science fiction


Collects Terra Incognita issues 1-6.

Writers: Scott Tipton, David Tipton
Artists: Tony Shasteen, Àngel Hernández, Carlos Nieto

This is a continuation to the Tipton’s two Mirror universe Trek comics “Mirror Broken” and “Through the Mirror”. However, you don’t need to read them because until the final issue the only mirror universe element is that Reg Barclay has come over to the TNG universe. He’s keeping the usual Barclay tied up in his quarters and taken over his duties on Enterprise-D. We follow the Enterprise crew when they try to negotiate a peace with the Cardassians and through a couple of other adventures.

The first issue centers on Barclay. He resents the way that the others treat him (or rather the original Barclay) and is determined to better his career. When the USS Hood needs help with their warp engines, Barclay seizes his opportunity.

In the second issue, the Enterprise takes over the Hood’s mission. The Hood was carrying Vulcan diplomats to critical negotiations with the Cardassians. After Starfleet’s battle with the Borg in Wolf 359, their fleet was greatly diminished and they really need the peace with the Cardassians. They want to negotiate away from large battleships, so two of the Vulcans and Deanna Troi take a shuttle. They meet with two of the Cardassian negotiators and head down to the planet. Of course, the shuttle crashes and the Vulcans and the Cardassians must work together to get to safety.

In the third issue, Vulcan doctor Selar takes the center stage. The lead Vulcan negotiator is dying and only Selar’s expertise might help him. We also find out about Selar’s childhood.

In the fourth issue, Riker, Wesley, the mirror-Barclay, and ensign Shannon Gilson meet the representatives of the Faundori who want to join the Federation. The Faundori are known for their engineering skills so the Federation needs them. However, things aren’t what they seem.

In the fifth issue, the Enterprise answers a distress call from the Lolligans, humanoids who have tentacles instead of arms. They’re suffering from a wide-spread disease which makes them break out in homicidal rage. If doctor Crusher can’t find a cure for them, the entire species must be transported and put to stasis until a cure can be found. If it’s found. Crusher, Data, Worf, and the Mirror-Barclay investigate on the Lolligans’ planet.

In the final issue, characters from the Mirror universe come to fetch Mirror-Barclay back. They consider him a deserter so they aren’t gentle. However, I don’t think you need to read the previous collections to understand what’s going on.

For the most part, I enjoyed these stories. It was great to return to the TNG crew and they’re in character. The only thing that I didn’t care for was that nobody suspected Mirror-Barclay. Not even when he rolled up the sleeves of his uniform and the crew had already seen the sleeveless Mirror universe uniforms. Not even Troi. I also though that Mirror-Barclay was up to something sinister, but apparently not. Of course, this made him more relateble than most of the ruthless Mirror universe people.

Still, this was an enjoyable ride and the last pages promise more to come.

The second ST:DS9 relaunch book.

Publication year: 2001
Format: Print
Page count: 234
Publisher: Pocket books

The second book starts right after the first one, the DS9 characters dealing with the aftermath of the Jem’Hadar attack and the revelation that Odo has sent a Jem’Hadar on the station. Kira wants to believe it while Nog is sure that the soldier is lying and just waiting for the best chance to do most damage. Ezri Dax is trying to find out if the Jem’Hadar lying or not. In the aftermath of the attack, Federation, the Klingons, and the Romulans are send a combined fleet to DS9 in preparation of a counterstrike back through the wormhole. Kira is convinced that this is the worst decision they could make.

Meanwhile, someone has leaked the prophecy about the Emissary’s child and Kassidy must try to deal with that.

Enterprise-E hasn’t reached the station yet and don’t know what’s going on there. However, Commander Elias Vaughan has found a new purpose in his life.

To me this story isn’t so fragmented as this partial summary makes it sound. All the characters have common goals. Often, a scene starts with one character and ends with another. This second book doesn’t actually have as much fight scenes as the first one, but they’re hand-to-hand so different from the first book. The Bajoran religion continues to be a big part of the book: both Kira and Ro and a couple of minor characters deal with the prophecy in their own ways.

The Enterprise crew isn’t much in the book at all; it’s clearly focused on DS9 characters. Also, the book is full of references to past episodes, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The story starts with Jake Sisko taking a shuttle and trying to bring his father back. However, we don’t return to that story until the end and… as a cliffhanger.

