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Elim Garak (Australia)

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Survivor's Quest: Star Wars
Survivor's Quest: Star Wars
by Timothy Zahn
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Another success for Tim Zahn, April 13 2004
As I stated in my subject header, "Survivor's Quest" is another success for Tim Zahn, giving him a total of six fantastic Star Wars books.
Th story concerns only two major Star Wars characters, Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade, now enjoying married life. After a diplomatic request from a mysterious race, the two set off to aid an expedition to recover the Outbound Flight project, which was a mission launched during the time of the Old Republic. The importance of this is that the ship would contain a plethora of records from that period, particularly records concerning the Old Jedi Order that Luke knows so little about.
I won't go into any more plot details, but suffice to say, it is a very intruiging and exciting story, with plenty of action, and it ties into the prequel series very well, with some nice touches (the Jedi starfighter, and the droideka) to relate it back to that era.
That being said, I was disappointed by some parts of the book.
While Luke and Mara are interesitng characters (always have been) many of the others are not. The other major character is a man called Jinzler, a man with a family connection to one of the Jedi who left with Outbound Flight. Jinzler came from nowhere (in terms of the overall series) and I didn't really find him all that interesting. I think that this story may have worked better if it involved one of the other major characters from Star Wars.
I was also disappointed not to read anything more about Jorus C'Boath, who was one of the principal antagonists in the original Zahn trilogy.
The outcome of the mission doesn't reveal anything startling to Luke about the old Jedi, but the door has been left open for him to learn about it later on. I suspect that, after EpIII comes out and all the major plot points are tied up, Zahn may write a follow story to this one, perhaps revealing a little more to Luke about the old Jedi. But that's all speculation.
In my opinion, this is one of the best Star Wars books to come out in recent years, much better than that awful, bloodthirsty NJO series.
I recommend this book to all Star Wars fans, whether casual or serious.

The Atlas of Middle-earth
The Atlas of Middle-earth
by Karen Wynn Fonstad
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 16.07

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate companion to The Lord of the Rings, Feb. 27 2004
As I said in my subject title, this book is the ultimate companion to the Lord of the Rings saga by JRR Tolkien.
The Atlas goes into immense details of the maps of Tolkien's Middle Earth, highlighting the journeys of Bilbo, Frodo and The Fellowship of the Ring.
It is all done in a very serious, sincere and professional manner, and it is clear that Ms. Fonstad has put a lot of effort into making this book.
But like all works of fiction, there are errors, but there are few to be sure. Where these errors arise, Ms Fonstad has made reasonable assumptions or compromises between the conflicting data, but none of them seriously detract from Tolkien's word in any way. As another reviewer said, this is testament to the creative genius of Tolkien, and his uncanny attention to detail that make the books so believable.
I highly recommend this book to any Lord of the Rings fan, as it is a fascinating book that clarifies the geography of Middle-Earth in a way that has never been done before.

The Two Towers (Widescreen Collector's Edition ) (5 Discs with Gollum Figurine)
The Two Towers (Widescreen Collector's Edition ) (5 Discs with Gollum Figurine)
DVD ~ Elijah Wood
Offered by Deal Beat
Price: CDN$ 75.99
9 used & new from CDN$ 69.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A work of rare genius, Feb. 16 2004
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Edition Gift Pack is a fantastic DVD boxed set and a brilliant tribute to the genius of JRR Tolkien.
I will start by reviewing the film itself. While I thoroughly enjoyed The Two Towers theatrical edition, the extended edition is even better.
The story, while a slight departure from the books, is nothing short of genius. Integrating three distinct and complex story lines into one film is a fantastic achievement on the part of Peter Jackson and his writing team. It follows on directly from the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, with each group of characters now having seperate but related adventures throughout Middle-Earth.
The film features some of the most talented actors of our age, people like Elijah Wood, Sir Ian McKellan, Christopher Lee, to name just a few. One person worth special mention is Andy Serkis, who plays Gollum, and does a fantastic role with this complicated character.
The camera work in the films is also extraordinary, and features some truly magnificent photography of the NZ landscape, while keeping the film in line with what Tolkien wrote in his books.
But the real gold of the extended edition is just that, the extended scenes. These scenes help to reinforce and add more depth to the various scenes in the theatrical edition, expanding the story and, in some parts, paying tribute to parts of the books that were absent from the films.
For myself, the most enjoyable extended scene was a flashback that Faramir has of Boromir, to a time when Boromir led the forces of Gondor in retaking Osgiliath. To see the Boromir-Faramir-Denethor dynamic in play is something very special indeed. The scene also helps to explain why Boromir was seduced by the Ring in the first film.
The behind the scenes part of this DVD set (2 discs worth) are also well worth watching. The Lord of the Rings represents a pioneering effort in film-making, and to see how it was all done is fascinating. Some of the most interesting documentaries concerned the computer animation aspects of the film, and the way that computer programs were designed to simulate realistic battles on a huge scale, with each participant responding like a real person would. These documentaries make for truly fascinating viewing.
In addition to the DVD, this set includes a statue of Gollum and an accompanying DVD and booklet. The statue is wonderful, beautifully carved and hand-painted, it really captures Gollum well. The DVD to me seemed to be little more than an advertisement for similar collectible statues, with some of the big name production personnel going into detals of their personal collections, and the company that made the LOTR statuettes going into details about how the statues were made. It seemed like little more than an advertisement to me.
To a more trivial point, the overall box itself is beautiful, featuring a lovely picture of Gandalf leading the Rohan cavalry charge at Helm's Deep. I normally don't keep product boxes, but this box was simply too good to throw away, just like the box for the FOTR DVD Gift pack.
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan of any description, then this boxed set would be a great purchase. If you can afford it, then I highly recommend you buy it.

