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.

Orbs by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Orbs (Orbs #1)Orbs by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Orbs was a novel or more accurately part of a series that was recommended to me in the usual Amazon fashion and the price was good and the blurb was interesting so why not. Four books later I was totally satisfied with the story that Nicholas had penned about an alien invasion of the Earth and the subsequent events which for humanity and the world were not good, not good at all.
In this first novel we get much of the backstory of the Earth set in the near future which carries throughout the series, the environment is damaged and political and economic issues have led to a corporate power being the defacto world leader to the point that China as a "power" were removed from the equation at the hands of the New Tech Corporation. Complications arise after a solar event slashes the Earth with destructive radiation and stella material leaving millions dead and cities gone or uninhabitable. The eyes of the corporation look towards Mars and a biosphere project is undertaken to prove the concept under the eyes of a highly advanced AI and selected specialists led by Dr Sophie Winston. Soon after the project is sealed under Cheyenne Mountain all contact is lost with the outside and the animals violently destroy themselves. The last time anything like this occurred was when the Earth was bathed in the radiation storms and while the team can last for months in this self sustaining complex the team need to know what has happened to the billions who lacked this protection...
I'm not going to go into too specific details of the events the followed leaving the Cheyenne complex but I will admit I was hooked, it's not easy making an alien invasion story work given all the questions that are often asked when the goal seems to be resource lead but this was by far more interesting than anything Hollywood has done recently. We were presented with a good mix of characters and good dynamic between them, personalities clashed and the AI was a good addition offering a look at events offset from the emotions of the team members.
I pretty much read all four novels over the course of a week, one of the benefits of being late to the party is that there is no waiting for the next installment and while this novel only got a four star rating the series as a whole will get five, it was that good.

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The Sidekicks Initiative by Barry J. Hutchison

The Sidekicks Initiative: A Comedy Superhero AdventureThe Sidekicks Initiative: A Comedy Superhero Adventure by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The world and the grand Cityopolis were protected by superheroes until they weren't. The government machine attempts to hide the fact that it's an open range for super villains and they look to the horizon in trepidation because who or what killed the Justice Platoon are still out there. Sam Summers a mild mannered divorced father of a young son has issues with his life, his work and well everything else but when his son is threatened at gunpoint his troubled past reawakens and maybe just maybe Cityopolis and the world have hope.
The Sidekicks Initiative is a new venture for the author Barry J. Hutchison who has penned the very good series of novels under the Space Team banner and associated spin offs. I've enjoyed those novels immensely and was more than willing to start a new adventure with Barry's latest novel and I was not disappointed. The Superhero genre is very buoyant at the moment and originality is a gift few can achieve so more often that not the key is to create a piece of work that exists within the genre and its well trodden tropes yet retains the spark of creativity. Barry has achieved this with his world building, interesting and well constructed characters and situations and in this case nailing the comedic aspects to a tee. I also have to say that a couple of more heartfelt and emotionally deep elements came across very well, sometimes you need to feel for the "bad" guy and allow for redemption and shades of grey in the hero bizz.
Highly recommended if you have never read Barry's other work and if you have you will certainly not feel let down and I hope this is a start of a new avenue for his creativity.

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Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Pew! Pew! - A Fist Full of Pews!

Pew! Pew! - A Fist Full of Pews! (Pew! Pew!, #5)Pew! Pew! - A Fist Full of Pews! by M.D. Cooper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The latest anthology in the Pew! Pew! series arrives with another eight broadly humorous tales of science fiction spread across all subgenres with submissions from authors who are returning to the series and a few new to the anthologies. I enjoyed all eight of the stories, they all had fun moments and were far from simplistic in their narrative or structure, these are all well written scifi with the humour when required as the bonus element or icing if you will.

Cryonite Caper by Felix R. Savage
Mike Starrunner small time freighter captain finds his weapons officer frozen in a block of cryonite, some shady business going on but what exactly and who with has yet to be determined. In a society where there are humans who can shape shift and of course aliens a plenty it's going to be tricky for him to find out the truth and to be alive after he does.

