Cold Wind April 16, 2014 Cold Wind Nicola Griffith Old ways can outlast their usefulness. What Mario Scietto Says April 15, 2014 What Mario Scietto Says Emmy Laybourne An original Monument 14 story. Something Going Around April 9, 2014 Something Going Around Harry Turtledove A tale of love and parasites. The Devil in America April 2, 2014 The Devil in America Kai Ashante Wilson The gold in her pockets is burning a hole.
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Showing posts by: Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer click to see Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer's profile
Mar 12 2014 9:00am

Star Trek The Pandora Principle Carolyn ClowesRemember Saavik? Saavik was a really cool character. I can’t remember when I saw Saavik’s official first appearance in the Star Trek canon, which was in The Wrath of Khan. But I do remember reading about her in Carolyn Clowes’ 1990 novel, The Pandora Principle, which is a ripping Girls’ Own Adventure yarn, in the style of Heinlein’s juvenilia. This came out when I was 14, and I probably bought it in the same year, which was definitely well before I saw The Search for Spock. I picked it up again because the plot involves Vulcan trafficking.

The other examples of Vulcan trafficking in my recent reading have focused on Romulan efforts to exploit Vulcans’ telepathic powers. The Romulans are alert to every possible advantage that could forward their political and diplomatic ambitions, and the Vulcans are surprisingly lackadaisical about looking for missing exploratory and trade vessels and keeping track of areas where such vessels tend to disappear.

[Saavik finds this as infuriating as I do.]

Mar 5 2014 3:00pm

Star Trek My Enemy My Ally Diane DuaneDiane Duane writes the most alien aliens in the Star Trek universe. She’s written the Horta, a race of glass spiders, and a second species of talking rock. She questions the relationships between these species and humanity, the Federation, and the fabric of space and time. She writes about them in incredible detail. By the time she’s done, you know how they think of themselves, what they think of you, and what they regard as tasty snacks.

In her 1984 novel, My Enemy, My Ally, Duane took on the Romulans. And although it’s really not unlike a lot of Duane’s other work on other alien races, it’s a stunning demonstration of what she can do.

[Do you want your Star Trek complicated? I think you do.]

Feb 3 2014 10:15am

J.K. Rowling says Hermione should have married Harry

The post-Potter world has been full of interesting revelations. This weekend, we got one more—in an interview with Emma Watson, J.K Rowling said that Hermione should have ended up with Harry. The full interview is slated to appear in the February 7th issue of Wonderland, an international magazine spotlighting visual culture. Watson is guest-editing.

[Hermione has better options]

Jan 23 2014 12:00pm

A Time for War A Time for Peace Star Trek Keith R A DeCandidoWhen I picked up Keith R. A. DeCandido’s A Time for War, A Time for Peace (2004), I had no intention of blogging about it. I can’t tell whether the title comes from the Old Testament or from the Pete Seeger song. It’s book nine in a nine-book mini-series, and I object to anything nine books in length being described as a “mini-series.” More significantly, I haven’t read the first eight books.

Jumping in at book nine to say several hundred words about the worth and quality of a work doesn’t feel like fair play, but I’m going to do it anyway. I picked up this book as part of my personal mission to read everything ever written about Deltans. Although he doesn’t have much to say about Deltans, DeCandido has written a fun and fabulous book that completely drew me in.

[It has all the things that make Star Trek worth reading.]

Dec 12 2013 5:00pm

Star Trek the Motion Picture novel gene roddenberryOver a few months of reading, I hit two books about Deltans. Once is chance, twice is coincidence, and I like to be the mastermind of my own conspiracies, so I went looking for a third.

Gene Rodenberry’s novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was the most easily identifiable option. I found it very informative. It’s like a cross between an encyclopedia and a roller coaster.

[So here’s how that went for me… ]

Dec 9 2013 10:00am

Sarek Star Trek A C CrispinThe addictive thing about books is the way they lead in to one another. In the opening chapters of Libriomancer, Jim Hines refers to a Star Trek novel by A.C. Crispin, and I had to put his book down to look that one up. Tragically, the book Hines referred to was fictional, but it led me to Crispin’s actual 1994 novel, Sarek.

Crispin was the author of my first encounters with Star Trek. She was one of the writers who told me that Star Trek was for and about people like me. I reviewed two of her novels some months back with phasers set firmly on snark; The Yesterday Saga was both precious and hilarious. Sarek was one of the more serious Star Trek novels—un-numbered and published in hardcover. It offers a detailed and attentive examination of Federation politics and a massive quantity of character development. Sarek is the Star Trek novel equivalent of a glass of Riesling—sweet and light, but indisputably grown up.

[It should be called Amanda]

Dec 2 2013 11:00am

10 Reasons to Read a Star Trek Novel

Some people turn to tie-in fiction because they are missing their favorite shows and films—but Star Trek novels are so much more than something to tide you over until the next movie or (fingers crossed) show emerges. Here are some reasons you should consider picking up a Star Trek novel.

[Or give one as a gift on Captain Picard Day!]