This was a good continuation of the story which throws a couple of twists in, as well. Sadly, no return for some of my favorites: Jadzia, Odo, and even Miles (I very much enjoyed Miles’ and Julian’s friendship and their (holodeck) adventures together. No more, alas). Kira shines and is put through quite a wringer.

This is certainly a very interesting start to continue DS9. I’ve no idea how the series continues but I have couple of more of the books. But I think I’ll rather rewatch the show, for now.

A stand-alone time travel SF book. Part of the time travel bundle I bought from Storybundle back 2015.

Publication year: 1991
Format: ebook
Publisher: Spectra
Page count in GoodReads: 352

Elizabeth Devane used to work for United Atomics but after a friend of hers died from a cancer he got from his work in United Atomics, she quit her job and became a protester. She and her boyfriend break into a testing site at Los Alamos and try to dismantle Magnetocumulative Generator. Instead, there’s a huge explosion which kills her boyfriend and hurls them both back in time to 1943 and to the secret atomic test site at Los Alamos. Elizabeth is alone and at first she thinks that she’s hallucinating everything.

At first, she not sure what she should do but soon she realizes that she has a good chance of sabotaging the atomic testing. She doesn’t have papers, of course, but with her background she’s able to forge papers. Instead of working as a simple clerk, she becomes one of the calculators in the war effort. She meets the men working on the Manhattan project, including Oppenheimer, general Groves, Feynman, and Graham Fox. She tries to remember what she knows about WWII but isn’t sure about many things.

Meanwhile, the Germans are building their own bombs. At university, Fox was good friends with Dr. Esau who is the head of the German atomic project. Because Fox talks with Elizabeth, he sends a letter to Esau which pushes German research forward more than it should.

Elizabeth is the main POV character. Esau and Fox are also significant POV characters and there are a couple of others, as well. I thought the descriptions of 1940s US was well done and Elizabeth has to get used to minor things being very different, such as food (which was very greasy) and how everyone smoked indoors. She’s an independent woman and so stands out among the other women. Initially, she’s very much against building the bomb or advancing atomic science.

Graham Fox is one of the engineers. He wants the world powers to maintain a balance of terror and so, he sends that letter to Dr. Esau. He’s convinced that the German engineers don’t want to use any weapons but that they, too, want to maintain the same balance.

Dr. Abraham Esau is a Nazi scientist. He’s worked long to overcome his Jewish sounding names. He wants power and recognition, especially in the scientific fields. At the start of the story, he’s just been appointed the Plenipotentiary for Nuclear Physics. However, he’s still working under other ruthless men who don’t know much, if anything, about physics and he resents that. He’s also jealous of other scientists. When Armaments minister Speer orders him to use concentration camp prisoners to work with the radioactive materials, Esau has nothing against it.

This was an interesting book. It’s a drama where Elizabeth, and to lesser extent Fox, struggle with their conscious. Elizabeth knows the outcome but wants to change it, stop the bombs from being dropped to Japan and the Cold War from ever happening. But she doubts how much she can do. Interestingly, I don’t think she ever considers what would happen if she stopped the US research but Germany continues with theirs.

I wasn’t really interested in the later POV characters. Otherwise, this was a good read. People who know more about WWII than me will get more out of it.

Despite the name “Trinity Paradox” this doesn’t deal with time travel paradoxes but rather the emotional paradox that Elizabeth finds herself in.

The first ST:DS9 relaunch book.

Publication year: 2001
Format: Print
Page count: 284
Publisher: Pocket books

The book starts three months after the end of Star Trek: DS9’s last episode so it contains heavy spoilers for the final season. So does this review.

Three months after his father’s disappearance, Jake Sisko is down on Bajor, helping with an archaeological dig. One of the archaeologists, an elderly prylar, gives him an ancient book of prophecies which gives Jake not just hope that he’ll see his father again, but that he must go to the wormhole and bring his father back. However, he decides not to tell anyone about it in case the prophecy is wrong.

Back in DS9, Colonel Kira is in command. She sees a dream about Benjamin but is rudely awakened with the news of a murder on the station. It turns out that she knows the murder victim, an elderly prylar who took care of Kira when she was a child. The victim brought the prophecy to Jake, but the others don’t know that. The murder also died so the station security needs to find the motive for the murder and the murder’s identity.

Kira has been feeling low and this news depressed her even further. Also, the station’s newest security chief is agnostic Lieutenant Ro Laren whose abrasive manner drives almost everyone away and Kira doesn’t think Ro can solve the mystery. However, she leaves the crime to Ro and continues dealing with the everyday life on the station.