The Chadd by Richard Parry
Chad Forradel is assigned to track down a newly emerged human empath which leads him to the terraforming world of New Haven, there is no one left alive. The ongoing war with the insect like Ezeroc is raging, empaths are the key to victory but the Ezeroc can infest a host empath and use their abilities against the human empire so the pressure is mounting on Chadd to finish his mission but then the space pirates turn up guns ablazing and they have the empath.

My Andersonia by James S. Aaron
Ngoba Starl was eager to get his embedded link, an offer of a job from a friend to infiltrate an offworld society and liberate a sentient AI will get him what he wants. Now if only he didn't have to pretend to be the fiancee of a young woman he quite likes or that their guide has the serious hots for him and it's Mardi Gras time and well anything goes...

Rogue Planets and a Bored Kitty by M. D. Cooper
The Delta Team return and well their gifts from their recent visit to Disknee World has kinda changed the dynamic of the ship and crew but a job is a job and so what if the team consists of Cinderella, Catwoman a Vampire and a few other critical changes in circumstance? The job requires them to retrieve an energy device stolen from the world of Crossbar by someone from Allaran two worlds deep in the void in a starless system both dependent upon these devices to provide energy, oh and Crossbar is populated by vampires so no worries.

Space Girl and the Sensual Spy by Andrew Dobell
Space Girl Seren Zenith second to none in her chosen profession of intelligence operative is assigned a critical mission to rescue a deep cover agent, turn the tables on a alien state and collect valuable intelligence. However while her robot McTechbot is always useful (sarcastic to the extreme but useful) she is also lumbered with a Fleet officer, granted she would ride him all night long (well sex is one of her favourite pastimes in any way you care to imagine) but this isn't how she works but as in her private or not so private life a willing partner can always be made to hit the right spot.

Making Trouble by Amy DuBoff
Jack Tressler has had an interesting time since meeting the crew of the Little Princess II and they all agree life is more fun with a little adventure and danger so why not use some of the cabins for high paying covert transport, not trafficking per se but getting people to where they want to go no questions asked. Of course they soon find themselves transporting a group of men and women to a mysterious destination so they decide to liberate the people by stealing back the ID tags from the organised crime gang they mistakenly contracted themselves too. Fun and games galore.

Valentine's Day 1979: An Intergalactic Adventure by Andrew Gates
Wrong place and wrong time sees Ryan Gifford taken onboard an alien starship and learning that the Earth is part of a huge galactic power and as such an Earthman has been chosen as husband in a political marriage to head off a interstellar war. Why an Earth man, well no one else really wants to marry such a hideous creature but hey it's Valentine's Day and as usual Ryan is alone so why the hell not!

The Unbelievers by Bill Patterson
Something is different about the graduating class of 2360 as strange events and deaths occur around them after being assigned to the fleet in the war with the Poon. Extracted from the fleet they are examined and backgrounds checked until yes a common denominator is found and then the fun begins, if they are such a threat to their own fleet how dangerous could they be to the Poon fleet?

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STARGATE ATLANTIS: Pride of the Genii by Melissa Scott

