Saturday, 27 February 2021

Son'a Collector: The Official Starships Collection Special 25

The Official Starships Collection has been notoriously light when it's come to featuring the last two TNG movies although recent specials have finally put that to bed.

There's been the Scimitar from Nemesis and more recently the Son'a Command Ship from Insurrection. This time round we get another larger than average model in the lengthy shape of the Son'a Collector.

The site of the ninth Star Trek movie's climax, the Collector sadly doesn't come fully deployed and remains in it's more elegant "closed" form. 

The ship is fairly back-end heavy given all the fins and must have some form of counterweight inside to balance it out for the stand. What's also intriguing is that I can't seem to work out where the metal on the ship is - and if there is indeed any! It seems to be 100% externally plastic at least.

So to the detail and even though it's not shown with "sails unfurled", the Son'a Collector worth an entry into the series. The bulbous head and it's cutaway sections are particularly cool with the six flattened winglets curving out from the main structure. The panelling here is very simple in design and, because of tat, is also very effective. The patterning is also very tactile with the lines distinctly raised or dropped back against the hull.

Most of the "fiddly" work is encapsulated under that shuttlecock nose piece and if you look close there are signs of mechanics set right in the middle. 

Whether intentional or not, the speckled grey on grey paintwork for the main body of the ship adds a few years onto the craft while picking out further details. There are some more solid, darker grey pieces seeming to represent venting along the sides of the main body and also to the rear. Surprisingly for such a simple paint job these areas aren't very carefully coloured with bleed and also patchy finishing evident in more than one or two places. 

Check out along all the mirrored sides too because on this one the patterning has been replicated onto each of the three angles meaning some of those - perhaps intentional - marks do transfer around the ship. Do take note of some of the more "spotty" paint choices which are placed to indicate some of the lighting along the hull and are barely visible against the darker of the greys.

The only other points of colour adding anything different to the surface of the Son'a Collector are hidden behind the curved, large nose section. Each of the splayed arms has a blue engine unit fitted into the rear also helping to identify it's direction of travel! Getting a closer look, these do seem to be the only decals applied to the ship since they have a slight sheen when held up to the light that isn't seen anywhere else on the surfaces of the vessel.

The stand design for the Collector is another new take on display. Offering a longer, stable cradle for the lengthy craft means that the weight is distributed well and it's securely held in place. Just make sure you have a shelf with a bit of depth to accommodate it!

Also a first for the series is the choice to shrink the magazine down to A5 size as is the case with the new Online Starships series. In this case I seriously thought they'd forgotten the magazine (as happened with the Beyond USS Enterprise) but I could breathe again as it was just in the box.

That magazine does show up the precision of the grey paintwork on the Collector especially around the nose and the vent panels. The blue reactor core is also nowhere near as prominent on the model as it is in the CG renderings. On the ship it's only a shade or three different to the light grey of the hull even in the best of illumination.

At least the mag does illustrate the Collector with its sails deployed and ready to sweep up that youthful metaphasic radiation from the rings of the Baku homeworld. There's lots to learn about the design of the ship and also the rest of the fleet from John Eaves. Given this is one of those rarely seen or discussed vessels, the mag for it provides one of - if not the - best source of info on the Son'a fleet from concept drawings and general ideas  through to detailed final plans of both its external and internal layout. 

This was all down to the fact that the finale of Insurrection would be played out between Picard and Ru'afo inside the towering skeleton of the Collector. Therefore the two elements had to match on screen to ensure its believability.

As a model in the series, the Son'a Collector is never going to be a looker or blow you away but given its rarity this is something that is almost certainly worth a second look. It's well constructed and finding a join line is a mission and a half more than just analysing the metal to plastic ratio.

I like that Eaglemoss have taken the time to research and painstakingly recreate this oddment from the ninth Star Trek movie and now we just need that Son'a Command Ship to round out the three!

You can order the Son'a Collector from the Eaglemoss shop now by clicking here and it's priced at £34.99.

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Friday, 19 February 2021

Voyager: Death Wish @ 25

Q had been a raging success on The Next Generation, appearing in eight stories and six of its seven seasons.

Not bad for something intended to pad out the pilot of TNG.

The same couldn't be said of his lone appearance on DS9 accompanied by Vash where the one endearing memory is THAT punch and the response.