Star Trek: Starfleet Command 3
Star Trek: Starfleet Command 3

1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible, Feb. 9 2004
Starfleet Command 3, without doubt, is one of the worst Star Trek games I have ever played.
I bought this game with the expectation of playing some Star Trek battles/missions with an interesting story, but what I got was a disaster.
While the game's story is interesting, nothing else is. The actual gameplay is pathetically slow and boring, and the controls are extremely awkward, which makes it difficult to perform quick maneouvers during battle. You can literally spend an hour fighting a small freighter with your ship going around in circles, trying to catch the smaller ship and only ocassionaly scoring hits. This sort of thing becomes extremely boring after a few missions.
I don't recommend this game to anyone unless you are a total Trek freak, and even then it would be an ask to finish this game. Don't waste your money on this thing.

Star Trek Voyager Companion
Star Trek Voyager Companion
by Paul Ruditis
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from CDN$ 45.93

4.0 out of 5 stars A fine book, could have been better, Feb. 1 2004
A lot of the other reviews that I've read for this book have been very negative and dismissive of the publication. And while I agree, the book does have some faults, it isn't that bad. I suspect that the extremely negative reviews stem from the Voyager biast that many fans seem to have, but I won't discuss that. Here's what I thought of the book:
The Voyager Companion by Paul Ruditis follows all 7 years of the 4th incarnation of Star Trek, Voyager. The book is set out much like it's predecessor companions, giving details of each episode in production order, with accompanying stardates and production personnel and actors. The book does a fine job of giving all the details of the show, outlining the stories for each episode, and giving summaries at the end of the technical information and character development.
The book also features multi-page sections devoted to each of the cast members, occuring approximately one in each season, although some seasons feature two. The character sections are particularly good, and feature quotes from both producers and actors alike.
The Companion also includes a nice summary of Voyager's crew manifest, showing every named crewmember over the 7 years, with their accompany rank, affiliation (Starfleet or Maquis) and status (alive, dead, or departed the ship).
Where the book fails is with the behind the scenes information that made the other companions so good. Aside from the small introduction to each season and the character pages, there is virtually no behind the scenes information. And the comments of the production personnel are all positive, and do little to point out any mistakes in the show. Having such a sanitized book as this only goes on to prove that there were production problems with Voyager, problems that the producers want to hide. If the producers had the honesty to admit the problems with Voyager (there were some, not that many though) it would strengthen the show's repuation, at least in my mind. We're all human, we all make mistakes. Wisdom comes from accepting responsibility for mistakes and making provision for them not to occur again.
It would have been much more interesting to read a balanced view of the show, featuring detailed behind the scenes information in conjunction with the detailed episode data.
But overall, this is a fairly good book, and a fine tribute to the strength of the Voyager series. If you like Voyager, then you should read this book.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Prophecy and Change Anthology
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Prophecy and Change Anthology
by Marco Palmieri
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.04
28 used & new from CDN$ 1.06

