Sunday, 28 June 2015

They were once friends...


Deathstroke and Arrow now have a place on my bookshelf. You know I'm actually pleased when I see the latest releases from Funko and there isn't a Pop Vinyl I like :)

My Random Journey Through Trek #40

Emanations
Voyager

A sensor sweep of a ringing planet reveals an unknown element to Federation science, the asteroids in the ring prove to be life supporting so an away team beam into one and discover some strange cobweb like substance all over the place and then they find a number of bodies each the source of the sensor readings. Captain Janeway agrees with Chakotay that they should treat this as a burial ground and take no action which would disturb it so they perform a simple visual survey much to the annoyance of Torres. While Chakotay is educating his younger officers on what they can take from the evidence of the bodies an energy vortex begins to form in the cave and Voyager has trouble locking the transporter onto them. Seska at the controls tells them to get close together for a mass beaming and as they rematerialise Harry has been replaced by a dead alien.
The alien however still shows signs of brain activity so she is sent to sickbay where she is revived, meanwhile Harry finds himself in what from his point of view could be considered a coffin, he begins banging on panels and it opens to reveal a room full of consoles and oh yes lots of aliens looking quite perplexed. It's explained to Harry that he is the first being ever to return from the afterlife and the aliens of this world are keen to know how their friends and family members have fared on the other side but Harry after talking his mouth off way too much soon remembers first contact protocols and attempts to be more diplomatic and careful with information. On the other side of this mysterious portal the young alien woman (Ptera played by Cecile Callan) is learning how she was treated and cured and coming to terms with the fact what she believed may not have been totally accurate or at least there are no easy answers to the questions she has. Meanwhile Harry is causing the breakdown of social and cultural order as the beliefs of many are coming under attack, doubts are being seeded and the powers that be are getting worried and Hatil (Jeffrey Alan Chandler) who was expecting to cross over is now questioning the very reason for his sacrifice, if there is no afterlife (aka the next emanation) that death is just death. Harry proposes that he wears the sacred robes and replaces Hatil and even though he will die in the process Voyager should be able to revive him, surprisingly it works but alas the attempt to return Ptera to her reality ends with her death but there is evidence that neural energy from the bodies is escaping into the rings and being maintained, maybe there is more to their one life.
Solemn moment but hands up who laughed?
Emanations was a lot better episode than I remembered especially as Harry and his blundering exploits become a bit of a trope throughout the the seven years of Voyager. It's only minutes in the presence of these aliens and Harry is already undermining their entire cultural belief system and maybe not realising that when push come to shove a terminal approach to the problem of Harry may be the ideal solution from their perspective. Let's kicks off with asteroids in a ring system being a Class M, that's a bit ridiculous but you can't beat cobwebs and mummies being discovered by an away team even more so when it's revealed the cobwebs were the remains of much older corpses. It was also very gratifying that Chakotay argued for respecting the burial site especially given it was in use, the Federation and our own people in present time would gain a lot from showing more respect to other cultures. It was also quite telling to see that the writer (Brannon Braga) made a point of the "religion" of the people being used to filter out the weaker members of the society be it a physical or mental disability and with such an ingrained "faith" it was fully accepted. You have to wonder if at some point in the distant past people in power had created this branch of belief to make use of the natural phenomenon of the subspace vacuole (portal) to rid themselves or that they were aware of the neural energy being stored in the ring system and maybe that information being lost as the belief system was dumbed down and accepted by the masses. Ultimately the inclusion of the neural energy being sustained added weight to both Harry and Janeway in their admission that they simply did not have all the answers and that is perhaps the best element of this episode, when we admit our own ignorance we can grow and not judge.
We also got a nice scene at the end as Janeway sits with Harry and basically offers him some simple advice to take the time to smell the roses while his rank allows him the time to do so.
Rating 8



