Sunday, 13 January 2019

Sentienced to Death by Barry J. Hutchison

Sentienced to Death (Space Team, #11)Sentienced to Death by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The 11th novel in the Space Team series sees Cal and the gang onboard the Currently Untitled having to deal with the consequences of mucking about in the timeline which resulted in a human race which swept through the galaxy leaving blood and terror in its wake. Of course the fact that in this new timeline a young Cal having been exposed to alien life and space travel went in a very different direction to the Cal we know presents all manner of guilt trips on our normally self assured so called Captain. Further guilt is piled on thanks to Mizette of the Greyx being the last of her race and while on a "not date" with Loren they end up rescuing the last member of the Symmorium the young Tyrra and fleeing both the Earth forces (EDI) and Zertex, the new adventure begins.

Sentienced to Death is an alarmingly fast paced story full of action, comedy but surprisingly still manages to strip the gears when we get some more character dependent interaction as Cal and others try to deal with the galactic situation they helped to create. A nice touch was to have Splurt be a visually representation of Cal's angst and the Librarian was a very entertaining character with the mechanics of creation and evolution being a very nice touch indeed. Another excellent addition to the Space Team series and we get a good "after credits" aka epilogue which bodes....

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Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Star Trek: SCE: Wounds

Star Trek: SCE: Wounds (Star Trek: Sce)Star Trek: SCE: Wounds by Ilsa J. Bick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My casual reading of the Star Trek: Starfleet Corp of Engineers compilations continues in digital form with "Wounds" which is by far the darkest collection of stories and given what happened to the DaVinci not that long back is saying something. This collection comprises six stories from different authors and continues the excellent narrative the world of the SCE has provided.

MALEFICTORUM by Terri Osborne
After the mysterious death of a crewman the DaVinci security chief is having a hard time to reveal answers to how and why the death aboard ship occured. The fact the crewman was the son of a respected friend further complicates matter but Lieutenant Commander Domenica Corsi is nothing if not professional. Then a second death occurs and the method but not motive is uncovered but now with a line of investigation Corsi and her people have got the scent and rush to prevent a mass murderer from striking across the quadrant.

LOST TIME by Ilsa J. Bick
Deep Space Nine is in trouble as distortion waves pass through the station and continue across the system to impact Bajor itself, tectonic activity on the planet is increasing and even with members of the DaVinci crew on hand things are looking bad. Meanwhile on Empok Nor further investigations continue under the guiding hand of Commander Gomez but as the teams delve ever deeper into the mystery it's Soloman on board DS9 who uncovers the first clue, data and communication from himself but from somewhere else...

IDENTITY CRISIS by John J. Ordover
Commander Gomez is taking some shoreleave at the Recreational Station Hidalgo but after her intended companion had called off his visit she had become friendly with a guy she met on the station but still not over her grief she is unable to allow a relationship to develop. As Gomez is about to leave she is asked to provide some assistance in the stations main control room and while the technology is far from cutting edge she is happy to help. Discovering the system is being stressed by a strange communication she responds and then well things go from bad to worse to apocalyptic.

FABLES OF THE PRIME DIRECTIVE by Cory Rushton
Coroticus III was under the protection of the Federation and as a prewarp society observed for sociological purposes until the Dominion war when the Federation abandoned the planet and the people to occupation by the invading forces. Years later the Federation via Starfleet with its sociologists and the SCE return to the world to see what damage both physically and culturally had been incurred by the native population. Dangers await the team after finding the ruins of their original hidden observation post but is it from the native population changed through their time under the gaze of the gods (Founders) or something else.

SECURITY by Keith R.A. DeCandido
The DaVinci and her crew have been through rough times recently and with new additions to security Domenica Corsi has more than her fair share and now Dr Elizabeth Lense and Julian Bashir while on journey via runabout are missing. One of Corsi's new security team is from Izar a world where Corsi visited when serving on board the Roosevelt, what occurred there is something that she has not revealed to anyone not directly involved but now with life proving once again there are no guarantees she opens up to Fabian Stevens.

WOUNDS by Ilsa J. Bick
The events experienced by Dr Elizabeth Lense and Julian Bashir during the time they were missing and on a world very different to any they knew of are revealed in this story. A world in chaotic turmoil after global nuclear war many years ago and a clash between cultures in regards to the lengths one will go to to preserve life in whatever form that may be. The two Starfleet officers find themselves separated when their vessel crashes and each found by opposing groups with different ideologies and the full horrors of survival at any cost is experienced by both doctors.

Wounds is as a I said a very dark collection of SCE stories but the overall collection is wonderfully interconnected as stories overlap and intermix but you ain't gonna come away from these with a shiny happy feeling that's for sure.

