Sunday, 21 April 2019

Hand of God by Jason Krumbine

Hand of God (Defiance Book 2)Hand of God by Jason Krumbine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A morse code signal is detected out in the vast depths of space in a region where no Earth vessel should belong and so the Defiance investigates and finds a mystery, a ship centuries old but very familiar. As the investigation continues the Defiance plays host to an unusual guest (call him Steve) who has incredible powers and a bit of a god complex, his intent, to warn them away from the ship for it brings catastrophe.
Hand of God continues the huge nod to Star Trek that was established in the first novel, the general situations and crew personas will be familiar to fans of the Trek franchise but are skewed enough to bring us a story that can stand by itself. The addition of Steve left me with a big smile on my face but ultimately it's the story that keeps me reading and the threat of the Unity across not only this universe but the almost infinite number is compelling and the mild humour certainly doesn't hurt to offset the big picture consequences Captain Mitchell and the crew of the USS Defiance have to deal with.

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Act of God by Jason Krumbine

Act of God (Defiance Book 3)Act of God by Jason Krumbine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Defiance is badly damaged, its Captain is missing (So is Steve) but in the chaos another visitor from the unimaginable realm appears (call me Sharon) but she seems a little more receptive to the needs of the crew. While the crew have to deal with the imminent failure of the ship, a sickbay full of critically wounded and an acting Captain who would want to be anywhere but here the Unity represented by Ensign Erin Calloway and Lt. Commander Keane continues to threaten life in this universe. Meanwhile Captain Mitchell has been taken on a journey of discovery and insight by Steve, to what end that has yet to be revealed but Steve certainly has an agenda and that even with Unity abound may still not be a help to life in this and other universes.
Act of God continues the story of the USS Defiance and her crew knee deep in the threat of Unity and the revelations from beings who are far in advance of life as they know it. The decision by Jason to offer up these "god" like beings who are in intellectual conflict opens up the narrative and provides a reasonable solution to a problem that was not going to be solved in any sensible way. Naturally this isn't the end of the threat just a new beginning in the grand tradition of science fiction.

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Sunday, 14 April 2019

Hal Spacejock Omnibus Two by Simon Haynes

Hal Spacejock Omnibus Two: Hal Spacejock books 4-6, plus FramedHal Spacejock Omnibus Two: Hal Spacejock books 4-6, plus Framed by Simon Haynes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second omnibus featuring the adventures of Hal Spacejock, Clunk and the Navcom. The three stories are all funny and entertaining as the trio somehow always manage to survive despite getting themselves (well Hal tends to get them into the mess in the first place) into ever desperate situations.

Hal Spacejock 4: No Free Lunch
Hal journeys beyond his usual stomping grounds in the search for new contracts and arrives at the planet Dismolle which is a kinda retirement world, he delivers some bottled water to the client Harriet Walsh who then offers a proposition, a plus one to a local social function, what could go wrong?

Hal Spacejock 5: Baker's Dough
A huge inheritance awaits the owner of the robot that was once the companion of a rich guy, with no definitive records we see robots and owners from across the sector converge on the law officers. Hal and Clunk are somehow tasked into taking Hans Cuff and his very old robot to the meeting in return for a cut of the inheritance, sounds fishy and well when has Hal ever made a good decision when money is to be made!

Hal Spacejock 6: Safe Art
A contract to transport some modern art pieces (aka junk in Hal's opinion) sees the Volante and her crew lumbered with a member of the Peace Force who is going to be inspecting the pieces and looking for clues to a huge smuggling operation. Naturally everything that could go wrong does go wrong and while Hal may be unaware of some of the hiccups in the endeavour Clunk not so much.

The collection also includes a short bonus story "Framed".

An excellent three novels in this omnibus, no question that the adventures of Hal and Clunk are funny and full of adventure, conflict and drama. Simon manages to provide a central character in Hal who has enough rough edges making some of his more questionable acts understandable while giving him a streak of integrity (small streak if I am honest) which allows Clunk to partner with this wayward human. The Navcom on the other hand really has no say in the matter but stick around, for a complex piece of code there are adventures on the way. Pure scifi fun and if that is what you are looking for then you will not go wrong, excellent value for money as well.