Into The Darkness

Into the Darkness: Crimson Worlds Refugees IInto the Darkness: Crimson Worlds Refugees I by Jay Allan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Admiral Terrence Compton and his Grand Pact fleet comprised of elements from Earth's Superpowers are trapped deep within First Imperium space alone and with no practical way to return home and even if they did they could not risk leading the forces of the Imperium back to Earth and her colonies.
Into The Darkness tells the story of the lost fleet during the months after they were stranded so many light years away from their home systems faced with the threat of discovery and the shortages of fuel and parts to maintain the fleet as well as the political maneuvering of a command staff built from so many varied powers. It is upto Admiral Compton to keep this little piece of humanity alive and maybe find a solution to the ongoing war be driving ever deeper into the realm of the Imperium and discovering why these machines are so eager to see mankind wiped out.
Into The Darkness is the untold story that I think everyone who has been reading Crimson Worlds was hoping to see and if Mercs leaped a little too far forward for you then enjoy the heroics and sacrifices of the men and women of the fleet as you came to know them from the excellent series of novels encompassed by Crimson Worlds. The novel was certainly a page turner and the use of chapter headings to provide ship and personnel numbers reinforced the brutality of this short space of time in the lives of nearly 50,000 navy and marine personnel and quite pleased we don't have to wait too long for the next novel in the series "Shadow of the Gods" out in August.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Blood of the Cosmos

Blood of the CosmosBlood of the Cosmos by Kevin J. Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blood of the Cosmos is the second novel in the current The Saga of Shadows series and continues the story of the Confederation and Ildiran empire a couple of decades after the Elemental war and we see the results of those first few pebbles that began to fall in the first novel (The Dark Between the Stars).
The Shana Rei an entity that defies belief seeks to destroy all life, they are entropy and chaos in raw form yet somehow conditions have conspired to present them with an ally in the form of the last few Klikiss robots and together they strike at various planets, settlements and worlds yet the old Sagas of the Ildiran offer help in weapons that were used when last the Shana Rei appeared in the galaxy.
That's all I am going to say because I'm not doing the novel any justice, Kevin has once again presented a complex world with many good characters and a story that is both personal and galaxy wide affecting people and worlds in many different ways. While the story contains an awful lot of detail, action and characters it is a very easy read although I did appreciate having many of the chapters indicating the main characters that were going to be covered, helped me to keep everyone in their place:)
When the last page was turned I admit I swore a little under my breath and immediately looked for the publication date for the third novel, what more do you need to know.


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Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Middle of Nowhere

The Middle of NowhereThe Middle of Nowhere by David Gerrold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this novel in the Star Wolf series, again we are back on the LS-1187 newly named as Star Wolf but alas the Admiralty has refused to acknowledge the ship and crews contribution to the recent mission they barely returned from. Morale continues to decline as Korie who remains the ship's executive officer breaks the news to the crew and tells them those in power see the Star Wolf as a source for parts rather than a fighting ship and they will be denied a chance to join the planned assault against the Morethan fleet. As the Star Wolf rests in empty space going through a decontamination process it dawns on the crew that something is not quite right and despite their hard work and commitment components and systems continue to fail, the idea that the Morethan assassin is still influencing the ship despite his death grows from suspicion to reality as once again they are alone facing an almost impossible to find opponent and the realisation that events are coming to them in a big way.

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Saturday, 20 June 2015

My Random Journey Through Trek #39

Relics
TNG

The Enterprise picks up a distress signal from the USS Jenolan listed as missing over 75 years ago, they come out of warp into a previously unknown high gravity region of space and they discover a huge construct, a Dyson Sphere.

The scan the sphere and find the Jenolan crashed on it's surface and when they beam down they realise the transporters are powered and there is a viable pattern still in storage, they rematerialise the pattern and Captain Montgomery Scott is revealed, a little worse for wear but alive and well. Scotty is informed of the length of time that has passed and he marvels at the technology of the Enterprise D but is appalled at the lack of real alcohol served to the crew until Data shares some of Guinan's private stock with him, it is green.

