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Star Trek reviews

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The Jackal's Trick

The Jackal's Trick

20th December 2016

The second book in John Jackson Miller's Star Trek trilogy, part of the series' 50th anniversary celebration, continues the tale of a Klingon warrior who has surprisingly risen to prominence, as well as several of his compatriots - and the cast of The Next Generation who are once again stuck in a diplomatic struggle rather than out exploring.

As is typical for Star Trek, there are some surprisingly relevant allusions to occurrences in our world, whether intended or not, which makes the reader long even more to find out how things are going to go and how at least one of the worlds they love will end up all right. I did detect a tiny feeling of repetition though, with some novels earlier in the continuity following a plot line with some similarities.

Unlike many trilogies, this middle book doesn't have the feeling of just shuffling things between the end of the beginning book and the start of the concluding book, but instead tells a full story in itself that features a lot of action and a satisfying resolution. There's a lot going on, of course, and many threads still hanging for book three but it certainly stands well alone.

A great Trek novel in a great Trek trilogy. So far my favourite trilogy of the year.

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Hell's Heart

Hell's Heart

18th November 2016

This is the first book in a new trilogy - the second celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek - focussing on The Next Generation crew and being a part of the continuing adventures told in the novel series. Picard and the crew are dispatched on a diplomatic mission to deliver a Klingon house to a celebration of an old battle, but as usual complications arise.

Despite the main storyline following TNG there is a pretty chunky Original Series act in the story with some star turns by Kirk and Spock, which serves to give some background and set up events in the later era.

It's a great story that uses a bunch of familiar characters really well and sets this up to be an excellent trilogy. The plot is deliciously complex pulling on strings from throughout the Trek canon and unwinding them in new and interesting ways. The new characters are rich and compelling and draw the reader in to their intrigue.

An excellent tribute to the series, and one that leaves me desperate to continue the story with book two.

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Purgatory's Key

Purgatory's Key

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8th October 2016

The third and final part of Star Trek's fiftieth anniversary celebratory trilogy follows Kirk and his crew, and selected special guests, as they attempt to tie up the many problems that the last two books have raised.

Ultimately I suppose that is where this story suffers - it doesn't really have the chance to set up its own internal plot, but instead is left to put the toys back away. While this does lead to some interesting quite science fictiony concepts that get explored, it also drives a secondary plot which seems bolted on and doesn't seem to add much other than to delay the conclusion of the story. I also felt that some of the detail went over my head - whether because I missed something key or something key was missing - which meant that although I got the ending it wasn't entirely clear how or why we had got there.

The characters didn't all feel quite as fleshed out as in the previous stories, and I didn't find them as engaging, particularly the special guests. It also felt in places like this novel had been written without an understanding of what was happening in the others, as several scenes have characters reflecting on having not done something before that they had only just done in the previous book.

Overall it did well at wrapping things up, but I don't think it was as strong as the other novels. Admittedly, I'm not really an Original Series fan and so might not be the target audience, but it hasn't done anything to make we want to pick up anything else from this era in the near future.

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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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Captain to Captain

Captain to Captain

19th August 2016

I'm not really into reading The Original Series novels - being that my interest in Trek began in the late 90s (the first novel I bought was from August 1998) and even then TOS seemed incredibly dated to me. That said, this is the 50th anniversary, and this book is the first in a special celebratory trilogy, and so it felt only appropriate to get and read it.

The story takes place on the Enterprise, where a former crew member, Number One, has popped by for a visit which quickly becomes interesting for Kirk and Spock. Fundamentally, Number One (the first officer from the original pre-Kirk Star Trek pilot) is the star of the show here, and we follow her viewpoint for much of the story.

It's a good, action-packed tale that includes a number of concepts and familiar elements from the history of the franchise, mentions more, and introduces some interesting new aliens and artefacts that will clearly have ongoing involvement in the trilogy. I got more and more into the story as it progressed, much more than I expected for a TOS story, and really enjoyed reading it.

I’m now sitting desperately waiting for the second story to appear in my frequented set of bookshops so I can find out where the story is going to go next.

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Rules of Accusation

Rules of Accusation

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18th August 2016

The second Deep Space Nine novella from Block and Erdmann, this story follows Quark in what would equate to one of the lighter episodes of the TV series, as he attempts to organise a party.

Compared to most literature in the Star Trek universe, this story is incredibly light hearted and comedic, the narrative full of jokes and references both to Star Trek and other pop cultures. It makes for a nice light break from the more serious adventures that we've had more recently.

It's a great little story that I enjoyed massively, and I hope Block and Erdmann become regular contributors to the literary canon.

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Force and Motion

Force and Motion

6th July 2016

Jeffrey Lang returns to the Star Trek Novelverse with a book that, like his previous entry, takes place away from the ongoing narrative of the series. This time we join O'Brien and Nog as they head off on a slightly weird holiday to visit a former colleague, Benjamin Maxwell (who appeared once in a TNG episode).

It's a good fun adventure story. I really liked how it explores Maxwell in particular, reflecting in flashback over much of his life and exploring how he had evolved as a person over maybe twenty years since we had last encountered the character.

However the parts of the plot set in the 'modern day' part of the timeline were quite confusing, and I never really felt like I had a good understanding of what was going on, what the various characters' motivations were, and why events were unfolding in the way they were.

I've also become used to the novels telling a chapter in an ongoing story, tugging on threads left by earlier novels, leaving things dangling for the future, and evolving the characters. I didn't fee that this book did that - instead being much more in the 'toys back in the box' mould of earlier novels, and I found that quite frustrating that it just seemed to be an adventure rather than moving the lives of the main characters. It could be that I'm totally misremembering this though as its a few weeks since I read it.

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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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Power Hungry

Power Hungry

19th April 2016

A fairly run of the mill Next Generation novel set during the second season, in which Picard and his crew find themselves in a tricky prime directive situation when escorting aid to a planet suffering from extreme climate change.

It's clearly an epistle from the author on the threat that the world faces from a changing climate as a result of human activity, and though this fits with the traditional Trek ethos of pointing a mirror in the direction of the twentieth century, it's delivered with such a lack of grace that it feels like the message is being hammered home at the expense of a thrilling plot.

The author makes some attempt to introduce some new elements of characterisation amongst the crew, but largely this falls flat by virtue of it not being able to be picked up on in any later stories, instead feeling like it's just been dropped in because he felt he had to use all the characters even if they weren't necessary to his plot.

It's not an awful book, but it certainly didn't grip me or excite me about where the story was going, and rather than inspire me to think more about the issues brought up, it's kind of saddening that we still haven't done anything to rectify our own situation some 25 years later.

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A Pocket Full of Lies

A Pocket Full of Lies

25th March 2016

Kirsten Beyer, holder of the Voyager torch for the last few years, provides us with another trip to the delta quadrant to see the crew again. This time it's a stand alone novel that revisits a couple of the alien races met during the TV series. This makes for a nice change after the last few novels which have been a continuing arc.

It's a good story that focuses on the idea of family. While a of of Voyager has that family feel to it, I do think that it's been a bit over done in the books of late, and it really does feel in this story that there's a bit too much focus on this theme this time which seems repetitive.

The story here though is really well constructed from elements of the TV series and some earlier novels, woven together into a main plot that flows nicely, visits a number of spaces, and sees several developments that have potential to lead to more stories in the future.

For the most part, an enjoyable visit to this part of the Trek universe. I still think that some more variety in the authorship would be good for the series, but this one works well.

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Ascendance

Ascendance

11th February 2016

The latest Deep Space Nine story is a direct sequel to 2015's Sacraments of Fire but the same author and continues the two threaded story which serves to fill in some of the blanks left in the continuity by an earlier massive jump forward in time between books.

Unlike the previous story though this one is, for the most part, separated info to distinct chunks of narrative, one in each time period, rather than interweaved throughout which makes things easy to follow if perhaps slightly less interesting. The first half has the added benefit of being presented at a markedly different speed from most Star Trek novels, which actually works really well and keeps the narrative flowing in a great way.

As well as filling in some gaps and advancing the overall plot of the DS9 story, the book focuses in on a number of the core characters, moving their individual lives around and digging deeper into their characters, while managing to set off plenty of new threads to follow up in future stories.

Another good story from the current curator of my favourite Trek series, which fans have been waiting for for some time. I enjoyed out, but was left with a sense that it could have covered more, and now I'm desperate for more, which may not be coming until next year as 2016 is filed with TOS and TNG stories for the fiftieth anniversary.

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Strike Zone

Strike Zone

4th December 2015

Book five of the Next Generation tie-in novels sees us joining the Enterprise D crew early in the second season, dropping references all the way through to some of the new aspects of the show that have been introduced - Riker's beard, Crusher's absence, Pulaski's presence, and the arrival of Guinan and Ten Forward.

It's also the first Star Trek novel by now-veteran author Peter David, one of the most famous authors in all of geek literature, and I'm amazed at how much he was allowed to get away with even back in the eighties. This is probably the most hilarious piece of Trek fiction I've read in all seventeen years I've been reading it. Right from the start David is joking around with the characters, especially Riker, and this makes it into a very entertaining novel that survives the decades between publication and reading extremely well.

What sadly hasn't survived intact is some of the background that David supplies for his characters. There's a lot of backstory and exposition that is later massively contradicted by later episodes (especially relating to the Klingons) or that the TV writers had probably planned but never followed up on (Picard/Pulaski). Despite this being me out of the plot a little, it's good fun and interesting in itself to see what was going through the minds of the writers back this early in the series.

Finally, the plot of this specific novel is also good - both the A and B stories are interesting and serve to explore the world well and bring up a number of points that deserve reflection and thought. I was intrigued to see the introduction of one character from a species over read about before I later Trek books by other authors, and I didn't expect to see inter-novel connections like that from so early on. Bit disappointed though that he's consistently referred to as an elf through the story, as that feels a tad racist.

Overall a really good and enjoyable novel and one I'm glad that my re-read brought to my attention. I'm now looking forward to reading more of David's output as I continue the series.

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Sight Unseen

Sight Unseen

5th October 2015

The latest novel in the Titan series follows the crew of the starship and Admiral Riker as he continues to get used to his new role. Dispatched to a new frontier, the crew receives a distress call from a friendly vessel and heads off to help.

The book starts like many Trek novels and also follows the recent convention of telling sequels to episodes of the TV series. The first half moves along at a reasonable pace but feels like it's lacking something and didn't grip me as much as I had hoped. There were moments where I phased out and had to take a step back a page to catch back up with myself.

The second half though was excellent. The pace ups and we get a strong blend of action, intrigue and a range of characters having interesting moments. I really like how Swallow takes some of the newer characters and gross them through the novel to the point where it feels like you've known them forever - a trick that would be beneficial to some of the other recent Trek tie-in novels.

That said, some of the other characters that we've been exposed to for a while seemed to get much less attention and two of the subplots felt shoehorned awkwardly in to reshuffle things in a way that didn't have much bearing on the plot of this book.

Overall though the second half really impressed and entertained me, and it was definitely worth reading the first half to get there. An excellent adventure and well used characters. I hope for many more books by Swallow in the years to come.

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The Returned part three

The Returned part three

24th September 2015

The final part of this new New Frontier adventure follows up on everything we've seen in parts one and two. There are several vaguely interconnected threads that tie the characters together and demonstrate that Peter David still has what it takes to produce a solid, funny Trek adventure.

As always, the story is filled with imaginative twists, unexpected events (some very surprising!) and humorous moments that made the early New Frontier stories fantastic.

I'm pleased with how David has closed things in a little, focussing back on the original characters and enabling new readers to be drawn in (and old ones to remember). The trilogy as a whole has really impressed me - I'd been scared that it would be terrible, but actually really enjoyed it and hope that there will be more to come.

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Atonement

Atonement

12th September 2015

Voyager is back for the seventh story in Kirsten Beyer's re-relaunch of the series, and she must be doing something right because the publishers keep hiring her back. Sadly, I'm not so sure I would in their place - although there are some parts which remain fantastic, much of the book did little for me.

This is also the third part of a trilogy - and the combination of being books 3, 7 and 9 in a series leads to the many plot threads being a little confusing. Going in, there are at least three separate stories going on - one on Earth and several in the Delta Quadrant, featuring a range of characters both from the TV series and that have been introduced since.

My main issue with this book is that, despite having read all the books so far, I don't feel like I know the characters or where the plot has got to. One of the plots deals with TV show characters and some aliens which have come up at various points through the earlier novels, but I didn't feel that I'd ever been engaged with those plots sufficiently to feel concern for the characters and an urge for them to succeed. Another plot line followed new characters only, from one of the many ships that have joined Voyager's mission - and again I don't feel like I've had enough memorable exposure to the characters to make their plights engaging.

