Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Tears of the Singers by Melinda M. Snodgrass

The Tears of the Singers (Star Trek, #19)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Klingon Empire and the Federation send ships to investigate an anomaly which is causing issues with shipping and threatening the region in and around the Taygeta system. Taygeta V is the home of a creature that is reported to sing constantly and is being hunted for a jewel created by ocular secretions at the time of it's death. The Enterprise "drafts" one of the Federations premier musicians to aid them in their research and he isn't very happy about it but Uhura already has a "relationship" with him one which grows ever deeper during the mission. Spock begins to believe that the singing of the creatures is complex enough to be considered a language and so the task of understanding and translating begins while the Klingons handle scientific research their own way but time is short, this system is doomed and left unchecked the anomaly could wreck habit on dozens of star systems.
The Tears of the Singers is very well written and complex piece of Star Trek story telling entwining some romance for one of the bridge officers and opening up some of the more practical considerations for Federations citizens not in Starfleet. The use of an existing Klingon character adds immensely to the story and makes it easier to accept how he handles working with Kirk without taking anything away from the tropes that are Klingon. There is also the ecological element of the story with both the slaughter of creatures for nothing more than a bauble and the consequences of choices and their impact on the environment both planetary and galaxy wide. Overall this is very good Star Trek story with more than it's first share of depth and genuine emotion.

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Sunday, 24 April 2016

My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane

My Enemy, My Ally (Star Trek: The Original Series, #18)My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the writing of Diane Duane when she tackles original series characters of Star Trek and while her work falls outside of accepted tv/movie canon I take extreme delight in placing her creations above most of what has been served up on the small and big screen.
The Romulans were introduced to use as true warriors with integrity and intelligence in Balance Of Terror and this is the style of Romulan sorry Rihannsu Diane has continued to serve up, granted just as with Humanity the Rihannsu are not all cut from the same cloth but once again we get the best out of Kirk when he is dealing with an equal in all things but just in a different uniform. In this novel the Enterprise and a few of her sister ships are sent to the neutral zone, what they find is totally unexpected and beyond any immediate threat they were geared up for. It's left for Kirk to decide if it's worth taking advantage of intelligence brought to him by Ael t'Rllaillieu the commander of ChR Bloodwing as to the threat posed by research being done at the Romulan Levaeri V space station. The novel weaves a complex and intricate plot through out filled with well written characters and insights into the mind sets of both the Federation and Rihannsu crews. It was a delight once again to see the Enterprise as we've never seen on screen filled with wildly varying types of sentient crew and to see it through the eyes of the Rihannsu. Of course we get the added bonus of our main characters adjusting their mindset when viewing their "opponents" from across the neutral zone just as the Starfleet crew are accepted by the Rihannsu who serve with them during the events within the novel.
My Enemy, My Ally is truly one of the best pieces of Star Trek literature I've read and there is more to come as Diane continued writing for these characters.

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Star Trek III: The Search for Spock by Vonda N. McIntyre

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Star Trek TOS: Movie Novelizations, #3)Star Trek III: The Search for Spock by Vonda N. McIntyre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another excellent novelisation from Vonda N. McIntyre taking the basic elements which were in the movie and giving them far more depth and complexity. I'm not a fan of ST III considering it to be very shallow but this novel addresses all my criticisms adding substance and detail to characters who suffered during STII as well as giving far more plausibility to events and relationships which played out on the big screen. We have additional story elements for Peter Preston/Scotty, Savvik/David, Valkris/Kruge as well as far more about Carol and Kirk. These additions made me wish this novel was a true representation of the finished movie, as a piece of Trek cinema it would have been quite exceptional:)


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Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Final Reflection by John M. Ford

