Wednesday 30 August 2017

Star Trek: Double, Double - Michael Jan Friedman

Title: Double, Double
Author: Michael Jan Friedman
Genre: Science-Fiction
Published: 1989
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK

“Double, Double” was Michael Jan Friedman’s first ever Star Trek novel and acts as a sequel to the Original Series episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?”. The story is based on the premise that Kirk has decides to gloss over the events which occurred on Exo III and doesn’t carry out a full investigation in order to protect Nurse Chapel. However, another android returns to the planet and when it finds its creator dead, it decides to continue his work. The android finds the template of Kirk still in the machine and creates another android using it. This android Kirk is full of confidence and ventures forth to takeover a starship and then to control the galaxy.

This is one of the better written Trek novels with a well-paced story and a decent amount of detail. In addition, the story itself was rather engaging with Friedman doing an excellent job of continuing the established story from the TV series. The characters are also handled well although I did have an initial issue with Kirk which is detailed below.

Basically, the issue with Kirk I had was due to him not telling Starfleet everything that happened on Exo III. The reason given that he is protecting Nurse Chapel just seemed very inconsistent and flimsy. I found it hard to believe that Kirk would risk not telling Starfleet about everything considering the risk posed by the machine. It doesn’t spoil the overall telling of the story but me feeling rather incredulous at the set up wasn’t the best way to start a novel.

Overall, I did enjoy the novel although I will admit that I do have a soft spot for stories which continue threads started via the original show so maybe I would have enjoyed it even if it was terrible! Thankfully it isn’t and despite the weak initial premise, the writing and pacing are more than adequate and the story is entertaining.

Saturday 26 August 2017

Sovereign (Matthew Shardlake Book 3) - C.J. Sansom

Title: Sovereign (Matthew Shardlake Book 3)
Author: C.J. Sansom
Genre: Historical Mystery
Published: 2007
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

“Sovereign” by C.J. Sansom is the 3rd novel in his “Matthew Shardlake” series of historical mystery novels. In this novel, it is now 1541 and King Henry is making a “Great Progress” to York in an attempt to both impress the northerners and meet the King of Scotland. Matthew Shardlake, our hero lawyer is asked by Archbishop Cranmer to also head to York so that he chaperone a political prisoner back to London. His trip to York is complicated by the mysterious murder of a glazier which draws him into a treasonous plot which endangers his own life.

Sansom’s writing continues to be intelligent, well-structured and engaging with a myriad of interesting sub-plots and intrigues that kept me hooked. You can’t help but keep turning the pages to find out what Shardlake is going to uncover next or what new unexpected challenge he is going to face. The novel isn’t for the faint hearted however, as the Tudor world is shown in all its ugly brutality which can be rather disconcerting.

The characterization is superb, the people really feel like they belong in the time period. Sansom doesn’t try and re-align morals to a modern view point; viewpoints which may be unacceptable now are on show without any attempt to soften them. In fact some of the heroes of the piece think and do things which would probably be left for the villains if this was a contemporary novel. Don’t get me wrong however; these characters are still likeable, but you need to accept that they are products of their time.

Overall, this is another brilliant entry in his series of Shardlake novels. Sansom is skilled at providing the reader with both an engaging and exciting mystery plot as well as detailed portrayal of the Tudor world. If you have read the previous novels then you are going to love this book, if you haven’t then I can only advise you to pick up the first novel in the series as it is quite simply, superb.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Star Trek 7 - James Blish

Title: Star Trek 7
Author: James Blish
Genre: Science-Fiction
Published: 1972
Formats: Paperback

Available at:
Amazon UK

“Star Trek 7” by James Blish is the seventh collection of Star Trek Original Series episode novelizations. The six episodes included in this collection are from both Season Two and Season Three and are as follows:

Who Mourns for Adonais? (Season 2)
The Changeling (Season 2)
The Paradise (Season 3)
Metamorphosis (Season 2)
The Deadly Years (Season 2)
Elaan of Troyius (Season 3)

Unsurprisingly, I found that the stories based around the Season 2 episodes were better than the ones from Season 3. This is because the standard of Blish’s adaptations tend to scale in relation to source material which began to deteriorate by Season 3. Other than that, it is all very by the book with Blish continuing his competent work in converting the scripts into short stories.

The stories included in this collection are on the average side in comparison with some other episodes from the Original Series but there are a couple of interesting inclusions that I want to highlight. Firstly, there is the story “Metamorphosis” which introduces the character Zefram Cochrane into Trek Lore. Secondly there is “The Changeling” which is basically the basis for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Overall, there isn’t much else for me to say unless I wanted to summarise all the stories which I think is probably a waste of time as most people who are thinking of reading this collection will know them anyway. The writing itself is competent although the stories themselves aren’t anything that special, but this isn’t the fault of Blish. I probably would only recommend this collection to a completionist which is probably what I will be doing for all my future reviews of these collections.