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From: rccarm00@nx19.mik.uky.edu (ron c carman) Newsgroups: rec.arts.startrek.misc Subject: Star Trek Novels: The Year in Review [1992] Message-ID: Date: 22 Dec 92 05:34:04 GMT Organization: University Of Kentucky, Dept. of Math Sciences Lines: 545 This is a review of Pocket Books' Star Trek novels published during 1992. Ratings translate as follows: Rating Meaning -------------------------------------- 5 SUPERIOR: Run out and buy this NOW 4 EXCELLENT: Make sure to buy this soon 3 AVERAGE: Purchase as funds allow 2 POOR: Wait for your tax refund 1 AWFUL: Avoid at ALL costs 0 EXCREMENT: The bookstore should pay *you* 1992 Releases-at-a-glance: ----------------------------- Book # Title Date Published Rating / 5 -------------------------------------------------------------------- TNG #20 Spartacus February 1992 3- TOS #58 Faces of Fire March 1992 4- TOS H4 Probe April 1992 2+ TNG #21 Chains of Command April 1992 2 TOS #59 The Disinherited May 1992 4- TNG #22 Imbalance June 1992 4- TOS #60 Ice Trap July 1992 0+ TNG H2 Imzadi August 1992 4 TOS #61 Sanctuary September 1992 3- TNG #23 War Drums October 1992 2+ TOS H5 Best Destiny November 1992 5- TOS #62 Death Count November 1992 1 TNG #24 Nightshade December 1992 1- ------------------- TNG Average: 3- ------------------- TOS Average: 2+ ------------------- Year Average: 2+ /* The worst year in a while... Bail out now, if you can't stand the carnage. */ Possible *SPOILERS* for Trek books released in '92. >TNG #20 Spartacus Copyright February 1992 >Author: T.L. Mancour >StarDate: UNKNOWN > >Plot Summary: > Answering a distress call, the U.S.S. Enterprise finds a damaged alien >vessel -- the Freedom -- crewed by a race known as the Vemlans. Their >captain, Jared, asks for assistance in repairing his ship -- assistance >fleet from Vemla, who claim that Jared and his crew are escaped slaves -- >and their property! > As Jared and his people plea for protection and the right to be free, >Captain Picard is caught between the demands of his conscience and the >dictates of the Prime Directive. And when the Vemlan fleet threatens to >fight if the U.S.S. Enterprise doesn't stand aside, Picard must choose >between the safety of his ship... and the annihilation of an entire race. Well, this newcomer to the Trek novels certainly gets points for an innovative approach to an old topic. But apart from the premise, this novel just doesn't work out. The dialogue is stilted, and the characters are nearly flat. Characterization: 2 Premise: 3+ Plot Handling: 2 Narrative: 3 Total: 2+ Next: Faces of Fire >TOS #58 Faces of Fire Copyright March 1992 >Author: Michael Jan Friedman >StarDate: 3998.6 > >Plot Summary: > En route to Alpha Maluria Six to settle a dispute between two religions, >the U.S.S. Enterprise first stops to do a routine check on the progress of a >terraforming colony on Beta Canzandia Three -- a colony whose inhabitants >include Carol and David Marcus. > While Spock is left behind at the terraforming colony to continue his >scientific studies, the rest of the crew heads to Alpha Maluria Six to find >the dispute has turned to war. > As Kirk, McCoy, and Scotty search for a solution to end the conflict, a >ship piloted by a Klingon faction arrives at the terraforming colony to take >control of the facility. When colonists are imprisoned, Spock and David must >defeat the Klingons or face certain death... A lot of people have a preference as to writing styles, and so many dislike Mr. Friedman's work. Personally, I don't care what kind of style an author uses as long as it works for him/her and keeps me interested in the story. I enjoyed this one. Characterization of the central characters was better than average, and the basic premise and plot handling were very good. I also consider it a plus when a novel shows some continuity between itself and the series or the other novels, and seeing Carol and David Marcus here falls into the category of an interesting tie-in. Characterization: 3 Premise: 4 Plot Handling: 4 Narrative: 3 Total: 3+ Next: Probe >TOS H4 Probe Copyright April 1992 >Author: Margaret Wander Bonanno >StarDate: 8475.3 > >Plot