Friday, October 13, 2017

Beneath the Raptor's Wing

Star Trek: Enterprise
The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing by Michael A. Martin
Published October 2009
Read June 29th 2016

Previous book (Enterprise): Kobayashi Maru

Next book (Enterprise): The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm

Spoilers ahead for The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing!

From the back cover:
At the start of the twenty-first century, unconditional war swept across the Earth. A war that engulfed the great and the small, the rich and the poor, giving no quarter. Each side strove for unconditional victory, and as battle built upon battle, the living began to envy the dead. Chastised by the cataclysm that they had unleashed, the governments of Earth came together. Humanity vowed to put an end to war and to strive for the betterment of every living creature. A united Earth created Starfleet, an interstellar agency whose mission was to explore the cosmos, to come in peace for all mankind. It was a naïve wish that was battered by interstellar realities, yet man persists in the belief that peace is the way. Banding together with other powers to form a Coalition of Planets, humanity hopes that the strength each can offer the other will allow for peaceful exploration. However, the rise of the Coalition strikes dread within the Romulan Star Empire. They feel its growing reach will cut them off from what is rightfully theirs. The Romulans know that the alliance is fragile, that the correct strategy could turn allies into foes. Perfecting a way of remotely controlling Coalition ships and using them as weapons against one another, the Romulans hope to drive a wedge of suspicion and mistrust between these new allies. One Starfleet captain uncovers this insidious plot: Jonathan Archer of the Enterprise. Determined not to lose what they have gained, outmanned and outgunned, the captains of Starfleet stand tall, vowing to defend every inch of Coalition space until the tide begins to turn. The Romulans now plan to strike at what they see as the heart of their problem. With nothing left to lose, the Romulan Star Empire engages in all-out war against humanity, determined once and for all to stop the human menace from spreading across the galaxy.

My thoughts:

Much like the Deep Space Nine and Voyager relaunches, Enterprise novels were given a fresh start when the authors were allowed to move beyond the series finale and showcase events from a time period that never made it on screen. Beginning with The Good That Men Do, authors Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels told the story of the Starship Enterprise under Archer after we stopped watching their adventures in 2255. The Coaltion of Planets, Trip's fake death, and the run-up to the Romulan War were all explored. Now, we finally reach that fateful conflict. This time, however, Michael Martin is without his longtime writing partner, and is instead penning the novels solo. How does this entry stack up against the ones before it?

Unfortunately, I have to render a verdict of "not well." While the underlying story is certainly interesting, and the exploration of such a crucial period in Star Trek history is very welcome, the execution here is lacking in my opinion. The story at seems seems very ponderous, taking forever to get where it is going, and much of the momentum of the events is lost by the unfocused way the story moves through the early years of the Romulan War. It felt as though just as things are getting interesting, the book would jump ahead in time or to another setting at just the wrong time.

I appreciated that Beneath the Raptor's Wing featured perspectives different from the ones we're used to, including that of the Romulans conducting the war against Earth and her allies.

There are certainly a number of things I appreciated. I liked that the novel featured a variety of perspectives on the conflict, including an investigative journalist as well as colonists who have a different view of the war than either the Earth-born natives or the Starfleet crews that form the backbone of the defense of Earth and her colonies. Additionally, the opportunity to see things from the perspective of the Romulans added an interesting element to the book, although this leads to another issue that many online (myself included) had with this novel.

I don't speak Romulan. Heck, unlike many Trek fans, I don't even speak Klingon! But this book is inundated with Romulan terms and phrases. This is, on the face of it, not a bad thing. However, it got to the point while reading it that it got difficult to understand. I'm all for peppering a story with alien words here and there, but when it gets in the way of following the story, it might just be a bit much.

Perhaps if I were Admiral Valdore, I could have followed the use of Romulan terms in this novel with a little less confusion.

The Romulan War is a critical period in the future history of Star Trek, and it deserves to be showcased. This is the conflict that immediately precedes the founding of the United Federation of Planets, and leads to the world that we know and love from The Original Series one hundred years hence. I certainly wouldn't say that you shouldn't read this book; as I mentioned above, there are a number of very good factors that were enjoyable to read. It is simply that the novel as a whole doesn't hold up as much as I would like it to. Much like some people's opinions of the Voyager relaunch novels that were written before Kirsten Beyer took the helm, I feel that one should read these Enterprise relaunch novels in order to get to the good stuff: Christopher L. Bennett's Enterprise: Rise of the Federation series.