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Sunday, 31 March 2019

Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido

Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandidoWithout a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a fan of the writings of Keith R.A. DeCandido so this collection of some of his short stories across various genres was an easy sell and also an ideal way to introduce someone new to his worlds. Some of the stories are quick and precise while a few take their time to set up a narrative and delve more deeply into the characters, you will certainly find some that appeal and truth be told none of these stories failed to hit their mark.

Partners in Crime
The Ballad of Big Charlie
A Vampire and a Vampire Hunter Walk Into a Bar
Under the King's Bridge
The Stone of the First High Pontiff
Seven Mile Race
Editorial Interference
Sunday in the Park with Spot
Wild Bill Got Shot
Behold a White Tricycle

Always great to get a Precinct story (Partners In Crime) and the humour is never far away in other stories but more "serious" like "30" and "The Ballad of Big Charlie" were welcome and then you get something like "Behold A White Tricycle" to wrap up the collection and you just wonder how a mind can come up with this stuff :)
My favourite, well it may have to be "Editorial Interference" because it was a classic crime/mystery which maintained a logical foundation but with the motive being just skewed enough to suit the anthology. Like I said though, you will find a story (more than one) that ticks every box and while a few you may never read again the value of this collection is still high both in terms of price and as a platform for Keith's creativity.

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Sunday, 24 March 2019

The Hunt for Reduk Topa by Barry J. Hutchison

The Hunt for Reduk Topa (Space Team, #12)The Hunt for Reduk Topa by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Space Team return in the twelfth book of the series "The Hunt For Reduk Topa" and well having few friends in the immediate vicinity they and by they I am mean Cal decide to explore a new sector of space. Naturally Cal doesn't really understand that even with FTL space is big and are we there yet doesn't cut it with the rest of the crew. Unexpectedly they are ripped from warp and find themselves exploring a derelict spaceship and then having to deal with system wide broadcast networks whose output is even by Earth's standards not good apart from Puppetopia (thanks to the subliminal mind control) and The Hunt.
The Hunt is the pride of the network, the worst of the worse are hunted by cold blooded yet theatrical killers (Yeah even Cal referenced The Running Man) and the upcoming special involving space pirate Reduk Topa is destined to be a financial and critical success. You know where this is heading, when Cal and Space Team even glance at a well oiled machine things are going to go boing and they do.
Barry once again delivers a very funny adventure but retains some of the darker elements that well real life can often through into the mix. Miz and Tyrra (both last of their species) add a strong family style dynamic to the crew and the relationship between Cal and Loren doesn't help Miz either. As per usual Cal will lead the team into chaos and opportunity and as is often the case the bonds formed (despite themselves) remain strong if presenting themselves in unexpected situations.
This was a pleasure to read and always good to see a long running series still able to surprise and entertain.

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Friday, 22 March 2019

Zeus Is Undead: This One Has Zombies by Michael G. Munz

Zeus Is Undead: This One Has Zombies (Zeus Is Dead, #2)Zeus Is Undead: This One Has Zombies by Michael G. Munz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Gods returned, it didn't go as well as many would have expected especially for the murdered Zeus who was the victim of a coup which allowed the pantheon to re-enter the lives of humanity. Surprisingly many of the gods themselves came to think this whole messing with the mortal world was too much of a hassle and as is the norm heroes emerged to battle incredible odds and restore the balance. Not long after when things had kinda settled down again the dead began to rise from the grave, the mortuary or wherever and well we all know what a hassle that can be. Tracy (daughter of Zeus) along with Leif (heroes both) see their movie deal die a death and along with former God Athena and former Ninja Templar Ryan Seth Sloude they search for the cause and solution of the zombie plague. Sounds simple except the gods are busy dealing with celestial beings who are intent on searching the Earth for well something and they may just have the god killer that was created for Zeus to handle the Titans, tricky and diplomacy was never a strong suit for the Gods.
Zeus Is Undead: This One Has Zombies is an excellent follow up to the first novel bringing back our favourite humans, half humans and gods in an epic quest to save humanity and defuse the threat of these beings from somewhere else one of which bumped "parts" with Zeus long long ago.
The story flows with pace and never lets up with the humour both in situations which call for the direct injection of a laugh and those that on the surface do not but hey read the title you are not getting an over dramatic dark toned tome here. Seriously when the zombies stop craving brains and now stumble around proclaiming "grains" and carrying a pretzel or having drunk beer makes you number one snack food you are in for laughs.
I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, maybe should have reread the first as it took a few chapters to get back up to speed but it was a blast, over the top fun with gods doing godly things and making things worse and humans trying their best and ending up in situations far worse than before.

