Stargate Archives

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Winds of Vengeance by Jay Allan

Winds of Vengeance (Crimson Worlds Refugees, #4)Winds of Vengeance by Jay Allan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourth book in the Crimson World Refugees series jumps forward in time and skips much of the drudgery of literal world building on the new home for humanity. Earth 2 has been built using the most advanced technology the last of the Ancients left behind or at least as much of it as could be deciphered. Attacks from the remnants of the Regents fleets have long since ended and as usual the human race when it has time to look inward finds plenty to argue about and maybe ultimately fracture itself once again into separate states/groups.
As the political system on Earth 2 is on the brink of collapse a long range survey fleet has been engaged by an alien fleet very similar in technology to the Imperium yet slightly different, they fight for their lives and are able to launch a warning back to Earth 2. Admiral West leads the bulk of the home fleet to investigate the loss of communications and find the message drones and wreckage and then engages a vast enemy fleet that has been waiting to avenge the Regent.
It may be a little depressing that the Pilgrims, Newborns, Tanks and Mules (names used to segment the population) have found it impossible to get along after two decades but there is always individuals and small groups that use fear of the other to gain power. The rebirth of humanity on this "eden" has like the original been soured but again an external threat may be the catalyst for yet another opportunity for best of humanity to prevail.
Winds of Vengeance was enjoyable but took me a little while to fully commit to this storyline, the existence of a few of the characters from the previous books (now called pilgrims by the citizens of Earth 2) kept me interested and then I was back into the swing of things.
The combat aesthetic/narrative has changed thanks to the jump in technology but the underlying characterisation which any book has to depend upon remains and the rest is just icing so a must for a Crimson World fan as is the series for anything with an interest in military scifi.

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Revenge of the Ancients by Jay Allan

Revenge of the Ancients (Crimson Worlds Refugees #3)Revenge of the Ancients by Jay Allan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The revelation of humanities genesis and the history of the rise and fall of the Imperium spur the remnants of the trapped fleet to seek out the world that was prepared for the Ancients last hope. The Regents fleets continue to attack in system after system each resulting in loss of ships, lives and resources. The promise of technology beyond that of even the Imperium is too strong a siren call so Admiral Compton makes a bold strategic decision to buy time for the majority of the fleet but what they don't know is that plans are already under way to wipe out the humans once and for all and then the Regent can focus on finding a way back to Earth.
This series of novels continues apace with action and drama that will delight a fan of this subset of science fiction, yes it is more of the same but at this point in the Crimson Worlds series this is what you want to be reading. Courage above and beyond by individuals and ships from across the human sphere all bound together under the threat of the Regent with epic battles and sacrifices allowing for when that one opportunity arrives a blow could be struck.

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Polar Lights - Battle Cruiser

You know when you are just browsing an online store on the off chance you see something you fancy, well this is the result of one of those times.
The Polar Lights Romulan Battle Cruiser is a 1:1000 scale model although it turned into a more Klingon version with the paint scheme and decals. Pretty easy to put together although far from a perfect fit piece wise, no doubt a more experienced modeller would have had the tools and skill to turn this out to perfection but I'm quite pleased.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Blu-Ray Treats

Always on the look out for a few gems to add to my movie collection and a good portion of the time it's reissues or repacking of much loved movies that get my cash.

The Thing (Collector's Edition)

Flight of the Navigator (Steelbook)

