Stargate Archives

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Storm of Vengeance by Jay Allan

Storm of Vengeance (Crimson Worlds Refugees Book 5)Storm of Vengeance by Jay Allan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fifth novel in the Crimson Worlds spin off series Refugees is Storm Of Vengeance and the narrative jumps forward a few years from the previous novel as Earth 2 on the technological front is still making leaps and bounds thanks to the "mules". In terms of their society things are not so smooth as Max Harmon for the good of the race has been acting as de facto dictator using his personal power and the fruits of his political links to maintain a peace between the factions. There are constant threats from elements of the natural born humans against the "tanks" (clones) and "mules" (hybrids) but the constant shadow of the Regent (Ancient Imperium AI) has kept a lid on this pressure cooker. Things are about to change however when a long range recon fleet engages an Imperium fleet in a system with a world believed to be the last antimatter generating resource of the Regent. The human fleet is sacrificed to get word back and the benefit in removing anti-matter from their enemies arsenal leads Earth 2 to launch a huge fleet on a potential suicide mission.
Storm of Vengeance continues the strong storytelling that Jay Allan is known for and extends on the existing characters we've come to know though the previous novels as well as world building with new characters and a growing chaotic threat to humanity in this part of the galaxy. Overall an enjoyable read that will satisfy any fan of the Crimson Worlds series of novels but obviously the pay off is being invested in the series as a whole rather than a standalone scifi tale.
Of course this reader got hooked when he read the first novel in the series and followed along with many thousands more as the series spun off in different directions, the commitment has been worth it.

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Sunday, 20 May 2018

The King of Space Must Die by Barry J. Hutchison

The King of Space Must Die (Space Team, #9)The King of Space Must Die by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Long ago there was a proposed initiative, a group of talented and extraordinary people who could defend a world from the unimaginable, this wasn't that one.
Space Team Assemble is perhaps how Cal Carver would explain the events as the crew of the Currently Untitled, Dan Deadman and associates, Nana Joan and Ronda (with assorted help) are brought together to save the galaxy if not the universe from Geronimus Krone quite simply the Most Dangerous Man in the said Universe. Yep this is the sort of space nonsense that happens when Cal unwittingly "helps" Krone to escape jail, time travel into the past and reshape events as he sees fit. Thanks to the authors choice of time travel shenanigans our Space Team retained knowledge of the previous timeline and use that to gather compatriots to join the fight and thus one group of merry men,women, cyborg (not robot) and well whatever intend to take on an evil all powerful genius who controls the galaxy and has a thousand thousand spaceships at his command, piece of cake.
What can I say, The King of Space Must Die is a very funny addition to already fun filled space adventure series, the bringing together of characters from various storylines gives the novel a more epic feel and gives the regular readers a big pay off, Marvel Studios do something similar:)
The subplot of our favourite deceased teen wolf girl was rewarding and tied in nicely and of course Splurt and Kevin as always excelled themselves in their own indomitable way. The time travel worked very well, the twists and surprises did their jobs to maintain the narrative in a believable way and yes it is important to create rules for the story and stick with them and if you don't then make it funny, it was.

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Sunday, 13 May 2018

Paradise by Craig Alanson

Paradise (Expeditionary Force, #3)Paradise by Craig Alanson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third novel in the Expeditionary Force series by Craig Alanson is called "Paradise" and if you've read the series so far then you know that is the world the human military force assigned to the Kristang were deployed too. Cut off from the Earth, unarmed and now reliant on the goodwill of the Ruhar the men and women of Earth are having to learn how to farm and fend for themselves, it's not going well and it is going to get a lot worse.
Meanwhile in orbit around Earth the Flying Dutchman's merry band of pirates are being debriefed and despite saving the planet Joe Bishop is having a hard time, decisions and actions made are being questioned by people who were not out in the void or had the weight of the world and her people on their shoulders. Eventually a new mission is given the green light with some conditions and the Dutchman returns to a contested galaxy to gain intel on the threat to Earth and if possible the condition of the expeditionary force.
As you would expect fun and hijinks abound as Skippy the eons old Elder AI has new monkeys to play around with along with a few of the old crew who may or may not have made it on to his "list". The search continues for a com node for Skippy and an explanation of the events on the planet Newark but they also learn that the Ruhar are looking to trade Paradise for other territory and that would result in every human on the world being executed for treason by the Kristang for not fighting to the death. Joe and his crew have to devise a way to help his comrades without anyone anywhere knowing the Dutchman exists while tensions among the expeditionary force rise as food becomes scarce as Kristang raids on the planet target human settlements.
Skippy the magnificent and Joe "Barney" Bishop along with the merry band of pirates are the only hope thousands of courageous military personnel from nations of the Earth have, oh dear.
Paradise was a very entertaining addition to the series although it took me a little while to really enjoy the Paradise narrative. I'm now invested in both the Dutchman and Paradise which gives the series two fronts to play with, no doubt they will overlap again although it may be tricky to make that storyline work a second time. The upside is that for now Craig as a whole galaxy to play around with and some strings to pull to bring other/new storylines into prominence, it's only going to get better.

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Wildfire (Star Trek: SCE)Wildfire by David Mack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wildfire is the the sixth release from the Starfleet Corp of Engineers series which was initially novellas but has now been repackaged as a collection of stories in each anthology/omnibus. This novel contains three stories.

