Sunday, 30 October 2016

Ghost-Walker by Barbara Hambly

Ghost-WalkerGhost-Walker by Barbara Hambly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The planet Elcidar Beta III is the center of a non-violent conflict as the Klingons and Federation look to ratify its inhabitants (Midgwins) as sentient or not, the results will determine if the planet can be exploited freely. The locals are non industrial and even eskew agriculture in favour of hunter/gathering thanks to a belief the world provides and it is sacrilege to attempt to force the land to provide more. However starvation and the associated fall out are beginning to have an impact and the leaders of the "warrens" are contemplating accepting help but traditionalist are in opposition.
Yarblis Geshkerroth the leader of the opposition and who has been responsible for killing a number of Klingons after they were culling and eating his people approaches Kirk and demands to telepathically read him, Kirk agrees and Yarblis goes away apparently satisfied of his intentions.
However when the crew beam back up it's not just Kirk who is materialised on the transporter pad and the ship and crew are unaware that their captain is no longer serving the interests of Starfleet and the Federation.
Ghost Walker offered up an interesting premise in how native populations which are not technological are treated by more advanced races and it's a reasonable narrative used to describe the intentions of the Empire and Federation. It's always interesting when an author chooses to give Kirk a serious love interest but it got quite dark when as always the relationship has to be broken and gratifying that we didn't get any real bad guys in the novel, bad things were done certainly but understandable if maybe a little extreme.
A worthy original series novel with a fascinating alien race (and individuals) with some fun look at the inner workings of the Enterprise and her crew.



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Home Is the Hunter by Dana Kramer-Rolls

Home Is the HunterHome Is the Hunter by Dana Kramer-Rolls
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Klingon Empire and UFP come into open conflict upon a planet controlled by a being called Weyland who has been missing for a while. Upon his return he is quite adamant over the disruption of his people and has no interest in the "games" of the two galactic powers. Unfortunately during a brief skirmish a young boy and a member of the Enterprise crew are killed and the two ships experience the full power of Weyland through his ability to manipulate matter and energy.
The two starships lose system functions including station keeping which means they will burn up in the atmosphere, transporters and weapons are out and also Scotty, Sulu and Chekov have vanished.
Sulu finds himself in feudal Japan, Scotty in the Scottish highlands during the time of Bonnie Prince Charlie and Chekov in Stalingrad during the second world war. The three man have to survive and handle the pressure of potential tampering with the timeline.
Home is the Hunter was an interesting read, the addition of the time travel adventures really pushed the novel beyond the basic Trek good versus bad guys and even that with was enhanced with this being of unimaginable power and purpose.
A good Star Trek novel, something a little different and worth a read.

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Sunday, 23 October 2016

Enemy Unseen by V.E. Mitchell

Enemy Unseen (Star Trek #51)Enemy Unseen by V.E. Mitchell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A routine assignment to ferry diplomats and to prepare the field for discussions between two worlds over the disposition of a third seems to be an opportunity for the crew to take it easy but things rarely turn out well especially when the senior diplomat is married to a woman who Kirk had a relationship with in the past and was manipulative and dangerous maybe if proof could have been found at the time treasonous. Spock has taken a busmans holiday and two new crew members are onboard for the journey and it's all the new faces which complicate matters when the negotiations falter and a spy/assassin has come onboard.
Enemy Unseen worked well as a story of Kirk and the Enterprise in their second five year mission, the lack of Spock was an interesting choice but did allow the introduction of an old friend of Kirk who was shortly to move onto a new ship and a Deltan science officer who I would certainly liked to have read more of. The Deltan element of the story was fascinating, we've never gotten a huge amount of information about the race barring the minor TMP element and one of two novels but I did like the chemistry between the half Deltan officer, her mother and the science officer which fueled part of the narrative. The complex social aspect of the alien race did show some of the complexities of understanding another's worldview and the spy's ability was unexpected but very effective as was the Deltan fly in the ointment which added suspense and drama to the story.
Overall an entertaining ship bound mission of the Enterprise, some good additional characters and a solid story.