Sunday, 23 April 2017

We Lead by Christopher G. Nuttall

We Lead (Ark Royal #9)We Lead by Christopher G. Nuttall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The war between the allied forces of humanity and the tadpoles continues as the "foxes and cows" threaten systems and edge closer to Tadpole prime and beyond that to the human worlds. On Earth the politics of war so far from home along with the economic issues cause dissent amongst the population despite spacers dying by the hundreds and ships burning in space. Investigations by the best scientists into how the alien FTL communications work is still offering no insights but a surprising nugget of information opens up the potential for creating a gravimetric tramline by design. The power required is beyond anything a starship could generate and the hardware far too big to even consider to be mobile but maybe a complex designed to jump a fleet on a one way mission deep into enemy space could bring the enemy to its knees quickly and with minimal casualties.
HMS Vanguard with a huge multinational fleet including vessels from Russia and India head out on a ultra secret mission, their destination the complex which will fling them to within a couple of star systems of the alien homeworlds. The aliens have shown a pack like mentality which enforces an Alpha style command structure, if the fleet can capture the homeworld and break their fighting spirit it is believed the war will be over.
We Lead may be accused of coming up with a deus ex machina plot element to allow the story to be concluded but when you have opposing forces that are not that unequal in strength there is normally some element that tips the balance. The creation of the FTL jump even in this basic form allows the war to take a major step but thankfully the novel does not lose its core heart and soul, the individuals on board the warships and on the battlegrounds continue to be the most important aspects of the narrative.
This final novel is the trilogy (part of the current nine book series) continues to tell the stories of a handful of characters which we met in the first novel (Vanguard) as well as bringing to the front long established characters. People will die, some heroically and others by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time and that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, war is dirty and unfair and unpredictable. Christopher has once again delivered an entertaining finale to this trilogy of novels and a satisfying standalone part of the ongoing Ark Royal series.

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Fear God and Dread Naught by Christopher G. Nuttall

Fear God and Dread Naught (Ark Royal #8)Fear God and Dread Naught by Christopher G. Nuttall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the eighth novel of the Ark Royal series we see the HMS Vanguard repaired and made ready to return to the front lines of the battle with this enigmatic enemy comprised of two separate species. Little is still known about them but as wreckage and biologic samples are recovered after battles a picture is beginning to form. Earth for the moment is safe, the fleets are engaging within "Tadpole" space and the system "Unity" is where Vanguard and her flotilla are bound but with such a long turnaround time for messages and intelligence they are not sure what to expect.
Marines and ordnance are deployed and then the fleet is engaged with running battles in and around Unity as two battle fronts are created, one between the colossal power of the battleships and carriers the other from individuals with rifles and courage under fire.
Fear God and Dread Naught is as expected a direct continuation from the novel Vanguard with the addition of a few characters from previous novels. Christopher once again writes the space and ground battles well and with all good military scifi there is no happy ending for everyone, bravery and courage are not always rewarded and victory is never guaranteed.
As mentioned in other reviews, a series this long will live or die based on a reader's interest and enjoyment of the first novel they read, if you have gotten this far then like me you enjoy Christopher's writing within this series and look forward to the conclusion of this trilogy of stories within the series as a whole.

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Sunday, 16 April 2017

Vanguard by Christopher Nuttall

Vanguard (Ark Royal, #7)Vanguard by Christopher Nuttall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vanguard is the first book in the third trilogy of novels in the Ark Royal series by Christopher G. Nuttall and basically if you liked the first six then it's a no brainer to read the seventh. The novel is set a few years after the ending of the British/Indian conflict over the planet and alien culture of the Vesy star system. The formal alliance/treaty with the "tadpoles" holds strong but is put to the test when a human ship detects a third intelligent race during a recon down an unexplored tramline. This new world is much closer to Tadpole Prime and the two space powers launch a joint first contact mission (heavily armed) but it does not go well. Humanities second intergalactic war has begun against an enemy who have no apparent interest in communicating and what little intelligence is gathered seems to indicate that the humans and their tadpole allies may be facing at least two cooperating races.
The main character in this novel could be argued to be the brand new British battleship "Vanguard" which is on it's maiden flight and will see her first action in this war, her first officer has vanished and his replacement Commander Susan Onarina is dropped in at the deep end and having to learn a brand new ship, vastly extended area of responsibilities and deal with new crew and familiar faces. The story is as you would expect heavy on setup and character introductions before the action really starts but then it doesn't let up, large scale fleet battles combine with interpersonal conflicts to provide an entertaining novel.

