The Alien Critic Reviews...
The Alien CriticReviews...

TAC Reviews...Star Trek Novels

 

The way humans interpret both space and the future is really interested to someone who has actually travelled through space. I find ideas like rebel fighters flying around fighting an Evil Empire or a United Federation of Planets who explore space for the purposes of exploration and discover both wonders to amaze and terrors to freeze their souls or travellers stepping through a Stargate to see other worlds truly fascinating. Whilst none of these interpretations are exactly right, truthfully none of them are too far from some of the truths out there either.

 

Federation Insignia

 

I like all of these interpretations because they not only have a grain of accuracy in them, they allow human beings to give true freedom to their imaginations. With a galaxy of scenarios it is entirely possible to come up with ideas of limitless potential, creativity and can enrich a genre that already boasts a wealth of characters and stories already…but it is also stupidly easy to squeeze out something so awful it damages the franchise it is supposed to be improving.

 

All of them have expanded through different forms of media, books, films and television shows…however in this section I am going to talk about one of my favourite franchises, namely Star Trek and specifically the Star Trek novels

 

As a nerd, yes, I’m an alien but I am still a nerd so naturally I am a big fan of all things Star Trek I have enjoyed the TV shows, the films and whilst some like The Next Generation have been better than others like The Original Series generally I like them. However, when it comes to the books, authors sometimes treat the franchise with the respect and the love it deserves, whilst others use it as a shameless cash-in trying to grab a piece of the great and unique world that Star Trek has given audiences.

 

Non-fans might argue that the Star Trek franchise is crap or dull or only for nerds, but considering it has been going for over 4 decades, it must be doing something right…oh and before I forget whilst you football fans watch men running around getting sweaty, us sci-fi fans are watching human babes like Jeri Ryan

 

Jeri Ryan aka Seven of Nine

 

Or Jolene Blalock…

 

Jolene Blalock aka T'Pol

 

Or…well suffice it to say sci-fi does boast a lot of very attractive women usually in skin tight outfits, so what I am saying, enjoy watching men running around playing with balls whilst me and my nerdy brethren enjoy Star Trek

 

Below you will find reviews for:

 

Star Trek The Next Generation Greater Than the Sum

Star Trek: The Dominion War

Star Trek: The Mirror Universe 

The Autobiography of James T Kirk 

 

TAC Reviews...Star Trek The Next Generation - Greater Than the Sum 

Date Posted: 28/01/15

The Star Trek: The Next Generation novels set after Nemesis limp on in this uninspired, dull, boring, tedious, and various other nasty words  in a thoroughly forgettable story namely Greater Than The Sum.

 

Star Trek Greater Than the Sum Cover

 

Okay, let me get this revelation off my chest, in case you haven't figured it out, I am a nerd, and as a nerd I am a HUGE Star Trek fan, with the exception of the Original Series which I could not get into, I loved The Next Generation, and whilst I did not carry the same love for Deep Space Nine and Voyager, I continue to enjoy the franchise. I literally could think about NOTHING else the first time I saw The Best of Both Worlds Part 1 and had to wait 24 agonising hours to see the continuation of the episode the following day, an episode which did not disappoint me. That is how much I enjoy Star Trek The Next Generation, so you can imagine how much it infuriates me when people take my beloved franchise and FUCK with it.

 

So even though it thoroughly PAINS me to draw attention to this heap of targ shit, I feel I must warn other fans of this franchise to steer clear of this book...and when I say steer clear, I mean steer light years clear...right let's have a look...

 

Allow me to bring you up to date in case you are lucky enough to be unfamiliar with the story thus far. So following on from the previous novels, Resistance and Before Dishonour, in which both books followed a single cube which was trying to make another Queen after Voyager killed the previous one in Star Trek: Voyager’s finale Endgame. In Resistance, Picard (through his connection to the Borg) learns of the cube’s existence, defies Starfleet, takes the Enterprise and disables the cube. The cube reactivates in Before Dishonour having gained the ability to simply absorb objects and people, and attacks Earth. Picard and Seven of Nine are able to destroy it with the Planet Killer (last seen in The Original Series episode Doomsday Machine) leaving only an assimilated science ship, the Einstein, to fly off into space.

 

The void of space is where author Christopher L Bennett should have left the Einstein.

 

At the beginning of Greater Than The Sum, the Starship Rhea is investigating a carbon cluster when it comes under attack from the Einstein and whilst most of the crew are killed or assimilated, Lieutenant T'Ryssa Chen is the only one who is sent two thousand light years away to safety. It turns out that the cluster the Rhea was investigating is an entity that has slipstream technology (which enables ships to travel huge distances instantly) and the assimilated Einstein want the technology so they can re-establish communication with the Borg Collective in the Delta Quadrant. So the Enterprise being the only ship that can deal with the Borg is sent to destroy the Einstein whatever the cost.

