Sunday, 31 July 2016

Final Frontier by Diane Carey

Final Frontier (Star Trek)Final Frontier by Diane Carey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Final Frontier was one of the "giant" Star Trek novels of the time and for me it went alongside Diane Duane's work in shaping my view of Starfleet and the Kirk family, I believe the term is head canon and for the most part superior to anything seen on tv or the moves:)
The novel tells the story of the very first mission of the very first Constitution class Starship, a new cutting edge design making use of the latest computer tech often spoken of within the tv series which would have been set a few years after these events. Captain Robert April who oversaw the building of the ship shanghai's George Kirk and his fellow security officer Francis Drake Reed to fill spots on the ship as it attempts a high priority but clandestine rescue mission. Captain April is worried that the ship and it's power will be seen as being overly aggressive by both the Federation members and the many enemies looking in, an epic rescue mission as an introduction for the ship will ease her into the spotlight. Almost immediately there are issues with the ship's tech but the skeleton crew pull together and warp towards the huge ion storm which has trapped a colony ship which is adrift without power, the families on board doomed to die with the media spotlight listening to every transmission. The ship ventures into the storm using it's vastly improved navigation and shield systems but the gravity system malfunctions and incapacitates the crew, they awake much later adrift in an unknown part of the galaxy and not far away an alien starship is looking on prepared to defend her space from the "invaders".
Yeah I love this novel, this is how I picture George Kirk even though JJ did the character proud in his first big screen adventure but I still like this idea better. The introduction of the Enterprise also suits my own view that the Constitution design was a quantum leap in starship design not just a small advance on a design which seems to be everywhere in the canon franchise. Once again I love how the aliens are described both the overall culture and the individual character traits and no question the combat sequences are very well written. There is plenty of humour as well and I do get a little tingle when Pike is describing the sort of Captain who will eventually take this ship and venture into the void, a combination of the courage and tenacity of George Kirk and the intellect and compassion of Pike. The novel is so far from canon yet for me it is Star Trek or at least what came before the Star Trek we got to know, highly recommended.

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Bloodthirst by J.M. Dillard

BloodthirstBloodthirst by J.M. Dillard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A distress call from an uninhabited world is received by the Enterprise, on arrival they discover a secret bio lab with Starfleet level security and equipment, of the three people only one survives and he claims the other two were a murder/suicide. Investigation indicates that the lab could have been involved in bio-warfare research which is illegal within the Federation but then the Enterprise is ordered to abandon the investigation and ordered to deliver the survivor to Starfleet, an unusual request. Kirk slowly realises that there is a lot more to the lab on Tanis than he is being allowed to know and a conspiracy could exist at the highest level of Starfleet but who can he trust..
Right there you go, for the in and outs of the story and the mystery you are going to have to read the novel which is an interesting spin on the "horror" theme within a franchise not really known for such a thing. As in many cases the story makes good use of characters first seen in other novels which for me really is a good thing and the author provides depth and complexity to their interactions, you never feel short changed as people weave in and out of the plot.
Well worth a read and if want something a little different then this would be it.

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Sunday, 24 July 2016

How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford

How Much for Just the Planet? (Star Trek: Worlds Apart, #2)How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ok where to start..
How Much for Just the Planet? is an out and out comedic novel which is quite rare for Star Trek publishing and maybe one of the reasons the reviews for the novel are pretty much all over the place, you'll love or hate it there is no middle ground. So that said hand on heart I love this novel, I laugh myself silly on so many occasions and I've read the book many many times.
The story itself takes place on and around the planet Direidi which is covered by the Organian Peace Treaty which basically prevents the Empire and Federation from direct military conflict so when a huge dilithium source is discovered on the planet intense diplomatic negotiations will be forthcoming. The planet had been colonised by what seems to be a mainly human population and they knew that when they were discovered they could not prevent anyone from exploiting the resources and thus "Plan C" was implemented, the Federation and Klingon representatives would never know what hit them....
As with most of my reviews I'm not going into any great detail, just take my word for it that the crews of the Enterprise, Klingon Cruiser Fire Blossom, Jefferson Randolph Smith and various diplomats have a very hectic and bizarre few days on what looks like a tranquil world and is anything but:)

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The novel also contains many characters that have been shaped on real individuals most notably Star Trek authors, see the wiki.