The Final Reflection (Star Trek: The Original Series, #16)The Final Reflection by John M. Ford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Final Reflection for the most part takes place before the original series at the time of the first diplomatic exchange with the Klingons and the first Federation Babel conference. It pretty much deals with events from the Klingon point of view and the main character we follow from a boy to a starship commander is Vreen aka Kreen. In the time of Kirk the final reflection refers to a book recently published which is reported by Starfleet and vested interests to be inaccurate and features information declassified and from unconfirmed sources many of whom have passed away.
I'm not sure how much of the plot I can go into without ruining the story even though canon wise it's very wide of the mark but I have to admit I do like this interpretation of the early Klingon / Federation interaction and the fact that as with the best of Trek the "enemies" of the UFP are very much cut from the same cloth. There are no real manic/sociopathic bad guys in this story, there are only those who see events a little differently and are in their own story doing what is necessary and that works so well for this novel.
You will forget you are following a Klingons story and become invested in his failures and successors of Kreen and the people that orbit him but as with Kirk after he reads the book you have to wonder just how much of the "official" history is accurate, after all no one better than Kirk knows how one person can change the course of a civilsation.


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Saturday, 16 April 2016

Corona by Greg Bear

Corona (Star Trek, #15)Corona by Greg Bear
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A call for help from a decade past has the Enterprise venturing into a region of space where new born stars are abundant in search of a Vulcan led research facility. What they find is at first a miracle of ingenuity and perseverance but things are not quite what they seem and the Vulcans are not behaving as they should. To complicate matters the Enterprise is carrying new oversight systems designed to monitor medical and command decisions, a hindrance or a god send it has yet to be decided.
Corona was an enjoyable read, I liked the portrayal of the Vulcans and the concept behind the story as life seeks to preserve life. I'm not sure I buy into the reporter or the rather insular view of her world but the character certainly worked and interacted well with the regular characters.

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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Trellisane Confrontation by David Dvorkin

The Trellisane Confrontation (Star Trek, No 14)The Trellisane Confrontation by David Dvorkin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Enterprise is assigned to take some high value prisoners to a secure facility, they are a group dedicated to forcing a conflict between the Federation and Romulan Empire. During the pickup Captain Kirk is given access to a weak signal received from the planet Trellisane which is in a contested area of space. The message is vague and corrupted but seems to indicate a Klingon interest in the planet Sealon and the ongoing conflict between the two worlds. Kirk decides to investigate despite his standing orders and finds that the situation is far more advanced and dangerous then they first thought. The Klingons are indeed making a power play in the system but there are many secrets in the Trellisane society which could alter how the Federation feels about these people despite the strategic value of a presence in this area of the galaxy.
The Trellisane Confrontation is a solid run of the mill Star Trek adventure, some decent space combat and two stories running side by side, one on the ship and the other on the planet. I liked the idea of the Onetillian species, not quite sure how it would work but that's not an issue and some of the twists on Trellisane were unexpected and added a rather dark aspect to the story. Overall though a decent Trek story with a few good ideas but doesn't break any new ground.

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Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Wounded Sky by Diane Duane

The Wounded Sky (Star Trek #13)The Wounded Sky by Diane Duane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Wounded Sky is one of those Star Trek novels that is so high on my scale of all things good and proper in Star Trek it's ridiculous but this story is that good. It kicks off with a description of the ship in warp and that's like nothing you've ever read, it gives the novel such heart and soul you wouldn't believe and then we get to the actual story.
The Enterprise is chosen to test a new drive system designed by K't'ik a member of an arachnid race famed for their design and technology, the "inversion drive" manipulates areas of subspace and twists natural laws and is able to fling a vessel to where ever it needs to be in zero time and the testing has gone well. The drive is installed despite Scotty having said nothing would be fitted to the ship without his full understanding but it works flawlessly, or does it? A mindbogglingly distance away from the Enterprise the strain of breaking "natural" laws has consequences and slowly but surely the very fabric of the universe is being torn apart. During the "inversion" which was supposed to occur in zero time hence no actual frame of reference for the individual the crew start to experience events and other minds, their collective souls are mingling and realization emerges that they have to journey to the focus of the tear and attempt to fix the problem or life will cease to exist.
The Wounded Sky gets the regular characters of Star Trek spot on and Diane as with all her work effortlessly weaves in new characters who can easily take center stage when required. K't'lk is glorious a true alien being who is accepted by all and yet her story has a solid foundation, same for the minor characters we meet who are on the crew but never appeared on screen. The story has scope that defies belief especially compared to contemporary Star Trek novels of the time and I'll admit the concepts and ideas presented were discussed into the wee hours with friends many times. This novel really has to be read to do it justice and while Diane presented some of basic plot ideas in her screenplay for the TNG episode "Where No One Has Gone Before" that was a pale imitation of this piece of science fiction.

