Review: Star Trek Section 31: Control, by David Mack

About the book, Star Trek Section 31: Control
Section31 - control

  • Series: Star Trek
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek (March 28, 2017)
  • Language: English

From the New York Times bestselling author David Mack comes an original, thrilling Section 31 novel set in the Star Trek: The Next Generation universe!

No law…no conscience…no mercy. Amoral, shrouded in secrecy, and answering to no one, Section 31 is the mysterious covert operations division of Starfleet, a rogue shadow group pledged to defend the Federation at any cost. The discovery of a two-hundred-year-old secret gives Doctor Julian Bashir his best chance yet to expose and destroy the illegal spy organization. But his foes won’t go down without a fight, and his mission to protect the Federation he loves just end up triggering its destruction. Only one thing is for certain: this time, the price of victory will be paid with Bashir’s dearest blood. (via Amazon)

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the author, David Mack DavidMack

DAVID MACK is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of over three dozen novels and numerous short works of science fiction, fantasy, and adventure, including the STAR TREK DESTINY trilogy.

Beyond prose, Mack’s writing credits span several media, including television (for episodes of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE) and comic books.

Mack’s most recent novels are THE MIDNIGHT FRONT and THE IRON CODEX, the first two books of his DARK ARTS series from Tor Books.

His upcoming works include THE SHADOW COMMISSION, book three of Dark Arts, coming in 2020, and a new STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION novel, COLLATERAL DAMAGE, on October 8, 2019. (via Amazon)

Connect with David:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

melysse2019.jpgx100My Thoughts

This novel is two years old, but I only read it last week, because somehow, I missed it. My timing was not the best – reading this story concurrently with the last episodes of Star Trek: Discovery’s second season, which was also about Section 31’s AI Control, though, not the same story (though some themes were naturally similar, as you might expect whenever you deal with a super-intelligent AI) had me wishing the Discovery writers were telling Mack’s story.

Alas, they were not. And Discovery, which I love, is it’s own thing.

So, what about Control. Well, this novel takes place in two time periods. One is at the dawn of the Federation, and involves a civilian scientist who has created a threat assessment logarithm that he sells to the Federation. If you’ve read any of the articles about how the back room folks at Amazon, Google, and Apple work with Alexa, and Siri and such, you can understand where some of the inspiration came from. The characters in that section of the novel, with the exception of passing mentions of Archer, are largely original creations, but they mesh well with the Star Trek universe. I felt the ‘past’ parts of the story made sense, especially given our current level of technology and the growing dependence on “smart” devices.

The “contemporary” part of the story is in the post-Nemesis timeline of current TrekLit canon, and features Julian Bashir and Sarina Douglas in their current guise as interstellar people of mystery… I mean special ops agents. I was never a particular fan of Bashir when DS9 was on, but he matured as a character as I’ve matured as a person, a viewer, and a reader, and now I really enjoy visits with him.

Data and Lal (resurrected in previous novels) also feature heavily in the contemporary part of the story, but I find myself never sure I “like” this new version of Data. Yes, this slightly jaded, slightly bitter, lonely, isolated version of him makes sense after all he’s been through – in another novel he, himself, described himself as “Data 2.0” – but there’s something hollow about him that makes him difficult for me to connect with. (I’m sure that’s just a fangirl reaction.)

Overall, I found this novel to be well-paced, balancing the two time periods really well, with the sections in the early Federation really building well to the world we are so much more familiar with as fans.

As much as I found the story interesting and compelling, I also found it a bit prescient. As I was reading it, those aforementioned articles about Alexa and Siri kept coming back to haunt me, but so did the line from Harry Potter about never trusting anything that appears to think for itself unless you can see where it keeps its brain.

Goes well with peach cobbler… and piping hot raktajino, obviously.

Star Trek: New Frontier – The Returned, Part 3, by Peter David #quickreview #netgalley

About the book, Star Trek: New Frontier – The Returned, Part 3 Star Trek New Frontier: The Returned, Part 3


  • Print Length: 171 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek (September 7, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 7, 2015


The final installment in a brand-new three-part digital-first Star Trek: New Frontier e-novel from New York Times bestselling author Peter David!

Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and the crew of the U.S.S. Excalibur are back, picking up three months after the stunning events depicted in New Frontier: Blind Man’s Bluff. Calhoun’s search of Xenex has failed to find any survivors, and now he is bound and determined to track down the race that killed them—the D’myurj and their associates, the Brethren—and exact vengeance upon them. His search will take the Excalibur crew into a pocket universe, where he discovers not only the homeworld of the D’myurj, but another race that shares Calhoun’s determination to obliterate his opponents. But is this new race truly an ally…or an even greater threat?

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

My Thoughts

Peter David has long been one of my favorite writers of professional TrekFic – there’s a line he wrote decades ago about human male chest hair being for traction that has stuck with me for decades – so when I saw the last installment of the ebook trilogy in the New Frontier universe on NetGalley earlier this summer, I had to read it.

Very quickly, I realized that my habit of only reading TNG novels meant I had no idea what was going on, so I bought parts I and II of this trilogy and binge-read all three volumes. I was not disappointed. This series is phenomenal, and Peter David’s storytelling reminded my why I love his take on Trek. Captain Mackenzie Calhoun is a great addition to the Star Trek universe, and both his family and his crew (which includes someone I can only describe as a demigod) are people I wish we could see on television.

So good is his writing – and this trilogy in particular – that I didn’t mind a completely unfamiliar set of characters, although, technically, Robin Lefler (whom we met in Season 5 of TNG) was familiar, though this is a much matured Robin, one whose personal laws have had to be adapted to address things like lost love and motherhood.

Like all good Trek stories, The Returned (all three parts) isn’t just about space battles and meeting new aliens. It’s also about loss – the loss of home, the loss of family, the loss of love – and how we cope with it – do we commit acts of revenge, or do we rebuild ourselves, or do we allow ourselves to die a little every day, as we wallow in apathy? In the case of the characters in this trilogy the answer is “a little of everything,” but it all fits together in a way that resounds with emotional truth.

(Plus, there are cool aliens and space battles, after all.)

Goes well with sparkling Altair water and oskoid salad.



Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang

My Thoughts

I pre-ordered the digital edition of this book several months ago when it was first announced, so I knew it would be arriving on my Kindle around 2:00 this morning. I was pleasantly surprised when it actually showed up at midnight, because I’m very nocturnal. Translation: by the time I went to bed around 2 AM, I’d read 81% of this novel.

The Light Fantastic is the sequel to Lang’s own Immortal Coil, which, I confess, left me conflicted when I first read it. The adult part of me, the part that is an improviser and a writer, really liked it, though I felt that Data and Rhea’s relationship was both too fast, and not believable (this despite the fact that I liked Rhea as a character). The part of me that was 16 or 17 when TNG premiered on TV and crushed on Data had other issues, but adult-me was able to ignore them.

But then David Mack gave us is Cold Equations trilogy, and those expanded upon Data 2.0’s mindset and choices, and gave us better insight into the Fellowship of AI, and left a door open for more with this beloved character.

And now Lang has wrapped up a truly amazing arc. We get to find out how Data’s been spending the last two years of his life. We get a glimpse into his life with the newly restored Lal, his daughter, who is in the midst of the android equivalent of adolescence, and then she’s abducted – by Moriarty – yes, the hologram – and we’re thrown into a story that is both a mystery and a story about what it means to grow up, grow old, raise children, and explore one’s identity.

Data as a father is both hilarious and heartbreaking – especially as he’s still acclimating to his new body and his permanently engaged emotions.
Lal as a teenager is also hilarious, and frustrating, and it gave me new respect for the way my own mother must’ve felt when I was a teenager myself.

Geordi, of course, is along for the ride, because no Sherlock can be without his Watson, and along the way we are introduced to a few favorite characters from both TNG and TOS.