Popular opinion in the Federation concerning the Organian Treaty may be summarized as follows: 

  • 4% The deepest wisdom of the Galaxy 
  • 4% Treaty? What treaty? 
  • 11% Not a bad idea, glad I voted for it 
  • 81% Who do they think they are, anyway? 


Popular opinion in the Klingon Empire concerning the Treaty, while perhaps less important than in the more politically liberal Federation, may be summa- rized in similar fashion: 

  • 4% If the Emperor says it's okay, it's fine with me 
  • 4% This is a trick question, fight? 
  • 11%The Federation made the whole thing up 
  • 81% Who do they think they are, anyway?

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Highlander 30th Anniversary

I finally pre-ordered the Highlander 30th Anniversary Blu-ray brought off the back of a 4k remastering a couple of weeks ago. It was priced rather high but when it hit £14.99 I was willing to double dip on the movie without feeling ripped off. Having watched the movie this weekend it did indeed look great but it was ridiculous that they didn't spend the money to digitally paint out the wire rigging on the final fight scene.
Sometime waiting for the release and review makes sense, probably wouldn't have bought this version given I only have need for a 1080p source and my existing steelbook blu provides that.


Star Trek Goodies

I got a quite a few pre-orders delivered this week, not sure when I will have the time to watch/read given my ongoing Trek paperback journey but I will no worries :)







Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home by Vonda N. McIntyre

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Star Trek TOS: Movie Novelizations, #4)Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home by Vonda N. McIntyre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Spock has been taken back to Vulcan to have his Katra returned to where it belongs and Kirk and the crew are preparing to return to Earth in their captured Bird of Prey to face charges. During the return trip subspace is flooded with numerous signals and noise, do not return to Earth save yourselves. Of course Kirk is not going to sit back and watch the fireworks and when Spock identifies the mysterious signal being aimed at Earth from a huge construct in orbit Kirk grasps at the slim chance that time travel could provide a solution to saving the planet one more time. They slingshot around the sun and find themselves in San Fransico of 1996 and surprisingly they don't look totally out of place:) We then get a clean action/drama which fully exploits the comedic opportunities for the fish out of water as well as the ongoing dynamic between the crew with spice added thanks to Spock (and McCoy) slowly recovering themselves. The novel of course as with many novelisations builds upon the theatrical narrative added more detail to scenes and characters. We didn't really need to know so much about the refuse collector and the writing of his novel but it added so much to the basic premise. I also preferred the novel clearly stating that the inventor of transparent aluminium was the character who got access to the formula rather than Scotty being more vague when arguing for the transaction with McCoy.
The Voyage Home is in many ways the most popular Star Trek movie due to it's more encompassing nature, the movie brought people to the cinema who were never before that interested in Trek or scifi in general. That said for the same reason the movie does split the hardcore fanbase so the novelisation will probably do the same yet I think the added content moves the story more into scifi then environmental and maybe hits the target more often for those who prefer Trek to be made in a certain way.


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Strangers from the Sky by Margaret Wander Bonanno

Strangers from the SkyStrangers from the Sky by Margaret Wander Bonanno
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Imagine an Earth still recovering from the Third World War and Eugenic wars looking into the vastness of space and its first contact with an alien life form is through the eyes of the mass media itself peering through a lens obstructed by political and military cover ups. A blood on the walls scenario in every definition, this is the memory/dream which plagues Captain Kirk after reading a scholarly work from a human with access to information long held within Vulcan archives. Many consider it a work of fiction but when Spock returns from a training cruise of the Enterprise and shares many of the same dreams perhaps there is more to it than an interesting look into an alternate reality.
Strangers from the Sky is a very good Star Trek novel dealing with a more vulnerable Earth and humanity and using the crew of the Enterprise as seen in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" so the dynamic is shifted from the established "trio" which makes this story work. The whole premise deals with how humanity can learn and demonstrate the maturity and understanding required to be part of a galactic family and the principle that nobody can do it alone.
I did like many of the call backs to other novels and characters which is only going to pay off if you are reading novels from the same author or following the published licensed Trek books, if not then it doesn't harm the story which is a bonus. It was also interesting to see an Earth still hurting and dealing with the social, political and economic fall out before she raised herself to meet the challenge of being a major power in the galaxy. This of course is being told through the eyes of the human characters who deal hands on with the alien visitors and they too are certainly not of a single mind which gives the scifi story the personal touch that adds so much.
I've got to highly recommend this novel for anyone looking for a story offering a different first contact, in fact the book has two first contact situations neither of which line up with the TNG movie presentation so enjoy and wonder what the tv series and movies could have done.

