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Star Trek: Voyager – A Vision Of The Future

Star Trek: Voyager - A Vision Of The FutureOrder this bookStory: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the first two seasons of Voyager, including the torturous pre-production process of developing the show’s premise.

Review: This book received much pre-release hype as being a product of the same author who penned the justly acclaimed 1968 behind-the-scenes story of “The Making of Star Trek”, though this time writing under his own name instead of the pseudonym of “Stephen E. Whitfield.” Since Poe’s definitive tome inspired many later works, including the excellent books by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, it stands to reason that surely he can exceed his own previous work and give us a Star Trek behind-the-scenes book like no one else can. Continue reading

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical ManualOrder this bookStory: Covering not just the DS9 space station, the Technical Manual also spreads out to delve into the Defiant, runabouts, phasers and tricorders, Cardassian and other alien ships, and more. The text is written from the Starfleet perspective as of DS9’s seventh season, locked into a bloody war with the Dominion, making it an interesting departure from the cheery “enjoy all the great features of your new Oldsmobile” owner’s manual approach of the TNG Technical Manual.

Review: This book is long overdue; even the introduction by producer Ira Steven Behr asks the question “Why the hell did this take six years?” of the book’s own publishers, and even notes that the long-promised “Deep Space Nine Companion” (which, at the time, had been a tentative ghost on the Pocket Books schedule since 1995 or so) is even more overdue. (With respect to Mr. Behr, considering DS9’s probable lack of a big-screen future, it made a bit of sense to wait for the end of the series to come, since it would be silly to publish a DS9 companion volume in 1998 and then wait a couple of years to release an updated version with only one additional season’s worth of information.) Continue reading

The Making Of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

The Making Of Star Trek: Deep Space NineOrder this bookStory: The authors go behind the scenes of the first two seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, talking extensively with producers, writers, designers, make-up artists, special effects technicians, oh, and actors too – from the original premise and character lineup to the changes that were made and why they were made, touching on every step of the production process along the way.

Review: It’s rather ironic that the most poorly-marketed Star Trek spinoff (with the possible exception of Enterprise) has turned out to be the best documented one. Paramount initially threw tons of money at the launch of Deep Space Nine, and then backed off – there was a new Trek movie to promote, as well as yet another spinoff series upon which an entire network, and not just syndicated advertising profits, would be riding. From about the middle of year 2 onward, DS9 got the short end of the Star Trek stick. Continue reading

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine CompanionOrder this bookStory: A season-by-season guide to the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Includes season overviews, episode summaries, behind-the-scenes info and insights, photos, production drawings, and anecdotes.

Review: As a huge fan of Deep Space Nine, I had patiently waited for a definitive episode guide to my favorite Trek incarnation. Fortunately for all of us with limited budgets, Pocket Books refrained from releasing a guide until the series had run its course, instead of releasing three or so versions with a little added each time.

So it was with great glee I ripped open that box from Amazon.com and grasped the official episode guide to DS9. The first thing that struck me was that it’s friggin’ huge. Weighing in at over 720 pages, the thing nearly has its own weather! The cover is also very nice, with a nice collage of the station, wormhole, and Sisko. And as much as I like the U.S.S. Defiant, I was pleased to see it absent from the cover. After all, the show was really about the three entities thusly displayed. Continue reading

Field Of Dishonor

Field Of DishonorField Of DishonorOrder this bookStory: Honor Harrington has known fellow starship captain Pavel Young for her entire career – going back to their academy days, where he used his family’s privelege to get out from under charges that he tried to rape her, and back to Basilisk Station, where he tried to hang her out to dry…and back to the battle for Hancock Station, where Young ordered his ship to flee formation during a critical moment, causing the loss of thousands of Manticoran lives. But just as Young has made a career of slipping through the fingers of justice, Honor has made a career of surviving, and when Young is court-martialed for fleeing, he tries to even the score one last time by hiring an assassin to force a duel with Honor’s lover, Captain Paul Tankersley – a duel Paul doesn’t stand a chance of winning. Already laying low to avoid the press during a political firestorm, Honor sets out for vengeance, even if it means destroying her career in the process.

Review: I didn’t really set out to review two consecutive Honor Harrington books, but “Field Of Dishonor” reads at a white heat and it’s hard to put down. With its own inevitable rhythm of a march into battle, “Field” takes on the issue of letting politics dictate military policy (and leaves no doubt that author David Weber thinks it’s a bad idea). Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneOrder this bookStory: Harry Potter, who is just about to celebrate his 11th birthday, lives a sad life with his nasty aunt, belligerent uncle and fat cousin on Privet Drive. But on that very fateful birthday, Harry learns that he’s a wizard and that he is now old enough to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry has no clue about what this means to his life, or how much it will change!