The one plot that did grip me was the one set on Earth - it featured a number of characters I'm familiar with, both from the TV show and from the wider novel series, where they've been well established and implanted into my memory by strong us by multiple authors. It had a strong plot which I was motivated to understand and follow and I was engaged in the idea that the characters solve the problems they face. This plot line as an entire novel would have really gripped me, but instead it's presented as the B-story. In all, this left me really looking forward to those chapters which followed the third of the story that interested me, and phasing out during the other scenes.

I really want to enjoy reading about Voyager and the characters that I've grown to know over many years, but I think it might be time that the focus was reviewed for the novel series - to tie it back to characters that the reader knows and is interested in, and to provide more standalone stories that don't assume an in-depth knowledge of the novels that have gone before.

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The Returned part two

The Returned part two

21st August 2015

The second part of Peter David's new e-novella trilogy about Captain Calhoun and the crew of the Excalibur follows directly from the cliffhanger at the end of part one, as the ship investigates a pocket universe while attempting to recover missing friends.

I found the secondary plot more interesting though - focussed on events on New Thallon and flashbacks giving new insight into the background of the Thallonians who have played such a big part in the New Frontier series.

Overall though, although it was funny, action-packed and fun to be back with the core of characters, it does feel a lot like a middle, and this part doesn't seem like it stands alone as well as the first ebook. Strong setup though for part three, which is only a few weeks away.

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The Returned part one

The Returned part one

26th July 2015

It's been a few years since the last outing of the USS Excalibur as part of the novel-only Star Trek: New Frontier series, and I had thought that the series had run its course. I’ve been reading the stories since they began in the late 1990s, and although I found the first couple of tranches very enjoyable, felt it had lost its way toward the later end of its life.

So I was surprised when 'The Returned' was announced - a set of three ebooks continuing the adventures of Captain Calhoun and his crew. And, despite having little recollection of where the most recent books had left the characters, I found it easy to pick up and get back into this world.

Peter David gradually reintroduces the key characters, and it feels a bit like he's going around getting the band back together. This first part of the story is very much focussed on laying the land - getting the characters into place, getting the reader up to speed, and introducing some of the elements, both new and old, that will come into play (presumably) in the following two volumes.

A very satisfactory short story and introduction to this trilogy, and one that I felt served well as a reintroduction. I’m definitely going to continue reading with the remaining two ebooks over the coming months, and hope that they are just as good.

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Sacraments of Fire

Sacraments of Fire

10th July 2015

The Star Trek litverse returns to Deep Space Nine in a book that runs parallel to the events of the 'The Fall' mini series, as well as some of the stories that followed it. It also begins to fill in the major DS9 continuity gap that was left between the original relaunch novels and the Destiny trilogy.

It's difficult to describe the plot without spilling spoilers all over the shop - but it's a great ride that catches up with a number of characters from the series and truly does them justice. George's writing captures the spirit of DS9 and weaves a fantastic tale from the various threads.

One of the things I like most about George's novels is that they don't make an assumption that you remember everything that has gone before. He's got the balance just right to fill you in with what you need to know without it feeling like a full recap. There are also subtle hints at things from other stories that make you smile if you spot them but don't break your flow if not.

Another great DS9 novel and I hope for many more to come, not least the immediate follow up which is due in the winter.

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Armageddon's Arrow

Armageddon's Arrow

20th June 2015

The Enterprise E returns to regular missions after the novel continuity's recent upsets, and this does feel a lot like some of the older novels - much like an episode of the series rather than part of the ongoing story, and that's really great.

While investigating a potential first contact, the Enterprise comes across a drifting spaceship with a mysterious provenance, and the crew have to deal with the repercussions of this discovery on the local planets.

It's great to spend some time exploring something new, and Ward has created a fascinating scenario that allows him to plant a number of references to various of the TV series, follow up on a few of the new and old characters, and provides some real tension and intrigue.

As much as I love the ongoing arcs that flow through these books, it is nice to have one that's mostly stand-alone, and I'm glad that Ward had the chance to deliver this one. It's good to see one of my favourite crews back on the road again and I enjoyed travelling with them.

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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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Survivors

Survivors

5th April 2015

Survivors is novel number four in the original Star Trek: The Next Generation line, and is set somewhere in the middle of the first season, between 'The Arsenal of Freedom' (which it references) and before 'Skin of Evil' (which is also referenced and foreshadowed). The author having had the benefit of knowing what happens in 'Skin of Evil' has made this into a fantastic character exploration and backstory reveal for one of the least served main characters of TNG - Tasha Yar.

In fact it also deals with Data very well too - getting his character much more accurately representing the one in the first season than some of the earlier books, which would have been drafted before the series aired. This makes the novel feel an authentic part of TNG storyline rather than a side tale in a parallel universe and I really enjoyed getting to read it.

The plot is also a strong one, though one that since has become something of a template for science fiction and Star Trek's prime directive stories. It makes good use of the characters to inform the story though, and uses quality science fiction fare to create a tale to put the characters in. The story flows well, and although its clear what some of the twists are going to be, it's so obvious as to be clear that you're meant to be expecting it and so doesn't feel like bad foreshadowing.

A really great early novel that's pleasantly surprised me again - when I started this re-read I was expecting the early novels to be dire and I have been proved wrong again and again. This should be one for any fan of the early years of TNG, and Tasha Yar in particular, to read.

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Takedown

Takedown

5th April 2015

Seriously. This is epic. If ever there was the Star Trek novel that cried out to be a film this is it. When Will Riker commandeers Ezri Dax's ship, the Aventine, and sets out on some unusual missions, Captain Picard is obviously the man to send after him.

The thriller kept me gripped solidly throughout and every page - from character moments with our friends, to exploring new relationships, to mega space battles - was fantastically crafted to provide a great reading experience. The story is very engaging and inescapable as a reader. I loved every single moment.

The author has a fantastic grip on the wide range of characters that make appearances, although I must admit the size of the cast meant that there were a number of them who didn't get as much page time as I would have liked. The new characters he introduces, particularly the Romulans, have a lot of depth and aren't the run of the mill bad-guy-of-the-week characters that sometimes appear.

The best Star Trek adventure novel for a long time - absolutely loved it and have all my fingers crossed that Miller will be invited back to contribute more to the canon.

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The Missing

The Missing

11th February 2015

Finally! A new DS9 novel! But is it? We're well into the second DS9 relaunch by now, and there's a big continuity gap sitting in the wings waiting to be filled in between the two. This story really focuses on three known characters, all of them based in or around DS9, but really Ro, Crusher and Pulaski are all Next Generation characters.

The story is about separation from family, a theme which fits really nicely with the selection of characters that McCormack has pulled together, and the numerous plot strands that weave together here. It's also about strong female characters, though I only realised that a few days after is finished reading it. I'm not sure if that says more about the author's subtlety or my own blindness to such factors, and if the latter whether that's a positive thing or a negative.

So I must admit that I was a little disappointed that it wasn't a bit more DS9 focused, and that the plot was really a gathering of multiple parallel strands rather than a single main narrative. However Isis enjoy the visit to the station and find McCormack to be one of the best writers of real character in Trek.

I look forward to more from the series, from the author, and more Cardassians please!

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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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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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Acts of Contrition

Acts of Contrition

18th October 2014

The latest novel in the Voyager continuation series follows immediately on from the previous story, 'Protectors'. The 'Full Circle' fleet, including Voyager, are continuing diplomatic relations with a new culture, but far more interesting are the side plots about the characters we know from the TV show.

This is the sixth book in the series that Kirsten Beyer has written, and I'm afraid to say I think it's all got a bit too convoluted to follow properly. I find that I can't remember what's happened well enough to understand the story properly, and it takes me most of the book to set in my mind who each of the new characters are. I think that at some point I'll have to do a full re-read to catch up. It's a shame as this happened before with New Frontier and the first DS9 relaunch, and I'd hoped that the editors might have improved things this time around.

This book is the middle of a three-book story arc, and continues a number of plot lines set up in earlier novels. I found (as always), Beyer's strongest storytelling is in the parts that deal closely with the characters, their families, and their interpersonal relationships. Her action pieces and even the science fiction don't entice me as much. In this novel, the story lines around Tom Paris, Seven of Nine, and The Doctor were particularly interesting, and I wished that far more had been made of these - the 'main' plot felt much more about positioning the pieces ready for the final act in the next book.

I didn't find this book as engaging as I would have liked, and I certainly didn't have an urge to constantly keep reading, but the plot is sound and I have enjoyed revisiting some familiar characters who continue to be written really well. I think that the next book should bring this sequence to a close though and allow for a good new entry point following that, to give new readers a chance to drop in without having to go through the back catalogue.

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Q Are Cordialy Uninvited

Q Are Cordialy Uninvited

18th October 2014

Another excellent novella in the Star Trek ebook-only line, this time giving the story behind one of the events that occurred between earlier novels - Captain Picard's wedding.

The story is a succinctly told adventure featuring a number of returning guest characters that Joseph writes perfectly. I very much enjoyed reading it and hope the author is able to contribute further to the Trek novel line.

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Love's Latinum Lost (and Found)

Love's Latinum Lost (and Found)

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8th September 2014

This first foray into fiction by two of Trek's fantastic non-fiction authors makes for a brilliant short read. The story follows Quark as he goes on a little business adventure, and the short format has the exact same feel as one of the Ferengi-focused episodes of the TV series.

The pace is good, and I although I got through the story in just two sittings I felt this trip back to a world populated by some of my favourite characters was worth the low price.

The authors clearly have a strong grip on all things DS9 and drop in plenty of references back to the series. Their companion for the TV series is probably my favourite non-fiction work about Star Trek and this move proves they can be as good at writing their own stories - I hope they have the opportunity to pen some more.

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The Light Fantastic

The Light Fantastic

8th July 2014

Jeffrey Lang returns to Trek to follow up on the events of the Cold Equations trilogy, which in turn followed from Lang's own Immortal Coil. I've not read Immortal Coil, so I can't really say how much is referenced back to that book, but one thing this book does do is refer back to almost every android that's ever appeared in Star Trek.

Despite the serious subject matter, the narrative is quite light and the characters in particular are presented in a similar manner to some of the more jokey episodes of The Next Generation. In fact the main characters of this story are probably the best part, each having real depth and growing through the novel.

The plot is quite fun too, a cross between a heist and Sherlock Holmes, and is entertaining throughout despite posing some good moral questions in the Trek style. I really enjoyed the non-linear nature of the narrative, continue happy jumping around the characters' timelines to gradually reveal more to the reader.

I can't really pick out anything to criticise - although I thought I spotted one or two continuity glitches (but I might be the one misremembering). A great fun read, and one that I hope Lang is able to follow up on.

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The Children of Hamlin

The Children of Hamlin

9th June 2014

The third numbered book in the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel series sees the crew on a pair of missions - transporting a group of agricultural colonists to a new home and answering a distress call from another Federation vessel.

The focus seems to be mostly on the guest characters rather than the regulars - in fact, it meets the Original Series cliché of having a visiting Starfleet dignitary take over in a useless manner. I liked some of the aspects of the colonists' culture, which was presented in a way that enabled the reader to learn without feeling like exposition was being poured down your throat. By contrast however, some aspects of that culture feel tired and overused.

The plot was interesting, and generally fit the series well, although there are aspects that are totally predictable far in advance, which rather than seeming like good foreshadowing make the main characters feel stupid for not seeing what's happening.

Most of the story seems to fit well the TNG season one mould, although a couple of aspects were jarring - the relationship between Picard and Crusher wasn't quite how it was realised on TV, and there's an early mention of Romulans which is contradicted by the end of the first season.

Overall, I didn't feel that the book was anything special, but it's not lacking in quality as I feared when starting my re-read of the series.

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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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Absent Enemies

Absent Enemies

9th March 2014

I'm sad to say that this Star Trek Titan novella was something of a disappointment. Unlike other recent novellas from the Trek line, it's not a character-focused story but is heavily plot and action driven (like a weaker TNG episode) and doesn't really add anything to the overall Trek universe.

The plot follows Riker and his crewmates as they are randomly dispatched on a repair mission. There's a bit of a mystery to solve but by necessity the solution is hinted at so heavily that it's hardly a surprise when you reach the reveal. Some of the characters come across as having forgotten everything that's happened to them in recent stories, and that's a little frustrating.

Because of the action orientation of the plot, the story seemed to pass much more quickly than a character-driven tale of similar length, making it seem much shorter than other similarly-lengthed novellas, which was disappointing given the price. I'm not really an ebook person and so on the odd occasion that I'm forced into reading one so I don't feel I've missed out on something, I really want to feel it was worth it at the end - in this case I didn't.

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No Time Like The Past

No Time Like The Past

27th February 2014

I'm not normally a reader of novels from The Original Series line, but seeing as this is a crossover with Voyager I made an exception, and wasn't disappointed. The story sees Seven of Nine thrown back in time where she meets up with Captain Kirk, and together they have to save the timeline from damage.

The first thing I noticed was that the style adopted by Cox is quite different from that used in the 24th Century novels. It's more relaxed, more casual - almost jokey. This fits well with the original series setting and characters, and there are a number of in-jokes that I spotted, and doubtlessly more that I missed.

