#15

Maker by Michael Jan Friedman

The main story arc of the mini-series has been completed, and most everything has come to a satisfactory conclusion. Unsurprisingly, Friedman takes the events of The Valiant and ties them into this book. He still displays a penchant for old Trek episodes, but for the most part keeps his ideas and creations relatively fresh. Even so, I can’t help but think that the baddie ends up being the oil slick that will eventually kill Tasha Yar. Oh, yeah, SPOILER ALERT: Picard keeps his rank and command, despite the efforts of Admiral McAteer.

I am now officially burnt out on Star Trek books for the time being. They’re like brain candy, and after a while, the craving is sated and it’s time to move on to something different. On the other hand, I’m much closer to my reading goal for the year, if one is concerned with numbers like that. Nine books in ten days is the fastest rate I’ve read since summer breaks when I was in college. It’s also probably a sign that I need to do something about my social life.

americana

This fine compilation from Putumayo provides the listener with a little taste of everything that is defined as Americana music.


by Various Artists

My review of Putumayo Presents: Americana is available over at Blogcritics. It’s a great little compilation, as one might expect coming from Putumayo, and the perfect sampler modern Americana music.

Modern Americana music has its roots in the wide variety of musical styles from the cultures that make up the population of the United States. While it originally came from the Scottish and Irish music of the people who settled in Appalachia, over time other styles have been incorporated into the umbrella descriptor Americana music. For many, the definition of Americana music is fluid and often depends on the tradition from which the listener approaches it.


#14

Enigma by Michael Jan Friedman

This book tied up the loose end known as Dikembe Ulelo. Friedman has been dangling that one since the first book in the series, and I wondered when he’d finally get around to the explanation. Turns out, it’s a crucial point in the plot of this book.

Admiral McAteer makes an appearance again, but this time he’s a part of the action instead of off plotting somewhere. He’s still out to get Picard and has arranged for a review to determine if Picard is fit to be a captain. This is not resolved by the end of the book.

The mini story arc in the book closes nicely, even though there are still a few unresolved problems/questions. But, Friedman then does something that I find immensely irritating: He adds a cliffhanger. Sure, the reader might be concerned that Picard is going to have a rough time, but we all know how that eventually works out. On the other hand, Friedman has left another main character in a deadly and dangerous predicament. Stay tuned…. for the next book.

Thankfully, I already have it on my bookshelf. If I did not, I think I’d be particularly perturbed.

#13

Oblivion by Michael Jan Friedman

I promise this blog won’t turn into a “which Star Trek book did Anna read today” blog. I swear! I mean it!

Okay, so, yeah. Another book in Friedman’s Stargazer series. This one is much more memorable and interesting that the last one, so I’m happy about that. It also provided another example of the paradoxes of time travel. In this case, it was that the first time Picard meets Guinan is also the second time she has met Picard. Don’t try to think too hard on that one or you’ll hurt yourself.

One thing I’ve noticed with this series is that like television episodes, the each book focuses on different characters from among the crew, and the focus shifts from book to book. For example, the Asmunds play a large role in the last book, Three, but they are only mentioned and not see or heard from in this one. The nice thing about this is that Friedman has been given the opportunity to develop a large set of characters that are mainly of his own creation, and he’s been able to further their development over time (and a series of books). I think that is when authors get to have fun in the Star Trek universe.

#12

Three by Michael Jan Friedman

Like The Valiant, Three takes an element from TOS and imagines what might have happened to it in the years between Kirk and young Picard. In this case, the element is the mirror universe that Kirk visited via a transporter malfunction. Alternate histories and crossovers seem to be an irresistible element of the Star Trek canon, so I am not surprised to see it show up in Friedman’s Stargazer series.

The story was okay, but the plot and action did not move quite as dramatically as it has in previous books. Aside from providing more character development with the Asmunds and Ensign Nikolas, the book adds nothing to the story of the USS Stargazer and her crew.

#11

The Valiant by Michael Jan Friedman

I was a little concerned when most of the way through the first chapter I realized that the inspiration for the story came from the TOS episode entitled “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Given that this was the second pilot episode of the original series, I should probably temper my opinion of it; however, I still don’t care for the episode’s treatment of the characters as compared to what they would become.

That said, this turned out to be a better story than I hoped. Since I have managed to read out of order most of Friedman’s stories about Picard and the Stargazer, I already knew some of what was going to happen, but that didn’t deter from my enjoyment of the book.

The book opens with a more detailed exposition of the events that occurred on the SS Valiant more than two centuries before Kirk’s Enterprise discovers the ships recorder that was sent back towards Earth before its destruction. The story then shifts to the USS Stargazer, almost three-hundred years after the events on the Valiant. Lieutenant Commander Picard is serving as second officer, and even in that position several of the crew, including the first officer, think he is too young and inexperienced.

This becomes even more of an issue when the captain is killed and the first officer is incapacitated. Through the course of events, Picard is forced to assume command, and although the story is presumably about the galactic barrier and the ramifications of the events on the Valiant, it really shines best as the story of Picard trying on the shoes of command and finding that they fit perfectly.

#10

Reunion by Michael Jan Friedman

Last night, I decided to do a bit of reading before bed, and grabbed the third book in the Stargazer series. So far, it has been an interesting series, and Michael Jan Friedman is quickly rising in the ranks of Star Trek authors that I enjoy reading. I had read about a quarter of the book when I hit my limit of references to past events I wasn’t aware of. That’s when I stopped reading and did some investigating online. Turns out, Friedman wrote two books prior to the Stargazer series that introduced the characters and provided the setup for the series.

The first book is this one, Reunion. It takes place sometime around third or fourth season of The Next Generation, judging by Wesley Crusher’s rank and the Troi/Riker relationship status. I read (and had owned) this book years ago when it was first published in the early 90s, but I had forgotten enough of it that re-reading felt like reading it for the first time.

The Picard of this book is the Picard we are most familiar with, and with the exception of Worf, he is the only character from the core TNG group that is given sufficient attention to grow and develop through the story.

It has elements of a murder mystery, but without the cleverness of a Christie or Sayers plot. Still, quite satisfying for Star Trek, and a lot less dark than I remembered it being. Of course, I’m quite a bit older and more experienced than I was when I first read the book. Worf gets quality time, and the opportunity to view himself in the mirror via Idun Asmund, a human woman who was raised by Klingons.

Next up is The Valiant, which is the book that sets up the series I’ve already begun to read. Sort of a spoiler, since I know the outcome, but I still need to learn the details.

I’m hoping that I’ll have gorged myself on enough Star Trek by the time I’ve finished the series that I can move on to other, slightly more challenging books. On the other hand, I’ve kick-started the reading thing, which makes me happy.

#9

Progenitor by Michael Jan Friedman

w00t! At this rate, I might get to 20 before the end of the year. Heh.

Once again, parts of this book seemed familiar, but mostly it was new. The larger story arc from the previous book was carried through and remains arcing, while the internal story arc contained all the tension and resolution that one expects from a Star Trek novel.

Young Captain Picard (28 years old!) displays the kind of fearlessness that his First Officer on the Enterprise had to curb early on. It’s an interesting look at the man. There are some elements of who he will become, with just a hint of Kirk to throw TOS fans a bone.

#8

Gauntlet by Michael Jan Friedman

I had a vague feeling every so often that I had read this book before, but most of it was unfamiliar. In any case, it’s the first of a series, so I’d need to read it before the rest, anyway.

Friedman does a good job of introducing the characters that make up the crew of Picard’s first command, and he also keeps the names dissimilar enough that it’s easy to keep track of who is who. That’s an important feature for a book that is set in a familiar-but-different universe.

There are several subplots and threads left hanging at the end, but we’re given a satisfying conclusion to this particular story arc. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

And, hey, look! I read two books this weekend! Of course, I didn’t do other things I should have been doing, but other things are the reason why I haven’t read very much this year so phoey on them.

#7

This book has been on my wishlist for so long I’ve forgotten why I wanted it in the first place.

Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip

Meh. I am so far behind on this challenge I’m just trying to see if I can read as many books as I did last year.

Solstice Wood has been on my wishlist for so long I’ve forgotten why I wanted it in the first place. However, I promised my copy to someone a while ago, so I decided today that I probably should read it and pass it along before it was too late. I’m glad I did.

The story pulls together the threads of the real world and the otherworld and creates something so intertwined that at times it’s hard to tell which is which. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of six characters, and the perspective shifts each time. Surprisingly, this does not disrupt the flow of the story, and only once or twice was it necessary for the timeline to back up in order to follow the new perspective from where it diverged from the previous one.

All in all, it’s a satisfying read and has a real-world message about relations between different groups of people with different cultures and motivations.