#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.

#4

Death in Winter by Michael Jan Friedman

Dangit. I did it again. *sigh*

Several hours ago, I put myself to bed with a book that I had bought today on a whim. Prior to this afternoon, I didn’t even know it existed, but when I was browsing the science fiction shelves at the local used bookstore, I decided to give it a try. Then, after having it sitting on my desk staring at me all evening, I thought I’d read just a chapter or two and then go to sleep. Ha!

Without some knowledge of Star Trek canon, this book might be difficult to follow. I regularly feel like I’m missing some subtext with the books set after the Dominion War. I missed that part of Deep Space Nine and nearly all of the Voyager seasons due to being in college and not having time to watch, and then being out of college and too poor to buy a TV or pay for cable. Luckily for me, those events aren’t nearly as important in the book as events that took place during The Next Generation years.

The book begins by laying down the back story that both provides the motivation for later events, as well as the characters involved. The events that occur in the “present” are set shortly after events seen in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis in which the Enterprise E is nearly wrecked by trying to prevent the mentally disturbed Romulan Praetor Shinzon from destroying humanity and the Federation. Picard is overseeing repairs of his ship while also dealing with the changes in her crew. Of those who served with him in the early and later missions, only Worf and La Forge remain on the ship, but the one he misses most is Beverly Crusher.

Crusher has taken up her old post as head of Starfleet Medical, but soon she embarks on a covert mission that takes her into Romulan territory. When Starfleet loses communication with her, Picard and a small team are sent in to complete her mission and rescue her if possible.

Meanwhile, turmoil and intrigue plague the Romulan Empire, which has been weakened by Shinzon and his successor. The usual suspects (Tomalak and Sela) show up, do their thing, and it’s all settled in typical Romulan fashion by the end of the book. What I appreciated most about this was how Friedman wrote the minds-eye perspective of all of the main Romulan characters in such a way that I found myself rooting for all of them at some point, even when they were at odds with each other.

The book ends on a high note, and should please many fans. That’s all I am going to say about it, although it wouldn’t be much of a spoiler if I did.

And now, I’m going to bed. Really.