Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Better Man by Howard Weinstein

The Better ManThe Better Man by Howard Weinstein
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The world of Empyrea is a colony of genetically perfected human beings who have kept themselves apart from the growing Federation until fifteen years ago when a scientific facility was established on the planet to observe a nearby stellar phenomenon. The treaty allowing the facility is now ending and the council is refusing to allow the Federation scientists to remain so the two of the original contact team are sent back in an attempt to secure the future of the project.
Ambassador (Former Starfleet Captain) Mark Rousseau is heading the delegation and back in the day Dr Leonard McCoy was his chief surgeon, the two men are no longer the close friends they were but there should be no problem working together. Of course when McCoy arrives and meets up with Elizabeth March an old "friend" who is now the President of Empyrea and learns that she has a daughter and McCoy is the father and that it's a criminal offense to have "freelance" offspring devoid of the manufactured genetic perfection.
The Better Man was a decent enough read and I guess we can let it pass that eugenics is alive and well outside the direct Federation sphere of influence. It was interesting to read some backstory of what McCoy was up to before finding a berth on Enterprise and truth be told I think his character was written very well. It was also fun seeing Scotty having to deal with a egotistical Empyrean scientist and nearly losing his temper many a time as Spock tried to channel Scotty's emotional outbursts in a productive manner.
All Star Trek is worth a read since you never know what will appeal as we all have favoured characters and while the novel overall wasn't a must read fans of McCoy should enjoy it.


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Recovery by J.M. Dillard

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

Recovery by J.M. Dillard is the fourth and final novel in The Lost Years Saga. The novel is still set in the period before the launch of the Enterprise 1701-A and Kirk is finally coming to the end of his tether in regards to being a desk bound Admiral but before he can lay down his ultimatum to Admiral Nogura he is given the assignment to oversee the final trial/simulation of the USS Recovery a fully automated rescue ship capable of beaming ships and buildings intact and providing state of the art medical care all in a high warp capable and armed vessel. Admiral Kirk himself was fairly negative towards the concept when it originally crossed his desk but his recommendations have been taken by the designers and the ship is ready.
McCoy a civilian and still estranged from Kirk and Starfleet is approached to be an observer onboard Recovery during the simulation and is delighted to see the ship in action, he is impressed with the level of medical technology onboard. The mission for Recovery is to "rescue" the facility on Zotos 4 which includes all personnel and the structures themselves and the Klingons, Tholians and Romulans have been invited to observe as this area of space is in some minor dispute. The USS Starhawk and USS Paladin are going along to provide the "conflict" part of the trial for Recovery but after Kirk throws some curveballs at the ship to really push her programming things begin to break down as she targets all ships as enemies and fires on the two Starfleet ships and invited warships. The Recovery then warps towards the Tholian area of space with the heavily damaged USS Paladin with Admiral Kirk on board in pursuit and McCoy wishing he had stayed at home.
Recovery was an excellent Star Trek story, yes it benefits greatly from the three novels that went before it in setting up the conditions which provide the impetus for Kirk and to a lesser extent Riley, McCoy and even Spock. The description of the Recovery was impressive and the crews of Starhawk and Paladin were fleshed well enough to be invested in them without taking anything away from the core story which is obviously Kirk and the "rush" he gets when being the center of events although at a high cost. We got some interesting interactions between Starfleet and the visiting Empire Starships and Captains which never dropped into the old tried and trusted tropes but kept the reader wondering what agenda any of them had beyond just keeping an eye on Starfleet. Recovery was a great novel, I enjoyed it immensely with it's mix of character interaction and action both onboard the ship and in space and not just the events which focused on Kirk. The novel would stand by itself if required but there is a little more to be had if you are familiar with the other three novels in the series all of which are entertaining.

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The Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler

The Mediterranean Caper (Dirk Pitt, #2)The Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I originally read The Mediterranean Caper under the title Mayday and to be honest the word Caper should not be used in anything but a spoof, of course many would say the adventures of Dirk Pitt are firmly tongue in cheek:)
In this novel Dirk and Al come to the rescue of a US Airforce base under attack from what looks like a WW1 biplane, after fending off the attack with their own PBY they find themselves knee deep in a smuggling operation that has been ongoing for decades. Caught between the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Greek Gendarmerie and a very Bond like villain Dirk has to discover and expose the secrets being kept while protecting the NUMA research vessel and his own skin.
The novel is a fairly easy going adventure story, over the top of course but each of the events are within the scope of reality, when all put together there is a lot going on and that is when the reader either goes along with the narrative or not. I don't think this novel or the series will ever be a casual read but the early novels were certainly not demanding and for me this is just an enjoyable tale of action and intrigue with a lead character that in the real world doesn't really exist.