STARGATE ATLANTIS: Pride of the GeniiSTARGATE ATLANTIS: Pride of the Genii by Melissa Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pride of the Genii written by Melissa Scott is the latest Stargate Atlantis novel released through Fandemonium aka Stargate Novels and is part of the Legacy series. If you are unaware of this series of novels then they begin where the TV series left off and followed Atlantis back to the Pegasus galaxy and into the chaos that was the Wraith and the Genii as well as many other factions who rode out the turbulent times after the city returned to the Milky Way.
This latest novel from Melissa focuses on the Genii and the recovered Ancient warship they brought to the final battle with Queen Death. Now fully repaired (or at least the best it can be without an Ancient shipyard) the Pride of the Genii with her crew many with ATA gene therapy derived from Wraith tech the Genii venture forth on a "goodwill" tour of allied worlds. This mission is the jewel in the still young leadership of Ladon Radim and nothing can go wrong but with the military coup an accepted way to gain power any weakness or misfortune could spell the end of his rule and his life.
Pride of the Genii is a great addition to the Legacy series of Stargate Atlantis novels as it builds strongly on the core of the series in growing societies and factions that were side stepped on the tv show or simply had so much more to offer. The Wraith have benefited greatly from the world building over the course of Legacy and now it's time for the Genii and for a society that played a part as an antagonist on the tv show there is so much more we need to know about them as a people and the individuals. Melissa delivers in full by not only cementing Ladon as a central character (who still has shades of light and dark) but bringing forth the social order he oversees. A military culture was firmly crafted for the show but we see a bit more of the push and pull within the military and how the science division and even civilian elements operate. As for the Atlantis and her people not a lot was added that we did not already know, this novel really wasn't about their development although John still dealing with the demands of leadership had its moments. I did mention in my first review of a Legacy novel how I really enjoyed the description of the symbiotic relationship between pilot and Ancient ship (Atlantis in that case) but here again we get a wonderful description of the bonding and emotional element between certain Genii and the ship and later with John. The hint of maybe sentience and certainly trauma was captivating, the idea the ship itself recalled its previous close call with death and the loss of her crew and her "screams" as the atmosphere burnt her skin in an uncontrolled reentry were totally immersive. The fact the Genii commander also felt the closeness with the ship says a lot for that officer and the type of man he is, another who would be open for honest and fair dealing with Atlantis.
Overall Pride of the Genii was an excellent read, a very entertaining story with great development of a culture that was never really my favourite but I am ready for the Genii to take more of a center stage in any future Legacy novels. The Genii after all may be right, the Wraith could renege on their deal, maybe not now but in a century who knows and woe anyone that isn't prepared....

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Sunday, 24 June 2018

Blueshift by Joshua Dalzelle

BlueshiftBlueshift by Joshua Dalzelle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Daedalus is on the return leg of its journey into the depths of space and a rendezvous with a planetary system which may support life. The mission was undertaken by a privately funded project helmed by a billionaire but as it returns to the Solar System around 800 years later the awakening crew find that things have changed significantly. There have been deaths on board the starship thanks to failures in the cryotechnology and general bad luck and wear and tear but the survivors now detect no signals from Earth, no movement in the asteroid belt but then contact is made but from Mars warning them to avoid Earth....
Blueshift is as Joshua states a very different style of story then his regular readers are familiar with and yeah that is certainly true. I didn't enjoy this novel or the characters in the same manner as from his Omega Force series but it was interesting concept which could have been spun out in many ways if that's what the author intended. The novel may indeed be a good choice for someone not familiar with the bulk of his published work but certainly don't avoid it if you think that if it's not Omega Force then you are not interested.

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Into the Breach

Into the Breach (Gateway to the Galaxy Book 1)Into the Breach by Jonathan Yanez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Frank Wolffe a former Marine now working for Ballistics United Tactical and Tech Systems (B.U.T.T.S) is well not quite a salesman but certainly a middle man between the company and the clients. He is given a time sensitive account to fulfill with the US military and finds himself delivering high tech armour and weapons to a facility buried deep below the Hoover Dam. Here he finds that his boss has "volunteered" him to support an operation using the supplied inventory and the mission involves using an alien device to travel well somewhere in the universe!
I think that is all you need to know and if sounds a little familiar then the author makes no bones about the love for all things Stargate and Green Lantern and the two story themes work well with the military setting and a fish out of the water situation the Marines find themselves in when they travel via the alien device. The novel is fast paced and full of humour, good interaction between the characters both main and secondary and well it's fun without getting itself bogged down in technobabble to explain how any of the tech or other things work.

