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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! 2017-04-30 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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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-04-10 20:22
Star Trek: Articles of the Federation by Keith R. A. DeCandido
Articles of the Federation (Star Trek) - Keith R.A. DeCandido

Star Trek meets The West Wing should probably be enough to sum up this novel that is set after "Star Trek: Nemesis" and "Star Trek: Titan: Taking Wing" and tells of United Federation President Nan Bacco's first year in office.


There are numerous problems, the Reman situation after Nemesis, the aftermath of the events on Tezwa and the resignation of her predecessor (see "A Time to..."), B-4's legal status, a disastrous state dinner just to name a few, and we learn of them like in glimpses, filtered through various middle-men until the matter gets deemed important enough to reach the president's ear.


And this is perhaps this novel's biggest problem: It tries to emulate The West Wing a bit too much, we are led from meeting to meeting, people even meet on the hallways at random... but the characters themselves remain rather bland. Well, The West Wing had 7 seasons, this novel just 390 pages, and you can't cover everything within those. I love West Wing, it's one of my favourite programmes, especially the earlier seasons, so, of course, I was struck by the similarities. Once again, a morally sound president comes to power and has to sometimes do things of a shade of grey (or cover them up)... and of course, she has multiple wisecracking conversations with her highly-intelligent staff and an obsession with trivia and baseball. Somehow, I think all those quirks and meetings work better in a visual medium but I know I'm in the minority here, since within the TrekLit-fandom this is one of the most highly regarded novels.


But until the last quarter or so when a few moral issues were raised (such as a reporter uncovering what really happened on Tezwa and that Admiral Ross practically forced then-President Zife to resign, and let him be taken and executed by Section 31, or a Tzenkethi-child needing a surgery only a Starfleet doctor can perform who had been imprisonned by the Tzenkethi for 4 years), there was little to no emotional anchor for me. Granted, I was reasonably entertained, at some points amused (i.e. the translation of "ad astra per aspera"), but that was it. Unfortunately.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-01-25 12:37
Star Trek: A Singular Destiny by Keith R. A. DeCandido
Star Trek: The Next Generation: A Singular Destiny (Star Trek: All) - Keith R.A. DeCandido

Well, I just finished ASD and have to say that I really enjoyed it. But it is IMO rather a "filler" book that explains more or rather sets the scene than it actually contains a plot. But that's not a bad thing as it introduces new and interesting key players (I "like" those Kinshaya - well, it was about time that some kind of theocratical state appears in ST instead of just your random fundamentalist) and lets our protagonists take a deep breath before the next political, rather than humanitarian, crisis appears.

I enjoyed Sonek Pran very much so far, and I hope he'll make another appearance some time soon. The only point of criticism I have is that he comes across as a little two-dimensional. I'd have wished for a more emotional outburst when he learned of Rupi's death, at least some kind of inkling as to a more darker side to his personality.

I'm still not too comfortable with the Aventine and her crew - I thought that silent treatment of Altoss' towards Sonek was quite a bit childish and ridiculous because ultimately, it wasn't Sonek's decision to go to Maxia Zeta... and he could have argued till hell freezes over when that equally childish lieutenant whose name I conveniently forgot now, had just adhered to her orders.

And given the small amount of ships available - why was Titan sent out on her exploration mission already? I mean, can't Riker help with relief operations first, and then set out again?

ASD's quite a good follow-up to the Destiny-trilogy, setting out pieces of the story until they all come together at the end to form an intriguing mosaic. The only thing I'm a bit concerned about is that ST might get a bit too political for my taste right now. I don't see any opportunity for a light-hearted story of exploration or first contact, at least not in the A-Q. And I certainly don't need another BSG-like monster-arc in ST... But I'll reserve judgment on that for now.


And just for fun: I absolutely cracked up at reading the name of Sara's colleague A'l'e'r'w'w'o'k... IMNSHO KRAD could have put a few more apostrophes in there, before the A and after the k, or a double '' between the two w's. Why stop at 7, after all?


And my favourite line: "Why would anyone read novels based on a serial drama?" (Altoss).


Why, indeed?




review originally written in 2009.

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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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