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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-26 14:01
Star Trek: S. C. E.: #25 Home Fires by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Star Trek S.C.E. #25 - Dayton Ward,Kevin Dilmore,Ward Dayton

This is the first of the Wildfire-aftermath stories. It features Corsi, who along with Stevens, returns home and learns why her father has always been so biased against her joining Starfleet - because during the Cardassian war, Starfleet asked to install sensor equipment on his ship to spy on the Cardassians... What should have been a run of the mill-trade run turned into a standoff with Cardassians, and his brother, Corsi's uncle, had to pay for it.


This story deals with guilt, regret and prejudice (and of course, stupid mistakes which lead to tragedy). In the small-universe-syndrom one of the Starfleet operatives Aldo Corsi had to deal back then, was William Ross.


Corsi is doubting herself, because, while she was incapacitated, lots of her staff died on the daVinci, and Duffy had to make the ultimate sacrifice; and of course, Stevens just grieves for his best friend. Frankly, I'd have liked to see the focus more on Stevens instead of on Corsi, because I'd rather have seen a best friend deal with his very personal grief than stuck up, duty-bound Corsi deal with her professional regrets. I'm not saying that Corsi's grief doesn't come across as very real (and the background story about her father and uncle did touch me), but given the often stated relationship between Duffy and Stevens as best friends I think that not exploring that angle a wasted opportunity. There should have been more, even clichéd tears, whatever, but not just Stevens as a sidenote to shed some light on Corsi... especially not in this "aftermath"-situation.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-01-01 13:39
Star Trek: S. C. E.: #19 Foundations, Part 3 by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Foundations, Part 3 - Dayton Ward

This is definitely the best part of the Foundations-trilogy which sheds light why the SCE-teams also contain cultural specialists, linguists etc.


Scotty again remininsces about a past mission where the SCE-team was confronted with a sudden first contact situation which easily could have gone wrong and got not only the team killed but also turned an alien species into an enemy of the Federation.


A much more straight-forward story without too much technobabble and repetitions. Just hope there'll be other stories with Mahmud al-Khaleed - and I hope the next parts will refocus on the crew of the da Vinci.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-10-21 00:12
Star Trek: S. C. E.: #18 Foundations, Part 2 by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Foundations, Part 2 - Dayton Ward,Kevin Dilmore

It took me about a year to finally finish this story - it's not a bad story, as it deals again with the crew of the Lovell and depicts the aftermath of the shut-down of the computer Landru, framed by a similar situation faced by the da Vinci's crew... but honestly, I found the prose difficult to connect with. I don't need endless repetitions in a 100 pages story. Things aren't quite so complicated that I can't grasp them the first time around. And I'm still waiting for some fleshing out of main characters - what does it say that al-Khaled is better portrayed than most of the protagonists (which saves this part its second star, mind you)? Granted, he had a good stint in Vanguard, and I absolutely liked him and his crew there, on the other hand, the da Vinci now had 18 short-stories and they are nowhere near any kind of complex characterization.


Just the thought of Wildfire, which is said to be a turning point within the series, is keeping me going right now.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-02-28 14:42
Star Trek: Seekers: #4 All that's left by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Seekers: All That's Left (Star Trek: The Original Series) - Dayton Ward,Kevin Dilmore

This book had an interesting premise - but unfortunately couldn't deliver because the focus was spent on fight scenes rather than working on resolving the situation. Which is a real shame.


Anyway, the Endeavour is called to a colony which is attacked by an alien ship. After seemingly disarming the ship an away party is dispatched to learn more. But instead of the empty ship they expect the away team stumble across an unknown species which returned to this planet after being driven off in the distant past to recover the remnants of their host species, who live cloaked in subterranean caves, in order to survive... and who now discovers the Endeavour's crew as a means to gain even more hosts.


When I read about the depiction of this alien species who attaches to the host's neck I immediately thought of Babylon 5 and the parasite in Londo. And even if the Lrondi's motives are basically ones of survival and cooperation, they don't ask, they just take hosts and influence them by either taking over the physical reactions entirely or at least inducing negative feelings when the host doesn't agree with the parasite - and also in the other direction force the hosts to see things their way, to tolerate and accept the collection by inducing good feelings - like a drug, I guess. Granted, their aims beyond collecting hosts are benevolent, they try to advance their host species' knowledge. So it's not that they just use their hosts' bodies... still when push comes to shove and they are forced to choose between their own good and that of their hosts, they'll choose their own. It's not equal partnership, it's just that the hosts are allowed to have some say as long as it fits with the Lrondi's agenda.


