer on the private science station Robert Hooke, home to crackpots, fringe researchers, and, possibly, something much darker and deadlier. Maxwell’s former crewmate, Chief Miles O'Brien, and O'Brien’s colleague, Lieutenant Commander Nog, have come for a visit. Unfortunately, history has proven that whenever O’Brien and Nog leave Deep Space 9 together, unpredictable forces are set into motion…

My thoughts:

Let me start by saying that I love Star Trek novels. I wouldn't spend so much time reading them, reviewing them, or talking about them if I didn't! However, the typical Star Trek novel format can get a little tired at times. So when a novel comes along that breaks those shackles and does something a little different, rest assured I will be all over it!

Such is the case with Force and Motion. Focusing on a secondary character we've only seen once, this novel brings back former Captain Benjamin Maxwell of the USS Phoenix from TNG's "The Wounded." Having spent a number of years in rehabilitation at the New Zealand penal colony, Maxwell has now been released and is working as a janitor on the research station Robert Hooke. It is there that he, O'Brien, and Nog get tangled in a rapidly-unfolding emergency situation.

Force and Motion features the return of disgraced Captain Benjamin Maxwell, played by the great Bob Gunton in TNG's "The Wounded."

Force and Motion uses that crisis as a backdrop for a much deeper character study. I for one love well-developed characters, and Jeffrey Lang uses this book as an opportunity to dig deep into Maxwell's character. Ever since watching "The Wounded" years ago, I've had a fascination with Benjamin Maxwell and what would make a decorated Starfleet officer "go rogue" like he did. It was the kind of story that presaged the introduction of The Maquis in Deep Space Nine. A number of Starfleet officers, such as Chakotay and Cal Hudson, would turn their backs on their Starfleet duties to fight the Cardassians, but none with quite the flourish that Maxwell did, with the firepower of a Nebula class starship at his disposal.

I loved the scenes depicting his rehabilitation, with the author delving into Maxwell's past to show how he has gotten to where he is now. With the help of a Dr. Gunther (whose name I love for very selfish reasons), Maxwell comes to terms with his actions and eventually is able to recover. Dealing with trauma and PTSD is something that is sorely lacking in Star Trek, and I appreciated this deeper look into the mental health of 24th century humans.

Nog gets some great character moments as well, especially in a flashback that shows his initial inspiration for joining Starfleet.

I also really appreciated the flashbacks to the past of both Nog and Chief O'Brien. Nog especially had some great moments, and I couldn't help but get a little emotional at the flashback to the early days of Deep Space Nine, when Nog first sees Commander Sisko in his Starfleet uniform and is in awe. Nog's personal journey throughout the DS9 series is a favorite story of mine, and to see that terrific arc acknowledged here made me smile.

Final thoughts:

Not everyone is going to love this story. It is far outside the norm for a Star Trek novel, but to me, it was perfect. I love character studies, and Benjamin Maxwell is one of the most fascinating secondary characters on Trek. The exploration of his past, and the past of the other characters in this novel, make Force and Motion a five-star book for me.

More about Force and Motion:

Also by Jeffrey Lang:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next up is my review of the first book of the year's epic new Star Trek trilogy: Legacies, Book One: Captain to Captain.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Release Day! Prey, Book 1: Hell's Heart

Star Trek: Prey
Book 1 of 3
Hell's Heart by John Jackson Miller

This fall, another epic Star Trek trilogy hits bookshelves: Prey by New York Times Bestselling Author John Jackson Miller! Book one's official release day is today. Pick it up wherever you get your books!

Check out below for the cover art, back cover blurb, and links to purchase from Amazon!

Publisher's description:
Continuing the milestone 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek—an epic new trilogy that stretches from the events of The Original Series movie The Search for Spock to The Next Generation!

When Klingon commander Kruge died in combat against James T. Kirk on the Genesis planet back in 2285, he left behind a powerful house in disarray—and a series of ticking time bombs: the Phantom Wing, a secret squadron of advanced Birds-of-Prey; a cabal of loyal officers intent on securing his heritage; and young Korgh, his thwarted would-be heir, willing to wait a Klingon lifetime to enact his vengeance.

Now, one hundred years later, while on a diplomatic mission for the United Federation of Planets, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise are snared in the aged Korgh’s trap—and thrust directly in the middle of an ancient conflict. But as Commander Worf soon learns, Korgh may be after far bigger game than anyone imagines, confronting the Federation-Klingon alliance with a crisis unlike any it has ever seen!

