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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-06-15 20:09
The House of God by Samuel Shem
The House of God - Samuel Shem

Around here the postgraduate system of education in medicine is quite different than the American one, but still I could detect quite a few similarities - because I guess, whereever you are, patients, the medical hierarchy (the ice-cream cone) and what it does to you as intern, is quite the same.

 

So I could relate to the terror of the first rotation, to the thrill of the Emergency Ward, the horror of Gomer City, the internal detachment, the need to hide inside yourself, to witness colleagues being crushed by the system... and also the realization of what's going on and trying to get ahead of it. Unfortunately, I had more Jo's and Leggos than Fats during my internship... because his rules, even though they sound funny and callous at first are hard-learned lessons and much more important than always doing whatever medical science is able to offer.

 

Of course, this novel is also a product of its time, a male-dominated environment where sex is kind of the only relief of stress and pressure - not to say that it's much different nowadays, especially if you work hours that only allow you to go home to sleep but otherwise you pretty much spend your day in the hospital -, but I could have done without the various sexual experiences of the interns. Then again, it's a symptom of this system.

 

Overall, certainly a novel an intern, no matter where he or she works, should read.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-02 09:38
Worlds of Star Trek: DS9: #1 Cardassia by Una McCormack & Andor by Heather Jarman
Cardassia and Andor - Una McCormack,Heather Jarman

"The Lotus Flower" depicts the problems and antagonism Keiko is facing in her multispecies effort to render Cardassian soil fertile again. Meanwhile, the new castellan Alon Ghemor and Garak are fighting to keep the fledgling democracy alive in the face of isolationist movements.

 

This is quite a good story about the rise of isolationist movements, about the recruitment of young people for extremist purposes (because they lack certainty and purpose over their own future), and about finding where you belong in a democracy that is still forming after the age-old reign of dictatory leaderships. Quite a mirror of modern politics... if just finding similarities and common ground (or at least having the intention to do so) were so easy in real life, many atrocities could be prevented, I guess.

 

"Paradigm" forces Shar to confront the loss of his bondmate Thriss, his guilt and his position in Andorian society... all while being under pressure by his "mother" and having increasing feelings for Prynn Tenmei.

 

I'm afraid I'm not going to become a friend of Jarman's style any time soon. Her prose doesn't flow as well as that of other authors and I had the feeling of being stuck on a single page for ages. So that's a definite negative point. On the other hand, by the end I was fully engaged in this story and moved by the final few scenes. Shar's being pressured by practically all sides, reminded of his duties in a diminishing Andorian society (due to reproductive issues which led to a population of 3 billion dwindling down to a mere 90 million) but also fighting for his own freedom. Because how can anyone in a society that only revolves around bonds, that are matched artificially instead of naturally, and parenting duties be free? What about individual desires such as careers or partners outside a bond? And what about those who can't withstand that pressure (like Thriss)? This is quite a melancholy story about a person who fights to escape but in the end decides to go through with his societal obligations after all, even though the outside pressure (and inborn guilt) is more or less removed from him. A decision which left me pensive.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-04-25 10:25
Star Trek: S. C. E.: #20 Enigma Ship by J. Steven York, Christina F. York
Enigma Ship (Star Trek S.C.E., #20) - J. Steven York,Christina F. York

This time, the da Vinci encounters an alien ship marauding in space, swallowing up any ship that crosses its path - at the latest a Starfleet ship. Is the ship even intact and its crew alive still? And if so, how are they going to be rescued?

 

What follows is an interesting tale about reality, dreams and how to differentiate between those two. Definitely one of the better entries so far, at least story-wise. At some points the characterization is lacking (not only in the overall sense as was the case with most of the other previous parts), but also that at some points I had the impression that this story should be set much earlier in the season, as some of the issues coming up (Soloman etc) were dealt with much earlier already. So, that's kind of redundant.

 

I'll keep reading until Wildfire which is said to be turning point, right now - but if, by then, the series hasn't managed to entirely captivate me, I'll likely give up on it. The characters are still too bland, the stories too superficial to satisfy me.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-01 07:36
Star Trek: The Fall: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack
Star Trek: The Fall: The Crimson Shadow - Una McCormack

This novel is another excellent entry about Cardassia by McCormack and closely follows "A Stitch in Time" and "The Never-Ending Sacrifice".