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Friday, 7 December 2018

Female of the Species by Geonn Cannon

STARGATE SG-1: Female of the SpeciesSTARGATE SG-1: Female of the Species by Geonn Cannon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Female of the Species written by Geonn Cannon is the latest full length Stargate novel from Fandemonium / Stargate Novels and was released digitally on November 22nd. As with other releases a paperback is expected at a later date.
The story is set during the final season of the show during the time Vala Mal Doran was being integrated into Stargate Command, not fully trusted and not fully trusting if you recall but one thing Stargate taught the viewer and its own characters that there were many shades of grey. As the ORI continue their advance in the Milky Way Galaxy the threat of the Lucian Alliance does not diminish but with little intelligence on the crime syndicate there are few proactive measures the humans of Earth can take. Vala with her many contacts across the galaxy could be useful but the ORI and Adria have been her primary focus until she receives a call for help from an old associate/partner one Tanis Reynard (S6E8 Forsaken). Upon deciphering the message it indicated that Tanis has been imprisoned at Viaxeiro a prison facility reputed to be the most secure in the galaxy and the hardest to find. Vala proposes a plan to rescue her former partner who would have real time intelligence on the Alliance and despite many concerns General Landry gives the mission the green light. The team gate to Pezjena! a sort of Casablanca where the black market and mercenary/bounty hunters congregate to meet the contact. Vala argues that just her and Sam should be at the meet up given Vala’s reputation for having a female partner and thus the two women walk into a bar (feel free to add any punchline you want).
I’ll leave it there because as you can no doubt guess things start to go wrong immediately setting up the bulk of the novel with its two storylines, the adventures of Sam and Vala away from support and relying on their own skills and intelligence to prevail while SG1 and the SGC look for support and hints as to find Viaxeiro and then rescue their people.

Female of the Species concentrates the majority of its time on the female characters (no real surprise there) and given how many novels have the men front and centre and with plenty to work with Geonn builds upon and creates complex and realistic situations and interactions. Sam of course is a known quantity but the tv show only had so much time to devote to the dynamic of the two women on SG1 and this novel expands upon this and provides a valid step by step growth in trust. The same applies to the many characters we are introduced to at Viaxeiro (which turned out to have a very interesting history and structure) and all this is without relying on the more “action” type adventure of the rest of SG1 as they search for their missing people to keep things moving along. You could very well concentrate fully on the Viaxeiro elements of the novel but even so we get some fun writing with Mitchell and Co (including Dr Lam) rampaging around the galaxy.
Female of the Species is a valuable addition to the Stargate franchise and I for one still believe the tv shows (as with most tv) concentrated too much on male characters although SGA was better than SG1 for female focus and SGU better than both. The Atlantis team we meet on Whispers is a case in point, I would have loved to see some more adventures with that team led my Major Teldy. Some of the production choices I believe were down to the very male writing, directing and producing staff and if Stargate should ever return to the small screen the current and positive trend of bringing in as many voices and views as possible will only produce a better and more inclusive series bringing it into line with the diverse fanbase.

I can highly recommend the novel and you can also check out Geonn’s first Stargate novel “Two Roads” and shorts in the Stargate anthologies Far Horizons, Points of Origin and Homeworlds along with his own novels and stories including the Riley Parra series.

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Sunday, 25 November 2018

Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season

Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season (Star Trek: The Next Generation)Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season by Mike McMahan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now this is a book of its time, a few years ago something like this may have done the fanfic rounds but in the age of social media the popularity via twitter led us to this publication and we should all be grateful. Now you may have to have been a fan of The Next Generation to get the most out of the book or at least a fan of Star Trek (concept can fit any of the series after all) and while TNG was never my favourite I loyalled watched the show every week and own the boxset. The idea that an eighth season was ordered but everyone on the creative side wanted nothing to do with it and led us to these episodes was inspired and they are all fun, bizarre and totally out there but remain true to the traits of the characters and that is why it all works.
Looking for something for a Star Trek fan for christmas or birthday, here you go but I treated myself and loved every page.

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Sunday, 11 November 2018

Nightfall by Jay Allan

Nightfall (Blood on the Stars #10)Nightfall by Jay Allan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tenth novel in the Blood on the Stars series "Nightfall" is a no holds barred action packed book relying on the tens of thousands of words used in the previous novels to develop the characters who play out this apocalyptic scenario. This novel is purely the pay off for the chess moves of the Confederation and Alliance against the Hegemony fleet with Union forces circling, it's full of action and drama as the battle for the Confederation capital system ignites and just when you think you can take a breath the conflict explodes again. I've got to give a lot of credit to Jay Allan for maintaining my interest in the series this long, there have been a few dips in form but with interesting characters, well written dialogue and action pieces both small and epic it's been an overall delight and it ain't over yet.

