Sunday, 25 September 2016

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier by J.M. Dillard

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier by J.M. Dillard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok then the movie is generally regarded as one of the failures of the Star Trek franchise but I don't hate it and there are some truly wonderful character moments in the story. This novelisation as you would expect gives us everything that is good about STV but adds so much more garnish to the story that you come away wondering what the studio were doing when setting the budget which limited to what they could do on screen.
The background to Sybok as a child and how the events with his mother shaped him gave us so much more to work with and in turn added greatly to the Spock narrative later in the story. The extended storylines for the Klingons and the Ambassadors also contributed greatly to the enjoyment of the story. Novelisations at their best add to the movie and no doubt at all what we get from Jeanne should make even a STV hater sit up and take notice of perhaps what should have been even without the rock monsters.
A highly recommended novel in it's own right and an excellent example of a novelisation.

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The Lost Years by J.M. Dillard

The Lost Years (Star Trek: The Lost Years, #1)The Lost Years by J.M. Dillard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So what did happen in the year or so after the Enterprise returned after her first five year mission, much has been speculated in fan fiction but in The Lost Years we get as close to cannon as you can in novel form. Kirk is adamant he will not accept a promotion to the Admiralty and most of the core crew expect to serve with him once again. It comes as a surprise when Kirk is convinced to hold flag rank and Spock and McCoy do not take it well as revealed in the novel.
The core narrative focuses initial on the comings and goings of the crew and then concentrates on the three main characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy who have gone their separate ways but events conspire to bring them back together albeit not in a joyful way. We know from the The Motion Picture that the three are estranged when the Enterprise refit is nearly complete and the novel certainly fills in all the gaps to explain that disturbing situation.
I'm not going to go into specifics but all three main character arcs worked very well and the encompassing narrative centered on Vulcan was perfect, no other world really would have been able to set in motion the events that would drive our classic trifecta.
The Lost Years gave us some interesting twists, humour and tragedy while staying true to the characters we know and love and still delivered on the promise of the era when the crew were deprived of the all encompassing safety that was their home away from home, Enterprise.

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Cry of the Onlies by Judy Klass

The Cry of the OnliesThe Cry of the Onlies by Judy Klass
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Cry of the Onlies incorporates elements from the original series episodes "Miri" and "Requiem for Methuselah" and considering how I have said in the past I like novels which expand upon the series I wonder why this one didn't quite shine as bright in my eyes.
The core story is a rather bleak look at a failing of the Federation in their support of a corrupt and despotic regime on the planet Broaco VI driven by the galaxies need for a medicinal raw material harvested from this world's forests. The Romulans and Klingons are sniffing around as well after the regime was toppled during a coup and the new ruling council have little interest in dealing with the "corrupt" Federation. The Enterprise is sent to open negotiations with the council and try to prevent the influence of a Klingon/Romulan pact as well as avert an intersystem war with Broaco VIII a world still supported by the Federation. To complicate matters a Starfleet craft equipped with a new cloaking device designed by Flint was stolen by some of the "youngsters" from Miri's world and has gone on a rampage destroying ships whenever it comes across them. Kirk is forced to contend with the scepticism of the Broaco VI council, the renegade ship, placating the ruling body of Broaco VIII and the notion that there is something about Flint he does not like but can understand why...
In many ways the story reflects circumstances of our world where maybe well meaning or indifferent organisations have supported governments with aid without looking too closely what they do with it as long as resources continue to flow back to the "enlightened" world. This part of the story is pure Star Trek and works well but unfortunately gets tied up a little too quickly and is diluted by the "Flint" and "Onlies" plot lines. It's by no means a weak Star Trek novel but I wonder if Judy had concentrated totally on Broaco VI and the darker side of vested interests I would have enjoyed the novel more but than again the market for Trek novels was different back then compared to now.