The plot is a fulfilling thriller as the characters encounter a lot of obstacles, and in doing so Cox makes reference to several episodes I recognised from the TV series, and some earlier novels, some of which I was barely familiar with, but for which there was enough background given for me to get the gist.

So the book is really just a vehicle to get two characters together, and unlike the TNG-era novels I've been reading recently adds little to Trek as a whole, but it's good fun and I've really enjoyed reading it.

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Protectors

Protectors

26th February 2014

It's book four of Kirsten Beyer's re-relaunch of Star Trek Voyager following the events of the series finale, the first relaunch and the complicated inter-twined novels around the Destiny trilogy. Although the authors say that each book can be read alone, there are a lot of references here to previous novels and I think they would be frustrating and baffling to a reader who hadn't been keeping up.

The story feels reminiscent of the author's earlier book Full Circle, with two parallel plot lines following different characters - one more action packed and one more emotional and character driven. The latter was the one that I found most engaging. It's hard to say much about it without dropping spoilers.

The 'main' plot, on Voyager itself, sees the ship investigating a distress signal. There are some interesting science fiction concepts roaming around, but I didn't really feel they were explained in a way that I could really visualise what was happening. The technobabble throughout, but particularly near the beginning, actually distracted me from the plot and felt like it had been picked at random rather than even trying to sound like it was making sense.

The book is meant to be the first part in a trilogy, but as a stand alone I felt there was something missing - it almost subscribes to what I've described before as 'middle-book syndrome', where everything that happens seems to just be reshuffling characters into the place they are wanted for the following book.

Overall though it was enjoyable to visit these characters again and see where they are going next. There's a lot clearly been set up for the future, and if you want to keep reading, then this is a vital book in the series.

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The Peacekeepers

The Peacekeepers

9th February 2014

The second regular novel based on Star Trek: The Next Generation has surprised me, reading it 25+ years after publication, by being really good. I started re-reading the series in order, with the feeling that I was going to be disappointed by everything in the early numbered stories, but both book one and this are really good.

It's a story mostly about Geordi, a surprisingly under-served character really, when he and Data are mysteriously transported away while investigating a drifting derelict. The characters, certainly in the first half of the novel, are very recognisable from the portrayal in the early episodes of the TV show, and it feels like the author has got a really good grip on how they were envisioned at that time.

As a sci-fi plot, it's strong - there's mystery, suspense, twists, a deep back-story that might not be all it seems, and the narrative flows well throughout, focussing on Geordi and Data but giving a good outing to many of the other main characters (though Wesley Crusher is curiously unmentioned).

I actually really enjoyed reading this, and am looking forward to reading DeWeese's later TNG novels.

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Peaceable Kingdoms

Peaceable Kingdoms

18th January 2014

The final book of The Fall - the 'event' mini-series that's rounded off the 2013 catalogue of Star Trek continuation novels - wraps up everything that's been building over the past few novels. The book follows two of the regulars in particular: Doctor Crusher as she's sent undercover to meet a Cardassian under mysterious circumstances, and Captain Picard as he's left on the Enterprise.

As a single story, it felt surprisingly small compared to the scale of the previous books in the series. The narrow focus on Crusher was interesting as she's an underserved character, but I missed some of the other characters and was expecting more of an ensemble piece to round out the series.

The author uses a lot of flashback to fill in what happened in previous novels, and to add backstory that we've not been aware of so far, and throughout the novel this feels very awkwardly presented and disrupts the flow of the narrative.

The political thriller feel of previous novels in the series lent a lot of depth and this felt more like a military thriller - you knew these things were happening elsewhere but it felt like they were unimportant and secondary. I understand that the publisher's plans for the future of the series are to depart from the more connected political universe of recent years' Star Trek novels, and I for one will be disappointed if this is the case.

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The Poisoned Chalice

The Poisoned Chalice

12th December 2013

Book four in the 'The Fall' mini-series follows for the most part the USS Titan's crew as they react to the events of recent novels and find their routine altered dramatically by orders from Starfleet. A number of Deep Space Nine characters also show up, and I really enjoyed those appearances from my favourite Trek series.

The story doesn't really fit with the typical Titan formula - it's really more similar to a spy thriller, something that's becoming a frequent genre in the 24th Century Star Trek novels, but no complaints from me as I really enjoy them. The plot is really gripping throughout and Swallow achieved a great mix of action with authentic character moments, taking the familiar faces out of their comfort zones allowing them to grow.

There are some big plot points here too that further the ongoing narrative. It's definitely feeling like things are moving toward the conclusion that we're expecting in book five, but there are plenty of threads still dangling and I suspect a number of red herrings thrown in for good measure. A lot of the plot has some rather obvious parallels to real-world events, something that Trek has always done well, and it's interesting to see Swallow's take on how the characters would deal with these.

A great thriller that works really well in the Trek line. Swallow's certainly shown he can do interesting things with any Trek character and it seems like he was the perfect choice to tell this chapter. I look forward to more from him, as well of course to this mini-series' grand finale next month.

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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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The Crimson Shadow

The Crimson Shadow

27th September 2013

The second book in The Fall, the latest 24th Century Star Trek mini-series, runs for the most part concurrently with the first book, 'Revelation and Dust'. It follows Garak, Cardassian ambassador to the Federation, as he heads back to his home planet for the ceremonial signing of a treaty.

This is a very different story from the previous novel, much more about the politics and intrigue on Cardassia, and diplomacy between the various powers, whereas the the first book was much more action oriented. I found it interesting and enjoyable that the style differs so much between the two books, something that I've noticed a lot more recently in Star Trek novels than when I first started reading them in the late 90s - a welcome addition.

McCormack's novel reflects events in the real world masterfully, and has made me think more than anything else I've read for a long time, and yet as well as this she fills the tale with humour and 'easter eggs', many of which I expect I missed.

I found reading this that I wanted to pause between chapters to digest what I'd read, rather than rush ahead, although this plan went out the window as I got to the second half and couldn't stop reading. Her handle on Garak and other Cardassians is as strong as always and I've really enjoyed what she's done with them and their culture in this story.

An excellent novel, and a great continuation of the series - I look forward to the rest keeping this standard up.

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Revelation and Dust

Revelation and Dust

7th September 2013

Book one of The Fall, this year's 24th Century Star Trek novel extravaganza is also a celebration of 20 years since Deep Space Nine first aired, and that's where the series starts, picking up after the dramatic events of David R George III's previous three DS9 novels.

And the drama keeps on coming as we follow two main threads of story and are given tiny glimpses of storylines being lined up for the future. George gives away pretty quickly that something big is coming, and from then every chapter in that thread is written with glorious tension that this could be it. I loved this.

George gets a lot of stick for being overly wordy, but I've never found this a problem with his writing, and like a chunky Trek book that's richer than just action. There was one point in a long section near the beginning of the book where I wondered where the narrative was going, but it became clear in the end.

The characters are marvellous, and I'm surprised by how many the author managed to get to. He has their voices - particularly the Ferengi - down perfectly and I could really hear the actors in my head, something that few Trek books actually manage to achieve.

I loved this book, and am really looking forward to the remaining four parts of The Fall. If they're as full of character, action and emotion as this one then they'll continue TrekLit's fantastic current run.

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Ghost Ship

Ghost Ship

2nd September 2013

In the first regular novel based on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Diane Carey presents a story that successfully bridges the gap between the TV series' pilot episode and the remainder of season one by rounding off some of the changed premises. For a book that was likely written before the pilot was even transmitted, she does well to capture the locations and the characters from the series.

The story is not focussed on a specific character, but is spread fairly evenly between about five, with decent appearances by the rest of the regulars. It's a strong sci-fi tale that draws on the characters' emotions to present a really enjoyable and interesting read that, unlike many tie-in books, presents characters learning and changing based on their experiences.

The style of the book is slightly awkward though, with the narrative slipping into paragraphs of introspection from a number of characters' points of view, which tend to slow the story down and distract from what's really happening. This was particularly noticeable in the passages tied to Riker's viewpoint. Carey also seems in places to be making a dig at various aspects of the series, and it almost feels as if she's using the characters' thoughts to criticise some of the series' creators' decisions.

The best thing though was the moral dilemma that the author poses to the Enterprise's crew. It's a really strong question that survives the test of time and remains authentic and challenging to the reader today, some 25 years after the novel was written. This more than makes up for the eighties references, particularly near the beginning, and also the attempts to tie the book into the previous Original Series novels with details that would later be contradicted by future TV show.

Overall, much better than I had been expecting from the age of the story, and I can only hope that this is representative of the series at this point, rather than them choosing the best to carry the number one label, as I continue reading.

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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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The Never-Ending Sacrifice

The Never-Ending Sacrifice

21st June 2013

Following on from the second-season Deep Space Nine episode 'Cardassians', Una McCormack's tale follows the life of Rugal, a Cardassian teenager brought up by Bajorans but sent back to live with his biological father. It's a different take on a civilization that was not explored in as much detail as it could have been on television, and gives an interesting alternative perspective on the events of the TV series.

The narrative moves at an excellent pace, easily keeping things in line with the main DS9 storyline throughout, and presents an interesting study of the character and how he grows. McCormack has an excellent grip on her ward and the various other well known characters that appear. Her Cardassia deserves to be the definitive one and she adds layers of texture to the culture that enrich it beyond anything I've read elsewhere.

There are parallels with twenty-first century Earth in the narrative, as well as moments of humour that had me tittering as I read on my commute. It's a perfect example of what Star Trek should be, and I've really enjoyed reading it - why I've waited so long since it was published I don't know.

It's surprising, shocking, tender and revealing. A must read for DS9 fans.

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Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

22nd May 2013

Alan Dean Foster's invitation to pen the novelization of JJ Abrams' second Star Trek film came as something of a surprise to me, as I was very disappointed with his version of the previous film. This book lives up to my recollections of its predecessor.

The novel follows the plot of the film almost exactly (a film which I enjoyed almost as much as the last one), and is a faithful description of what happens, but it is significantly lacking in detail, particularly in the action scenes. The pacing is poor and the writing doesn't grip anywhere near as well as the source material.

It seems as if the publishers have given Foster too much leeway - they've thrown the usual Star Trek novel styleguide out the window and replaced it with narration that feels patronising in how much it wants to explain. There are parts where it's as if it's writing for a small child. Rather than the usual style of aligning the third party narrative with one character at a time and following events from their perspective, we're given a more god-like overview with occasional glances inside the characters' heads. Altogether this makes for a lightweight presentation that removes a lot of the suspense and the relationship with the characters.

There are places where Foster has added missing detail to the plot that helps explain some of the things that puzzled me about the film, but not even to the extent of the scenes he retained/added in the previous book, and this doesn't make up for the book's faults.

There are other established Star Trek and novelization writers that could have added more to what feels like a rushed clone of the script. The book only managed to hold my attention by reminding me of what I saw in the cinema.

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Encounter at Farpoint

Encounter at Farpoint

2nd May 2013

The novelization of the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation reveals a fascinating insight into some of the early plans for the characters, and adds a little to the story as seen on TV.

For the most part, it is an accurate representation of what happened on screen, though several segments are different from those shown, presumably because Gerrold was working from an earlier draft of the script. Riker's first encounter with Data is different and sheds a different light on their relationship that never gets explored in quite the same way, and there are hints of things for other characters do come to pass despite being missing from the finished episode.

Some of the characters' backgrounds are given in more detail than the show, and it's interesting where these diverge from the TV series - whether by Gerrold adding colour or the series 'bible' be rewritten later by the series' writing staff. Data's origin stands out, along with aspects of Picard's history that go unexplored on TV.

A good read, and for the most part a faithful representation of the original episode, although having to rely on the script for the structure does make some elements feel a little clunky.

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The Stuff of Dreams

The Stuff of Dreams

31st March 2013

The Stuff of Dreams, while just five chapters long, provides another solid tale in the ongoing drama of the post-Next Generation era of Star Trek. Picard and the Enterprise are sent to rendezvous with the USS Newton which is investigating the Nexus - a spacial anomaly that featured heavily in the mid-nineties movie Generations.

The novella serves as something of a sequel to the film, focussing on Picard, his relationship with the Nexus and how the character has evolved since he encountered it thirteen years' previously. It's a lovely character piece that has. Bit of action and works really well as a short read.

While brief overall, the story didn't feel rushed and each chapter seemed quite chunky. I've very much enjoyed spending a few hours in the TNG universe in this gap between the main novel releases and hope the publishers continue with this format.

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The Body Electric

The Body Electric

18th January 2013

Book three of the Cold Equations trilogy by David Mack, author of the amazing Destiny trilogy and two brilliant novels already this time, is something of a disappointment. A grave threat to the galaxy and beyond is discovered by Wesley Crusher, and the Enterprise is the only ship that could possibly save the day. Meanwhile one former crew member is hunting for the one man who can bring his daughter back to life.