ENIGMA SHIP by J. Steven York & Christina F. York

The USS Lincoln while escorting two freighters mysteriously vanishes, scans indicate the presence of some sort of anomaly and the USS da Vinci is sent to investigate and relive the initial responder USS Chinook which has a more pressing engagement. Upon arrival they find that the chief engineer of one of the freighters and two personnel from the Chinook are also missing but the engineer somehow with limited equipment breached the anomaly. The da Vinci need to identify what the anomaly is, how to get inside and how if possible to rescue a starship and crew.
A high concept story which taxed the ingenuity of the SCE to their limits and made use of the common sense and experiences of the crew to bring about a resolution.

WAR STORIES by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Overseer Biron of the Androssi is still smarting over his "defeats" at the hands of the crew of the USS da Vinci, unbeknown to his sponsor he uses his commands resources to secure logs and other sensitive date from a spy to learn more about the crew of the SCE ship. A very interesting story which was dominated by flashbacks to give us more back story of the crew of the da Vinci.

WILDFIRE by David Mack

A distress call from the USS Orion which is testing the "wildfire" device deep in the atmosphere of a gas giant in an unclaimed system is received by Starfleet and time is of the essence not only to save the crew but secure the technology as it's finders keepers in neutral space. The da Vinci arrives on seen and enters the gas giant and slowly makes it way deeper into the heart of the turbulent gas giant in search of the Orion and the wildfire torpedo. Strained to the limit with life and death resting on a knife edge the da Vinci suffers a catastrophic event, the crew faced with limited resources and the wildfire device on a countdown to ignition make terrible decisions and sacrifices have to be made.
Wildfire is perhaps the one story I have been waiting for, I had the basic plot of this novel already in my mind thanks to a podcast interview many moons ago but even so this story stuck the knife in and twisted. A real pay off for readers who have followed the series from the beginning and written with pace and tension which serves the situation the ship and her crew find themselves in.
David Mack did a magnificent job.

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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

SpecOps by Craig Alanson

SpecOps (Expeditionary, #2)SpecOps by Craig Alanson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SpecOps is the second novel in the Expeditionary Force series which deals with the aftermath of an alien invasion of Earth and the consequences of some poor decision making by humanity although to be fair it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Of course as we know Joe Bishop now a Colonel and commanding a captured alien starship also thought attacking an alien patrol while driving a battered Barney emblazoned ice cream van was a good idea, it certainly shows that the results of such acts are often unexpected.
After Skippy the eons old AI of the long gone Elder race closes the wormhole which allowed easy access to Earth and after an eventful stay on Earth the intrepid band of space pirates once again set out on the Flying Dutchman to hold up their end of the bargain with the AI. Once Skippy gets himself a communications device the bargain will be complete but as the search fails to bare fruit more unorthodox ideas have to be considered, then things start to go seriously wrong even by as Skippy would say the standard monkey level of incompetence.
SpecOps is a very worthy successor to Columbus Day, the central character of Bishop continues to be a favoured focal point of the story and his interaction with Skippy and his shipmates both humorous and when required tense and suspenseful. The bigger galactic wide picture is being created at a steady pace, a mystery is revealed which I am sure will be expanded upon in later novels. I've no doubt I will be continuing the series on a regular basis, it's entertaining and well written with a good blend of action and character elements.

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Saturday, 5 May 2018

SCE Foundations

SCE Foundations: STAR TREK SCESCE Foundations: STAR TREK SCE by Dayton Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fifth collection of Starfleet Corp of Engineers stories is entitled "Foundations" written by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore and is a little different to previous collections in that it primarily focuses on a single character (Montgomery Scott) and deals with his early interactions with the SCE before many decades later he eventually led this branch of Starfleet. While there are four distinct stories they combine to form a whole which expands on the Scotty we knew from the tv and movies as well as providing more depth and history to the SCE.
The novel begins in present time as the Da Vinci encounters an alien ship travelling at critically high warp for its level of technology, the ultimate solution to saving the ship and crew is from the past and this provides the framework for the flashback stories which comprise the novel.
We join Scotty soon after he gets his posting to the Enterprise but before he officially joins the crew he is put on loan to the SCE for a important mission on board a very rundown USS Lovell (the norm for the under equipped SCE at the time) however a ship full of engineers means it may not look good but under the hood it's a bit of a powerhouse. Their mission is to investigate damage and to an outpost on the Romulan neutral zone and to affect repairs, it does not go smoothly. Our next blast from past sees Scotty once again serving with the SCE on Beta III dealing with the aftermath of Landrau, again the full talents of the engineers and personnel with very different talents are needed as the centuries old computer/AI is resurrected. The third recollection from the past has Scotty once again serving with Commander Mahmud al-Khaled who is a constant element of these flashbacks as a new propulsion system designed by the Kelvans is being tested, it has a few bugs and the crew find themselves deep in unexplored space. Thanks to the talents of the engineers and one in particular the mission is resolved with benefits and the ship is returned to Federation space with the prospect of the warp scale having to be redone to accommodate the potential new speeds.

All three of these stories from Scotty's past underline the fact that the SCE needed to be more than simple starbase builders or repair crews. The addition of cultural, linguistic and diplomatically skilled crew will aid the SCE ships as they too face first contact and missions which require the skills often found only on Starships on discovery missions. The overall narrative encompases this philosophy and demonstrates the growth of the SCE over the years has produced a very flexible and talented resource for the Federation and Starfleet to call upon.

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