5.0 out of 5 stars The tour de force of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Jan. 26 2004
As I stated in my subject line, this book is the tour de force of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, revisiting the most complicated Star Trek series ever made and tying up loose ends.
The anthology consists of 10 short stories which go a little deeper into the story of Deep Space Nine, from 'Emissary' to 'What You Leave Behind', this book fills in all the blanks, all the loose ends (few that there were) from all 7 years of Deep Space Nine.
The authors are the 'newer' breed of Trek authors, mainly those that have come through the Strange New Worlds competition and written some of the DS9 relaunch books. If the stories from 'Prophecy and Change' and merely the 'early works' of these authors, then I shudder to think just how brilliant their writing will be when these men and women hit their prime.
The stories themselves are mastefully told, and are presented as stories being told by Jake to the young woman that came to see him in 'The Visitor', when Jake is an old man.
Each story is great, but the standouts are definitely 'Three Sides to Every Story', 'Foundlings', and 'Chiaroscuro'. Each of these stories are just brilliant, and cover the last 2 seasons of DS9, which was where the series really hit it's peak.
My only problem with this book was the last story, the Garak story by Andrew J. Robinson. I throughly enjoyed his previous work about Garak, entitled 'A Stitch in Time', but I did not enjoy his contribution to this book, entitled 'The Calling'. I found the story disjointed and at some points just plain confusing. Robinson made some reference to a play entitled 'The Dream Box' which I have never heard of. I'm guessing that this play is the step between 'A Stitch in Time' and 'The Calling', but I have never seen this play, so 'The Calling' was utterly confusing to me.
My only other negative point about this book was concerning a specific plot point. Please be warned, this paragraph contains spoilers. If you wish to avoid them, skip this paragraph. In 'Three Sides to Every Story', Ziyal gives Jake a precious Bajoran earring belonging to her mother, asking Jake to keep is safe for a while. After Ziyal's death, Jake goes to Ziyal's body and considers giving the earring back, but then decides that he should keep it, thus fufilling his promise to Ziyal. This was a wonderful piece of writing, but I think that the author could have gone a step further. The last part of the book is the conclusion of the meeting between Jake and the young woman that comes to see him. I believe that Ziyal's earring should have been mentioned there as still being kept safe by Jake. This would work in two ways, firstly, it would add weight the Jake-Ziyal story by making direct reference to it in the 'objective' sections at either end of the book. Secondly, it would help to reinforce the fact that Jake had an active role in these events. It's a fairly trivial point to be sure, but it was something that I felt should have been included in the story. But that is really a matter of opinion.
Overall, if you are a fan of DS9, either casual or serious, then you should buy this book. It's absolutely fantastic.

Star Trek V - The Final Frontier (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition) (Bilingual) [Import]
Star Trek V - The Final Frontier (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition) (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ William Shatner
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 58.55
11 used & new from CDN$ 4.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Not such a bad movie, Jan. 23 2004
Star Trek V is the fifth Star Trek feature and the second last for the Original series crew.
Most people regard this as the worst Star Trek film ever made, and look for reasons to attack the film and William Shatner in general.
Being a Star Trek fan for some time now, I try to take a more objective stance on things. Here's what I thought of the movie:
Good points about The Final Frontier:
-The acting is top drawer, particularly between Sybok and the heroes, Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
-The film features some very nice camera work, particulalry with the introduction of Sybok and also on Sha Ka Ree. Also, the orbital scene at the end, featuring the Klingons and the Enterprise, is a beautiful shot.
-The soundtrack is excellent, particularly towards the end of the film.
-The film features some nice moments of comedy, particularly among the lesser cast members (lesser only in terms of amount of screentime they recieve). Some of the comedy is a little inappropriate, but for the most part it's pretty good.
-The exploration of religion, normally a tabboo subject in Star Trek, is done nicely.
Bad points about The Final Frontier:
-The FX are not terribly good, reminiscent of those in The Original Series. That being said, the FX for the approach to The Great Barrier (particularly when seen from the observation lounge) are pretty good. But most of the FX are of fairly low quality.
-There are obvious script problems, particularly with some of the dialouge scenes. I'm no expert on the subject, but I can see some clear moments of script weakness throughout the film.
-There are several continuity errors, most notably the one concerning the trip to the centre of the galaxy. The edge of the Great Barrier is nearly 20,000 light years from Earth, which would be almost a 40 year trip for the Enterprise. A technical explanation for this should have been made in the film. I have made a reason myself to justify this, as I believe that Sybok knew of ancient subspace corridor routes to Sha Ka Ree, but I won't go into that.
-The role of the Klingons in the film wasn't done well at all. There should have been some sort of minor starship combat scene between them and Kirk early in the movie. His feelings towards them are also inconsistent with those expressed in ST:III and ST:VI, where they are finally resolved. I found this to be one of the lowpoints of the film.
-Anothe problem stemming from the script again concerns the Great Barrier. It was contually emphasised that it was incredibly dangerous and that no ship had ever been able to get through. Yet the Enterprise passed through easily. More should have been done with that sequence.
Overall, ST:V is an enjoyable film, but it does have faults. I recommend people who like Star Trek, whether they be serious or casual fans, to buy this film.