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Double, Double by Michael Jan Friedman

Double, DoubleDouble, Double by Michael Jan Friedman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Double, Double was Michael Jan Friedman's first Star Trek novel and a sequel to the original series episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?". I have to admit a fondness for novels that continue established stories and this one does cover all the bases for extending the story of the ancient machine and the goal of Dr Korby to replace well everyone with their android duplicates.
It seems that Captain Kirk in his desire to protect Chapel glossed over the events on Exo III and also failed to do a full investigation, this mistake comes back to haunt him when a copy of Dr Brown returns to the facility and discovers his creator is dead. The android decides to continue the work and the template for Kirk is still in the machine, the android Kirk is fully loaded especially in terms of ego and ventures forth with his takeover of a starship, the removal of Kirk and then to control the galaxy.
There has been a running joke in the Trek podcast community that a dedicated Starship follows the Enterprise around to clean up the mess and handle all the specifics of Kirk's plans for the betterment of everyone. So here we have the USS Hood with an incomplete report innocently arriving at Exo III and paying the price and it all makes sense, it may stretch credibility that Kirk whitewashed his report but hey not the first time or the last and let's face it the reports on Talos were to put it mildly pure misdirection by Starfleet Command.
I enjoyed the novel, it was well paced and lots of detail and drama given as a lot of the novel takes place off the Enterprise and the character dynamic worked well both between the "real" people and the androids and in all combinations thereof.

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Sunday, 11 September 2016

Vulcan's Glory by D.C. Fontana

Vulcan's GloryVulcan's Glory by D.C. Fontana
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Vulcan's Glory D.C. Fontana takes us back to the time when Spock first joined the crew of the USS Enterprise under the command of Christopher Pike. This era has not been a focus of the franchise well maybe the Kelvan Universe of the recent movies but this is written within the original framework of the series. Spock is very much a more relaxed individual (as seen in The Cage) and is quickly accepted by the crew of the Starship and more importantly by Pike and Number 1 however it's not all plain sailing for his first cruise when he is tasked to investigate a possible location for a prized gem long since lost to Vulcan after the ship carrying it was vanished with all hands.
Vulcan's Glory expands upon what we know of Spock's homelife in terms of his relationship with Sarak and Amanda and more importantly with T'Pring, we also learn how widespread Vulcan participation within Starfleet was (not really seen on the show apart from The Intrepid) and it was gratifying to see a younger less "damaged" Spock embrace the possibilities that the Enterprise was offering. Of course events transpire to push Spock towards the more controlled Vulcan we came to know him to be under Jim Kirk and while we can mourn the loss of his "youthful innocence" we are without doubt presented with Spock as he really was by an author who has more right and insight into the character than anyone else. Vulcan's Glory is a must read for any fan of Spock or someone looking for a story then isn't set with the Kirk era but retains much of what we are comfortable with, well worth the time trust me.

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Harley Quinn

I picked up the Harley Quinn Vinyl Vixen to stand with the Wonder Woman and Catwoman figures I already own, they are not too expensive and are pretty impressive.


The Final Nexus by Gene DeWeese

The Final NexusThe Final Nexus by Gene DeWeese
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Final Nexus is the sequel to the novel Chain Of Attack and the mysterious "gate" system the Enterprise investigated in the original novel has revealed itself once again. The USS Cochise has run into one and unlike before members of the crew are gripped with an almost uncontrollable paranoia and terror. A call to Starfleet results in the Enterprise warping to the Cochise only to find it's Captain ready to fight anything and anyone, when the immediate situation is resolved further gates begin to appear across the galaxy and in many cases anyone who comes close is gripped by paranoia and soon death and destruction begins to spread.
In this novel Gene expands upon the gate system adding a lot more detail which was missing from the original novel which concentrated on the effects of the gates on the immediate area. The Final Nexus has the gate system at the heart of the story, it's creation and manipulation be a race so long ago and the consequences of such a universe spanning construct when control waived. Ultimately this is a story about individual integrity and commitment framed by a threat which the crew could wipe out life everywhere. Commander Ansfield was a good character having joined Starfleet when she was much older than the "average" cadet although it did bother me she rarely address Captain Kirk as Captain and Kremastor showed us an alien who shared the core beliefs of what makes the core characters of Trek so appealing.
The Final Nexus is a good accompaniment to Chain of Attack and wraps the central theme of the two stories up with a satisfying bow, maybe too neat a bow but the tv series was also guilty of that:)

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