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Lucky Universe by Joshua James

Lucky Universe (Lucky's Marines, #1)Lucky Universe by Joshua James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lance Corporal "Lucky" Lee Savage is a Frontier Marine one of a highly trained and equipped assets of the Empire. Between missions they are frozen to prolong their use but "Lucky" was the sole survivor of a disastrous mission and spent over half a century frozen and lost in between the stars. Together with his AI which is named Rocky a legend has grown, the ability to survive missions and come away unscatherd (even allowing for the nanotec in the suits) has made his name known across the military but with his memories lost thanks to long term cryostasis was it luck or something else at work?
Lucky Universe was an entertaining read, the technology was off the charts and the world created by Joshua sufficiently futuristic but still anchored in a military mindset. The humour worked and the mystery behind the nightmares and lost memories were intriguing and I'll probably pick up the second novel in the series just to confirm if I am committed to the full story which will span multiple novels.

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Tin Man — Stargate Archives

Tin Man — Stargate Archives

Ian joined me to discuss Stargate SG1 "Tin Man" on this new episode from the Stargate Archives.



Sunday, 27 May 2018

Storm of Vengeance by Jay Allan

Storm of Vengeance (Crimson Worlds Refugees Book 5)Storm of Vengeance by Jay Allan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fifth novel in the Crimson Worlds spin off series Refugees is Storm Of Vengeance and the narrative jumps forward a few years from the previous novel as Earth 2 on the technological front is still making leaps and bounds thanks to the "mules". In terms of their society things are not so smooth as Max Harmon for the good of the race has been acting as de facto dictator using his personal power and the fruits of his political links to maintain a peace between the factions. There are constant threats from elements of the natural born humans against the "tanks" (clones) and "mules" (hybrids) but the constant shadow of the Regent (Ancient Imperium AI) has kept a lid on this pressure cooker. Things are about to change however when a long range recon fleet engages an Imperium fleet in a system with a world believed to be the last antimatter generating resource of the Regent. The human fleet is sacrificed to get word back and the benefit in removing anti-matter from their enemies arsenal leads Earth 2 to launch a huge fleet on a potential suicide mission.
Storm of Vengeance continues the strong storytelling that Jay Allan is known for and extends on the existing characters we've come to know though the previous novels as well as world building with new characters and a growing chaotic threat to humanity in this part of the galaxy. Overall an enjoyable read that will satisfy any fan of the Crimson Worlds series of novels but obviously the pay off is being invested in the series as a whole rather than a standalone scifi tale.
Of course this reader got hooked when he read the first novel in the series and followed along with many thousands more as the series spun off in different directions, the commitment has been worth it.

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Sunday, 20 May 2018

The King of Space Must Die by Barry J. Hutchison

The King of Space Must Die (Space Team, #9)The King of Space Must Die by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Long ago there was a proposed initiative, a group of talented and extraordinary people who could defend a world from the unimaginable, this wasn't that one.
Space Team Assemble is perhaps how Cal Carver would explain the events as the crew of the Currently Untitled, Dan Deadman and associates, Nana Joan and Ronda (with assorted help) are brought together to save the galaxy if not the universe from Geronimus Krone quite simply the Most Dangerous Man in the said Universe. Yep this is the sort of space nonsense that happens when Cal unwittingly "helps" Krone to escape jail, time travel into the past and reshape events as he sees fit. Thanks to the authors choice of time travel shenanigans our Space Team retained knowledge of the previous timeline and use that to gather compatriots to join the fight and thus one group of merry men,women, cyborg (not robot) and well whatever intend to take on an evil all powerful genius who controls the galaxy and has a thousand thousand spaceships at his command, piece of cake.
What can I say, The King of Space Must Die is a very funny addition to already fun filled space adventure series, the bringing together of characters from various storylines gives the novel a more epic feel and gives the regular readers a big pay off, Marvel Studios do something similar:)
The subplot of our favourite deceased teen wolf girl was rewarding and tied in nicely and of course Splurt and Kevin as always excelled themselves in their own indomitable way. The time travel worked very well, the twists and surprises did their jobs to maintain the narrative in a believable way and yes it is important to create rules for the story and stick with them and if you don't then make it funny, it was.