DS9 didn't lend itself to Q's mischief and nor did the tone of the show as it headed out into much darker, dysfunctional territory. Voyager on the other hand lent itself perfectly to Q. The counter of the female captain to the arrogant omnipotent being plus the chance to include a potential recurring character on the journey must have been tempting.

Yet of all the Q episodes across the franchise, Death Wish (which is 25 years old this month) is the one with the most serious message and tone through all of his appearances to date. Opening with the release of Q2 and the chase through the universe, Death Wish opens with the suggestion of some of the usual Q shenanigans. However nothing could be further from the truth.

One of Star Trek's most serious challenges to real world conundrums, Death Wish examines the very nature of life, immortality and death within 46 minutes. Q2's quality of life within his eternal confinement is, as we see, cramped and inhumane even for a Q. Can he accept that? A mortal life or ultimately suicide?

Utilising a courtroom story which flips the Humanity on Trial of Encounter at Farpoint to Q on Trial, the episode might be remembered more clearly for the appearance of Isaac Newton, Maury Ginsberg (playing Maury Ginsberg) and Jonathan Frakes returning to the role of a pre-Generations Will Riker. Riker's appearance certainly has implications to the future of the franchise and not so Frakes could notch another series up on his list but for the mention of "Ol' Ironboots", Thaddeus Riker - a name that he would later use for his son.

The relationship Q has with Janeway is also a significant move from the way in which he dealt with Picard. There was a matching of intellects at times and a level of respect that isn't present in Death Wish. Q sees Janeway as more of a new amusement and is to a degree infatuated with her, only gaining that respect once a verdict is reached in the hearing and Q has come to terms with his own change of style.

The sparring between Q and Janeway does get a little more spicy over the course of the three Voyager episodes in which he appears but the choice to continue the civil war and then child stories in The Q and the Grey and Q2 cause more harm than good when it comes to the franchise. Fortunately the lighter-hearted Lower Decks would provide Q with some of his dignity and character traits once again.

Death Wish is the most serious and hard-hitting of all Q's appearances in the Star Trek franchise and De Lancie is perhaps at his best when not being quite the precocious brat he was in earlier TNG episodes. There's a more mature head at points here, darkened only by the realisation that Q has himself become euthanised by the Continuum to the point where he is now tasked with controlling someone who has stepped out of the state's prescribed behaviours. Q2's uniqueness and outspoken individualistic views are a "danger to the Continuum" - a place in which everything has been done and said, even being the scarecrow.

In comparison to the Continuum of The Q and the Grey, the gas station metaphor seems fairly sane and perfectly sets the tone for the nature of the Q. Even in the way the visitors are ignored seethes with distain and arrogance that has marked the omnipotent beings since their first appearance in Star Trek. The Q have become lazy, bored and so isolated in millennia that to have one of their own think is, well, unthinkable since there's nothing more to do... except die.

For Q ultimately to be the one to assist Q2 (Quinn's) suicide is not even a remote possibility given the adversarial nature of their interactions through most of the episode but by the conclusion it definitely isn't. That one moment at the gas station where Q2 reveals how Q was his inspiration for breaking the rules and living immortality on the edge finally chinks at the armour of De Lancie's character. The real Q is in there but he needed to be reminded. 

Death Wish was something of an anomaly for Voyager. An episode with a strong moral message on a series that would become more and more high concept as it stepped into its third and fourth seasons before embracing the Borg and the darker aspects of the Delta Quadrant. Q's return was on a higher level to the misstep that was Q Less although as with Vash, Riker provided a little reminder and link back to Q's time on the Enterprise. The tonal shift suits the characters and De Lancie in particular is at the top of his Q game. By the end the shift in his opinions is distinct and believable with real hope that the omnipotent being has turned a corner. However both The Q and the Grey and Q2 would redress the balance and not in a beneficial manner...

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Thursday, 18 February 2021

Lockdown Interviews: Phil Farrand

Sixty five minutes into a thirty minute interview and I’ve definitely used up more of Phil Farrand’s time than I should have.

I’m now eating into his writing time. At the moment Phil is writing book 14 of a 24 book series and chatting to me is cutting into valuable time. I need to call this; now.

“Moffat was a great writer for Doctor Who - Girl in the Fireplace is one of THE greats!”