Overall, The Light Fantastic is a truly satisfying read, and if Data doesn’t sound exactly the way we’re accustomed to him sounding, well, he himself states in the novel that he isn’t entirely certain how much of him is HIM, and how much is leftover Noonian Soong.

The tag, of course, teases a new mystery, and I have no idea if that will pan out, or if the soft canon of the novels will eventually merge with the soft canon of the STO game and the Countdown to Trek 2009 (in which Data was Captain of the Enterprise), but if it doesn’t, I would totally buy a series of intergalactic mysteries featuring Data and LaForge.

Goes well with French-pressed coffee and a chocolate croissant.

Mini-Review: Star Trek: The Fall, by multiple authors

About the Series: Star Trek: The Fall

  1. Revelation and Dust, by David R. George, III

    The Fall: Revelation and Dust


    After the destruction of the original space station by a rogue faction of the Typhon Pact, Miles O’Brien and Nog have led the Starfleet Corps of Engineers in designing and constructing a larger, more advanced starbase in the Bajoran system. Now, as familiar faces such as Benjamin Sisko, Kasidy Yates, Ezri Dax, Odo, and Quark arrive at the new station, Captain Ro Laren will host various heads of state at an impressive dedication ceremony. The dignitaries include not only the leaders of allies—such as Klingon Chancellor Martok, Ferengi Grand Nagus Rom, the Cardassian castellan, and the Bajoran first minister—but also those of rival powers, such as the Romulan praetor and the Gorn imperator. But as Ro’s crew prepares to open DS9 to the entire Bajor Sector and beyond, disaster looms. A faction has already set in action a shocking plan that, if successful, will shake the Alpha and Beta Quadrants to the core.

    And what of Kira Nerys, lost aboard a runabout when the Bajoran wormhole collapsed? In the two years that have passed during construction of the new Deep Space 9, there have been no indica­tions that the Celestial Temple, the Prophets, or Kira have sur­vived. But since Ben Sisko once learned that the wormhole aliens exist nonlinearly in time, what does that mean with respect to their fate, or that of the wormhole . . . or of Kira herself?

  2. The Crimson Shadow, by Una McCormack

    The Fall: The Crimson Shadow

    Cardassia Prime is home to a prideful people who, for centuries, forged alliances with those they believed would strengthen them and their place in the Alpha Quadrant, and expanded their empire at great cost to other worlds. For generations, dissenting voices were silenced by either fear or an early grave. When their wartime ally, the Dominion, suddenly turned on them, seeking to transform Cardassia into a tomb for every last member of their race, their old adversary—the United Federation of Planets— put an end to the carnage, and even now works to help rebuild Cardassia Prime.

    To celebrate this alliance, the Castellan of the Cardassian Union is to welcome the Federation president to Cardassia Prime. As a symbol of this deepening friendship, the U.S.S. Enterprise-E is tasked to carry the Cardassian ambassador to the Federation back home. For his part, Ambassador Elim Garak is working with Captain Jean-Luc Picard to oversee the diplomatic reception that will commemorate the last of Starfleet’s personnel finally leaving the homeworld. However, there are malevolent forces at work, who even now strive to “restore Cardassia to its proper place and glory,” and are willing to do anything to achieve their goal….

  3. A Ceremony of Losses, by David Mack

    The Fall: A Ceremony of Losses


    Despite heroic efforts by Thirishar ch’Thane, the Andorian species is headed for extinction. Its slow march toward oblivion has reached a tipping point, one from which there will be no hope of return.


    With countless lives at stake, the leaders of Andor, the Federation, and the Typhon Pact all scheme to twist the crisis to their political gain—at any price.


    Unwilling to be a mere bystander to tragedy, Doctor Julian Bashir risks everything to find a cure for the Andorians. But his courage will come at a terrible cost: his career, his freedom . . . and maybe his life.