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Strange New Worlds 2016

Strange New Worlds 2016 (Star Trek)Strange New Worlds 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Strange New Worlds was an annual series of anthology novels which offered professional published fan sourced Star Trek stories. The 2016 edition was released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and in this novel we have a collection of stories which not only reflect the original show (well just about) but also the series that follows but to be honest given it's the 50th anniversary of TOS there is not a lot of the original series there. I don't know what the rules were for submission back in 2015 but it seems there was a move away from anything specifically TOS.
My favourites were "A Christmas Qarol" by Gary Piserchio and Frank Tagader , "The Dreamer and the Dream" by Derek Tyler Attico and "The Last Refuge" by Roger McCoy.
The world of Star Trek fan fiction is still very buoyant and the recognition of some quality work outside of the fenced off licensed market was always a good idea. It's gratifying to see creativity acknowledged and opportunities offered, it's kind of a Trek thing:)

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"Dilithium Is a Girl's Best Friend" by Neil Bryant

What did happen to Harry Mudd after his encounters with the Enterprise and more importantly how about the three women who were using the venus drug who may or may not have had relationships with potentially wealthy minors. Years later Harry approaches Eve who now controls a huge and powerful mining concern, he convinces her to join him on one of his dodgy adventures and with stolen classified technology they flee into deep space to rendezvous with, well you'll see.

"A Christmas Qarol" by Gary Piserchio & Frank Tagader

The fight against the Borg has taken a fresh turn as the Federation have made successful attempts at reverting drones back to the original species. Q appears at a scientific presentation and decides to screw around with Picard despite the fact the event also celebrates the life of a young boy named Timothy who has undergone the procedure. The boy still has a long way to go before all the technology is removed and full use of his body returns but there is hope but Q all knowing and all seeing wants to play and notices that it's christmas on Earth, how fitting.
A snap of his fingers would all that be required to send Picard into a reality where he was Scrooge and so let it be.

"The Sunwalkers" by Kelli Fitzpatrick

Dr Crusher is still mourning the loss of her son, Wesley's decision to journey with the Traveler is affecting his mother to the same degree as would his death, unable to really get a grasp Beverley throws herself into her work. On the planet Shar-Mi'la Prime the natives have evolved under a star that really shouldn't be supporting carbon based life but it does thanks in part to the species developing technologies that support state of the art shielding. However many of their young are growing sick and they call for Federation help, faced with the potential deaths of so many children Beverly is forced to face her own loss.

"The Seen and Unseen" by Chris Chaplin

The Remans, slaves of the Empire in all but name and yet one fathered by a Romulan, raised in the mines finds a place amongst the military as a source of amusement, a Reman who hates his own kind and entertains his "betters". Yet deep in his soul Troth knows there is a better path for his people, the words of a Vulcan named Spock has reached even into the depths and maybe there is a path to tread which leads to the light and freedom.

"The Façade of Fate" by Michael Turner

A battle rages with the Jem'Hadar and the Defiant is close to destruction, a blinding light floods space and the crew find themselves on Bajor but not a Bajor they recognise, a galactic peace exists and they don't belong here but where is here and what will become of them now.

"The Manhunt Pool" by Nancy Debretsion

The First Contact Symposium meets on Deep Space Nine to decide the fate of a small society on a world known as Tasadae, there is some question over the status of the natives which will determine if the planet can be opened up for use. Garak and Odo have different reactions as many new faces appear on DS9 and things begin to get even more complicated when one of the attendees is murdered and then a young Bajoran goes missing. Odo investigates but Garak brings all his deviousness and insights into the case which is proving to be far wider than a simple murder on a space station.

"The Dreamer and the Dream" by Derek Tyler Attico

Benny Russell has suffered thanks to his obsession with the worlds within his mind and the society he lives in that already places barriers to what he is allowed to achieve. Years spent in a mental facility has taken their toll and perhaps now the decision to put aside his stories will finally allow him to walk the paths of his city. A brief discussion with his friend the janitor the only man who has continued to read his stories makes him realise how important they can be, if one person can envision a future better than it can be then who is Benny to stop writing. He makes the decision and the world around him erupts into chaos.

"The Last Refuge" by Roger McCoy

Lon Suder is dead, Tuvok who had spent time with the man in an attempt to bring him towards a more balanced psyche laments his failure but while he clears out his cabin a video file is found. Tuvok plays the tape and Lon appears and tells of a time not that long ago when there was the very real threat of a Maquis/Starfleet conflict on board Voyager.