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Sunday, 10 March 2019

The Grand Alliance by Jay Allan

The Grand Alliance (Blood on the Stars Book 11)The Grand Alliance by Jay Allan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Confederation capital world has fallen but even so the forces fighting the Hermegony struck a huge blow by destroying a huge swath of battleships and more importantly wiping out the supply/repair facility that was protected well behind the front lines. As the fleet harrassess the resupply of the Hegemony fleet around Megara it soon becomes apparent that playing for time to rebuild the fleet around the Iron Belt worlds will fail, reinforcements to the enemy are increasing and the longer they wait the stronger the Hegemony will be. Admiral Barron decides to act and forces his allies to launch a strike against Megara, an all or nothing battle that the enemy will not see coming.
The Grand Alliance is another strong addition to the Blood on the Stars series, the continuing story growing and developing over each novel. New characters are introduced, after all this is a series that attempts to reflect the reality of conflict and thus people we are invested in die along with those that are just the cannon fodder. As expected the battle scenes are very well written, the interaction between the main characters remains solid and supports the narrative and if you are like me and have read the series from book 1 you will be more than satisfied.

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The Dragon Corps by Natalie Grey

The Dragon Corps (The Dragon Corps, #1)The Dragon Corps by Natalie Grey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Dragon Corps were the answer to the problem facing the Alliance when dealing with galaxy wide demands for military intervention be it on a small scale or large. The very size of the Alliance domain meant that conflicts could be over before assets were organised so semi autonomous small units were created from the very best of humanity and enhanced within the boundaries of the law. These Dragon units were allowed to investigate and prosecute whatever they deemed fit, they had the full backing of Alliance Intelligence who often supplied specific missions and overall no one would question their honour, competency and value to the galaxy. The only stain on the Corps and the Alliance as a whole was the world of Ymir, stolen from its people by the "Warlord" backed by 50000 mercenaries and all efforts at interdiction have failed including losing a full carrier on a disastrous planetary assault.
Major Talon Rift and his Dragon Corps team have seen more missions to free Ymir fail than most and it has become an obsession, missions planned by Alliance Intelligence while making sense at the time never pay off with ultimate success, yes military units of the Warlord are destroyed, assets and support curtailed but the final push never materializes. As the resistance on Ymir grows once again the Warlord reaches out to the blackmarket weapon suppliers and another opportunity emerges for Talon and his people to get a look into the workings of the system the supports the Warlord both on Ymir and within the Alliance itself. Talon and his people will not rest while a world's population is enslaved and nothing is more dangerous than Dragons who are motivated by justice and the need to avenge the innocent.
The Dragon Corps by Natalie Grey was bought on an impulse and turned out to be a hugely entertaining read, the world she created was compelling with clear cut good guys and bad guys (the lines do not always stay clear cut as the series progresses). A good blend of narrative and action set pieces along with a mix of characters keeps the story progressing at a breakneck pace and I found myself totally immersed in the novel very very quickly. I was very delighted to be able to jump to the second book in the series and even more so when I realised there were many more books ready to go (benefit of coming to a series late in the day). I can highly recommend "The Dragon Corps" for fans of military scifi and the echo of current Special Forces doesn't hurt at all, the added political, economic and ethical dimensions just makes the story even better.

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Sunday, 24 February 2019

Para Bellum by Christopher Nuttall

Para Bellum (Ark Royal Book 13)Para Bellum by Christopher Nuttall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The 13th novel in this long running series arrives with "Para Bellum" as humanity faces another threat from beyond their borders one which eclipses the more traditional enemies the human race have faced so far. An insidious virus which can take control of beings and by extension ships and worlds threatens the human race but with so many ships and people how to prevent something so small getting an unseen foothold. That is the task given to the major powers of the Earth and directly to the task force assigned to return to the frontier and deal with the catastrophic first contact. The Russians have allied themselves with the fleet but with an agenda, they need to find the Dezhnev which made its own first contact unaware of the threat they faced and it may be they have sentenced humanity to death through their arrogance, desperation and greed.
Captain Alice Campbell currently the only survivor of exposure to the virus is deployed with the fleet, not fully trusted (even by herself) her insights may just give them an edge and indeed by using this character as a focal point Christopher maintains his strong character based writing while not denying the readers a decent amount of action and suspense between the stars. Another entertaining addition to the Ark Royal series and well worth picking up the first novel in the series and seeing if like me you get hooked.

