Mar 18, 2011

Accepting the geek – Part III: Trek in print

Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the Bitter Trolley underway.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it was the discovery of the Gateways series while in Iraq that reignited my geek, so I thought it would be a good time to talk a little Trek lit. I know there is a lot more than just Trek out there for geek reading (and I have to just throw in, The novel "Batman – No Man’s Land" was fantastic), but for my pleasure reading I read Trek. Nothing against other sci-fi series, I just don’t have time.

I liked the Gateways series well enough, but I was lost in some of it because I had never read Trek lit, so Gateways really was a gateway for me.

In order to understand what I was reading I jumped on to start ordering other books, as well as the DVDs of every season of every Trek series. is truly one of my best friends when deployed.
Another major factor in my discovering Trek in print was author and really great guy, David Mack. When I went to and asked on the message board if anyone could help me find the Gateways novels I didn’t have, not only was Dave kind enough to send me the missing ones, but he sent a ton of sci-fi and fantasy novels, helping me build quite the library in our office.

As I was reading the Gateways series I was confused when I read “Cold Wars” by Peter David. I had never heard of Captain Mackenzie Calhoun of the U.S.S. Excalibur or the New Frontier series, so it truly was a “Huh???” moment for me.
Within a month I had ordered all the New Frontier novels and was on my way.
It became a daily ritual that when I left the embassy for my ride to work, then again at dinner, and during down times, I was reading the novels and loving it, now getting deeper into the novel universe and enjoying heading into the unknown.

When I returned to the States my reading slacked off, there was just no time with the daily grind of reintegrating, starting a new job, seeing my children, etc. I would get a book occasionally, but not with the passion I had overseas.

Then I deployed again.

This deployment I took Greg Cox’s two volume “The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh” and “To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh,” and really enjoyed the ride.

I followed that with the TNG series “A Time To” series.
Truthfully, I had started the series in my 2004-2005 deployment, but wasn’t grabbed by it, and then got hooked on New Frontier. When I started reading it again in 2007 it did grab me, and the series got better with each book. When I finished the series it depressed me. It had been a long ride and well worth the trip.

Then it happened.

For Christmas I got some books that not only sucked me in, I read each in about two-three days, and when I was done I was so excited that my roommate, who laughed at my geekdom, was almost tempted to read the books. (He didn’t.)

The event was David Mack’s "Destiny" trilogy.

If you’ve read it, you already know. I really don’t have to say anything.

From the first sentence it pulls you in you and doesn’t let go.

And unlike some reviews I have seen that say Ezri Dax has been “Mary Sued,” I love the new, confident and authoritative Ezri. Sure, she has private doubts, but this is a great direction for the character, who is a Dax after all.

The suspense, action and tragedy in Destiny are thick, and the sheer scope of the trilogy across time and distance is breathtaking. I could gush for days.

I snapped up the post-Destiny novels as soon as they hit the shelves, and there wasn’t a bad book in the bunch. In the course of the last 18 months or so I have become huge fans of Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, Keith R. A. DeCandido and Kirsten Beyer. (More about her in a bit.)  It is not an exaggeration to say if it has their name on it, I am spending the money.

Which leads me to talk about two other print Trek adventures that have me racing at warp 9.9 (hey, not warp 10, then I turn into a salamander and wind up fathering Janeway’s tadpoles!) to the nearest bookseller.

I read the Voyager "Homecoming" novels by Christie Golden and liked them. They gave us the homecoming that we deserved after seven years in the Delta Quadrant and were so cheaply ripped off from getting in the series finale “Endgame.” Ms. Golden did it in a really nice way, and I still recommend these books to people.

But when I read “Star Trek Voyager: Full Circle” and “Star Trek Voyager: Unworthy” by Kirsten Beyer…I literally cheered at one point. THIS is what Voyager should be.
Ms. Beyer made the crew of Voyager alive, she brought them forward in stories where the people mattered, they were a team (and not just a captain, her humanity project and a hologram) and they breathed.
I cannot say enough good about these two books, and I am anxiously awaiting her newest Voyager novel, “Children of the Storm.”

Oh, and for the “I will never buy another Star Trek novel until Janeway is brought back” crowd – it’s your loss. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Finally, I would be not only remiss, but should serve time on Rura Penthe if I don’t discuss the “Star Trek: Vanguard” series.
Vanguard is a TOS-era series set on Starbase 47 *wink* also known as Vanguard, a new station built to support Starfleet operations near an interstellar expanse called The Taurus Reach.

The first novel, “Harbinger,” was written by David Mack, and the cast of characters he and then-editor Marco Palmieri came up with is spectacular. I loved the cameo by Kirk and the Enterprise crew in “Harbinger,” and the little things that Trek fans will agonize over, like the changes in TOS uniforms between "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "The Man Trap" commented on by the characters.

But more importantly, the original characters in the series are tragic, fun, maddening, intense…I could go on. For a really good read about the Vanguard series read: “Star Trek: Vanguard – A Breath of Fresh Trek Air” by a truly wonderful lady, Terry Lynn Shull, at:

One of the really fun things about the Vanguard series is David Mack alternates with Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore in writing the books, and the authors are constantly trying to one-up each other, ending each novel with a cliffhanger so heavy you know they have to be beating their heads against the desk yelling, “You bastard! How am I gonna get this resolved????”

