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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

View Poll Results: Rank Vanguard: Declassified
Outstanding 23 37.10%
Above Average 33 53.23%
Average 3 4.84%
Below Average 2 3.23%
Poor 1 1.61%
Voters: 62. You may not vote on this poll

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Old July 8 2011, 03:55 PM   #46
JD
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

I think I remember hearing that J. Noah Kim was not that author's real name, and I've always wondered if perhaps that was Marco.
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Old July 8 2011, 04:05 PM   #47
MatthiasRussell
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

Declassified: My Review
Almost Tomorrow
I was glad to have some background story into the foundation of so many important relationships that made this story so dramatic and introspective. I was especially grateful to understand why the bond between T’Prynn and Anna was so strong after so short of a time; their joining was very enlightening and added a lot to the depth of T’Prynn. Don’t know why, but I love the Sagittarius and her crew; they’ve become the highlight of the series to me. Maybe it’s the close relationships of the group due to such a small ship. Once again, their battle tactics have been some of the most inventive I’ve seen in Trek. I really enjoyed this story and how well it rounded out some great characters.


A funny note. Loved how Ward had the Klingon spy using a P-38 to open a shipping container. I remember discussing WW2 fighter planes with a marine buddy and he didn’t understand how a can opener fit into the discussion, I learned Marines and USAAF guys had different P-38s. Glad to know P-38s have evolved and are still useful in the 2200s.

Hard news
This was the low point in the anthology to me, but then Pennington hasn’t been one of my favorite characters and I rarely read stories told in the first person. I also didn’t think there needed to be any filler story for Pennington and Quinn between Reap the Whirlwind and Open Secrets; if anything I think this story lessened my appreciation for Pennington, weakening his character for me. Just didn't get into this one.


The Ruins of Noble Men
Good character development for Fisher and Desai but in the end, I didn’t feel this story contributed much to my appreciation for the series. Desai was not the strong and decisive woman that I love and I found myself liking her less as she puts career ahead of meaningful relationships. Reyes is even referred to as her “former lover”; that term seemed to down play the depth of their relationship to me; like he was just someone to share a bed with. I am completely shocked that she has done nothing to contact Reyes, not even to just to make sure he has weathered the past year okay. She is the type to face life’s storm, not run away from them. Desai was one of my favorite characters; this dropped her down several pegs.

I also didn’t understand why Gannon got so much attention. She was killed off early in Book 1 so, as a reader, I didn’t see the use of getting to know a character that had minimal contribution to the story and won’t be returning (though I have no desire to downplay her valor or the importance of the Bombay’s destruction). The plot of the story was nothing new (not even to trek), people trying to protect an untouched world and its sensitive ecosystem from the ravages of the greedy, industrialized system beyond. In the end, I felt like I’d read this story many times before.


The Stars look Down
Thankfully this story wrapped up the set. I was dragging myself through the middle stories and this was the thrill ride I needed to refresh my enthusiasm. If DS9 had “O’Brien must suffer” then I would sum up this story with “Quinn must suffer.” The hard life of Cervantes Quinn always makes for excellent story.

My question for Mack at the end of this story would be was the story and ending written out in advance or did it unfold as he wrote it. As much as Mack loves the character, I found it shocking how much Quinn's fortunes changed between the ends of Precipice and Declassified. It also seems the Apostate did a lot of work for nothing.

This story was as high of quality as I expected; it got me further on the edge of my seat waiting for the principle plot of Vanguard to unfold. I keep wanting to know what happened that resulted in the records of Vanguard being locked away so deep within a lunar vault and forgotten for the next century.


I enjoyed Declassified and will read it again as I did all the previous Vanguard books. The series has lost nothing in its hiatus.
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Old July 8 2011, 07:37 PM   #48
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

elaithin wrote: View Post
I particularly enjoyed the first story - Almost Tomorrow by Dayton Ward - I don't think I've ever read anything that felt so much like watching the pilot episode of a tv show. Everything in there was pitch-perfect. I even have to wonder whether it was written as the pitch, and this is what made Pocket decide to run with the series.
Nope. Marco and Dave developed the premise, and Dave wrote a "bible" for the series. Dayton and Kevin were brought aboard later, for book 2, and it quickly evolved into the back-and-forth between them and Dave.
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Old July 9 2011, 03:49 AM   #49
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

I've loved the back and forth between Ward and Mack. I felt with each book one raised the bar for the next like a writer's dual. I got the impression form the acknowledgments that both of them did feel the previous book left them with a challenge.
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Old July 9 2011, 02:59 PM   #50
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

^Hey, what about Kevin? He deserves credit too.
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Old July 9 2011, 05:05 PM   #51
MatthiasRussell
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

Well, I have no intention of leaving anyone out, but Kevin didn't appear as an author in the previous books did he? I wasn't completely sure of his role in the editorial/creative process until I read the round table interview with the Declassified authors at st.com. No slight intended.
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Old July 9 2011, 09:09 PM   #52
Judith Sisko
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

^^ You probably should look at your Wardilmore books again. IIRC, the only Vanguard book withOUT Kevin's name on the cover is Open Secrets, and even then, he's got story credit.
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Old July 10 2011, 01:30 AM   #53
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

Right, and the only reason Kevin wasn't a full coauthor on Open Secrets is because he had other commitments that forced him to bow out. Aside from that and their individual stories in Declassified, he and Dayton have done all their VGD tales as collaborations.
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Old July 13 2011, 02:00 AM   #54
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

I just got done with it this afternoon.