Review: There has been so much hype surrounding this book and the ones that have followed that there could be something lost in the mix. That something would be the fact that the Harry Potter series is some of the best children’s reading ever to see publication. Even though it is geared toward kids from about age 8 up, it is thoroughly entertaining reading for people of all ages. Continue reading

Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice – The Death of Hope

Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice - The Death of HopeOrder this bookStory: On the trail of the captured Jedi Knight named Tahl, Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi finds himself losing confidence in his master, Qui-Gon Jinn, as Qui-Gon allows his personal feelings for Tahl to obscure his loyalties. At the same time, Obi-Wan and his master must try to resolve a conflict between social classes that is tearing the planet of New Apsolon apart.

Review: Boy, I hate the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I have read many Star Wars novels and with the exception of “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” and the Brian Daley Han Solo books, I have found them almost universally dreadful. (The early Lando books weren’t too bad, either.) Seldom do the authors seem to grasp the storytelling forms used in the films. They seem to have set up their own little view of the Star Wars Universe and are more interested in adhering to that than to the work of George Lucas. (Case in point: you can make an argument for an anti-alien bias in the Empire based on what’s in the films, but the EU makes it an all-encompassing passion of the Emperor far beyond anything that Lucas even suggests.) The one area where I have ocassionally found a more accurate representation of the Star Wars universe is in books written for a younger audience. (They don’t want to mess around too much for the sake of the kids.) Continue reading

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Avatar: Book One

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Avatar: Book OneOrder this bookStory: Only a few months after the end of the Dominion War and the disappearance of Captain Sisko in the Fire Caves of Bajor, things still haven’t quite returned to normal aboard space station Deep Space 9. Colonel Kira Nerys has become the station’s commander, though she is shaken when a friend of hers, a Bajoran Vedek, is brutally murdered on the station. Even worse, a surprise attack by Jem’Hadar comes at the worst time, with both the station and the U.S.S. Defiant undergoing much-needed refits. The damage is severe, and Dr. Bashir can’t save everyone. The station’s new security chief, former Starfleet officer Ro Laren (now in Bajoran uniform following the dissolution of the Maquis), seems to be achieving nothing but getting on Kira’s bad side. As Kasidy Yates-Sisko prepares to leave the station and settle in the house that her missing husband built on Bajor, Jake Sisko returns from Bajor with a new mission: a Bajoran Vedek slipped him a few pages of an ancient prophecy that seems to foretell the son of the Emissary retrieving his lost father from the Temple of the Prophets. Jake secretly prepares to undertake this mission, even going so far as to buy his own shuttle from Quark, but what he doesn’t know is that this same Vedek was Kira’s murdered friend – and that the rest of the prophecy, which Ro finds in a book that was in the Vedek’s possession at the time of her death, foretells something else: death on a massive scale on Bajor, something which apparently must happen before Sisko’s second child can be born.

Review: When Pocket Books relaunched its Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel series in the wake of the TV show’s demise, the possibilities seemed endless. Ever the bastard stepchild of the Star Trek franchise, DS9 was effectively being handed over to the authors and editors, who had carte blanche to advance the storyline without having to bring things around to the status quo so the book wouldn’t interfere with future filmed adventures (a requirement that had chased me away from any Trek novels years ago). This almost sounded too good to be true. Continue reading

Star Wars – The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime

Star Wars - The New Jedi Order: Vector PrimeOrder this bookStory: The plotline of “Vector Prime” is very standard sci-fi fodder, not even remotely original. Retreading the plots of such venerable SF franchises as Star Trek: The Next Generation (Conspiracy) and Blake’s 7 (Star One), the book involves an invasion of the galaxy by hostile aliens from the nearest neighboring galaxy. They’ve already slipped a few agents into our heroes’ galaxy to make sure the alarm doesn’t go up, and by the time Luke, Han, Leia and the others find out about the invasion, it’s almost too late.

Review: Sound familiar? It should. Virtually the only difference between this story and the above examples – among dozens of others – is that the aliens are invading the galaxy of Tattooine, Endor, Hoth, etc., rather than invading Earth for once. Speaking as a citizen of the planet Earth, I’m relieved about this development, but as a reader, I found the plot hackneyed and all too predictable. Continue reading

Star Wars: Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye

Star Wars: Splinter Of The Mind's EyeOrder this bookStory: Pilot Luke Skywalker and Rebel Diplomat Princess Leia Organa find themselves stranded on the unfamiliar swamp planet of Mimban after their Starfighters crash land on the way to an important treaty negotiation. Once aground, Luke and Leia find themselves teaming up with Halla, a Force-sensitive, in her search for the Kaiburr Crystal, an ancient artifact that amplifies Force powers for those who wield it. But there is an Imperial presence on Mimban, and it doesn’t take long for word of the Kaiburr Crystal to make it back to the Empire’s chief enforcer, Lord Darth Vader…

Review: “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” holds an important position within the Star Wars canon. It is the first novel in what would eventually become known as the Expanded Universe (EU): Star Wars tales beyond those portrayed in the films. Continue reading