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Star Trek: Vanguard #2: Summon the Thunder Mass Market Paperback – June 27, 2006
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About the Author
Dayton Ward served for eleven years in the U.S. Marine Corps before discovering the private sector and the piles of cash to be made there as a software engineer. He got his start in professional writing by placing stories in each of Pocket Books’ first three Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthologies. He is the author of dozens of Star Trek novels, many written in collaboration with coauthor Kevin Dilmore. He recently penned a tie-in to the cult classic television series The 4400, and is currently at work on a new Star Trek novel to be released in Fall 2010.
Though he currently lives in Kansas City with his wife, Michi, he is a Florida native and still maintains a torrid long-distance romance with his beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Readers interested in contacting Dayton or learning more about his writing, or who simply need proof that their website is cooler and better looking, are encouraged to venture to his Internet cobweb collection at www.daytonward.com.
Still reeling from the knowledge that Star Trek was a live-action series before it was a Saturday-morning cartoon, KEVIN DILMORE is continually grateful for his professional involvement on the fiction and the non-fiction sides of the Star Trek universe for nearly a decade. Since 1997, he has been a contributing writer to Star Trek Communicator, penning news stories and personality profiles for the bimonthly publication of the Official Star Trek Fan Club. He has written for magazines including Amazing Stories, Star Wars Kids and FLIcK. Kevin’s interviews with some of Star Trek’s most popular authors appear in volumes of the Star Trek Signature Editions, published by Pocket Books. On the fictional side of things, his short stories include "The Road to Edos" in the Star Trek: New Frontier anthology No Limits and "Home on the Strange," the first installment of Reality Cops: The Continuing Adventures of Vale and Mist for Phobos Books. With Dayton Ward, he has written the Star Trek: The Next Generation novels A Time to Sow and A Time to Harvest, a story for the anthology Star Trek: Tales of the Dominion War, eight installments of the continuing e-book series Star Trek: S.C.E. and the short story "Enemy Unknown!" for Rocket League—The Thrilling Roleplaying Game by Playus Maximus. Kevin lives in Kansas City, MO.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
"A little groggy there, son? You look all slumped over!"
Ensign Stephen Klisiewicz raised his head from his console at the sciences station and looked across the Endeavour's bridge to the source of the voice. Pointing to where his attention had been focused, he said, "This device is a viewer, sir. It requires the user to hunch down and look into it. I understand how that might be a new concept to an engineer such as yourself, Commander. You're more used to crawling into things rather than just looking into them."
Bersh glov Mog released a laugh that sounded more like a belch -- one that rose over the rest of the bridge's ambient noise -- and that was enough to set Klisiewicz to laughing a bit on his own.
"Well, we all learn by doing," Mog replied, offering the Tellarite equivalent of a smile, which to Klisiewicsz still looked like the fierce rictus of a rabid dog.
The engineer's sentiment underscored the sense that, in its own slow way, the Endeavour was becoming something of a teaching vessel. Mog seemed to run engineering more as a training lab, mixing up duty rosters and making sure his staff became highly proficient at all aspects of operations rather than focusing on a single area of specialization. Khatami seemed to follow his lead by rotating untried personnel into roles of greater responsibility when opportunities arose. Even Captain Zhao seemed to make himself available to officers fresh out of the Academy, such as Klisiewicz, to discuss matters of life and duty aboard a starship.
Okay, so maybe not so much in sickbay, he thought, but every place else is pretty open to a new guy like me.
Two hours into his duty shift, and the chief engineer had started tossing wisecracks across the bridge at his expense. Had the remark come from someone other than Mog, he surely would have held his tongue in reply. While Klisiewicz was becoming fast friends with the Tellarite chief engineer, he noticed in his first scan around the bridge that other than Mog's, there were few familiar faces.
He knew Commander Khatami, of course, who in Captain Zhao's absence now occupied the Endeavour's center seat, but his conversations with her typically did not stray from whatever task was at hand. Specifically, she was the one to pass to him any information he might need in the course of his duties regarding his continual search for class-V forms of life, otherwise known as anything containing the Taurus meta-genome. Those conversations rarely were chatty; it seemed to be a sobering subject for her, he sensed.
The communications officer looked familiar, but his name escaped Klisiewicz at the moment, and the navigator, Lieutenant McCormack, well, he did recognize her, as she was one of his favorite objects of secret unrequited affection on the entire ship.
Turning back to the science console, the ensign noted the white blinking indicator and toggled the controls to transfer the sensor data to an eye-level display. Looking over the readings, he knit his brow before turning to Khatami, who already was regarding him expectantly.
"Commander," he said, "we're registering a new power reading from the surface."
"Location?" Khatami asked, spinning her chair to face him.
Klisiewicz keyed in a few commands, allowing the computer to correlate the sensor data. "It's about five kilometers northwest of the encampment and...about two kilometers beneath the planet's surface."
"Anything else?" Khatami asked.
"The energy signature is weak, but pretty distinctive, Commander," Klisiewicz replied as he entered new commands to the console, self-conscious of getting her more information as quickly as he was able. "It's definitely a geothermal source, and it's slowly building in temperature."
"Keep an eye on it, Ensign," Khatami said, her eyes turning to the main viewer, "Provide regular updates as appropriate, and relay those sensor readings to the survey teams on the surface."
