Saturday, March 24, 2012


Has it really been seven years? Well, almost. It was in June of 2005 that I raced through the uncorrected advance proofs of Harbinger that Marco Palmieri was kind enough to send a few lucky readers. And I liked it. A lot.

Vanguard hit a lot of the right notes for me. It was set very firmly and believably in the 23rd century of the original series, but with some DS9/Babylon 5 elements and the feel of an HBO drama series for adults. So maybe we should have assumed from the beginning that this would be a story with an ending, not just a series of adventures with a common setting and cast of characters. I wouldn't mind if it had gone on, but Storming Heaven (and Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore's What Judgments Come) prove that a limited series has its own strengths.

A lot of the power of these books comes from knowing that things are coming to an end. There's an inexorability to events that means there may not be a lot of plot twists or surprises out of left field towards the end. Instead, there's the suspense of knowing that the shit is about to hit the fan, and wondering who's going to make it out alive. With Babylon 5, the characters sometimes took a back seat to the plotting, and with DS9, the plotting sometimes took a back seat to the characters; Vanguard gave the impression of riding that balance pretty well. Despite the action, many characters had moments to reveal who they really were. And, as ever, bits and pieces tied into the filmed Trek continuity in interesting ways.

I charged through Storming Heaven too quickly to really come up with any deep and analytical review. I did notice a couple of little things in passing -- a couple of character names taken from a certain TV show that I suppose had to show up in a Trek novel eventually, and musical references to someone other than Rush in the form of a couple of vehicle names. A character whose absence I'd been thinking about showed up at a key point. Some day it'd be nice to reread the whole series and see how it stacks up as a complete story. Pretty well, I suspect.

And now to go read the bonus material at David Mack's Vanguard Finale page. I'm especially curious about the series bible and the bible addendum.

Six novels, an anthology, and a related novella -- no Trek fan has an excuse not to read Vanguard.


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