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Sunday, 28 October 2018

SCE Omnibus 10

Creative Couplings (Star Trek: Corps of Engineers)Creative Couplings by David Mack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tenth omnibus of stories under the Starfleet Corps of Engineers banner comprises of six individual stories and as in the tradition they world share while maintaining continuity. I can not overestimate how well oh so many authors have worked together to weave this series of stories and maintain the very best of readers expect from licensed Star Trek.

Paradise Interrupted by John S. Drew
As Risa experiences extreme energy fluctuations and failure of key systems including weather control the Da Vinci is called in. Meanwhile young Eddie Johnson left to his own devices when his father attends a conference makes a new and unexpected friend while exploring some caverns.

Where Time Stands Still by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
The mysterious Delta Triangle which had swallowed space vessels for years was recently breached by the Enterprise under the command of Captain Kirk (See Animated Series) and the Da Vinci is ordered to make contact with the Elysian Council and offer technology to allow them to leave this mysterious vortex where time runs differently. However not everyone is keen to leave and for some the galaxy beyond the Triangle is full of dangers.

The Art of the Deal by Glenn Greenberg
Rod Portlyn is a "tycoon" who operates outside of the Federation and has amassed huge wealth and influence. An offer to partner his business with the Federation and together build a huge research complex is signed off on and the Da Vinci tasked to coordinate and help initial construction. However when bomb attacks on other Portlyn owned operations occur the Da Vinci investigates and finds that no everything is as squeaky clean as the Federation would want it to be.

Spin by J. Steven York & Christina F. York
An alien space ship within the Lokak system will collide with the home world, unable to prevent the catastrophe the former Breen controlled (aka occupied) world calls for help. The Da Vinci find a very unusual ship and as pressure mounts to destroy it Captain Gold and his crew strive to save the ship and discover its purpose.

Creative Couplings by Glenn Hauman & Aaron Rosenberg
Captain Golds granddaughter Esther was marrying Khor the son of the current Klingon Ambassador to the Federation. As you might expect juggling the demands of a traditional Klingon wedding and those of the Jewish faith is complicated and Gold finds himself at the center of dozens of demands.
Meanwhile a few of the crew have taken the time to help a friend at Starfleet Academy to test a new Starship design using the huge holosuites of the complex. They also double up the testing to include the latest graduate class to see how they handle the unexpected and yes that is what happens when the testing is compromised and safety protocols are offline.

Small World by David Mack
Araneus one of the last of his people in the universe is fleeing towards a star system within Federation boundaries with a treasure whose value to him is beyond imagining. He is being pursued by an alien force who want the prize to aid them in a war for their freedom but once under protection of the Da Vinci the mysterious prize is far more than any of them could have imagined.

This latest omnibus is excellent on all counts, the stories are entertaining but I have to say Captain Gold handling the politics of a marriage was the highlight perhaps in thanks to seeing the Klingon ceremony in DS9. Highly recommended and already purchased the 11th omnibus release :)



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Stargate Universe "Malice"

Stargate Archives

Stargate Universe "Malice"

Alan joins me to discuss his choice from the whole Stargate franchise.



 


Dragon Racer by M.R. Mathias

Dragon RacerDragon Racer by M.R. Mathias
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Dragon Races are the jewel in the crown drawing the high and mighty to the huge coliseum where blood sports are the prelude to watching the mighty dragons in their life and death races. For the majority of the population however they are just something to aspire too but when the young Sharrah Che is taken to her first race by her Aunt and guardian her world will forever be changed.
Dragon Racer by M.R. Mathias constructs a very visceral landscape to tell it's story, you really do get immersed into the world he has created and the mechanism that allows the world to work (gambling, politics and magic) well together creating a framework to tell the story of Sharrah.


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Sting of the Mustard Mines by Barry J. Hutchison

Sting of the Mustard Mines (Space Team, #10)Sting of the Mustard Mines by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You know when you save the Galaxy maybe even the Universe you think there would be appreciation aplenty to go around but then when time is manipulated who apart from maybe yourself would ever know of your epic deeds. Such is the life of Space Team or more accurately Cal Carver and things only get worse as the new reality is pretty much as bad as the old one just different. It turns out whole worlds are being wiped out, terror is rampant throughout the cosmos and old old enemies and new and improved nemesis are running amuck.
Of course Space Team knows no fear well more to the point Kevin keeps all bad news to himself until it's too late to do anything or for comedic effect, hard to tell with this advanced AI who is a law unto himself.
Sting of the Mustard Mines was a fun read, I don't think Barry has managed to inflict as much angst and violence upon Cal as he does in this story and neither Splurt nor Toby can really save the day. The new narrative/world that Space Team lives within has opened up the series which should being new and always amusing adventures for our "heroes" and I for one am looking forward to see the consequences of Space Team's good deeds :)

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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Stargate Archives

The Stargate Archives Ian joins me to discuss Stargate SG1 "The Serpent's Lair" on a new episode from the archives.



