David Mack - Shastrix Books

David Mack

Recently reviewed

The Midnight Front

The Midnight Front

15th December 2018

David Mack is a prolific and well-regarded author of tie-in fiction, particularly in the Star Trek universe, which is where I have previously encountered him, so I was intrigued when I learned that he was writing an original novel.

The story begins in the early days of the Second World War, our main character a student at a top university. Following a failed evacuation attempt, he discovers he is a wizard and is dragged off to a castle in Scotland to be educated in magical ways.

It’s possible to pitch it so this novel sounds just like Harry Potter, but it really isn’t. Unfortunately for me the educational aspects of the plot are glossed over in favour of a swift move into action, and it never really managed to capture my attention. The characters failed to compel, the plot failed to attract.

I’m afraid to say I didn’t finish, and will most likely stick to reading Mack’s Star Trek works in future.

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Fortune of War

Fortune of War

20th January 2018

After a two year gap, this new stand-alone Star Trek: Titan novel follows the crew as they investigate some recently discovered Husnock technology which is in great demand from a number of different civilisations in the alpha quadrant.

It's a great little story that has a lot of twists and turns, as the plot rolls onward in an episodic fashion and we move from one hurdle in the plans of both the Starfleet crew and their antagonists. Mack has constructed quite an elaborate narrative that keeps the reader surprised and entertained.

A good stand-alone adventure by one of the best Star Trek authors.

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Desperate Hours

Desperate Hours

14th October 2017

​David Mack has the honour and challenge of being the first tie-in author to dip his feet into the world of Star Trek: Discovery - the seventh TV series in the franchise. As a novel released the day after the first episode is broadcast, it's hard not to take anything it says with a pinch of salt (remember Data's backstory from the novelisation of Encounter at Farpoint - later completely changed by the TV series), but it seems Mack has had full access to the writers and scripts from the TV production team and the series is being written as one whole rather than discrete episodes, so maybe this will stand the test of time.

This story is set a year before the opening episode of the TV series, and sees Burnham as a newly minted first officer facing a distress call from a rebel colony. It also features a guest appearance by a familiar ship and crew member and goes some way to dealing with some of the questions that long term audiences might have. That said, I do wonder if these aspects are being explored only in the novels what the point was/is of having set the story up in quite this way for TV.

It's a fairly average Trek novel actually. A bit reminiscent of the early TNG novels in terms of the plot. The pre-TV setting is good as it means Mack is free to play around with the characters and not be bound by putting them back in the box. He does a fair bit to give background to both Burnham and Saru which goes beyond what we've learnt from TV, and this to me is what makes the book most compelling.

Conclusion: if you like Star Trek novels, or want to like Star Trek novels, then go for it. If you're new and curious, up to you. If you only watch TV, then carry on watching TV.

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Control

Control

6th May 2017

Control is possibly the darkest Star Trek novel I've ever read, and I've read quite a lot of them. It continues Doctor Bashir's quest to destroy Section Thirty-One, and also lays out a lot of new information about the organisation, its origins, and the mysterious 'Control', who runs it.

It paints a very different and revealing picture of the Trek universe, spanning the life of the Federation from the pre-Enterprise era and dropping in hints of arcane bits of Trek lore and how they tie in. One that continues the mission of mirroring the 21st Century in which we as readers live.

But as well as that it's a thrilling adventure that pits Bashir and his allies, a cast pulled from both DS9 and TNG, against their nemesis across known space as they try to stay one step ahead of their omnipresent oppressor.

So, dark, revelatory, and fascinating in how it retells some of the familiar Trek story while remaining and entertaining adventure. Slightly scary though.

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Best Defense

Best Defense

8th October 2016

The second book in this trilogy celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek, follows, at least in part, on from the end of the first book, dealing with the aftermath of that book's final revelation and Number One's mission into the unknown.

To me, the more interesting part of this story was a major subplot about a peace conference between the Federation and the Klingons, that gave an opportunity to bring back some more favourite characters and to introduce some fascinating new ones who add a different dynamic to some of the storytelling.

I'm not a massive Original Series junkie, and don't tend to read the novels set in that era most of the time. While I did enjoy this book, I found it tough to get into for the first half, and would read a chapter or three before needing a break, but as the plot picked up I found I was more and more drawn in.

There were a few great segments spent with some of the lesser characters and I think I liked those more than the parts with the most central of the characters. Will certainly be picking up the final part of the trilogy, but then I'll probably not revisit TOS until the next major anniversary.

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Disavowed

Disavowed

8th November 2014

Although labelled as a Section 31 novel, this isn't really part of the series of that name from some ten years ago, but rather a sequel to the recent 'The Fall' crossover series of novels, and follows Dr Bashir as he attempts to infiltrate the shadowy organisation that has been trying to recruit him since DS9's sixth season.

Like all the Star Trek novels I've read by David Mack, this is really good. He manages to write for the TV series characters perfectly and to continue to develop their characters in an authentic and believable manner, while bringing in new unfamiliar characters and building them up so that the reader has as much invested in them as the stars.

I was a bit nervous when I discovered that this book was taking a dive into the Mirror Universe, as I've always felt a bit of a disconnect from this and never read the MU series of novels and novellas from a few years ago, but having now read this I can report that I barely felt I'd missed out and Mack filled me in through the narrative on everything I needed to know about the setting and characters. I liked very much how he used the opportunity to use a range of familiar and new faces in the MU to add to its tapestry, and I'm almost inspired to go back and fill in some of the gaps in my past reading.

The plot is strong and solid, and a great adventure that I enjoyed taking alongside the characters. I can do little but look forward to more in the promised follow-up novel. Great once again, and could even provide a good entry point into the series for readers who've not kept up with the many strands of the post-Nemesis novel series.

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A Ceremony of Losses

A Ceremony of Losses

24th November 2013

The Fall book three is about Doctor Bashir and the situation with the Andorians that's been going on for so many books now I've lost track. If you've been reading then you can guess the key points of the setup, if not I won't spoil it.

A staple writer of the current Trek novelling generation, David Mack once again produces an action packed novel with far-reaching consequences for the franchise as a whole. With a close focus on a single plot it nevertheless weaves in a number of other strands that continue the ongoing narrative.

Mack shows a strong grasps of key characters and really shows off well what makes them tick. As well as the main plot, he gives a number of background characters good quality arcs within the novel and they certainly don't feel like bit parts to give context to the central storyline.

A good episode in The Fall, and one that nicely focusses on small events rather than some of the grander occasions in the first two books of the series, while allowing the big stuff to go on in the background. Another great 24th Century novel from David Mack.

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Other reviewed books

The Body Electric
Silent Weapons
The Persistence of Memory
Zero Sum Game
A Time to Heal
A Time to Kill
Harbinger
Lost Souls
Mere Mortals
Gods of Night

Unreviewed books

Miracle Workers
The Starfleet Survival Guide
Warpath

Top books

  1. The Persistence of Memory
  2. Lost Souls
  3. Gods of Night
  4. A Ceremony of Losses
  5. Zero Sum Game
  6. Best Defense
  7. Fortune of War