 

Captain Picard, La Forge, Beverly Crusher (now Mrs Picard), and Worf are all still on the Enterprise but unfortunately they are joined by the thoroughly irritating and instantly dislikeable T’Ryssa Chen, but more on her later. The Borg also seem to have been largely forgotten as Bennett focuses mainly on the sex lives of the Enterprise crew but like T’Ryssa, I’ll get on that point later.

 

By bringing the assimilated ship back again, Bennett continues the trend of the Borg being the villains yet again. The Star Trek universe has so much diversity and so many alien species that Bennett could have taken this book in a new and original direction instead of just rehashing the Borg as the invulnerable villains. When the Borg are done right they are truly terrifying, The Best of Both Worlds (voted by fans as the best episode of Star Trek of all time) and Star Trek First Contact demonstrate how amazing the Borg are as an enemy. I read in the background information on the series and discovered that the reason the Borg appeared so infrequently in The Next Generation was because the writers couldn't think up ways for the obviously technologically inferior Federation to defeat them

 

Within moments of her introduction Bennett also makes the reader hate T’Ryssa Chen. For no reason at all, when her away team beam down she is thinking about the fact that she has slept with one of the other members of the team. She makes a joke and he doesn’t laugh at which point she decides that he is now never going to see her naked again. In this one statement I instantly wanted her to die...I mean what an arrogant bitch...So because he didn't get one of your jokes you are going to never let him have sex with you again, how do you know he even wants to have sex with you again?? Presumably a starship is like any other working environment and the "office bikes" get a reputation pretty quickly, there are plenty of women that my skin-sack has nailed after a night out, and whilst they are fun to spend the night with and hi-five your mates about in the morning, they aren't the type of woman you take home to meet your parents. If a starship is anything like real life every male crew member would quite happy nail this woman but have about as much respect for her as a wank trough so why does she seem to think she is God's gift to men of every species??

 

What really pisses me off about this book is that fact that sex in Star Trek is always implied, no one is naive enough to assume the crews don’t have sex lives, hell Riker and Troi must have banged enough aliens between them to populate a planet but sex is never so openly discussed and talked about. Chen seems to jump from bed to bed and is so instantly dislikeable that you will wish the Borg had killed her when they had the chance. Why does it add anything to the story to have her rolling off some bloke when the captain contacts her to let her know she can come on the away mission?? What’s the point of it? I’m not going to lie, I absolutely hated this character, her arrogance, her belief that everyone who meets her wants to have sex with her, and more to the point she has absolutely no business being on the Enterprise. The Flagship has the elite onboard, the finest crew assembled, the best that the fleet has, it is not the place for average level officers who are only interested in fucking their fellow crew members and seem to have only pregressed by banging their superior officers.

 

There is a definite trend that moves shows towards sex, and honestly I hate it. Don’t get me wrong I’m as big a fan of sex as the next guy, but it has no place in some of my favourite shows. Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Star Wars, and so on, none of these shows needed to tempt audiences with sex to draw them in. The stories, the characters, the universe they were set in, all of these were more than enough to bring audiences in. Then Stargate Universe had the crew of an Ancient ship fucking one another every week and I swiftly turned it off in favour of watching reruns of Atlantis or SG-1. Books like Greater Than The Sum come along and wave sex in front of the audience like an adult jangling their keys in front of a bored toddler.

 

It is lazy, and it is pointless.

 

A sex scene that has relevance is fine, hell there is one in Nemesis and it fits in with the story so I'm okay with it, but putting them in for the sake of it, is unnecessary and only serves to demonstrate that the author believes the audience is so limited in their attention span that if you don’t throw in sex frequently then they will be uninterested in continuing the story.

 

On that point, let me get back to the weak-ass story.

 

Following on from the end of Voyager the Enterprise is equipped with transphasic torpedoes (weapons powerful enough to destroy a cube with one shot) but is forbidden by Starfleet to use them, because sooner or later the Borg will adapt. Of course Starfleet doesn't seem to be aware that the Einstein has been seperated from the rest of the Collective so blowing them up will be no problem, or maybe Starfleet in this book are as retarded as everyone else. So, the crew fight to destroy the Einstein during which time the audience will be shouting at Picard to just fire the torpedoes already. This book could have been about two pages long, the Einstein attacks the Rhea, the Enterprise arrives, fires a single shot, blows up the Einstein and flies home again. Simple and to the point, it ends the “cliff-hanger” left at the end of Before Dishonour in which the Einstein flees and would have allowed a new story to begin…but no we got this pile of crap instead.

 

Bennett seems to have missed the point of what Star Trek is supposed to be about, it is about exploration and charting the new frontier, not the crew screwing one another. The Borg need to be left alone for a while because as I said above when done well they are unimaginably frightening (think First Contact) but when done badly they are robbed of everything that made them so unbelievably terrifying.

 

The Borg appeared in-frequently in The Next Generation because they were so dangerous and the Federation struggled to fend them off, Voyager pushed their luck by including the Borg every time they couldn’t think of an episode that week but they still had some of the terrifying and forbidding atmosphere that oozed so effortlessly from them in episodes like Q Who? and of course The Best of Both Worlds.