Summary: > THE SPELLBINDING SEQUEL TO STAR TREK IV... > > Winds of change are sweeping the galaxy. The Romulan Praetor >is dead, and with his passing, the Empire he ruled is in >chaos. Now, on a small planet in the heart of the Neutral >Zone, representatives of the United Federation of Planets and >the Empire have gathered to discuss initiating an era of true >peace.... > But the talks are disrupted by a sudden defection -- and as >accusations of betrayal and treachery swirl around the >conference table, news of the probe's reappearance in Romulan >space arrives, and the Enterprise crew find themselves headed >for a final confrontation with not only the probe -- but the >Romulan Empire. As most of you probably already know, Margaret Wander Bonanno "has disclaimed ownership to this novel because of the changes imposed by the powers-that-be and the 'editing' done by Pocket Books to 'bring her novel into line'." Faced with this fact, I think one word accurately describes this release: FRAUD! This is not, by far, the worst Trek novel written this year, but it certainly comes close. This one is average fare from beginning to end, and that is nothing but a travesty; the original is a fascinating, enthralling read from the opening moments to the last sentence. Don't bother reading this one; attempt to get your hands on the original. You won't regret it. I'm going to give you a comparison of _Probe_ and _Music.._ here just to show you how far apart the two really are... _Probe_ _Music_of_the_Spheres_ Characterization: 2 Characterization: 4 Premise: 4 Premise: 4 Plot Handling: 2 Plot Handling: 5 Narrative: 1 Narrative: 5 Total: 2+ Total: 5- Next: Chains of Command >TNG #21 Chains of Command Copyright April 1992 >Author: Bill McCay and Eloise Flood >StarDate: UNKNOWN > >Plot Summary: > While exploring a group of devastated class-M planets in a remote sector >of of space, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is shocked to discover a group >of human slaves on a forbidding, glacial world. When the slaves revolt >against their human overseers, Captain Picard and his crew sympathize with >the slaves plight but cannot interfere in the conflict. > After the revolt is a success, Captain Picard learns that both the slaves >and the overseers were controlled by a mysterious bird-like race called the >Tseetsk, who are coming to reclaim their property. With time running out, >the rebels kidnap Captain Picard and Counsellor Troi -- drawing the U.S.S. >Enterprise into the middle of their deadly plan of vengeance. Well, this makes two TNG novels in a row dealing with a race of slaves. This one works no better than the last one. The narrative and dialogue are uninvolving, and the plot is choppy. Unless you're a die-hard Trek-novel collector, this is one to avoid buying.. if you must read it, wait and get it from the library. Characterization: 2 Premise: 2 Plot Handling: 2 Narrative: 2 Total: 2 Next: The Disinherited >TOS #59 The Disinherited Copyright May 1992 >Author: Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman and Robert Greenberger >StarDate: 3034.6 > >Plot Summary: > Gamma Xaridian -- a peaceful Federation research colony that >becomes the third Federation world to suffer a brutal attack at >the hands of a mysterious alien fleet. With Lt. Uhura gone on an >important mission of her own, Captain Kirk and the U.S.S. Enterprise >are dispatched to investigate the attacks, only to find the planets >completely devastated. > When another nearby colony is attacked, the U.S.S. Enterprise is >ready and encounters a fleet of quick, small and deadly ships. Though >Kirk and his crew manage to turn the raiders away, the U.S.S. Enterprise >is severely damaged and the aliens escape. > As Kirk and his crew prepare for their next encounter with the raiders, >Mr. Spock makes a startling discovery about the purpose behind the alien >attacks -- a purpose that, if realized, could have deadly consequences >for the Federation and the U.S.S. Enterprise... Despite its multiple-authorship, this one comes out as a fairly good read. What we have is basically a good mystery. Who are the raiders, and why are they attacking Federation colonies? The plot is