There is something quite visceral about reading a book.
The quality of the artwork and even the paper can tell you
a lot about the quality of the writing and whilst e-books
have been available for a number of years they have never
really replaced the fun of being able to see your collection
in the bookcase. It's most probably this reason that has prompted
Pocket Books to reprint a collection of Star Trek Corps
of Engineer books e-books in a single volume, even though
the individual stories are still available as downloadable
represents the eighth volume in this series, a series which
has much to commend it, not least of which is the fact that
the new cast of characters has little or nothing to do with
Trek canon, therefore you really can kill off characters.
This has always been a problem with the main Trek series;
we know that they are not dead and that alone goes a long
way to stifle drama and tension.
stories are reminiscent of James White's Sector General
series of stories, as both utilise a particular profession
as a jumping off point for what are essentially detective
the destruction wrought on San Francisco by the Breen attack,
Starfleets corps of engineers is helping to repair the war
damage. A simple error, with an unknown technology finds a
massive domed structure appear right in the middle of the
recently reconstructed city...
The first story in the collection, and the one from which
the whole collection takes its title is Aftermath.
This is not only the first story but it is also the weakest.
I say weak because it feels the need to drag in a load of
Trek's central characters to justify its existence.
It may be that the author Christopher L. Bennett was asked
to include these elements as a bridge between traditional
trek fans and this new series.
more we see that in a universe so vast, few characters appear
to exist. So, we have Miles O'Brien, Keiko and Molly turning
up to exercise their marital difficulties - difficulties which
of course are put into perspective by Boothby. To be honest,
their inclusion acts only as a distraction from the unravelling
of the main enigma by the crew of the U.S.S. da Vinci.
The core of the plot is entertaining enough and for those
of you unfamiliar with this series of books makes for a good
introduction to the crew.
Federation scientific teams attempt to terraform Venus is
doomed to disaster without the help of the crew of the da
Rising is written by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels.
time followers of this series will know that from time to
time crew members are actually killed, I mean really dead,
no popping back in time or dodgy reanimations, and as such
this has an impact on the stories as relationships are prematurely
sundered and new crew join.
mention this because, apart from the usual puzzle that is
at the heart of this story, the main thrust of the story is
really about relationships. For many the death of a colleague
or loved one has made an indefinable mark on their lives,
which hangs over the whole crew like a miasma of gloom, worse
than this, they have to come to terms with the new crew members
taking the place of their lost loved ones.
central to this theme is Mor glasch Tev, the new Tellarite
second officer whose forthright persona is interpreted by
the crew as arrogance. However, the main focus is on Soloman,
a Binar whose partner has been killed in the line of duty
and his attempts to form a new singular identity.
da Vinci is diverted from its usual routine to investigate
a chronotron navigation hazard emanating from an asteroid
near Ferengi space. What they find sends parts of the crew
back in time, to prevent an unscrupulous Ferengi from making
a fortune that would destabilise the timeline...
Time by Robert Greenberger is an amusing tale of time
travelling and Ferengis.
stories tend to rely on the humour inherent in the diminutive
creatures existence and Buying Time does not disappoint
in this respect. Amusing as it is, it is not the most complicated
of problems that have beset the crew, making the story a more
'lay back and enjoy' experience rather than anything that
is going to get your grey matter working.
crew discover a ship travelling at a tremendous speed; problem
is the ship has no crew and no noticeable propulsion. As the
Da Vinci closes with the unknown object the crew realise,
to their horror, that it is a ship which they though they
had previously destroyed, whose destruction had only been
achieved at the cost of Salek's life...
penultimate story Collective Hindsight, by Aaron Rosenberg,
is a different kettle of fish altogether. Over and above the
required engineering puzzle Rosenberg uses the story to juxtapose
the characters of the present crew with those of the past
as the story of the ship is explored in two time frames. He
uses the experience to show real character growth as well
as to highlight the strengths of the new crew. It also shows
the strength of this series where characters can really be
killed, giving the first attempt to deal with the ship a real
air of tension so often missing in Star Trek books.
the crew of the da Vinci receive a distress signal,
they are horrified to discover that it emanates from just
inside a black hole. To compound the problem, the owners of
the station will do anything they can to prevent the rescue...
but certainly not least, we have The Demon by Loren
L. Coleman and Randall N. Bills. The
story holds many of the best elements of this series, good
character development, a puzzle which will have you guessing
and the chance of real disaster. This time it is Tev who gets
to do a little integrating as the adventure starts to bring
the crew closer together as a family.
this is a good collection of stories, which, if you are unfamiliar
with the series will certainly have you scurrying off to your
local bookshop for the previous volumes. Of course, if you
are a fan of e-books then they are available to download on-line.