Christopher L Bennett - Shastrix Books

Christopher L Bennett

Recently reviewed

Patterns of Interference

Patterns of Interference

9th October 2017

Another Enterprise novel continuing the adventures of the crew, who have long since gone their separate ways. It’s a bit of a strange standalone novel that really does need he background knowledge from reading earlier stories to follow.

A number of storylines seem to battle for attention, and it feels a bit like Bennett is struggling to find things for all the characters to do - one of them in particular, while having an interesting science fiction experience, has a fairly tenuous thematic link to the rest, and I felt was a little underplayed what message it was intended to be sending.

Meanwhile the ‘main’ plot showed some interesting parallels with issues in the current news, but felt a bit patchy in construction and rushed in places it might not have been.

Overall, I think it’s a weaker novel that spreads a bit too thinly quite a lot of different storylines rather than picking one to do really well. It does however have one of the best sneaky little jokes in the narrative that I’ve seen for quite some time!

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Live By The Code

Live By The Code

20th April 2016

Christopher L Bennett's fourth book in the Rise of the Federation series, telling the missing history between the end of Enterprise and the start of The Original Series, follows the various crews off the fledgling Starfleet as they discover the need (again?) for some kind of non-interference directive.

Like some of the best episodes, the story features an A- and a B-plot featuring different groups of characters to ensure all get some page-time. One of the plots works nicely as a stand-alone tale, but the other is a direct follow-up to earlier books in the series and I felt my reading experience would have benefited from having a fresher memory of what came before.

One of the themes of this book is relationships, both in the obvious sense between cultures, and between individuals, and Bennett seems to use the opportunity of revisiting Denobula to throw in some other relationships that fill out the Trek universe and add some much needed diversity.

Overall, I wouldn't group it with my favourite Trek novels, but it certainly stands up well and tells a good story. I'm enjoying following the adventures of this group of characters beyond the short lifespan they received on television, and I hope Bennett is able to continue and that his work won't be contradicted by forthcoming additions to the Trek cannon.

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Uncertain Logic

Uncertain Logic

25th May 2015

I didn't fall in love with this, the third of Christopher L Bennett's 'Rise of the Federation' novels - a series of sequels to the TV series 'Star Trek: Enterprise'. There are several plot threads running through that don't really seem to tie together - leaving it feeling like a middle part in a longer story. Archer and T'Pol are drawn into the mystery of a missing Vulcan artefact, Reed, Tucker and Mayweather chase some aliens who like abducting people, and some other character lose me in the intricacies of their plotting.

The mystery at the heart of one of the plot lines didn't really feel like it was being investigated properly, more that random events and accidents led to a conclusion, all the plots suffered (for me) by being too reliant on things that occurred in previous novels or episodes. Usually in Bennett's books the references back are bonuses which reward the loyal reader/viewer, but in this instance it felt like I was missing out by not remembering all the detail.

The best bits of the book are the character moments, particularly around Hoshi Sato's character, which is really being developed well in the novel series. I also enjoyed the experiences of Archer, whose ultimate destination I do already remember from previous 'episodes', but is fun (though sometimes slightly awkward) to watch him moving toward.

Ultimately though this feels like a fairly run-of-the-mill episode for Enterprise, and I didn't find it as enjoyable as the previous two books in the series.

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The Collectors

The Collectors

21st December 2014

Christopher L Bennett's third story about the Department of Temporal Investigations sees investigators Dulmer and Lucsley returning with an anachronistic artefact to the DTI's base on Eris, followed by a slight accident that reunites them with an old friend.

The novella format seems to have freed the author from some of the gravity of a traditional Trek novel and he takes the opportunity to add a very welcome pile of humour that makes the whole reading experience greatly entertaining. While I often don't get on well with the Star Trek stories that focus on non-TV character, this one was a delight to read.

Bennett's vision of the future is one of fantastic detail, and his writing style allows the reader to pick up on things slightly ahead of the characters, one of my favourite traits in fiction. Overall a really good quick (but actually I didn't think too quick) read that adds to the DTI's story and makes me hope that he's able to return to this series again in the future.

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Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel

3rd May 2014

The second book in Christopher L Bennett's ongoing Star Trek Enterprise follow-up series is much more of a standalone than the first, which contained a lot of setup of where the characters had got to following the previous novels in the series. Having said that, there's a lot in this book that recurs from the previous and I felt it would probably have been useful had I re-read A Choice of Futures before reading Towel of Babel.

The focus of the story is the potential for Rigel to join the 'fledgling' Federation, and Bennett has built his plot around pulling together the slightly absurdly varied and potentially contradictory facts we've learnt about Rigellians through the Star Trek tv series, movies, novels and comics to date - which as always he does very well, clearly demonstrating that a lot of effort goes into his research process.

I found the plot slightly complex to follow though - there were almost too many things going on, with Bennett trying to give page time to all the main characters. This also had the effect of giving each character only time to show one aspect of their person and some of them felt like they were there just as a nod of the head. A lot of the characters do grow, but I'd have liked a novel which picked one out for a bit of a meatier storyline. I felt Archer's story could in particular have done with a bit more exploration at one point, where he could have gone through a lot more turmoil than he got away with.

Overall I enjoyed this return to the Enterprise universe, but didn't think it was as strong as the first novel in the series, which I absolutely loved. That's not in any way going to stop me from reading the next two that Bennett and the publisher have already announced - these Enterprise novels really do well to put the series on a strong footing.

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Only Superhuman

Only Superhuman

31st March 2014

I've read a number of Christopher L Bennett's Star Trek tie-in novels, and have been reading online for a long time about this book, an original work looking at the 22nd Century life of a group of genetically-engineered superheroes.

I found the book really interesting, although in places hard going. The narrative gets a bit bogged down with technical details, then flips into fast-paced action scenes. These were actually what interested me least, and several times I found my attention drifting and had to turn back a page or two to work out what was going on.

The plot gets quite complex, and does well to keep the reader guessing all the way to the end, although it gets to the point of ridiculousness in trying to tie your thinking up in knots. The main character is strong, and I really liked the way that the backstory was given interspersed throughout the narrative in 'origin story' chapters. In fact, I found these sequences the best in the novel.

The book does have a similar overall feel to it as Bennett's Trek novels, though I didn't find it had quite the power to grip me. Certainly an interesting novel, but a little too much toward hard science fiction for my tastes.

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Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures

Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures

6th July 2013

Christopher L Bennett kicks off the re-relaunch of Star Trek: Enterprise following on from the novels by Michael A Martin, and manages to do a much more entertaining job

Rise of the Federation follows the adventures of the former Enterprise crew, and guest cast, some fifteen years after the TV series was set and shortly after the foundation of the Federation. Admiral Archer is one of the new combined Starfleet's top brass and the others are littered throughout the fleet.

The plot, while spread over quite a period of time, feels unified in a way that previous Enterprise novels have not, and certainly shows that Pocket have chosen the right author to shepherd these characters on. I think I've engaged more with this set of characters here than possibly ever before.

As is typical of Bennett's writing, there is a vast array of references back to various previous episodes in the series and some surprising appearances from the future. His love and detailed knowledge of the series shine through, and this attention to detail go along with his well-paced plot to make this an excellent new adventure.

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Other reviewed books

Forgotten History
The Struggle Within
Watching the Clock
Over A Torrent Sea
Orion's Hounds

Unreviewed books

Greater Than the Sum
The Sky's The Limit

Top books

  1. Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures
  2. Watching the Clock
  3. Live By The Code
  4. Uncertain Logic
  5. Only Superhuman
  6. Tower of Babel
  7. The Collectors