Reading Marathon: The Typhon Pact... and Beyond!

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Stevil2001, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So, at a certain point I started to fall behind when it came to Star Trek novels. While I used to read them avidly as they came out, I started to slip further and further behind, especially when it came to what I've come to think of the "Destiny Era" books, those novels set after Nemesis, the chronologically final part of the canon. Though I have read almost a hundred Star Trek books over the past seven years, the last Destiny Era novel I read was Titan: Synthesis by James Swallow, way back in February 2010! I've been keeping a list, of course, and now I'm nearly fifty books behind. I've read the set-up of the Typhon Pact in Destiny: A Singular Destiny, but never actually read the Typhon Pact novels themselves; I basically left off just before they got started.

    Now, finally, I'm going to start tackling that list. Forumgoers may be familiar with my Deep Space Nine reread, and I'm going to take a similar format here, writing up my general thoughts on each novel, plus other random ideas as may occur to me. So that I don't drown in Star Trek novels, I'm going to do them in batches of five in chronological order: read five, then do some other books, then do five more, and so on. I did something similar to this for Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, and it took me nineteen months to get through 34 books, so I anticipate that this will take me something on the order of 30 months, so I guess I can look forward to wrapping up in December 2019. By which time there will be even more books!

    I said I'd be starting with the Typhon Pact novels, but that's not quite true. There are some books set before Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts of Empire that I think will provide some context and set-up and otherwise tie into the Destiny Era stuff, so I'll start with them. (I briefly considered titling this The Typhon Pact and Beyond and Before, but decided that was too silly.) So as soon as I post this, I'll start to read the first of my first five:

    Phase One: 2268-83, 2377-81
    1. The Original Series: From History's Shadow by Dayton Ward
    2. The Original Series: Allegiance in Exile by David R. George III
    3. The Rings of Time by Greg Cox
    4. The Original Series: Elusive Salvation by Dayton Ward
    5. Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions by David Mack

    Comments as I go are of course welcome.
     
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  2. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Just FYI, of those books you list here, only Rise Like Lions has any relevance to any Typhon Pact stories (it ties in with the events of Cold Equations: Silent Weapons and Section 31: Disavowed).

    ETA: I would actually recommend reading the Typhon Pact series in publication order over chronological order. Well, that, and I'd recommend skipping Typhon Pact: Seize the Fire by Michael A. Martin.
     
  3. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My understanding (obviously I haven't read them!) is that From History's Shadow and Elusive Salvation lead into Hearts and Minds, Rings of Time is referenced in Forgotten History, and Allegiance in Exile connects to George's Deep Space Nine work. Am I wrong? (Too late if so.)

    I'm not skipping any book I've already bought and paid for!
     
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  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    In passing, yes. Greg and I knew we were dealing with overlapping subject matter, so we compared notes for mutual consistency.
     
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  5. lvsxy808

    lvsxy808 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not really to anything in his Typhon Pact books, but yes to stuff that happens before and after those books.

    .
     
  6. Jinn

    Jinn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    And reading From History's Shadow and Elusive Salvation is generally a good idea.
     
  7. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This is the Typhon Pact "...and beyond!" I'm starting with them (except for this 23rd-century prelude) because that's where I left off, but my plan is to go all the way up to the present of the Destiny Era, wherever that is when I get there. (Right now that's Control/Hearts and Minds, but it will continually recede, though hopefully not as fast as I draw toward it.) So I'll be reading George's various post-Destiny Deep Space Nine novels.
     
  8. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    One thing with the Typhon Pact books is that they mostly deal with TNG, DS9 and TITAN. Voyager, which had only been relaunched in 2009 went on its own post-Destiny path. From what you say, you probably read "Unworthy", but the next novel didn't come out till 2011.
     
  9. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, I didn't like Full Circle very much, and after two different takes on post-finale Voyager, neither of which worked for me, I decided not to continue buying Voyager novels. So that's the one series I'll be skipping in this project!
     