More than 2 thirds of this book are spent on thwarting the Lrondi's attempts at collecting the Starfleet personnel. On every other page officers's interal struggle of compassion for their captors and the struggle for freedom is depicted. But actually, I just don't get it. Because even those who could be liberated from the Lrondi still feel compassion, they still liked those parasites. Take Cole for example who still argues for the Lrondi Naqa, who actually still puts Naqa's well-being before Klisiewicz's, Naqa's current host. And I think the real story doesn't end with thwarting the attempt, it starts with the aftermath, getting over the collection for the hosts, essentially being violated, taken against your will and manipulated into feeling compassion for the Lrondi, but also trying to find a way for the Lrondi to survive, be it without hosts (which they are capable of) or with willing partners in an equal relationship.


In short, I feel cheated out of a good, potentially great story about overcoming oppression (even benevolent domination is still oppression) and reaching a mutually agreeable status quo between the Pelopans and the Lrondi. Instead I had to wade through length of repetitive story-telling that held virtually no suspense - because let's be honest, since we haven't heard from the Lrondi before, it's a given that they failed in their attempt to "collect" the galaxy in a large scale.


From a series point of view, I still by far prefer the Endeavour to the Sagittarius, but I really hope the whole series picks up speed because so far, it's been at most average.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-01-25 12:12
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Sky's the Limit by various
The Sky's the Limit - Marco Palmieri,Christopher L. Bennett,Greg Cox,Keith R.A. DeCandido,Kevin Dilmore,David A. McIntee,Steve Mollmann,Susan Shwartz,James Swallow,Geoff Trowbridge,Dayton Ward,Richard C. White,Thomas F. Zahler,Bob Ingersoll,Scott Pearson,Amy Sisson,Michael Sc

This is an anthology of stories set within the various seasons of TNG and the movies. Overall a good reading experience, even if the quality of the stories differs.

I read the framing stories, Meet with Triumph and Disaster/Trust Yourself When All Men Doubt by Schuster & Mollmann, as one story - I didn't quite know what to make of the first story until I read the conclusion, got the hint about Tapestry and of course Wolf 359. It's still not one of my favourite stories but it ultimately worked well enough for me.

Acts of Compassion by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore is a good story, but unfortunately not the extraordinary one I'd have liked to read. Maybe it was just too straightforward, no twists in loyalties, no surprises... but it was nice to "see" Tasha once again.

Redshift by Richard C. White is an average story - the downside is that Pulaski's mannerisms were a bit over the top for my taste. At least she got some slap on the wrist until, of course, her ideas about the drills save the day... but throughout season 2 she was the odd one out, she just didn't fit in - and this story does nothing to remedy or explain that fact.

Among the Clouds by Scott Pearson absolutely reminded me of the Temeraire books, the living ships, the aerial battles - a very interesting premise, superbly executed, a definitely fitting contribution to a TNG-anthology.

Thinking of You by Greg Cox... Well, at first I thought "Urgh, Lwaxana *and* Barclay?!?" I never cared too much for either character but Cox managed to play on all the eccentricities of both characters, the duo just works, and add Ro to the mix - and set the whole thing on a holodeck with frogs as opponents, lots of bugs etc, stir well and you get a real page turner. Definitely one of my favourites here.

I also enjoyed Turncoats (by Susan Schwartz) quite much although I have to admit that I quite forgot all the Romulan characters Schwartz and Sherman introduced in their Vulcan's XY books (and I so far haven't even read the Vulcan's Soul trilogy) - so I liked the follow-up to "Face of the Enemy" which is my favourite Troi episode, but I couldn't appreciate all the nods to her created miniverse, something I'll remedy once I had the time to read Vulcan's Soul.

