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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! 2017-04-29 12:27
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Missing by Una McCormack
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Missing - Una McCormack

While Ro is approached by Odo to act as an intermediary in the question of missing Cardassian prisoners of war in Romulan space, first contact is made with a new species, the People of the Open Sky, laid back, friendly, with lots of children. Meanwhile, Katherine Pulaski has joined the Federation ship Athene Donald dedicated to exploration, and crewed by a multitude of species, even non-allied ones like a Tzenkethi. In the last moment, SI commander Peter Alden joins the crew to Pulaski's displeasure. He was supposed to be accompanied by another Tzenkethi, but somehow she missed their departure just as a robbery occurs on DS9. And within days they make first contact with an advanced species, the Chain.

 

Suspicions, prejudices, secrets and spies could be the tags to this novel. Everyone is suspicious of everybody else, especially Pulaski of Alden, Alden of the Tzenkthi crewmember, Blackmer of the missing Tzenkethi on DS9 etc. That gets tiresome quite fast because even if some of the suspicions are warranted, they don't influence the main story. And then there's the Chain who after learning about the People's presence on DS9 demand their extradition based on prejudice. That Starfleet even considers that demand without any kind of proof is ridiculous at best and perpetuated prejudice at worst. Frankly, I could have done without the waxing about war orphans and the history-lessons about the Romani on Earth because common sense and an adherence to the rule of law where evidence is needed before any kind of claims are heard, would have sufficed to solve that issue - even if, of course, the Chain ship was superior in force to the Athene Donald. But why does no one suggest to just accompany the Chain ship to DS9? That would have removed the immediate threat and offered the opportunity to deal with the issue directly.

 

What I enjoyed very much was Odo's portrayal, his sense of justice coming through again, be it in dealing with the PoW-issue (and Garak) or with the missing Tzenkethi Corazam who is somehow groomed by Alden to return to Ab-Tzenketh as a spy for the Federation but finds herself for the first time making a stand for herself. Alden himself turns out to be quite an interesting character, a scientist turned spy. I'm curious to find out more about him, especially his background with the Tzenkethi, and whether or not he really can shed his ties to Starfleet Intelligence.

 

Crusher's interim stay on DS9 as CMO remains rather bland, as do her issues with returning to the Enterprise and Picard that tie back to "Silent Weapons" when Picard protected her instead of the president. I don't know, perhaps it's because it's been years since I read the Data-trilogy, and in the Fall novels the rift between Picard and Crusher was more of a pretense for outside observers so that her leaving the Enterprise makes sense... but all that introspection here doesn't work for me. And DS9 itself suffers from a lack of interesting crewmembers. The only ones that actually get some kind of "screentime" are Ro and Blackmer, with appearances by O'Brien, Tenmei and Nog (though the latter two are absent here), so I wonder: How can a space station so vast be led by just 2 or 3 officers? Where is the rest of the crew?

 

Overall, "The Missing" leaves me feeling ambivalent. There are a few things I'd like to follow up on, but those were unfortunately few and far inbetween.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-16 10:02
Star Trek: The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms by Dayton Ward
Peaceable Kingdoms (Star Trek: The Fall) - Dayton Ward

This is the conclusion of the "The Fall"-miniseries. And come to think of the series as a whole, I still question the decision why the parts aren't numbered on the cover. Especially here, it's an illusion to maintain the statement that every single part can be read on its own without prior knowledge - yeah, that may apply to "Shadow" (and Revelations since it's the first part), but to the others (especially Chalice and Kingdoms) not so much. So why not be upfront about it and put the reading order on the covers?

 

But back to this novel:

 

While it brought the series to an ultimately satisfying (if a bit predictable) conclusion, the only really engaging parts where the flashbacks and the introduction of the Cardassian doctor. Everything else (Enterprise being redirected, Starfleet ships pitched against each other, last minute-rescues etc) felt a bit repetitive after the other parts of the series. "Ishan"'s story was an interesting one, it shed light on the occupation, its cruelty in exploiting Bajor and the Bajorans, and it highlights its last days, the sort of burned earth-policy the Cardassians employed. But to be honest, I didn't quite understand the reason for the identity change in the first place since the Cardassians don't change Baras' features to match the original Ishan's and kill all those who could identify Baras (and the late Ishan) anyway. So while the actual twist worked well, the reason behind it seemed contrived and that wasn't really explored all that well. But then again, I thought it would go in a sort of Iliana Ghemor/Kira Nerys-direction...

 

I also liked the way that exploration should be back on Starfleet's agenda after all the political upheaval. That's what has been missing since well before the Relaunch-novels, as the 9 part series "A time to" that came before Nemesis also dealt with political upheaval and conspiracies on the highest level. So it's time to go "where no one has gone before" again.

 

Otherwise the novel spent pages upon pages repeating itself (and its predecessors) which let my attention wander a bit - never a good sign. I observed the need to endlessly summarize previous chapters in quite a few ST-novels (David R George is another author who employs that manner of story telling...) now, and I wonder why that is necessary as I don't think the readers are incapable of retaining the memory of what they've just read. Fortunately, the action picked up speed in the second half of the novel, but during the first half it was a real chore to wade through those repetitions. I think much of the space used for those "summaries" could have been used exploring the aftermath, Ishan's removal, Bajor's reaction, the actual election (even if the election of the Andorian candidate was a foregone conclusion), even the race to get the information back to Earth/Louvois. Riker's end of the story, his confronting Schlosser, even the part where they got Velk out, all that got awfully short-changed. Why not show the actual events instead of just mentioning them in a conversation after the facts?

