Posts Tagged With: Dayton Ward

A Time to Sow/A Time to Harvest, by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore

timetosow timetoharvest

A minute ago you said we were out of options and that there was no chance of finding anything new.
I was simply trying to get the EMH to shut up.  Have I mentioned yet how much I despise those things?
-Doctor Beverly Crusher and Doctor Tropp, U. S. S. Enterprise


In the time of Jonathan Archer, the Vulcan ship Ti’Mur picks up a distress call-one from a world in danger of complete destruction.  Unfortunately, it has traveled a great distance, and the Vulcans have to go pull Archer’s fat out of the fire-and so the mystery of the danger to the Dokaalan people goes unsolved….  Until now.  This is the present mission of the U. S. S. Enterprise in the books A Time to Sow and A Time to Harvest.  This is the second pair of novels detailing the events that bridge the gap between the Next Generation movies “Insurrection” and “Nemesis”; if you haven’t read the first books, A Time to be Born and A Time to Die, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, but this pair of books brings the casual reader up to speed nicely on their own.

Things have rarely been so bad for Captain Picard and his crew.  Thanks to the events in the previous duology, the Enterprise is considered an unlucky ship, one that has a captain in the twilight of his career.  Doctor Beverly Crusher is considering taking a position as Surgeon General at Starfleet Medical; Commander Data is dealing with the removal of his emotion chip; and the ship is under orders to investigate a 200 year old mystery which can be best described as “low priority”.  This is not the kind of mission that the crew of this ship is used to having (the phrase “overqualified” comes to mind).

It isn’t much of a surprise to see that in one respect, the Enterprise arrives too late.  There’s not much left of the Dokaalan homeworld.  Yet the Dokaalan still live, and they’re in the midst of an ambitious project-transforming another world to allow them to settle upon it instead of surviving in a colony amongst asteroids.  However, it seems that this first contact isn’t greeted with universal joy; Enterprise arrives as one of the Dokaalan outposts loses life support-and it is discovered that it wasn’t an accident.  As the crew works to assist the Dokaalan, more acts of sabotage occur, some of the rescued Dokaalan are ailing, and unknown to the Enterprise crew, the flagship of the fleet is not immune to infiltration.  If that isn’t enough, there are others watching the work of the Dokaalan with great interest.

While in some ways this is a fairly standard Trek book (see crew; see crew meet aliens; see one faction like crew, and one faction distrust crew; mix), I felt it was a stronger duology than the last one.  Instead of trying to save a planet, they’re trying to help a race build a new one.  It’s a bit of a twist on the usual formula, and one I appreciated.  And I have to admit that I liked the Dokaalan attitude:  one has to admire a people who have managed to survive such adversity, and get to the point where it’s very likely that they’ll have a new true homeworld in their own time.

There are a number of nice character moments; Picard and Crusher having dinner again for the first time in a real long time; a few scenes with the newer members of the crew (Vale, Taurik, and Perim); and a message from a Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire to Will Riker, which may have a bit to do with a future transfer of his own.  Picard has to deal with the dangers of second-guessing himself after his recent fall from grace in Starfleet, while Geordie and Data have to deal with Data’s return to emotionlessness (although that quickly becomes the least of Data’s problems).  And I’ll give points to Ward and Dilmore for using an alien race that I certainly never expected to see again.  I take off, however, for how easily the Enterprise gets infiltrated-you’d think that after a war in which even tables could be shapeshifting Founders, the ship’s security procedures would be a mite better….

Still, A Time to Sow and A Time to Harvest is a solid bit of storytelling, both on their own and as a part of the continuing story arc.

Categories: Star Trek, The Next Generation | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Miracle Workers, by Assorted Authors

miracleworkers

Mr. Duffy, did I ever tell ye what the most frightenin’ words I ever heard spoken on the bridge of a starship were?  Well, here they are:  “Mr. Scott, you have the conn.”.
-Captain Montgomery Scott


The second novelization of the e-book series involving the tech folks in Starfleet has an interesting range of stories this time around.  We get a conclusion to a two part story (from Have Tech, Will Travel), a surprise encounter aboard a Cardassian space station, and what could be considered a part murder mystery, part slash flick.

The first story on this one is “Interphase, Book Two”.  As with the first book, “Interphase” was written by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore.  When last we encountered the S.C.E., one team was aboard the Constitution Class U. S. S. Defiant, lost in the interspatial rift where it has been for over one hundred years.  The rest of the gang is aboard the da Vinci, dealing with Tholians who have inexplicably begun to attack.  This story does a decent job of balancing the action elements with the problem-solving ones, as Lt. Commander Duffy (second officer of the da Vinci) deals with the rather unfamiliar situation of commanding a starship in battle, while the team aboard the Defiant work to not only escape interspace, but deal with the revelations about how the Defiant got into this mess in the first place.

The second story is “Cold Fusion”, and this offering was written by Keith R. A. DeCandido.  This book actually takes place in between Deep Space Nine novels Avatar and Abyss.  The S.C.E. is called in to aid Deep Space Nine in repairing the damage done to it in the events of Avatar, and with the help of  Lieutenant Nog of DS9, they go to scavenge the fusion core from Empok Nor, a similarly built Cardassian space station long abandoned…or so they think.  We also get a look at a group of aliens called the Androssi, who are just as tech-savvy as the S.C.E., but are interested in profit (hm…techno-Ferengi….).  The story also shows that the S.C.E. had just as exciting a career before the time of these stories.