Ordinary Days by James Swallow: I admit to once upon a time watching TNG also because of Wesley - granted, he was badly written, but then I could simply relate to him in a way I couldn't to any of the other characters. Of course, that changed when I grew older and I always hoped to see more of him in the light of "First Duty"... trying to fit in, getting into the wrong group, peer pressure etc. So I very much appreciated this little glimpse into an alternative universe where he's not the genius who lives up to his promise, but rather someone who desperately tries to fit in, to be ordinary, to find his way on a path that's not so clearly defined and makes some poor choices. While the setting intrigued me, I have to agree with Trent that this story ultimately missed the opportunity to actually show the impact of Wesley's decisions. Perhaps the focus shouldn't have been so much on Wesley himself, but on the crew dealing with his choices, questioning themselves perhaps why Wesley made his choices of leaving everything behind, and why Picard and Data die (just because Wesley wasn't there doesn't mean no one else is brilliant enough to come up with ideas that work after all)... I'd have loved to see an Enterprise where Wesley isn't expected to live up to promises of geniality but allowed to be an ordinary adolescent without being forced in a certain direction. One doesn't exclude the other, after all. That's what I, now as a grown-up, criticize most about his treatment in TNG and to a lesser degree in this story. There has to be some sort of middle way between the boy-genius and the rebellious/ostracized Wesley of this story. And I also agree that the ending seemed a bit abrupt, though I really enjoyed reading the way the Traveler influenced Wesley's life up till Dorvan. All the criticism aside, I actually liked "Ordinary Days" quite much... and given the restraints of 30 pages it tells an interesting and gripping story. But I think the premise would have warranted a story of the likes of Myriad Universes.

'Twould ring the Bells of Heaven by Amy Sisson was a bit too predictable a story to me. I thought it obvious that those rings were a lifeform. Troi's angsting didn't quite grip me but at least I wasn't annoyed by it, either - though some of her decisions were a bit too random to actually make sense at the time she made them. And Data's monologue/PoV was a bit too reminiscent of Geordi's of just a few stories before.

Usually, Christopher L. Bennett's writing style doesn't really agree with me - but Friends with the Sparrows was a phenomenal exception. I loved going back to the Tamarans and their language, the use of Data and his emotion chip - and the way some still see him more as a tool than a sentient being... Well, there's nothing to criticize about this story at all. Along with "Thinking of You" definitely the highlight of this anthology.

Suicide Note by Geoff Trowbridge worked well enough for me - but like "Turncoats" I guess I'll appreciate it even more once I've rewatched the relevant TNG-episode.

Four Lights by Keith R. A. DeCandido is a bit the opposite to "Friends with the Sparrows", a story that I was very much looking forward to, but that then didn't quite work for me as well as I had hoped for - perhaps it's the "stylistic quibble"... I'm not fond of a 1st person PoV, neither of present tense used in stories which both distracted me a bit too much of the confrontation between Picard and Madred. Oh, I absolutely loved Madred's mind games, and Picard's obsession but somehow I'd have wished for - well, more of a defeat of Madred's at the hand of Picard, not just Picard's common sense once again reasserting itself. Of course, rationally I realize that Picard practically had no other choice than to step back from the interrogation in order not to lose himself once again, and recognizing that was Picard's victory - but it did feel as though Madred's won again... Ultimately that ambivalence came across in a very poignant manner, but still I found that this story somehow lacked KRAD's usually easy style that just sucks one into the story and doesn't let up till the finish.

'Til Death by Bob Ingersoll & Thomas F. Zahler... well, the picture of Riker running around with a gaping hole in his chest has some merit, but somehow it reminded me a bit too much of Spock missing his brain. But I, too, loved Riker's final message and the way he ultimately defeated his opponent. I have to admit that Riker's not my favourite character, he's too much overshadowed by Picard and, especially in the movies, Data - but I always loved his ability to think beyond the obvious and to turn disadvantages into advantages... as he does here. And kudos to the writers for not going down the most obvious road and pair him up with Deanna on this mission but with Crusher. And so, a story that I had lost all hope for right at the beginning turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

I enjoyed On the Spot by David A. McIntee quite a bit - definitely not because of the little plot to destroy the Enterprise, but... well, it's a simple story, set in the aftermath of Data's death, and it actually deals with this aftermath. Worf lost a friend (and 2 others with Riker and Troi's transfer), he's suddenly dealing with a job that he never wanted... and then there's Spot, a cat that finds itself on loose ends. Both, Spot and Worf are creatures of habit - and both find themselves in new situations and don't quite know how to deal with that. Spot's, of course, only the focal point, the real development's with Worf - and I have to say that I definitely find this development credible and well told.



review originally written in 2009

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