Review: STTNG: A Sea of Troubles

A Sea of Troubles
STTNG: A Sea of Troubles
J. Steven York & Christina F. York
Simon & Schuster Digital, 200 KB
October, 2007
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Description (from
A new six-part epic covering the first year of service of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E, leading up to the events of the hit movie Star Trek: First Contact.

The U.S.S. Enterprise-E has launched, with Captain Jean-Luc Picard in command. In addition to many familiar faces, the new ship also has some new crew members — among them, conn officer Sean Hawk and security chief Linda Addison.

But soon Picard is devastated to learn that there’s a saboteur on board — in the form of a changeling infiltrator from the Dominion! Picard and his crew must learn who the changeling replaced and stop it before it destroys the fleet’s finest ship…

Late last year, I read book three in this six-part Star Trek: The Next Generation series “Slings and Arrows” because sometimes I want the comfort of familiar characters having new adventures. I was not disappointed. So when I bought books one and two at the beginning of the year, I expected to be equally pleased. The thing is, sometimes you forget that buying books is not like buying custom laptops. Sometimes books are different than what you expect. This book was.

I was expecting plot. I was expecting political machinations. I was not expecting the level of darkness and intrigue that was evident in this novel, and frankly, I thought the Dominion storyline was overdone in TNG and DS9, as it was. Odd, I know, considering that I’ve really enjoyed it when OTHER TNG novels have departed from the sanitized fluffy view of the future that Star Trek tends to be.

What I am enjoying in this book, and in the second one, which I’ll talk about another day, is Data’s ongoing process of learning to deal with his new emotions. I never felt that this was ever handled well in the movies, and I like that he isn’t just perfectly assimilating all those feelings.

Bottom line: Not a bad e-read, but not all I hoped.

Goes well with: hot chocolate and butter cookies.

Review: STTNG: Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment

ST:TNG Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment
Keith R. A. DeCandido
Simon and Schuster, 320 pages
March, 2008
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Product Description (from Amazon):
A new Federation President has been elected, and his first order of business is to attempt to restore the alliance with the Klingon Empire. To that end, he sends Captain Picard to Deep Space 9, in the hopes that Picard’s relationship with Chancellor Gowron might lead to a normalization of relations.

At first, things go well, as Gowron agrees to meet with Picard and Captain Sisko of DS9 on a neutral planet — but when their runabout is shot down, it’s up to Commanders Worf and Data to find out the truth before their captains are killed!

I hadn’t read a new Star Trek book in a while but I always enjoy Keith DeCandido’s additions to the franchise, and I’d been wanting something that took place post-series but pre-Nemesis, that all my favorite characters. I wasn’t disappointed at all – even though some of those characters were off-screen, their presence was still felt, and while this was essentially a DS9 crossover, it was a legitimate one. Picard and Sisko must team up to fix the Federation-Klingon Empire alliance (I maintain that the best way to lose weight fast is to try and out-fox the Klingons) and of course Data and Worf, working from the Enterprise and the Defiant have to help.

The thing about Star Trek novels is that they’re best when they expand the Trekiverse, giving us glimpses of parts of future life that the shows don’t. This novel was a bit short on that, but still a satisfying read.

Goes well with tea, Earl Grey, hot.

Retro-reading: Star Trek: Traitor Winds, by L. A. Graf

Star Trek: Traitor Winds

Star Trek: Traitor Winds
by L. A. Graf

A few weeks ago, I was desperate for some escapist comfort reading. You might think that reading half of everything Elin Hilderbrand had ever written would count as comfort reading, but it doesn’t. Hilderbrand’s Nantucket novels are beach reading. I wanted something light, familiar, and completely unrelated to my real life. I wanted comfort reading. As I often do – and have no problem admitting – I immersed myself in a Star Trek novel. Since I was also feeling nostalgic, I re-read a classic Star Trek novel, from when they were still being numbered: Traitor Winds by L. A. Graf

This is TOS Trek, not Trek 2009, and it takes place between the TV series and the first movie. Newly promoted Admiral Kirk is stuck behind a desk in San Francisco, Sulu is testing stealth shuttles in New Mexico, McCoy is practicing country medicine (when he has to) in Georgia, and Uhura is leading a communications seminar, teaching at Starfleet Academy, and Scotty is overseeing the refit of the Enterprise. And Chekov? Well, he was turned down for command school because he was too young, and chose to enter security school in Annapolis, instead.

