Wednesday 24 February 2016

Star Trek: Mission to Horatius - Mack Reynolds

Title: Mission to Horatius
Author: Mack Reynolds
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: 1968
Formats: Hardback

Available at:
Amazon UK

“Mission to Horatius” by Mack Reynolds is a rather important book in the history of Trek Lit as it was the first original novel ever written. The target audience admittedly was children rather than adults but at least it showed there was a market there for different Trek stories if people were willing to exploit it.

The plot follows the crew of the Enterprise as it is called upon to respond to a distress call, even though the ship’s crew are already suffering some negative effects from the length of time they have been out in space. The system in question has three habitable planets, populated by people whose beliefs resulted in them leaving the Federation to set up their own colonies. The crew explore these three very different planets and uncover the reason for the distress call.

In all honesty, the novel was rather disappointing as the plot was paper thin. There was so much that Reynolds could have delved into as the plotline progressed but the reader is left with the bare bones of a story. It felt like I was just reading an initial outline that had never been edited or expanded upon. Maybe this is what children’s books were like in the late 60’s, but compared to modern day literature it was very weak.

This lack of depth continues with the characters as well as the character development is pretty much non-existent I think that some of the characters are named in the story just to ensure they appeared at some point. Most of them don’t actually add anything to the story and when they do, some of the time what we see doesn’t really fit with the personas we know about from the TV series.

Overall, this is a rather poor novel that is probably only saved by the fact it is historically important to Trek Lit. Some of the problem with it probably due to the fact that it is aimed at children so the plot is intentionally kept on the lighter side, but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that some of the characters were all over the place compared to what would have been seen in the TV series. Without doubt this novel really highlights how far we have come since those earlier days and maybe that is actually a good enough reason for Star Trek fans to read it.

Saturday 13 February 2016

Shaman (Behind The Walls of Sleep Book 2) - Scott Rhine

Title: Shaman (Behind The Walls of Sleep Book 2)
Author: Scott Rhine
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2014
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK

“Shaman” by Scott Rhine is the 2nd novel in his YA fantasy series, “Behind the Walls of Sleep”. The story picks up directly on from the ending of the previous novel “Messenger”, although the majority of the plot this time takes place in the real world. Whilst staying with his Native American family, Daniel must learn to become a shaman with all the responsibilities required of that role. However, he discovers that a teenage girl is being held in New Orleans by a coven and soon embarks on an adventure with his cousins to rescue her.

I really appreciated that the majority of this book took place in the real world as it was those sections which really shown in the first novel. In that book, Rhine used the real world to really grow the characters and he has once again done it here. We get to see some real development of Daniel’s and I loved witnessing how his own interpretation of events changes as he matures. Those earlier viewpoints were quite fundamental in affecting his behaviour, so it was easy for the reader to follow and appreciate his changing characteristics. In addition, it was also good to learn about the culture and history of his Native American family alongside him; I think that it is always easier to appreciate a character and their reactions when it feels like you are learning something at the same time as them.

In regards to pacing, this book continues on from the “Messenger” in that it is slower that what I am used to from Rhine. In fact, I think this one may have been even slower and more deliberate as Rhine tries to develop both Daniel’s character and some of the secondary characters. Whilst this slower pace may be a little surprising to regular readers of Rhine’s work, I enjoyed the more measured pacing which helps sell the character driven aspects of the novel.

Overall, this is an entertaining YA Fantasy novel that kept me fully engaged from start to finish. I really enjoyed following Daniel on his adventure and appreciated that Rhine tried to showcase his growth.