Shadow Hunter: Star Wars (Darth Maul)
Shadow Hunter: Star Wars (Darth Maul)
by Michael Reaves
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.49
88 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced and a little weak, Oct. 8 2003
The subject header for this review pretty much sums up my thoughts regarding 'Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter'. The book is a story set just before Episode I, centred around Darth Maul and his activities just prior to the blockade of Naboo.
The story quickly falls into an action adventure involving a Jedi Padawan, an information broker, and the broker's droid, all trying to escape from Darth Maul in the Coruscant underworld.
The book progresses along in a quick and simple fashion, lacking the detailed style and grace of other SW works by Zahn or Anderson. The ending, while ultimately bad (as we all know, Darth Maul survives to see Episode I), is also somewhat satisfying.
The book had some interesting background information about the Jedi, particularly with regards to their training and discipline, and the Jedi Code itself was interesting, and was referred to a number of times by the Jedi in their thoughts.
Shadow Hunter was released around the time that Episode I came out, and many people expected a detailed background to the movie to be in this book. It isn't. While this book may satisfy younger readers and fans of action based stories, I believe that most fans will be dissapointed by this book. If you're looking for a good background book, read 'Cloak of Deception', which gives all the political manouverings pre-Episode I.

Lesser Evil (Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Mission Gamma, Book 4)
Lesser Evil (Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Mission Gamma, Book 4)
by Robert Simpson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Simple and unsatisfying, June 10 2003
The fourth book of the Mission Gamma series is, in my opinion, the weakest book of the series, and I was left feeling unsatisfied at the end. I also must warn people that this review does contain significant spoilers of the book itself.
The book continues from the previous books int her series, with the Defiant finally beginning to head home in this novel, yet even on their way home they are still passing through uncharted space.
There was also a rather large technical error at the beginning. The author claims that the Defiant and the probes it launched had charted over 1200 cubic light years of space. That figure is ridiculous, no ship the size of the Defiant could possible chart that much space in only 3 months. Even Voyager, which was faster than the Defiant, could only make 438 light years per year.
But to other things. The book launches into the Defiant picking up a strange signal in the Gamma Quadrant, a signal that the ship's commander, Elias Vaughn, has seen before, and he orders the ship to investigate the signal and also hides this form the rest of the crew.
Meanwhile in the Alpha Quadrant, we see two seperate story lines evolve, one centred on Joseph Sisko on Earth, and the other centred on the crew on Deep Space Nine. The first AQ (Alpha Quadrant) storyline shows Joseph Sisko settled into some sort of depression over the loss of both Ben and Jake, and the efforts of his daughter Judith to get him back into action. This plot line is fairly simple, yet the resolution involves an old series favourite, Miles O'Brien, and I found it to be the most enjoyable of the book.
The second AQ plot line is on DS9, and deals with the aftermath of the assassination of Shakaar and the hunt for the killer. At this stage, Colonel Kira leaves the station on a Federation starship following what they think is a cloaked vessel heading for Trill, which creates a third AQ storyline with Kira away from the station.
The Defiant storline in the Gamma Quadrant continues and shows the crew discovering the wreckages of both a Jem'Hadar and a Borg-assimilated ship crashed on a planet. The assimilated ship holds a link to Vaughn's past, which is interesting, and is later explained when Vaughn has a 'tell-all' session with Ezri Dax, revealing his full background and the devestating decision he made regarding Prynn's mother. While Vaughn's story is interesting, it is very simple and straightforward, and in some parts is very weak, although I did find the story of Prynn's namesake to be very touching. Personally, I was expecting something exciting, interesting and a downright throrough explanation of his past. Instead, we got a chapter with a very fast paced story showing the important points of Vaughn's life with regards to Prynn and Ruriko, which was disappointing.
The Defiant plotline quickly continues, and we see an incredible seen where a Borg drone attempts to assimilate a Founder. I found this scene both incredible and bizarre, even more so as it served no real purpose to the development of the story. In the end, Vaughn is forced to make a devestating decision all over again, totally destroying any development in the relationship between himself and Prynn.
The AQ plotlines continue, and the crew on DS9 make a startling discovery about an old enemy from TNG, the parasites from 'Conspiracy', which are in some way related to the Trill species. They also learn that the parasites have taken control over someone on the starship Kira is travelling on, leaving Kira to eventually save the day. Relating the 'Conspiracy' parasites to the Trill was a very nice twist indeed, probably th best in the book, a real credit to the writer(s).
The book finishes with the Defiat nearing the wormhole, Kira heading back to DS9, and Joseph Sisko heading to Bajor to be with Kasidy.
Several plotlines/characters developments didn't reach any meaningful conclusion, they were:
-The Andorian problems involving Shar, a big part of the 1st two novels, were forgetten about.
-The relationship between Quark and Ro was barely mentioned.
-Commander Mathias, station counselor, was nowhere to be seen. A shame really, I liked her character, and there was also supposed to be some mystery surrounding the Bajoran ancestral roots of her husband.
-The issues between Nog and Taran'tar didn't really come to a conclusion.
-Vedek Yevir was virtually non-existent during the plot, which was unfortunate considering the large part he'd played in the last book.
Overall, I found the book had been written in a very simple manner with very quick plot developments and resolutions, some of which seemed totally irrelevant to the story. This resulted in a very short book with large print, and the more I read it the more I got the impression that the whole thing had been a rush job. The book seemed closer to one of those 'junior' Star Trek books than anything else.
The Mission Gamma opening book, 'Twilight', was much slower and far more detailed, and yet the final book in the series is a rush job with very simple, very basic plot twists. All the work done by the previous books to mend the relationship between Vaughn and Tenmei is undone, and at the end the reader is left unsatisfied. I believe the authors may have been trying to set the scene for the next two books, but setting the scene for the next book at the expense of finishing the last book is not only bad writing, it also dishonours the rest of the series.
I was also interested to note that there was no 'about the author' section at the end of the book. Virtually every Star Trek book I have read contains one of these sections, and I enjoy getting some insight into the author and his/her interests and background. This is simply more evidence to a rush job.
If you've followed the Mission Gamma series so far, you may as well buy this book. If you're just a casual fan, forget about it, as this book just isn't worth reading.