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  10. Paris

    Paris Commodore Commodore

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    ^Didn't like Full Circle?! Crazy talk! ;)
    I've been a huge fan of Kirsten's Voyager relaunch and would recommend it to any trek fan, but if FC didn't do it for you, i'm guessing the rest of her run my not be up your alley :(.
    I will be here for all your comments to come. I was considering doing a Destiny-now re-read as well at some point, so this will be interesting to see.
    Enjoy!
     
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  11. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, I know it's a minority opinion around here! I wanted to like it. I think I just don't care enough about the Voyager characters.
     
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  12. Paris

    Paris Commodore Commodore

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    ^Understandable. Lots of fans of Trek rate Voyager at the bottom...it's just that Full Circle and what came after it, have been like nothing else experienced during the run of the show. These are the books that made Voyager fans out of the naysayers! The characters become so much more realized and interesting. But I won't push. Maybe one day you'll get a hankering for some Voyager and will check back in ;)
     
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  13. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm almost done with From History's Shadow, so I'll probably post my thoughts tonight or tomorrow.
    At some point the fact that I have nearly every Star Trek novel of the past fifteen years or so except these (and the Romulan War books) will probably weigh on me enough to pick them up, but right now I feel set with the fifty-eight unread Star Trek books I already have!
     
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  14. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Original Series: From History's Shadow by Dayton Ward
    Published:
    August 2013
    Time Span: 1947-96, 2268

    There are certain subgenres of Star Trek episodes: the studied-by-omnipotent-aliens story, the planet-of-the-hats story, the estranged father story. One I'd never really given much thought to before picking up From History's Shadow is the "secret history" subgenre of Star Trek: Vulcans giving us vel-kroh (Enterprise's "Carbon Creek"), aliens guiding us through the 20th-century Cold War (the original's "Assignment: Earth"), 29th-century technology giving us the microprocessor (Voyager's "Future's End"), and so on. From History's Shadow, like its literary predecessor The Eugenics Wars by Greg Cox, expands on that to present a whole story of 20th-century secret history. For James Wainwright, this novels begins just after the events of Deep Space Nine's "Little Green Men" in 1947 and ends with the events of the original's "Tomorrow is Yesterday" in 1969 (plus a 1996 coda based around "Future's End"), threading its events into episodes like "Carbon Creek" and "Assignment: Earth" in between. It's not all references, though, as Dayton Ward works in a new alien race, the Certoss Ajahlan, combatants in the Temporal Cold War, working to rewrite Earth's history in order to prevent their own destruction.

    On the one hand, it's clever and fan-pleasing how From History's Shadow weaves all these references together, emulating what The Eugenics Wars does with the later parts of the 20th century. I appreciated the return of Mestral ("Carbon Creek" is one of the better Enterprise episodes) and I've always loved Roberta Lincoln and found the Aegis tantalizing. And the intricacies of the Temporal Cold War always have a certain appeal as well. Ward comes up with a compelling, seemingly unified history. Also interestingly, this book almost creates a secret history's secret history, revealing that behind-the-scenes there was more going on in "Assignment: Earth" than we were told on screen.

    But I found that there was a kind of energy often lacking from the story. Big chunks of time often pass, and I don't think they always do so in elegant ways; there are a number of scenes where Wainwright sits around thinking about things that have happened, things which sound more interesting than the things that are happening. The rise and fall of his department seems key to this story, but it's glossed over more than it's explored. I particularly wanted more of Wainwright himself. This is a man who's dedicated himself to a cause for over twenty years that's wrecked his personal life, but up until the very end, I had little sense of his own inner drive. His emotions and motivation always seem muted, but a determination to discover the truth could have provided the unity that this kind of transhistorical epic needs, but in this case lacks, coming across more as a series of disparate incidents, I did really like his last two scenes: his confrontation with Captain Christopher and his recognizing Voyager on the television give us a window into a man obsessed and pushed around too long, but up until then there'd been little hint of what made him go.

    I'm also uncertain about the 23rd-century interstices on the Enterprise. I get why they're there, but at the beginning of the book they lack incident (it's a lot of Kirk and Spock talking to people) and dissipate momentum of the main story. They also give away some of its revelations: it's okay for a reader to be ahead of a character, but information from the frame story puts the reader a little too far ahead of the characters on some occasions. If we knew as much as Wainwright did, this might have made his investigations a bit more compelling. I did like how the Enterprise segments wrapped up, but it took too long to get there.

    I had thought that I might approach these write-ups from the perspective of considering it all as one long story, but right now I have no meaningful sense of how this will tie into events to come. So, uh, I guess we'll see.

    Continuity Notes:
    • Some post-foreshadowing here: Kirk and Spock mention a mysterious Commodore Antonio Delgado in connection with the Temporal Cold War. I assume we will hear more about this man in time travel stories going forward.
    • Probably some savvy fellow could put or has put together a Roberta Lincoln timeline. I think this novel predates Roberta's trip to the 23rd century in Assignment: Eternity; however, she seems a little more au fait here with the Gary Seven lifestyle than I remember from Eternity.
    Other Notes:
    • Much of the action in this novel takes place at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, which is just over an hour from where I grew up. I have fond memories of the airplane displays there, which I saw many times as a child. I never noticed any Ferengi shuttle or Vulcan probes, however. There's not really any local color beyond names, though. (Does Jim Wainright like Skyline chili? Or is he more of a Gold Star man? Does he root for the Reds? Or does he stick to the more local Dayton Dragons?)
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
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  15. Jinn

    Jinn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Did someone say timeline?*teleports into thread*
    You are right, though. It is pretty plainly layed out by the dates in the novel's chapters: "Assignment: Earth" is in 1968, From History's Shadow chapters 30-36 are from March 1968-10th July 1969 and then Assignment: Eternity on 19-20 July 1969.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Only in DTI: Forgotten History.
     
  17. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No, this thread didn't die in infancy.

    The Original Series: Allegiance in Exile by David R. George III
    Published:
    February 2013
    Time Span: several months at the beginning of Year Five of the five-year mission (2269)

    David R. George III is/was one my favorite Star Trek novelists. The 34th Rule was a strong debut, and I also enjoyed works such as Twilight, McCoy: Provenance of Shadows, and Serpents Among the Ruins. But I didn't get much out of Kirk: The Star to Every Wandering, which maybe should have thrown up some flags before proceeding into another Kirk-focused story. The thing is, that George can write very character-driven stories, but he has a sort of pattern he uses a lot, which is someone morosely obsessed with some singular event in their backstory. This works perfectly with Deep Space Nine, where basically every character has some traumatic backstory event that informs their present day actions. It even worked for the original series in Provenance of Shadows because McCoy is the one classic Star Trek character to have that kind of backstory.

    It just doesn't work for James T. Kirk. I'm not saying Kirk isn't introspective (I think he's very introspective), and that he doesn't occasionally brood over the past. But Kirk usually presses his doubts into actions, he keeps moving forward. He doesn't (in what is a bit of a George writing tic) fall into a reverie in the middle of a scene where he rues over three pages of backstory between two lines of dialogue. I definitely buy that Kirk would begin to feel uncertain as he nears the end of the five-year mission. I don't buy that it would be this kind of uncertainty. George kind of piles on the uncertainties, too. When the novel opens, Kirk ruminates over a lot of random old mistakes; later in the book, a seemingly routine mission goes horribly wrong so that Kirk can obsess over that for the rest of the book.

    Other than Kirk, the book's big focus is Sulu, who goes through a whole whirlwind of events here. He falls in love (with a woman who has a deep trauma in her backstory she's morosely obsessed with), she gets horribly injured, he gets made at Captain Kirk and transfers to another ship, he comes back to the Enterprise. Again, I didn't buy it. Sulu is sort of relentlessly cheerful and optimistic, and it was hard for me to imagine him reacting toward Kirk the way he did here. Which isn't to say he ought to be Mr. Cheerful all the time, especially in the kind of circumstances we see in this book, but he comes across as petulant in a way that's hard to believe of a trained officer. A Sulu who throws himself into his hobbies as a means of distraction I could buy; ditto a Sulu who's friendly to everyone but lets no one get close. A Sulu who sits in his quarters all night every night is less plausible. I also don't think George adequately sold the relationship between Sulu and Trinh, so how angry he was over it wasn't quite believable.