Scotty soons becomes a nuisance to La Forge who does not have the patience to deal with a man who despite his reputation is out of place on a modern engineering deck but Picard intervenes by assigning them a mission to return to the Jenolan and retrieve any data left intact in the hopes of understanding more about the Dyson Sphere and those that made it. While they are off the Enterprise it is pulled into the sphere by tractor beams and they find the inside "shell" is covered in land and oceans but the sun at the core of the construct is critically unstable and they are trapped. Scotty and La Forge figure out what has happened and as the "miracle workers" get into gear a plan is formulated and they jam the Jenolan into the portal they triggered to open thus allowing the Enterprise to escape the sphere. Scotty feels reborn and is given a shuttlecraft so he can explore the wider galaxy that is now open to him, in memory of his comrades and his ship he bids farewell never to been seen again.
Relics is a good episode both as a standalone and as serious nod to the original series which the studio and producers had been actively avoiding but this episode showed that with some good writing you can justify bringing in a character that should not really be around and make it work. The first Star Trek novel I ever read dealt with a Dyson Sphere (The Starless World) so this episode already had me invested and James Doohan did himself proud with his portrayal of Scotty as a man out of place before pulling himself together and justifying himself in this far flung future.
I liked the references to the original series adventures and of course we all know Scotty liked his beverages and the scene in ten forward with Data was wonderful but damn what did they dress the waiter in! The Constitution bridge on the holodeck was great, not as good as DS9 did a few years later but for the time and budget it looked very respectable and again James and Patrick acted their socks off in those scenes, no bloody A, B, C or D.
Overall an excellent episode of The Next Generation and the first episode I've watched from my Blu-ray boxset I picked up from ebay the other day:)
Rating 9




The Search for Orion

The Search for Orion (Nemesis, #2)The Search for Orion by Saxon Andrew
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Search for Orion continues the universe spanning action adventure which never lets up, seriously no character in this series ever gets any rest unless they get killed and even that that's no guarantee. So the Earth had pretty much extracted their revenge on the Raiders who were the dominant known race in the galaxies but alas they've used their military strength to carve out an empire of their own committing as many atrocities as the Raiders ever did. Decisions have to be made and once again questions have to be asked and answered, the truth has yet to be revealed about the destruction of Avalon and the pattern continues as those with power are prepared to do anything to both maintain it and expand it.
This was a fun read, yes it was a little over the top and can not be considered as serious scifi but that's fine, I knew what I was getting after the first novel so came away from this one very satisfied and pretty sure I will be checking out other novels from Saxon Andrew, my reading list has room for all shades of science fiction.

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Monday, 15 June 2015

Revenge is Best Served Hot

Revenge is Best Served Hot (Nemesis, #1)Revenge is Best Served Hot by Saxon Andrew
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Grant and Cinny the last two humans alive are constantly on the run from the universe spanning empire that destroyed the Earth, of course they didn't actually understand at the time why they were being hunted until they stumbled upon information about their legacy and very existence. They are the products of the most advanced genetic engineering of the time and maybe with the aid of the pinnacle of destructive engineering they will be able to avenge their world.
Revenge is Best Served Hot is pretty much a rollercoaster of a science fiction tale, don't worry about the intricacies of the technology or the universe spanning scope of the story just enjoy the characters and the fast paced action and mystery they are immersed it. The book is fun, never lets up and I bought the second book in the series as soon as I had finished this one, I just had to see what Saxon could come up with next, it's never boring I tell you that.

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Sunday, 14 June 2015

First Person Peculiar

First Person PeculiarFirst Person Peculiar by Mike Resnick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First Person Peculiar was an excellent collection of stories from Mike Resnick, I don't think I disliked any of them and quite a few were just excellent but all of them struck a chord and that I think that makes recommending this book to anyone very easy indeed. A short and sweet review because all I can say is give this collection of short stories a go, you won't be disappointed.