  4. The Poisoned Chalice, by James Swallow

    The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice

    One simple act, and the troubles of the United Federation of Planets have grown darker overnight. The mystery behind the heinous terrorist attack that has rocked the Federation to its core grows ever deeper, and William Riker finds himself beset by rumors and half-truths as the U.S.S. Titan is ordered back to Earth on emergency orders from the admiralty. Soon, Riker finds himself drawn into a game of political intrigue, bearing witness to members of Starfleet being detained—including people he considered friends—pending an investigation at the highest levels. And while Riker tries to navigate the corridors of power, Titan’s tactical officer, Tuvok, is given a series of clandestine orders that lead him into a gray world of secrets, lies, and deniable operations. Who can be trusted when the law falls silent and justice becomes a quest for revenge? For the crew of the U.S.S. Titan, the search for answers will become a battle for every ideal the Federation stands for. . . .

  5. Peaceable Kingdoms, by Dayton Ward

    The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms

    Following the resolution of the fertility crisis that nearly caused their extinction, the Andorian people now stand ready to rejoin the United Federation of Planets. The return of one of its founding member worlds is viewed by many as the first hopeful step beyond the uncertainty and tragedy that have overshadowed recent events in the Alpha Quadrant. But as the Federation looks to the future and the special election to name President Bacco’s permanent successor, time is running out to apprehend those responsible for the respected leader’s brutal assassination. Even as elements of the Typhon Pact are implicated for the murder, Admiral William Riker holds key knowledge of the true assassins— a revelation that could threaten the fragile Federation-Cardassian alliance.

    Questions and concerns also continue to swell around Bacco’s interim successor, Ishan Anjar, who uses the recent bloodshed to further a belligerent, hawkish political agenda against the Typhon Pact. With the election looming, Riker dispatches his closest friend, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, in a desperate attempt to uncover the truth. But as Picard and the Enterprise crew pursue the few remaining clues, Riker must act on growing suspicions that someone within Ishan’s inner circle has been in league with the assassins from the very beginning . . . .

My Thoughts

This is a mini-series that spans the Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine tie-in novel series. The bulk of the series takes place in the 2380s – years after Star Trek: Nemesis, years before Star Trek Online‘s resurrection of Data (or, for that matter, his alternate resurrection in the tie-in novels). It’s after the Dominion War, after and during the Typhon Pact series, and is comprised of five novels, each by a different author:

  1. Revelation and Dust, by David R. George, III
  2. The Crimson Shadow, by Una McCormack
  3. A Ceremony of Losses, by David Mack
  4. The Poisoned Chalice, by James Swallow
  5. Peaceable Kingdoms, by Dayton Ward

What I love about contemporary Star Trek novels is that they expand the scope of the Federation to include much more than just Starfleet. We get to see how the different worlds of the Federation exist as compared to Earth, get a glimpse at the politics behind it all, get to meet characters who aren’t zipping around the galaxy in nifty starships all the time.

But, we also get to see how the lives of our favorite, familiar faces have changed. We see Picard as a husband and father. We see Worf as the first officer of the Enterprise, and in this mini-series, we see Will Riker being promoted to Admiral, and get to spend some time with Captain Ezri Dax. We see Bashir (and Pulaski) flouting security orders for the greater good, and we see Garak as a politician.

I said it, years ago, when I read Keith DeCandido’s Articles of the Federation: I would totally watch a series that was a sort of “West Wing in the Future” mixed with the more typical Trek stories, even if the episodes were half & half (think Law & Order). These books are the next best thing.

Because they’re all one story, told in five volumes, it’s difficult to separate plot elements. The president of the Federation is assassinated just as the Federation is beginning to pull out of Cardassia. The Andorians are suffering a health crisis on a genetic level, and the new Bajoran president pro tempore has his own, somewhat mysterious, agenda.

This series is political intrigue at it’s finest dressed in Starfleet colors, and it’s thoroughly engaging and entertaining.