involving, and the dialogue is entertaining. Characterization: 3 Premise: 4 Plot Handling: 4 Narrative: 4 Total: 4- Next: Imbalance >TNG #22 Imbalance Copyright June 1992 >Author: V.E. Mitchell >StarDate: 44839.2 > >Plot Summary: > The Jarada are a mysterious race of insectoid beings with an extreme >devotion to protocol. When this usually reclusive race offer to open >diplomatic relations with the Federation, Captain Picard and the U.S.S. >Enterprise are quickly ordered to Jarada to negotiate the exchange of >Ambassadors. > When the ship arrives, the Jarada seem uncharacteristically friendly. >The invite Picard to send down members of his crew and negotiations proceed >both quickly and smoothly. Suddenly, however, the Jarada change. They cut >off Commander Riker and his away team from the U.S.S. Enterprise and initiate >an unprovoked attack on the ship. Now Picard must unravel the aliens' >mystery before it's too late for the away team -- and the U.S.S. Enterprise. Ms. Mitchell has a good premise here: another encounter with the Jarada, a race of insectoid beings last seen in the TNG episode 'The Big Goodbye'. It's also good to be seeing more of O'Brien and Keiko, but there are problems with that... This was quite a good novel, but one big thing kept detracting from the story. O'Brien and Keiko have a spat near the beginning of the novel, and for most of the rest of it, the two engage in what becomes extremely tiresome and annoying bickering... This would have fared slightly better if their dispute had been resolved more quickly. Characterization: 3 [too much fighting between Keiko and O'Brien] Premise: 4 Plot Handling: 4 Narrative: 3 [ditto] Total: 3+ Next: Ice Trap [shudder] >TOS #60 Ice Trap Copyright July 1992 >Author: L.A. Graf >StarDate: UNKNOWN > >Plot Summary: > Sent to the icebound planet of Nordstral to investigate a >mysterious outbreak of insanity, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise >find themselves drawn into another, even deadlier mystery upon >their arrival. A team of research scientists has disappeared >on Nordstral's frozen wasteland, leaving no clue to their where- >abouts, and no hint of their fate. > While Uhura and Chekov tackle the mystery surrounding the >scientists' disappearance, Kirk and McCoy search for the truth >behind the outbreak of mental illness. But both teams soon find >themselves in danger, as the planet undergoes a series of massive >earthquakes and electromagnetic disruptions. Unable to contact >the U.S.S. Enterprise, both teams must fight for their lives as >they try to solve the mystery of Nordstral -- before the world >tears itself apart! I mentioned earlier that _Probe_ wasn't the worst Trek novel ever. Well, it is saved from that distinction by this novel. The characters are two-dimensional and paper-thin, the plot is a transparent roller-coaster ride that only goes down, and the premise is nearly ridiculous. Add to this the terrible portrayal of the central characters, and you have the makings of a total disaster.... I would urge you to not only avoid reading this, but burn any copies of it you may find. :-) Characterization: 0 Premise: 1 Plot Handling: 1 Narrative: 0 Total: 0+ Next: Imzadi >TNG H2 Imzadi Copyright August 1992 >Author: Peter David >StarDate: UNKNOWN > >Plot Summary: > Years before they served together on board the U.S.S. Enterprise, >Commander William Riker and ship's counselor Deanna Troi had a >tempestuous love affair on her home planet of Betazed. Now, their >passions have cooled, and they serve together as friends. Yet the >memories of that time linger and Riker and Troi remain Imzadi -- >a powerful Betazoid term that describes the enduring bond they >still share. > During delicate negotiations with an aggressive race called the >Sindareen, Deanna Troi mysteriously falls ill... and dies. But >her death is only the beginning of the adventure for Commander >Riker -- an adventure that will take him across time, pit him >against one of his closest friends, and force him to choose between >Starfleet's strictest rule and the one he calls Imzadi. Finally, Peter David returns. I see some people say that his plots are transparent and predictable, that