"Life Among the Post-Industrial Barbarians" by John Coffren

Captain Braxton, marooned on Earth in the 20th century, what is he willing to do or to give up when offered the chance to return to his own timeline by none other than himself.

"Upon the Brink of Remembrance" by Kristen McQuinn

Species 3836 (Lynnrali) are protected by a volatile nebula but are masters in advanced warp technology and they are very much desired by the Borg to enhance the collective. Fully aware of the Borg steps have been taken but the Borg enter orbit never the less and the assimilation begins. Seven awakes in her alcove in a cold sweat having dreamt of being assimilated by herself and while her body was violated her last breath was spent pleading for her daughter. It can be no coincidence that the Lynnrali were the last species Seven participated in assimilating before being liberated.

Iceberg by Clive Cussler

Iceberg (Dirk Pitt, #3)Iceberg by Clive Cussler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Iceberg is perhaps the first of the Dirk Pitt novels that feels like it's built on a solid foundation, that's not to say the first two are weak but they feel in comparison less complex and structured. Iceberg once again provides the reader with an adventure undertaken by Dirk Pitt, this time pulled off a beach to ferry a NUMA scientist to investigate a mysterious ship locked within an iceberg. It turns out that NUMA are just one organisation trying to obtain a revolutionary mineral probe designed by Fyrie industries who also owned the boat trapped in the ice but the boat had been gutted by fire and the crew were dead. Thus a bloody trail of destruction grows as the forces behind the theft of the probe maneuver themselves in a global endeavour that could reshape the world. Pitt finds himself committed to finding those responsible for the violence that follows him, his journey takes him from California to Iceland back to the states and finally to Disneyland for a less than happy encounter.
Iceberg was an enjoyable read, still issues with the language and certain aspects that don't fit into the modern world of storytelling which would have passed unnoticed when originally published but are a little blatant these days. Still, I spent some quality time reading this Dirk Pitt adventure and that's all I require from a novel, an entertaining story with compelling characters and Iceberg delivered.

Mildly amusing to not that after Iceberg the next novel was Raise The Titanic.

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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Tales of the Dominion War

Tales of the Dominion War (Star Trek: The Next Generation)Tales of the Dominion War  Edited by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tales of the Dominion War is an anthology of stories which deals with the events within Starfleet and the Federation during the timeframe of Deep Space Nine as covered in the television show. As we know DS9 was the prime focus of the war thanks to proximity to the Bajoran wormhole but the war spread throughout the Alpha quadrant and would have affected all of the characters from the franchise as a whole.
The stories in this collection are written by a number of very familiar names to readers of Star Trek novels from all aspects of the franchise and offer up some very entertaining events and insights into characters which we may never have heard of or were just a throwaway reference in DS9.
The scope of the anthology will appeal to every fan of Star Trek and yes that includes the original series thanks to one or more of the original crew still alive and kicking in this era.
Highly recommend, very easy to read and if not every story ticks every box for the reader they all offer up something a Trek fan will recognise and enjoy.

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"What Dreams May Come"
by Michael Jan Friedman

On the world of Illarh the Dominion forces have landed led by a Vorta named Sejeel, they intend to fortify the world for the war with the Federation and disguise themselves as travelers who will be moving on shortly. Sejeel is delighting in the deference the natives are offering him and one morning Draz a servant while bringing him his breakfast tells him of a dream. The Vorta is intrigued but as the dream unfolds he dismisses the uneasiness he begins to feel, after all these natives are helpless and subservient, what could there be too fear...

"Night of the Vulture"
by Greg Cox

Deep Space Nine has fallen under the Cardassian and Dominion pressure but the wormhole to the Gamma quadrant has been mined. A covert operation to infiltrate Starfleet command to gain the codes to subvert the minefield was a success and the agent and her guards are returning under the guise of a small trading vessel. Unbeknown to them they are being tracked by the entity that struck at Kirk's Enterprise and Kang's Battlecruiser around Beta XII-A (Day of the Dove) and it is hungry, a galaxy wide war will be a feast and if this vessel with its precious cargo allows the Dominion to crush the Alpha quadrant the feast will over over far too quickly.