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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Dreams of the Raven by Carmen Carter

Dreams of the RavenDreams of the Raven by Carmen Carter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dreams of the Raven is a well written classic style story of the original series, some action and humour with one of the central characters having an issue they have to deal with. In this story it's McCoy who is feeling a little sorry for himself and thanks to his mood and a little alcohol gets himself injured and suffers some memory loss. Not the best time for McCoy but made even worse as the Enterprise has to battle an unknown alien species who it seems are capable of gaining control of vessels and crews with extreme ease. As the Enterprise limps from each encounter the crew have to understand this very aggressive species while dealing with a chief of medicine who is certainly not himself.
This was a enjoyable read, I would have liked to have seen it expanded a little more since there was certainly scope to do so but never the less a good story told well and loved the new Spock/McCoy dynamic that emerged after the doc was injured.

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Sunday, 3 July 2016

Deep Domain by Howard Weinstein

Deep DomainDeep Domain by Howard Weinstein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Akkalla is a water world and Federation member however it's internal politics seem to be clashing with the Science outpost located on the world which is studying the more unusual ecology of the planet. The government which has total control of media and all communications has been making life difficult for the Federation scientists after they made a discovery, the long awaited audit by the Enterprise will be the first opportunity they get to reveal their findings. Spock and Chekov are sent ahead in a shuttle with submersible capabilities but it's disabled when they encounter a "harvest" ship from a nearby world and they are then captured by an Akkalla "resistance" group.
So here we are as Kirk and company have to make sense of the conflicting stories and search for their missing people while dealing with a government teetering on the edge of martial law and yet constrained by what they can do in accordance with the Federation charter.
Right from the beginning of the novel Deep Domain has that feel of weight to it, the introduction is solid in setting up a new world and circumstances for the Trek aspect to work within. We have the water world of Akkalla with it's unique development which is at the heart of the story with the conflict of a select few attempting to hold onto power by white washing their own histories. The pressure on the Enterprise is high as the crew have to deal with the situation on the ground and how their own rules have to be applied, without documented proof any action could mean dire consequences for Kirk and his people. The internal conflict adds more spice to the story as some of the Akkallans who know the secret are forced to speak out and then attempt to evade the expected "for the good of Akkalla" crackdown by the military and throw in the fishing treaty with the neighboring world who now simply raid the oceans.
I don't think I can really do justice to how good their novel is, it has a great deal of depth to the world of Akkalla and her people combined with issues which the reader can easily recognise as aspects of tradition, science, greed, political and commerce clash.
Highly recommended.

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Chain of Attack by Gene DeWeese

Chain of AttackChain of Attack by Gene DeWeese
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Enterprise equipped with some new sensors designed to detect the disturbances in the fabric of space caused by some recently discovered anomalies runs straight into one which was undetected. The ship and her crew are flung half way across the Universe into a region of space where every world has been scoured of life dating from a few hundred years to tens of thousands. As the Enterprise explores the region looking for anything that could lead them back to an anomaly they encounter a small warp capable ship and are attacked, they encounter more ships and observe an almost senseless desire to destroy. They manage to capture one of the crew and slowly but surely they convince the alien that they are not an enemy bent on destroying their homeworld and together then also make contact with a second alien species and learn of the terrible events that have been ongoing for longer than both these species have had space flight.
Chain of Attack always felt like a straight forward story with a huge amount of potential which wasn't going to get exploited in a single Star Trek paperback. In many ways this could have been an epic if the individual worlds and commanders had been explored rather than wrapping the events up in a single book. It's by no means a poor story and the alien species and events are compelling but it's not the unique to stand out from the crowd so to speak.

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