Final thoughts:

Regular readers of this blog will know that I generally dislike giving unfavorable reviews. I'm someone who is usually fairly easily pleased, and I tend to really enjoy a good Star Trek story. This one, however, left me somewhat cold. The story seems too ponderous in places, and the pacing felt off. There are certainly some positive aspects, including the different perspectives presented by the author as well as the expansive feel of the political landscape during this period, but it's not enough to make this one a really compelling read. And it's too bad, really; The Romulan War should be an important story that greatly adds to the mythology of Star Trek history. Unfortunately, Beneath the Raptor's Wing somewhat misses the mark.

More about Beneath the Raptor's Wing:

Podcast: Literary Treks 154: I Don't Speak Romulan

Also by Michael A. Martin:

My next read:

Next up is my video review for Dayton Ward's TNG: Hearts and Minds. On the written review front, look for my review of Kirsten Beyer's first Voyager relaunch novel, Full Circle.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Covers for Upcoming Releases!

Hey everyone! We have a couple of new book covers for upcoming Trek stories to show you!

First up is the final, corrected version of Titan: Fortune of War by David Mack! Fortune of War is set for release on November 28th and will feature Riker and the crew of the Titan dealing with fallout from the events of a third season TNG episode. Check out the cover and back-cover blurb below, along with links to pre-order from Amazon!

From the back cover:
An original spin-off novel set in the popular Star Trek: The Next Generation universe from New York Times bestselling author David Mack. 
Death slumbers in the ashes of silent planets, waiting to be awakened and unleashed… 
Twenty years have passed since the interstellar scourge known as the Husnock were exterminated without warning by a being with godlike abilities. Left behind, intact but abandoned, their desolate worlds and derelict ships brim with destructive potential. 
Now a discovery by a Federation cultural research team has drawn the attention of several ruthless factions. From black market smugglers to alien military forces, it seems every belligerent power in the quadrant hopes to capture the Husnock's lethal technology. 
All that stands between the galaxy and those who have come to plunder the cruelest secrets of the Husnock are Admiral William Riker, Captain Christine Vale, and the crew of the Starship Titan.

Official street date for Fortune of War is November 28th. You can pre-order it here:

Mass-market paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

A couple of weeks before Fortune of War, however, is a new Deep Space Nine e-book novella by Paula M. Block & Terry J. Erdmann: I, The Constable. This one looks really fascinating, and I can't wait to check it out!

From the publisher's description:
An original enovella set in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine universe! 
With his Starfleet assignment temporarily on hold, Odo needs a distraction. He welcomes Chief O’Brien’s offer to loan him some of the action-packed books that both men relish: tales about hard-boiled private eyes, threatening thugs, and duplicitous dames. Then Quark suddenly goes missing during a hastily planned trip to Ferenginar. His concerned friends on Deep Space Nine feel that Odo, as the station’s former chief of security, is uniquely suited to track Quark down. But once on Ferenginar, Odo learns that Quark is trapped in the seamy underbelly of a criminal enterprise that could have been ripped from the pages of one of O’Brien’s novels. To find the bartender, Odo discovers that he must rely not only on his law enforcement background, but his knowledge of all things noir….

I, The Constable is due to be released on November 13th, and you can download it from your vendor of choice on that date! Here are pre-order links from Amazon:

 E-book (Kindle): | |

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Release Day, Part Deux! Discovery: Desperate Hours

Star Trek: Discovery
Desperate Hours by David Mack

We also have another new novel released today, a trade paperback, and the first original novel in the Star Trek: Discovery series, released just two days after the world premiere of the new television show! Check out Discovery: Desperate Hours by renowned Star Trek author David Mack!

Publisher's description:
An all-original novel based upon the explosive new series on CBS All Access!

Aboard the Starship Shenzhou, Lieutenant Michael Burnham, a human woman raised and educated among Vulcans, is promoted to acting first officer. But if she wants to keep the job, she must prove to Captain Philippa Georgiou that she deserves to have it.

She gets her chance when the Shenzhou must protect a Federation colony that is under attack by an ancient alien vessel that has surfaced from the deepest fathoms of the planet’s dark, uncharted sea.

As the menace from this mysterious vessel grows stronger, Starfleet declares the colony expendable in the name of halting the threat. To save thousands of innocent lives, Burnham must infiltrate the alien ship. But to do so, she needs to face the truth of her troubled past, and seek the aid of a man she has tried to avoid her entire life—until now.

Purchase Discovery: Desperate Hours:

Next Release: Deep Space Nine: I, the Constable

Release Day! Deep Space Nine: Original Sin

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Original Sin by David R. George III

With a couple of months this year with no new release, today our cups runneth over with TWO new releases! First off is the latest adventure in the Deep Space Nine universe: Gamma: Original Sin by David R. George III! Check out the cover art below, and find links to purchase from Amazon!