Purchase Hell's Heart:

Previous Release: The Original Series: Legacies, Book 3: Purgatory's Key

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Elusive Salvation

Star Trek: The Original Series
Elusive Salvation by Dayton Ward
Release date: April 26th 2016
Read May 18th 2016

Previous book (From History's Shadow-related): The Original Series: From History's Shadow

Previous book (The Original Series): The Latter Fire

Next book (The Original Series): Legacies, Book 1: Captain to Captain

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

Spoilers ahead for Live By the Code!

Publisher's description:
An all-new Star Trek adventure across time—the latest of the acclaimed Original Series novels!

The Arctic Circle, 1845: Escaping the tyranny under which their people have lived for generations, aliens from a distant planet crash land on Earth’s inhospitable frozen wastes. Surviving the harsh conditions will pose a challenge, but over time the aliens will migrate to more populated areas, with decades passing as they work to conceal their presence from their former oppressors, who continue to hunt them at any cost.

San Francisco, 2283: When a mysterious craft is detected entering the solar system, Admiral James Kirk is dispatched by Starfleet to confront the vessel. He meets with an emissary from the Iramahl, a previously unknown alien race who have come in search of their brothers and sisters thought to have gone missing in this area of space centuries earlier. Having recently thrown off the last chains of subjugation by another species, the Ptaen, they now believe their lost people hold the key to saving their entire race from eventual extinction.

New York, 1970: Roberta Lincoln, young protégé of the mysterious agent Gary Seven, is shocked when she receives the oddest request for help—from the future…

My thoughts:

When it was announced that Dayton Ward would be writing a sequel to his wonderful From History's Shadow (which I loved, I think it's fair to say), I was pretty happy. In fact, in my review of that novel, I opined that a sequel would be most welcome. However, I did wonder how he would be able to craft another story of the same style, when the previous book covered so much with regards to time travel and alien visitations during Earth's 20th century. Would there be enough material for a sequel?

This goes to show why he writes the books, and I just read 'em.

My fears were completely unfounded, and Elusive Salvation proves once again both Dayton Ward's writing acumen and wonderful imagination. He has crafted another fascinating tale, featuring the return of many of the characters in From History's Shadow, including Mestral and Wainwright. However, the true star of the story is the intrepid Roberta Lincoln, shown here at a point in her career much later than our introduction to her in "Assignment: Earth." Here, she is a seasoned veteran who is very competent and comfortable in her role, even in the absence of Gary Seven. This was a character turn that was really great to see.

A more seasoned and experienced Roberta Lincoln features in Elusive Salvation.

Also great to see is a return to the movie-era of Star Trek. Don't get me wrong, I love five-year mission stories, but there's just something about an adventure featuring a more seasoned crew wearing the monster maroon uniforms (when they're not undercover mucking about in Earth's past). Kirk's characterization is also on point here, showing his maverick side, unafraid to jump feet first into a situation and ask permission later.

Admiral Kirk (and his monster maroon uniform) leads the action in Elusive Salvation.

The tone that Ward is able to convey, especially during the scenes set in the past, make Elusive Salvation a really great read. The feeling of paranoia and mystery evokes the same feelings I get when I watch The X-Files; the mysterious goings-on that feel right at home to our Star Trek heroes are strange and alien to the denizens of the 20th century. This is one area in which I felt that From History's Shadow excelled a little more than Elusive Salvation, but the book comes very close to replicating that same atmosphere.

Finally, I love where Dayton leaves the story at the end. I won't spoil the last line here, but for the record, it's a doozy. It comes completely out of left field, but makes a surprising amount of sense. It has the effect of tying together the disparate worlds of 20th century black ops and secret programs with the world of the future and the United Federation of Planets. If you have read the story, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you haven't, you're in for a pretty cool surprise!

Final thoughts:

An excellent entry in Dayton Ward's body of Star Trek work, Elusive Salvation is a worthy successor to From History's Shadow. Evoking that same feeling of mystery and intrigue from a unique 20th century perspective, the story is different enough from a typical Trek adventure to truly pique my interest. With the author announcing yet another follow-up to this storyline, this time with the crew of The Next Generation, it looks as though we will be getting stories in a similar vein for at least the next little while!

Because, that last line... wow.