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Sunday, 19 March 2017

Federation by Judith Reeves-Stevens

FederationFederation by Judith Reeves-Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars








“Why?" 
"And for the first time in two decades, the Guardian of Forever answered…"


Federation is a pretty epic story covering the events on and around Earth prior to the third world war including the discovery of the warp drive through the Enterprise under Kirk era and onwards towards the D commanded by Picard. Zefram Cochrane is the key to everything, his story as he develops and then exploits the drive to help spread humanity to the stars is entwined with the political pressures of the day and the rising fascism under yet another guise led by Colonel Green and for this story's purpose one Colonel Adrik Thorsen who is obsessed with the notion of a warp bomb. Cochrane is pursued by Thorsen across space and time forcing the brilliant scientist to lose himself into history only to be found decades later by the Enterprise and of course Federation commissioner Nancy Hedford. This is not the end of his story though, technology allows for many things and as Cochrane lives long beyond his timeline with the aid of the companion Thorsen with a fanatic's obsession finds technology to maintain himself and the battle for the soul of mankind begins again.
Federation is very entertaining and genuinely interesting novel, it contradicts many things as most Trek novels do when put up against the canon offered by tv and movies but it does what only a novel can do and takes us on a trip through time and space with our favourite characters unafraid to cover aspects of stories the tv/movies shy away from. The timeline covered by the novel allowing for the TNG crew to exist alongside the TOS crew in the novel no doubt will appeal to a broader audience but for me being more old school the "D" elements were less interesting although their conclusion was pleasing. I really really did enjoy the bookending chapters (including Picard) with the older Admiral Kirk and the Guardian of Forever and of course the look far into their future which sums up Starfleet and I hope humanities best attributes.
A highly recommended novel with some very satisfying writing and exploration of characters and events.

"In the language of the time, the ship is called Enterprise, and she slides forward, accepting the invitation, once more going where none has gone before."
"For even here, even now, the adventure is still just beginning..."

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Crossroad by Barbara Hambly

CrossroadCrossroad by Barbara Hambly
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Crossroad Nebula was a recognised shipping hazard where ships and probes have mysteriously vanished, close by was the Federation protected star system of Tau Lyra whose people were not ready to make the leap into space travel but where showing impressive progress in other areas. The Enterprise while preparing to sow new probes detect a starship leaving the nebula, sensors indicate it is basically a Constitution class but with some minor anomalies in design and energy output. After a brief exchange the Enterprise secures the vessel and the small crew are beamed aboard. The very diverse crew (Vulcan, Klingon, Orion, Human etc) claim to have recently acquired the ship called the "Nautilus" and were attacked within the nebula and are fleeing the "Consilium" but that doesn't explain the existence of the Nautilus or the advanced bio-engineering embedded in the bodies of some of the captured crew.
Crossroad in many ways takes its intent from the mirror universe trope without actually employing that narrative but there are many similarities. We get to see what the Federation and more importantly Starfleet could have been and given the right conditions and how humanity could be far more invasive and corrupt towards the galaxy than any of the current expansionist empires. I enjoyed the technology presented by the Nautilus as it set well outside the expected from Star Trek and this story may have stood alone as a piece of hard scifi dealing with the politics and machinations of a dominant galactic power.

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Sunday, 12 March 2017

Traitor Winds by L.A. Graf

Traitor Winds (Star Trek: The Lost Years, #3)Traitor Winds by L.A. Graf
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Traitor Winds is part of the Lost Years series and continue the story of a post five year mission Enterprise and her crew. In this novel the refit of the Enterprise is nearing completion and many of the previous main bridge crew have taken assignments that keeps them close in the hopes of shipping out once again. Uhura is teaching at the academy, Sulu is a test pilot for a classified project and Chekov having been passed over for command school has moved over to Security and is struggling to compete with much younger "students". A chance meeting with Dr McCoy and former Enterprise medical officer Dr Piper has Chekov taking part in a classified research project analysing Klingon disruptors but the technology is stolen and highly secret technology goes missing from Sulu's project. Evidence points to the two former Enterprise officers and both end up on the run, Uhura and Kirk attempt to sort out the evidence against what they know about their friends and with aid from former colleagues and a few unexpected sources the conspiracy is revealed.
Traitor Winds was a rewarding read, the Federation and Starfleet presented in this novel and the Lost Years series skews the "tv" narrative and brings it more into a realm the reader would recognise in our own world. This can be good or bad depending upon the reader's expectations of Trek and Scifi in general but for me it works well in small doses.