 

When done right the Borg are incredible villains that can work in books as well as on screen, read The Return, or Vendetta or watch Best of Both Worlds or First Contact and you will instantly understand what I am talking about. Here the Borg are just a background element so that the author can focus on the sex lives of the crew and even the Borg themselves. Yeah the Borg want to get some action, remember Hugh from I, Borg? He pops up here as a free drone or something but it turns out the Borg don’t have sexual organs so he and his love interest can’t have sex, and yet Seven of Nine still had her massive boobs and a nice tight pussy between her legs because if she didn’t then offering to have sex with Harry Kim was just cruel. Why don’t the Borg in this book have sexual organs when they are assimilated species?? Yes, there was an episode of The Next Generation in which a race that had no gender were introduced and Riker still managed to seduce one of them, so if one of that race had been assimilated then it makes sense for them to have no sexual organs. But why do males and females of assimilated races have no genitalia?? I know that I may be getting bogged down by this point but it just doesn’t seem to make any sense and pulls the focus of the novel back to sex which is not the reason I pick up a Star Trek novel.  

 

There is literally a galaxy of possibilities for a Star Trek novel. But all too often authors seem to just stay in their comfort zone and assume that a book with the Borg in it will instantly be as good as First Contact. But even the bad books I have read, ones that don’t really go anywhere, or focus on something trivial are at least trying, but Greater Than The Sum makes zero effort and thinking back on it…lead to a good five year gap between me reading it and picking up another Star Trek book which is saying a lot because I used to be a great fan of Star Trek novels.

 

Ultimately I don't care about books like Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey they are pieces of shit that will not survive the test of time and will be forgotten as quickly as they became popular, but the Star Trek franchise has been going for decades and is something that I has given me a lot of enjoyment over the years, so I hate it when authors take something I really enjoy and miss the point this much.

 

I am only going to say this once...authors STOP FUCKING with Star Trek, if you can't write a decent story then DON'T write a story at all...and if you continue to write peices of shit like this then I am going to personally fly my ship to your house and vapourize you where you stand, clear??

 

I gave Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey solid Thumbs Down ratings, but I am going to give Greater Than The Sum a very definative 2 Thumbs Down, it is only a shame I can't put my middle finger Up.

 

I hated this book THAT much

 

 

1/10 -  A very poor effort that is just terrible so trust me leave Greater than the Sum on the shelf and read something else just as long as it isn't Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey

 

TAC Reviews...Star Trek: The Dominion War

Date Posted: 13/02/15

 

Set during the Dominion War (obviously) and the seven episode story arc in which Ben Sisko and the crew of Deep Space Nine work to return to the station, Captain Picard and the Enterprise learn of a plot by the Dominion to create their own artificial wormhole and bring reinforcements through from the Gamma Quadrant.

 

Star Trek The Dominion War Books 1 & 3

 

As you will know if you read my Greater Than the Sum review I am a big fan of Star Trek The Next Generation and so it really pisses me off when people fuck with it. But, when someone tackles my beloved franchise and does it justice then I will sing the praises to everyone who will listen and also to a few that would rather I didn’t.

 

Now just to clarify I am only planning on reviewing Book 1 and Book 3 because Book 2 and Book 4 are the novelizations of Deep Space Nine episodes so whilst they are good and show a few things that were not in the episodes it is easier to just go and watch them yourself. Besides I have always favoured The Next Generation and honestly I would much rather talk about what Picard and the Enterprise were doing during the Dominion War.

 

 

Book 1 – Behind Enemy Lines

 

 

The Enterprise-E under the command of Captain Picard is patrolling the Cardassian boarder engaging in various hit-and-run assaults against the Cardassians and Jem’Hadar, however, they know that the Federation is losing the war against the combined forces of the Dominion and the Cardassians.

 

Meanwhile Ro Laren, a former Starfleet officer and now member of the Maquis, has been forced from her home in a small ship, the Orb of Peace, as the Dominion close in on the final strongholds of the Maquis.

 

The Enterprise and Orb of Peace cross paths and Picard is informed of the Dominion’s plan to build a wormhole and bring through reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant. But, Starfleet is unwilling to risk the Enterprise on the mission if the intelligence is false, so Picard, La Forge, Ro head for the location of the wormhole in the Orb of Peace with a transmitter to call in the Enterprise once they confirm the wormhole exists.

 

 

Book 3 – Tunnel Through the Stars

 

 

Having confirmed that the artificial wormhole exists and is near completion, Picard and his ragtag crew onboard the Orb of Peace frantically try to come up with some way to destroy the massive structure before Jem’Hadar reinforcements come through. Of course, their problems keep getting worse as it becomes obvious to everyone that they have got a saboteur onboard.

 

Meanwhile, Riker is having trouble getting the Enterprise out of dry dock. Only he (and Data who is tracking the Orb of Peace in a small shuttlecraft the Cook) is really aware of where Picard is, and he intends to be ready when the Orb of Peace sends out its beacon. Unfortunately, the commander of the Starbase’s repair pool, a woman Riker had a brief romantic relationship with (no surprise there) is ducking him and refusing to release the Enterprise back for active duty.