 

So, overall this is a rather average novel - it was an entertaining story, but it could and should have been more.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-08 17:01
Star Trek: The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow
The Poisoned Chalice (Star Trek: The Fall) - James Swallow

This is the 4th novel of the "The Fall"-miniseries. The race to catch the culprit for Bacco's assassination continues. The Titan is recalled to Earth where Riker's promoted to Admiral. He's wondering about the reason for that when he receives a transmission from Picard who tells him that the Tzenkethi aren't responsible for the assassination, that it was Cardassians. So Riker starts snooping since the Ishan-administration still maintains the culpability of the Typhon Pact. And he sends Vale on a mission to find out the truth about what happened with Bashir and the Andorians. Meanwhile, Tuvok is recruited for a covert operation to capture the assassins, together with Nog and Tom Riker.

 

So, the story is pretty much divided into 4 plotthreads. All of them advance the plot surrounding the assassination, but unlike the other 3 novels of the Fall, this one isn't really a stand-alone novel. You definitely need to have read the "Revelations..." and "A Ceremony of Losses". 2 of the plotthreads, namely Vale's and Troi's are about uncovering the Andor-story... which is interesting in and of itself because the Ishan-administration managed to practically bury Bashir in a secret facility, just to shut him up. And they aren't really willing to listen to the Andorians, either. So, no one except for those directly involved (meaning Ishan, Bashir, Dax) really knows what happens, and what the administration did and knew. Therefore while it is important to take those steps within the narrative to uncover the conspiracy, for someone who read "Ceremony", who therefore knows what happened, these parts of the story are a bit repetitive, despite questions of loyalty by Vale's temporary crew etc.

 

That leaves Tuvok (and Nog and Tom Riker... I still don't really understand why he had to be included, to be honest) being part of a mission that ever gets more immoral when the perpetrators are delivered to a Klingon torture base instead of to Earth so that they can stand trial. Will Riker finds out about the mission and who ordered it, and eventually comes to the rescue... unfortunately, all evidence pointing towards Ishan is lost. The mission is quite straight-forward and predictable, that leaves Riker's part as the only actual plotthread holding some suspense because why was he promoted? And who's spying on him?

 

I think the last question is the most interesting one because as it turns out, Ishan apparently has a wide network of operatives who are willing to do anything, moral or immoral, to further their cause. And he himself as a Bajoran is willing to ally himself with isolationist Cardassian splinter groups to get rid of enemies. So, while the Fall is a pretty engaging mini-series so far, the Poisoned Chalice itself didn't impress me as much as its predecessors, unfortunately, because it suffers a bit from the "penultimate part of series"-syndrome, paving the way for the conclusion, but not actually leading any of the plotthreads there itself. Which is a bit frustrating perhaps.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-06 10:37
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Long Mirage by David R. George III
The Long Mirage (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) - David R. George III

This novel picks up right where "Ascendance" left off with Kira reemerging from the Wormhole.

 

And hers is by far the most interesting part of the novel. First of all, she reunites with Altek Dans, and then returns with him to Bajor where she's faced with a schism within the clerical community - ones who like her believe the Prophets to be gods, and others who deny that fact, backed up by the artifact found on Bajor's moon. Once again her trust issues come forward, trust issues concerning her superiors, in this case the kai and her management of the situation. Granted, Kira's been burned quite often, but this becomes a bit tiresome because it renders her character stagnant if she's faced with the same problems whereever she goes, be it as an officer or as a vedek.

 

I enjoyed the Altek twist. It's obvious now and mind-boggling that this option didn't even occur to me. But in this case the endless repetition about him being from the distant past succeeded in pulling the wool over my eyes. I'm curious to see where this plotthread on Bajor is going next. I'm glad that the love-triangle with Ro and Kira wasn't really an issue, although I hoped for a better resolution with Ro because despite her (then) unsolved relationship with Quark, what she shared with Altek rang true.

 

Absolutely loved Kira's short reunion with Odo. Their relationship felt so real within the series, and George managed to rekindle that with just a few phrases. I'm also curious as to where Odo's is going next with the Dominion-refugees. I just hope that despite all the difficulties on Bajor and with the refugees, Kira and Odo are allowed to spend some time together.

But unfortunately all this marked just a third of the novel, the other 2 thirds didn't work so well for me as I'm simply not interested in either Vic or Morn. On the other hand, those plotthreads are led to a (temporary?) conclusion, so that's something at least. Quark and Ro's relationship is over. Wouldn't have minded them being a couple, but not if Ro keeps cheating on Quark and/or their goals for the relationship continue to differ. I could have done without the endless repetition of how hurt Quark is, or how sorry Ro is for hurting Quark... again, the situation is not that complex. Nog's obsession with restoring Vic was heart-felt, given that he in a way owes his recovery to Vic. But the situation within the programme dragged on way too long, and I'm not sure I like the sentient/non-sentient-conundrum. First of all, what's the agenda of the scientist? And secondly, we already had such a question with Data, the Doctor and with Moriarty. I'm not sure I need this issue on DS9 as well.

So overall, I really hope the next novel will focus on Bajor, DS9 (the crew still needs fleshing out after all), Odo, bring back Sisko... now that all those loose sideplots with Vic, Morn, and the Ascendants (in previous novels) have finally been resolved.

So overall, I really hope the next novels will focus on Bajor, DS9, Odo, bring back Sisko... now that all those loose sideplots with Vic, Morn, the Ascendants (in previous novels) have finally been resolved.
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