Most of my potential comments would be seconding, thirding, fourthing, etc. many of the things that have been said above.

That said, I have a special shout-out of thanks to Marco for a couple of small details:

1) Bringing Emanuel Tagore into the present continuity. The Final Reflection is a personal favorite, and I've enjoyed how KRAD has worked compatible elements into the Klingons as canon later developed them. It's good to see it here, too, since he's the sort of character whose influence should be evident somewhere.

2) making the Dauntless a Pyotr Veilikiy-class from Masao Okazaki's Starfleet Museum. So many TOS-era designs wind up being just re-arrangments of Consitution parts, but the Veilikiy has its own lines. Not the prettiest ship, but the design works.
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Old July 13 2011, 02:20 AM   #55
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

EmperorKalan wrote: View Post
I just got done with it this afternoon.

2) making the Dauntless a Pyotr Veilikiy-class from Masao Okazaki's Starfleet Museum. So many TOS-era designs wind up being just re-arrangments of Consitution parts, but the Veilikiy has its own lines. Not the prettiest ship, but the design works.
No wonder the name of that class sounded familiar!
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Old July 16 2011, 09:54 PM   #56
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

Ronald Held wrote: View Post
To get the full flavor read them in order from Harbinger onward.
And don't forget to also read the SCE What's Past Story Distant Early Warning. It's a stand alone eBook or part of the Star Trek: SCE: What's Past omnibus. The omnibus is not available as an eBook.

Read it before you read Declassified as it does give some insight into what happens during the construction of Vanguard.
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Old July 17 2011, 07:52 PM   #57
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

Finished story#1, and it was not bad. just starting 2 and do not have the same impression.
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Old July 17 2011, 08:11 PM   #58
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

MatthiasRussell wrote: View Post
It also seems the Apostate did a lot of work for nothing.
My impression, given the way the last scene on the Apostate's planet was structured, was that Bridy Mac is still alive, and will play some role in the acquisition of the Apostate's secrets.

For my part, I most enjoyed The Stars Look Down and Almost Tomorrow. What surprised me most about Declassified, actually, was how much I was moved by The Stars Look Down. I've always disliked Cervantes Quinn, and have never before been remotely interested in aspects of the Vanguard series having much to do with him (Bridy Mac made no impression on me in previous books). So I was very surprised to be drawn into a story about Bridy Mac and Quinn, and to find myself caring about the fortunes of their lives. A story I dreaded when I discovered whom it starred turned out to be my favorite of the volume.

Almost Tomorrow was a pleasing echo of that which Vanguard has been. I very much enjoyed seeing the early stages of Vanguard's story, with first meetings and the unfinished roots of the story we'd later read - even if I didn't get everything from the story that I could, not having read Distant Early Warning (which I really wish were available in print on its own, or had been included in this volume). It was a very solid look back.

The other two stories I have less to say for, though I liked aspects of each of them. The Ruins of Noble Men was generally pedestrian when it didn't involve Hallie Gannon. (The beauty of those sequences, I think, relied heavily on the warm-hearted likability of Fisher.) It also made me dislike Diego Reyes, which I didn't care for at all. He seemed willfully angry and shallow here, a stark contrast with the deliberate, burdened man I remember from earlier books.

Hard News was affecting, but I can't say that I liked it. There is something detestable about Tim Pennington that I don't enjoy. But, more, I felt wounded by the presumable murder of Amity Price. I thought, at first, that she was a character I had forgotten from Open Secrets, but I couldn't find her in a Google Books search of the Vanguard volumes. Her isolated life and death leave me bitterly regarding the story. I was moved and upset by her death, but the meaningless of it in the context of Vanguard offends me emotionally. Most upsetting, I think, is that her death doesn't seem, even, to have affected Pennington beyond his decision to risk everything he had left for T'Prynn. Her death isn't meaningful in itself; it matters, instead, to the main character's relationship with a third character whom he isn't even sure he cares about. It isn't necessarily bad writing, but I don't like it.

On the whole, I'm glad to have read Declassified. I was disappointed to hear that it would be the third-to-last Vanguard volume. The story finally seemed to be moving toward the body of a second act (the first running through Harbinger, Summon the Thunder, and Reap the Whirlwind, and the second having begun with Precipice, notwithstanding the bridging novel Open Secrets or this collection). I had hoped that the series would conclude in a third.

I do have a question related to the Vanguard series: How do the more evocative titles originate? I've discovered that The Bright Face of Danger is a much-used title that seems to have originated with a turn of the century novel by Robert Neilson Stephens, and I think I've tracked down Night's Black Agents, but I'm curious about some other titles, such as The Stars Look Down and The Ruins of Noble Men.
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Old July 17 2011, 08:26 PM   #59
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

Cicero wrote: View Post
MatthiasRussell wrote: View Post
It also seems the Apostate did a lot of work for nothing.
My impression, given the way the last scene on the Apostate's planet was structured, was that Bridy Mac is still alive, and will play some role in the acquisition of the Apostate's secrets.
What gave you that impression?
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Old July 17 2011, 08:58 PM   #60
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Re: Vanguard: Declassified Review Thread

^ The way that part was written seemed to almost pointedly avoid allowing the characters to confirm her death. It didn't seem to me that much would have been lost dramatically had Stano been allowed to discover her inaccessible remains, rather than denied permission to look.

The Apostate's efforts also seem dramatically awkward if they are all but fruitless. (All but because Quinn and the audience do at least know as much as he and Bridy Mac were told.) But I could be reading something that isn't there.
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