Nog and Ezri Dax are repairing the Defiant. The Dominion War left the star ship is such a bad shape that it’s still being updated to newer systems, much like the station itself. However, a Federation star ship is guarding the wormhole in case the Dominion will break the truce.

Suddenly, three Dominion warships emerge from the wormhole and attack. The warships seem to be packing more firepower than ever.

Meanwhile on the Badlands, Enterprise-E is looking for any remaining Jem’Hadar ships. Commander Elias Vaughan is advising captain Picard. Vaughan is an old soldier who is doubting the choices he’s made in his life. When the Enterprise finds an old cargo ship, something peaks Vaughan’s curiosity and he leads an away team to the ship.

This book is mostly about DS9, as is appropriate for the relaunch. Enterprise doesn’t appear until about half-way through.

Mostly, we follow the remaining DS9 people. Kira, Kasidy Yeats, Dr. Julian Bashier, Ezri Dax, Quark, and Nog, as well as few new characters, including Ro Laren. All of them are POV character. Most are handled fine. Kira is exhausted but stubbornly pushing forward while Quark is developing a crush on Ro. Perhaps not surprisingly, Ro is finding it hard to replace Odo and her past makes the Starfleet people uneasy around her, as well. Kasidy is mostly thinking about settling on Bajor and Nog is full of self-doubt and hatred toward the Dominion.

Unfortunately, I found the handling of Ezri and Julian excruciating. They’re a couple now but apparently a happy couple is too boring, so the writer (or editors?) concocted a strange rift between them. I mostly liked this but I found the book strangely introspective, which didn’t really gel with the visual TV-show.

The ending is a cliffhanger, so this is clearly the first book in a series.

The first volume in a comic where Earth has lost gravity. Collects issues 1-5.

Writer: Joe Henderson
Artist: Lee Garbett

Willa was an infant the day Earth lost gravity. Her mother was sucked to the sky and died, along with a lot of other people and animals. Willa and her brilliant scientist father were inside and survived. Twenty years later, Willa is working for a delivery company and flying around Chicago delivering packages. Humanity has adapted to living, using ropes to tether themselves to buildings. She has a crush on her co-worker Edison who doesn’t have legs below the knees. She’d like to see the world but her father hasn’t left the apartment since G-day and Willa must support them. She carries a gun, but not really for protection but to use in an emergency: the recoil will push her back toward ground. She also carries a fire extinguisher to aim her flying.

Willa’s dad, Nate, was working on gravity when it failed and now he claims that he can reverse the effect. Willa hears from her surrogate mother that Nate had worked with a man who’s now rich and lives on the surface of Chicago. Nate has never even mentioned his partner Roger but Willa thinks that Roger could help her dad. So, she flies to the surface and encounters a really strange culture which tries very hard to keep things the way they were before G-day. The place is also dangerous.

This was a really fun idea and visually the comic is really appealing. It’s fast-paced. Willa is brave and curious but she also argues a lot with her dad and is very impulsive and trusting. Nate blames himself for “letting” his wife die on G-Day and is deathly afraid to leave the apartment. Edison was apparently born without legs but now he’s able to fly just like everyone else. However, I didn’t care for the way Willa’s mom is killed off to have her dad scared of leaving the apartment.

I found the culture on the ground fascinating, but won’t spoil it for you. But the way the people have adapted to flying was great, very visual.

However, I didn’t really care for one thing in the ending which I won’t spoil. The ending is not a cliffhanger but leaves everything open.

The first book in the Foreigner SF series.

Publication year: 1994
Format: Print
Page count: 426
Publisher: DAW

Other people, including the back cover of this book, describe the Foreigner as anthropological SF and I have to agree. The main draw and attraction in this book is the alien race, the atevi and their culture, and the interaction between the humans and the atevi. This is not an adventure book.

At first glance, the book can be confusing as the first two “books” are just a prelude to the actual story which starts at “book 3” on page 65. Essentially, in book one a human spaceship is lost in hyperspace and after three dangerous years it makes its way to the atevi planet. They don’t contact the locals aliens whose tech level has just reached steam power. In book 2 we see the first contact between the atevi and humans where one atevi kidnaps a human but they’re able to communicate a little. The back cover summarizes the events better than the chapters. Apparently, the humans were able make an alliance with one atevi lord. The humans have far better tech than the atevi. Some atevi attacked the humans wanting their tech and also because the humans had insulted them. The war was ended with a truce in which the humans got a small section of land where their only city Mospheira is now. Also, one human at a time is accepted into the local atevi court, acting as a diplomat and a translator. He or she will slowly give atevi access to tech, so that it doesn’t hurt their planet or culture. However, the atevi way to think is so different from humans that even after generations of cautious contact, humans don’t really understand the aliens.