The parallel plots (neither seem to be more prominent than the other) work well in parallel, but the situation the Enterprise is thrust into is reminiscent of some of the old Trek novels of the nineties and doesn't seem in keeping with the more recent, and more realistic, approached to cross-series continuity in the novels. The level of danger is so extreme that it becomes impossible to expect anything but success for the characters, removing any tension from this side of the story. It's like a game of peril one-upmanship gone too far.

The other half is stronger in premise but feels weakened by a lack of attention and limited action. As a work of science fiction it has a good basis, and there are lots of new characters who explore the available possibility space in a number of interesting ways, but as characters they aren't explored in any real depth and the situation in which we find them doesn't seem consistent with how they are presented.

Until the final quarter, the narrative progresses slowly and I did not feel compelled to read on in any great rush, even taking several days in the middle to read something else. Overall I thought this was a weak conclusion for a Mack book which are usually some of the best in the series.

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Night of the Living Trekkies

Night of the Living Trekkies

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4th January 2013

A surprisingly awesome book in which a Star Trek convention in a Houston hotel is overrun by zombies, and we follow unwilling hotel staffer Jim Pike as he tries to rescue his sister.

This is a book for Trekkies more than anyone, and is filled with more Star Trek references than an official Trek reference book. There are also tips of the hat to a variety of other science fiction franchises, which makes this more rounded than just a fanboyish novel might sound. Even the things that seem not to be Trek related are, such as a lot of the characters' names.

I'm not usually a reader of horror novels - I bought this based on the title alone - but to me it stood up as a story with a lot more depth than I was expecting. The characters are rounded and believable, and the action is entirely plausible. We're aligned with one character pretty much throughout as the plot flows naturally and at a perfect speed.

I wasn't expecting anything this good when I picked this book up and am very pleased I've read it - it was hard to put down and is probably one of the most fun books I've read for some time. Absolutely fantastic - I hope the authors have more to come.

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Silent Weapons

Silent Weapons

10th December 2012

Book two in the Cold Equations trilogy picks up a couple of months after the first book, and although they are branded as a trilogy each stands alone pretty well (though you'll want to read them in the right order). Picard and the Enterprise are performing some slightly dubious science experiments when a distress call pulls them into a complex and very interesting situation.

The story contains all of the best elements of Trek, great characterisation, particularly of some of the guest characters, action, diplomacy and Mack's trademark of events that will rock Trek novel storylines for years to come. It flows off the page even better than the previous novel and I devoured it over the course of a single weekend.

Compared to part one, it felt less epic in scope, despite the subject matter seeming to make more of a difference to the ongoing storyline. It pulls together so many elements that it almost seems like there's too much going on, but everything is tied together surprisingly neatly into a plot that almost feels lessened by the slightly anti-climatic climax.

David Mack is the must-read author for Star Trek fans now and his novels tend to be the highlight of the rather sparse publishing schedule. I can only hope that book three will be just as explosive and that it will perhaps resolve some of the plot points that Mack and the other Trek authors have been setting up for years.

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The Persistence of Memory

The Persistence of Memory

21st November 2012

David Mack returns to epic Trek novelling with the first book in his Cold Equations trilogy, which sees the Enterprise called to investigate a shocking theft/kidnapping and follows this up with some surprising, heart-warming and intriguing events that once again might just change the Trek universe forever.

Mack's style is strong and easy to read. I wanted to dive in and not stop reading, which is always a bonus, and was particularly frustrated in the middle section at having to stop reading to go to sleep or work. His grip on the characters is perfect and I really enjoyed the first-person parts of the narrative.

This book is particularly focussed on one character, and some of the others seem a little under-represented, but hopefully that will be resolved in the sequels. Mack ties in with a lot of things from the various TV series - one of which I'd been thinking about just a few days before reading which made it a nice reference to come across. He's also relying a lot on events from the novel 'Immortal Coil' which I have to confess not to have read (yet).

The one weak point I thought was the final chapter, which didn't seem to quite fit, and I would have appreciated a little more before it, but I can understand that it was needed to set the scene a little for what will follow. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for book two - David Mack has certainly reminded me at least that he's one of the top Trek authors of all time.

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Brinkmanship

Brinkmanship

7th October 2012

The eighth story in the Typhon Pact arc, set several years past Star Trek Nemesis, focuses on the Tzenkethi, and their relationships with the Federation and its allies, as well as the Venette Convention, a non-aligned peaceful group whose home lies between the major powers'. The plot follows three strands and focusses on diplomacy and exploring the alien cultures in more detail.

My favourite parts of the novel are those set on Ab-Tzenketh itself as we explore their culture in more depth than ever before and it is revealed to be far more fascinating than I had imagined. McCormack really excels at world building and this makes the novel far more than just another run-of-the-mill adventure.

While it's good too see more of the USS Aventine under Ezri Dax, in places these parts of they story did seem a bit tacked on and I had expected that there might be more of a focus on this crew than the novel actually included. Despite the cover image, the Enterprise portion of the plot is told mainly from the point of view of Doctor Crusher, which is a refreshing change as she has had comparatively little page-time recently. Writing this, I've only just noticed that this makes all the main characters of this novel females, which is also an interesting difference to the norm.

Although I sped through reading it in study two days, this is another excellent Trek novel. I'm really enjoying the way they are going at the moment and hope this can continue. I also look forward to reading more from Una McCormack who has fast become one of my favourite Trek authors.

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The Eternal Tide

The Eternal Tide

15th September 2012

Kirsten Beyer's fourth post-Destiny Voyager novel picks up on a number of threads that have been hanging over the series for some time, most specifically the mystery surrounding fleet commander Afsarah Eden's past.

It's another great novel and one that's very tightly focussed on the characters. I wasn't too impressed by aspects of the previous novel, but the 'mumsyness' has been toned down with this one and although it is heavily emotion-fuelled there is a much better balance with the narrative.

Some readers may find aspects of the plot disappointing, however I thought they were well executed and delivered the intended results without feeling like a deus ex machina. Beyer explores a number of concepts from the TV series in a new light and in places this makes the story feel a little like those in the Typhon Pact arc.

Overall, another excellent novel in this series that Beyer certainly excels at writing. It does feel like a turning point in the ongoing narrative but I hope the publishers keep the author for a few more episodes.

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Fallen Gods

Fallen Gods

23rd August 2012

Nominally the seventh book in the Star Trek: Titan series, this book actually follows on from the 'Typhon Pact'-branded novel Seize the Fire by the same author. It follows the Titan as it investigates an unusual pulsar and deals with some of the repercussions of events in the wider Star Trek novel universe.

The narrative is written in an interesting style, with the narrator seeming to take on the voice of the character it is aligned with despite remaining third person. This is something I haven't noticed from Martin before but in places makes the book hard to read - particularly when he's telling the story from the point of view of the new aliens. I would have liked to have spent more time exploring the character of Pava as well, who seems to be skipped over despite seeming the most interesting character.

The plot is slow to get going - it's a curious mix of two plotlines which seem completely disconnected, which while a little reminiscent of the old A/B-plot episode structure from the TV series feels lacking. It then ends very abruptly, which for one of the stories seems like a chapter of follow-up has fallen out somewhere.

As people have said of Martin's other works, his writing is about telling what happens, but there's little by way of real character development. There are character moments certainly, but they don't change or grow. It's also annoying that despite the big thing about the Titan being its diverse crew, the characters he uses are the same ones and same races we've seen before. The most frustrating thing though was the very obvious elephant-in-the-room that seemed to be built up as some big mystery when it was obvious to the reader exactly what was going on.

However it's not a bad adventure, and once I'd got my head around them the alien species were an interesting, if under-developed concept, and it served to continue the ongoing storyline - so is a must read for anyone following along.

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The Assassination Game

The Assassination Game

18th July 2012

The fourth Starfleet Academy book based on the 2009 Star Trek film, The Assassination Game is the best yet. It follows the antics of all six of the main characters based at the academy as an unfriendly alien group visits Earth for a medical conference.

Alan Gratz shows himself off to be well versed in Trek lore, dropping in loads of references to the different television series while making them feel a completely natural part of the plot. As a long time fan this made reading all the more fun.

Although branded as a 'young adult' novel, the book deals with its characters far more as adults, and this makes them and the setting far more realistic. There is nothing in the book to alienate an older reader and I really respect the author's ability to write this way.

There are a couple of plot elements that have been used before, but the way the different strands are weaved together makes this an enjoyable story nonetheless. I've loved reading this entry in the series and look forward to Grazt being given more opportunities to write for Star Trek.

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Raise the Dawn

Raise the Dawn

13th July 2012

Raise the Dawn is the second half of a duology, and the seventh entry in the Typhon Pact thread of Star Trek fiction. It focusses mostly on characters from Deep Space Nine as they deal with the repercussions of the events of Plagues of Night.

I'm aware that a number of Trek fans don't like David R George III's writing style, which makes this book read more of an epic tale than a close, character development piece, but I enjoy the tales he tells in this pair of books and found there to be plenty of character moments along with the action and politics.

This feels like it's a summation of all the Typhon Pact books so far, but it's far from the end of the thread (there's one more coming later this year at least), but it brings a number of ongoing plot points to a conclusion.

I've very much enjoyed this couple of novels and looks forward to more from George.

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Plagues of Night

Plagues of Night

27th June 2012

David R George III continues the post-Nemesis Star Trek saga in this first part of a duology and sixth part in the ongoing Typhon Pact arc. The narrative covers the period around the earlier novels, adding some context to tie them together, then continues the adventures of the Next Gen and Deep Space Nine characters as the Federation opens diplomatic relations with the Typhon Pact.

In common with George's other Trek novels, the focus is quite broad and the book longer than many recent entries in the series, meaning that the text in my paperback copy is smaller than is often the case. Rather than following an individual character, George's narrative flits around taking in the diverse lives of Picard, Kira, Bashir etc, while focusing mainly on Sisko and surprisingly Ro Laren, as well as a number of the new characters introduced in the novels.

Some readers will find the book frustrating in the way the story is told from myriad points of view. I know a number of Star Trek fans are not enamoured of George's style, but I like it - it certainly isn't a character piece, but the breadth of the tale doesn't weaken the storytelling and certainly makes for an epic tale.

I've really enjoyed catching up with the Deep Space Nine characters again and am really looking forward to the continuation of this story in Raise the Dawn.

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Forgotten History

Forgotten History

24th May 2012

Forgotten History is the second book in Christopher L Bennett's Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations series, and is very similar to the first.

The plot, framed by scenes set in the post-TNG-era 'present' but mostly occurring during the original series up to the period between the first and second films, sees the appearance of a rift in time and space containing an unusual starship, which sends Lucsley, Dulmer, and the rest of the DTI delving into their organisation's past.

Something I've realised for the first time is that Bennett's writing style is a little unusual. His writing is very much about telling the reader what is happening, whereas most novels I read spend a lot of words on description and fewer directly on events. Personally, I have no problem with this - I don't have a powerful visual imagination and when I read I don't find myself picturing events in my head. However other readers may find this disconcerting if they are used to an author painting a picture for them.

Partly, this goes with the nature of the story, which is framed in parts as if it is being recounted by one character to the others, however this doesn't seem to quite work, as some of the events depicted are ones that the character in question would not have been privy to.

Bennett's chief talent is in the detail. Once again he has managed to pull together elements from a vast range of episodes, predominantly of the original series, and other novels, into a consistent storyline. This makes the story incredibly rewarding for the fan, although for those not so deeply immersed in Trek lore might come as something of a turn-off. I'll admit that some of the references, particularly those to Bennett's own earlier novel 'Ex Machina', will have passed me by as I've not read it.

I enjoyed reading this book, despite its complexity and lack of visuals, but I think it probably is one of those that readers will either love or hate.

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To Brave the Storm

To Brave the Storm

20th November 2011

I have to admit that this book wasn't quite what I was expecting, but nonetheless earns its place in the Star Trek continuity. It's the second part of a duology about the war between Earth and Romulus that has been established in Trek lore for some decades as happening prior to the foundation of the Federation, and something that the Enterprise series was long thought to be planned to be about.

Previous reading is required for this - the other Enterprise continuation novels are vital if you're going to understand where the characters are, and this novel wraps all of these up. The plot in this 'episode' starts a bit slowly. It's quite a disjointed storyline, focussing on several key parts of the war rather than being a single narrative within the war, and as such manages to cover a lot more than I was expecting.

Once the first few parts are out of the way though the speed and the action pick up to an exciting pace, and this continues through to the end. It becomes an enjoyable read and I almost wish that there was some more of this to come. The focus is very much on Archer, Trip and T'Pol, with some of the others getting barely more than a brief mention, which is where the TV series evolved to, and I was a little disappointed to not get a bit more on the others.

I still feel that Martin's output has suffered since he stopped writing with Andy Mangels, and the narrative feels a little rougher and less friendly than some of the earlier stories in the series.