If you are a Trek fan and haven’t read Vanguard, you are truly missing a great experience. 

A final thought about the Trek printed universe. I’ve had the extraordinary luck to get to know some of the authors, emailing, chatting on Twitter and sitting and sharing adult beverages together, and if there is a nicer group of people, I don’t know where they are. I won’t say more about David Mack, I have been told I say too many nice things about him. :-)

But in the last year I have had the real pleasure of getting to know Dayton Ward, and he truly is one of the really fun and good people, and Kevin Dilmore and he make a great Abbott and Costello team when talking to them.

Marco Palmieri blew me away with his sincerity, warmth and genuine interest in what we were discussing. Funny story, I was talking to him about Ms. Beyer’s Voyager novels and gushing about them, he looked at me and pointed to the woman standing next to me and said, “Have you met Kirsten, she wrote those books.”
She was so kind, and she seemed blown away that I was reading her novels in Baghdad.

Finally, I just want to say that when talking to Keith R.A. DeCandido I was just awed by his energy, wit and general niceness.

Maybe part of my love for the Trek novels is that the people who write these adventures are the biggest fans out there, they love the Trek universe and want to take us on a ride that they are enjoying as much as anyone.

Whatever it is, this is a geek who cannot wait for the next installment of our continuing mission they take us on.

Thanks for reading. And as always, thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for your future travels.


  1. Nice post, Nick. And spot on: current Trek lit, esp Vanguard, is blowing me away. Going to Shore Leave this year? Maybe we can see each other again there. Hope you are well.

    (From the medical museum down the road)

  2. Thanks Tim. I have my room reserved and will be there all three days.

  3. And they are saying nice things about you on Facebook.

    I agree, they are very, very nice. I love sitting in bar at Shore Leave and listening to them... I wish I had their talent!

    Have fun at Shore leave! I'll be there, too.

    Lorraine Anderson

  4. Thank you Lorraine, I hope to see you there!

  5. Quite a cool post to read. In fact, it made me wish I had the time to go out and get each of those novels and read them. The challenge of a big ship to run and a couple little Gorn hatchlings around... keeps you busy. Thanks for the post!

  6. I just finished the destiny series after a long break from trek novels. It was great! Got to queue up some of these others. (hurray for kendel) I'm on the first titan novel right now. Terri inspired me to read these with all of her beard talk on twitter. :) I think'll check out Vangard next.

  7. Dave, since you ready Destiny I highly recommend you follow up with “A Singular Destiny” by Keith R.A. DeCandido, then “Losing the Peace” by William Leisner (who is also a really nice guy), then the Kirsten Beyer Voyager novels, followed by the Typhon Pact novels. I know it is a lot, but you won’t regret it. Once you board Vanguard, trust me, and I think Terri would agree, you will not want to leave it until you finish the last novel.
    Titan is good, and I plan on doing another blog about Titan and Typhon Pact soon. I may do one solely about Titan, because I have enjoyed it, but also have had been a little…I don’t know how to put it, underwhelmed. I will flesh it out more.
    Thanks for following!

  8. I thought I commented. Why didn't my comment show? *grumpyface*

    Now I don't remember what I wrote.

    I really liked the Destiny Trilogy, and that's saying a lot considering there are plot lines that make me want to scream til water boils...(and one scene where I had to hold my rage intact so I would wake my hubby) - but all in all I liked the story - very creative way to deal with Borg.

    I loved Ezri. But I didn't hate her in the show either. And you're right, she is Dax after all.

    I haven't yet read the Khan books - and they are way down on my list, I have so many DS9 books to get through and since we're only on season 3 of Voyager, I wait until I've actually seen the whole of the show before undertaking genre-specific books.

    Which is why I'm having such a good time with TOS-era material!

    Wish I could go to Shore Leave. But thanks for helping me out there! :)

  9. Teri, is the one scene the one you and I discussed - the ready room? LOL

    I will add too, the Enterprise novels are not too bad, considering they had to try and clean up from that wreck of a series finale. But at least now they are into the Romulan War.

  10. No. It was the very end of the books on the bridge of the Enterprise. But, it's just a personal preference - and one I don't envy the authors for having to deal with.

    Are you thinking of a certain Titan ready room scene? Yeah, that was a bit hard to chew - but I got over it. XD

    And, as you can imagine, I didn't hate the series finale of ENT as much as others did. I totally understand WHY they hated it though. I would have done things a bit differently - although I have to admit - Trip still would have died.

    I'm a bitch that way.

  11. Incredible shout-out to the Trek pro novelists, and I agree with your assessment one hundred percent. (Except, of course, for that Keith guy, who's just a pure-dee whacko that I stay far, far away from. hee.)

    It's a sad testimony to the state of the world that you can only read when you're deployed, but still, it's nice to hear such words of praise about people I've long thought were the greatest ever.

    Hope to meet you at Shore Leave.