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Sunday, 16 October 2016

Prime Directive by Judith Reeves-Stevens and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Prime Directive (Star Trek: Worlds in Collision, #2)Prime Directive by Judith Reeves-Stevens and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Prime Directive takes the reader on an interesting journey right from the start as we read about the failures of the Starfleet Constitution Starships and their five year missions including the loss of the Enterprise at Talin IV.
Since this novel is not an alternate reality or mirror universe then you are kinda derailed straight away but as you read the book and learn of the catastrophe then took place in orbit over Ralin IV and the subsequent crippling of the Enterprise it all falls into place. Prime Directive follows the consequences of what would be Captain Kirk's biggest failure and the ramifications throughout the Federation and Starfleet. The crew of the ship are blown to the four corners, some resign, some are charged and some stay within the fleet but at much lower rank. Of course Kirk having accepted fault and resigning is working his way back to Talin IV (now a restricted system) and during his journey reveals the details of the events to his latest employer. It is at this time we get to know exactly what was going on and the fact that this final mission of the Enterprise was far from a simple one as it interacted with the activities of the First Contact Office who prepare the Federation for first contact with a developing species on the verge of discovering they are not alone.
Prime Directive is many ways is more than an entertaining science fiction story it is an analysis of the politics and ethics of the Prime Directive which has featured to such a degree throughout Star Trek on tv and the movies. It's often been seen to be selectively implemented and worked around when required and the plot of this novel asks the question of why the Federation relies so much on what is explained to be a very complex and fluid calculation far beyond the basic explanation we have been given on the big and small screen.
I'll be honest and say I wasn't too keen on how this novel started but the hurdles and difficulties the crew of the Enterprise had to cope with really made the novel pay off bigtime. I don't believe that the mystery of Talin IV without the fallout amongst Starfleet would have paid off or have been as satisfying. I also have to say that the final few paragraphs of the story proper (not epilogue) had me surreptitiously wiping my eyes as the tears begin to flow, it was a very moving and heartwarming emotion triggered by the events occurring on the planet and the underlying belief that what Star Trek can provide is a template for what humanity should be striving for here on Earth and that if given the opportunity our children will lead our race to the stars and beyond.

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Doctor's Orders by Diane Duane

Doctor's OrdersDoctor's Orders by Diane Duane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Doctor's Orders is one of my all time favourite original series novels. The story works upon the premise that after a while everyone fancies a change in circumstance and in specific terms we have Kirk who is dealing with the demands of bureaucracy and Bones looking to get his hands "dirty" and less impressed by his Captain bemoaning his current situation.
We know in later series that the Captain in particular is reliant on his subordinates to have the "adventures" while he oversees and correlates data and then makes the important decisions so here is Kirk stuck in the center chair will the bulk of his science and technical departments exploring the planet nicknamed "Flyspeck" and the three sentient species discovered there.
Eventually Kirk has the opportunity to beam down and he leaves Bones in command of the ship (perfectly within the scope of his responsibilities) and while on the planet he meets a member of the ;At species and they discuss life and all things associated with the care of others and the demands of responsibility. Then Kirk vanishes from the ship's sensors, the locals insist he is still there but a Klingon battlecruiser turns up and they beam down a survey party who are on a very specific mission, after a brief shouting match between and McCoy and Commander Kaiev a sort of truce is declared but then the Klingon party vanish...
I'm going to keep it pretty spoiler free from now just say that we get some excellent character interaction on board the ship and with the Klingons and some great world building on Flyspeck. The indigenous races that inhabit the planet are varied but make perfect sense in context and gratifying to see how the Federation's Starfleet can handle itself when science and diplomacy are called for. We get to see the more relaxed and easy going Kirk when he is with the ;At and their capabilities were interesting to say the least. Bones in command of the Enterprise and dealing with the Klingons was inspired and again showed how closely knit the crew are. Of course we get a decent amount of space action as you would expect but not directly against the Klingons which adds a nice twist to the story and shines a light on what could be going on beyond the Federation's borders and direct influence.
Overall Doctor's Orders is a excellently written and fun Star Trek novel combining science, diplomacy, action and a lot of humour and making the most of the regular crew with some highly appropriate new characters/species. It really is a must read for any fans of the original series characters.


