Monday, April 24, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Armageddon's Arrow by Dayton Ward - Book Report #179

I always find the books that have come out since the end of all the television series to be a bit daunting to read.  For years it's been a lot like comic books where the stories are tightly interlaced requiring the reader to read dozens of books to have a deep understanding of what is going on.

Even after I've written those words I'm thinking that it can be no other way.  The series have continued on in book form and the characters have been allowed to grow and change.  So if I feel like I've missed something it's because I HAVE.

A long time ago a book would be written as if it was an episode of the TV series.  More recently, it's all been about the "mini-series" where one story is told over multiple books and it's those stories that made reading current titles a bit daunting.

Which is why I enjoyed reading this book so much; it was one single story contained in a single volume.  Plus, it was written by one of my favourite Star Trek authors.

In this one, the crew of the Enterprise are finally back to exploring space and are now entering a region of the galaxy known as the Odyssean Pass.  As soon as they enter the area they discover a massive derelict ship and stop to investigate it.  On board they find a crew in hibernation and all kinds of shenanigans ensue once they've been revived.

Dayton Ward can write a story that is fast-paced, packed with humour and action.  He has mad skills to keep a story going but there were times where it was obvious that he was just padding to reach a contractual page count.  At one point it took an entire paragraph just to answer the door.  I am sure he could have trimmed the book by 75 to 100 pages had he had his way with it.

I am always happy to read one of his books and I am thrilled that Pocket Books has discovered his talents.

Dayton Ward


Monday, April 17, 2017

Mars by Ben Bova - Book Report #178

The first team of humans arrive at Mars and start to explore the planet.

Things do not go as planned, of course, and the crew suffers some damage after a meteor shower.

I liked the characters who spanned all the way back to Earth.  Everybody had their own motivations which added to the tension of the story.  Some of them were just silly but I don't think it took away from the story very much.

Something begins to impact the health of the entire ground crew and the mission is threatened because of it.  I found this part of the story very clever and thought it plausible today.

There was a tantalising discovery on one excursion that was left unexplored.  It was a nice cliffhanger for the next book.

All in all I found myself transported by the story.

Given today's activity in space I feel more confident than ever that I will live to see humans return to the moon and I hope to see them on Mars too.

Bova's website is here - http://benbova.com/



Monday, April 10, 2017

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire by John Ostrander - Book Review #177

I've always been a sucker for spy stories and one set in the familiar Star Wars universe had some appeal.

Volume One - Iron Eclipse

This was a straight up action adventure similar to a James Bond movie.  Our hero is deadly, capable, smart, funny, handsome and terrific with the ladies.

It was clever and fast-paced.  I liked how Jahan Cross, our spy, bumps into Han Solo and Chewie at a critical time in the story.

He also has a droid assistant that I really wish existed because I want one.

Volume Two - Hard Targets

Here we find Jahan Cross at a crossroads where he must choose between his duty as an agent of the empire and to do what is right.

I was less a fan of this one since in centered around politics and power.  There are murders and political shenanigans that I find exceedingly dull.  It's not a fault of the writer, it's a personal preference.

A young boy is caught in the middle and his life is threatened.

I found the first half of the story a slog but I enjoyed how it all came together.  There was a nice touch of humor in the plot development that allowed me to enjoy the story as a whole.

You can find out more about the author here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ostrander



Monday, April 3, 2017

Undeniable by Bill Nye - Book Report #176

Yes!


This was a wonderful treat.

It was read by Bill Nye himself, who has a terrific voice and was able to inflect a lot of humour.

The book is directed straight at the creationists of the world.  It debunks and exposes all the faults in their beliefs.

Nye is never afraid to stand toe-to-toe with them and tell them, straight out, they are wrong.

Science baby!  The scientific method.  This is the route to true knowledge.

What I found endearing was how he was able poke creationists in the eye instead of simply punching them in the jaw.

The book borrows heavily from his 2014 debate with Ken Ham at the Creation Museum.  He also follows Charles Darwin's On the Origins of Species throughout.

I was cheering him along all the way through.  It was refreshing to hear somebody simply say, "You are wrong, sir."

Point by point Nye was able to pull apart every belief brought forward by creationists and exposed them for the fiction it is.

Obviously I am not a creationist so the book spoke directly to my own beliefs.

At no time did I feel Nye was disrespectful to these folks but he wasn't afraid to point out where their beliefs depart from the scientific evidence.

The debate itself can be found here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6kgvhG3AkI

Bill Nye's website is here - http://billnye.com/#home