Monday, 21 December 2015
Title: The Vulcan Academy Murders
Author: Jean Lorrah
“The Vulcan Academy Murders” by Jean Lorrah is a novel set in The Original Series period of Star Trek. The story takes place on the planet Vulcan as Kirk, McCoy and Spock have brought an injured crew member to the Vulcan Science Academy so that a revolutionary new form of treatment can be utilised to heal him. However, when one of the patients involved in the treatment dies, it soon become clear that there is a murderer on the loose. Kirk is therefore forced into becoming a detective and must catch the perpetrator before anyone else dies.
The book was well paced and there was quite a bit of action to keep me entertained from start to finish. There was also some interesting exploration undertaken in regards to Vulcan life which was eye opening and enjoyable to see. The only real weakness in the story itself is the actual mystery itself because it is far too easy to identify the culprit. I knew who the murdered was before passing the 50 page mark which does remove most of the intrigue and excitement from that element of the story as none of the reveals were surprising.
On the whole, the characters are nicely portrayed and I had no issue recognising Kirk, Spock & McCoy. In addition most of the new characters were interesting and varied although the antagonist of the story was a bit one-dimensional which meant it was easy for the reader to identify them as the murderer. Another strange character related issue was the relationship between Spock and Sarek. Whilst I appreciate that the two of them are closer than they had previous been due to the events of "Journey to Babel” they felt a little bit too reconciled. This was exacerbated by the fact that Sarek seemed to be a little bit more relaxed and open that I would have expected.
Overall this was a fun but predictable story that takes an interesting look at Vulcan society, ecology and culture. The weak mystery plot points were rather disappointing and I don’t think hard-core mystery readers may be rather disappointed although I suppose it might still appeal to regular Star Trek fans that only have a mild interest in the mystery genre.
Thursday, 17 December 2015
Title: Strange Circumstances
Author: Marshall J. Stephens, Weston Kincade & David Chrisley
“Strange Circumstances” is a collection of speculative fiction short stories written by Weston Kincade, Marshall J. Stephens and David Chrisley that take a look at fate and destiny. I was drawn to this collection because of Weston Kincaid’s involvement, a man who’s paranormal and fantasy books have kept me thoroughly entertained. However, it is obvious from reading the stories that both Marshall J. Stephens and David Chrisley are capable authors themselves and together all three of them have crafted some superbly entertaining stories.
What I enjoyed the most was that whilst there is an overall theme relating to fate and destiny, each of the stories vary substantially in subject matter although all of them have a speculative fiction feel. Each story is wonderfully well written and sucks the reader in before usually delivering an intriguing twist that left me wanting to read the next one. At times it felt like I was reading a collection of stories that would have worked in a TV series like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits or Black Book.
The only complaint I can level at the collection is that just as I am getting into the interesting worlds that have been created the story ends. A minor complaint for sure as there isn’t much you can do about this when you are using the short story form but it is still rather aggravating that none of the worlds explored here have been expanded upon.
Overall, this is a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable collection of stories. There is pretty much a story in here for anyone who enjoys speculative fiction so no one should be disappointed.
Monday, 14 December 2015
Title: Star Trek 4
Author: James Blish
“Star Trek 4” by James Blish is his fourth collection of Star Trek Original Series scripts adaptations. There are six adaptations included in this collection with two taken from each of Star Trek’s three seasons as follows:
All Our Yesterdays (Season 3)
The Devil in the Dark (Season 1)
Journey to Babel (Season 2)
The Menagerie (Season 1)
The Enterprise Incident (Season 3)
A Piece of the Action (Season 2)
The episodes in this collection are all rather enjoyable and fun, including the two stories taken from season 3 which were probably the best ones available from that season. It probably isn’t as enjoyable as “Star Trek 3” was but considering that book contained four episodes that were nominated for Hugo awards and this one only contained one it shouldn’t be that surprising.
In regards to the writing itself, Blish continues to do a competent job at converting the episodes into short story form although as always there is very little elaboration over what has been shown on TV. In fact, in regards to “The Megangerie”, Blish just removes the entire framing story and sticks with what is basically “The Cage”. He does at least explain why he does it, although as a modern reader used to reading many stories that include multiple viewpoints, different time periods and framing stories I can’t say I agree with his reasoning. Then again, as this was a short story, perhaps it was the right thing to have done.
Overall, this is another competent and enjoyable collection of Star Trek episode adaptations. It is probably only something a Trek fan would enjoy but I do like having the ability just to quickly delve into the stories of The Original Series without having to sit down and watch a full 40 minute episode.