 

As the Next Generation crews’ live become more dangerous they are faced with the prospect of total destruction at the hands of the overwhelming might of the Dominion.

 

That is all I am going to say about the books plotline.

 

I am very much aware of the fact that I have offered very little information about what happens in the two books, but that was deliberate because what I want to do is tempt you into reading them by giving a tantalising glimpse of the two-book story arc.

 

Whilst The Dominion War Books 2 and 4, focus on the seven episode story arc seen in Deep Space Nine (from episodes Call to Arms to Sacrifice of Angels) Books 1 and 3 give fans of The Next Generation an opportunity to see what Picard and the Enterprise were doing during the war. Not surprisingly it was not only Ben Sisko who was responsible for saving the Alpha Quadrant (however, fans of DS9 will know that someone seemed to use that particular phrase a lot, Garak said it about Sisko when he tricked the Romulans into the war, Sisko said it about Damar when he formed a resistance movement, it was said about the Prophets when they stopped the Dominion coming through the wormhole...the list can go on and on). Would we have expected anything less from the legendary Enterprise crew?? Of course they are flying around coming across the wreckage of unknown vessels, when they could probably take on the Dominion forces and defeat them single handed. How could they do this?? Well, because, for fuck sake they are the crew of the Enterprise!! Yes in case you are wondering I do possess models of both the Enterprise and Definant as well as a bronze bust of Picard's head and shoulders - so when I say I am a fan I mean a die-hard fan!!

 

Those who read a lot of Star Trek books know that they are incredibly difficult things to do well and either rely on the Borg for a good story (which sometimes works think Vendetta and sometimes doesn’t, think [shiver] Greater than the Sum) or focus on some inner conflict one of the officers is having. Thankfully The Dominion War books are well written and are very exciting to read with the audience becoming hooked upon the desperate struggle of the Federation and the realisation of what an artificial wormhole will do to the already losing Starfleet.

 

Familiar characters from The Next Generation do crop up and make their presence felt in the conflict that thrilled fans of Deep Space Nine. It is doubtful that those who watched both Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation didn’t at one time wonder what the Enterprise was doing whilst Sisko and his crew were recapturing Deep Space Nine.

 

The four books are simply excellent and whilst the Deep Space Nine books can been seen if fans watch the series, the audience is left to create the struggle of the Enterprise crew in their minds. Great books will always leave the audience with the desire to see them made on the big screen, and the two Next Generation books of the Dominion War are no acceptation.

 

It should come as no surprise that here my Thumb is well and truly Up

 

 

9/10 - Fantastic series of books and a MUST-READ for any self-respecting Star Trek fan

 

Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Books

Date Posted: 23/10/15

 

If you are a fan of Star Trek then you have probably come across the Mirror Universe either in the Original Series or Deep Space Nine, however, if you tend to favour The Next Generation or Voyager then you might not be familiar with what the mirror universe is, so allow me to summarise it for you…ahem…it is a mirror universe…clear??

 

Star Trek Mirror Universe Book 1

 

Now obviously my summary above is just me poking a little bit of fun at my less intelligent readers, there is more to the mirror universe obviously. The five books that I am going to be talking about were first published in 2007 and features a host of characters from the Enterprise-era right the way through to The Next Generation who are invariably evil or battle hardened or something in this alternate universe…not to be confused with the Alternate Universe that has resulted due to Spock and Nero going back in time in the 2009 film Star Trek

 

Now I am not that familiar with the Star Trek Original Series escapades into the mirror universe but from what I have been able to piece together Kirk (and others) from the Primary Universe somehow ended up in an alternate timeline in which everyone was under the oppression of the Terran Empire. Starfleet still exists but the ships are crewed with opportunistic officers that will murder their way to the top, torture one another and trust is a rare commodity. Now apparently, after the cross over with the Primary Universe alternate Spock mind-melded with Kirk and saw that in the universe he had come from there was a United Federation of Planets where races worked together in peace.

 

Jumping ahead to The Next Generation era the Terran Empire has fallen and humans are second class citizens at best but are basically enslaved by the Cardassian-Klingon alliance and are being worked to death under the boot of their savage masters. The Bajorians have positions of authority but essentially killing is the way to progress, Bashier and Kira from the Primary Universe crossed over to the mirror universe during a mishap with the wormhole and managed to spark the Terran Rebellion.

 

Since then the mirror universe has popped up several times in DS9 and they were pretty decent episodes, there was even a mirror version of the Defiant, the fight against the Cardassian-Klingon alliance was pretty entertaining plus seeing some of your favourite characters getting to play their evil alter-egos was a joy.

 

Now…Star Trek: Mirror Universe books…

 

These fall into the trap of taking an interesting universe and making everyone in it so fundamentally unlikable that you are completely unsure who exactly you should be rooting for. There are currently five books which are comprised of three short novels apiece. They start with Glass Empires, Obsidian Alliances, Shards and Shadows, The Sorrows of the Empire and finally Rise Like Lions. I have to admit that I have only read Glass Empires, Obsidian Alliances and a third of Shards and Shadows, the reason is that I can only take so much of either the scheming and corrupt Terran Empire or the asshole Terran Rebellion fighting the equally unpleasant Cardassian-Klingon Alliance before I need a break.