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The Street Martyr by T. Fox Dunham

The Street MartyrThe Street Martyr by T. Fox Dunham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Street Martyr is the second novel I have read by T. Fox Dunham and unlike Mercy moves the darkness and depravity away from the more supernatural influence to that derived from power and money and everything which goes hand in hand with individuals who believe they are untouchable. Vincent Grant is a low level drug dealer partnered with Louie (friends from being boys) doing their business in the employee of the local crime boss in and around Philadelphia. A request from Vincent's priest (and friend) has him paying a visit to another priest who has been abusing children, a beat down by Vincent was delivered by the next day the priest is found beheaded and brutally disfigured in the local park. Pursued by the police and organised crime Vincent has few friends and forced to merge himself into the remnants of humanity he used to exploit reveals some startling truths.
The Street Martyr was an entertaining crime drama, the world that was painted was sufficiently bleak and realistic to understand the choices made by many of the main characters and the ultimate choice to embrace the darkness or the light was well paced and followed a logical if brutal path. A well written story showing us the depths the human soul can fall through both by circumstance and by choice.

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Mercy by T. Fox Dunham

MercyMercy by T. Fox Dunham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

William Saint was dying, slowly but surely and his cancer was not the only route to his demise, guilt and well being human added to his burden and turning down any home care resulted in him rotting away in his home. Others had plans for him though and after emergency services broke down his door he was taken to Mercy hospital but surely no one these days were taken there, a run down and decaying structure long past its prime. In hindsight probably a fitting destination even with the hallucinations that begin to plague Willie and the ghosts of memory, it was Mercy that took the love of his life Kylie a year before but here and now he feels her presence and that of a darkness creeping along the halls.
Mercy was not my usual genre these days (supernatural/horror) but I wanted to read some of the novels by Fox and this seemed a suitable choice and I think I chose wisely. The novel is a comfortable read, the characters and situations are easy to get into and the visceral world that is built is wonderfully compelling. The style reminds me a little of the early work of Dean R. Koontz who I rated highly in this genre and the pacing kept me turning the page despite none of the characters being overly likeable.

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Sunday, 17 February 2019

Hal Spacejock Omnibus One by Simon Haynes

Hal Spacejock Omnibus OneHal Spacejock Omnibus One by Simon Haynes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hal Spacejock, just the name envisions adventures that defy belief and well this omnibus was a bargain and I never turn my back on a good title, blurb or ebook value for money. The first three novels in the series A Robot Named Clunk, Second Course and Just Desserts are included in this kindle edition and I started reading and just kept reading to the point where I forget it was a trilogy and was delighted when the first story finished and the second was on the next page.
Hal is a put upon small time space freighter captain who is up to his neck in debt and finally has to take a contract which lumbers him with a robot co-pilot, of course a shady job brings all manner of complications into Hal's simple life as he tries to stay ahead of debt collectors, shipping agents, customs personnel and all manner of things inherent in a ship owner who does not know how to navigate and beyond pressing a button labelled "land" or "launch" has no real piloting skills.
These three stories in this omnibus were great fun, Hal is not a great guy for sure but compared to most of the people he has to deal with he comes across as the "good" guy and of course Clunk and the ships AI add greatly to the chemistry of the team.
I've already bought the second omnibus and looking forward to reading the further adventures of this flying disaster zone.

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Mermaid Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Mermaid PrecinctMermaid Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had the pleasure of reading the Precinct novels by Keith R.A. DeCandido for many years so when this latest novel was launched via kickstarter it was an easy sell to contribute and patiently wait for the results, it was worth the wait.
The demise of the city state of Barlin has drastically increased the number of people living in Cliff's End and pushing the city guard beyond their limits. The Lord and Lady of the city have allowed the creation of new precincts and an increase in manpower although not enough and the pressure to keep the peace only increases when the undercurrent of tension explodes and leaves a man murdered. To complicate matters the Pirate Queen is also dead, believed killed and Lieutenant Danthres Tresyllione and her partner Torin ban Wyvald investigate.
Mermaid Precinct builds successfully on the novels that preceded it taking the well constructed locations within Cliff's End and the people there in and adding the complexities as the native population have to absorb a significant influx of refugees which bring about shortages in all areas including jobs and a clash of cultures even over as something as trivial as beverage choice. The Pirate Queen plot is a more traditional who done it as we learn about the delicate balance this woman did her work including risking her ship and crew to save the half breed children destined to die simply for existing. This also allows us to learn more about Danthres but even here we see the clash of expectations and prejudice rise to colour the investigation.
A very worthy addition to the Precinct novels and while you do not have to read them in any order to enjoy them there is certainly a benefit in picking up the first novel (Dragon Precinct) and going from there, not forgetting the short stories that bridge the gaps between the novels.