Publisher's description:
Continuing the Deep Space Nine saga—an original novel from New York Times bestselling author David R. George III!

At the end of 2385, in a significant shift of its goals from military back to exploratory, Starfleet sent Captain Benjamin Sisko and the crew of the U.S.S. Robinson on an extended mission into the Gamma Quadrant. Tasked with a yearlong assignment to travel unknown regions, they set out to fulfill the heart of Starfleet’s charter: to explore strange new worlds, and to seek out new life and new civilizations.

But now three months into the mission, their first contact with an alien species comes in the form of an unprovoked attack on the Robinson. With the ship’s crew suddenly incapacitated, seventy-eight of the 1,300 aboard are abducted—including Sisko’s daughter, Rebecca. But Rebecca had already been kidnapped years earlier by a Bajoran religious zealot, part of a sect believing that her birth fulfilled the prophecy of the arrival of the Infant Avatar. Does her disappearance now have anything to do with the harrowing events of the past? And for what purposes have these enemies taken Sisko’s daughter and the rest of the missing?

Purchase Deep Space Nine: Gamma: Original Sin:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Literary Treks 203: The Ends Justify the Means

Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference
by Christopher L. Bennett

MMPB: | |
Kindle: | |

The Prime Directive: The cornerstone of Federation law when it comes to interacting with other cultures. How did this important directive come into being, and what were the intentions of the original authors of Starfleet's overriding policy? We journey back to the early days of the Federation to find out!

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are joined by Earl Grey's Justin Oser to talk about Christopher L. Bennett's latest novel, Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference. We discuss the dictator Maltuvis, the ultimate Prime Directive debate, a strange new world, freedom and truth, Section 31's fatal flaw, what's in store for Trip, and Archer's beagle companion, Porthos.

In the news segment, we talk about the recently revealed (and incorrect) cover for David Mack's upcoming Titan novel, Fortune of War.

Literary Treks 203: The Ends Justify the Means
Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference by Christopher L. Bennett


Previous episode: Literary Treks 202: The Rosebud of My Collection
Next episode: Literary Treks 204: Mudd In Your Eye by Jerry Oltion

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Literary Treks 202: The Rosebud of My Collection

Star Trek FotoNovels with Access Hollywood's Scott Mantz!

Before VCRs, DVRs and Netflix, viewers had to watch Star Trek as it appeared on TV. There were no options to record. You couldn't buy the episodes on Blu-ray or download them online. To relive favorite episodes, fans were at the mercy of watching reruns on their local TV station. The only way to enjoy certain episodes over and over again on your own time was to open a book filled with full-color photographs and dialogue directly from the series.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson are joined by Access Hollywood's Scott Mantz to talk about Star Trek Fotonovels from the 1970s. We discuss our fond memories of the '70s, Scott's favorite episode of all time, his collection of all twelve fotonovels, their influence on John Byrne's New Visions comics, and the interviews and glossaries found in the back of the books.

In the news segment, we talk about new comics from IDW Publishing coming in November and the latest issue of Star Trek New Visions #17: "All the Ages Frozen."

Literary Treks 202: The Rosebud of My Collection
Star Trek FotoNovels with Access Hollywood's Scott Mantz


Previous episode: Literary Treks 201: Cougar Q
Next episode: Literary Treks 203: Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference by Christopher L. Bennett

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Literary Treks 201: Cougar Q

Star Trek: The Next Generation #49
The Q Continuum Book 3 of 3
Q-Strike by Greg Cox

MMPB: | |
Kindle: | |

A powerful force has been unleashed on an unsuspecting galaxy: a dangerous being who once tested the might of the entire Q Continuum. Now, it's up to Picard and his crew, along with Q and his family, to thwart this enemy and keep the galaxy as we know it from complete and utter destruction.

In this episode of Literary Treks, hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther are again joined by The Edge and Earl Grey host Amy Nelson to talk about the final novel in the Q Continuum trilogy, Q-Strike by Greg Cox. We discuss the plot of the novel, a sad end to a family crisis, the Q family dynamic, the ending of the novel, and wrap up with our final thoughts and ratings for both this novel and the Q Continuum trilogy as a whole.

In the news segment, we review two comics: the final issue of the Waypoint series, and issue #3 of the Mirror Broken miniseries.

Literary Treks 201: Cougar Q
TNG #49: The Q Continuum Book 3 of 3: Q-Strike by Greg Cox

Previous episode: Literary Treks 200: Klingon-It Up a Little Bit
Next episode: Literary Treks 202: The Rosebud of My Collection