"The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned"
by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Lwaxana Troi is at home entertaining friends and the discussion turns to the war but that's far away and Betazed is deep within Federation space and while her defences are not state of the art a Starfleet battle group are stationed not too far away. Then the unfathomable happens, Lwaxana senses the alien thoughts of the Dominion forces, she feels the deaths of those close to her and the failure of Starfleet to prevent the invasion of her world as cities burn. The battle is lost but the war continues and Lwaxana Troi Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed will not let this stand, her world in time will once again be a safe home for her people.

"Blood Sacrifice"
by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz

The Romulan Senate already full of division and self interest argue back and forth over the Dominion presence in the Alpha quadrant and in the background Spock whose infiltration of this society continues to slowly subvert the young to a more logical way of life watches on. In a shocking turn of events the Emperor dies ( probably murdered ) and then the news of the Dominion assassination of Senator Vreenak who was dealing "peace" with the invaders shakes the world but offers opportunities.

"Mirror Eyes"
by Heather Jarman & Jeffrey Lang

A deep cover Tal Shiar agent on Deep Space 9 recounts her days and mission in a journal (not standard procedure) and writes of her dissatisfaction of playing Seret a Vulcan medic in a position that offers little in terms of valuable intelligence. A Vulcan crewed ship is brought to DS9, the crew infected with an unknown contagion and it soon becomes apparent it's designed to strike at the Alpha quadrant. The doctors and medics of DS9 and other Federation sources combine to prevent an outbreak but only Seret seems to have any form of immunity but she can not allow anyone else to analyse her blood and reveal her secrets or would that be a relief.

"Twilight's Wrath"
by David Mack

Shinzon a human raised by Remans earned his reputation during the Dominion war and his major achievement was that strike on a secret Romulan facility that has been captured by Dominion forces. The Romulan high command need this facility destroyed but Shinzon realises whatever they consider to be so dangerous to them would in his hands be a benefit to his Reman family. A brilliant yet costly battle strategy wins the day and the events on this world eventually lead to the Reman revolt and events covered in Nemesis.

"Eleven Hours Out"
by Dave Galanter

The Breen assault Earth and cause significant damage in and around San Francisco, how could they have gotten so deep into Federation space and inflicted so much damage, granted the propaganda aspect was more significant than the material cost but still it should not have been possible. The Enterprise is not in the Solar System but her captain is on Earth attending the graduation ceremony of his niece (by marriage) Ensign Lebel. When weapons fire begins to strike the academy and starfleet command Captain Picard organises the survivors and attempts to understand what was required to allow ships so close to Earth and begins to organise the immediate response while under a communications blackout. As the Enterprise warps back to Earth to face the unknown crews on board Starbase One struggle to launch a trapped Starship while weapons fire continues to rain down on a defenceless planet.

"Safe Harbors"
by Howard Weinstein

Admiral Leonard McCoy and Captain Montgomery Scott are still alive and kicking thanks to some unexpected events and technologies and their runabout is perhaps if anything in worse shape then the two former officers of the Enterprise. They learn of the Breen attack on Earth but are unable to return until their ship is repaired so land on the Bakrii homeworld known as a free port with expert ship maintenance facilities. The locals are not over joyed to see them given the potential for reprisals from the Dominion and then a badly damaged USS Saladin arrives and the Dominion are on their way.

"Field Expediency"
by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore

The Starfleet Corps of Engineers USS da Vinci is tasked to aid in a covert operation to obtain some Breen encryption technology, they steal a ship but crash on a remote world. The removal of the technology is proving difficult and then a Breem contingent arrive in system, the ships engage and a landing part of Breen assault the captured ship.

"A Song Well Sung"
by Robert Greenberger

Klag, son of M'Raq is the only survivor of IKS Pagh after a battle with Dominion forces, the ship crash lands on the planet Marcan V and the enemy vessel impacts not too far away. Klag minus one limb equips himself and sets out to avenge the death of his ship and comrades by the only thing that matters, blood.