During one of their regular get-togethers for dinner, McCoy suggests that Chekov contact a friend of his who is doing a study of disruptor damage in order to develop treatment. Despite taking flak for it from a more senior student at the Security School, Chekov gets the gig, and winds up involved in a murder investigation, and running for his life, hiding, at one point, among the wild ponies on Assateague Island (apparently Graf grew up reading the Misty books, too).

It’s a novel that takes place in winter, mostly in really cold places, and more than once I wished I was reading it while curled in front of the fire in a cozy chalet filled with log furniture, instead of while curled up in a deck chair by the pool (I know, I should complain, right?), but it was nice revisiting characters I grew up with, in a familiar setting with a twist, and I enjoyed re-reading it immensely.

Star Trek: Exodus by Josepha Sherman & Susan Schwartz

Star Trek Exodus
Star Trek: Exodus Book One of the Vulcan’s Soul trilogy
by Josepha Sherman & Susan Schwartz
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Fans of Star Trek have always wondered exactly what it was like when a significant number of Vulcans packed up their belongings like so much Delsey luggage, and moved away to eventually become Romulans. In this trilogy, we find out.

It’s a story that runs in two timelines at once. The first takes place in the days of Surak, and shows us the acts that led up to and caused the Sundering, and the second shows us Spock, Saavik, Uhura, and Chekov rushing off with cooperation from modern Romulans to face down a little known enemy called the Watraii, who are as obscure as they are dangerous.

Both story lines have a mix of action sequences and character sections, which allow us not only to catch up the the characters we know, but also grow to like the original characters we meet.

A further review will be posted when I finish reading the trilogy.

Goes well with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and ice cold milk.

STTNG: Immortal Coil by Jeffrey Lang

by: Jeffry Lang
published by: Pocket Books
published: February 2002

* * * * *

I originally read Immortal Coil in eBook format on my laptop, sometime last year (I think), but somehow that format just doesn’t do it for me, so when I saw a copy of the actual paperback at Half Price Books, I had to grab it. After all, it’s an EmotionChip!Data story, and there aren’t many of those outside of fanfic.

While I’m not old enough to have watched the ORIGINAL Star Trek in first run, the re-runs were the only show that was allowed to routinely break the “no television before 5 PM” rule in my house, and since my mother was anti-television, I used to watch them on our old black-and-white after school when I was nine and ten. As I write this, I am suddenly remembering an add for a convention in 1979 or 80, in Denver. I was too young, at the time, to know what a con was, or I’m sure I’d have pestered my mother to take me.

I mention this because while, on the surface, this is a TNG story, Immortal Coil is also a sort of quasi-sequel to the TOS episodes “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” and “Requiem for Methuselah,” and while familiarity with them is not totally required in order to enjoy this story, it definitely helps. A lot.

This novel is all about android rights and the definition of sentience, and, more specifically, the distinction between artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness. It opens with Data returning to the Enterprise with the body of his deceased “mother,” Julianna Tainer, whom we know to be an android. He is dealing with overwhelming emotions, and Picard’s suggestion that turning off the chip would be a bad idea, when a call is received from Admiral Haftel – there’s been an issue at Galor IV, and the ship, and specifically Data, are needed.

What follows is part murder mystery (who tried to kill Maddox, who caused the disappearance of another, legendary and somewhat hermit-ish, cyberneticist?) and part romance (new Enterprise security officer Rhea McAdams has the hots for our Mr. Data, it seems) with a good bit of space epic thrown in.

At times cheesy, at other times sweet, it’s a satisfying romp through the Trekiverse, which wraps up several loose ends in Data’s life.