I’ve fanned the flames around some great sci-fi TV which leads into us episode dropping some more from the glory years of rebooted Who. My mistake... 70 minutes.

But why am I speaking to an IT project manager from the US on a Friday night? 

The answer is, of course, Star Trek related because Phil Farrand is a bit of a literary legend - he penned the four Nitpickers Guides for Trekkers covering TOS, TNG (x2) and the first four seasons of DS9. But why did he stop? Why was the only further publication a Guide to The X-Files? 

"I actually grew up in the Philippines about 8 miles north of Manilla," recalled Phil as we started off checking all my recording equipment was actually doing its job. "To call my friend I had to walk over to the Bible School because we didn't have a phone in our house. Then I had to dial 9 because the phone system we were on was different to the phone system he was on and about six times out of ten you would get a busy tone so you'd keep hanging up and trying again then you would dial his number and half the time it wouldn't go through so you'd have to start that whole process again... It's amazing to think that now we can just video call halfway across the world instantly!"

"I loved The Original Series, I was a fan of Next Gen but with DS9 I felt they were fundamentally trying to take the franchise in a new way to boldly go where no man has gone before... but we're just going to stay on the station. So it was like, ok, it's in the universe, that's fine but what really killed it for me was when Voyager started up and Paramount wanted to start their own cable network and so it shifted off my local station and at the time we wren't getting cable because I felt it was overpriced and I just lost touch with the series."

"The thing that gave me a lot of love for the original series was that my mom did not watch TV except Star Trek. She was a very religious woman, really did some amazing things n terms of knowing things and intuiting things. She just didn't see the point of television but Star Trek she would watch with us.

Every week Phil's mom would watch the show with the family and afterwards explain the spiritual applications of the episode. "She would go through it and say 'See when Spock had that thing on his back and making him do things that's how we have to stand up against temptation and discipline ourselves'.

"The original stories were rich enough and enough fodder than you could indulge in those types of discussions. It wasn't just about who was going to die today. We seem to have shifted away from these big philosophical issues in science fiction and trying to do justice to both sides. We've shifted into the same dogma and hammering people over the head with it."

Phil applies this also to the latest Jodie Whittaker led series of Doctor Who which he also feels has been let down by the storylines. "There's not the richness we got in something like Blink with the Weeping Angels and The Pandorica Opens - probably one of the finest pieces of writing in science fiction television I have ever seen. Everybody had a moment and it was gorgeous."

In recent times the former Nitpicker has tried to dip back into Star Trek with its appearance on Netflix but even a few minutes in he's finding it fairly predictable although Picard did pique his interest.

"But those books were a lot of fun to write," recalled Phil in reference to the four Star Trek reference works he penned in the 1990's and are still read by observant Trek fans to this day.

After Star Trek went off the air in 1969, Phil watched the reruns, then The Motionless Picture(!), "Then the second movie comes out and it was good, third comes out; it's ok, fourth movie's fun so we're rolling with that and then they announced Next Gen.

"I thought they did some neat stuff. But it didn't have the nostalgia of The Original Series because that's what I'd grown up with but it was very fun. I would get together with my friends and we would talk about Star Trek and that was happening in the background. At the same time I was producing a music notation system that did fairly well and that made me want to go off and write the great American novel. However, it's not quite that easy and it can be dangerous becoming that financially independent so young."

Phil wanted to do something away from music and started looking around, writing and didn't know how to publish. But publishers are only confident with things and authors they know will sell. Taking a more entrepreneurial approach, Phil realised that he needed a product that everyone knew, that was doing well and people wanted to read about.

"I was talking with my friends and we stumbled on, during one of the episodes, about how the communicators worked. That was the trigger. Sometimes they tap them, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they tap them to end the call. That kind of just snowballed. 

"What every Star Trek fan does once they get into the mythos far enough... they start nitpicking and so then that started up.. It was such fun and we would meet up every week and I thought there have to be other Star Trek geeks who do this?"

Phil went home and said that he was going to watch every episode of TNG's first four seasons and write down everything they did wrong.

"So I started doing it," continued Phil, "Then I had to find someone to help publish it and that was Steve Eplinger who was a book producer at that time. He was essential but the problem with Steve was that he didn't watch TV and know the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek and he kept calling it the other thing!"