This feels like a good place for Enterprise's story to come to an end. I don't think that there's going to be any more novels that continue Star Trek's 2150s storyline, and this novel certainly serves as a much better close than the final episode of the TV series did six years ago.

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The Struggle Within

The Struggle Within

4th October 2011

This is the first Star Trek ebook that I have read, and while it was a novel experience I don't think I'm yet ready to give up the dead tree variety. The Enterprise is dispatched to Talar to seek an alliance, while two members of the crew head off on a separate adventure.

The story is excellent and fully deserved to be fleshed out to a full length novel. At only seven chapters long I felt it lacked depth in places and the writing style came across a little casual. The plot however seemed surprisingly relevant to real world events of the past year and I think the possibility of a much quicker publishing process for electronic output made it feel more so. For a Trek novel this is great as one of the TV series original aims was to mirror the real world.

I thought the dual plotline approach was constructed very well, separating the familiar Picard story from that focussing on the book-only characters, which for once I found to be the more engaging. The two stories play around a similar theme and so although separate they fit together well, and develop at a good pace.

Although it took me only an hour to read, this is an excellent addition to the Typhon Pact storyline and I look forward to more of Bennett's output in the future.

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Children of the Storm

Children of the Storm

29th July 2011

I really enjoyed the last two Voyager novels - both also by Kirsten Beyer - and have been looking forward to this one for a while. I was a tad disappointed though. Voyager is now part of a small fleet which has returned to the Delta Quadrant on a mission of exploration and diplomacy. Three starships have gone missing while attempting to make contact with a hostile alien species - the Children of the Storm - and Chakotay and his crew must try to find them.

The first thing to note is that the previous two books are prerequisite. You'll need them to know a lot of the characters and to understand the situation. I read the last one when it was released and had trouble remembering where things were, so I'd recommend refreshing your memory if you read it a while ago too.

I found the beginning of this book to be quite weak - possibly because of my poor memory of where things stood - and quite a lot of the book focusses on inter-personal relationships among the crew. There are a number of new relationships, and quite a lot of focus on Miral, the toddler of the Paris family. It seems this has been inspired by the author's own recent parenthood, and in some places it's really cute, but occasionally goes a little over the top. One particular sentence had to be the soppiest and corniest thing I've read for a long time.

Once the plot got going though it switched back to the brilliance I've come to expect from this author, and I was very pleased with her descriptions of the aliens and the crews' interactions with them. Overall the range of new characters work really well and it's a good extension to the Voyager series without feeling forced. Once again I find myself looking forward to more.

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The Gemini Agent

The Gemini Agent

7th July 2011

The third novella focussing on the characters in the alternate timeline set up in JJ Abrams' 2009 film sees the cadets reaching the end of their first year at the Academy. If the stress of exams wasn't enough, Kirk is having black-outs, and some pretty strong allegations aimed at him.

This is certainly the best of the books in the Academy series so far. The characters come across as more mature and the setting much more closely resembles a real university, with the campus full of love and drinking rather than fighting and tradition. That said, there are some silly things like the concept of 'dead week' - a week dedicated to pranking - which felt like a bit of unnecessary padding.

The strength of this book is in the relationships between the characters - the plot seeming to take second place and ultimately being a bit on the bland side. Kirk and Bones' friendship is shown to be developing well, and each of them gain a love interest - a subject which is given a slightly more realistic approach than in the previous books. The book also introduces Pavel Chekov, and gives him much more attention than he got in the film, which I really enjoyed.

Overall I think this could have made it as a full length novel rather than this format - expand the plot and the detail a little and it would have had much more appeal. As it is the style and presentation of this is just a little on the childish side to be appropriate for the teenage market it is apparently aimed at. Still, the best in the series so far.

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Watching the Clock

Watching the Clock

26th June 2011

This is the best Star Trek novel I have read for a long time, certainly post-destiny and possibly post-TNG relaunch. Set mainly in the 'Typhon Pact' era, it focuses on Lucsley and Dulmur, and their colleagues at the Department of Temporal Investigations as a new front opens in the temporal cold war.

Bennett packs in a lot of action and adventure, as well as world building, rich detail and characters, and an awful lot of time-travel related physics that is put across amazingly well for what could be a terribly confusing subject.

What's best about this book though is the sheer volume of Star Trek lore that it ties together. Through flashback, the DTI's point-of-view is shown of almost every time-travel incident in TV/film Trek history and a significant number of literary ones too. It really grounds what are fundamentally new characters and new adventures in the familiar and makes the book all the more enjoyable to the fan, and shows off the considerable effort the author has put into researching his subject.

Bennett's certainly making a name for himself in my book as one of the top Trek authors of the current crop and I'm looking forward to his future offerings.

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Blind Man's Bluff

Blind Man's Bluff

24th May 2011

The latest entry in the New Frontier series is another disappointment. It makes for a very quick read that hardly justifies the trade paperback format and accompanying inflated price tag. My experience with it wasn't helped by the complete lack of memorability of 'Treason', the previous book in the series.

In 'Blind Man's Bluff', the aliens from 'Treason' are out for revenge, attacking Captain Calhoun on his home planet of Xenex, while he is also under assault from forces closer to home, including Morgan, the self-aware computer aboard the starship Excalibur.

As much as I used to love New Frontier, I've either grown out of it or it has lost its way. The plot is extravagant and unbelievable, and totally disconnected from the continuing storylines that other Star Trek authors are writing. The characters, once a rich, varied group, have been replaced with bland two-dimensional cardboard cut-outs, none of whom seem to have any existence except to be the butt of jokes from the superhero Calhoun has become.

Despite all this the book does have a few good points. There are some amusing moments (Doctor Who references) and for the most part the narrative is well written, it's really just the plot that lets it down. I imagine that for old time's sake I'll continue to read New Frontier when it comes along again, but I'm not going to find myself annoyed by the inevitable protracted delays to the publication date.

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Indistinguishable from Magic

Indistinguishable from Magic

12th April 2011

McIntee's book feels a little out-of-place in the next generation continuation, making very little reference to the ongoing storyline from the recent Typhon Pact mini-series. It focusses on Geordi La Forge, possibly the most under-used TNG character, as he joins a host of other familiar characters to investigate when a missing 200-year-old starship is discovered.

While the plot is action-packed, it almost seems like there is too much going on - it's not that it's difficult to follow, but the feeling I got from reading the novel is that it is more a series of very closely related episodes rather than what I'd describe as a single story.

It's good to have a Geordi story, and to see characters such as Scotty, Nog, Reg Barclay and Guinan thrown together, however in places that makes it seem almost fan-fic-ish in its casting - it seems implausible that these characters would be allowed to serve together. One of the themes explored in the novel is romance, however it feels very awkward and on the most part it seems to be skirted around rather than being addressed properly, something which disappointed me.

There are quite a few niggles in the book that irked me, including continuity errors, and around the three quarters mark some copy-editing problems (half of some sentences were missing), but overall I found it an enjoyable read. Probably not a favourite but a happy diversion from the more serious novels that have been out recently.

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Paths of Disharmony

Paths of Disharmony

10th February 2011

The fourth and final book in the Typhon Pact mini-series is the Next Gen focussed novel and departs from the practice of the first three books by dealing predominantly with a Federation member species, the Andorians. Their planet ravaged by the Borg and species threatened with extinction by reproductive difficulties, Andor plays host to a conference of scientists and politicians trying to find an acceptable solution.

To me, this is the adventure where the series of continuation novels has come of age for the next gen. The writers have the freedom now not to worry about putting the toys back in the box, and so events have lasting repercussions, granting the reader much more emotional involvement with the plot.

While some elements are clearly moving to set things into motion to fit back into the 24th century parts of the recent Star Trek film and it's accompanying literature, the characters are written in such a way that it feels a natural progression of their character arc. In this way, this book is far superior to it's predecessor, in which DS9 characters develop beyond recognition.

Although the story follows on from many of the events of the DS9 relaunch novels, and ties in with the TOS-era Vanguard series, there's no requirement to have read either to understand this action packed semi-political thriller. It's the best of the Typhon Pact novels and leaves plenty of room for Trek to continue for a long time. I look forward to finding out what happens next.

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Rough Beasts of Empire

Rough Beasts of Empire

22nd January 2011

I was surprised by my disappointment with this novel. I am a big fan of DS9 and its novel continuation, and really enjoyed both the preceding Typhon Pact novels and the Destiny trilogy before that. I also enjoyed George's earlier DS9 book in the Mission Gamma arc.

This novel, set earlier than the other two Typhon Pact novels, though it doesn't tell the reader that, focusses on the Romulans, and that is it's redeeming feature. The political machinations are the most interesting part of the story.

The thing that annoys me most is the glossing over of the continuing DS9 storyline. At the end of 'The Soul Key' the storyline was building up towards something good, but the publishers abandoned that plotline, leaving it on a cliffhanger, and jumped the story several years into the future. George makes vague references to events in this period, but the lack of detail and the extreme consequences of these unseen occurrences make aspects of this book unbelievable. The changes to the characters of Sisko and Kira are wild and warrant explanation, while very little is forthcoming.

That moan out of the way, this book is quite chaotically put together, with gaps of months between chapters which break the flow of the narrative and on the odd occasion it jumps the other way, and has unannounced flashbacks, which have the same effect.

Overall this book feels like a filler. While it does deal with the Romulans to a similar depth as the previous novels did with other Typhon Pact members, it doesn't really add anything new that we didnt know from earlier stories. The coverage of the Tzenkethi is vague and feels like padding. While the conclusion of the book feels necessary to the story arc as a whole, the ends fail to justify the means in this case, and like I said, it disappointed me.

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The Edge

The Edge

9th January 2011

'The Edge' is the second book published in the new Starfleet Academy series featuring Kirk, Spock, Bones & Uhura as we met them in the 2009 film. Despite the release order, this appears to have been meant to be the first book, and serves as more of an introduction to academy life - explicitly stating that some of the events occur within the first week.

Like 'The Delta Anomaly', the writing style seems aged a little on the young side of 'young adult', while the content of the story is probably about the right level, however one is more readable for a 'grown up'. The plot is loosely based around a medical mystery, however the main focus is on the cadets' life at the academy. To me, this comes across as a little implausible. While I would expect a military academy to be focussed more on physical than academic achievement, my idea of Starfleet Academy was that it was closer to a modern university facility than how it is portrayed here.

The characters are well written, Kirk coming across particularly as less of a jerk than elsewhere. Spock is rather awkwardly shoe-horned into the storyline but the book deals well with the beginnings of his relationship with Uhura, and drops in a few references that will make long-term fans smile.

Overall it's certainly an improvement over the first book in the series despite the chronological oddities (this book was originally announced to be the pilot novel). Although a simplistic quick read the plot worked and the characters fit in well. I'm now looking forward to more from this series.

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Seize the Fire

Seize the Fire

15th December 2010

The second book in the Typhon Pact mini-series, which is also the second Trek book that Michael Martin has written solo, is a fairly run of the mill adventure. When a natural disaster destroys a Gorn breeding planet, two factions set out to find a replacement. The discovery of an ancient terraforming technology looks promising, but Will Riker and the crew of the USS Titan are afraid it could also be used as a weapon.

This novel occurs roughly simultaneously with the first Typhon Pact novel, but other than a few mentions it could have occurred anywhere in the Trek canon. It's a fairly standard story of alien technology, prime directive problems and arguments with the Gorn which seems to have almost no bearing on the continuing storyline. This is a little disappointing as I was hoping for something that would continue developing the plot.

The plot itself seems quite slow moving, and made hard to read by the Gorn speech being rendered in a 'Gorn phonetic dialect' which seems unnecessary given that they wouldn't be speaking English anyway. The action tends to stay in one place, and the different factions and number of named Gorn become a little confusing.

In terms of style it is very similar to the Bashir book which precedes it - both focus on one of the Typhon Pact's member races, showing them to be more than just a warmongers, and dealing with aspects of racism that pervade in the characters. It's more similar though to the earlier Titan novels, but it's far from the best of the bunch. I personally feel that Martin's writing has lost something since he stopped collaborating with long time writing partner Andy Mangels.

Overall I was a little disappointed. I was expecting something a little more grand and focussed on the Typhon Pact plot rather than a day in the life of the Titan. Hopefully the remaining two books in the mini-series will get things back on track.

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The Delta Anomaly

The Delta Anomaly

25th November 2010

I decided to read this book because it is the first novel to be set in the parallel world created in the recent Star Trek movie, and despite its billing as a 'Young Adult' novel. It is set at the Academy while Kirk, Uhura and Bones are cadets, and sees them dealing with their studies, relationships and an alien invader who is stealing human organs.

Unlike other 'young adult' books I've read recently, this one takes it to the extreme. The writing style is that I would expect in a book aimed at a child of around ten, while some of the content I would like to think would be more suitable for someone in their mid-teens. As an adult reading, it comes across as very fast paced and lacking in detail. Chapters tend to end mid-scene with me wanting to find out what happened next, only for the next to jump forward several hours.