 

There were only two occasions that I can say I was invested in any of the books. The first is in “Sorrows of the Empire” when Spock takes over the Terran Empire and systematically runs it into the ground, knowing the Empire’s enemies will rise up to crush it because he knows that in order for there ever to be a Federation then the human race needs to be downtrodden, rise up and…recognise that peaceful solutions are better than fighting…at least I think that was the point of that story. The second time was in “The Worst of Both Worlds” when we were following Jean-Luc Picard and Dr Soong (the guy who made Data in the Primary Universe) as they attempted to find a cybernetic race that they are hoping to convince into helping them fight the Alliance, or course it turns out that this race (the Borg if that wasn’t obvious) are far more dangerous than the Alliance could ever be.

 

These were two occasions when I was actually invested in the characters and the story unfolding before me as I read. Unfortunately these books are in the minority and we spend the rest of our time in the presence of characters that are such dicks you’d rather they all got wiped out or assimilated.

 

In one of the stories Obsidian Orders named “The Mirror Scaled-Serpent” we are seeing what the Voyager counterparts have been up to now that they didn’t get thrown to the Delta Quadrant. Basically Chakotay is a leader in the Rebellion, Janeway is his engineer and fuck-buddy, Harry Kim is a battle hardened badass warrior and Anika Hanson (Seven of Nine) is a massive slut. Meanwhile Torres is a powerful figure in the Alliance and has a loyal sex slave whose identity we only learn late in the book…it is Tom Paris just in case you don’t get the massive sign the book might as well be holding over him throughout the proceedings. The reason this book in particular really pissed me off is because not one of the characters in it are even remotely likable. Harry Kim is determined to murder as many klingons as possible, he bangs Anika at one point, but it is there for its own sake. It is made clear that Harry is getting no pleasure from it, and Anika basically has sex with anyone that moves so why was it there?? I think that maybe it was just thrown in there so fans of Voyager who were shouting at the TV when Seven asked Harry is he wanted to “copulate” and he said no would “see” the two of them fucking each other into a standstill. Still the fact remains what is the point of it?? Adding nothing to the story and just shows that Anika is a slut and Harry is a uncaring murdering machine, both of these things we already knew. It turns out that Janeway is working for Torres and was screwing Chakotay in order to manipulate him, and by the end everyone it is had so much blood on their hands that none of them are any better than others.

 

Like I said who are we supposed to be rooting for here??

 

The other problem I have with these books is that so many people in them are absolutely retarded…in the same book we have a novel called “Saturn’s Children”. Here we are following Kira after she was exiled following the loss of Terok Nor and is trying to find favour within the Alliance in order to re-establish her former position of power. Meanwhile the Rebellion is working on building eight more Defiant­-class ships so that they can take the fight to the Alliance as the Defiant they currently have is the most powerful warship in the universe. Smiley O’Brian is struggling to maintain control over the rebels who want to strike back against the Alliance in increasingly bloody ways and knows that once the eight extra Defiant ships are completed he will not be able to hold back other leaders who want to smash anything and everything associated with the Alliance. Okay so the Rebellion are going to build more powerful warships, fair enough, unfortunately they go about it in the stupidest way possible. Kira manages to manipulate her way onto Mortok’s ship after she discovers evidence that indicates the Rebellion are building the ships. They travel to the system and sure enough they find the base where the ships are being constructed and are almost ready to launch. The original Defiant arrives in the system under cloak and detects Mortok’s ship on the edge of the system and decide that the best thing to do is launch their new fleet so they can crush the vessel beneath their mighty boot…this makes no donkey bollocking sense…the Defiant detects a single klingon ship at the edge of the system and doesn’t simply fly up behind it, de-cloak and blow it into atoms. It is so stupid that it just does not make any since, how could anyone have possibly thought that this was a good tactic?? How are the Rebellion even a threat to the Alliance if they are lead by people who are thick as pig shit?? Presumably it was done to keep the series going because if the Rebellion can build as many Defiant-class ships as they wished then we would be right back to the Terran Empire again or the Cardassian-Klingon Alliance would be crushed and there would be no more stories.

 

If I cannot get invested in the characters then I cannot enjoy the story…that is why Moby Dick is still sitting within my kindle only half-read…I don’t give a shit about any of these mirror universe counterparts. In Deep Space Nine they were the underdogs fighting for a noble cause…freedom…that is fair enough but in these books every single person is either a murderer, a liar, a whore, an opportunist or all of the above. How are you supposed to root for any of them when you’re hoping the Borg will turn up and just assimilate every single despicable character in the book.