Saturday, 29 September 2018

Invasion by Jay Allan

Invasion (Blood on the Stars Book 9)Invasion by Jay Allan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The ninth novel in the Blood on the Stars series by Jay Allan heightens the tensions within the Confederation as the media and political manipulation by agents of the Union continue to shake the very structure of this culture. Admiral Barron has gathered many ships and crews around him and is facing the cold hard truth that to save the billions of people of the Confederation then control has to be seized and quickly despite the loss of life and stain on his own soul. Admiral Winter's fleet battle the invading forces of the Hegemony and a controlled tactical retreat in the hopes of breaking supplies lines is the only hope but pressure continues to mount as enemy forces get ever closer to the capital world of the Confederation.
Invasion more so than recent novels ramps up the space based action something which Jay writes with pace and style but does not ignore the politics and intrigue going on within the major powers including the Hegemony (which was most welcome). The writing is solid as you would expect with well developed characters being supported well and new characters and situations merging seamlessly. With a number of novels still to come in the series I can honestly say after a little dip in my enjoyment the series is back on track.

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Defiance by Jason Krumbine

DefianceDefiance by Jason Krumbine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A century ago the UPA (United Planetary Alliance) were attacked by an unknown alien force which were labelled Species 4876, worlds and fleets fell to their power until the combined might of the UPA destroyed them. This is in the history books but is it what actually happened?
A century later the memory of the billions lost is just that as the UPA political structure see no threat despite knowing little of the intentions and overall goals of Species 4876 but within the fleet itself eyes are wide open and continue to search the darkness for signs of the return or their influence.
Captain Gavin Mitchell of the USS Defiance is in hot water after taking a short cut through the Veneer neutral zone during an emergency resupply mission and events at the mining colony on the world of Carlock indicate external forces are in play. Further investigations point towards the Veneer (who withdrew from the UPA a century before) and the Oxean interstellar crime syndicate but more is waiting for the crew of the Defiance to discover.
Defiance is as the author says a novel that will appeal to fans of Star Trek, the framework and characters of the story are very familiar to this long time fan of Trek but the novel is one step removed and stands by itself as a science fiction tale with some humorous elements.
I also liked the narrative structure as the events on the mission are told through the interrogation of the Captain, it would work very well in a live action television presentation. Ultimately this is a homage to Trek and that can be a good or bad thing, for me I enjoyed every reference (however slight) and that took nothing away from the story being told, look forward to the next book (Hand of God) in the series.

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Sunday, 23 September 2018

The Tale of the Five Omnibus by Diane Duane

The Tale of the Five OmnibusThe Tale of the Five Omnibus by Diane Duane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The darkness, the shadow, death or entropy call it what you will it is forever surrounding us, a part of life and a necessary precursor to whatever comes next and thus in the world of Brightwood, Steldin, Darthen and Arlen it emerges through the acts of individuals from little things to world changing. Long in the past the Kings and Queens of the nations gave their lives to bring peace and prosperity to the nations and through magic, bloodline alliances and oaths unbreakable peace reigned until the death of a king, the rise of an usurper and the lack of strength and resolve from a son born to rule but who ran.
It is a few years later and events conspire to bring an unlikely group together, the world is dying as harvests fail and encroachment from raiders rise. The land needs a King, rites have to be done and is this world the land and its King are truly one, without the a human heart to care and maybe to sacrifice the darkness rises and thus Herewiss a young sorcery looking to rekindle the magical "flame" in himself (lost to man centuries before) rides to the rescue of his friend Freelorn (Prince of Arlen) and the fight against the darkness begins anew.
The Tale of the Five Omnibus consists of the three novels The Door into Fire, The Door Into Shadow and The Door Into Sunset by Diane Duane with the fourth novel in the series in development. I am very familiar with the Star Trek novels by Diane and this was the first of her original work I have read and I enjoyed immensely, there were certainly echoes in the language and worldview that I recognised from her take on "Romulans" but no question that this solid epic fantasy with magic, warriors, dragons, elementals and all manner of normal human strengths and weaknesses.
She created a huge world to play in and characters and races all add depth and complexity to the events of the three novels thanks to their diverse nature. I really enjoyed her take on Dragons, The Divine and Elementals and the decision not to stick to a more traditional narrative when it came to personal relationships worked very well.
I'm looking forward to The Door Into Starlight but this omnibus can stand alone so don't hesitate, this is a well written and entertaining fantasy adventure.




