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
Next Release: Prey, Book 2: The Jackal's Trick

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!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Release Day! Legacies, Book 2: Best Defense

Star Trek: Legacies
Book 2 of 3
Best Defense by David Mack

The epic Star Trek 50th Anniversary trilogy continues today with the official release of book 2: Best Defense by New York Times Bestselling Author David Mack!

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

Publisher's description:
Just in time for the milestone 50th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series, an epic new trilogy that stretches from the earliest voyages of the Starship Enterprise to Captain Kirk’s historic five-year-mission—and from one universe to another!

A debt of honor: One brave woman ventures alone into a parallel universe to save her old shipmates, exiled there decades earlier by a mysterious device called the Transfer Key. She soon learns the alternate universe harbors not just an alien invasion force, but a secret that underpins its very existence.

A mission of peace: A long-awaited Klingon-Federation peace conference convenes, led by Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan and Councillor Gorkon of Qo'noS. But both sides have enemies who would prefer the two great powers remain at war—and who will do anything to make certain hate wins the day.

An errand of justice: Captain Kirk and his crew seek the stolen Transfer Key that opens a door between universes, but their hunt is cut short by Ambassador Sarek’s plea for help. The Enterprise crew soon becomes targets in a deadly crossfire—one whose outcome will decide the fate of two universes.

Purchase Best Defense:

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Release Day! Travel Guide to the Planet Vulcan!

Hidden Universe Travel Guide:
Star Trek: Vulcan

by Dayton Ward

A fun new release officially hits bookshelves today: The Hidden Universe Travel Guide ot the Planet Vulcan! Done in the style of a typical travel guide for a trip you might take here on Earth, this guide is beautifully illustrated by some amazing artists, and wonderfully written by the very talented Dayton Ward. I managed to pick this one up a little early at the Shore Leave convention this year, and it is well worth grabbing! Check out the cover art and links below to purchase from Amazon!

Publisher's description:
Set in the Star Trek universe, this Hidden Universe travel guide explores all that Vulcan—Spock’s home planet—has to offer in an interactive guidebook.

Plan your next trip to the planet Vulcan! Find restaurants that serve the best fried sandworms and Vulcan port. Take a trip to the Fire Plains or experience spring break at the Voroth Sea. Learn all about the native Vulcan people and their unusual customs. Discover how to correctly perform the traditional Vulcan salutation (you really don’t want to get this wrong). Learn key Vulcan phrases such as Nam-tor puyan-tvi-shal wilat: “Where is your restroom?” Find out what to do if you suddenly find yourself host to a katra—a Vulcan’s living spirit—at an inconvenient moment. All this and more can be found within the pages of this essential travel guide to one of the most popular—and logical—destinations in the known universe.

This Hidden Universe travel guide draws on 50 years of Star Trek TV shows, films, and novels to present a comprehensive guide to Spock’s iconic home world. Modeled after real-world travel guides, the book will explore every significant region on Vulcan with fascinating historical, geographical, and cultural insights that bring the planet to life like never before. Also featuring a dynamic mixture of classic Star Trek imagery and original illustrations created exclusively for the book, Hidden Universe Travel Guide: Star Trek: Vulcan is the perfect way to celebrate 50 years of Star Trek and will thrill pop culture fans and hardcore Star Trek fans alike.

Purchase Hidden Universe Travel Guide: Star Trek: Vulcan:

Monday, July 4, 2016

Release Day! DS9: Rules of Accusation

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Rules of Accusation by Paula M. Block & Terry J. Erdmann
An e-book exclusive release!

In addition to the regular novel release, we get a bonus this month: an e-book exclusive novella by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann, Deep Space Nine: Rules of Accusation! Look below for the cover art, publisher's description, and links to order from Amazon!

Publisher's description:
On the space station Deep Space 9, Quark's Public House, Café, Gaming Emporium, Holosuite Arcade, and Ferengi Embassy can't legitimately be called an embassy until the Grand Nagus — namely, Quark's brother Rom — dedicates it as such. Not that Quark really cares about Ferengi protocol, but a well-publicized dedication ceremony will naturally draw people to the bar. Everybody loves a good open house — free appetizers, half-price drinks, door prizes, etc. — all of which Quark can write off as Embassy expenses. It’s a win-win situation, with him on both sides of the win. There's even a plan to display the original scroll of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition — which no one has seen for decades given that it’s been held in protective storage — and charge patrons by the minute to look at it up close. Nothing, of course, could possibly go wrong with this big plan. Absolutely nothing at all…

Purchase Rules of Accusation: