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

View Poll Results: Rate Open Secrets.
Outstanding 2 11.76%
Above Average 13 76.47%
Average 2 11.76%
Below Average 0 0%
Poor 0 0%
Voters: 17. You may not vote on this poll

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Old October 14 2012, 03:48 PM   #1
Sho
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VAN: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)


Nearly two years after the highly-acclaimed Reap the Whirlwind, Dayton Ward's Open Secrets made it to bookshelves in spring 2009. It's one of those "the morning after" stories in many ways, thus executing on one of the saga's core ambitions: Highlighting the consequences and showing the aftermath of the tumultuous events depicted in Reap, both personal and political.

Here's how the official blurb put it:

The Taurus Reach is in turmoil.

With tensions mounting between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, Ambassador Jetanien works frantically on Starbase Vanguard to halt the escalation toward war. Commodore Diego Reyes, the station's former commander, awaits trial for treason, while the shattered mind of his intelligence officer, T'Prynn, becomes the battlefield in a fight for her very life.

But even as matters deteriorate, the discoveries made in the Taurus Reach have captured the imagination of one of the Federation's most promising scientific minds: Dr. Carol Marcus believes she is close to solving a puzzle that will transform her life's work. Meanwhile, an unexpected defection brings a new perspective to the investigation, and Vanguard's Lieutenant Ming Xiong is confronted with an artifact that could be the key to decoding the Taurus Meta-Genome.

But with Operation Vanguard teetering between its greatest breakthrough and a conflict that could engulf two quadrants, its future may depend on the man Starfleet has selected to replace Reyes as base commander: Admiral Heihachiro Nogura.
Sadly there is no excerpt available on the Simon & Schuster page for the book.

Finally, a note about spoiler policy: This review thread is for a book that, at the time of posting, is several years old and which has several sequels. While discussing the book's events and merits in hindsight of those sequels is expected to be part of the appeal of the thread, please be mindful of readers who are reading the series for the first time (such as myself ). Refer to facts from later installments obliquely if you can, and consider to surround critical information with spoiler tags. But don't strain yourself too much all the same - beware ye who enter here, of possible spoilers!
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Old October 14 2012, 03:48 PM   #2
Sho
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Re: VAN: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I'll be really brief on this one, mostly because it's actually been a while since I read it and I feel somewhat out of tune with the story by now. I just never got around to opening this next installment in the retro review thread project of sorts, but we need to move on already .

On the whole, I just don't know what it is with the Ward-Dilmore books in the saga. Once again I technically enjoyed the plot points included therein: Courtroom drama, a mature relationship between grownups (Reyes and Desai), the trip to Vulcan, Jetanien in action, ... on the face of it it all hits my literary taste buds pretty well. And yet I could feel myself trudging along at times. Metrics confirm it: My reading application keeps track of my reading speed (page switches per minute + keeping up the habit of switching off the display when I stop reading so real breaks don't factor in), and I am consistently about 40% faster on Mack's books than on the Ward-Dilmore stories. Something just doesn't flow as well, even though I like their content choices possibly more.

There's a couple of instances of curiously sloppy editing here as well, though. The most noticable one: There's a chapter in which Pennington starts out in the Vulcan healer's living space and then is taken outside and shown around the Vulcan village, and then from one dialog beat to the next he's picking up an object from a shelf in the former location again, skipping the return trip - almost felt surreal.

Bottom line: I can't quite put my finger on why I feel so down on this one, because I do thing it advanced the saga's overall storyline in a satisfying way, and a lot of the ingredients felt right for me. Still, it just didn't manage to really take me along for the ride, and so I'm voting Average.
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Old October 14 2012, 08:33 PM   #3
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Re: VAN: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I found the novel to be not as strong as the other entries in the VAN series, but still a great Trek novel - voted Outstanding.
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Old October 14 2012, 08:40 PM   #4
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Re: VAN: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Voted Above Average.

I read it when it first came out, so my memory is pretty hazy about it, but luckily my review of it is online.
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Old October 15 2012, 05:52 AM   #5
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Re: VAN: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I went with Above Average. I don't have any real clear memories since I haven't read it since it was released. I do remember that I enjoyed it, but not as much as some of the earlier and later entries in the series.
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Old October 15 2012, 09:03 PM   #6
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Re: VAN: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Average. I agree with Sho's assessment: Mack's books in the Vanguard series zoom by for me while the Dilmore/Ward books feel like a slow plough. I always felt it was due to the writing styles of the individual authors but maybe the culpability lies in the (lack of) editing. Huge swaths of prose in this book were unnessasary to the point of distraction -- glaringly so in the T'prinn versus phantom husband katra business.

The story of Vanguard does advance in this novel considerably -- I just wish we were treated to more sections like the Sagitarius adventure from the previous book -- Reap the Whirlwind -- or the Rise of the Shedai from the same. These were stand-out portions in the greater saga and Mack at his best: gripping, fast-paced and a pure joy to read. I couldn't put that book down.

Open Secrets, on the other hand, lacks any such moments. I read this book a month ago and I'm at a loss to cite any memorable scenes or amazingly well-written sections. No cool detours or surprising "holy shit!" twists in the story -- just a plot that connects the dots and not a whole lot added to the characterization of the main cast.
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Old October 16 2012, 03:35 AM   #7
Psi'a Meese
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Re: VAN: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)

I promise to comment further when I finish rereading this one.

In the meantime, we have just discovered evidence of the Shedai.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/...ur-star-system
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Old October 16 2012, 05:50 PM   #8
Sho
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Re: VAN: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Sto-Vo-Kory wrote: View Post
Open Secrets, on the other hand, lacks any such moments. I read this book a month ago and I'm at a loss to cite any memorable scenes or amazingly well-written sections. No cool detours or surprising "holy shit!" twists in the story -- just a plot that connects the dots and not a whole lot added to the characterization of the main cast.
Hm, yeah, I think you might have nailed it there. There was just almost no element of surprise in this one, things unfolded largely just the way that not only I as a reader expected, but also even the way the characters expect things to go.

For example: T'Prynn requires extraordiary measures to be woken from her coma. M'Benga discovers a Vulcan healer with a plan to subject her to an ancient ritual that might cure her. And, well, yeah, that's exactly how things go down, no twists and turns along the way.

Same with Reyes' court martial: Things just unfold in a very Occam's Razor sort of straight path. You might argue that it's undercutting "the hero always gets away with it in the end" by convicting Reyes, but come on, it's Vanguard - from the context and tone of the saga you know he's going to have to pay the price. And that Desai ends up being his defense attourney - well, obviously, otherwise you'd just waste the character opportunity.

The novel certainly took things to an interesting place for Precipice to follow-on from, and I was genuinely intrigued by the Shedai artefact, the nature of which I couldn't quite peg by the end of the novel. But for the most part, there was just very little excitement.
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Old October 18 2012, 04:34 AM   #9
Judith Sisko
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Re: VAN: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)

^Agreeing with everything. I think I understand why the story was bookended with the Organian bit so we could read both Nogura's and Reyes' reactions, but even having that bit at the beginning took tension away from the Klingon marauding.

I remember not enjoying this book very much when it came out. I attributed most of that to following Reap the Whirlwind, I think mostly because of the pacing. When I went to re-read it for this poll, I realized that it was the only VAN book not in my NOOK library and I had given the MMPB to my public library. I think that is pretty indicative of my original thoughts about the book.

After downloading it and reading it again, I found it a little more enjoyable this time around, though I'm not sure why. Maybe because I read it isolated from the rest of the series? Dunno.
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