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Monday, 27 August 2018

Battlestar Galactica

I've had the Battlestar Galactica on pre-order for a while from Eaglemoss and while I prefer the original design there is a lot to like about this one. It doesn't hurt that the detail and build quality of the model is excellent.





Martian War Machine

I recently rewatched the 1953 classic movie "The War of the Worlds" and then saw a youtube review of a model from the movie and well it really really looked nice so I bought one. I didn't go to the extra expense of a lighting kit but the green plastic does reflect light and appears to shine.




Sunday, 12 August 2018

Orbs 4 Exodus by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Exodus (Orbs #4)Exodus by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The fourth and final novel in the Orbs series sees the last desperate role of the dice both from the remaining crew of the NTC Ghosts of Atlantis and those from the biosphere as potentially the last of humanity leave Earth as free beings. A journey to Mars to meet up with the earlier NTC expedition and perhaps to make a new home free of the "Organics" and their masters on a world already devoid of most of is water is the only hope but it's no safe haven. The Organics are waiting but Dr Winston's commune with the aliens gives the survivors a small edge and together and apart the revelations of the aliens plans and goals are fully revealed.
The final novel in the series is for me the most enjoyable, more alien tech/scifi hardware focused worked well with the foundations laid down in the previous novels. The surprising twists were also most satisfying and the ongoing trend of sacrifice for the greater good felt right given the opposing viewpoint of the guiding force behind this invasion and so many more fallen worlds and civilisations. This novel got the fifth star because it's worth it and it wraps up a very strong scifi story, there were few "wins" for the characters and humanity which you would expect given the odds they faced but everything fell into place and conclusion was so worth the wait. Stand out character may surprise some but I really enjoyed the AI Alexia and her growth throughout the series, initially met with some mistrust she grew with the human characters and playing a critical role throughout.
I can highly recommend the Orbs series even though the aliens want our water has been done to death in the movies (mostly poorly at that) but here we get a strong and believable narrative with good characters a few of which stick around but most burn bright but leave their mark.


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Orbs 3 Redemption by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Redemption (Orbs #3)Redemption by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Redemption is the the third novel in the Orbs series and we return to an Earth stripped of its fresh water and the oceans slowly vanishing, the death of plant life and reduction in water is rapidly raising the temperature of the planet and it will soon cease to be a home for mammalian life. The inhabitants of the biosphere under the guidance of the AI Continue to struggle to survive as their numbers fall but there are others out there including the NTC submarine which was tasked with monitoring the biospheres but there came a time when they had to act and so together there may be hope that a few more humans can survive the death of the planet.
The pace and tension in the story to escalate in this third novel as the noose tightens on the few surviving humans, those previously unnoticed are forced to act and in doing so will fall to the superior alien forces but options are revealed and the struggle continues.
It's difficult to really go into any detail, this series is a must read for a science fiction fan who is willing to meet the author half way, the characterisation continues to be strong and the situations believable with a little leeway from the reader :)

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Orbs 2 Stranded by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Stranded (Orbs #2)Stranded by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Orbs II: Stranded is the second novel in this four part alien invasion series by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. The survivors of humanity buried deep within cheyenne mountain in the biosphere continue to see a world stripped of water as the fresh water lakes, rivers and other sources have already been harvested and huge machines begin to drain the oceans. Alas the horrors of the new reality are even worse as the alien army repurpose captured humans as "cattle", mounted on spikes they are kept alive to maintain a water source and tensions mount as the marines and scientists clash over what they should about this latest development.
Orbs II is an excellent sequel or continuation of this huge ongoing tale of a credible alien invasion. There are no easy answers and that is where the strong character based writing comes into play counter pointing the world building and action sequences. Once again the whole is more than the some of its parts as I could not put this down thanks to the benefits of reading the first novel and knowing the the third is waiting for me.


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Thursday, 9 August 2018

There But For The Grace Of God — Stargate Archives

There But For The Grace Of God — Stargate Archives

In the latest episode from the Stargate Archives I am joined by Ian to chat about the excellent Stargate SG1 episode "There But For The Grace Of God".















Sunday, 29 July 2018

Cylon Raider

Cylon Raider


Recently released by Eaglemoss is the model of the Cylon Raider from the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. A very well put together piece but you know I still think I prefer the Raider from the original series.