This Gray Spirit (Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Mission Gamma, Book 2)
This Gray Spirit (Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Mission Gamma, Book 2)
by Heather Jarman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Slow and steady, May 30 2003
I tried to really sum up this book in my subject line, 'Slow and Steady', because essentially that is how the book is. Heather Jarman has written a great 2nd novel in the Mission Gamma series, and considering that it is her first book, it is a commendable achievement.
The story begins with the Defiant exploring the Gamma Quadrant, and they become trapped in some sort of nanotechnology minefield. A friendly races arrives to help them, called the Yrthny, and the Defiant heads back to their homeworld for repairs. In their efforts to the repair the Defiant, the crew become drawn into the internal affairs of the Yrthny, which is an interesitng political situation.
On DS9, the political manouverings continue, and we mainly see them from Kira's perspective. Into the plot also enters the Cardassians, led by Ambassador Natima Lang and Gul Macet, a close relative of the late Gul Dukat. Some old wounds are reopened, but above all we see the two races trying their hardest to achieve peace, yet some individuals are trying to disrupt that peace, which makes for interesting reading. I found Jarman's treatment of the Cardassians particularly refreshing, considering what they did. All too often during the tv series, the Cardassians, Dukat in particular, got away with horrendous crimes. Gul Dukat himself was a murderer, war criminal, and a rapist, a man who lied, tricked and decieved people, especially when he wanted to have intimate relations with a woman. He had several illegitimate children, and was willing to kill them (and their mothers) just to protect his career. In this book, Jarman tries to show just what some of the other characters thought about this sort of behaviour, especially with regards to Ziyal.
The plot doesn't move with great leaps and bounds, in both the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants. The book is also fairly light on the action, and while I didn't mind this, some readers may have other thoughts.
The story has a satisfying ending, but there is also a big shock on the way for certain characters.
While I found the story to be well written (Jarman is obviously well educated in both writing and Trek lore) it was verbose at times, especially when it came to details regarding the Yrthny. Often the Yrthny affairs were convoluted and confused, and I found them a little hard to make sense of, all the more so as they didn't contribute that much to the plot. The Andorian backstory was also a little dragged out, and while it was an interesting insight into their culture, it wasn't properly explained until much later in the book, which was frustrating.
In conclusion, I recommend this book to readers of the Mission Gamma series and DS9 series in general. If you're just a casual fan, this probably isn't the book for you.

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