Buy the books from Amazon:

Revelation and Dust | The Crimson Shadow | A Ceremony of Losses | The Poisoned Chalice | Peaceable Kingdoms

Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Dark Mirror, by Diane Duane

My Thoughts

Thanks to the Amazon class action suit about ebook price fixing, and a lovely $60 payout, I’m catching up on many, many Star Trek novels that I missed during the years when I wasn’t reading them for whatever reason.

One such acquisition was the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Dark Mirror, by Diane Duane. It’s TNG’s chance to experience the “mirror universe” we got to see on-screen in both TOS and DS9, and, as I expected it to be, it was well written, with a few moments that really delighted me.

One was the introduction of the dolphin, Hwiii, a hyperstring researcher who ‘swims’ through the ship in a sort of water skin. Another was when Data, meeting Hwiii, tilts his head for a moment and then ‘speaks dolphin,’ because, of course he does.

I liked that Geordi and Deanna were the initial away team to the mirror Enterprise, and that they both got to use the knowledge they gleaned both from study and experience. Some of my favorite episodes were when Troi actually got to be a psychologist, and in this novel, she uses that training as much as she uses her innate empathetic abilities.

Similarly, Geordi’s incredible depth of knowledge is highlighted in this book, as he works, sometimes with colleagues, and sometimes alone, to figure out a way to save, not just the ship, but the universe itself.

I’m not sure when this was originally written but it felt like early TNG-fic. Data is very ‘sciency’ but doesn’t have as much depth as he does in later novels – even in later pre-emotion-chip ones. It’s obviously before the contemporary push for continuity within the novels, but it’s still an entertaining read.

Trek fiction is my crack. This was a delightful fix.

Goes well with Sashimi and tempura and Kirin beer.

Review: STTNG: Cold Equations #3 – The Body Electric

Star Trek the Next Generation: Cold Equations – The Body Electric
by David Mack

Product Description (from

A planet-sized Machine of terrifying power and unfathomable purpose hurls entire star systems into a supermassive black hole. Wesley Crusher, now a full-fledged Traveler, knows the Machine must be stopped . . . but he has no idea how.

Wesley must enlist the aid of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew, who also fail to halt the unstoppable alien juggernaut’s destructive labors. But they soon divine the Machine’s true purpose—-a purpose that threatens to exterminate all life in the Milky Way Galaxy. With time running out, Picard realizes he knows of only one person who might be able to stop the Machine in time to avert a galactic catastrophe—-if only he had any idea how to find him. . . .

My Thoughts:
The conclusion of David Mack’s Cold Equations trilogy was sort of TNG meets Doomsday Machine with Androids on the Side and a serious callback to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Humanesque!Data, still searching for a way to resurrect Lal, tracks down a splinter group of the group of Artificial Intelligence coalition and has to choose between the guy we originally knew as Flint and the android girlfriend who is “the only woman he ever loved” while saving the universe from a planet-eating monster-machine.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the return of Data, even if Mr. Mack did choose a book I disliked as his jumping-off point, but his whole relationship seemed so contrived, and Data as he is presented in this book seems so over-the-top with the melodrama that I had a hard time willfully suspending enough disbelief to truly enjoy this last entry in the trilogy.

On the one hand, Mack’s story was a good story, but on the other hand, I just couldn’t get invested in the new characters, which was my problem with the trilogy as a whole.

In fact, I find myself more interested in the story of rainbow-haired Ensign Scagliotti (so obviously an homage to the actress from Warehouse 13 than in Data, Flint, or the AIs.

And yet, if I hadn’t read this trilogy, I’d have missed the return of a beloved character, and I do agree with the choice to have Data NOT return to active duty.

So, overall? Glad I read these books, but kind of wanted something more satisfying.

Goes well with…lemon meringue pie…doesn’t everything?

Review: Star Trek the Next Generation: Cold Equations #2: Silent Weapons, by David Mack

Star Trek the Next Generation: Cold Equations #2: Silent Weapons
David Mack

Product Description (from
The second book in a new trilogy by the national bestselling author of Star Trek: Destiny!

