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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Fearful Symmetry by Olivia Woods (Review)

The September and October, we’re taking a look at the jam-packed 1994 to 1995 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily for the latest review.

Fearful Symmetry had a long and painful history. The novel was originally scheduled for release April 2007. This would have seen the novel published about a year after the release of the previous Star Trek: Deep Space Nine relaunch novel, Warpath. The plan had been for new author Leanna Morrow to write the novel. When that proved impossible, Olivia Wood stepped in to rescue the assignment. Fearful Symmetry was eventually published in June 2008, over a year behind the initial schedule.

It’s interesting to speculate how that delay affected the Deep Space Nine relaunch. The next novel in the series, The Soul Key, would be the last published before the print Star Trek universe realigned as part of the Typhon Pact and The Fall, very much “event” books that served to relaunch the fictional universe. It is interesting to speculate whether the year between Warpath and Fearful Symmetry contributed to the decision to discontinue that particular iteration of the Deep Space Nine relaunch.

Still, whatever the reason, Fearful Symmetry is more interesting than successful. It is a book written with a number of great ideas, but some very flawed execution. It adopts a very “comic book” approach towards the Star Trek universe – featuring high concepts and crossovers and character who have been exaggerated slightly and distorted so as to fit the general perception of them rather than any consistent internal characterisation.

Fearful Symmetry is a bold and ambitious piece of work, particularly from a first time novelist. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite as well as it needs to.

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Star Trek – The Entropy Effect by Vonda N. McIntyre (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins and other interesting objects. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

The Pocket Books Star Trek line has to be one of the most stable and successful tie-in book ranges in the world. While the comic book license has bounced from publisher to publisher, Star Trek prose has remained firmly rooted at Pocket Books through the highs and the lows of the Star Trek franchise. This is undoubtedly because Pocket Books is a subsidiary of Simon and Schuster, which has been owned by the company that has owned Star Trek since 1975.

As such, from 1979 until the present day, Pocket Books has produced an incredible amount of tie-in material to support the Star Trek franchise. From reference material through to novels set within the fictional universe, the line has published a wealth of material across all the shows and all the time frames. Indeed, Pocket even launched their own separate spin-off brands run by authors like Peter David or Keith R.A. DeCandido.

While Gene Roddenberry’s novelisation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was the first official Star Trek novel published by Pocket Books, and the line had published a number of reference books in the interim, Vonda N. McIntyre’s The Entropy Effect is the first original novel published by Pocket Books. In many ways, the influence of McIntyre’s work is still being felt, as she demonstrated how best to approach a Star Trek tie-in novel.

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Star Trek: Myriad Universes – Shattered Light: The Embrace of Cold Architects by David R. George III (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.

It’s amazing to think what happens if you shift events just a little to the left or a little to the right. Part of what’s most fascinating about David R. George III’s The Embrace of Cold Architects is that the alternate universe isn’t created by altering the outcome of any major event. Instead, the alternate universe is created by shifting a single date slightly forward in time. Moving one event out of its original context – in this case the conference from The Offspring – and transposing it later into the third season of the show has any number of radically unforeseen side effects.

Of course, this all feels like very clever meta-commentary by author David R. George III. As much as The Embrace of Cold Architects is about shifting around the order of events inside the narrative, it’s also about shifting around the framing structure itself. The Embrace of Cold Architects doesn’t just offer a glimpse of what might have happened had certain events within the framework of Star Trek: The Next Generation occurred out of their previously-established context, it is also about reimagining The Next Generation itself.

Quite a lot of The Embrace of Cold Architects feels like glimpse of an alternate version of The Next Generation, one where the show itself has been shifted so that it might be written in the context of the War on the Terror.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Reunion by Michael Jan Friedman (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 The Battle.

The Star Trek expanded universe is so large and so expansive that it has its own particular phases of history, its own important and divisive figures, its own grand context for things. With the announcement of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the late eighties, the focus of expanded universe shifted a bit. Ever since the original Star Trek had gone off the air, novelists like John Ford, Vonda McIntyre, Diane Carey and Diane Duane had been free to carve out their own little corners of the shared universe.

There was a sense that the novels existed to expand the Star Trek universe outwards, with certain authors even developing their own recurring casts and delving into the history and culture of various fictional races in a way that simply wasn’t possible as part of a television episode or feature film. In the late eighties, this changed rather dramatically, with Richard Arnold becoming something of a “gate-keeper” of the expanded universe.

Although Diane Carey would write the first Next Generation tie-in novel, Ghost Ship, this represented something of a changing of the guard. The focus of the novels became a bit different, and the authors driving the line began to change. Michael Jan Friedman’s first published Star Trek novel was Double, Double in April 1989. Since than, he has written more than thirty different Star Trek tie-in novels, a few short stories and ninety-one issues (including annuals and specials) of the nineties Next Generation tie-in comic.

In terms of influence in the Star Trek expanded universe of the nineties, Michael Jan Friedman is a defining figure.

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