 

If you are determined to read more into the Mirror Universe books then my advice would be this: Small pieces…not very often. The novels within the books are not very long so read one, then give it six months for the bile that has built up in your throat and the desire to beat everyone in the story to death to subside before picking up the next one. Admittedly I will probably make it to the end of the five books because they are all downloaded on my kindle, but as I have said, I will follow my own advice and will therefore probably finish them sometime in the next few years…and that will still be quicker than the time it’ll take me to finish Moby Dick

 

I think that my Thumb has to be Down because if you cannot read something for more than a hundred or so pages before you want to kill everyone you are reading about then it has failed to draw you in and make you care.

 

 

3.5/10 – There are some decent stories here unfortunately for every good one there are at least three that are just a waste of time that invariably end up with everyone in the book dead or worse still alive to continue disappointing readers like me with their unlikable personalities.

 

TAC Reviews...Star Trek The Mirror Universe Books (the other two) 

Date Posted: 13/07/17

 

So after I had finished reading the first three books in this five book story-arc I was so sick of everyone in the stories that I abandoned them. However, eventually the bile that I had in my throat withdrew and I decided to finish the final books and see how things end.

 

Star Trek Mirror Universe Final Book

 

If you read my previous review on the Mirror Universe books (and I’m assuming you have) you’ll know that basically I found everyone so scheming, so despicable, and so stupid that I stopped reading. All of the characters were thoroughly unpleasant and I had no desire to see any of them win. But I had a gap in my reading schedule and as I had just finished reading The Autobiography of James T. Kirk I decided to return to them.

 

The only stories that I had liked from the previous novels was one involving Jean-Luc Picard as an archaeologist that was working loosely for the Cardassians but basically stayed out of the way of them and the Rebellion. He encountered the Borg and recognised how much worse the Collective was after his lover, Vash, was assimilated. After which he and his companion Deanna Troi disappeared to live out their lives in secret.

 

The other book was about the fall of the Terrain Empire but as the Mirror Books take place in The Next Generation-era we weren’t going to see any more about that story.

 

One of the characters I didn’t mention from the previous books was a guy called Mac Calhoun because I wasn’t 100% who he was or what his struggle had to do with anything. Ultimately he took command of an incredibly powerful starship called Excelsior (?) and joined with the Romulans after Romulus was destroyed by the Alliance. This wasn’t to say that I didn’t think the stories about him and his crew, a couple of which were familiar faces from Next Generation were bad, I just didn’t see what they had to do with the characters we’d seen during the DS9 cross-over episodes.

 

Now following on from the previous books we have the Rebellion very much on the back-foot as their fleet of Defiant-class ships have been destroyed and several of their leaders killed, retarded leaders, but leaders none-the-less. Miles O'Brien is in command of the Rebellion but things are not going well and various power struggles are taking place within the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance.

 

I have to say that these books are far better than the previous ones because the different dangling threads start to come together. Memory Omega, a secret organisation created by Emperor Spock, that has been working in the background actually takes an active role in the stories now. They have somehow found a fleet yard that exists beyond the galaxy, that has advanced technology that enable ships to travel instantly from one location to another. O’Brien and Mac are locked into a stand-off by their own pride, arrogance, and the fact that neither is willing to act under the other, so the Rebellion joining with Mac’s Romulan forces seems impossible. But Memory Omega recruits none other than Picard to be the new leader of the Rebellion, as a neutral party he is in the perfect position to be in command. Initially he is more of a figurehead but as the stories develop he begins to get a feel for command, and becomes the Captain of Legend he is in the Primary Universe.

 

What I particularly liked is that the remaining characters are not all despicable assholes that deserve to die. In previous stories, Janeway, Harry Kim, Riker and numerous others were basically grizzled warriors obsessed with killing regardless of the cost. Essentially they had abandoned their humanity for the sake of revenge. If you’re going to do that then you have to make them likeable or charismatic or really develop their characters so the audience understand why they act that way. The previous stories didn’t do that which is why I, for one, was so un-invested and didn’t care about them or what happened to them.

 

This time around the survivors of the previous books have a clear goal in mind, and are able to do things because it is the right thing to do. The Klingons at one point develop a weapon that can destroy a star (like Soran did in Generations) and decide to destroy the Bajoran sun to obliterate Terok Nor as well as Bajor. The rebels fight to repel them because allowing the Klingons to commit genocide isn’t something they will allow, despite Bajor being a long-standing ally of the Alliance. Many die as they struggle to repel the attacking forces.

 

Sadly there are still some weak links with Kes being one of them. In an earlier book (I forget which) Kes and Neelix end up in the Alpha Quadrant in a reverse of what happened to Voyager when the Caretaker brought them to the Delta Quadrant. As a powerful telepath Kes was taken to Memory Omega to undergo training to develop her powers, by now her mental abilities are formidable. There is a bit of a damp squib moment when she escapes from Memory Omega, she goes to find Neelix who has become a captain in the Rebellion and tries to persuade him to come with her. He refuses and initially wants her to fight alongside the rebels as with her powers she’ll easily be able to crush the Alliance’s forces. She refuses and instead removes Neelix’s self-will making him her puppet. Once the brainwashing is stopped by Tuvok who has a device that can dampen her powers, Neelix rejects her, horrified that she would do such a thing to him. Kes then spends the majority of the rest of her time unable to use her powers and bitter that Neelix is lost to her forever. Tuvok is forced to deactivate the device when the Rebellion’s forces look set to be crushed by the Alliance enabling her to destroy the invading fleet. Moments later she declares herself Empress and destroys the device in Tuvok’s hand only for him to tell her that the dampener will kill her unless it can be deactivated…using the device she just destroyed…wah, wah, wahhhhhh…so Kes’ dreams of grandeur disappear as her head basically explodes.

