📚 The Face of the Unknown by Christopher L. Bennett

27/2024 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A “year four” adventure that serves to both bridge the gap between TOS and TAS (and explain some of the changes to the ship and crew between the shows) and to take a much deeper dive into the First Federation as first introduced in The Corbomite Maneuver. Along the way, we get to learn more about Balok’s threatening puppet, Spock gets some introspective assistance, and Kirk…well, Kirk does his thing with impassioned speeches and eyeing alien women. The exploration of the First Federation is obviously the core theme, and it’s done well, extrapolating well from what little we learn in the TOS episode. One of the better TOS novels.

Me holding The Face of the Unknown

📚 Clarkesworld Issue 211 edited by Neil Clarke

24/2024 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A particularly strong issue this month. I really enjoyed “The Lark Ascending” by Eleanna Castroianni, “An Intergalactic Smuggler’s Guide to Homecoming” by Tia Tashiro, “The Indomitable Captain Holli” by Rich Larson, “The Rambler” by Shen Dacheng, translated by Cara Healey, and “Occurrence at O1339” by Kelly Jennings.

Me holding Clarkesworld 211 on my iPad.

📚 Star Trek II Biographies by William Rotsler

23/2024 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Something of a historical curiosity now, these “biographies” of the principal characters have since been nearly or entirely overwritten by later films or more official pseudo-canon works. Still, it’s a fun artifact of this point in Trek’s real-world history, and as the first published material giving Uhura’s first name of “Nyota”.

Me holding Star Trek II Biographies

📚 Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

22/2024 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The colonization and terraforming of Mars continues, as does the high quality of Red Mars. Managing to balance the hard sci-fi of the terraforming processes and effects and the associated technological advances with political maneuvering among multiple parties across two planets and the interpersonal conflicts and relationships of multiple generations of Martian residents is no mean feat, and Robinson pulls it off well. Easily as good as the first book, and I’m looking forward to when I get to the next and final book in the trilogy.

Me holding Green Mars

📚 Firewall by David Mack

20/2024 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

While Picard is (imho) overall the weakest of the modern Trek series, its literary side is doing quite well. This does a great job of filling in some of the time between when Seven returns to Earth with Voyager and when she appears as a Fenris Ranger, and exploring how the character changed in those years. It’s unfortunate that some are upset that this book discusses Seven discovering her identity as a queer woman; it’s neither propagandistic nor heavy-handed, but simply experiences that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if they were heterosexual. Also a lot of very pointed commentary about what happens when a major power that had been providing very necessary support for a region just up and disappears when something else catches its attention. Definitely worth reading if you’re a fan of the Picard series or (and especially) of Seven as a character.

Me holding Firewall

📚 Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

18/2024 – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Excellent account of the settling and first steps of terraforming Mars, taking place over a few decades. Good hard sci-fi, with fascinating ideas on how it could be done and the effects, both micro (on the people involved and their immediate society) and macro (on the larger sociopolitical societies of Earth and Mars as it grows, and the physical effects on Mars). Fascinating from start to end; very much looking forward to continuing through the trilogy.

Also interesting reading this at a time when Mars is often in the news as an eventual destination once again, both realistic (NASA) and unrealistic (Musk), not long after reading and seeing Andy Weir’s The Martian and its film adaptation, just after finishing season four of For All Mankind, which is set on Mars, and while seeing Zach Weinersmith frequently post about his recent book looking at how Mars colonization is more difficult and dangerous than most people think. I wonder how much of what we know has changed since this part of the trilogy was written and how it might affect the underlying story if it were written today (I’m assuming that the Green Mars and Blue Mars sequels, being necessarily further extrapolated and less dependent on current real world science, would be less affected).

Me holding Red Mars