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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.

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Star Trek: Terok Nor – Day of the Vipers by James Swallow (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.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine comes with back story. A lot of back story. In fact, the opening scene of Emissary establishes the show in the context of The Best of Both Worlds, Part II, introducing a lead character whose tragic origin is rooted in an encounter that we had only fleetingly glimpse in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Due to the setting and nature of the show, history and continuity were major parts of Deep Space Nine‘s identity, and a large part of what set the show apart from its predecessors. (And successors, for that matter.)

Although the Klingons would dominate the show’s fourth season and remain a presence throughout the show’s run, and the Romulans might occasionally be glimpsed lurking in the back ground, the series largely focused on two alien races that had been introduced in The Next Generation. The Cardassians had been introduced in the show’s fourth season, in The Wounded, and the Bajorans first appeared during the fifth season in Ensign Ro.

Officially part of The Lost Era series of novels designed to flesh out the history of the shared Star Trek universe, the Terok Nor trilogy exists as a bridge into Emissary, something of an extended history lesson that contextualises the events of Deep Space Nine by providing an account of the Occupation of Bajor, an atrocity that only ended shortly before Emissary actually began.

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Star Trek – In the Name of Honour by Dayton Ward (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 Klingons changed rather dramatically, between the classic Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Part of the changes were physical – most obviously, advances in make-up allowed Klingon characters to be shown with their now-iconic forehead ridges. However, there was another interesting change. Somewhere between The Turnabout Intruder and Encounter at Farpoint, the Klingons went from generic communist stand-ins to a fully-formed alien culture with a wealth of ritual and tradition.

To a large extent, this shift took place during the movie era. Klingons wound up being the focus of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and were a significant presence in each of the films that followed. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, produced at the same time as the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, suggested that it wasn’t necessary for the Federation and the Klingon Empires to be mortal enemies. The final movie featuring the original cast, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, tied up Kirk’s adventures with the promise of galactic peace.

Still, it’s hard to reconcile the differences in characterisation between the Klingons seen in the classic Star Trek television show and those from the later spin-offs. With In the Name of Honour, Dayton Ward tries to explore this radical shift and also to bridge The Final Frontier and The Undiscovered Country. He does the former much better than the latter.

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Star Trek – Music of the Spheres 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.

Music of the Spheres is something of a legend in Star Trek circles. It’s not quite a ghost story, spoken of in hushed whispers. Indeed, author Margaret Wander Bonanno has made the manuscript available to interested fans via her website, and has used it to raise money for a variety of worth causes. She’s documented the difficult story of how her original novel warped in Probe in a wonderfully wry and insightful essay, offering a glimpse at the inner workings of Pocket Book and Paramount towards the end of the eighties.

It’s a rare peek behind the curtain, with Music of the Spheres serving as a compelling vehicle to explore just what was going on inside Star Trek licensing in the late eighties and early nineties.

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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.

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Star Trek – The Final Reflection by John M. Ford (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

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 Final Reflection was written in 1984. Development on Star Trek: The Next Generation would only be announced in 1986. Sure, there were a bunch of successful movies being produced, but these only amounted to a couple of hours of Star Trek once every few years. And, even then, the movies were aimed at a much broader audience, without the same development and continuity that a television show could offer. Not that Star Trek ever really had that tight a sense of continuity, of course, but it must have seemed unlikely that things could ever go back to the way they had been. Certainly, in 1984, nobody could have anticipated the eighteen-straight years of Star Trek running from Encounter at Farpoint to These Are the Voyages.

As a result, fans had to look to other avenues to expand and develop the rich Star Trek universe. The novels were one such avenue, although they developed slowly. Mission to Horatius had been published while the show was on the air, but it was very clearly aimed at a younger audience. Spock Must Die! would be published in 1970. However, the spin-off fiction developed relatively slowly. Star Trek had yet to become a massive franchise with tie-in multimedia commercial opportunities.

Perhaps because the Star Trek novels had not quite turned into a massive franchising opportunity, and they weren’t under the same level of publicity or scrutiny that they would be in the years to come, writer John M. Ford was able to do something quietly revolutionary with his first Star Trek novel, The Final Reflection. He was able to venture away from our core cast of iconic characters and instead develop the Klingon Empire.

More than that, though, he was able to paint the Klingons as the good guys.

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Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars – The Rise & Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volumes I & II, by Greg Cox (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

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

In 1967, the 1990s must have seemed so very far away. At the height of the Cold War, the prospect that mankind would have made it into twenty-first century without one catastrophic global conflict must have seemed improbable at best. Indeed, the odds that anybody would still be talking about (let alone watching) a kitsch piece of sixties television science-fiction would have appeared remote. So Star Trek seemed perfectly justified sticking a reference to a major war towards the end of the twentieth century into an episode towards the end of the first season.

However, if there’s one thing that Star Trek fans cannot abide, it’s a possible continuity problem. So, when genetically engineered supermen didn’t almost conquer the world during the last decade of the twentieth century, it was only a matter of time before we got a two-volume set dedicated to resolving this particular problem.

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