    The first third or so of the book was the best part. The exploration of the abandoned colony on the planet the Enterprise crew nicknames Ağdam was well done and creepy (it reminded me of, um, A Choice of Catastrophes), and the way those events climaxed was harrowing. But the novel lost its energy and focus after that; I'd've liked to have seen the Enterprise actively investigate the powers behind Ağdam rather than stumble into them repeatedly. I also don't really get the purpose of the Lori Ciana subplot-- George doesn't really sell the flirtation, and it doesn't really resonate with the themes elsewhere in the book.

    So it'll be interesting to see if the 24th-century books pick up on this book's revelations, though there's not much to them (more on that in a second), but on its own, I didn't get a whole lot out of this.

    Continuity Notes:
    • As alluded to above, Kirk meet Vice Admiral Lori Ciana for the first time. In Roddenberry's Motion Picture novelization, she's Kirk's ex-wife who dies in the transporter accident at the beginning of the film. (With whom he split up amicably, as I recall; in Roddenberry's book but not really elsewhere, people can enter into short-term marriage contracts. The Lost Years tetralogy expanded on a lot of this backstory. It's been too long since I've read those for me to know if The Lost Years is consistent.)
    • The Enterprise makes first contact with the Bajorans. Too small universe? It would make you think that Kira ought to have known who Captain Kirk was a little bit more than she did in "Crossover." I was a bit bummed these colonists didn't call themselves the "Bajora"; if they had, then Picard's use of the old-fashioned collective noun could have had a subtle explanation. The Ascendants also play a role, but not a huge one, and not one that really tells us much about them beyond that they don't like Bajorans. (To be honest, I don't really remember anything about the Ascendants at this point, given it's been over a decade since the relevant Deep Space Nine relaunch novels.) It's kind of neat but ultimately irrelevant.
    • Is Wesley returning to Starfleet after his time as a planetary governor in "One of Our Planet Is Missing" a pre-established thing? The whole conversation Kirk and Wesley have about how Wesley became a governor as part of a Starfleet Intelligence plot seemed very random.
    Other Notes:
    • This book is the first time I can remember seeing the word "olio" (a reliable feature of the LA Times crossword puzzle) used in the wild. I might have squealed.
    • Now that I have a doctorate, whenever I encounter a character in fiction with two doctorates (used as a shorthand to show someone is so smart), I just roll my eyes. Getting a second doctorate is about the dumbest thing I can imagine doing with my life.
    • Anyone know what the title is meant to mean?
     
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  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Not really. Books that use Wesley are inconsistent on whether they acknowledge his TAS appearance at all. Yesterday's Son, for instance, ignores TAS completely, conflicting with both "Yesteryear" vis-a-vis the Guardian and "One of Our Planets" vis-a-vis Wesley.

    I don't remember the story well enough. Maybe something to do with the allegiance/loyalty that fellow exiles feel toward one another?
     
  19. DS9forever

    DS9forever Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The events of Allegiance in Exile helped the DS9 crew identity the Ascendants when they invaded in Ascendance.
     
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  20. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    In Ensign Ro it was established that the Bajorans had other colonies, plus in Deep Space Nine it was also established that colonies like Dreon VII existed (For The Cause), Golana (Time's Orphan), Prophet's Landing (Heart Of Stone) and that some of these colonies had existed since before the Cardassian annexation of Bajor. (Golana was established in 2318, Prophet's Landing was also established before 2318).

    As for Sulu transferring from the Enteprise, he did that a lot in 2270, as he also transferred in The Entropy Effect.