However, the real story starts on page 65, some 200 years after the treaty was signed. Bren Cameron is the current translator/diplomat (paidhi). By law, he’s not allowed to have any weapons. He’s attacked in the middle of the night. Luckily, the local lord Tabini has given him a firearm a few weeks previous. Bren shoots the assassin but they get away. Because of the attack, Tabini sends him to Tabini’s grandmother’s place in the countryside where they barely even have electricity. The grandmother, Ilisidi, is a strong-willed woman who isn’t happy that she lost the lord position first to her son and then to her grandson. She’s also a very traditional person who hasn’t had contact with humans. Bren has no idea if he can trust her or her staff.

Unfortunately, nothing much else happens. There are a couple of assassination attempts against Bren but he’s kept away from them and only hears about them. Nobody tells him anything. Ilisidi tests him a couple of times, but mostly Bren just sits and wonders what’s going on and thinks about the local politics. I’m afraid it’s not very exciting.

The atevi culture is in the middle of everything. It’s quite different from modern Western culture. They don’t have lands or nations. Instead, they have alliances to people. They also don’t have words for affection or trust. If they can still feel such emotiond, remains to be seen. Part of the legal system are licensed assassins. Most of them work as bodyguards and Bren’s primary protectors, Banichi and Jago, are both assassins. However, for assassination to be legal it must be declared and nobody has declared Bren a target. So, the situation is strange by atevi standards.

Also, they have very strict way in which they need to be seen to behave in public. The higher the rank, the more formal the person (male or female) must be. Personally, I also enjoyed Tabini’s attitude towards eating meat. He, and his household, eat only game:

“[Bren] preferred distance from his meal. Tabini called it a moral flaw. He called it civilization and Tabini called it delusion: You eat meat out of season, Tabini would say. Out of time with the earth, you sell flesh for profit. You eat that never runs free: you call that civilized?”

I enjoyed the atevi characters but I was frustrated by Bren who seemed to be doing noting but arguing with them and moping around. We did learn stuff about atevi history.

Cherryh’s dense style of writing here is similar to Chanur or Faded Suns on the surface. However, the repetitions and lack of action isn’t typical. I’m told that the series gets better. So far the only attraction in the series is atevi culture and characters. I’m hoping the second book will better.

A stand-alone time travel story. Part of Storybundle’s Race Against Clock bundle this year.

Publication year: 2013
Format: ebook
Publisher: WMG Publishing
Page count in GoodReads: 160

Thomas Ayliffe is a thief who wants to commit the jewel robbery of a life time: to steal the Crown Jewels of Britain. And he’s going to do it by swindling his way to a team which is going back in time to the White Tower in 1674. This isn’t his planned time spot but he must use what he can get. He couldn’t care less about the historian’s goals. In fact, he finds them very strange.

Neyla Kendrick is a historian with an obsession with the murder of the two princes, the sons of Edward IV. She can’t get to their supposed bones now, but Portals Inc has been testing a time traveling device and they need to send a team back in time to test the system. Neyla and her team of handpicked four men are going to do it. However, the day before they’re leaving, one of Neyla’s team members becomes violently ill and needs to be quarantined. To make matters worse, their patron practically forces a complete stranger to join the team. The stranger’s name is Thomas Ayliffe. In 1671 a Thomas Ayliffe was caught trying to steal the Crown Jewels. Neyla has a bad feeling about him, but has no choice but to accept him.

This was a quick and enjoyable read. The characters worked well and the plot was fast-paced. However, I was surprised and a bit disappointed by how little time the characters spent in the past.
Also, the bodies of the princes didn’t play a large part, after all.

The characters are very distinctive for such short tale. Neyla’s very confrontational when required while Thomas is focused on his job. She isn’t looking forward to having a spend a whole month in 1674. In fact, she’s prefer it if she could come back as soon as possible. But for research, she’s willing to risk disease and food poisoning. The past was described vividly.

Portals Inc plans to commercialize time travel. I’d love to read more stories set in this world, but this seems to be the only one.

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