Three years after the disastrous final Borg Invasion, a bitter cold war against the Typhon Pact has pushed Starfleet’s resources to the breaking point. Now the rise of a dangerous new technology threatens to destroy the Federation from within. Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew answer a distress call, only to become targets in a deadly game of deception. To protect a vital diplomatic mission, they must find a way to identify the spies hiding in their midst, before it’s too late. But Worf soon realizes the crew’s every move has been predicted: Someone is using them as pawns. And the closer they get to exposing their enemy, the deeper they spiral into its trap….

My Thoughts:
I don’t know how often the second book in a trilogy is stronger than the first. Certainly it’s more likely that second books (like second movies) suffer from “middle of the story” syndrome. In the case of David Mack’s STTNG series Cold Equations, however, did not have that problem in any form. Instead, it’s a rollicking adventure that mixes politics and action in a really satisfying blend of plot and character.

I love that the Orions, whom we are used to seeing mainly as slavers and generally disreputable types are also the galaxy’s strongest defenders of personal privacy (reading this in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook, CT, school shootings was rather eerie), and have the only security system strong enough to host a meeting that involves not just the Federation President, but the leaders of at least one of the factions involved in the Typhon Pact.

As well, I like that this novel acknowledged the Typhon Pact series, which spans all of the modern era Trek series and also combines political intrigue with really lovely action, whether it’s on land or sea, or in space.

Is Data’s presence a bit contrived? Maybe a bit, but after all, the trilogy is about his return, so it would be weird for him to NOT be in the novel. Still, his new appearance and abilities are used well, and this new FullyEmotional!Data is one I wish we could get to know a bit better in a slower, gentler story…just so that we (well, I) are a bit more invested in THIS incarnation of the character.

Goes well with: espresso con panna and cinnamon rolls.

Review: Star Trek the Next Generation: Cold Equations #1 – The Persistence of Memory, by David Mack

Star Trek the Next Generation: Cold Equations #1 – The Persistence of Memory
David Mack

Product Description (from
A BRAZEN HEIST Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew race to find out who has stolen Data’s android brother B-4—and for what sinister purpose.

A BROKEN PROMISE One desperate father risks all for the son he abandoned forty years ago—but is he ready to pay the price for redemption?

A DARING MISSION Against overwhelming odds, and with time running out, Commander Worf has only one chance to avert a disaster. But how high a price will he pay for victory?

My Thoughts:
By now, more than ten years after his on-screen death in Star Trek: Nemesis, fans have accepted that we’re unlikely to see Brent Spiner portray Data ever again. Nevertheless, the character has a couple of different resurrection stories, one that bridges the alternate timeline established by the 2009 film Star Trek (which film, I might add, made me love Captain Kirk again), using the Star Trek Online RPG (and tie-in novel) and the Countdown comics to bring the character back, looking essentially like the Data we know and love.

With this, part one of David Mack’s new STTNG trilogy, the android is back in a different way, though both involve the copy of the Data-matrix that was uploaded into B-4 in that last NextGen movie. While this novel explains how that happens – and why – a healthy chunk of it is really the story of Data’s “father,” Noonien Soong, told in first person, and spanning the time from before the android’s creation, to what happened after Soong’s supposed death in the episode “Brothers.”

In truth, I had to force myself to read those chunks, not because Mack is a bad writer (he’s actually pretty amazing) but because I’m just not all that interested in Soong. As well, I gathered fairly early on that these books were an indirect sequel to Jeffrey Lang’s offering from 2002, Immortal Coil, which, some of you may remember, didn’t impress me much. (I actually stopped reading this book to re-read that book, and found that I liked it a little more upon a third reading.)

Still, the Soong story informs the rest of the novel, and sets up a lot of information that the reader needs to have.

And ultimately, it paid off. I mean, yes, I would rather have had more time with Picard, et al, but Mack’s writing is so good that he made characters I’d never really cared much about sing on the page, while managing to stay essentially true to both TNG and TOS canon, and Mack’s version of Data (yes, this is a spoiler, of sorts, but did anyone look at the cover art and NOT expect him to be somehow resurrected?) feels credible. I would buy his dialogue coming from Brent Spiner’s lips.

