Friday, January 7, 2011

The Journey Begins: My foray into the Star Trek: Vanguard series

Yes, it’s true – I’ve just begun reading the Star Trek: Vanguard series. I’m not sure why I put if off for so long; maybe it’s because the books are set in a time period of Star Trek’s universe that I’ve never been overtly fond of (TOS).

Don’t get me wrong, I like Kirk/Spock/Scotty stuff but my heart was captivated by The Next Generation – when women were more apt to be wearing pants when they scooted around Jefferies tubes.

To date, I have only read one TOS-era novel and that was because it was the only one we owned: an autographed copy of “Black Fire” by Sonni Cooper was given to The Hubby as a gift more than 20 years ago by a friend who met her in Long Beach, CA.

You see, at the time – HE was the Trekkie. Not me.

And HE’S the one who knows every episode of TOS by heart.

I liked Black Fire very much. I especially enjoyed it considering The Hubby never knew I read it when he was on a business trip several years ago - as well as the fact that a woman wrote it.

(I only recently discovered that she lives less than a ½ hour from us now. There are a LOT of sci-fi writers/lovers here in New Mexico. I wonder if it’s because the area is so conducive to creativity. It’s quiet, peaceful and there seems to be an open acceptance of creative people here – much more so than in SoCal believe it or not.)

Oh – hey – I’ll get back on track here. Sorry.

In any event, my interest in ST: Vanguard piqued a few months ago when I realized how much I enjoyed the original characters created by the Star Trek writing team in the ”Starfleet Corps of Engineers” works that I have dabbled in reading. SCE gave me a new set of people to care about and, I think, gave the writers a whole new and wide-open playground in which to have fun.

But SCE is all set in the world of TNG - the time period I'm very familiar with.

I had heard through others here on LJ and on Twitter that the Vanguard series was much the same – a series filled with new and interesting characters that I could “get to know.”

So, last September, I made up my mind to read the series from the beginning, and after what became a truly frustrating effort to obtain all the books currently in print (one of the books in the series has been out of print for awhile and Pocketbooks can’t seem to get its shit together to make it more readily available) I finally landed them all about a month ago.

I began to read the first book: “Star Trek: Vanguard – Harbinger” on Tuesday. I finished it last night.

They were three nights in bed very well spent.

The author of this first installment, David Mack, as usual, really knows how to set a scene and then fill it with interesting and complex characters.

I always wondered whether or not there was some secret challenge between Trek writers to create a challenging foundation for a character just to see how the next writer in line for a series will handle him/her/it. If so, I can see where Mack threw down a gauntlet with the intensely rich character of T’Prynn. She’s all sorts of “messed up.”

Well, one of the other things I appreciated about Mack’s take on a new space station was his ability to bring in the “known” characters from the Original Series and the NCC-1701 and not have them become the focal-point or even a burden to the overall story. It was nice to see them blend in as perfect secondary characters – a transition team if it were. It was a nice hand-off and very well executed.

Mack’s ability to peg Kirk’s character with one sentence never ceases to amaze me. As a matter of fact, I read the sentence: “Kirk stood, apparently for no other reason than dramatic effect,” to my Hubby who laughed out loud.

He then waited two beats before realizing I was reading a Trek book set in “his” time line.

It was then I explained to him that the book contained characters I wasn’t at all familiar with and offhandedly made a comment about the character “Dr. M’Benga.”

I hadn’t seen The Hubby quite that animated before. His eyes widened and he said, “You haven’t seen ‘A Private Little War?’”

I was caught feeling like I was standing naked in a frat party.

To say the least – my admission of guilt only gave The Hubby a reason to come home early on Wednesday night. He kindly sat me down and we watched “A Private Little War” so I could get a better handle on M’Benga.

Who knew!? Star Trek: Vanguard is actually paving a nerd-path of discovery with my own husband!

In any event – as you can tell, I loved the book.

The characters are great – the plot, although nowhere near being fully addressed (it is a SERIES after all) is very intriguing, and I’ve already allowed myself to become infatuated with a character. (Which only means someone will likely kill him off somewhere down the line – so I’m mentally preparing myself for that possibility.)

And that’s why I like Trek fiction’s original characters; precisely because the writers CAN kill off a character and touch the nitty-gritty of those emotions and reactions without fear of getting in trouble for “touching” a canon character.

This is good stuff.

I think the next book is “Star Trek: Vanguard – Summon the Thunder” by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore.

I’m already biting my nails.


  1. Teri, we are talking David "Destroyer of Worlds" Mack, what makes you think he'd kill a character? LOL
    Don't you love Quinn too?????

  2. Quinn is great - I think what I like most about him now, is how much I DON'T know about him. Yes, he's been married 4 times before - but there's something about him that I'm missing, and can't wait to know.

    My heart was stolen by Reyes though. I know, weird - but true.