The first time I read this, I went into it with some skepticism, because a Data romance is a very tricky thing – fanfic authors I respect have argued that he cannot have a plausible relationship. I disagree, but as much as I enjoyed this book for entertainment value, I find that the relationship between Rhea and Data was contrived, and the way Data was written didn’t…fee right.

Goes well with a glass of milk and thin mint cookies.

Tales from the Captain’s Table

edited by Keith R. A. DeCandido

Easing back into the SEO world of cpm and cpa, and various other acronyms, after ten days of beachy bliss was difficult, so I did what every avid reader does: I bought some comfort books. One of these was a Star Trek book: Tales from the Captain’s Table. It’s a collection of short stories from various ship captains in the Trek-verse – Picard, Riker, Demora Sulu, and others, and they’re tied together by the fact that they’re all told in the Captain’s Table, a special bar with entrances from many worlds, where only ship captains are welcome.

Cap, the bartender, is glimpsed in small interludes, and the bar itself reforms to the specifications of whatever a given patron expects. I like storytelling, and I like the concept of the neighborhood cafe / bar / pub, so this book appeals to me on many levels.

While I don’t always like short stories, in this format, they’re the logical choice.

After reading this book, I felt much more at home inside my head.


Star Trek: The Next Generation - Q & A

by Keith R. A. DeCandido

The thing about Star Trek novels, for me, is that they’re sort of like Caribbean cruises: you get a taste of the exotic, but you do so from a safe, comfortable environment.

Keith R. A. DeCandido’s Q & A, his latest addition to the Star Trek: the Next Generation collection is no exception. In fact, it’s like the part of the cruise that involves fruity drinks with cute umbrellas and dancing into the night, and that, really, is how it should be.

In this novel, we see a different side of Q, the part that actually has a purpose, and a motivation beyond just having fun – though fun is never ignored if it comes up – but we also get to have some emotional closure for the loss of Data in Nemesis, as Geordi warms to the woman who has his friend’s old job, and some story swapping and healthy reminiscing goes on. We have Picard and Beverly Crusher in an actual, healthy relationship, and we have the usual saving the universe story, and all that is wonderful.

But then DeCandido transcends wonderful, by mixing in references not just to every single appearance by Q in the television canon – EVER – but also by relating the plot to key moments from the show that many of us would never have expected.

If you’re any kind of fan, you’ll appreciate the in-jokes. If you’re not, you’ll still enjoy the story. Either way, for a good time, read Star Trek the Next Generation: Q & A as soon as you can.

STT: Taking Wing

Titan, Book One : Taking Wing (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels

Opening very soon after the end of Star Trek: Nemesis, this novel is the first in a subseries of Pocket’s Star Trek: The Next Generation series, and is set in the first mission of the U.S.S. Titan, under the command of William T. Riker.

It includes a mix of characters from TNG, DS9 and Voyager, as well as some familiar faces from the A Time To… series, and was surprisingly interesting, though it was difficult to read a novel with TNG characters that didn’t include Picard or Data.

Definitely worth reading.

STTNG: Immortal Coil

Star Trek: The Next Generation #64:  Immortal Coil

Jeffrey Lang

I bought the eBook version of this because I was desperate for instant-gratification in the form of mind-candy, and Trek books always qualify. This one is the only novel that features EmotionChip!Data, and it’s also the only full-fledged Data-romance.

A fanfic author I respect once said that she didn’t think it was possible to write a credible romance for Data. I disagreed at the time, but after reading this, and finding that many of the scenarios were more than a bit contrived, I’ve changed my mind.

Still, it was enjoyable, in a guilty-pleasure sort of way.

STTNG: A Time for War, A Time for Peace

A Time for War, A Time for Peace (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Keith R. A. DeCandido

* * * * *

This last installment in the A Time To… series is my favorite. Not only does it wrap up all the lose ends in the series itself, but it also ties in nicely with Nemesis.

Even better, it shows us that the Federation isn’t limited to Starfleet, by showing us the politics of the presidency.

To describe the plot would be to spoil it – just go read it.