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U.S.S. Enterprise NX-01

I'd pre-ordered this absolutely beautiful model of the Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise NX-01 refit which is a special edition release from Eaglemoss aka Star Trek Models and it came yesterday:)

EagleMoss





Sunday, 3 April 2016

Yesterday's Son by A.C. Crispin

Yesterday's Son (Star Trek: The Original Series #11)Yesterday's Son by A.C. Crispin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yesterday's Son is a great read although I have to admit the 5 star rating has a lot to do with the books sequel but any author that chooses to expand upon an original series episode and do it well deserves all the praise I can give.
So we learn that Spock and McCoy's visit to Sarpeidon and their transport thousands of years into its past had significant consequences thanks to evidence found in the archived cultural data. We then get another well known TOS element put to use to address the issue and Ann throws in culture and family clashes, Romulans, tragedy and noble sacrifice which is a heady mixture for her first published novel. Of course the author still has to weave all these elements together and Ann does a great job but this novel is lacking the complexity of her later work but I enjoy it so much I can't bring myself to drop a star:)


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Web of the Romulans by M.S. Murdock

Web of the RomulansWeb of the Romulans by M.S. Murdock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Web of the Romulans takes a crack at expanding the Romulan side of Star Trek, there is certainly plenty of options given how little this race has been explored on the original tv series and how so far wrong they went in TNG onwards. The Romulan Empire is dying, a plague has spread throughout their worlds and only one source of a potential cure exists but it's not in their nature to go through diplomatic channels, the Praetor can not show weakness so the fleet is massed on a mission that will determine the future of the empire.
This wasn't a bad story at all but there were issues mainly with the scope of the monitoring of Starfleet and the activities of the Intelligence community which doesn't quite sync with what we know from the original series. The Romulan characters however were spot on and I liked them all and I have to admit to a fondness for the more tradition Romulans from TOS and the novels which added to their portrayal before TNG. It also didn't hurt that the novel takes the best from Balance of Terror with Kirk and S'Talon replying the stand off and battle of wills and tactics between two masters of command. It was gratifying to see an "enemy" given depth and when you get right down to it Trek is all about having worthy adversaries for our captain and ship to deal with.


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Triangle by Sondra Marshak

Triangle (Star Trek, #9)Triangle by Sondra Marshak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recall reading this when I originally bought the novel and not being that enthralled, a couple of decades later and I have a different opinion. This story would never work as a tv episode but it has the scope and depth to make a movie that's for sure, there is little space based action but plenty on planet coupled with tension and conflict between characters.
Triangle offers up a future of sentient life in the galaxy moving towards a collective consciousness and Starfleet and specifically the Enterprise are caught between two competing systems. The Oneness seeks a willing communion between individuals while the Totality are using force to impose a collective but are these two paths really evolution or a blind alley which would remove the passions and drive that have driven life to the stars and beyond? A test by these powers have been devised to find the answer and by extension bring Captain Kirk into a unity by persuasion or force. Kirk is such a well known figure and representative of the establish individual order his embrace of unity would shake the galaxy, yeah public relations future style. To add spice a Zaran female who is a Federation free agent has been added to the test, she is an ideal companion for Kirk but Spock is the unexpected twist, the book is called Triangle for more than one reason:)
The novel steps aside from what you would consider the norm from the tv series but Star Trek has proven over the years that there is room for all ideas even those that at the time may not quite fit but later seem perfectly acceptable as the tv and movies catch up with what the novels have been providing for many years.


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