Pocket Books’ successful foray into the Mirror Universe in 2007 paved the way for twelve new stories from Star Trek’s dark side. This edition of the Library Computer looks at five tales from January’s "Shards and Shadows" anthology. We also have an update and news on Pocket Books plans for big Trek mini-series in 2010.
REVIEW (Part 1) – Star Trek: Mirror Universe – Shards and Shadows
The new "Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows" anthology is jam packed with a dozen short stories. To give each its due we are breaking up our review of the anthology into two articles. This week, our review focuses on stories from the Enterprise, Original Series, and Next Generation era; giving us quality time with Trip Tucker, Robert April, Chris Pike, Jim Kirk, Spock, Jean-Luc Picard, and other familiar faces in their mirrored alter-egos.
by Dave Stern
Dave Stern shares a compelling, if not confusing, tale of Trip Tucker in "Nobunga", the lead-off hitter in the "Shards and Shadows" anthology. In the wake of a serious injury, Trip is faced with a hazy past and future in which only death is certain.
Stern does an outstanding job of keeping you guessing all through the tale, and the final revelation is, at once, both exciting and disappointing (disappointing because of what Trip discovers – not because of the writing!).
by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Forget the mild-mannered statesman and kindly doctor among the stars that "The Counter-Clock Incident" (TAS) introduced us to. Meet a new Robert and Sarah April – a stern commodore and a ruthless doctor – whose long-term service to the Imperial Starfleet have rightfully gained the fear of most senior officers in the fleet. Visiting the I.S.S. Indomitable, the duo serve up their own kind of justice after a botched operation results in an undesirable outcome for the Empire. With the clean-up complete, Commodore April and the Constellation take the lead as the Empire races to discover the secret of a Klingon weapons program, one that holds the power to incinerate a planet with no effort at all.
"Ill Winds" reads like a middle-range episode of the Original Series. There are numerous interesting plot points that are brought up by Ward and Dilmore, but the brevity of the format results in a somewhat disappointing read. Dialogue is often swallowed up by narrative, which can make it difficult to get a true feeling for any of the characters in the story.
"The Greater Good"
by Margaret Wander Bonanno
A few years back, Margaret Wander Bonanno painted the authoritative portrait of Captain Christopher Pike in "Burning Dreams". In "The Greater Good" she returns to Chris Pike’s life – but this time it is a co-opted Pike, whose entire life has been subjected to a dark secret; one that James Kirk is determined to extract from him, even at the price of Pike’s life.
Bonanno’s story finds its genesis in a very brief statement from "Mirror, Mirror" – the crew dossier which specifies that Kirk rose to command of the vessel through the assassination of Pike. At the same time, it draws Pike into the story in an interesting and compelling way. Bonanno’s vision of the mirror Pike shows a man very similar to the one we first met in the cabin sequence of "The Cage"… a Pike whose life isn’t what it should be. Bonanno takes it to the next level by showing what happens when someone in the alter-verse continues to feel this way, drowning his sorrows in liquor and a false bravado.
Pike, while fully treated, doesn’t detract from Jim Kirk’s time in the limelight, as he makes a visit to visit Dr. Simon van Gelder and Dr. Tristan Adams on a psychiatric colony… where he makes an amazing discovery that holds the potential for laying waste to anyone who stands in the way of his career ambitions.
Bonanno’s story holds a strong balance of background and storytelling, and, though we know in advance how the story must end, Bonanno proves that sometimes it is the journey that is more than half the fun.
"The Black Flag"
by James Swallow
Talk about your intrigue… James Swallow’s entry in Shards and Shadows has it in spades… all a part of a story that will thrill fans of the Vanguard series, while still being accessible to those who haven’t read page one of the recent Trek literary series. And while the historian’s note that leads into the story indicates that the story is something a sequel to a story in the Glass Empires anthology, don’t avoid this tale if you haven’t read the preceding piece.
Swallow, whose 2008 "Day of the Vipers" energized the Terok Nor trilogy from the get-go brings his vibrant, fast paced writing to the short story format in "The Black Flag", which examines a particular incident in the behind-the-scenes struggle for control of the Empire. As Spock and T’Prynn work to effect change in the midst of the Empire, Commodore Diego Reyes has begun laying the foundations for his own little piece of the action (no Iotains included – for good or for ill) in the Taurus Reach.
Swallow’s story is intricate and has a great deal of depth. It could easily be expanded into a stand-alone novel (as TrekMovie recently shared would happen with David Mack’s "The Sorrows of Empire") that would be accessible and enjoyable for any reader. With Klingons, Tholians, Vulcan ‘underworld’ intrigue, and a rough-and-at-’em battle to fit into "The Black Flag", Swallow manages to avoid shorting any element of the story and provides an engaging reading experience.
by Michael Jan Friedman
Michael Jan Friedman gives us an exposure to the early days of the Terran resistance in "The Traitor", giving us the chance to meet two familiar faces from the TNG era while, at the same time, exploring the lives of his "Stargazer" series crew in the Mirror Universe.
No previous exposure to the "Stargazer" series is needed to explain anything in the story, so don’t let that become a roadblock to reading this one. At the same time, the ending feels somewhat contrived, leaving an interesting premise in search of a compelling conclusion.
"Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows" available now at Amazon
UPDATE on Pocket’s 2010 Plans –
New Mini Series Coming + more details on Shattered Light anthology
Two weeks ago TrekMovie ran a feature previewing Pocket Books plans for 2009 and also diving a bit into 2010. Today we have some more details and clarifications on the 2010 plans. The 2009/2010 preview article noted that Pocket is introducing a new alien threat called ‘The Typhon Pact’ in 2009, and it will be featured prominently in the 24th century Star Trek books in 2010. The article also previewed a sketch for a new design of the USS Aventine and noted it will appear on at least one cover in 2010 as part of a new series. Pocket Books Star Trek editor Margaret Clark has now given us more details on this series, telling TrekMovie she is planning a new mini series titled ‘The Typhon Pact’ which will be structured like the Destiny Trilogy, covering multiple captains and multiple ships (including the Aventine). The series will kick off around the summer of 2010 and will be longer than a trilogy, but Clark could not be pinned down to exactly how many books. She also said that, at this time, there were no plans for a standalone series of ‘Aventine’ books, but Capt. Dax and the Aventine will continue to be part of the new ‘meta story’ that will be woven into the 24th century Star Trek novels.
We also have a correction from the original article regarding the "Shattered Light" Myriad Universe anthology of three novellas. The original article revealed that Scott Pearson would be doing a ‘what if?’ Sulu story, but Pearson’s entry will actually be focused on Arne Darvin with a timeline that kicks off after an alternate take on "Troubles with Tribbles." There is a Sulu story in the book, and that is being written by Steven Mollmann and Michael Schuster and will be set in an alternative TOS movie era and deal with both Hikaru and his daughter Demora Sulu. As previously reported, the third entry will be a TNG story by David R. George. "Myriad Universe: Shattered Light" is slated to arrive August 2010.
This is a busy month for Star Trek books. Next week The Library Computer concludes its look at the "Shards and Shadows" anthology and in coming weeks, we’ll also be looking at Kevin Ryan’s new TOS novel "Sacrifices of War" and we return to the 24th century with Keith R.A. DeCandido in "A Singular Destiny".