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My Random Journey Through Trek #38

Parturition
Voyager

Paris is teaching Kes how to fly the shuttle craft and they seem to be bonding very well, good chemistry is evident and when they leave laughing and joking together Neelix observes them from the shadows. Paris opens up to Kim about his feelings for Kes and when the pair go to get some food they avoid Kes but a paranoid Neelix dumps a plate of pasta onto Paris and then the two start fighting. Voyager approaches a borderline world with signs of plant life and thus food and the Captain assigns Paris and Neelix to survey the planet and obtain plant life. Thanks to the turbulent and dangerous energy fields that surround the planet the ship can only use it's transporters during brief windows so they boys will be on their own. Alas the shuttle crashes and they seek shelter in a cave and discover some eggs, one hatches and the reptilian youngling begins to wane until they realise it requires the nourishment of the Trigemic vapors that are abundant on the world. Meanwhile in orbit an alien starship arrives and positions itself in a defensive position over the planet, Voyager is able to sidestep the alien ship and enter the atmosphere to retrieve Paris and Neelix who beam out just as perhaps the parent of the youngling arrives to collect it.
Paris, Kes and Neelix all go to share a meal.
Parturition is a bit of a mixed bag, we see the very sinister and creepy side of Neelix as he spies in Kes and Paris and then the jealousy as he acts a bit like a jerk. Harry and Paris are bros that is firmly established but it seems strange that Tom is opening up in terms of his emotional state to Harry, they are different ages and in very different places in terms of their experiences. The Doctor is bumping up against his restrictions in terms of being limited to the sickbay and the Captain isn't pleased he has been monitoring the ship communications so it didn't help when Tom and Neelix appeared for their assignment covered in pasta. I think they did a great job showing how inexperienced Kes is, when she stated that she and Tom "we're just friends" the Doctor's expression spoke volumes and he had a good fatherly chat with her. He also had the best line in the episode a little earlier with "I'm a Doctor not a voyeur" which was hilarious but in reality he is a ships system and surely should have access to the crew at all times, ok maybe comms could be stretching things but a call for help may not always make itself known. So along with some extreme shaky cam Paris and Neelix crash on "Planet Hell" and discover a handy cave with wait for it three large eggs inside one just in the process of hatching, wow talk about coincidence and poor timing but they do their best and in the time honoured tradition of many a comedy these Two Men and an Alien bond as they care for the child.
Yeah son, you were adopted.
As I said there were some good moments in this episode, the pasta fight and the jealousy of Neelix were not any of them, I also wondered why with 30% food reserves the crew were still eating so well and Neelix laid on a feast to regain favour with Kes. I also didn't approve of how easily Voyager defeated the alien starship which as they said had comparable firepower yet lacked the shielding to protect itself from weapons and scans, the latter which led to its defeat. I also was disappointed that Tom and Neelix were beamed out before they made any significant contact with the adult alien, maybe a simple gesture between the three to acknowledge the child had been cared for would have added to the depth of the episode but they just beam back and go for dinner. Well dinner was what Neelix said but well he is a little strange and maybe Tom got more than he bargained for, a story never told, thankfully:)

Parturition was saved from a really low score by some great one liners and some good bonding moments between Tom and Neelix in the later scenes and I suppose that's all you can say about it because it really doesn't get off to a good start.
Rating 5


Monday, 8 June 2015

The Martian - Official Trailer



Fantastic novel, very well done audio book version as well, hoping for the best with the movie.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

By Your Command


Ok, again I admit I couldn't resist, I'm weak, there are you happy!

My Random Journey Through Trek #37

Q Who
TNG

The Enterprise is minding it's own business, all is calm and Geordi is handling a new crew member down in engineering, after a minor incident involving hot chocolate the Captain heads back to his quarters but finds himself on a shuttle pod in the middle of nowhere along with Q. Well that was kind of a surprise to Picard who reacts poorly to anything Q has to say but eventually agrees to hear him out if he is returned to the Enterprise. Meanwhile Guinan seems to be uneasy but everything seems fine until Deanna asks where the Captain is and the computer reports he is not on the ship and a shuttle is missing, not long after the Captain and the shuttle reappear, tada.
Q offers to become a member of the crew to aid them in their journey further into the galaxy but the senior staff are not very responsive and Q sees little but arrogance and complacency and so he decides to teach them a lesson and with a snap of his fingers the ship is flung 7000 light years. An immediate scan detects a planet whose civilisation seems to have been destroyed and then they are scanned by an unidentified ship and a huge cubed vessel approaches.

