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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! 2017-05-17 20:55
Star Trek: S. C. E.: #23 & #24 Wildfire by David Mack
Wildfire Book 2 - David Mack
Wildfire Book 1 - David Mack

Why did it take 20 parts until SCE finally picked up speed, to actually get to the heart of it?!? What KRAD began in War Stories, is continued here: the SCE finally gets a living and breathing soul.

 

The daVinci is called for a rescue mission. The USS Orion launched a testrun of a device called "Wildfire" in the atmosphere of a gas giant which could change the fate of star (like the Genesis device did for planets), but something went wrong, and the Orion no longer replies to calls. At least the Wildfire-device should be salvaged since it could be used for more devious purposes. The team find the Orion derelict in the gas giant's atmosphere, and the Wildfire device primed for detonation - but before it can be disarmed, pretty much everything in the salvage operation goes wrong... and the daVinci itself faces destruction, and the crew certain death.

 

This was Mack's first solo work in Star Trek - and possibly, this is what he had envisioned for "Starship Down", the episode he wrote for DS9 and that this story is frequently referring to... and even back as a novice TrekLit-writer he knew how to shake up a series (although he went on to greater dimensions in later works). Interestingly, whereas he concentrates on the action later on, here he focuses on the personal stories, relationships, courage & heroism, and duty & self-reflection, which works astonishingly well. And I have to admit that I got a lump in my throat in part 2, quite a few times actually, yet it's strange that Gomez's reaction didn't move me half as much as Stevens's. But maybe that's going to change once I've read the aftermath-stories to come - and there's no doubt, that I'll continue with this series now. I simply can't stop here, hanging on the edge of grief and despair, without any of the emotional gratification of a good "what happens next". Well done, Mack.

 

I also appreciated the fact that the main character's death in this novel is a final one. We have a body that's been declared dead - so I'll expect consequences in the next stories (that have already been hinted at here).

 

Just a couple of factual nitpicks (which threw me out of the very emotional last chapter just a tiny bit):

 

A victim dying of suffocation due to CO2 intoxication without any outward pressure like strangulation etc. won't show any petechial bleedings on the face/sclera - simply because petechia are caused by the venous flow being interrupted while the arterial flow's still pumping blood into the tissue. And if there's no blockage in the venous system, there won't be any petechia.

 

And modern CPR uses a 30:2 rhythm (compression:breathing) regardless of the cause of the cardiac arrest, not 8:1 like it was described here - though, of course, since this was a case of CPR given pro forma, let's not be too strict about that.

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-04 16:52
Star Trek: S. C. E.: #22 War Stories, Book 2 by Keith R. A. DeCandido
War Stories 2 - Keith R.A. DeCandido

This story focuses on a mission of the daVinci back in the Dominion War. Gomez, Lense and Faulwell weren't yet on board, Stevens and P8 Blue were just transferred onto the ship.

 

And quite honestly, as much as the first part of "War Stories" appealed to me because it granted insight into the characters (aside from showing them as brilliant geniuses), this part falls short in the characterization part. What we get are wisecracks, ideas pulled out of their a**es, in short, business as usual. It's still an interesting story, but not what I was hoping for when book 1 finally showed some inkling of light at the end of the dark tunnel of technobabble, ingenuity (make no mistake, ingenuity isn't bad, as long as there's some kind of personality to back it up) and smartass remarks.

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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! 2017-04-30 12:47
Star Trek: S. C. E.: #21 War Stories, Book 1 by Keith R. A. DeCandido
War Stories 1 - Keith R.A. DeCandido

Now, this is more like it.

 

Overseer Biron of the Androssi gets ahold of the personal logs of the daVinci-crew during their assignments in the Dominion War and peruses them in order to get an idea of how they could consistently defeat him. He starts with Dr Lense, Bart Faulwell and Sonya Gomez.

 

So, this finally offers some insight into the crew. It starts of with Dr Lense who, after having been questioned for being an augment after having beaten Bashir at medschool, returns to her ship, only to find herself the only doctor alive during battle. Bart Faulwell is asked to lead a team, trying to decrypt Dominion messages, and falls in love there. And Sonya Gomez has to improvise her way out of a mission gone wrong, all the while being the calm beacon of strength for her crew.

 

Granted, all the stories deal with past events, before the crew of the daVinci was even formed, but they serve to further portray the characters which before have remained quite bland due to the concentration on technobabble and ingenious ideas. I'm eagerly awaiting Book 2.

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