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Sunday, 13 May 2018

Paradise by Craig Alanson

Paradise (Expeditionary Force, #3)Paradise by Craig Alanson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third novel in the Expeditionary Force series by Craig Alanson is called "Paradise" and if you've read the series so far then you know that is the world the human military force assigned to the Kristang were deployed too. Cut off from the Earth, unarmed and now reliant on the goodwill of the Ruhar the men and women of Earth are having to learn how to farm and fend for themselves, it's not going well and it is going to get a lot worse.
Meanwhile in orbit around Earth the Flying Dutchman's merry band of pirates are being debriefed and despite saving the planet Joe Bishop is having a hard time, decisions and actions made are being questioned by people who were not out in the void or had the weight of the world and her people on their shoulders. Eventually a new mission is given the green light with some conditions and the Dutchman returns to a contested galaxy to gain intel on the threat to Earth and if possible the condition of the expeditionary force.
As you would expect fun and hijinks abound as Skippy the eons old Elder AI has new monkeys to play around with along with a few of the old crew who may or may not have made it on to his "list". The search continues for a com node for Skippy and an explanation of the events on the planet Newark but they also learn that the Ruhar are looking to trade Paradise for other territory and that would result in every human on the world being executed for treason by the Kristang for not fighting to the death. Joe and his crew have to devise a way to help his comrades without anyone anywhere knowing the Dutchman exists while tensions among the expeditionary force rise as food becomes scarce as Kristang raids on the planet target human settlements.
Skippy the magnificent and Joe "Barney" Bishop along with the merry band of pirates are the only hope thousands of courageous military personnel from nations of the Earth have, oh dear.
Paradise was a very entertaining addition to the series although it took me a little while to really enjoy the Paradise narrative. I'm now invested in both the Dutchman and Paradise which gives the series two fronts to play with, no doubt they will overlap again although it may be tricky to make that storyline work a second time. The upside is that for now Craig as a whole galaxy to play around with and some strings to pull to bring other/new storylines into prominence, it's only going to get better.

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Wildfire (Star Trek: SCE)Wildfire by David Mack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wildfire is the the sixth release from the Starfleet Corp of Engineers series which was initially novellas but has now been repackaged as a collection of stories in each anthology/omnibus. This novel contains three stories.

ENIGMA SHIP by J. Steven York & Christina F. York

The USS Lincoln while escorting two freighters mysteriously vanishes, scans indicate the presence of some sort of anomaly and the USS da Vinci is sent to investigate and relive the initial responder USS Chinook which has a more pressing engagement. Upon arrival they find that the chief engineer of one of the freighters and two personnel from the Chinook are also missing but the engineer somehow with limited equipment breached the anomaly. The da Vinci need to identify what the anomaly is, how to get inside and how if possible to rescue a starship and crew.
A high concept story which taxed the ingenuity of the SCE to their limits and made use of the common sense and experiences of the crew to bring about a resolution.

WAR STORIES by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Overseer Biron of the Androssi is still smarting over his "defeats" at the hands of the crew of the USS da Vinci, unbeknown to his sponsor he uses his commands resources to secure logs and other sensitive date from a spy to learn more about the crew of the SCE ship. A very interesting story which was dominated by flashbacks to give us more back story of the crew of the da Vinci.

WILDFIRE by David Mack

A distress call from the USS Orion which is testing the "wildfire" device deep in the atmosphere of a gas giant in an unclaimed system is received by Starfleet and time is of the essence not only to save the crew but secure the technology as it's finders keepers in neutral space. The da Vinci arrives on seen and enters the gas giant and slowly makes it way deeper into the heart of the turbulent gas giant in search of the Orion and the wildfire torpedo. Strained to the limit with life and death resting on a knife edge the da Vinci suffers a catastrophic event, the crew faced with limited resources and the wildfire device on a countdown to ignition make terrible decisions and sacrifices have to be made.
Wildfire is perhaps the one story I have been waiting for, I had the basic plot of this novel already in my mind thanks to a podcast interview many moons ago but even so this story stuck the knife in and twisted. A real pay off for readers who have followed the series from the beginning and written with pace and tension which serves the situation the ship and her crew find themselves in.
David Mack did a magnificent job.

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