• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

Star Trek – Spock’s World by Diane Duane (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

One of the more interesting aspect of Star Trek tie-in media during the eighties was the sense of freedom enjoyed by those working on the line.

One of the more infamous examples concerned DC’s attempts to publish a monthly comic during the release cycle of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The three films tended to build off one another, forming a tight continuity, but that did not stop the comic book company from trying to build off the ending of each of the films, leading to a variety of weird continuity hijinks. Spock left to work on a Vulcan ship; Kirk took command of the Excelsior; a Klingon joined the crew.

Writers working on the tie-in novels enjoyed a similar amount of freedom. By the time that Spock’s World was published in 1989, Diane Duane had been able to firmly establish her own supporting cast of characters in her various tie-in novels. Spock’s World includes appearances from Duane regulars like K’s’t’lk and Harb Tanzer, introduced in The Wounded Sky; even Lia Burke from My Enemy, My Ally puts in an appearance. It really feels like Duane has carved out her own space within the larger Star Trek universe.

However, perhaps that freedom finds its strongest expression in the fact that Duane was able to map an entire cultural and social history unto the planet Vulcan. Spock’s World reads almost like a biography of a fictional planet – charting the history of Vulcan from the planet’s earliest days through to the twenty-third century. It is a delightfully bold and intriguing Star Trek book, one utterly unlike any other tie-in ever published.

Continue reading

Star Trek – The Romulan Way by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

The Romulan Way is the second book in Diane Duane’s “Rihannsu” cycle – although the first book in the series, My Enemy, My Ally was only retroactively distinguished from standard Star Trek tie-ins. Much like My Enemy, My Ally had been roughly contemporaneous with John M. Ford’s The Final Reflection, Duane’s follow-up was published around the same time as Ford’s own sequel to his earlier work, How Much for Just the Planet? Expanding on My Enemy, My Ally, The Romulan Way sees Duane delving more thoroughly into Romulan history and culture.

The Romulan Way was published amid a sea of change at Paramount and Pocket Books in the late eighties, with shifting mandates and objectives for these tie-in books that represented a conscious effort to hem in some of the more creative tendencies of mid-eighties Star Trek novelist. To demonstrate how rapidly things were changing, both The Romulan Way and How Much for Just the Planet? were both published within three years of their predecessors. After this point, it would take Duane another thirteen years to write the third volume in her saga, and John M. Ford would never write another Star Trek tie-in again.

It’s very hard to condone any publishing philosophy that leads to results like that.

tos-theromulanway

Continue reading

Star Trek – The Wounded Sky by Diane Duane (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry. This is actually supplementary to the first season of the Next Generation, specifically the episode Where No One Has Gone Before.

Diane Duane remains one of the most influential Star Trek tie-in writers ever to work on the franchise. She has been involved in publishing tie-in books pretty consistently since the early days of the publishing line. The Wounded Sky, her first tie-in novel, was lucky number thirteen in the “Pocket TOS” range, published in 1983. Her most recent tie-in novel, The Empty Chair, was published in 2006. As well as a distinguished career outside of Star Trek, she has written novels and comics for the franchise. She even has a television credit, for her work on the teleplay for Where No One Has Gone Before.

There’s a reason that Duane’s contributions to Star Trek fiction are held in such a high regard, and those reasons are quite clear on reading The Wounded Sky. It’s a beautiful and thoughtful piece of prose set within the Star Trek universe, one more concerned with continuing and advancing the spirit of exploration established in the television show than meddling in continuity minutiae or offering generic adventures starring James Tiberius Kirk.

It’s a whole-hearted recommendation for any fan of the original series.

tos-thewoundedsky

Continue reading

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Never-Ending Sacrifice by Una McCormack (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

More than any of the other Star Trek spin-offs, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine lends itself to narratives running in parallel to the main plot. Part of this is due to the conscious world-building the show engaged in, creating an expansive supporting cast populated by citizens of countless different worlds that were developed into more than just “planets of the week.”

There’s also the rather epic scale of events depicted in the show, with only The Best of Both Worlds offering a glimpse of events on a scale similar to those of Deep Space Nine. The show’s setting helps as well; even with the Defiant and occasional trips to other worlds, most of the show was focused on life on the station, suggesting a maelstrom of activity in the wider universe.

The Never-Ending Sacrifice takes advantage of these factors to offer a compelling narrative running in parallel to the events of Deep Space Nine, spanning from Cardassians through to the Pocket Books relaunch. It’s a rich and expansive tale which feels like a genuine epic, taking the opportunity to glimpse events of the season through a set of alien eyes.

cvr9781439109618_9781439109618_hr

Continue reading

Star Trek – Dwellers in the Crucible by Margaret Wander Bonanno (Review)

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

The state of Star Trek tie-ins in 1985 was radically different than it is today. While the film series was at height of its popularity, generating a great deal of attention for the franchise, authors working on the associated tie-in novels were granted a great deal of freedom. Books from this era tend to be a great deal looser, adapting a sort of “devil may care” attitude towards the type of restrictions one might impose on a Star Trek story. Novels could be dedicated to new characters or to existing aliens, or offer radical twists on the show’s rich mythology. It was almost free-style Star Trek, with authors afforded the freedom to tell the stories that they wanted to tell, no matter how difficult it might be to fit that within the confines of “Star Trek.”

Dwellers in the Crucible captures a lot of the spirit of this era quite well. It’s Margaret Wander Bonanno’s first Star Trek tie-in book, but it’s also her strangest. It’s a rather high-concept piece of trashy “women in prison” fiction that dares to ask a question that nobody in their right mind had ever broached before: what if Kirk and Spock were lesbians?

st-dwellersinthecrucible

Continue reading

Star Trek (DC Comics, 1984) #28 – The Last Word (Review)

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home form a trilogy that tells a single story, covering Spock’s death and resurrection, the loss of the Enterprise and the construction of its replacement and Kirk’s journey from washed-up old commander to saviour of the planet Earth. Although the three films weren’t planned as a single story, they worked out surprisingly well as a Star Trek epic told across three films and four years.

Four years is a remarkable turn-around for three franchise films, let alone three well-received franchise films. However, it’s worth conceding that the storyline had a fairly significant impact on the tie-in media. Books could be published set in the existing gaps in chronology, but DC’s plan for their first volume of Star Trek comics was to feature stories set in the contemporary film universe. Since that universe was in the middle of its own story, and the comic publishers had no idea how it would play out, the results are interesting.

Lighten up...

Lighten up…

Continue reading

Star Trek – The Klingons: Starfleet Intelligence Manual (FASA) (Review)

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

The sheer wealth of supplemental material which exists for Star Trek is often quite stunning. While nowhere near the marketing juggernaut that Star Wars is, the depth of the Star Trek brand can’t help but seem impressive. On top of the television show and movies, there are novels and comics, but it goes even further than that. Models, blueprints, Christmas decorations, action figures, and even china dinner sets. It is occasionally awe-inspiring, but also quite intimidating.

Still, it’s interesting to witness how this extended material has come back to influence the “core” of the franchise. It’s not unheard of for spin-offs and tie-ins to help develop a core property. Kryptonite and Jimmy Olsen were added to the Superman mythos, for example, following their popularity on the radio show. Here we have some background material prepared for the FASA Star Trek role-playing game that was popular during the 1980s. As with a lot of this sort of stuff, it’s not really “canon” or “continuity” in anyway that seems to count.

However, The Klingons: Starfleet Intelligence Manual is interesting because it world-builds the franchise, explicitly in reference to John M. Ford’s vision of Klingon culture in The Final Reflection.

st-klingons-fasa

Continue reading