Monday, March 19, 2018

Literary Treks 223: We're Life, Jim, but Not as They Know It

Captain's Glory by William Shatner

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Since his resurrection thanks to the Borg in the novel The Return, James T. Kirk has embarked on many adventures in the 24th century, often alongside Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise. However, all good things must come to an end. Kirk faces his most dangerous enemy yet and fights for all he holds dear: his family.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther talk about the Shatnerverse novel Captain's Glory. We discuss Kirk's tendency to go it alone, the plot against Starfleet, Kirk vs. Picard, the nature of the Totality, the connection to the galactic barrier, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In our news segment, we talk about the book Star Trek: The Next Generation Cats and review the comic Boldly Go #17, issue 5 of the I.D.I.C. miniseries.

Literary Treks 223: We're Life, Jim, but Not as They Know It
Captain's Glory by William Shatner

Previous episode: Literary Treks 222: The Ward Rule
Next episode: Literary Treks 224: Enterprise: Last Full Measure by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Siege

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #2
The Siege by Peter David
Published May 1993
Read February 15th 2017

Previous book (Deep Space Nine): #1: Emissary

Next book (Deep Space Nine): #3: Bloodletter

Spoilers ahead for The Siege!

From the back cover:
When Deep Space Nine is forced to curtail entry to the wormhole due to increased graviton emissions, an air of biting tension settles over the station. But when this anxiety leads to the murder of an Edeman religious leader, Commander Benjamin Sisko and Security Chief Odo realize they face a larger problem.

The missionary is only the first to die; soon Sisko and Odo have more lifeless bodies on their hands and a killer who strikes without motive. Then, both the Edemans and the Cardassians arrive threatening to destroy the station unless the murderer is given to them for retribution. Now in order to save Deep Space Nine and stop the killing, Odo must try to destroy a powerful assassin who is the only link to his mysterious past.

My thoughts:

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine went on the air in January of 1993, and The Siege, the first original novel set in the DS9 series, was published just four months later. This means that the author, Peter David, had not seen any completed episodes prior to beginning work on the novel. In fact, he only had access to the series bible and scripts for the first few episodes. I therefore find it quite remarkable how well he was able to capture the tone and the characters of what, at the time, was a huge departure from the Star Trek we knew and loved.

The Siege is certainly a dark story, dealing with a murderous shapeshifter roaming the station and killing visitors and residents in a number of horrific ways. However, in true Peter David style, there is a great deal of humor present in this novel as well. This can make the story seem a little tonally disjointed at times, but for the most part, I think the balance works. Some readers may be put off by the violence present in the story, and it is indeed graphic at times. However, I feel like it works in the context of this novel.

There is also a B plot to the story, in which a group of religious missionaries are on the station attempting to convert followers to their beliefs. The son of the head of this group is stricken with a life-threatening illness, and Dr. Bashir of course wants to do everything he can for the boy. However, the child's father, Mas Marko, will hear none of it. One of the tenets of their religion is the belief that their god wills all things to happen. Anything that occurs "naturally" is his will, and it is heresy to go against it. Seeing this illness as their god's will, the family will do nothing to intervene. This, of course, does not sit well with Bashir, who goes to great lengths to convince the family to allow him to treat their son.

Dr. Bashir finds himself caught up in an ethical dilemma, and he responds as you would expect of the naive season 1 Bashir!

This plot reminded me a great deal of a first season Babylon 5 episode, "Believers," in which a similar situation is dealt with. Dr. Franklin must choose between saving a boy's life and honoring the wishes of the parents who believe the treatment involved contravenes their religious beliefs. These stories end in different ways, but both are tragic for the people involved.

I do have one problem with how this plot is resolved, and that is that we do not see any fallout from Bashir's actions. For all of his good intentions, he does violate Starfleet protocol as well as the prime directive quite flagrantly. I would have liked to have seen some consequences, even if it was just one of Sisko's quite effective castigations.

Once again, I want to call out Peter David's excellent grasp of the characters in this novel. This being the first DS9 original novel, I would have expected the characterizations to be all over the place. Rather, David has managed to capture their voices quite well. There are a few misses here and there, which is to be expected, but there are far more hits than misses overall. Kudos to Peter David for crafting an excellent story that fits very well in Deep Space Nine's first season!

