Monday, 30 May 2016

Pawns and Symbols by Majliss Larson

Pawns and SymbolsPawns and Symbols by Majliss Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sherman's planet is once again the center of galactic attention after a natural disaster destroys the Federation outpost on the planet. The Klingon commander Kang rescues Jean Czerny the sole survivor of the outpost and takes her aboard his starship. She is treated for her injuries and general poor condition and he then invokes a Klingon tradition that by saving her life she is bonded to him. The Empire is still desperate to gain access to the hybrid quadrotriticale and even when torture and and threats prove less than effective other tactics are used and soon Jean agrees to help in the development of the grain in return for her eventual release. Thus Jean begins a long journey through the Empire and learns much of the every day life of non-fleet Klingons, scientists and civilians but who is really the pawn in the galactic game of move and counter move?
Pawns and Symbols is good and complex Star Trek story offering up plenty of detail of the Klingon Empire and a couple of established characters from the original tv series. They are both developed well and their journey as read years later seems to mesh with the idea that the Empire and Federation would sooner or later find common ground for peace. Jean Czerny herself was a good character and little titbits of information is filtered to the reader throughout the book and through her we once again see how honour and integrity of the major individual players can change and shape the destiny of the galaxy.


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Saturday, 28 May 2016

Star Trek Goodies

You know when you are just browsing the internet and before you know it you are either knee deep in stuff you really wasn't looking for, surrounded by cat videos or reaching for the credit card to buy some really cool looking stuff. Well it was the latter and well for the price these three Star Trek goodies were well worth the discovery:)




Dwellers in the Crucible by Margaret Wander Bonanno

Dwellers in the CrucibleDwellers in the Crucible by Margaret Wander Bonanno
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so glad I read this novel again and truth be told I now wonder if first time around all those years ago I never finished it. I say that because apart from one particular event I really couldn't remember any significant details of the story. I think at the time Dwellers in the Crucible was a novel I was not prepared for since you came to expect a certain type of story from a Star Trek paperback and this pushed the boundaries way back. Thankfully a good portion of the novel which is flashback counters much of the brutality of the main plot adding depth and understanding to the principal characters and in today's market the story wouldn't be as shocking but that was then and this is now and all the better for it.
The basic story is of a Romulan/Klingon endeavour to destabilise the Federation through the kidnapping of the "warranters of peace" from Vulcan, these individuals tend to be close blood kin to leaders of Federation worlds. Of course that doesn't seem to fit into what we consider the Federation to be although again modern stories are happy to push the conflict which will always exist even between members of a close knit organisation with so many different peoples with different needs and desires. I don't really want to go into any more detail, the novel is worth reading and maybe I was just being too sensitive as a younger Trek fan but again I was still disturbed reading the story but as mentioned the balance to that callous and calculating cruelty revealed two very interesting young characters one from Earth and one from Vulcan and a friendship could have the potential to equal that of another more familiar pairing within Trek.


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Friday, 20 May 2016

Kali's Wrath by Keith R.A. DeCandido

STARGATE SG-1: Kali's Wrath (SG1-28)STARGATE SG-1: Kali's Wrath by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A stargate on a small island surrounded by an frigid ocean is a mystery for SG-7 under orders from the SGC to do a standard recon but the rings nearby offer a chance to explore and so they do. Upon arriving at their destination they immediately come under fire as chaos and carnage erupts and blood is spilt. This Kali's Wrath begins and the pressure on the SGC continues to mount as old and current enemies threaten the Tau'ri, Tok'ra and the free Jaffa with the System Lord Kali at the center of things.
Kali's Wrath offers up some interesting back story to Kali one of the lesser known System Lords (played by Suleka Mathew on the tv series) as well as the activities on a newly conquered Earth when Ra was creating his paradise for his people. The time of change as the Goa'uld adopted the humans hosts and left behind the Unas was fascinating, you can understand how conflict within the System Lords would be triggered by the new concepts being introduced and it never gets old to hear about some of our long dead megalomaniacs way back when they were still full of life and arrogance and were shaping the myths the Tau'ri were raised on.
The novel offers up many opposing viewpoints in terms of the Goa'uld and their Jaffa and it was rewarding to hear a story that showed some benevolence on the part of the younger Kali although a Goa'uld is a Goa'uld as Daniel isn't shy in spelling out despite being captured and exploited (again). Kali was an interesting character to say the least but for me Captain Patel was the stand out addition to the Stargate family, a combat pilot sidelined due to a physical defect who like many grasped the opportunity the SGC provided despite the initial thought that a posting to Cheyenne Mountain was a dead end to their career. Her courage and strength under fire combined with her common sense and intelligence really shone and she was adaptable to some strange events especially when dealing with the First Prime of Kali. It may have been interesting to get a scene with Kali and Patel together if only to explore how Kali may have felt about how her "people" grew after the Goa'uld fled the Earth but there was plenty going on to keep you interested so no complaints.
I enjoyed reading Kali's Wrath, Keith did an excellent job allowing me to appreciate the new characters and the use of existing minor and not so minor characters and well who wouldn't have liked to see an episode of the show featuring Bra'tac and Jacob on an adventure:)

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Killing Time by Della Van Hise

Killing TimeKilling Time by Della Van Hise
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Killing Time has a lot going for it, the choice to use temporal manipulation offers so much to the author but alas also means you have to find a way to reverse everything and in that respect it can be a disaster waiting to happen. Events begin small as those on board the Enterprise experience strange dreams which get more vivid until the dreams become the reality and life aboard Enterprise is the dream. Kirk is back as a reluctant Ensign and serving aboard an Alliance starship under the command of Captain Spock. When Spock is ordered to prepare for an invasion of Romulan space doubts are raised over the validity of the orders, further investigations indicates a subtle but growing in balance in the minds of many of the crew and soon it's clear that the whole galaxies population could be affected. On the Romulan side of the border the Praetor is laying down plans to make use of Spock in an effort to change the course of the Empire but failure could mean a galactic war but as the madness spreads the worlds of the galaxy may not be around to suffer these consequences.
Killing Time was an entertaining story, I like the call backs to the original series episodes and time manipulation is never boring. It was also interesting to see humanity serving aboard Starships belonging to the Vulcan led Alliance and the idea that maybe humans were not that critical in creating a galactic superpower. Jerry Richardson and S'Parva were also welcome additions to the crew of the Enterprise/ShiKahr.