the conclusion can be seen after the first two chapters. I certainly don't agree with that. And even if it were true, I think I'd still enjoy PAD's books, because the narration is so well done. This novel is a great one for fans of time travel. The part about the early history between Riker and Troi does tend to get thick, slow and wearying at points, but that is a minor sticking point. I really enjoyed this one. Characterization: 3 Premise: 5 Plot Handling: 4 Narrative: 4 Total: 4 Next: Sanctuary >TOS #61 Sanctuary Copyright September 1992 >Author: John Vornholt >StarDate: UNKNOWN > >Plot Summary: > The planet Sanctuary -- A fabled world in unexplored space which is >thought to be the last refuge of the persecuted, home to both the justly >and unjustly accused. Though its name has been translated into every >language in the galaxy, Starfleet has never known its exact location. > When the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is assigned to capture a >dangerous criminal named Auk Rex, their pursuit takes them to an >unexplored sector of space. Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy >continue the pursuit in a shuttlecraft, following Auk Rex to the surface >of the planet, Sanctuary. Soon, Kirk and his crew are locked in a life >and death struggle on the mysterious planet, which harbors deadly >secrets and never releases its visitors. John Vornholt seems to have tried to do just a little too much this year. Two novels published within two months of each other leads me to believe that both got short shrift. This is a passable story, but not more than that. The obviousness of the plot, and the way the readers are treated as if they are stupid bothers me quite a bit. Was it really necessary to *SPELL OUT* for us the method which the native species uses to reproduce? And how many people were surprised to learn that the girl the landing party meets in the woods is Auk Rex? I certainly wasn't. Other than those points, this worked pretty well, but it still comes out as just average or less than average. Characterization: 3 Premise: 3 Plot Handling: 2 Narrative: 3 Total: 3- Next: War Drums >TNG #23 War Drums Copyright October 1992 >Author: John Vornholt >StarDate: UNKNOWN > >Plot Summary: > The planet Selva -- a lush colony world settled by a hardy group of >humans, who found the planet already inhabited by a small gang of young >Klingons. When violence erupts between the two groups, Captain Picard >and the U.S.S. Enterprise are sent to render assistance. > Worf leads a landing party to the planet while the Starship Enterprise >is called away on another urgent mission. On Selva, Worf and his party >find that the old hatreds and prejudices between humans and Klingons are >revived, and the settlers are out for blood. Now, Worf must prevent >a horrible massacre, before all of them fall prey to Selva's deadly >secret... and raging fury. Vornholt's second offering in as many months, this one fares con- siderably worse than _Sanctuary_. If you're sick of seeing Worf por- trayed as a buffoonish wimp, then avoid this one... I mean, come on; Worf has difficulty defeating a teenage Klingon boy in hand-to-hand combat?? Ridiculous. I was gratified to see Ensign Ro finally get a place in the novel series -- until I read the novel, that is. She seems to care quite a bit too much what the colonists think of her... And there are other characterization problems. Look at Guinan. She is talking to Ro in Ten Forward and says "I have a feeling you're desperately needed down there"... NOT. Wouldn't happen. If a writer can't use a character well and correctly, they shouldn't attempt it. Vornholt's last two novels are decidedly disappointing after his outstanding work in _Masks_ and the slightly less equivocal _Contamination_. Characterization: 1 Premise: 3 Plot Handling: 2 Narrative: 3 Total: 2+ Next: Best Destiny >TOS H5 Best Destiny Copyright November 1992 >Author: Diane Carey >StarDate: UNKNOWN > >Plot Summary: > As James T. Kirk prepares to retire from a long and illustrious >Starfleet career, events in a distant part of the Federation draw >him back to a part of the galaxy he had last visited as a young >man -- a mysterious