Final thoughts:

A well-crafted, interesting story. The Siege can get a bit dark at times, but that is offset with Peter David's typically humorous writing. The characters are very well represented, especially given this novel's place so early in the creation of the Deep Space Nine television series. A lack of payoff to some of the plot elements doesn't detract too much from an otherwise excellent story.

More about The Siege:

Also by Peter David:

My next read:

Look for my video review of last year's Enteprise: Rise of the Federation novel, Patterns of Interference by Christopher L. Bennett.

Literary Treks 222: The Ward Rule

Discovery: Drastic Measures
Exclusive interview with author Dayton Ward!

Trade paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Tarsus IV: A name that will live in infamy throughout the Federation. The site of a horrific crime perpetrated on its population: the cold-blooded killing of four thousand colonists, fully half of the population of that distant world. For Lt. Commander Gabriel Lorca, this event has a deeply personal connection, and he will not rest until he has brought the criminal Kodos the Executioner to justice.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are joined by author Dayton Ward to discuss his latest Trek novel, Discovery: Drastic Measures. We talk about the Tarsus IV massacre, mirror Lorca vs. prime Lorca, the fate of Governor Kodos, other characters who were at Tarsus IV, the book within the book, a surprise "after the credits" chapter you might have missed, and wrap up with what Dayton is working on now and where to find him online.

In our news section, we talk about an incredible deal if you're interested in catching up on the Vanguard novels!

Literary Treks 222: The Ward Rule
Exclusive interview with Drastic Measures author Dayton Ward!

Previous episode: Literary Treks 221: Different Flavors of Vulcan
Next episode: Literary Treks 223: We're Life, Jim, but Not as They Know It

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hidden Universe Travel Guide to The Klingon Empire

Hidden Universe Travel Guides
Star Trek: The Klingon Empire by Dayton Ward
Release date: July 11th 2017
Read August 3rd 2017

Previous book (Hidden Universe Travel Guides): Vulcan

Trade Paperback: | |

Publisher's description:
nuqneH! Bored of standard vacations to places like Risa or Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet? Want to discover a unique and ancient culture not bound by standard niceties and social mores? Then Qo’noS and the vast Klingon Empire are for you! This one-of-a-kind travel guide will give you all the information you need to plan, enjoy, and survive your trip to the very heart of Klingon territory, from an overview of Klingon history to tips on what to wear (fur and leather are very popular) to a glossary of important phrases like “mamI' DaneH'a'? nItebHa' mamI' DaneH'a'?” (Would you like to dance with me?). Every major location in the Klingon Empire is covered in-depth, with tips on where to eat (you’ve not lived until you’ve eaten Klingon skull stew), how best to get to and from your chosen destination, and what to do if you find yourself challenged to a bat’leth battle to the death. Locations include the homeworld Qo’noS and its famous locales such as the First City, the Caves of No’mat, the Hamar Mountains, and the city of Krennla, plus neighboring moons Corvix and Praxis, and many, many more must-see areas. The book also features exclusive maps and illustrations that bring to life the Klingon Empire and form the perfect reference guide for any visitor. So what are you waiting for? Qapla’!

My thoughts:

Click here to watch my video review of The Klingon Empire travel guide, or click play on the embedded video below!

Final thoughts:

This book makes The Klingon Empire come alive! Beautiful illustrations and great prose written in Dayton Ward's trademark wit make this a perfect addition to any Trek fan's bookshelf. There are tons of great easter eggs and references for the fan who knows his or her Star Trek backwards and forwards, but this is a great book for the more casual fan, too.

More about The Klingon Empire travel guide:

Also by Dayton Ward:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

My next review is for the first original Deep Space Nine novel, The Siege, from way back in 1993!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Literary Treks 221: Different Flavors of Vulcan

Spock's World by Diane Duane

Hardcover: | |
MMPB: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Vulcan: more than any other fictional world within the Star Trek universe, this desert planet has captured the imaginations of Trek fans since we caught our first glimpse of it in the Original Series episode "Amok Time." We know a lot about Vulcans through Spock, Sarek, and the handful of other Vulcans we have met in Trek over the years, but what are the people of that world really like? What is the history of that alien world, and how do they view us, the illogical, emotional neighbors that might threaten their logical view of the universe?