The plot is reasonable. It's a good mix of student life with adventure, and the two storylines intermingle well and feed off each other. Perhaps the non-academic aspects of studenthood are simplified and juvenilised a touch, but that may be a result of either the young target audience or it being based on the American eduction system. The plot will have a little more value to longer term Star Trek fans, who will get some of the implied references, but actually this kind of irritated me, as I wish the author had been a little more original.

The characters are by far the best thing about this book. Kirk and Uhura are portrayed exactly as in the recent film, and Bones and Spock make good back-ups to the pair, however Spock does feel a little shoehorned in. There is also some confused continuity regarding how far through their studies each of the characters is, with some disagreement with implications from the film.

Will I continue to read this series? I'm not yet sure. At first I thought that the writing was too young for me, but now I don't know if that will stop me. I might try the second one to see if this is how it will settle down.

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Zero Sum Game

Zero Sum Game

17th November 2010

Having really enjoyed David Mack's Destiny trilogy I was looking forward to finding out what he would do next to the Star Trek universe in the first of four Typhon Pact novels. I have to admit I was a little disappointed by it though.

The story follows Julian Bashir and Serena Douglas as they attempt to infiltrate a Breen shipyard to retrieve some stolen plans. The Breen as a culture are explored in much more detail than ever before and Mack makes them seem very real. Sadly the same can't be said of the two Starfleet characters, whose genetic enhancements are played up, come across as superheroes whose power is a touch too awesome to empathise with.

The story starts in a style that I found quite similar to a television episode, with a lot of short scenes running back to back, setting up the plot, before settling down to the main part of the story. I find it quite irritating that a large period of Deep Space 9's story has been missed out between last year's The Soul Key and the Destiny books, which means a number of changes have occurred that are sprung upon the reader. I only wish that they had filled this gap with story rather than trying to gloss it over.

This book makes a traditional slightly dodgy attempt to do romance, which Star Trek has always been particularly bad at. Unfortunately it comes across quite cheaply, and doesn't really seem all that necessary to the plot, though it does serve as some motivation to the characters. Perhaps it is something that will be explored further in the rest of the series.

Although it was not what I would describe as an excellent read, it was better than a lot of Trek books and I'm still looking forward to reading the next three.

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Daedalus's Children

Daedalus's Children

15th October 2010

Daedalus's Children is a very similar book to its predecessor. It continues the story of Enterprise's crew trapped in a parallel universe where they are allergic to the food, in the middle of a civil war that they feel partially responsible for.

Unlike the first book, this one doesn't just focus on Trip, adding in Captain Archer as a second character to align the reader to. Neither character comes across particularly well though - Tucker feels less stereotypically southern but otherwise both are a sort of bland superhuman without any real emotion. The other main characters from the series are just given rather cursory bit parts, with the possible exception of Travis who at least gets a little bit of action before his limelight is stolen away again.

Stern's grasp of science continues to be lacking, which is rather unfortunate for what is at root a science fiction novel. His interpretation of parallel universes leaves a lot to be desired and one particular statement renders the most important plot point contradictory. It's almost as if he had half heard of several concepts and rammed them together and tried to make up the rest without any research.

I found it hard to get going with this. My motivation was particularly sapped by the direness of the previous novel, and so I wasn't too disappointed that this book lived up to those expectations. I wouldn't recommend you bother win either half of the duology - they add nothing to the Star Trek experience.

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Up Till Now

Up Till Now

4th October 2010

William Shatner's latest autobiography has a vey quirky feel to it, and focuses mainly on his acting career. Born in Canada, young Bill decided he wanted to act, against his father's wishes, and as soon as possible headed to Broadway under the promise that he would become a star.

The first third of the book covers the years before Star Trek, and Shatner describes in a very informal manner his formative years and his early acting life. He details a surprising number of stage and television performances. If you are looking for anecdotes about Shatner's time on Star Trek though you will be disappointed. These have already been covered in Shatner's previous works 'Memories' and 'Movie Memories'.

The middle section of the book I found hardest going. These were really the post-Trek years of the seventies. The final part picks up again. Shatner covers his tragic relationship with his third wife Nerine, and then demonstrates a real passion for his most recent role as Denny Crane in Boston Legal.

The one thing that irritated me was the feeling that the book was just an advertisement for Shatner's work, rather than a memoir about doing it. There is a running joke whereby Shatner tells the reader that things are available to buy from his website, but after being repeated in every chapter it gets a bit sickeningly shameless.

Overall it is an interesting read. The impression I get is mostly of honesty from Shatner and a sense that he is quite amazed by how well he has done out of his career. If you are a Shatner fan then it will probably be a must-read, but if you dislike him then you will probably find it a cheap sales pitch.

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Daedalus

Daedalus

27th August 2010

I've had this book for several years, probably since it was published, but until now had not got around to reading it. I soon found out why.

The book focuses on Trip Tucker, as Enterprise and its crew are captured by an alien dictator who seemingly appears out of nowhere while they are investigating a spatial anomaly. Trip manages to evade capture only to find himself being drawn into the local war.

The style of writing is horrendous in its simplicity. I found it really hard to focus on the words and found I was only skim reading the entire novel, something I've never known to happen before. It's writing in a very casual manner, almost like a first draft where the author is just bashing out whatever comes to mind rather than caring about how it comes across.

I found the absence of the other main characters annoying. I like ensemble pieces from my star trek novels, and even Hoshi (who is misnamed throughout as Ensign Hoshi rather than Ensign Sato) who seems to be tagging along for the ride is soon conveniently written out. The romance sub-plot feels unnecessary and in there only to pad out the length, and the main plot itself is filled with thinly veiled coincidences. Its most redeeming feature is the end, which gives a nice 'ah-ha moment' and a lot of earlier things start to click into place. It almost makes up for some of the really bad science from earlier.

Overall I have to say I was disappointed. I'm not sure how I'm going to bring myself to read part two. This came over as a badly thought through and badly written implementation of what could have been a nice idea.

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Articles of the Federation

Articles of the Federation

23rd June 2010

This is the first official political thriller from the Star Trek universe, and covers the events of the first year of Nan Bacco's tenure as Federation President, dealing with the Klingons and Romulans, first contacts, unruly councillors and the repercussions of the events of A Time for War, a Time for Peace.

I found it a difficult book to get into. There was no particular overarching plot, but rather a series of threads that weaved throughout the story. It is divided up into chunks with gaps of several weeks or months between, focussing on key periods, but also breaking up the narrative's flow.

On the other hand, there's a really good feature where the reader is taken out from the main characters into the company of a random Federation citizen watching a TV political discussion. It helps to fill in the gaps between the sections and to give an alternative set of viewpoints on the events of the plot. The segments do seem a little implausibly short for a TV show though, which I wonder whether is a symptom of decreasing attention spans in the 24th century, or poetic licence on behalf of the author.

The characters are mostly likeable and the main ones easy to get a grip on. Some of the more minor characters I found a little hard to follow though, especially as there were quite a lot of them that were dropping in and out. Overall, I enjoy this different style of Trek novel though, and this is a good way to round off the 'A Time To' series and set up the next set of novels.

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A Time for War, A Time for Peace

A Time for War, A Time for Peace

13th May 2010

The final book in the 'A Time To' series has surpassed my expectations, much as the previous two. I felt the series started rather weakly, but towards the it's conclusion it has grown into something stronger.

While there is not really a central adventure to this novel, it's story is still captivating, as it focusses on not only the Enterprise crew as they prepare to separate, but also an inspection of their vessel, a hunt for a missing emperor, and a presidential election. In fact, I think this is better described as the first of the Star Trek political thrillers, as it's focus on the election and Worf's diplomacy take up a significant proportion of the narrative.

The main aim of this novel of course is to wrap up the series and to move the playing pieces into position for the film Nemesis, and it does this excellently. Previously this has seemed rather forced but DeCandido makes everything flow naturally and sets up even minor details in a believable manner.

I was pleased with the use of characters, though the focus away from the Enterprise meant some had less 'screen-time' than they perhaps deserved, particularly Crusher and Troi. Scotty's presence also seemed a little bit surplus to requirement, and I think a different character could have played his role equally well.

There was some rather unnecessary wrangling at the end that doesn't quite seem to fit in with how the later books progress, but as it was written first I don't suppose I can criticise on that basis.

I very much enjoyed this book and am looking forward to rounding the series off with its one-off sequel 'Articles of the Federation' which is the true first of the political novels.

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A Time to Heal

A Time to Heal

5th March 2010

A Time to Heal is another good David Mack contribution to the star trek line, although I didn't find it as interesting as the previous novel in the series. This one seemed more predictable, with the culmination of the plot fairly obvious on the basis of knowing later events from seeing the film set later than it. This stripped Riker's incarceration of all its weight and made Doctor Crusher's ridiculously slow decision making tortuous.

The story itself has surprising and interesting parallels with the Iraq war - here the Federation is fighting rebels on a planet it has invaded (but not 'occupied'), where the local leader has gone into hiding, and it was the Federation that had supplied the planet with weapons in the first place. Troi's temptations to torture a captive general were really well written - although possibly a little implausible - as her actions in my book certainly add up to psychological torture and I'm very surprised that the Starfleet regulations permit her to get away with it.

Mack writes the minor characters aboard the Enterprise just as well as the regulars, particularly focusing on Vale and Peart in security and Kell Perim - the way he dealt with these characters was really surprising and refreshing. Mack has also made a good bash at getting some romance into his novel - in one case I felt it really worked but in the other I found it unsatisfying, going the way of most trek romance in seeming very out of character.

Overall, I've enjoyed Mack's two novels in this series, and am glad that the final episode is by another of the best trek authors of the current generation, as going back to some of the recent dross after this would be a let down.

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A Time to Kill

A Time to Kill

28th February 2010

David Mack has produced what is easily the best book in the A Time To... series so far with this one. While the storyline is still a little slow paced, Mack manages to successfully distract the reader by providing a host of alternative viewpoints, adding local residents, federation politicians, and Worf to his character list. This makes the plot feel much more rounded and enables a lot more background detail to be filled in without sounding like exposition.

The book is still clearly working toward getting all the pieces in place ready for the film Nemesis, but unlike it's predecessors manages to do so (for Worf) in a way that actually feels natural rather than forced, and in character. In previous volumes a lot of the characters have seemed a little over emotional and self-centredly obsessive over small things regarding their future - but Mack doesn't write this way, giving more focus to the plot than to his 'main' cast. This is not really a drawback, as Trek is not particularly good at dealing with characters' emotions, and the plot is still rounded enough not to feel like solid action.

I actually now feel that deciding to eventually read this series has been worth it, if only because it meant I got the chance to read this one volume. Hopefully though Mack's second part and Keith R A DeCandido's finale will round the set off in style.

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A Time to Hate

A Time to Hate

7th February 2010

This is the lowest in Star Trek noveldom I've visited in a long time. Very little happens until the final few chapters, and even then it's nothing that could not have been guessed from the previous novel. In fact, several of the major plot points have so blatantly been coming that it's a surprise there wasn't some sort of twist at the end. Admittedly it is lining up characters for their places in Nemesis but it's getting a bit silly when the entire plot seems to be just for the sake of one tiny set up.

For this is the book in which Riker and Troi finally decide to get engaged... and the author's attempts to explore this relationship by separating the two characters are sadly quite dire. Star Trek just cannot do romance. It's a well established fact, and this book proves it with both Riker and Troi and the going nowhere feelings between Picard and Crusher. It's just tiresome because the reader already knows where it is going.

The plot itself is next to non-existent. We follow characters who do next to nothing, and even the interesting interplay from the first half between Riker and Seer is missed out of this - Riker is paired with his sulky father, leading to little by way of conversation or interesting exploration of the alien races (one of which hilariously comes from Dorset!). There are holes in the plot (no combadge should mean no universal translator) and continuity problems (someone leaves but then is still there) which just make the novels seem badly written and edited. I'm not surprised that this pair are the only two of the nine out of print - they just aren't up to scratch.

In fact, the end is where it gets interesting - we finally get the proposal, Crusher comes out of her stupor and makes a decision and some interesting hints are let lose about what is to come in the next few novels. At least it's David Mack next - that should make for a more entertaining read.

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A Time to Love

A Time to Love

31st January 2010

Book five in this series is an odd fish. I'm not quite sure how to characterize it. The set up seems to be a bit of a murder mystery story on an alien planet known for being the one place where two enemy species are able to live in peace.

The problem arises when the mystery fails to generate any clues. The story merely follows the characters travelling around doing very little while the situation worsens. A true mystery story would have been littered with hints as to what Kyle Riker was up to, but there are absolutely none. It just leaves me feeling uninspired as a reader.

The alien creations themselves are far from novel - two races who hate each other living on one planet is an idea that I feel Trek has done to death and it's a bit cheap not to come up with something more. The main characters seem awkward too and slightly unreal - only Crusher seems to have any real depth to her in this one, where to my mind this should be a Riker book. Maybe this will improve in book two though.

