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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

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 Trek: Ships Of The Line

Star Trek - Ships Of The LineOrder this bookStory: The computer-generated, hand-painted and photographed images that have graced the numerous Star Trek: Ships Of The Line calendars through the years are collected in a single, large-format volume, each piece accompanied by a descriptive text placing the artwork in the context of the larger Star Trek universe.

Review: As much as I try to avoid reviewing what are essentially “picture books” here, this one was interesting enough to grab my attention. The artwork is impeccable. Featured here are the first full printed rendering of the far-future Enterprise NCC 1701-J, though the prize among the recent works may go to 3-D artist Gabriel Koerner’s impressive redesign of the original 1701, which stretches design elements of past (NX-01) and future (24th century) Enterprises together over the same basic silhouette of the original. Andrew Probert, designer of NCC-1701-D, gives us our first good look at the oft-mentioned but never-seen 1701-D Captain’s Yacht. And there’s a curious picture which ties the fate of the Columbia (NX-02, sister ship of Jonathan Archer’s Enterprise) to the era of the Dominion War (!). Each picture’s accompanying slice of text hints at a bigger story yet untold; few of the pictures attempt to visually “retell” existing stories. I like that – we have the HD remastered episodes of the original TV series for that. Most of the works in this book tell their own stories. Continue reading

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek: The Motion PictureOrder this bookStory: As has been the case with all of the Star Trek movie and telelvision book adaptations since, Roddenberry embellishes the first movie’s storyline with a great deal of off-screen plotting which we didn’t see on film. Much of this backstory was itself embellished upon in the very brief Lost Years series of Trek novels published in the early 90s.

Review: Perhaps the most interesting elements that Star Trek’s creator introduced here were found between the lines, in footnotes and in the introduction attributed to Admiral Kirk himself. The introduction speaks of a new breed of human, a bland and conformist herd of sheep, from which Starfleet officers are different due to the “individuality” Starfleet affords them (which must make Starfleet the most unusual military service in the history of Earth!). Continue reading

The Dominion War, Book One: Behind Enemy Lines

Behind Enemy LinesOrder this bookStory: According to this book, whose events occur in the gap between the events in the fifth season finale and sixth season premiere of Deep Space Nine, the new Enterprise has been involved in the same desperate defensive battle as the rest of Starfleet. Then an unexpected reunion takes place – the Enterprise rescues a Bajoran freighter near the Badlands from Dominion attackers. But this Bajoran ship is under the control of the Maquis, and its captain is Ro Laren, formerly the Enterprise’s Bajoran navigator who later abandoned Starfleet to join the renegades and defend her people.

While Picard and Riker are initially wary of Ro, and she herself fully expects to be thrown in the brig for showing her face again, the rebel does come with a disturbing piece of news: since the Bajoran wormhole at Deep Space Nine has been made inaccessible by the Starfleet minefield, the Cardassians are attempting to create their own artificial wormhole in the Badlands, allowing Dominion reinforcements to take over the Alpha Quadrant. Picard and Geordi, in disguise, join Ro’s crew and embark on a dangerous mission to derail the Cardassians’ construction timetable on the artificial wormhole.

Review: The first Star Trek fiction I’ve gone out of my way to buy since the initial four-book New Frontier set, this first entry in the Dominion War series of books helps to answer a question that many fans have been asking: where has the Enterprise-E and her intrepid crew been during the Federation’s war with the Dominion? Continue reading

A Rock And A Hard Place

A Rock And A Hard PlaceOrder this bookStory: The same Starfleet officer exchange program that once put Riker into a life-threatening situation aboard a Klingon vessel now sends the Enterprise’s first officer to the icy planet of Paradise, a remote outpost whose population of colonists are trying to tame its ecosphere. Taking Riker’s place on the Enterprise is Commander Quentin Stone, an officer with a colorful history and a legendary unstable temper. Somehow, Stone has stayed in Starfleet despite this trait which has endangered his career and others’ lives, but his career may not survive a tour with the more rule-bound Picard in command. And on Paradise, unnaturally fierce creatures, an inhospitable environment, and an old friend’s teenage daughter may be the death of Will Riker.

Review: I’ve probably mentioned it once or twice before, but I make little time these days for the Star Trek fiction publishing program. Too many of the novels I’ve read under the imprint of any of the Trek series have turned out to be merciless stinkers, though there was once a time when I did go out of my way to read Peter David’s books. And though many a fan would probably disagree mightily, I still think “A Rock And A Hard Place” may be the best Trek novel ever to hit wood pulp. It captures the flavor of the series and its characters, and it brings a rather wild guest character into the mix to challenge them. (And if you spot a wee bit of a resemblance between Quentin Stone and Mackenzie Calhoun, the captain of David’s later Star Trek: New Frontiers novels, I seriously doubt that it’s a coincidence.) Continue reading

The City On The Edge Of Forever

The City On The Edge Of ForeverOrder this bookStory: Harlan Ellison’s complete original script, with revised drafts, for the legendary Star Trek episode is presented in its entirety, along with lengthy essays by Harlan on the story’s creation and the rewriting of its already storied history by various other parties, including Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

Review: This volume reprints the original draft, and several subsequent revisions, of Harlan Ellison’s multiple-award-winning, career-defining, critically acclaimed, and seemingly life-ruining Star Trek script, The City On The Edge Of Forever. A lengthy essay opens the book with the full background of the episode’s birth from Harlan’s own inimitable point of view. Numerous people have taken credit for City‘s success over the years, and just as many have been more than happy to lay the blame for any perceived faults in the story at Harlan’s feet. In this book, Harlan lashes out at all of them. Every last one of them. In a way, maybe “lashes out” is too gentle – he positively breathes fire at many of his former colleagues. Continue reading

Star Trek Starfleet Technical Manual

Star Trek Starfleet Technical ManualStar Trek Starfleet Technical ManualOrder this bookStory: Once upon a time, Starfleet Headquarters was a vast space station floating in the space between two of the galaxy’s spiral arms. Starfleet tug ships hauled enormous cylindrical spaceliners, loaded with passengers, from destination to destination. Dozens of Constitution-class starships roamed the final frontier, while the next big design on Starfleet’s drawing boards was a triple-warp-engine dreadnought designed to better protect Federation interests from the Klingons – just in case the Organians blinked. Oh, and tricorders were full of big honkin’ transistors and capacitors, too – so long as you happened to be looking at the declassified 23rd century documents that wound up in the hands of a 20th century publisher after a mysterious time-travel mishap.

Review: The first professional publication of its kind (and certainly of its scope), Franz Joseph’s “Star Trek Starfleet Technical Manual” extrapolated the future of Kirk and Spock based on the information available at the time. Which, in 1975, was 79 hours of television, and a couple dozen animated stories. Though Paramount Pictures and Gene Roddenberry were quietly ramping up their efforts to bring Star Trek to the big screen that year, it would be a long and torturous process – and nothing that the public would hear about for at least another two years. Continue reading