The final story was released as two e-books originally.  “Invincible” was written by David Mack and Keith R. A. DeCandido.  “Invincible” takes place at the same time as “Cold Fusion”, and centers on Sonya Gomez on the world of Sarindar; because of her experience and knowledge of subspace accelerators.  Unfortunately, between native superstitions and some ugly surprises, Sonya finds that she’s gotten more than she’s bargained for on this assignment.  Because this story was originally released as a two parter, it takes up the bulk of the book; I also found this to be the most interesting, as it focused only on a single Starfleet character, working under rather stressful circumstances (which I won’t go too much into here).  It also shows some of the usual blind spots that Starfleet officers have in this kind of situation.

Miracle Workers follows the same vein as Have Tech, Will Travel; while there were fewer stories in this book, they were substantially more interesting, hinting at a deeper history behind the characters and developing them further.  That really can’t be all that easy with the average size of the stories, but I find the pacing to be just fine.  One issue I did have with this book was the extra pages-nearly 100-dedicated to a minipedia detailing information from these two books.  To be honest, I’d have rather scrapped that and included another story (of course, I say this without any knowledge on which e-book followed “Invincible”, so perhaps it was the lesser of two evils).  I wasn’t fond of the minipedia for New Frontier books, and I’m equally unenthused about this one.  Aside from that detail, though, I found Miracle Workers to be a solid book, and worth a read.

Categories: S.C.E., Star Trek | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have Tech, Will Travel, by Assorted Authors

That’s not hot chocolate, is it?  ‘Cause you know what happens when you order hot chocolate.
-A friendly warning to Commander Sonya Gomez


The oddest thing about this book is its origins.

This book began life as a series of E-books.  I never read ’em; didn’t have the motivation to shell out dollars for something to read on my screen; it’s also why it never appeared on my site here, since I made a deliberate decision early on to stick with the print media.  E-books and audiobooks need not apply.  Apparently, though, the editors at Pocket Books-eager to make more money, I expect-decided to release the first four stories in paperback form.

That brings us to the present:  Have Tech, Will Travel is the story of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, an organization that lives for all the technobabble that you’ve seen before in books and television (and occasionally movies).  They aren’t out to seek out new life and new civilizations; they are out to play with alien technology and fix problems that are way too big for a standard starship crew.  To borrow a phrase from the book, “If anything in the galaxy needed to be built, rebuilt, programmed, reprogrammed, assembled, reassembled, or just understood, the S.C.E. was who you called in”.

In this case, it means if there’s a massive starship that mysteriously attacks the U.S.S. Enterprise, or if there’s a worldwide computer system on the fritz, or other equally interesting problems, the starship U.S.S. da Vinci is sent to investigate.  The captain of the ship is David Gold, a contemporary of Captain Jean-Luc Picard; however, the commander of the crack S.C.E. team is Sonya Gomez, who was formerly assigned under Geordi La Forge.  Other notable team members are the bonded Bynar pair 110 and 111 (they’re great with computers), Domenica Corsi, the chief of security for the S.C.E. (and with a nickname like “Core Breach”, you just know what can happen!), and Dr. Lense, who joined the S.C.E. to get away from doing combat medicine (which may have proven to be a big whoopsie).

This book has four stories, so I’ll get right to it.  The first story, written by Dean Wesley Smith, is “The Belly of the Beast”.  The U.S.S. Enterprise has just finished defeating a mysterious, huge starship, and Captain Scott (of the original series) sends the da Vinci to figure out why it attacked an agricultural colony.  We get our first look at the dynamics of the crew, which I found to be a little easier to believe than most of the other crews that have been put together solely for books.

The second story is “Fatal Error”, by Keith R. A. DeCandido.  In this offering, the S.C.E. is asked by the planetary computer of Eerlik for aid, as it is beginning to experience malfunctions that its caretakers are unable to handle.  What they find is that the situation is considerably more complicated than that (par for the course for Star Trek).  This one also begins to delve into the various personalities of the members of the team, and introduce a couple more.  One of the things I enjoyed about Have Tech, Will Travel is the slow revelation of who’s on the team.

The third is “Hard Crash”, by Christie Golden.  It wraps up a couple of subplots begun in the first story, and hits the world of Intar, as an alien craft crash lands in the capital city, and becomes a problem very quickly.  The discovery of its pilot leads the crew to a rather frightening possibility for the S.C.E., as they wonder if they’ve run into a threat far too big for them to handle.  We get the first look at the da Vinci’s EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram), which seems considerably more stable than the one on Voyager (or, for that matter, the one that was on one of its episodes being hyped as the Mark II).  I sincerely hope it’s not overused.

The final story in this book is “Interphase, Book One”.  I know-not another cliffhanger!  But from what I understand, the second book will not be long in coming (although readers of the E-books undoubtedly are chuckling behind my back as I write this).  It involves a mysterious ship suddenly appearing in Tholian space, which instantly gets Captain Scott’s attention-especially since it’s a Starfleet ship.  But there are those who don’t want the starship recovered….  This one was written by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore.

Amazingly enough, I rather enjoyed all four stories.  All were fairly complete, and had solid plots; perhaps stories averaging slightly under a hundred pages removes the need to fill a Star Trek book with fluff.  I also like the concept of the S.C.E.  They aren’t out to do the big things, like save planets or galaxies or entire civilizations; they aren’t out to fight the Dominion or the Borg or the Romulans.  They’re out to fix and understand things, and it’s nice to have a break from the Big Ideas.  While this book hasn’t changed my stance on E-books (sorry Pocket Books!), I will be more than happy to keep purchasing paperback collections if they’re of the same quality as Have Tech, Will Travel.

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