world called Faramond whose name takes Kirk >on a journey back to his youth. > At sixteen, Kirk is troubled, estranged from his father, and >has a bleak future. However, a trip into space with Kirk's father >George and Starfleet legend Captain Robert April changes James >Kirk's life forever, when a simple voyage becomes a deadly trap. >Soon, Kirk and his father find themselves fighting for their >lives against a vicious and powerful enemy. > Before the voyage ends, father and son will face life and >death together, and James T. Kirk will get a glimpse of the >future and his own BEST DESTINY... Diane Carey revives some of her characters from _Final_Frontier_ in this novel. We get to see what James T. Kirk was like at the age of sixteen, as well as some of the events that shaped him into the Starship Captain we know. The heavy Gothic focus on Kirk-as-god is noticeably absent here, thankfully. You won't get the impression from this one that she's in love with Kirk, either... All you get is a fantastic journey into Kirk's past. Characterization: 5 Premise: 5 Plot Handling: 4 Narrative: 5 Total: 5- Next: Death Count >TOS #62 Death Count Copyright November 1992 >Author: L.A. Graf >StarDate: 5711.12 > >Plot Summary: > The disappearance of Andorian scientific genius Muav Haslev fuels >tensions between the Orions and Andorians -- tensions that come >dangerously close to full scale war. Captain Kirk and the crew of >the U.S.S. Enterprise are called to Starbase Sigma 1, located on the >edge of Andorian-Orion space, to patrol the sector as a deterrent >to hostilities. > On arrival, the crew encounters an inexplicable series of events, >beginning with missing equipment and shipboard malfunctions. After >a deadly transporter accident, Kirk suspects sabotage -- suspicions >that are confirmed by the mysterious murders of three Federation >officials. Now, Kirk and crew must put together the fragmented >pieces of the puzzle, before the Starship Enterprise faces destruction >and the galaxy faces interplanetary war. L.A. Graf strikes again. The characters this time out are just as flat as in _Ice_Trap_. After two of these fiascos from Graf, I think it's time we oust Kevin Ryan, and start publishing novels ourselves... I've seen fan fiction over in alt.startrek.creative that is better than this by a long shot... Characterization: 0 Premise: 2 Plot Handling: 1 Narrative: 1 Total: 1 Next: Nightshade >TNG #24 Nightshade Copyright December 1992 >Author: Laurell K. Hamilton >StarDate: UNKNOWN > >Plot Summary: > After two hundred years of civil war the planet Oriana is dying. >Most of the surface vegetation is gone, the air is nearly unbreathable, >and the people themselves are dying. Now, the two warring factions >have finally sat down to talk peace, and Captain Picard and the >U.S.S. Enterprise are sent to help them negotiate a settlement. > Picard, Lt. Worf, and Counsellor Troi beam down to Oriana, just >as the Starship Enterprise is called away on another urgent mission. >Alone on the planet, the U.S.S. Enterprise team learns that there >are people that would rather finish the devastating conflict than >talk peace. Suddenly, Picard is accused of murder and the delicate >negotiations have fallen into the hands of Lt. Worf. > Now, Worf and Troi must unravel the truth and prevent planet-wide >disaster, before time runs out for the people of Oriana and the crew >of the Starship Enterprise. I have quite a bit to say about this one, but this is supposed to be a quick review :-). The characterization is lousy, the premise is rather tired, and the dialogue is completely forgettable. Add to this the plot that's about as deep as a cookie-sheet, and you've got a real loser of a novel. Avoid this one, everyone. Characterization: 0 Premise: 1 Plot Handling: 1 Narrative: 1 Total: 1- RC Carman p.s. Look on the bright side: Things *can't* get any worse!.. ;-) -- /=======================================================================\ | Ron C. Carman || Quantum physicists get all the girls. | | rccarm00@mik.uky.edu || Al. Is he live, or is he a hologram? | ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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