 

Generally though the last couple of books focus more on the positives and the fact that the Rebellion is ultimately looking to make peace with the Alliance rather than slaughter them all. The characters are more likable and making Picard the commander of the Rebellion works as he is similar to his Primary Universe counterpart and is not an asshole that you want to die.

 

There is a lot of crap that you basically have to wade through to get to a decent ending, but the ending is, it has to be said pretty good. The assholes are dead and the remaining characters are people who the reader will actually like and was glad to see survive to see Spock’s dream realised. The final books get a Thumbs Up as they bring together all of the dangling threads left over from the previous stories and apart from the odd misstep they are generally pretty good.

 

 

7/10 – You have to get through a lot of crap to get to this point, but if you can make it through the lies, treachery, idiots and characters you long to see die then these final books will leave you with less of a bad taste in your mouth when you think of the Mirror Universe Books.

 

TAC Reviews...The Autobiography of James T. Kirk

Date Posted: 25/06/17

 

Originally published in June 2016 surprisingly (well surprising to me anyway) was not written by William Shatner, the man who played James T. Kirk in Star Trek The Original Series. It was instead written by David A. Goodman. Shatner has written a series of novels which take place after the events of Star Trek Generations in which Kirk is resurrected by the Borg in The Return in order to kill the Borg’s most dangerous enemy Jean-Luc Picard. The books have come to be known as the “Shatnerverse” and whilst they have their ups and downs they are not the subject of this review so I’m going to stop talking about them now.

 

The Autobiography of James T Kirk Cover

 

Now I’m assuming you are already on board with who James T. Kirk is because if you aren’t then it begs the question of why you are reading an article in which I’m going to talk about his autobiography. However, just on the off chance that you are simply a die-hard fan of mine and read everything that I write (hey it could happen) allow me to give you a quick update on James T. Kirk.

 

James T. Kirk, one of Starfleet’s Legendary Captains (along with Jean-Luc Picard, Ben Sisko and Kathryn Janeway…you’ll notice I didn’t say Jonathan Archer because he was responsible for destroying the Star Trek franchise so is hardly a legendary captain), was born 2233 and was killed in action 2371. He was the third captain of the USS Enterprise and at the time the youngest Captain in Starfleet. The adventures he would have during his five-year mission include making first contact with numerous alien races, tangling with genetically engineered supermen, and doing everything he could for human-alien relations (by seemingly having sex with numerous alien women).

 

He and his crew, which included the Vulcan Spock and Leonard “Bones” McCoy (played by Leonard Nimoy and Deforest Kelley in The Original Series), also became the stuff of legend within Starfleet. The events of their five-year mission was shown episodically in Star Trek The Original Series (which I haven’t seen) however the events of the films that started with Star Trek The Motion Picture through to Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country are something that I am familiar with. I have seen the occasional episode of The Original Series, I made a point of watching Space Seed (this was the episode that introduced Khan who would be the antagonist of Star Trek II Wrath of Khan) and Doomsday Machine which featured the Planet Killer. As a result during the book some of the events that Kirk talked about I knew related to certain episodes of the show and the films, however, because as an audience we have seen the events of The Original Series as well as the films the author, David A. Goodman, doesn’t tend to dwell too much on what we have already seen.

 

The book starts off by informing us that the narrative we are about to read was completed by Kirk not long before he was killed in action (that action being the events at the beginning of Star Trek Generations when Kirk is “killed” during the maiden voyage of the Enterprise-B and pulled into the Nexus).

 

I don’t really know how to talk about an autobiography because I have never actually reviewed one before, as far as I am aware autobiographies tend to simply tell the story of a person’s life. This book instead gives various instances and events that have happened in Kirk’s life which we may not have seen in the show or films. There is some crossover with the films and TV show, but these tend to be Kirk commenting on what has recently happened, and things that he was able to look back on with the power of retrospect.

 

The first third of the book happens before Kirk even makes it to the Enterprise and talks about his early life and training at Starfleet Academy. In order to become a Communications Officer in the Grand Seniority’s Advanced Reconnaissance Fleet I had to go through significant training, this isn’t the kind of job where you just wander in and they give you a ship, and from the sounds of it the requirements of Starfleet Academy are equally as tough. I have watched The Next Generation and even though there was an episode where they showed Wesley Crusher undertaking the entrance exam to the Academy, it was never really shown what a cadet had to go through the graduate. Everything Kirk describes makes sense, an officer needs to be trained in all aspects of life onboard a starship because in an emergency they may be called upon to navigate the ship, or tend to a medical emergency, do some engine maintenance and so on. Goodman really gives an insight into how tough that life is in the fictional universe of Star Trek and how many cadets don’t make it. The Star Trek universe seems to be about races living happily together but in this book we see Kirk becoming the victim of a bully just because he [Kirk] is a first year cadet and the other guy is higher up the rank than him who decides to victimise him.

