It’s time to return to the Taurus Reach with the collection “Star Trek: Vanguard: Declassified.” Contributors Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, Marco Palmieri, and David Mack bring readers four novellas, spread across the Vanguard saga’s timeline, which promise to open up some new perspectives on the crew and the circumstances that are associated with the life of Starbase 47. The TrekMovie novel review below plus news on the end of the Vanguard saga.
REVIEW: Star Trek: Vanguard: Declassified
by by Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, Marco Palmieri, and David Mack
Mass-market Paperback – 400 pages
Pocketbooks – May 2011 – $7.99
Vanguard: Declassified consists of four separate novellas – here are reviews of each:
by Dayton Ward
Serving as a bit of a prequel to the series, Ward’s novella explores discoveries of personal and scientific natures as he explores the arrival of a new JAG officer, the discovery of a spy, and the ever-expanding fingerprint of the meta-genome observed throughout the Taurus Reach. Unfortunately, “Almost Tomorrow” isn’t even "almost interesting" as each story falls flat. Events aboard the Sagittarius are slow and plodding, the early encounters between Reyes and Desai are utterly forgettable, and even T’Prynn’s discoveries in her espionage investigation come across as unworthy of remark. Ward, while usually on target, missed the mark by far, penning what is easily the least interesting contribution to both “Declassified” in particular and, for my money, the Vanguard meta-story as a whole.
by Kevin Dilmore
When Tim Pennington becomes persona-non-grata in the wake of his publication of damning evidence about Starfleet’s work in the Taurus Reach, Cervantes Quinn – possibly his last friend outside of Stars Landing – offers some assistance. At the same time, a young cracker-jack journalist seeking a quick name and some extra layers on her resume shows up, offering her relative anonymity as a means of breaking the story even wider open. Of course, Pennington hasn’t a clue as to what he is really going to find, but that’s the fun of the story, right? Well, in this instance, the story itself is somewhat predictable, but the novel use of first person narration throughout the story makes up for the relative straightforward nature of the novella’s plotline. Observing Pennington from the inside makes for a far more satisfying exposure to him than the typical third-person writing of Trek literature.
“The Ruins of Noble Men”
by Marco Palmieri
Captain Desai and Doctor Fisher are sent to investigate the death of Vanguard’s colonial relations guru on a planet which has elected to sever its ties to Starfleet and the Federation. Back at Vanguard, suspicion abounds as to what has truly happened, so naturally Desai and Fisher seem prepared for the worst. However, what should be a straightforward death investigation and security negotiation takes a significant turn when Fisher goes missing and talks of reconciliation grow cold, leading a lawyer to hunt for a doctor in a setting that is nothing close to a joke. The payoff comes a little too quickly in the story, and is communicated more cerebrally, but somehow, that seems to satisfy the mood of the work. Palmeri, who served as the developing editor on the Vanguard series, pens this novella… and its examination of provincial morality and its effects on society at large stands head to head with some of the great heavyweight episodes of the various Star Trek television series. While
it could be argued that the story itself has little to do with furthering the meta-narrative, “The Ruins of Noble Men” is a lovingly-crafted story that is not to be missed.
“The Stars Look Down”
by David Mack
Saving what is arguably the best for last, Cervantes Quinn and Bridy Mac head out to investigate the mystery hidden in the memory banks of of a ship – currently in Gorn custody – that could serve to be the next big break in the pursuit of the Taurus Meta-Genome and the background of the Shedai. In action packed romp with a shocking conclusion, Mack sets the stage for the next chapter in the Vanguard saga. Pouring all he has into it, Mack ensures that “The Stars Look Down” provides expansive action while, at the same time, offering what might easily (and on many levels) be called a touching resolution to the hopes and dreams of both Quinn and Bridy Mac, as well as a genuine Shedai payoff, one that fans of the series have been waiting years to discover. This novella punches above its weight class as Mack prepares us for the penultimate installment in the series, Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore’s “What Judgments Come”, due in late September.
Vanguard Series Ending In 2012 – two more books
The Vanguard series started in 2005 and has spawned six novels and "Declassivied" collection reviewed above. But in 2012 that will all come to a (planned) end. The recently announced synopsis for the next novel "What Judgment Comes" first revealed the end is near:
Operation Vanguard has risked countless lives and sacrificed entire worlds to unlock the secrets of the Shedai, an extinct alien civilization whose technology can shape the future of the galaxy. Now, Starfleet’s efforts have roused the vengeful Shedai from their aeons of slumber.
As the Taurus Reach erupts with violence, hundreds of light-years away, on "The Planet of Galactic Peace," Ambassador Jetanien and his counterparts from the Klingon and Romulan empires struggle to avert war by any means necessary. But Jetanien discovers their mission may have been designed to fail all along…
Meanwhile, living in exile on an Orion ship is the one man who can help Starfleet find an ancient weapon that can stop the Shedai: Vanguard’s former commanding officer, Diego Reyes.
THE END OF THE EPIC SAGA BEGINS
Vanguard series author Dayton Ward confirmed the end of the series in a blog post, where he explains how this was all part of a plan:
We’ve begun the process of bringing the Vanguard series to what we hope is a proper and epic conclusion. What Judgments Come, written by me and Kevin and coming in October, is the first of a 2-part conclusion to the series. It’ll be followed next year with the seventh and final novel, Storming Heaven written by David Mack, who faces the monumental task of putting to bed the series he helped create.
However, you’ll see when you read the title pages that the three of us are credited with the story for both books. We’ve been plotting this for going on two years now. The series had always been conceived with a beginning, middle, and end, going back to the original "bible" Dave wrote when he co-created the series with then-editor Marco Palmieri.
…more at Dayton’s blog
The Vanugard series is coming to an end
More summer Star Trek reading
There are more new and recent Star Trek novels to keep you going for this summer, including Christopher L. Bennett’s "Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching The Clock" (see TrekMovie review), David McIntee’s "Star Trek The Next Generation: Indistinguishable from Magic" (TrekMovie review), and Star Trek: Voyager: Children of the Storm (TrekMovie review). And if you want a story from the new Star Trek movie universe, there is the just-released "Star Trek: Starfleet Academy: The Gemini Agent," by Rick Barba.
And coming up later in July, James Swallow will explore the relationship between Spock and Valeris in "Star Trek: Cast No Shadow."
Pocket Books provided TrekMovie with a copy of this book for review.