The "Library Computer" column is new here at TrekMovie.com. Last week we kicked off with a Valentine’s Day themed review and interview (and giveaway). But before we move on to more we thought we would take a look back at the books of 2007 and see where there were hits (and misses). Plus we gaze forward and see what you can look forward to be reading in the next year…join us will you?
2007…the year that was in books
Pocket entered 2007 with books two and three of David R. George III’s Crucible trilogy, the novel-line’s celebration of the fortieth anniversary of Star Trek The Original Series. Neither of 2007’s books quite lived up to the promise of the McCoy tale, "Provenance of Shadows" from 2006. The Spock-focused book “Fire and the Rose” just failed to capture the iconic Vulcan and the third book, the Kirk-focused "Kirk: The Star to Every Wandering" genuinely ending the meticulously crafted tale with a thud.
Kevin Ryan raised the bar for Original Series tales with "Demands of Honor", the second book of the "Errand of Fury" series. His penchant for vibrant and detailed storytelling really came through in this year’s entry, and the third book of the series is currently on tap for 2009.
William Shatner (together with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens) brought us back to Kirk’s roots with "Collision Course", a young Kirk novel that arrived to mixed reviews. Unfortunately, because of the realities of business, Shatner was unable to produce an audio version of the tale, which could have transformed a relatively trite outing into something a bit more interesting.
Pocket’s other fortieth anniversary project for 2008, "Mere Anarchy", was, unfortunately, relegated to eBook release. While Pocket must make enough to justify continuing the Trek eBook line, it automatically excludes those who don’t have an eBook reader or a desire to stare endlessly at their computer screens. (We can only hope that the "Mere Anarchy" six-part series will be reprinted at some point down the road in the beloved dead-tree format.)
Vanguard, Enterprise, Mirror and Short stories
While not strictly a part of the Original Series line, David Mack kicked the Star Trek: Vanguard series up a notch with one of the best novels of 2007, "Reap the Whirlwind". Mack’s effort was quite possibly the most notable novel in any of the Star Trek lines last year. Also well received was the Mangels and Martin Enterprise project, "The Good That Men Do". This ‘relaunch’ tale really redeemed the end of Star Trek: Enterprise, and provided an outstanding springboard for the future of the crew of the NX-01.
The tenth and final edition of the "Strange New Worlds" short-story collection was issued, marking the end of a decade of fan-generated fiction from Pocket. Many outstanding writers were first published in the pages of various volumes of this series, but sales were not strong enough to continue the series. On the other hand, sales of the two-volume trade paperback series "Mirror Universe" ("Mirror Universe Part 1: Glass Empires" & "Mirror Universe Part 2: Obsidian Alliances") must have done pretty well… fans were talking about these two volumes right up to their release, and follow-up releases have already been planned.
Several other projects were released throughout 2007, but before looking ahead to 2008, I’d be remiss if I didn’t comment on the beginning of the Star Trek: Next Generation’s twentieth anniversary. First, let’s begin with the neutral. One of the most interesting projects of the TNG 20 celebration is the "Slings and Arrows" eBook series, set in the time between the commissioning of the Enterprise-E and the film "First Contact". This is a project that sounds excellent, but, as noted, will enjoy a rather limited exposure because of its eBook format.
Moving to the positives, "The Sky’s the Limit", a short story collection, arrived in stores in October to very favorable reviews. Also arriving in stories in October was Keith R.A. DeCandido’s Next Generation work, "Q&A". In spite of its position in the midst of what may be the two most disappointing Star Trek novels I have ever read, "Q&A" managed to be the shining star for TNG this year. Unlike any print effort for the year with Jean-Luc Picard and his crew, "Q&A" was true to the spirit and feel of The Next Generation, while actively developing a new dynamic aboard the Enterprise-E. Another highlight was the great summer reading book "The Buried Age" where Christopher L. Bennet takes us on a multifaceted tour of Picard’s ‘lost era’ after his time on the Stargazer and before the Enterprise.
Now comes the other side of the coin. Sadly, J.M. Dillard’s "Resistance" was little more than filler and Peter David’s "Before Dishonor" was utterly unreadable. Pocket elected to mine to Borg one time too many, resulting in disastrous results for fans of TNG. To make matters worse, the lack of new Star Trek: Voyager novels (as well as the inclusion of Admiral Janeway in "Nemesis") prompted Janeway’s very frequent inclusion in last year’s Next Generation novels. It was bad enough that neither Dillard nor David were able to actually channel our Next Gen favorites, but to push Janeway (and Seven of Nine) into their stories in a way that didn’t honor Voyager served only to sour two already poor efforts.
While things still aren’t firing on all warp coils on the Enterprise E, it is a different story on the USS Titan. November’s fourth book in the series, "Sword of Damocles", written by Geoffrey Thorne was a fun read. Riker and his crew of familiar and new faces seem to have settled in and the series now feels like it has more of its own tone and feel instead of just being an off shoot of TNG (if anything it is more like TOS with its emphasis on exploration). As an extra bonus the book came with a fold out set of detailed exterior design sketches of the ship.
This year is looking up
Looking back, 2007 was a mixed bag when it came to Pocket’s Star Trek line, but 2008 holds many intriguing possibilities for fans of Trek literature.
Kick off with Sulu and Klingons
Entering 2008, the Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels duo started the year’s novel lineup with the much anticipated Excelsior adventure "Forged in Fire", which features some familiar Klingon guests and one absolutely-unforgettable belly-slug. The novel, set early in Captain Sulu’s command of the Excelsior, touches on themes from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, while at the same time drawing heavily from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Blood Oath".
This February has a return to Keith R.A. DeCandido’s look into the heart of the Klingon Empire with "A Burning House". The series (originally named I.K.S. Gorkon) follows the adventures of a Klingon warship, and this year’s installment sees the Gorkon returning to Qo’nos in what is promised to be ‘a sweeping tale of intrigue, love, betrayal, and honor.’
DS9 big in 2008
Speaking of DS9, Trek’s third series will be getting a fairly extensive treatment in books, with a prequel trilogy, Terok Nor, telling the stories of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor that preceded the events chronicled on the television series. The three installments, "Day of the Vipers" (April), "Night of the Wolves" (May), and "Dawn of the Eagles" (June), journey from the initial Cardassian encounter with the Bajorans and their repression in the name of Cardassia’s future to the construction the Terok Nor station, while at the same time telling the personal stories of Kira Nerys and Odo during their formative years on their respective sides of the occupation.
In addition to the Terok Nor trilogy, the long-awaited continuation of the Deep Space Nine relaunch, "Fearful Symmetry" by Olivia Woods is due in July. The events of Wood’s unique ‘flip-format’ novel, delayed (and reassigned) over two years, delve deeply into the story of Iliana Ghemor, a Cardassian agent who had been surgically altered to resemble Kira Nerys. Ghemor, who appeared on-screen in the DS9 episodes "Second Skin" and "Ties of Blood and Water" also appeared in David Mack’s 2006 novel "Warpath". It is upon this most recent work that Woods builds, with elements of the story taking place in the ‘normal’ universe as well as in the Mirror Universe.
TNG and Enterprise still going
Both the Next Generation and Enterprise relaunch series get new tales in 2008, with August’s "Greater than the Sum" picking up the adventures of Captain Picard’s crew and September’s "Kobayashi Maru" adding to Enterprise line. Christopher L. Bennett pens the Next Generation tale that picks up from the events of "Before Dishonor", taking the crew on a dangerous mission while, at the same time, forcing them to cope with personal issues that will leave their lives irrevocably changed. Mangels’ and Martin’s voyage with Captain Archer promises to delve into the origins of the Kobyashi Maru scenario, the standard test of command prowess for all cadets in leadership tracks at Starfleet Academy. Coming half a year before the release of J.J. Abram’s new movie, it will be interesting to compare and contrast the authors vision with what we learn next May.
Mirror Universe is back
Mirror and other Alternate Universes will be making another appearance in 2008. After the success of 2007’s two-part Mirror Universe books, April sees a third installment, "Shards and Shadows". Where the 2007 outings were novellas, this year’s edition takes the form of a short-story collection featuring twelve tales by various authors, including several stories from series that only exist in book form. Along a similar vein, July and August deliver the "Myriad Universes" series ("Infinity’s Prism" & "Echoes and Refractions"), containing six alternate timeline ‘what if’ tales.
Destiny crossover event
David Mack helps to crown the year with his Destiny crossover trilogy (October-December). The first book, "Star Trek: Destiny: Gods of Night" will feature the crews of the Enterprise-E and Titan, as well as some of the DS9 relaunch cast and a ‘notable persona’ from the past. Book two, "Mere Mortals" is set in two separate times, while book three, "Lost Souls" promises a look at the distant past and a forging of the future of the Star Trek literary universe. Beyond this, Pocket and Mack are keeping the details of the project super-secret, making Destiny the most anticipated work-in-progress on the current schedule.
Trek non-fiction is back
Last week we reviewed the non-fiction (and rather tongue-in-cheek) book "Captain Kirk’s Guide to Women." But 2008 will also include a rather surprising entry into the publishing queue – given the sales of reference material over the past decade – the new Star Trek primer, "Star Trek 101". Terry Erdmann and Paula Block, probably best known for the excellent "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion," have been working on this guide for nearly three years, and it will reportedly cover every single aspect of the Star Trek universe. "Star Trek 101" is currently slated for a September release.
In addition to all these works, there will be the usual smattering of hardcover reprints in paperback, eBook releases (both online and in compilation form), and omnibus collections of previously issued works. 2008 promises to be a busy year for the folks at Pocket Books, and for those who love Star Trek fiction, wherever they may be.