18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I love the concept of the Strange New Worlds contest, because it gives such a fresh perspective to Star Trek and legitimacy to all of us aspiring authors who might want to join in this fun someday. So, it is interesting and informative to see what other people wrote about and what the contest judges chose to accept.
Each SNW anothology has 3 winners and the potential for up to 20 honorable mentions. This edition has 22 stories, which they divide into 6 categories, the five TV series and a section they call "Speculations."
"Shanghaied" by Alan James Garbers: An interesting tale, set during the original 5 year mission, with ties to old alien abduction stories. An original story, this has no ties to other shows or cameos by other characters.
"Assignment: One" by Kevin Lauderdale: This was probably my favorite among the TOS stories. Although it directly contradicts events in Greg Cox's "Eugenics Wars" books, it is a gripping story that draws two characters and where they were on one of the most important days in recent history - and where they should not have been.
"Demon" by Kevin Andrew Hosey: One of the great "what-ifs" in Star Trek - what would really happen if Kirk was faced with a no-win scenario (this takes place right before the end of the original 5 year mission), with one great big twist at the end. A good story, but we all know what our hero will say to the "offer he can't refuse," so why ask?
"Don't Call Me Tiny" by Paul C. Tseng: A peek into Sulu's childhood and a great spin on his funniest line in Star Trek III. I liked this one a lot, and would even recommend it for young teens to read because of the subject matter - how to deal with bullies. I especially liked the characterization of Sulu's parents; they seemed very real to me.
Star Trek: The Next Generation:
"Morning Bells Are Ringing" by Kevin G. Summers: One shy, awkward glance by a little girl in a turbolift becomes an entire story. This was great, and was very deftly written to convey the relationships involved. I liked this one very much.
"Passages of Deceit" by Sarah A. Seaborne: A covert mission goes wrong for Captain Picard (set after the end of the TV series), where Dr. Crusher has to trust someone she really detests to save the captain's life. Nicely written, but not my favorite. It is just too convienent that the ONLY person who can help is the last person Crusher would want to think about.
"Final Flight" by John Takis (Third Prize winner): What was Data really thinking when he sacrificed himself for the Enterprise and Captain Picard? This is a sad, beautiful tale that deals with Picard's grief and what B-4 may or may not represent. Definitely a prize-winner.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
"Trek" by Dan C. Duval: An okay story, but written with the wrong characters, in my opinion. It directly contradicts the story "Infinity" from "The Lives of Dax," which was a better story and made more sense than this does.
"Gumbo" by Amy Vincent: A nice, uncoventionally written story from Jake's perspective, with nice allusions to the DS9 relaunch novels. The one problem that I have with it is that the timeline for this story is nearly impossible to place, since it has to happen after Sisko joins the Prophets in the series finale, but also has to happen after certain events in the "Avatar" duology. But overall, very good.
"Promises Made" by David DeLee: Kira keeps a promise to someone she thought had some sense of honor and duty - well, he does, but not to who she thought. I think I like the explanations provided by Peter David in "Imzadi II: Triangle" better. But the characters are well-written, even if the plot is hard to swallow.
"Always a Price" by Muri McCage: My favorite of the DS9 stories. The dual nature of Kai Winn is always an interesting, complicated character study, and we learn a surprising secret about her that might have softened many hearts towards her - and one person's silence about it. Well-written moments for Kira make this a wonderful tale.
Star Trek: Voyager:
"Transfiguration" by Susan S. McCrackin: Hands down, my favorite Voyager story. Written from the point of view of a child on another ship interacting with Voyager, her own personal tragedy and her childish hopes collide when reality can't match her dreams. This was the most emotional of the stories in the anthology, and should have been a prize-winner, in my opinion.
"This Drone" by M.C. DeMarco: What is going through Seven of Nine's head after her severance from the collective? A depressing tale, if you didn't know how things eventually turned out.
"Once Upon a Tribble" by Annie Reed: Tom Paris tells a bedtime story to preschool-age daughter Miral that subconciously reveals more than he realizes. Annie Reed obviously likes writing about the Paris family (she wrote "Don't Cry" in SNW VII), and she has the touch with the Voyager crew. A good, nicely written story.
"You May Kiss the Bride" by Amy Sisson: Murphy's Law hits the wedding of Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres. This could be a story about any couple and any wedding, which makes for a classic. A much lighter piece than I was expecting, and definitely lifts the overall heavy tone of the Voyager section of the anthology.
"Coffee with a Friend" by J.B. Stevens: Captain Janeway has her own personal "It's A Wonderful Life" moment. A nice, slightly spooky story (good first-person narrative) set right after Voyager's return to Earth. Not my favorite, but a good story nonetheless.
Star Trek: Enterprise:
"Egg Drop Soup" by Robert Burke Richardson: Best Enterprise story in the book. Dr. Phlox is so well-written, and this is a sweet, but very emotional story about having hope. This nearly ties with "Transfigurations" for most emotional (for me), but not quite. A fantastic story.
"Hero" by Lorraine Anderson: Short, sweet, and sad. A side story about what one particular crewman experiences while Enterprise is in the Expanse.