Bottom line: If you haven’t read Jeffrey Lang’s Immortal Coil, do so before this, and now that the two remaining parts of the trilogy are also available, buy all three and read them in order, back-to-back-to-back. You’ll be glad you did.

Goes well with: Iced tea. And trail mix. Lots of trail mix. The kind with m&ms in it.

Retro-reading: STTNG: A Time To…

It’s no secret that I revel in escapist reading from time to time. Between January of this year, and the beginning of July, I’ve been re-reading the Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Time To… series, a collection of nine novels, the first eight of which are in pairs, that span the time between the last two Next Gen movies (Insurrection and Nemesis).

The specific novels are:
STTNG: A Time to be Born, by John Vorholt
STTNG: A Time to Die, by John Vorholt
STTNG: A Time to Sow, by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
STTNG: A Time to Harvest, by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
STTNG: A Time to Love, by Robert Greenberger
STTNG: A Time to Hate, by Robert Greenberger
STTNG: A Time to Kill, by David Mack
STTNG: A Time to Heal, by David Mack
STTNG: A Time for War, A Time for Peace, by Keith R.A. DeCandido

You can read them individually, I suppose but they’re better savored as a whole collection, and while each of them have great moments, together they give a really plausible picture of how Starfleet reacted to the events of First Contact and Insurrection, explain why Data says in Nemesis that he has no feelings after two and a half films worth of emotion chip issues, and set-up the wedding of Will Riker and Deanna Troi, and their move to the U.S.S. Titan.

It’s no secret that I’m a great fan of Keith DeCandido’s work, so it should come as no surprise that his book, the last in the series, is my favorite. His take on the canon characters is always spot-on, but he also adds a political background – think “The West Wing in Space” – that I maintain would be an awesome series in and of itself (he revists the political aspect of the United Federation of Planets in a subsequent novel, Articles of the Federation).

Star Trek novels are my comfort-books, and I often read them when my day job has me so exhausted that I don’t have the brain power for reading deeper fiction, or writing my own stuff. There’s a ten-year span of TrekFic that I think of as the “DeCandido Years” where continuity was followed and all of the writers used some of the same original characters. These are, in my opinion, the best of the genre, and the A Time To… books are the best of the era.

Star Trek Fiction Roundup

During October, when I wasn’t reading mysteries, I was reading Star Trek novels, because they’re quick and fun, and after writing all day I don’t always have enough brain power to read in unfamiliar worlds. Besides, just because something is a tv-tie-in doesn’t make it bad writing. The Pocket Books Star Trek fiction has let beloved characters expand beyond the limits of episodic television in wonderful and surprising ways.

So which ones did I read in October, 2011?

Some Assembly Required

I finished Some Assembly Required, the 3rd Starfleet Corps of Engineers Omnibus, which was, as always, really interesting. The SCE books were all ebooks originally, and reading them in clumps of a few seems to work incredibly well. I was a little concerned, when I first began to explore the series, that I wouldn’t like a tie-in that only had one (really) canon character, but these new additions to the Trekiverse are as three-dimensional as any that have ever graced our screens.

Maximum Warp: Book One

I also read Maximum Warp books one and two, which take place between First Contact and Nemesis, and involve dead zones in space, an uneasy trade agreement with the Romulans, and the return of Ambassador Spock. The dead zones are a great invention, as they create jeopardy without having to leave the ship, and have no real target. What was eerie was watching them affect Data, and seeing him described as “weak” and “tired” – words not usually associated with an android character.

Maximum Warp: Book Two

Book one, by necessity had a lot of the exposition, and setup, while book two had more of the political intrigue and action, but the pair of them kept me interested for two or three days (I read them during the work week, so it took me longer), and I was happy with my latest escape to the future.

These all go well with tomato soup and grilled cheese, or a toasted bagel and clam chowder.