More about Elusive Salvation:

Also by Dayton Ward:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next up, a Deep Space Nine novel featuring the antics of Chief O'Brien and Lt. Commander Nog: it's Force and Motion by Jeffrey Lang!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Star Trek Book

The Star Trek Book
Strange New Worlds Boldly Explained
by Paul Ruditis, Sandford Galden-Stone, and Simon Hugo
Release date: June 7th 2016
Read July 9th 2016

*Note: The text of this review was first published on Trekcore.com

Publisher's description:
Who was the captain of the first Starship Enterprise? In which galactic quadrant is planet Earth located? And just what is the trouble with tribbles? Covering several centuries of intergalactic history, The Star Trek Book answers these questions and many more. 
This comprehensive guide contains in-depth explanations of technological advances and key events in the Star Trek universe. It also includes detailed profiles of memorable characters, such as Starfleet personnel as well as their allies and enemies. 
Packed with informative graphics, memorable quotes, and stills and props from the television series and movies, this book boldly explores and explains everything you need to know about 50 years of thrilling adventures across the final frontier. 

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that 2016 is Star Trek's 50th anniversary. With that milestone occasion, we have seen an increase in the number of tie-in media and products being released. One such tie-in, The Star Trek Book, promises to be a comprehensive, authoritative guide to the Star Trek universe. Does this title meet those expectations? Can it possibly rise to the occasion of being a "comprehensive" overview of this franchise that spans 50 years and boasts a fanbase that is singularly critical of all incarnations and knowledgeable about all aspects of said franchise? Read on to find out!

My thoughts:

First off, this book is laid out very well. It is divided into a number of sections that highlight various aspects of Trek. A general overview starts out the book, introducing the reader to the broad strokes of the setting of Star Trek. Next comes "Starfleet," in which each of the main characters from the various series is profiled. Most of the characters get a two page spread, except for the TOS characters who get four: two for the prime universe, and two for their "Kelvin Timeline" counterparts.

Each character gets a section highlighting their role in Star Trek.

"Federation Allies and Enemies" is next, showcasing various species, groups, and individuals from throughout Star Trek history. These are the main ones, like the Klingons, the Cardassians, Khan, and the Maquis. After that comes "Science and Technology," in which Star Trek staples like warp drive, the transporter, and holodecks are explored. Finally, "New Life and New Civilizations" concludes the book, with a look at a few of the "leftovers"; aliens that are somewhat important to Star Trek as a whole, but maybe didn't quite make the bar for the previous section. V'Ger, The Guardian of Forever, and the Pah-wraiths are a few examples of topics in this category.

"Federation Allies and Enemies" contains information about the many races we see in Star Trek, including the Cardassians and the infamous Gul Dukat.

This surprisingly effective layout makes it really easy to find the particular section you're looking for, especially with the clear table of contents as well as an extremely thorough index. Can't quite remember what species Kes was? It's easy to look it up in seconds.

If you are a casual Star Trek fan, or even a newbie, this book is a really great introduction to the franchise. There is a lot of information here, but it is organized quite effectively. The broad overviews serve as a terrific way for a new fan to quickly get up to speed, while at the same time presenting information in a new and interesting way so that even the most hardcore fan can get enjoyment from the book. The graphics are often fun, illustrating concepts like the Vulcan mindmeld or Kirk's doppelgangers throughout the years.

Given the limited space in the book, I often found myself impressed with just how much information the authors managed to include. While hardly near the scope of the Star Trek Encyclopedia (of which we will soon have an updated version), the amount of research and information crammed into this book is impressive. You won't find an episode-by-episode guide, but you will also be hard-pressed to think of a crucial piece of the Star Trek tapestry that the authors of this books missed!

Final thoughts:

Even for a hardcore fan like myself, who has basically every fact from every series and film in the Star Trek universe memorized, The Star Trek Book nonetheless will have a place on my bookshelf. Beautifully laid out and featuring gorgeous full-color photos and illustrations, this book is perfect for the newbie to Star Trek, as well as the more seasoned fans. A few years ago, a friend of  mine who had seen the 2009 Star Trek film wanted to get into the rest of the Trek universe. I gave her a copy of Star Trek 101 by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block. While I still really like that book, I think that if it were around at the time, I would have included The Star Trek Book as well. The overview of the Star Trek universe that it provides is simply unparalleled. A great gift for trekkies, trekkers, and trek-curious alike!

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Playing a bit of catch up here! Next review is for Dayton Ward's latest, The Original Series: Elusive Salvation, a sequel to his excellent novel From History's Shadow. Coming soon!