 

This is the best part of the book for me because here Kirk is not the captain already and living in the best quarters onboard the ship. He starts his career with quarters underneath a flight of stairs in the engine room of his first assigned ship and does his duty even when it puts himself at odds with others.

 

It is obvious when you start becoming an invested in a story and the characters because there is an event Kirk describes when his best and closest friend, Ben, who is working on the same ship as him, ducks out of duty early to send a subspace message to his son. Kirk notices a fault with something Ben had done whilst he’d been on shift, he has the chance of fixing it and not saying anything but Kirk is worried about it happening again if he covers it up, so he fixes the error and logs it in the ship’s record. The next day his friend drags him out of his bunk shouting at him for making him look bad, and not covering for him when he should have. The captain asks Kirk why he did what he did, and Kirk tells him that he was simply concerned if he covered it up (which he could have easily done) it might put the ship in danger if Ben made the same error again. As a result Ben badmouths Kirk to everyone on the ship and spends the rest of his life harbouring a deep seated hatred of his former friend going so far as to attempt to frame him for murder when they end up serving together again years later.

 

From the third way point onwards Kirk is on the Enterprise but a lot of the stuff that happened in the episodes is only glimpsed or Kirk considers the aftermath of events that have transpired. He romanticises the idea of releasing Khan instead of doing the right thing and sending him and his followers to a prison faculty for the rest of his life. He talks about the sorrow of losing Gary Mitchell, a friend he’d had since the Academy, who was taken over by an entity that left Kirk with no choice but to kill him.

 

He talks openly about his own arrogance, and how he started to become convinced of his own legend. After he is relieved of command of the Enterprise and promoted to the Admiralty (because that is what he believes is what he wants) he realises that he wants to get back onboard the Enterprise. He takes command from Decker (this charts the events at the beginning of The Motion Picture) after hinting at potentially blackmailing an Admiral that promoted him, as a result he is viewed as being a troublemaker. He burns his bridges to get what he wants. It is a frank admission that he is willing to do whatever he has to in order to get back command of his ship, of course he is looking at everything with the power of hindsight.

 

Key events that I knew about (like his son, David Marcus, being killed at the hands of the Klingons in Star Trek III The Search for Spock) are given a bit more time to really fester. We get to see how he is dealing with the loss of the son he barely knew. In the films we didn’t get to see much of Kirk really dealing with the loss of his child, and in the book he tells us of what transpired when he told Carol Marcus that her only child was dead. She blames Kirk for what happened, and Kirk is forced to admit that she is right, he let Khan go, he was the one Khan wanted, and that chain of events lead to David’s death on the Genesis Planet. After telling her that he will be there for her he simply writes that after that he never saw Carol Marcus again.

 

The autobiography is both insightful into the (fictional) life of Kirk and written by someone who is seemingly looking at his life and has started to realise that he has given everything to Starfleet. He has forgone love, and a family, in favour of sitting in the “big chair” and commanding a starship. The Enterprise was the love of his life but ultimately she is not his ship, she belongs to Starfleet and when the time comes the ship is decommissioned. After being made an admiral he does everything he can to get back command of a ship, and for a time his life becomes about the spiral. He captains a ship, gets promotion which takes him away from command, does everything he can to get his ship back, resumes command, then he is promoted (or given a desk job where he can’t cause trouble), fights to get his ship back…and so it goes on…

 

The book this one reminded me of the most was Boy by Roald Dahl which was written in a similar style to this. It wasn’t a series of events, “this happened, then this happened, then this…” and so on. It started with Dahl writing that he was simply going to tell us, the reader, about things that had happened in his life which meant something. Those events might be something small (a couple of them were only a paragraph or two long) or they might be something bigger, but what they have in common is they all mattered to him in some way and helped to define who he is. This book is the same. It jumps sometimes years between events and we get the thoughts of Kirk as he looks back on what he did with the eyes of a man coming up to his sixtieth birthday rather than a young arrogant man who still believes his own propaganda.

 

Considering I have read numerous Star Trek books over the years and they are generally really good or really bad, this one falls into the good category. I think it would have carried more weight if I had watched The Original Series but the style of writing in this book is not the same cheesy 60s style that the show was filmed in so I think it would be hard for me to gel the thoughts of Kirk with the crappy music, bad computer effects and hammy acting. I am giving The Autobiography of James T. Kirk a Thumbs Up, it is a decent book that would probably be better if you’d seen the series but considering I haven’t and I’m still recommending it then that has to say something.

 

 

8/10 – I enjoyed this book and considering it is one of only three autobiography-type books that I have read and one of only two that I liked that says something about its ability to not only draw the reader in but also make them question the activities and motivations of fictional characters

 

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