Oct 21 2013 2:30pm

Star Trek Department of Temporal Investigations Christopher L BennettMy choices about which Star Trek novels to review are usually simple. I look for books with girls on the cover, and books with awesome Boris Vallejo cover art. I like my sci-fi with a major case of girl cooties, which the Star Trek novels of the 80s and early 90s were happy to provide, which helps explain why so many of them sold so well. My Boris Vallejo fetish is sometimes embarrassing. I want to hang the cover painting from Time for Yesterday on my bedroom wall and gently lick the corners until I die of cadmium poisoning.

Anyway, the day has finally come (not the day I die of cadmium poisoning): I am reviewing a Star Trek novel that acknowledges the existence of all of the extant television series. It seems most fitting and appropriate that that novel should be Christopher L. Bennett’s Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock, originally published in 2011.

[Dulce et Decorum Est pro Tempus Mori!]

Jun 4 2013 3:00pm

Enemy Unseen, V.E. MitchellIn some Star Trek stories, Spock has been missing in action or presumed dead. He has been sent on dangerous top-secret missions. He has actually died. These stories are intense and suspenseful. Kirk was never meant to work alone. Kirk needs Spock. In V.E. Mitchell’s Enemy Unseen, Spock goes on leave to attend a scientific conference and Kirk faces a routine diplomatic mission without him. Without Spock, however planned and temporary his absence may be, Kirk is bereft. He spends a lot of this book stress eating. While Kirk mopes his way through the story, Mitchell expands my favorite part of the Star Trek universe. Everything interesting that happens in this story happens because of a woman.

[Click here for lots and lots of spoilers.]

Apr 3 2013 5:00pm

Star Trek Novel Doctor's Horders Diane DuaneThere’s no reason why all the people humanity encounters in the universe should have the same relationship with space and time. Some Star Trek novel writers ignore this possibility, as the television series largely did, to comment on the problems facing humanity. Diane Duane doesn’t hesitate to comment on the human condition, but she does it while embracing the scope for imaginative effects that novels offer. Her human characters are fully human, and her alien characters are almost unimaginably alien. Duane’s examination of the mind-boggling diversity of the universe is set both beside and within her examination of the logistical difficulties inherent in schlepping 400 people into the unknown and getting most of them back again. Duane doesn’t just set her stories aboard the Starship Enterprise, she inventories the ship’s stores, consults with the Recreation Officer about morale, and holds inter-departmental planning meetings. She is endlessly fascinated with details and possibilities. When Diane Duane writes a Star Trek novel, she plays with all the colors in the Star Trek crayon box.

[Read more]

Mar 11 2013 10:00am

Klingon Klingons Women Star Trek Women's History MonthMarch is Women’s History Month! Why? Because it contains International Women’s Day, which commemorates the day that women in Russia started the Russian Revolution by having a bread riot. The soldiers ordered to suppress the riot joined it instead, turning an angry mob into an armed angry mob, and leading directly to the abdication of Tsar Nicolas II and to a chain of events that ultimately created the Soviet Union and the Cold War. While most people who celebrate International Women’s Day worldwide probably aren’t thinking about Star Trek, the actions of women on that day in 1917 led directly to the formation of the Soviet Union and the nuclear anxieties that compelled Gene Roddenberry to create a more optimistic vision for humanity’s future. In Star Trek, the Soviet Union was represented by the Klingon Empire. Only one Klingon woman appeared in the Original Series, but many more have appeared in the licensed novels and in every Star Trek series since. Like all science fiction, Star Trek works by combining reflections on the past and present with its audiences’ hopes and fears for the future. It’s inextricably tangled with the time of its creation. Licensed novels and subsequent series have meant that both the time of Star Trek’s creation and its cast of creators have been broadly defined and diverse. These have allowed for the creation of stories about 23rd-century Klingon women that reflect the anxieties and hopes of 20th-century women writers.

[They embedded their anxieties and hopes in some seriously awesome characters]

Feb 11 2013 6:00pm

Spock Loves Kirk. Love, Della Van Hise: A Careful Consideration of Killing TimeSometimes, I don’t know what I have.

In 1990, I was buying Star Trek novels as they came out. Pocket released one a month, alternating between Original Series and Next Generation titles. Sometimes, I would pick up an older release as well, if something struck my fancy or the new release ran late. Somehow, I picked up a copy of Killing Time by Della Van Hise. It was not one of the rare copies of the first edition. Even so, a well-connected fan would have known what it was. I was not a well-connected fan. I’m sure I read the book within hours of acquisition. I’m sure I loved it, because I loved them all. And then I put it on a shelf and went on to the next one and let it wait 20 years or so before picking it up again.

It’s got a great cover, this book. There are Romulan women in gold lame togas, and a Bird of Prey descending over an exotic skyline, and Spock is wearing a red cape. He looks kind of stoically embarrassed about it. The tag line frantically insists that the galaxy has gone mad. It is a cover ripe with promise, for a book that over-delivers.