"Insanity" by A. Rhea King: The old story about the unknown object causing chaos onboard the ship. Well-written, but I didn't find it that engrossing or original, although it reveals one of Captain Archer's greatest fears.
"Alpha and Omega" by Derek Tyler Attico (First Prize winner): The end of the Star Trek universe by the Borg, and the beginning of the universe as caused by the Borg. You'd better know your Star Trek to keep up with this one. Definitely deserving of first prize, in my opinion.
"Concurrence" by Geoffrey Thorne (Second Prize winner): This story had me confused from beginning to end. It made a little more sense by the end, but this was my least favorite story in the whole anthology.
"Dawn" by Paul J. Kaplan: This one deals with multiple "what-ifs" in the Star Trek universe. Good luck trying to keep all the threads straight, but it is a tightly written story and leaves some great hanging questions out there.
Although I personally prefer the last anthology over this one, each one is worth getting because of the fun the authors had writing the stories, and the fun that the readers can have seeing what they wrote. And there is always next year, especially if you have a story...
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Another year, another collection of Star Trek stories, by fans and for fans. Yes, it's Strange New Worlds VIII, and it follows the same rules as all of the others (including Strange New Worlds VII). It's a collection of stories written by authors who do not have much, if anything, published. Dean Wesley Smith (with help from Elisa J. Kassin and Paula M. Block) choose the stories that will be included from hundreds of submissions, and they usually make some good choices. As always, not all of the stories work, but they all have something to them that shows us why they were chosen. Unlike last year's edition, however, I disagree with one of the prizes.
The grand prize winner is "Alpha & Omega," by Derek Tyler Attico. This is a huge story about the fall of the Federation to the Borg, how Admiral Janeway and Captain Picard have kept fighting, trying desperately to figure out some way to defeat the Borg. An attempted infiltration of the Borg by Picard and Seven (along with Janeway and Worf), goes horribly awry, and only Janeway's forethought and Dr. Crusher's ability save them from being wiped out. We then discover the true reason Q spent so much time with Picard, and how his ultimate mission has failed. Yet when the end comes, it eventually leads to a new beginning. I was really impressed with this story, and its Grand Prize award is well-deserved. Attico gets the characterizations of our heroes perfectly, with just enough changes to reflect the fact that everything they have known and loved has fallen down around them. Picard still shows some compassion to those drones who are assimilated against their will, and Janeway (along with Seven) is the Borg expert. The ending is perfectly fitting, as the cycle of life and the universe begins again.
The second prize winner is "Concurrence," by Geoffrey Thorne, and it is another "Speculations" story. I can't say too much about this one without spoiling both twists, but I will say that it involves a race from what appears to be beyond the galaxy, having retreated their after a time in the Alpha Quadrant, who have been fascinated with Earth for many years (and the reason for it is logical, so don't roll your eyes about another alien culture fascinated with Earth). They detect a weak distress signal from a planet and send a ship to investigate. They discover what appears to be a Vulcan research installation with all of the inhabitants killed. Could it have been the Dominion? And what about the one Vulcan woman they find alive, in apparent stasis? What's her secret? And will the ship and its crew survive once the secret comes out? This story surprised me as it doesn't have any of the "regulars" in it, but it does have a very concrete tie to the Star Trek universe. It's not apparent for a while, though (except the Vulcans, of course), but it's well worth waiting for. Thorne gives us interesting characters and a puzzle to solve. Even when we discover the truth about one side, the revelation of the other just makes the story even better. Thorne's prose is also quite good, making the story interesting and keeping the reader entranced. It's not quite as good as the Grand Prize, but it gets an acceptable Second Prize.
My choice for the Third Prize, however, would be different. There's nothing wrong with "Final Flight" (a story about Picard trying to deal with Data's death in Nemesis and whether the android B4 will ever make a substitute), but there was one story I liked better. Perhaps it's because I'm one of the biggest DS9 fans around, but I loved "Gumbo," by Amy Vincent. It's a wonderful little story (almost intimate) that takes place very shortly after the finale. Vincent tells the story of how to create Gumbo for your friends and how to host a dinner party that gives your grandfather a little bit of peace about what has happened to his son, who is now with the Prophets. Told in an instructional way ("Take the vegetables you've bought - onions, celery, bell peppers, and okra - and start chopping."), it also has other instructions in it ("Watch Worf swallow the tabasco as though it were water, then give you a pitying look you obviously deserve.") as well. Vincent manages to capture all of the characters beautifully through Jake's eyes as he prepares the gumbo dinner party for all of his friends, and most importantly, for his grandfather. I had a tear in my eye at the end, even knowing that Ben Sisko will eventually be back. This story loses a lot in me describing it. It can only be experienced. If you're a fan of this show, then you will love this story.
This year, there were no stories that affected me negatively, and all of them seem worthy of inclusion (though obviously, I don't know what didn't make the cut. Some are very light (though some, like "Once Upon a Tribble," hold a little bit of darkness to them), some are adventurous, and others are just another story told with our favourite characters, but told pretty well. No major characterization errors leaped out at me and I was able to let these great stories wash over me. Strange New Worlds VIII is well worth a look.