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Sunday, 9 October 2016

The Pandora Principle by Carolyn Clowes

The Pandora PrincipleThe Pandora Principle by Carolyn Clowes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Saavik, an enigma to many that know her and in this novel by Carolyn Clowes we see a very legitimate backstory to how she came to exist and her ties to Spock. As Star Trek fans we first met Saavik on The Wrath of Khan and she's obviously not quite Vulcan and the novel confirms that she is a Vulcan/Romulan fusion created from a sickening plot by a Romulan faction on the failed colony of Hellguard. We learn how as a child she first met Spock and how he took responsibility for her and brought her through the trauma of who and what she is and then through her early years at Starfleet academy. The secondary plot involves an attack on Earth which sidelines Kirk leaving the Enterprise commanded by Spock having to deal with immediate consequences as Starfleet goes to a war footing.
The Pandora Principle is a very good Star Trek novel, we get an awful lot of background on Saavik and Spock and their relationship which rests at the heart of the novel. There is also a nice mix of new characters included the strange alien "obo" whose existence reminds me a lot of a character from the JJ movies. Recommended for anyone interested in learning of a possible explanation of Saavik or simply into all things Spock.

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Sunday, 2 October 2016

Rules of Engagement by Peter Morwood

Rules of EngagementRules of Engagement by Peter Morwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rules of Engagement is a Klingon centric novel set well within the worldview I believe created by John M. Ford or at least that's where I first came across this variant of the Klingon culture.
Kasak sutai-Khornezh has had the "honour" of taking out the first ship of any new class and when the ground breaking vessel IKS Hakkarl is set for her first flight he seizes the opportunity to do a little privateering with a goal to claim a Federation world for the Empire and as it turns out take epic revenge upon Captain Kirk for a certain incident with Tribbles years previously.
The Enterprise is assigned to oversee the removal of Federation personnel from the planet Dekkanar after a change of administration has made it anti-Federation, strict policies prevent the three Starfleet vessels and crews from making for use of the capabilities leaving them open to aggression, not the ideal time for a Klingon Battle Cruiser to turn up regardless of motivations and of course with the Organians always looking over everyone shoulder.
This is a very entertaining novel set in the time after Kirk had regained the Enterprise after his stint at the Admiralty, it also adds the deeper story element of how the Federation/Starfleet has to deal with worlds who turn their back on membership along with the balancing act of an enforced peace with the Klingons. The Klingon characters are well written and time and time again we see a good solid antagonists can make all the difference to a movie/tv show and even a novel. In Kasak sutai-Khornezh we have a fellow commander who is intelligent and cunning and makes the most of his advantages to manipulate the situation and that makes our "heroes" all the better for it.


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Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Kobayashi Maru by Julia Ecklar

The Kobayashi MaruThe Kobayashi Maru by Julia Ecklar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Kobayashi Maru is getting a five star rating not because it's a dramatic well written novel that graces not only the scifi genre but any genre, it's getting the rating because I just love reading the novel. The basic story is pretty straight forward, a serious accident on a shuttle leaves it helpless inside a rubble strewn solar system and the Enterprise has no practical way to determine it's location. On board are Scotty, McCoy, Chekov, Kirk and Sulu with the latter two being injured and seriously in Sulu's case. As the men deal with what seems to be a helpless situation the similarity to the Kobayashi Maru simulation is mentioned, McCoy is confused and asks for clarification and the no-win scenario from command school is explained to him.
We then get a recounting of the simulation from those who took part, yes we learn how Kirk beat the scenario by creative means (some would say illegal). Chekov had to deal with his serious approach to the test and the consequences within his peer group. Sulu who during a bad time and facing demerits was forced to examine himself and his reasons for being in Starfleet and finally Scotty who loved engineering but was being groomed for command.
All these stories offer fascinating insights into each of the crew and of course McCoy the observer is taking our part, he is not surprised how Kirk handled such a test and learns a lot about those he shares a ship with.
Yes I also prefer this explanation or at least the specifics of how Kirk triumphed to that offered in the 2009 movie :)

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