Confident of a winning product, Phil continued to badger Steve until one day Eplinger called him; "He was with his son, and he called to say he was in a shop and did I realise they did Star Trek toys?! I said yes and then he realised we could sell the book."

Steve then hunted and hunted for a publisher which eventually led to a friend of a friend who knew an editor at Bantham Trade Paperbacks. At the time they were a novel company.

"Jean Cavelos was there and Gene was a Trekkie. She pulled the proposal out of the envelope, read a couple of the chapters, picked up the phone and told Steve Eplinger 'I want to do this book'."

Within the books not only is there a synopsis of each episode but a couple of trivia questions to test your grey cells and sprinkled throughout are some top tens to add even more flavour.

"Sometimes they tap them, sometimes they don't. That snowballed into what every fan does and when you get far enough into the mythos and you start nitpicking. We met up each week to discuss in detail and I started to think that there must be other people who were doing the same thing."

Off the back of the first book, which sold something in the region of 250,000 copies, three further volumes of Star Trek and one on The X-Files followed. However confidence in unlicenced products took a slight turn.

"We were right on the front edge of a change in fandom and publishing," explained Phil, "What had happened was that everything was a protected property until William Shatner wrote Star Trek Memories. It sold gang-busters because it was William Shatner but it was not an official property and not done through the official publisher. Everybody said that was because he was famous so then right on the heels of that came this quirky guy writing The Nitpicker's Guides. While they're not producing Star Trek Memories numbers they are a solid seller.

"Then they started moving into this media tie-in market. We were very very careful and had a good lawyer and they said what to do, no photos, you have to put a significant amount of new content in - that was part of the reason for the tote boards and top tens."

This helped drive the format as Phil and his publisher ensured they were towing the correct line and in 1998 he was already working on a Star Wars guide ahead of the imminent release of The Phantom Menace.

"By that time publishers had been pushing the line of media tie ins that were based on fair use and they just pushed it so far that Paramount decided to go on the warpath. While I was writing up the Star Wars guide there's a book on the Godzilla movies and not by those that were authorised which had detailed synopses, pictures, no original content and of course they got sued and the studio won.

"Then there's a guy who wrote a little book called The Joy of Trek and it was about how to improve your relationship with a Trekker. Just a 100 page book and they sued him for about $22 million. They won. I spoke to the guy afterwards and he said that the Paramount lawyers stood up in court and used The Nitpicker's Guide to show an example of what's legal."

The two big hits on the media tie ins combined with the departure of the publisher's lawyer and Jean Cavelos shut down any further intentions from Bantham.

Which in turn meant that plans for Star Wars, a possible Buffy book and then loop back to complete DS9 were shelved. Permanently. Steve Eplinger tried for six months to see if another publisher would take the books but after the impact of the court cases it proved fruitless.

But that's not been the end to Phil Farrand's journey into writing. No sir. In fact he continues to write to this day but now focuses on his own projects. 

Alongside jobs in computer consulting, a few unexpected turns and a position as the music minister at his local church for 18 months, Phil got back into writing after some time away and is now working on a mammoth project which will take him (easily!!!) to retirement.

"I wanted something to keep me in writing and keep me pushed and then have a goal to complete it by retirement. The plan was to release 24 books in 12 years. Each is about 160,000 words and they are set at the end of a period of time called the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ."

A race of Titans arrives on Earth, takes over all the governments and establish a utopia. All energy is free, you can grow and eat all the food in your garden. Banks are eliminated, all needs are taken care of and there's no need to work.

"There's two rules. Submit or die and treat others as you wish to be treated. That's it! Some people can live with it and some can't. Some claim that these are Jesus and his followers returned as prophesied and others say they're just aliens.who have used the mythology to get people to submit to them.

"There are those who have gone with it and then there are those that have drifted away," continued Phil, "and some have gone far out into space and established their own colonies. But at 960 years everybody wakes up and the Titans have gone. No-one knows if and when they'll come back. Some of their technology works, other bits don't. You have these people who haven't had to fend for themselves for 960 years and believe in a high moral code but out in the night there are those looking at the resources of Earth and it's ramping up towards the big battle."

Now completing book 14 (which I was by this point in the conversation interrupting the progress of!) there's still a lot more to come. However if literature's not your thing then it's definitely worth dropping on Phil Farrand's Facebook with his now weekly celebrations of National Days.