I'm torn between whether the use of Riker's father is a cute tying up of an old story or whether it's simply another coincidence too far, but I suppose I will have to wait until the second part before deciding once I actually know what the plot is.

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A Time to Harvest

A Time to Harvest

&

7th January 2010

The second half of this duology is a slight improvement on the first, containing more action and a plot that moves more quickly. It's also easier to follow as we are aligned with both parties this time from the outset and can understand what's going on from both points of view.

One thing I've noticed and am ambivalent about is that the authors like to drop in references to a lot of prior events in the Star Trek continuity, but then take up a couple of paragraphs explaining it in a little too much detail. In one or two places this is justified where it is essential to the plot (or, I suppose, filling in the reader on events of the first book - although why would you read the second part without reading the first, and both were published simultaneously so it's not like you could have forgotten...) but in others it seems a bit of overkill - why not just leave the references as an added bonus for those that will get them and let everyone else gloss over them? Instead I have a couple of paragraphs that I end up skipping over because I know what they are telling me.

The main thing that I dislike about this book though is the way it seems to be forced to build in the direction of the film Nemesis. Yes, I know that the entire point of this series is to fill the gap between Insurrection and Nemesis, but there are really irritating parts, particularly having to explain how Data lost his emotion chip, that I really wish these novels could have done without.

I'm hoping that the rest of this series will have slightly less introspective characters. Picard, La Forge, Crusher all seem to have been fairly grumpy in this one, which gets a bit over the top when it happens over and over again. Having said all the above, I still enjoyed reading this.

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A Time to Sow

A Time to Sow

&

4th January 2010

The third 'A Time To...' book, while not a direct sequel in the truest sense to the second, is very definitely a follow on, in which Picard and the Enterprise are suffering from the damage inflicted on their reputation previously.

Unlike normal Trek novels, this series seems to have escape from the pattern where each book has to be focussed on an individual character, and it is more of an ensemble tome. Despite this, it gives an appearance of being biased slightly towards Geordi - but it's difficult to say whether this is real or just an appearance because he normally gets little more than a couple of scenes.

My only issue with this book is that it is a bit slow to get going. It starts well, but while interesting things are happening, the actual plot doesn't make an appearance until fairly near the end of this volume (the first half of a duology). This is followed by irritatingly little being revealed about the bad guy's identity before we reach the cliffhanger ending, or most of the detail of his motivation.

Overall I think this is in the upper half of the trek book ranking - it's certainly not bored me as I read it in an afternoon - though it has yet to make a mark as a really special adventure.

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The Romulan War

The Romulan War

11th December 2009

To me, this is not an Enterprise novel. Yes, it's set in the continuing Enterprise timeline, has scenes set on the Enterprise, and features the crew of the Enterprise - but not in starring roles. I would class this in the category of 'Star Trek Political Thriller' - like Articles of the Federation and A Singular Destiny - with a much wider focus than just one ship.

The plot continues from Kobayashi Maru, although is confusingly set before the Enterprise era elements of the Destiny trilogy, focusing on (surprise, surprise) the war with the Romulans - from a military, civilian, press and diplomatic viewpoint. There's also a fair amount from the Romulans' viewpoint as well which mixes things up. In a way I found the lack of focus a little distracting, but the second half of the book seemed to pick up a little.

This is Martin's first Star Trek novel without regular writing partner Andy Mangels, and personally I think it suffers from his absence. It's not easy to know exactly what each author contributes to their partnership, but I felt that this lacked something that their previous two novels in this series had. I also found the format - a trade paperback - really annoying, and personally don't think there was any good reason that this could not have been released as a standard paperback. The font size is very large, and the width of the page made it feel hard to read, having to skip my eyes back and forth wildly across the page rather than flowing down it. The large format also makes the book a pain to read while standing on a train, and it's very floppy.

So three stars - it continues the storyline well, although I'm not sure you could pick it up without having read the two previous novels. It's a very wide ranging book and time doesn't seem to flow in an easily followable manner - although each chapter starts with the date I have never found this to be a good way of showing the progress of time in a novel. There were a few annoying things were the reader could see things coming long before they were revealed to the characters, and there seemed to be a bit too much talking and too little action.

What really irritates me is that Pocket have announced no plans for the next book in the series... and this one certainly doesn't resolve any plotlines at the end!

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Synthesis

Synthesis

25th November 2009

Synthesis is an interesting Star Trek novel in several ways. It's main topic is very Trek, focussing on the definition of life itself, and complicated ethical questions surrounding the answer. However the story gets too caught up in the mystery and the action and seems to lose focus on the part of the storyline that should have been explored.

The central ideas are nothing new: a race of sentient machines; a war whose cause nobody remembers; political disagreement and the emergence of sentience in a starship computer. When I first realised the last of these points my thought was along the lines of 'oh no not again,' despite my love of Swallow's previous trek novel in the Terok Nor trilogy. This idea has been done to death, most recently in the New Frontier series, which explores many of the same gags and conundrums. If this book had explored some more of the ethics, made this part of the plot deeper, then it would have been an interesting read in the true spirit of science fiction. Instead though it is glossed over in favour of the war storyline, and tiny glimpses into the personal lives of the other characters.

This seems to be much more of an ensemble piece than recent Titan novels, which focussed on developing particular characters and I felt that detracted from the experience and ended up with too much focus on the aliens.

Overall, yes I was a little disappointed. While it does work as a story it doesn't seem to move the characters on at all, just dropping them back into the toy box at the end of the day. I had expected something more based on Swallow's previous work, but would still not dismiss this as un-entertaining.

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Unworthy

Unworthy

17th October 2009

Just like Beyer's previous novel in this series, Unworthy is absolutely fantastic. She has really got a grip on the characters the she is writing and their personalities and emotions and makes them far more real than any other Star Trek author.

This novel continues the story from where Full Circle left off, with Voyager and most of her crew returning as part of a fleet to the Delta Quadrant to explore and make friends. Tom is planning to resign and join his wife and daughter in hiding, while Seven has suffered a severe breakdown following the destruction of the Borg.

Beyer's new characters are as rounded and real as those we've known for years and fit in perfectly with the existing team - every one has good reason to be there, and the novel spends a good amount of time focussing on each of the characters rather than smothering us with one to the detriment of the others.

The plot is full of interesting and unexpected turns, and although one of the later twists was fairly obvious to me from early on it had its own unique sub-twist that hit me from out of the blue. The book feels like it has a good resolution even though there are a number of plot strands left hanging, and I'm really hoping that Beyer will continue to author this series.

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A Time to Die

A Time to Die

2nd October 2009

In the second book of this nine volume series, the first of the five stories is concluded. After breaking Picard out of jail, Wesley and the crew return undercover to the site of their disgrace to solve the myriad mysteries of the former battle site.

After the first novel was focussed on Picard, I had assumed that the cover image would indicate which of the NextGen crew each book would be about. By my reckoning that made this a Data book - but it isn't. This is definitely a Wesley book, reuniting him with his former crew and wrapping up his storyline which began in the previous novel. Many readers may be offended by this, as Wesley is traditionally not the best loved member of the crew, and Vornholt makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to this. I however am still a fan of Wesley, particularly as he was by far the closest character I could relate to while growing up watching the show (I too was a child genius who often saved the ship). This book shows Wesley as a young, insecure adult with little idea of what direction to take in life, and explores him pushing the boundaries of his abilities to stave off the destruction he has foreseen.

This novel is an interesting mix; part adventure, part mystery, part homecoming and part love story. Star Trek isn't known for its love stories, and with good reason. Te romance seems terribly sudden, forced, and a little amateur. One of the characters involved spends the first part of the novel lying to the other, before abducting her. It felt uncomfortably forced, and I am left feeling that it was done merely to leave a door to putting the toys back in the box at the end.

I was also disappointed in one particular passage towards the end, where the narration continues as normal for several pages before revealing that what it describes is just a character's imagination running away, and then replaying the scenes properly. Overall it was an okay book, although the solution was quite obvious from early on.

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A Time to be Born

A Time to be Born

28th September 2009

I've read this book once before, but never continued onto the rest of the series. Now I have them all lined up ready I thought I would give them another chance, especially given how much they are referenced in the later continuation novels.

The first instalment sees the Enterprise assigned to a starship graveyard filled with unidentified anomalies, alien scavengers, and ships destroyed in the Dominion War. When things go catalytically wrong the crew head back to earth for court martial.

The point of this series is to bridge the gap leading up to the film Nemesis, and Vornholt sets several of the unexplained plot points in motion, particularly for Crusher, Data, and Wesley, who for me at least makes a welcome return. He also makes good use of a number of guest characters from the TV series.

The plot is fairly straight forward, although there are some parts where events are a little tricky to follow, particularly when set around the spatial anomalies. The second half turns a little towards the legal drama genre, which is quite irritating as the characters we're aligned with are kept in the dark.

The novel has a disappointing lack of conclusions, which I suppose is justifiable as half of a duology, but it would have been nice to have some points settled rather than everything hanging over. Overall a pretty standard trek novel.

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The Soul Key

The Soul Key

29th August 2009

The latest novel in the continuation series to DS9 follows on immediately from where the previous one left off... which is it's first mistake. It's been two years since the previous novel was released, and this one makes no effort to remind the reader of what had been happening, instead diving straight into a very complicated and confusing plotline.

I must confess that I wasn't holding out much hope for this one as I found the previous novel, Fearful Symmetry, also by Woods, to be below par as well. This one does have its moments - there are a few scenes towards the end that stood out - but there are others (for example space battles which last half a page) which are deeply unsatisfying.

The books is rather arbitrarily split into six parts, but even within those the narrative jumps around between times and places - and when you have three characters who are almost the same person it can get quite confusing. The storyline seems to rely too much on jumping backwards and revealing things which happened earlier that we didn't see at the time - and it feels really forced, as if they are just there to switch the course that the series was set on in the previous novel.

I'm disappointed, because I thought the first few DS9 relaunch books were really good, and now they are just letting the series down. My advice is that if you are a fan then go ahead and read it, but re-read at least Fearful Symmetry (if not more of the previous novels) first to get your head back around the storyline!

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Losing the Peace

Losing the Peace

14th August 2009

The latest novel in the Next Generation continuation series is a lot calmer than the preceding destiny trilogy and Borg based novels beforehand. It's a welcome change of pace to a more diplomatic and political theme rather than war, war and more war.

Captain Picard and his crew's new mission is to assist in the rebuilding efforts as a roving troubleshooter, while Dr Crusher heads up her own team visiting a refugee camp on a water world.

Although it is the second in the political line in a row it still feels more like a traditional next gen novel, though fans of action and giant space battles will be disappointed as we've definitely moved beyond that for a while. The new crew seems to come together in this one for the first time, although it's not entirely clear which of the new characters are going to be main characters and which just supporting.

All in all I enjoyed it as a quick read but it has nothing of the impact of the destiny series. I don't even know when we'll be returning to the next gen or where they are planning to go next.

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Harbinger

Harbinger

26th July 2009

I don't really know what to say about this one. I don't even really know why I picked it up and read it in the first place - I usually ignore original series based novels, and have learned to ignore book-only spin-off series after disliking the Challenger, Stargazer and Gorkon series.

This one was a bit different. The characters are easy to pick up, but the question is really how long they will stay with me and whether I will still know them if I try to read book two. In contrast to the previous spin-off series this one is written by multiple authors, so perhaps it will be more open?

The cast are a mix of a starfleet crew (represented by the station's gruff commander), the JAG office, diplomats, spies and civilians, with the Enterprise crew from the second pilot guesting. The civilian population is probably the most interesting, particularly a journalist and a collection of criminal gangs, who it's hard to believe are able to operate on a starfleet base.

Overall it's a good start to the series, killing a good number of characters off before you get to know them and focussing on a good core. The plot itself though seems a bit hard to follow - there's some secret reason that the base has been built and it's a bit of a let down not really understanding it at the end. I'm not sure whether any further books in this series will make their way onto my reading list.

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Treason

Treason

22nd June 2009

Though a quick read, the latest novel in the New Frontier series has brought it back from the brink. A definite improvement on recent falls.

Several factions are out to kidnap the son of Robin Lefler and the late Si Cwan, some with more obvious intentions than others. They will stoop as low as controlling the minds of crew members to achieve their goals, but the ghost of Si Cwan has similar powers.

My main complaint about recent New Frontier novels is that the crew have become too spread out, and that there are too many main characters to focus on, however this time, David has pulled the focus back to the Excalibur, and while the other characters still appear, it's only in a supporting role.

There's an interesting juxtaposition, whereby the new aliens wanting to take control of bodies is bad, while Si Cwan's ghost taking control of Kalinda's body is somehow right, though none of the cast seem to realise this. The beginning also feels disconnected from the rest of the plot, as the original gang of kidnappers, while still suspected for a short while, are soon forgotten about.