 

Tthere's a new political movement coming to power, Cardassia First, populist, isolationist, xenophobic, just on the eve of the withdrawal of the Federation from Cardassian soil. Civil Unrest is threatening, just as a Bajoran Starfleet officer is killed. Then Nan Bacco is assassinated, and the withdrawal put into question by the pro-tem UFP president. Garak and Picard work tirelessly to prevent open civil war on Cardassia and maintain the shaky alliance between the UFP and Cardassia.

 

Cardassia is a perfect example for a state that has never really known democracy, just an oligarchy or dictatorship, and now, still fighting the effects of the Dominion War, poverty, pollution etc, it's on the brink to fall back into old systems. I appreciate the matter-of-fact way of story-telling instead of swinging the moral hammer, because, yes, we see this every day, and how many states that only recently embraced democracy have fallen back into the abyss?

 

Garak's one of the most complex figures in all of Star Trek. He's a murderer, a spy, he dragged (together with Sisko) the Romulans into the Dominion War... but somehow he retained or regained a (shrewd as it might be) moral compass. He's not acting out of a need to prove himself or to gain advantage for himself, but for the good of Cardassia. And right now, what he perceives as the good of Cardassia aligns itself with reality. Let's see what happens when he's actually in power.

 

I enjoyed the letters which start almost every chapter, sent and unsent, by Garak to Bashir (and one to Parmak, his closest friend on Cardassia) because they bring insight into his thoughts and anguish. I loved the painting by Ziyal which is sort of his shrine to her and how he uses his memory of her to remain within moral borders. And I love Bashir's one reply warning Garak not to become his father.

 

McCormack leaves the reader to figure out all the emotional intricacies, just as she did in The Never-Ending Sacrifice. Her prose isn't really made for action-sequences, but it's perfect for relaying emotions, motivations... and slowly captivating her readers until they're hooked and can't put the novel down until it's finished.

 

This, together with A Stitch in Time and The Never-Ending Sacrifice is certainly a must-read novel regarding Cardassia.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-08-28 21:26
Star Trek: Myriad Universes: #3 Shattered Light: Honor in the Night by Scott Pearson
Star Trek: Myriad Universes #3: Shattered Light - David R. George III

This final review covers the third story, Honor in the Night, by Scott Pearson.

 

Nilz Baris's, former Undersecretary of Agriculture, President of the Federation and Ambassador to the Klingon Homeworld, final words were, "Arne Darvin". A reporter investigates why the name of an aide dead for over a century, might have been on the mind of the great former President in his last moments.

 

Here, the deviation from the known universe is that Darvin wasn't exposed as Klingon on K-7, and the poisoned grain was planted on the colony world of Sherman's Planet - leading to the loss of the colony and thousands of lives, and pitching Baris against the Klingons. It's not the only colony where the conflict gets heated, a couple of years later, earthquakes devastate the cities on Benecia... and instead of revealing Klingon culpability in causing the earthquakes, Baris and Klingon liaison Kamuk strike a deal to cooperate - the first of many which lead to Baris's rise in ranks.

 

This is an intriguing tale about alternate Klingon and Federation relations. And it's an intriguing tale about what motivates people to cooperate: Baris is driven by contempt, guilt for covering up genocide, but also by wanting to avoid violence - and Darvin... well, he was the one who was ordered to poison the grain, killing countless colonists in a, for Klingons, utterly dishonorable way, just for the sake of expansion despite the Organian treaty. So, for a 100 years he tried to redeem himself (and the Klingon honor in general), and to improve the relationship between Klingons and the Federation, and to show that Klingon expansion can yield benefits for colony worlds. But history is going to be the judge of that - at least, if his actions ever see public light.

 

And this is perhaps the most interesting facet of this story: How much does the public need to know? Who makes that decision? And when? Interestingly, this issue reminds me a bit of Voyager's excellent "Living Witness". But I have to admit that this story, based on "The Trouble with Tribbles" which never has been one of my favourite TOS-episodes, while well written and reasonably entertaining, didn't engage me on a deeper level, simply because I have never cared about Baris or Darvin.

 

About Shattered Light in general:

Review of The Embrace of Cold Architects by David R. George III - 3 stars

Review of Tears of Eridanus by Michael Schuster and Steven Mollman - 1.5 stars

 

Overall, this makes for a 2.5 star average - rather low for the Myriad Universes-series, I'm afraid.

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