David Mack - Shastrix Books

David Mack

Recently reviewed

More Beautiful Than Death

More Beautiful Than Death

David Mack

11th October 2020

The second ‘adult’ tie-in novel in the Kelvinverse - the timeline established in the JJ Abrams series of Star Trek movies - was written ten years ago but only now published (with tweaks by the author).

We meet Kirk and the crew some time after the first movie, carrying a diplomatic mission to a planet that’s requested aid from the Federation, and of course on arrival things become complicated.

I found however that I struggled to get into it. Each chapter felt like it ended at a convenient point to stop reading - not the level of compulsion to continue that I love. I’m not in general a huge reader of TOS stories, having not got the same relationship with those characters as with those who came later, and here my mental model of the characters has become really mixed - I was picturing Chris Pine’s Kirk, but James Doohan’s Scotty, and Ethan Peck’s Spock - with Bones fluctuating between actors’ faces.

So I’m afraid not one I feel I can recommend. Maybe if it had come out ten years ago I would have felt more connected to it, but at this stage I didn’t, and struggled.

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Buy book: UKUSBuy ebook: UK
Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage

David Mack

2nd January 2020

Billed as the final episode in a series of Star Trek follow-on novels that have been published over nearly 20 years, wrapping everything up before the new Star Trek: Picard TV series begins in early 2020 - however that’s not really what it is.

This story does feel like it’s wrapping up some of the threads that have been explored over a lot of books though, with Picard returning to Earth to defend his record, while Worf takes the Enterprise on a complicated mission, which also serves as something of a follow-up to some of the previous events, while doing the traditional Star Trek thing of providing a mirror to our world.

It’s a really good, solid Star Trek novel, that explores a lot of important themes in a way which treats the characters with respect. I did feel in places that it cut between scenes a bit more frequently than I felt necessary - feeling a bit like it was afraid one of the plot lines might be too boring if not mixed up constantly with the other, more action-packed plot.

A happy place if it is the final novel we see from this era of Star Trek - though I hope it’s not, as I’ve got a lot of pleasure over the years from reading these continued adventures - as excited as I am about the new TV series, I hope the novels are able to continue too.

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
Buy book: UKUSBuy ebook: UK
The Midnight Front

The Midnight Front

David Mack

15th December 2018

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

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

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

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

read more

Filled StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Fortune of War

Fortune of War

David Mack

20th January 2018

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

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

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

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
Buy book: UKUSBuy ebook: UK
Desperate Hours

Desperate Hours

David Mack

14th October 2017

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

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

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

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

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
Buy book: UKUSBuy ebook: UK
Control

Control

David Mack

6th May 2017

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

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

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

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

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
Buy book: UKUSBuy ebook: UK
Best Defense

Best Defense

David Mack

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.

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
Buy book: UKUSBuy ebook: UK

Other reviewed books

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

Unreviewed books

Miracle Workers
The Starfleet Survival Guide
Warpath

Top books

  1. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled Star
  2. A Ceremony of Losses
  3. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled Star
  4. Gods of Night
  5. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled Star
  6. Lost Souls
  7. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled Star
  8. The Persistence of Memory
  9. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
  10. Harbinger
  11. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
  12. Collateral Damage
  13. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
  14. A Time to Kill