Certainly a highlight of the week, it'd be wrong to spoil the surprise but the effort that goes into each production is incredible and especially during current times it's sure to raise a smile. That's all I'll say!

Many thanks to Phil Farrand for joining Some Kind of Star Trek for this interview!

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Sunday, 14 February 2021

The Depth of DS9: HeroCollector's Illustrated Handbook

Over Christmas I finally submitted to HeroCollector's will and got hold of the three Illustrated Handbooks.

Covering the Constitution Class USS Enterprise NCC-1701 and NCC-1701-A, the second on Picard's Galaxy Class vessel and a third on Voyager, these are masterful guides to the hero craft of the franchise. With one notable exception.

Which has now been solved with the publication of the Deep Space Nine Illustrated Handbook. Excited? Yes, yes, yes and it's about time.

Once more diving into the wealthy archive of the Star Trek Fact Files, the book pulls together all the material on the series you could desire including the station, Runabouts and the iconic USS Defiant

I was, shamefully, not a collector of the Fact Files back in the day. An ex-girlfriend did and I remember spending a substantial part of a day just flicking through the binders and being really impressed with the graphics and notes alongside. Possibly one of the reasons I became an ex!

Anyway... this book just goes that step further. If you've collected and still have the files, then this is money you can avoid spending because 99% of the content is exactly the same but just in one place and not filling half a wall. 

So let's take a look under the hood and flip open this hardback compendium.  The first thing you'll naturally do is compare it to the '90's DS9 Technical Manual. As with previous entries, these books are, when aligned with those schematic heavyweights from the likes of Okuda and Sternbach, like two halves of a medallion. One provides in depth "real world" technical understandings of the workings of just about everything while the Handbook provides a more relaxed and informative read. This handbook book is much more a journey through DS9 rather than a guide on how to fix a broken warp engine and relates more as a story backed by CG as well as episode reference shots which you wouldn't find in the technical manuals but still keeps it grounded in the Trek universe.

Yes, there are technical aspects to it, but this new volume excels in its cutaway drawings of Ops or the Promenade as well as relating the construction path of the station by its Cardassian builders. The superb images also have further areas expanded on such as control panels and in the case of the Promenade it even goes into specific operations on that deck. Notes indicate specific items and key points with the main narrative exploding the background.

The Illustrated Handbook adeptly covers just about everything and links it back to the series itself in many cases. The Cardassian counterinsurgency programmes from Civil Defence are referenced as are the away team desert uniforms from Shadows and Symbols. Even the optolythic data rod from In the Pale Moonlight gets a section devoted to it. That's where the technical manual and this really part ways. Ben Robinson and editor Simon Hugo have gathered together information which is made accessible to all levels of fandom and just looks amazing.

Beyond the station there's even more with the Runabout sections even showing that mid-section only used on TNG as well as a decent recap on the fates of DS9's fleet over the series along with further annotated views of the utility craft.

For those wanting a bit more starship action then there's the Defiant with close up looks into the engine room, the bridge and even the cramped mess hall. Each section not only explains some over technical pieces in plain English but the relation to the show through an in universe explanation. All aspects of the ship are covered from its creation right up to its destruction and resurrection in the final season. There are also pieces on the features of the ship which made it unique in Starfleet.

It's difficult not to come away from this, the fourth book in the reconstituted Fact Files series and be highly impressed, disappointed and slightly hopeful all in one go. Let me explain.

The work that has gone into scouring the man, many volumes of the classic part work cannot be underestimated and to have it all here is, as said, just wonderful but it this going to be the last one since the Fact Files never touched on anything more recently. Is there a chance that we might get an Illustrated Handbook for Discovery for example? I think fans would be excited to see that but it would be a project from the ground up (I have time, Ben, if you need a hand!). 

Just as a good reference book was an absolute necessity for your library back in the 1990's, this is another piece of Star Trek history that every fan should have in whatever form. Personally I'm ecstatic to have a hold of it in a single book that logically details the elements of arguably Star Trek's best and most unique show in one place. At this place and time, HeroCollector is the place to go if you're looking for that more inquisitive look into the workings of the Roddenberry-created universe. Let's have some more. 

The Deep Space Nine Illustrated Handbook will soon be available from HeroCollector in the UK...

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Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Lifting the Dark Veil: Picard in Print from James Swallow

Romulans, Jean-Luc, the USS Titan and something of a mystery. Warning...spoilers potentially ahead!!!