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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Ishmael by Barbara Hambly

Ishmael (Star Trek #23)Ishmael by Barbara Hambly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this novel, I've read it over and over and my paperback is rather worse for wear:)
Ishmael is a fairly simply story at it's core, a man out of place who finds a purpose, friends and family in a community so different to what he was raised to understand as normal. In terms of Star Trek it's a story of Spock who is captured on board a Klingon freighter which is showing some strange energy readings, it vanishes as Kirk and the Enterprise look on helpless to do anything. Spock awakes in a cot in a cabin in the Seattle woodlands being tended to by an Aaron Stemple. Spock has no memory of who and what he is but is accepted by Stemple and soon learns to integrate with the Seattle community albeit one four centuries prior to his birth.
The novel has a wide selection of new characters all of which are entertaining to read about, they merge well together and push the narrative forward and while it may be pushing the bounds to believe Spock would thrive in this environment his stumbles and victories are highly satisfying. If anything it's the more "Trek" aspect of the story that suffers, the investigation into the Klingon mission is quite shallow even though the Karsid element and the Drelb are very interesting additions. Ishmael is a very good read and very entertaining but maybe not for every Star Trek fan, for me it's one of my favourite go to novels when I want some Trek.

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Shadow Lord by Laurence Yep

Shadow LordShadow Lord by Laurence Yep
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'll admit I couldn't remember anything about this novel and in hindsight the mystery probably means it got that little bit of extra good will which earned it the third star. The story is Spock and Sulu centric which is an unusual combination given the flare of our helmsman and the reserved nature of the First officer. However the two having a life and death adventure on the world of Angira worked very well as their differences clashed nicely as well as being a counter point to this "primitive" worlds threats. Story wise we have a returning prince of the realm bringing the advantages of a Federation education to aid his father in raising his world to meet the challenges of a galactic society. The obstacles are many as the old school ways are ingrained in the social and political structure which come to the fore when the prince returns to find that the privileged are hell bent on protecting their "rights" and the everyday man and woman are far more repressed under the new "vision" than they ever where under the more feudal social model. The princes return tips the balance and violence erupts and he along with his two Starfleet advisors are forced to run for their lives to the very people who have no love for the royal family.
Shadow Lord was a fun read, not exactly Star Trek in the sense that the Enterprise and most of the crew are simply irrelevant but for fans of Spock and particularly Sulu it's worth a read.

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Saturday, 14 May 2016

Star Trek The Classic Episodes

I picked up this collection of Star Trek original series novelisations, a very nice hard back book:)
Star Trek


Uhura's Song by Janet Kagan

Uhura's SongUhura's Song by Janet Kagan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A plague is running rampant through the felinoid population of Eeiauo and the Federation has sent the Enterprise to aid in treatment and research along with Dr Evan Wilson to handle shipboard duties while McCoy goes planet side. The virus then jumps species and a galactic pandemic is nigh but maybe there is hope as Uhura knows some old songs of the Eeiauoan people one of which tells of a disease very much like the "long death" but the final verses are missing. When the song is investigated the Eeiauo doctor rejects the idea and when evidence points to Eeiauo not being the homeworld of this species the same doctors loses his temper and then collapses. Uhura and Spock through the songs locate a general region of space when the homeworld could be and the Enterprise is sent to find the cure and all prime directives are rescinded.
Thus the story really begins as the landing party make contact with the natives of a world they come to know as Sivao and try to find the cure for a disease but they are considered children in this culture and some things are not told to children.
Uhura's Song is easily one of my favourite Star Trek novels, while Uhura takes center stage as the driving character of the story the majority of the crew get decent coverage and story development. Chekov is well served as well and the inclusion of Dr Evan Wilson as a catalyst is inspired both within the crew of the Enterprise and the people of the camp they find themselves in. The Sivao natives are also well developed and offer plenty of range in character traits/types which allow for full development and thus a satisfying pay off.
Highly recommended for any fan of the original series.

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Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Vulcan Academy Murders by Jean Lorrah

The Vulcan Academy Murders (Star Trek #20)The Vulcan Academy Murders by Jean Lorrah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Vulcan Academy Murders was always an interesting novel for me, a murder mystery befitting mainstream tv sleuths but set well and truly in our Star Trek universe and you know what, it works. I'm not really sure it should but I really enjoy reading about the events around the scientific and medical complex at ShiKahr as the bodies begin to drop at an alarming rate.
Enterprise takes an injured crewman to Vulcan to undergo a cutting edge procedure one which Amanda is currently being treated with and then one of the intensive care facilities fails and a patient dies. Were they the victim of a terrible accident (well no the book title kinda gives that away) so were they the intended victim or a smokescreen to hide the murderers true intent?
Kirk unable to aid into the medical and engineering aspects of the situations throws himself into a criminal investigation one which includes facing T'Pau for the first time since he visited Vulcan to stand by Spock at his marriage.
The novel isn't overly complex in but it is a lot of fun, great to see more of Vulcan and its people as well as other residents of that world along with their interactions both good and bad and their is sequel which takes many of the characters on another adventure off world.

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