Guinan immediately councils the Captain to flee but he decides to stick around and make contact, no response but the captain seems uneasy and raises his shields and then an alien beams straight into engineering and begins to inspect the systems. Q warns Picard not to let it gather too much information but when they disable the Borg another beams onboard, completes the scan and leaves. The Borg make contact with a simple statement and then begin to slice up the ship, Picard fires on the Borg and eventually they cut the tractor beam holding them in place and take the opportunity to board the cube and gather information. The find the drones most of which are in their alcoves, a nursery full of baby Borg and then they realise the ship is regenerating and will soon be back into full operation, they beam back and jump to warp with the Borg in pursuit.
The cube easily maintains pace with the Enterprise and fires on them not to damage but to disable the shields and soon they fail, Q looks rather smug while watching the last moments of the Enterprise but when Picard admits they are not prepared and need help Q once again snaps his fingers and the Enterprise is back where she started but the 18 crew that died are still dead.
Q Who? is an excellent episode of The Next Generation and really the first that makes the most of the Q character when played by John deLancie which he does with utter pannasch. However despite the episode getting a very good rating (as you will see) there were issues and that's pretty much par for the course especially with early TNG. We kick off with Ensign Gomez (Lycia Naff) a new crewmember who likes her hot chocolate and is casually walking around engineering with an open container, granted 24th century consoles should be safe from liquids (you would have thought) but it seems less than professional. We also get Geordi being very informal with "Sonia" perhaps an early sign of Geordi being less than stellar in his dealings with fellow crewmembers but the way he treats her is in stark contrast to say Barclay in later seasons. I have to say Picard could have easily walked around Gomez who had her back to him so the spilt drink was partially his fault anyway.
So Picard steps off the turbo lift onto the shuttle and while technically Q hasn't messed with the ship the removal of the Captain has consequences or so you would think, no one notices he or the shuttle are gone and even the computer which you would have thought would be aware on of the crew vanishes along with a shuttle would have said something. Guinan has her spidey sense tingling but it's finally Deanna being useful who finally reveals the Captain is gone, a search pattern is engaged and off the go in search of the impulse only shuttle. I actually quite liked some of the back story they were hinting at with Guinan and Q but since they really never followed that up lets forget about it as well and enjoy Q being Q dissing Worf and well everyone and he is right that Picard and the crew are arrogant and full of themselves shown quite clearly when in Borg space Picard ignores Guinan a woman he trusts and sticks around for a bit of sightseeing. I had to laugh when the Captain ordered Worf to deal with the initial Borg incursion, that's it order one of his underlings to throw himself into the fight yet how many times do we see Worf act or attempt to act like a wild dog going for the throat every time and held back by Picard or Riker. I was also pretty appalled how pathetic the ships sensors and targeting systems were, Picard orders the tractor beam disabled and it's not until the hit the emitters that it stops, so sloppy shooting their Tex. Gomez appears in engineering yet again and you would think the experienced crew members would be on duty not a fresh transfer who is still being brought up to speed but we get some emotional dialogue to emphasis the deaths of the 18 crew who got sliced and diced by the Borg. I also wondered if the Borg were playing possum with the Enterprise but I guess with their first appearance a lot of "rules" were still in flux so we can forgive some peculiarities with how they behave, this certainly applies to the Borg nursery.

All in all despite the issues I had with the episode they fail to make any real dent in the overall quality of the episode, Q Who? is a great introduction to the Borg, a really good character building episode for Q and a kick in the guts for how we the viewer may even view Starfleet and the Enterprise.
Oh and some of the cinematography especially involving Q looked fantastic.
Rating 9