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Sunday, 10 February 2019

Shattered Dreams: The Shardies War by Bud Sparhawk

Shattered Dreams: The Shardies WarShattered Dreams: The Shardies War by Bud Sparhawk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Humanity went to the stars and found no signs of intelligent technological life, low level animal and plant life was abundant and colonisation went smoothly, they thought they were all alone, they were wrong. The Provance now a simple cargo hauler (formly a decommissioned battle cruiser) flashed alarms after being struck by an unknown force, out in the void a crystalline structure curved around the planet as a blinding light enveloped the colony, with no option to run the ships drives were activated and it jumped to the Morrow system. The warning went out on old fashioned radio (modern communications were down) and the aliens followed, the next victims of an unknown aggressor were the people of Morrow and it didn't end there.

Shattered Dreams: The Shardies War by Bud Sparhawk was funded via kickstarter and I received my copy as a backer. The novel is harder scifi than I usually choose to read leaning more towards strong character development and situation/circumstance over out and out action set pieces. That said the drama works well when combined with the threat of these mysterious aliens and the use of characters seen over decades works surprisingly well. The core of the narrative is how far will you go to survive, we have a handful of people on Morrow, a soldier who was there at the beginning and will be there at the end and finally humanity itself faced with the dilemma that to counter the alien capabilities those who face them will have to lose what they are if any chance of victory is to be achieved. A recommend book but not a overly easily page turner, you have to commit to get the most out of the novel.

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Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Man Who Broke the Moon

The Man Who Broke the Moon: A Space Opera AdventureThe Man Who Broke the Moon: A Space Opera Adventure by Michael James Ploof
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Captain Jason Eriksson was a hero to many and alas a mass murder to the rest (there was no real middle ground when it came to opinions on his actions during the conflict between Earth and the Moon colony). Now retired and living the life on Saint Croix along with his, well companion is too strong a word as is advisor or protector but the artificial PAL 2000 (robot) attempts to keep Jason from doing anything too drastic, he fails quite often. This was one of those times as Jason is dodging the murderous intent of the local crime/drug kingpin who took offense at Jason screwing his wife. Events however catch up with Jason as he is called back into service to command the very latest in starship technology (a lot lifted from alien tech) and to go make contact in their home system thanks to alien FTL tech and if that went poorly then to make sure Earth would never be troubled again. Some would say Jason and his crew were the best the Earth had, others would say the most expendable but always accompanied by his nightmares of lost family, decisions that led to millions dying and guilt enough for the whole world Jason and his people fly into the unknown.
The Man Who Broke The Moon pretty had me at the title, I was always going to read a novel with such a grandiose and pulpy title and over all it was enjoyable. Jason being a tormented character with a death wish it has to be said was interesting and those around him fleshed out to give the narrative some meat on its bones. I have to say I liked the second half of the novel more than the first, the time on the ship and the discoveries made were fascinating and tipped the balance on choosing to buy the second novel in the series when it is released.

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Sunday, 27 January 2019

Release the Virgins

Release the VirginsRelease the Virgins by Michael A. Ventrella
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release The Virgins was a project that I discovered via Kickstarter and given the wealth of writing talent it was a simple decision to back the project. Once however I read about the anthologies creation via the use of the phrase "Release The Virgins" in each story I was if anything even more excited about the prospect of this unusual concept. As it turned out the results far exceeded my expectations with the majority of the eighteen stories using the phrase with clever, creative and intelligent intent and yes as pointed out by the editor the line was drawn on the number of stories which featured unicorns. So if you are looking for an entertaining collection of short stories with Dinosaurs, Unicorns, Private Detectives, Interstellar Sleeper Ships and even the threat of world wide Cthulhu inspired destruction covered with plenty of humour (subtle and not so) then Release The Virgins is for you.

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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.

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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