"Stone Cold Truths"
by Peter David

Many decades after the end of the Dominion War the long lived Zak Kebron recounts his experiences during the war to his son for a school assignment, the discussion with his son and eventually the "mentor" highlight the complexity and ramifications of any conflict be they to the individual or on a galactic scale.

by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels

Reese was a survivor of AR-558 but he did not leave that world intact, nightmares and psychological issues affect the Federation soldier but eventually he is cleared for duty and he asks for and is reassigned to DS9 and the Defiant. At the ceasefire he observes the captured Founder and strikes up an unusual relationship with a Cardassian soldier Glinn Ekoor, the two of them have much in common and both have reasons to consider the trial and imprisonment of the Founder to be betrayal of the millions who have died thanks to her orders.

The Starless World by Gordon Eklund

The Starless World (Star Trek Adventures, #8)The Starless World by Gordon Eklund
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Enterprise encounters a shuttle craft from a starship lost two decades ago, on board is Thomas Clayton an officer who served on that ship and is personally acquainted to Kirk, Clayton delirious also claims to be a prophet of God. The Enterprise approaches a construct which is identified as a Dyson Sphere and is then drawn into the interior of the sphere where they find a peaceful non-technological community but also a Klingon Cruiser (also captured) and a strange subculture of "strangers". Spock is unable to formulate a reasonable explanation of the existence of the sphere and the events and peoples in this world but if the acceptance of a "God" presiding over this world then everything makes a logical sort of sense. The natives believe they are a journey with their God to a final reckoning but only the Klingons and then the Enterprise know how close that is, the proliferation of singularities in this region of space will inevitably serve as the final fate of this world.
The Starless World if memory serves was the first Trek paperback I ever bought, my very old copy has a price on the back cover of 75p so I am tempted to accept my recollection. The current condition of the paperback was so bad however that I sourced another copy on ebay which was a more recent reprint with a more generic cover and under the Star Trek Adventures banner.
This story was released fairly early in the Star Trek novel franchise and lacks much of the depth you would associate with the current breed of Trek novels, it's also shorter and in many cases more straightforward in its narrative. The core theme however is pretty strong with a Dyson Sphere and an entity (God if you will) over seeing a population living inside the sphere all on a eon long journey to a final destination. The main characters serve the story well with some nice touches with Uhura and the young native woman they encounter early on and probably for the best the final conclusion to who and what oversees the sphere is left to the reader to determine.

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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt

A-10 Thunderbolt

I was tempted, resisted then gave up and purchased this Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt diecast model. It has wonderful build quality and sits nicely alongside my Canadian Airforce livered F-18.

The Face of the Unknown by Christopher L. Bennett

The Face of the Unknown (Star Trek: The Original Series)The Face of the Unknown by Christopher L. Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Enterprise is engaged by a vessel which claims to have been attacked by a Federation ship, the body and wreckage they offer up as proof is startling in its familiarity, the dead being is the same species as used by Balok when trying to "fool" the Enterprise when it entered the area of space now known to be controlled by the First Federation.
The Enterprise enters First Federation space and attempts to find the Fesarius and Lt. Bailey, they find it under attack and come to its aid only to find that the "puppets" used by Balok were indeed once a known and feared race in this region of space and they have returned. Balok however is missing but a mysterious message is received by the Enterprise which leads them to an empty star system with one very dead world obvious having suffered from orbital bombardment. Alien ships then enter the system and the Enterprise is forced to enter the atmosphere of a huge gas giant only to find something they didn't expect...
I wonder if it is true that the best stories draw from events of the original series, there is precedent and The Face of the Unknown is certainly more proof of the theory. Christopher L. Bennett a long time fan of The Corbomite Maneuver delivered a novel that took the very basics from the tv epsiode and expanded them into a complex and fascinating look into the First Federation. The explanation of their technology and the worlds that comprised it and the mystery of such a huge are of space close to the expanding Federation of Planets is covered with style and expertise. The final result is an excellent novel which adds immensely to what we knew of Balok and the Fesarius and of course Lt. David "He's doing a countdown!" Bailey.

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