The latest Star Trek hardback, the second Picard novel, flies us into the ‘lost years’ between Nemesis and the end of the 24th century. Focusing most of the time on Captain Riker and the Titan, The Dark Veil manages to do more than just tell a new Star Trek story.

With the Mars tragedy in the recent past, aid to the Romulans has stopped leaving the Empire to the mercy of the imminent supernova that will consume the homeworld. Starfleet has retreated but a few captains are still offering under-the-counter aid.

The Titan itself has been tasked with assisting the Jazari, a reclusive race who have decided to trade it all in and head out into the distant special yonder to live out their days.

Circumstances mean that their society ends up a little more scrutinised than they ever intended and forces an alliance between the Titan and the crew of a Romulan Warbird. 

But lo and behold there's more to it than that and The Dark Veil goes above and beyond to not just begin to fill in the intervening years between Nemesis and Picard but also dovetail the various media strands into one cohesive story.

Several elements from the Picard series materialise here, the Zhat Vash being the most prominent. The narrative from the show in which they are dedicated to the eradication of synthetic life is kept alive as well as their deference to the Tal Sh'iar and the Romulan military. Swallow also manages to weave in references to the Picard prequel comic book series (four issues) that ran at the end of 2019. 

To call this a Picard novel is a little unfair since Jean-Luc makes only two fairly superficial appearances in the book and the bulk of The Dark Veil is told from the standpoint of the Riker family. The unseen and sadly deceased Thaddeus (in Picard) receives a good deal of attention from the start with his life on the Titan examined showing both his intellect and also his alienation from other children due to his parents' position on the ship.

His part in the book is core to driving a lot of the narrative where Deanna is concerned for the most part since they are paired for the back half of the story. Swallow revives Thaddeus' love of languages mentioned in Nepenthe and the benefit of him being an only child here serves perfectly to round out the missing link in the Riker family. Character-wise both Will Riker and Deanna have seasoned and their parental responsibilities are openly on display and certainly there is a mental shift from the 100% focused duty officers of TNG into more rounded individuals where their personal lives have taken hold more than ever before and definitely affect more than a couple of decisions within the text. 

Seeing Riker at his commanding prime and with a family is new experience even within the literary arm of the Star Trek universe before and James Swallow does a masterful job of retaining enough of the TNG Riker thst he's still familiar but has learnt from life, experience, marriage - and a child.

Will Riker does find himself off the bridge of the damaged Titan more than usual here but this provides the chance for him to physically interact not only with the emigrating Jazari but also the Romulan commander. With the political climate as it is following Starfleet's withdrawal from aiding the doomed Romulus, Medaka is a much more approachable and less aloof captain than we have seen before and definitely less over dramatic and demanding than readers will be used to. He's almost - well - human.

Yet the machinations that are happening behind the scenes are what drives the real heart of the novel and once the action kicks in, this book truly picks up a pace that I found very difficult to put down. That's probably about a third of the way in once the pieces are slotted in and moving. 

Helek, the Zhat Vash operative is the best player in The Dark Veil and her inclusion adds a really bleak element of foreshadowing. Indeed, some of the elements of the Zhat Vash themselves were much easier to comprehend through Swallow's novel than they were in the TV series. Her interplay with the Romulan Medaka are a highlight even if the warbird commander has very little room to manoeuvre.

Watch out two for a couple of appearances of some of Star Trek's more diverse races such as the Remans and also a Kelpien plus one Macha Hernandez which will raise a smile to anyone familiar with the development of TNG. But do keep on reading beyond that because there's so much more involved.

The Dark Veil is a tense, well paced and actually, pretty straight-forward novel that helps develop the sandbox that is Picard as a series. James Swallow's characters have aged but are very much recognisable and there's a notable overuse of nods to the past in here with more relevant references to the recent past and associated events that make sense in the context of the book. There is a twist too which is, I'm happy to say, again in keeping with the ethos of the franchise particularly around this period of future history.

It's been a total pleasure to read this one during lockdown and a great road into expanding the new TV frontiers of Star Trek and I do think there's much more of a "feel" of '90's Trek within these pages than we see in the shows at the moment - and that's a good thing when it comes to how our favourite characters are being cared for and portrayed on the page.

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