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther are joined by Earl Grey's Justin Oser to talk about a beloved classic Trek novel, Spock's World. We discuss the two tracks the story follows, the nature of Vulcans, a series of Vulcan TED talks, the diversity of the Enterprise crew, the Enterprise's BBS, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings.

In the news segment, we talk about the recent announcement of a new TNG mirror universe comic that follows up on last year's Mirror Broken series.

Literary Treks 221: Different Flavors of Vulcan
Spock's World by Diane Duane

Previous episode: Literary Treks 220: I Wanna Know What Love Is
Next episode: Literary Treks 222: The Ward Rule

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Star Trek
Spectre by William Shatner
Published January 1998
Read January 18th 2017

Previous book (Shatnerverse): Avenger

Next book (Shatnerverse): Dark Victory

Spoilers ahead for Spectre!

From the back cover:
Retired and happily in love, Kirk believes his adventuring days are over. But as he returns to Earth for the first time since his apparent "death" upon the Enterprise-B, events elsewhere in the galaxy set in motion a mystery that may provide Kirk with his greatest challenge yet.  
The Enterprise-E, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, is exploring an unstable region of space on a scientific mission of vital concern to Starfleet when they discover the last thing they ever expected to find: a lonely, battle-scarred vessel that is instantly recognizable to every member of Picard's crew. Five years after being lost with all hands in the Delta Quadrant, the Starship Voyager has come home!  
The commander of Voyager, one Tom Paris, explains that Captain Kathryn Janeway and half of the original crew is dead, but if that is true, who is the mysterious woman who has kidnapped Kirk back on Earth, pleading with him to assist her against a threat to the entire Federation?  
All is not as it seems, and soon Kirk is forced to confront the hideous consequences of actions taken more than a hundred years prior, as well as his own inner doubts. After years of quiet and isolation, does he still have what it takes to put things right-and join with Captain Picard to save the lives of everyone aboard a brand-new Enterprise 
An unforgettable saga peopled by old friends and ancient enemies, Star Trek: Spectre propels Kirk on a journey of self-discovery every bit as harrowing as the cataclysmic new adventure that awaits him.

My thoughts:

Once again, the 24th century is in danger, and once again, only James T. Kirk can save it!

Spectre is the first book of William Shatner's Mirror Universe trilogy, and again this book series features the retired captain being brought back into service to counter a new threat to the safety of the Federation. It seems, of course, that he is uniquely suited to countering this enemy and winning the day, all while the "next generation" of starfleet sits in the wings, seemingly impotent against the threat of the mirror universe. Picard, for instance, loses the Enterprise to the enemy who has ventured into our universe from the mirror universe, and falls victim to them a number of times, having to be rescued by Kirk on a few occasions. He even finds himself irresistibly attracted to Kirk's wife, Teilani, because she's just that beautiful and alluring. Or her pheromones are in overdrive because she's pregnant. Could go either way, actually.

Of course, it's William Shatner's world, and you're all just playing in it!

Still, it is quite frustrating when Kirk is the one to solve all of the problems with the TNG crew sitting on sidelines saying the equivalent of "I dunno." With that being said, there is a lot to enjoy in this "Shatnerverse" outing.

First, I love the "mirror" debate as it is presented in Spectre. Is someone who has our face and our DNA the same as us deep down, shaped solely by the different experiences they have had in their lives, or are they two fundamentally different people? Star Trek Nemesis attempted to tackle this question with Picard and his clone, Shinzon, to limited success in my opinion. I much prefer the juxtaposition in Spectre between "our" Jean-Luc Picard and his Mirror Universe counterpart. The idea that someone exactly like myself in every way except for our life experiences could turn out to be a cold-blooded killer is a chilling thought, and Spectre plays with that idea quite well.