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The Great Wall

I'm not overly interested in the watching "The Great Wall" but having listened to Cinematic Sound Radio's coverage of the album I immediately purchased it. Some beautiful choral music from the creative talent that is Ramin Djawadi.



Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Patrian Transgression by Simon Hawke

The Patrian TransgressionThe Patrian Transgression by Simon Hawke
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Enterprise is assigned a mission to the as of yet unaligned world of Patria I who have expressed a desire to become Federation members. This world has been monitored for the last two decades and have just achieved limited FTL capability and learning they were not alone initiated contact thus forcing the issue. The world while seemingly embracing the concept of the Federation is undergoing limited rebel activity which suddenly escalates with the use of energy based weapons which can only have been supplied by an alien visitor to the planet.
Kirk and the Federation Special Envoy Robert Jordan (former Starfleet) are expected to negotiate entry into the Federation as well as solve the rebel problem or more importantly prevent outside interference and contamination of the culture. However all is not as it seems, the society is not as peaceful or unified as the government has made out and certain laws and practices currently common would prevent Patria from joining the Federation. Kirk comes under pressure from all sides as he investigates events on the planet and in the star system.
The Patrian Transgression was a pretty standard Star Trek story, limited in scope but having some interesting ideas and finally a Federation official that goes beyond the usual type shown on the tv series. The Patrian police officer Lieutenant Iano was a good character and full of surprises and it was nice to see quite a bit of the novel focusing on McCoy with some good real world issues.

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Saturday, 4 March 2017

Sarek by A.C. Crispin

SarekSarek by A.C. Crispin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When you write a novel with Sarek as your central character and have some pretty cataclysmic events take place you really need to get things right and Ann certainly did with this novel which looks at the events post Khitomer and a rising tide of anti-Vulcan sentiment on Earth. Against this background we have the abduction of Peter Kirk who is currently attending the Academy and Sarek who has finally proven to himself that his suspicions about the very secretive world of Freelan are correct. With the very existence of the Federation hanging in the balance Sarek seeks to find allies but a family crisis and ongoing renegade Klingon raids split his attention. It seems all out war with the Empire could still come to pass despite the cooling of relations with the Federations pledge to assist Chancellor Azetbur but there are those who would welcome the conflict confident they could exploit the chaos in its wake regardless of who emerges victorious.
Sarek is a very good read, Ann presents the reader with a lot of insight into the character and his interactions with his own people, the Federation officials, family and of course those within Starfleet. We see him struggle (well maybe not struggle in the human sense) with duty and obligation conflicting with family requirements but also just how powerful this being really is. It is no doubt the Federation and this part of the galaxy would be vastly different with the influence of Sarek of Vulcan and those he taught and mentored throughout the years.
I would highly recommend the novel to anyone with even the slightest interest in anything Vulcan and particularly Spock's family and/or events after The Undiscovered Country, dealing with the Klingons was never going to be straight forward after the loss of Gorkon but we see honour and integrity is never a spent currency even deep into the darkest corners of the galaxy.


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Pacific Vortex! by Clive Cussler

Pacific Vortex! (Dirk Pitt, #1)Pacific Vortex! by Clive Cussler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been a huge fan of the Dirk Pitt novels since my sister bought me a paperback of Vixon 03 for my birthday many years ago, it was perhaps the most productive present she ever bought me as I went on to read the Clive Cussler novels for years to come.
I was browsing my ebook apps on the ipad and realised the cloud being what it is my digital Pitt novels were ready to go so I started reading the first one namely Pacific Vortex. An enjoyable introduction to the man of all seasons Dirk Pitt with action and adventure aplenty, initial introductions to long running characters and theme were on offer but as you would expect the novel lacked the complexity of those that would come later yet also lacked the over the topness of the latter novels as well. I may just continue reading the series as a cleanser between my current Star Trek marathon and regular scifi series I am invested in since they do offer some excellent escapist fun for the reader.

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