[Click here for relentless madness]

Dec 27 2012 4:00pm

10 Reasons to Read a Star Trek Novel

You need something to get you through the cold, dark days until you can finally Trek Into Darkness, but Star Trek novels are so much more than something to tide you over until the movie comes out. Here some reasons you should consider picking up a Star Trek novel.

[Or give one as a gift on Captain Picard Day!]

Dec 14 2012 12:00pm

A look at overlooked, for various reasons, Uhura-centered Star Trek novelsUhura has long been one of the most interesting characters in the Star Trek canon, in no small part because the series says so little about her. Nichelle Nichols noted that most scripts started with some interesting pages for her, and ended with “Hailing frequencies open, Captain.” While this was a horrible waste of a talented artist, it leaves plenty of imaginative space for novelists to work within.

Melinda Snodgrass views this space as a playground. In The Tears of the Singers, Snodgrass crafts a Star Trek adventure that is propelled by Uhura and the questions that define her life.

[She leaves the bridge! She threatens to resign her commission! I’m fairly sure she doesn’t open hailing frequencies more than once!]

Oct 11 2012 11:00am

Captain Robert April, You’re Doing it Wrong: Objectivism, Climate Control, and Diane Carey’s Star Trek novel Final FrontierFollowing the successes of her 1986 Star Trek novels, Dreadnought! and Battlestations! Diane Carey took another run at the Star Trek mythos in Final Frontier, a giant novel about Kirk’s dad. Not to be confused with the movie of the same title, Carey’s 1988 novel describes George Kirk’s involvement with the first ever mission of the as-yet-unnamed Enterprise, the first starship ever constructed, under the command of its first captain, Robert April. They’re off to rescue a colony ship from an ion storm, when a computer malfunction sends them on a side-trip to the heart of the Romulan Empire. George and Robert spend most of the story embroiled in an argument about the ethical use of physical force, allowing Carey to spend a lot of time explaining her political views, in case you missed them in the earlier books.

[This book isn’t really about Kirk’s dad]

Aug 6 2012 10:00am

Imagine there was a story with no limits – no budget, no censors, no rules. Imagine it was about James T. Kirk’s first mission with the Enterprise. Imagine it featured a My Little Pony. Guess what? That’s been written!

In Vonda McIntyre’s Enterprise: The First Adventure, Captain Kirk gets to carry a vaudeville act around Starfleet’s more remote space stations where morale is crappy. And that is why there is a winged horse in the Enterprise’s shuttle bay.

[Intergalactic Friendship is Magic!]

Jun 27 2012 4:00pm

Vulcan Nationalism Runs Amok: Diane Duane’s Spock’s WorldVulcan is the ne plus ultra of planets for fans who think that Earth is fatally flawed. The entire planet and its complicated society and spiritual practices exist for the sole purpose of pointing out what Earth is doing wrong and how it could do better. Diane Duane’s 1988 novel, Spock’s World attempts to both enhance this vision of Vulcan and its natives, and to refute it, to bring Vulcans down off the pedestal that Terran geekdom has created for them and to show their heroic flaws. While it often takes itself far too seriously, Spock’s World is a compendium of quirky pleasures. There is mystery, there is scandal, and there is an inexplicable species of subterranean desert whales.

[Also a very serious need for Vulcan relationship counseling]

Jun 14 2012 2:00pm

One of the cool things about Star Trek novels is the opportunity to learn new and interesting things about the characters. You get to see them from a fresh new perspective, unfettered by Paramount’s priorities and the supposed demands of the late-60s viewing audience. In Margaret Wander-Bonanno’s Strangers From the Sky, you have a rare opportunity to see Kirk for what he really is – a fragile and delicate flower. Strangers From the Sky presents a convoluted and squid-like mass of plots. None of them make Kirk look good.

[It’s mostly his own fault]

May 10 2012 1:00pm

Barbara Hambly’s 1985 novel, Ishmael, is a study in contrasts. It’s deeply weird, and deeply serious. It’s densely packed with things that should be ridiculous, and are somehow alarming. The first thing that struck me about Ishmael was Captain Kirk’s emotion. In the opening pages, Kirk is grieving Spock’s death. He’s struggling with a horrible loss made more devastating by an inescapable sense of personal responsibility. Having sent Spock into danger and destruction, Kirk is now facing the powerlessness inherent in not being able to do anything about it. McCoy is the most powerful person in this scene, and all he can do is slip Jim the mickey. It’s touching and sad and heavy. The book is full of these moments, somehow, even though it’s a crossover between Star Trek and another short-lived late-60s television series and features two Doctor Who cameos.

[The allusion to Moby Dick in the title is a pretty big hint that this is one of the quirkier Star Trek novels.]

May 7 2012 1:00pm

The Universal Union is a space-faring empire. The Intrepid is the flagship of its space fleet. Its away team members keep dying. The Intrepid needs more crew. John Scalzi’s Redshirts is the story of that crew. It’s a “lower decks” novel (mostly decks 6 through 12), focusing on lower-ranking crew members and their intersections with command and adventure. Redshirts is a light, fast read, but it’s also a book whose questions about storytelling and agency stay with you long after you have put it down.

[A review with minor spoilers]