Spectre handles the "dark reflection" for Picard better than Nemesis does, in my opinion.

Part of the reason that Kirk is so willing to become involved with the mirror universe again is his feeling of responsibility for what has happened there. In the century since his initial visit in the TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror," the Terran Empire has collapsed, defeated by "The Alliance," a pact that consists of the Klingons, the Cardassians, and later the Bajorans. Kirk feels that this was due to his attempt to convince Spock of the illogic of the empire, and the mirror Spock and Janeway believe this to be the case as well. Kirk's speech at the end of "Mirror, Mirror" convinced mirror Spock to dismantle the empire by becoming emperor and instituting a number of reforms. However, I disagree that Kirk is responsible. The denizens of the Mirror Universe had their own decisions to make, and pinning everything on Kirk is unfair. I mean, sure, Kirk's speeches are legendary, but I think that taking sole responsibility for the fate of an alternate universe is taking it a bit far. I instead agree with the Spock of "our" universe, who says to Kirk, "Jim, can you honestly believe that a handful of words you exchanged with my counterpart can have led to such far-reaching consequences in the mirror universe?"

Regardless, Kirk sees it as his responsibility to right the wrongs of the past and help steer the Mirror Universe onto a better path, and Spectre is the first chapter in a story that will force Kirk to come face to face with the greatest enemy he has ever faced: Tiberius, his mirror universe counterpart who is a powerful megalomaniacal tyrant, and will surely be an incredibly formidable opponent.

He is, after all, William Shatner deep down as well, isn't he?

Final thoughts:

Spectre, like most of the novels of the Shatnerverse, suffers a bit from the ego of William Shatner, in my opinion. It seems that Kirk has to be superhuman and can never have an equal among the people around him. And fair enough, it's written by William Shatner (along with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens), and his face is on the cover, so it's understandable the story has to be centered on him. However, the TNG crew's "voices" never seem to ring true for me, and the idea of Kirk being this awesome this late in his life strains credibility as the books go on. However, there is enough to like in this novel that I can give it a safe three out of five stars, and the story itself was interesting enough to make me want to pick up the next book, Dark Victory.

More about Spectre:

Also by William Shatner (with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens):

My next read:

Next up is another video review, this time for Dayton Ward's Hidden Universe Travel Guide to the Klingon Empire!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Enigma Tales

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Enigma Tales by Una McCormack
Release date: June 27th 2017
Read July 7th 2017

Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Section 31: Control
Next book (Deep Space Nine): Gamma: Original Sin

Mass-Market Paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for Enigma Tales!

Publisher's description:
Elim Garak has ascended to Castellan of the Cardassian Union...but despite his soaring popularity, the imminent publication of a report exposing his people's war crimes during the occupation on Bajor looks likely to set the military against him. Into this tense situation come Dr. Katherine Pulaski—visiting Cardassia Prime to accept an award on behalf of the team that solved the Andorian genetic crisis—and Dr. Peter Alden, formerly of Starfleet Intelligence. The two soon find themselves at odds with Garak and embroiled in the politics of the prestigious University of the Union, where a new head is about to be appointed. Among the front-runners is one of Cardassia’s most respected public figures: Professor Natima Lang. But the discovery of a hidden archive from the last years before the Dominion War could destroy Lang’s reputation. As Pulaski and Alden become drawn into a deadly game to exonerate Lang, their confrontation escalates with Castellan Garak—a conflicted leader treading a fine line between the bright hopes for Cardassia’s future and the dark secrets still buried in its past...

My thoughts:

Click here to watch my video review of DS9: Enigma Tales, or click play on the embedded video below!

Final thoughts:

Another winner in Una McCormack's catalog! She has crafted a compelling story that goes, at times, to some very dark places, but that is offset by a great sense of humor. McCormack captures the voices of the characters magnificently, especially Garak, which is no surprise. McCormack has become a master of writing for the enigmatic Cardassian tailor/spy/leader of Cardassia!

More about Enigma Tales:

Also by Una McCormack:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Next up is my review of the Shatnerverse novel Spectre, the first book of William Shatner's Mirror Universe trilogy.