Overall, I'd say it's an improvement, and has left the story with a few loose ends left to tie up. It still needs to lift a little further to equal the earlier days though.

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Star Trek

Star Trek

28th May 2009

What a disappointing book to read, especially after the brilliance that is the film upon which it is based. Sadly Foster's novelization isn't up to the task, and presents us with little more than a prose version of the script.

I would have prefered to visit more of the characters' heads and seen their thought patterns, but instead, like the film, we stick with Kirk, seeing things from his narrow perspective and getting very little extra information about what's going on inside.

The only redeeming feature to this were the scenes that were deleted from the film... an excellent scene where Kirk as a child is cleaning his step-father's car, and a useful one where Spock is born, which would have been an excellent place to introduce the traditional Vulcan finger rubbing, which could then replace the most out of place scene later on.

Foster completely ruins all the jokes. It's almost as if he's gone through, found them all, and altered them just a tiny bit so they don't work. The most obvious example is when Kirk and McCoy first meet, and McCoy states that all that he has is his skeleton... instead of the correct 'bones'.

Overall, not good, but hopefully everyone who reads it will have already seen the film, which is fantastic, and not be put off by this poor showing.

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Full Circle

Full Circle

30th April 2009

A really good continuation novel, the more than does justice to most of the crew of Voyager (Kes and Neelix do not appear). This novel covers much more than the description above, filling the gap from the end of Spirit Walk right up to the Destiny trilogy and beyond, talking account of everything that's happened in between.

Beyer has proved herself to be a fantastic character author, with all the main characters having an arc of their own with some pretty strong emotions flowing.

This actually seems very much like two novels in one, but having now finished I can see that it definitely needed to be one, as the second half probably would offend people if it was published stand-alone, being the more emotionally centred part.

The first half focussed on rounding off the plot threads left hanging from the end of Spirit Walk, and the second half those from Destiny, and setting up the next novel in the series. the next novel is also by Beyer, and I'm looking forward to it already.

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Over A Torrent Sea

Over A Torrent Sea

10th April 2009

Back to normal for the Titan series. Out of touch with starfleet exploring a brand new world with a unique twist. An individual member of the crew finds her calling and is tempted to stay behind permenantly. I've heard this a little before in the Titan series.

Like Bennett's previous Titan novel, this one seemed slow to get started, especially waiting for some of the content revealled in the blurb on the back cover to come along in the plot.

The elements that Bennett was forced to include in the novel from the continuing arc were a bit awkward, and the story he had introduced to get these out of the way seemed very forced and didn't particularly fit.

Overall, it was an okay read, but nothing has yet happened to hook me to the Titan series. I've got a fair while until the next one though. Looking forward to the next TNG book.

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A Singular Destiny

A Singular Destiny

24th March 2009

An interesting, and unusual take on the Trek franchise, but not as gripping as the trilogy whose effects this begins to tidy up. It's a good choice of idea to follow it up though as it deals with the future of the galaxy from multiple points of view, and sets the stage for the continuation novels of the next few years.

The main character, if there is one, is Sonek Pran, a rather dubious mix of Vulcan, Human, Betazoid and Bajoran (wouldn't have thought there were Bajorans around long enough ago). By day, he's a history lecturer on Mars, but by night an advisor and para-diplomat for the Federation President who runs around the galaxy sorting out problems. A possible opening for future novels I feel, although the character developed quite a bit in this one.

Also of note is the continued use of the USS Aventine, under Captain Dax, and introducing some more of her crew. Another opening one expects for a new line of novels!

All round, an important read, but not until after the Destiny trilogy, and definitely before any of the future continuations (and the next Titan book is on order from Amazon already!).

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Lost Souls

Lost Souls

11th March 2009

A fantastic end to a fantastic trilogy. I had my misgivings at the start for a series that focused on the whole of the star trek universe in the post-TNG era, but it was in good hands with Mack, and this final episode especially was hard to put down.

Mack cleverly reintroduces a plot element that was hanging over from the first book but had almost been forgotten having not been mentioned in the second. This draws the three parts of the trilogy and the multiple arcs within it together to lead to a satisfyingly rounded climax.

The solution gradually became clear throughout, but at no point was there a feeling of knowing exactly where things were going, and although you know the good guys have to win in the end, Mack at least makes it entertaining to find out how they get there.

My one criticism is the low use of the Voyager characters once again - this time they are only mentioned in passing: other than Seven they don't even get any 'screen-time' in this novel.

Finally, it has a good ending, not too drawn out, but still satisfyingly tying up each of the characters' arcs, but still in a way that leaves the reader wanting more... and there's plenty more to come according to the ads on the inside back cover.

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Mere Mortals

Mere Mortals

3rd March 2009

The second novel served as a good continuation of the story - although it still had a little of the second novel in a trilogy feel to it.

The action has focused more on two of the four crews that featured in the first novel, and on one character in particular, and starts to join together the different plotlines into one.

I don't have a lot to say about this novel - it was good, kept up the pace and kept me attached. The mixture of flashback and present day scenes was well done, each in turn revealling just the right amount to keep the reader interested.

My only criticism of the series so far is its' fleeting use of the starship Voyager in both novels, which seems to be there just as a tip of the hat. There's plenty of oportunity for some emotional focus on those characters here but they only appear for a couple of scenes - hardly enough to warrent their inclusion - unless it's building up to something bigger int he finale.

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Gods of Night

Gods of Night

24th February 2009

An excellent start to this series, quite unexpectedly. I don't remember being too enamoured about David Mack's DS9 continuation novel, Warpath, and I wasn't looking forward to more novels focussing on the borg - to be honest, they've been done to death in Voyager.

But this was different. The Borg, while being the enemy, aren't the main focus of this volume - they are a threat but they are very much in the background, popping up every now and then. I suppose in part that is because Mack has deftly intertwined the tales of four separate starships and crews, and only one has been directly interacting with the borg.

One psuedo-criticism is the absence of any explanation of how Dax has got from DS9 (where we left her in the most recent DS9 novel) to captaining the Aventine - but I suppose a gap is reasonable given that the novel timeline for DS9 has moved fairly slowly since the series ended. Also, this leaves plenty of freedom for the DS9 authors to write what they want to while they catch up.

A major issue I had was with the time dilation effect, which I thought the author had got completely wrong. However, having looked it up on the internet, and done the calculations myself, it seems that while non-intuitive, it is correct. This is why I've given an apologetic extra half star to make it up to five.

In conclusion, some parts were a little predictable, but then I suppose that if everything that happened was unexpected, one would have cause to doubt the logic of the storyline. So it's a good start, and I hope it can only get better!

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Sword of Damocles

Sword of Damocles

12th February 2009

Finally, a Titan novel I actually enjoyed! This one was very different from the previous three novels in the series - there's very little direct contact with aliens, and it's closer to the new characters, focusing on one or two of them in particular.

Thorne has pulled the series in a new direction, looking more at the 'humanity' of the characters, and it seems more in the style of Deep Space 9... and I don't mean just because it focuses on a Bajoran, but because it deals with issues of faith, destiny and sacrifice.

It's more emotionally charged, not least because everyone thinks everyone else is dead. And this leads to characters making decisions that they wouldn't normally, and yet they feel completely rational.

The focus on the new characters is good this time round, with the established and human characters mostly being relegated to sub-plot. I'm enjoying the interactions between the younger members of the crew, particularly the Cardassian cadet.

A good book, but not all of my favourite toys make it back to the box. The description above, taken from a certain shopping website, is rather inaccurate.

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Orion's Hounds

Orion's Hounds

29th January 2009

An improvement on the previous book in the series, I feel, although still fairly average on the scale of Star Trek novels. Many of the aliens encountered are ones that have been met before on the TV series - in fact that's a major part of the plot - and this helps me to picture the events.

Obviously, the Titan series is aiming to be more of a 'back to exploring the galaxy' themed set, but it feels like all the books I've read recently have been of the 'out of touch with starfleet in an area of space completely different to anything we know' style. This can get a little repetative.

Although this one seemed to start slowly, it fitted the traditional three act structure, with the sudden reversal in the second act. My only complaint would be that it took a while to get going, and it wasn't until we got into Act 2 that it started to grip me.

The ending was well thought out and not rushed, and felt real and satisfactory, unlike some trek novels which are wrapped up a little two quickly and neatly. I grew to like some of the new characters during this novel, who seemed better fleshed out and easier to relate to than in the previous two.

Overall, enjoyable, but still backing up my original decision not to read this series, which was scuppered when they became pre-requisits for the Destiny trilogy, which I plan to read shortly.

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Missing in Action

Missing in Action

23rd January 2009

Nothing special. I've been going off New Frontier over the past few books, and this one I didn't even buy until it was in paperback and it's taken probably a couple of years to get around to reading it. Part of that was because I was re-reading the series to remind myself what had happened, but still...

Even when I got this far, I wasn't keen. The previous book in the series, 'After the Fall', didn't impress me, and finding the entire New Frontier universe mangled with in the three year storyline gap preceding 'Fall' with no real explanation led to some confusion.

And another thing... the previous novel in the series ended on a cliff-hanger, with the Starship Excalibur being pulled through a vortex into another realm... so I suspected that this may be irritatingly similar to the previous book I read 'Titan: The Red King'.

In fact, it wasn't as bad as I had imagined, and was a fairly enjoyable romp, although I feel the central part of the New Frontier series - Captain Calhoun and the USS Excalibur = has been watered down too much by spreading the cast around three ships, a starbase and a planet.

Once again, Peter David's knack for failure to put the toys back in the box has presented itself, which is refreshing compared to many Star Trek stories where the tension is somewhat lost by the knowledge that everyone has to survive.

I was disappointed by the ending of this one though. Everything was wrapped up a little too quickly and cleanly at the end, almost as if the author had given up on the story and quickly put together a conclusion.

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The Red King

The Red King

&

15th January 2009

An interesting second book in the series by M+M. As well as a sequel to the first Titan book it serves as a sequel to their previous novel in the Lost Era series based on Sulu's Excelsior... which I vaguely remember reading about 5 years ago. Sadly, my memory isn't good enough to recall it that well (in fact, the Lost Era series didn't grip me that much at all... to the extent that I don't think I finished reading them). So, the opening chapters threw me a little until I, along with the crew of the Titan who didn't serve with Sulu, was brought up to date.

Once the little recap was past, an enjoyable romp ensued, however I'm still having trouble getting to grips with the new characters... for the books based on the series they are easy to imagine, and some others, like New Frontier and the DS9 relaunch seem to have easily introduced new characters, but in both the Stargazer and Titan novels I'm not picking this up. Partly I think this is because the authors are making an effort to be more serious in their SF - going for more extreme forms of life rather than stock humans in prosthetics. And I've never really been able to get my head around those.

Did the novel advance the ongoing story arc? Well, that depends on what's going to happen in the next novel... I don't know if this arc will continue, but there were deaths, and the relationships between some of the characters changed... most of those that look important in a negative way, I must admit. So I suppose I really will have to wait and see if the author that picks up the series in the next novel will chose to pick up on those, or whether they will fly off in a new and different direction.

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Kobayashi Maru

Kobayashi Maru

&

10th January 2009

Another gripping tale of the post-tv series Enterprise crew as they move towards the historical war referred to in TOS. It is a follow-up to The Good That Men Do, which is required reading to understand this tale.

Although looking back on it there doesn't seem to have been a great amount happening, this is probably only because it's a middle book in a series, and it's taking the crew from one place to another, with no particular plot to resolve at the end.

It is a gripping read, as are all of M&M's Trek novels, and there's always a lot happening. As can be told from the title, the story of the original Kobayashi Maru no-win-scenario is a major feature, along with some surprising deaths and an unprecedented gay Klingon.

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Day of the Vipers

Day of the Vipers

16th June 2008

A fascinating start to this trilogy exploring the backstory of DS9, documenting the time from when a young Dalin Dukat participates in formal first contact between Cardassia and Bajor to the beginning of the official occupation. While the DS9 seuels seem to have lost their way with overly confusing and forgettable storylines and the absurd delays in publication, James Swallow has done an excellent job of starting off this new series - and with a fixed length of three novels it's unlikely to wander too far.

The cast of characters is impressive, mixing together a range of well known character, guest characters from the TV series and an assortment of new and engagingBajorans and Cardassians. Unlike the DS9 continuations this novel assumes no prior knowledge from past novels and to my mind explains the 'Oralian Way' - the Cardassian religion - much better than I remember from any other novels.

The last novel I read by Swallow was a Doctor Who new series adventure, 'Peacemaker', with the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones, but I didn' realise this until I read the 'About The Author' section - while the Doctor Who novel stuck to simple language and straight forward plotlines, this work was detailed and layered with a number of interweacing storyline, and despite being slightly longer than the recent Trek novels, was engaging right to the end.

My only disappointment is that the remaining two books in the trilogy won't be written by the same author. All-in-all, the best Star Trek novel I've read in a long time.

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