"Aye, Commander," Klisiewicz said as he keyed the required commands to route the data. The swiftness of a starship's response to human command was something for which he was sure he would never lose a sense of marvel.
Then another alert indicator flashed on his console.
"Commander!" he called out to Khatami even as he bent over the hooded viewer once more. Reviewing the new stream of sensor telemetry being fed to his station, he said, "We're picking up a second power reading now."
"And?" Khatami asked.
"It's confirmed, sir. Same energy signature as before," he said, checking his calculations. "Bearing due south of the encampment this time, less than five kilometers out."
"Any ideas, Mr. Mog?" the first officer asked after a moment. "Could they be activating the artifact?"
"Well, we could ask," the engineer replied before turning back to his station.
"Mr. Estrada, hail Lieutenant Xiong at the encampment," Khatami said, "and let's see what's going on down there."
Activate the artifact? Can they do that?
Klisiewicz involuntarily rubbed his arm as he felt goose bumps rise beneath his sleeves. His thoughts turned to Ravanar IV and the destruction dealt to the research facility there by the Tholians, who apparently had taken issue with a Federation presence on that world. According to what he had learned from rumors and other scuttlebutt around the ship, Lieutenant Xiong, who had been there along with a landing party from the U.S.S. Enterprise investigating the aftermath of an earlier Tholian attack, had barely escaped with his life.
And Ravanar didn't even have an intact structure, he thought, but the Tholians still wanted us to leave it the hell alone. Could the same thing happen here -- or something worse? As he turned his attention back to the incoming stream of data from the planet's two newly energized power sources, Klisiewicz could not help thinking that someone, somewhere, would learn what was happening on Erilon -- and not like it one bit.
Xiong jumped from the driver's seat of the encampment's all-terrain vehicle, his face chilled by icy wind as he made his way quickly to a black, manually operated hatch -- the only distinct feature on the snow-encrusted front of a temporary structure at the base of the artifact. He turned and squinted through the bright white of swirling snow to see his five passengers step out of the side hatch of the vehicle, which had been adapted for use on Erilon with rear treads and an assembly of shock-absorbing skis mounted in place of its front axle.
He waved them forward, unable to hear any crunching of their boots on the snowpack from the howling of the arctic wind. Xiong had not been on the planet long enough to get a feel for impending white-out conditions, but as he placed his gloved hands on the hatch's center wheel and strained to turn it, he had to wonder whether this was the start of some weather he did not want to witness firsthand. A form stepped alongside him to grip the wheel as well, and they both attempted to turn it again.
"The automatic locks keep freezing shut!" Xiong yelled over the wind to his helper, whom he now recognized as Captain Zhao. The two tugged to break the wheel loose of the outdoors' frozen grip, and after spinning it freely, Xiong pushed his weight against the door and opened it enough to admit them into the airlock.
Stepping back so the others could pass, Xiong clanged the hatch shut behind the last of them and started to twist the interior mate to the locking mechanism to seal it. Once the wind's whine was shut out, the room filled with the clatter of feet stamping against floor plates and hands slapping against parkas to loosen the ice crystals that had accumulated on their protective clothing just in the short amount of time they had stood outside. Xiong pushed back the fur-lined hood of his parka and moved to the opposite door.
"This one's a bit easier," he said, slipping his hand from a glove and keying a security code into a panel next to the door. As it slid open, a rush of warmer air greeted the new arrivals. They made their way briskly into a darkened, ebony-surfaced corridor, one with a graded slope that led under the planet's surface, with Xiong leading them toward a dim source of light and sound several hundred meters into the structure. Their footsteps rang crisply against the smooth floors and walls of the low-ceilinged corridor, and no one spoke as Zhao stepped up into the point position of the group a few strides before they entered the control room, a move that Xiong dismissed as being more out of habit than arrogance.
"Report," the captain snapped in a voice loud enough to capture the immediate attention of the three researchers in the room. Xiong saw Lieutenant Spencer, the young, blond-haired officer with whom he had worked most closely since his arrival, draw himself up from a crouch next to a power generator and approach the group.
"Uh...yes, sir," Spencer said hesitantly to Zhao before looking at Xiong. "Isn't this information...?"
Nodding as he slipped out of his parka, Xiong said, "Captain Zhao's presence is authorized, Spence. Just tell us what's going on."
Spencer spoke as he turned and walked deeper into the room, prompting Xiong and Zhao to keep up. "When I called you, we'd just picked up a power source activating below the surface a few kilometers from the artifact. We thought that was interesting enough to notify you. But now we have three of them."
Xiong felt his jaw go slack, and it required physical effort to keep his mouth from dropping open in surprise. "Three? Where?"
Spencer turned and pointed to the screen of a portable computer viewer propped up on a pitch-black console top in front of them. "One northwest of us and two others south. They're building in output, and we're detecting some deep melt -- there!" Spencer poked at the screen where a blinking amber dot indicated a fourth budding power level, this one situated northeast of the artifact and apparently equidistant from the others. "They jus...
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Top Customer Reviews
The authors have also done an outstanding job of evoking that early TOS era. Through the point of view of the large cast of characters, who represent many different but mostly familiar species, it's like stepping back in time when you read this book.
They've done an equally impressive job with the character development in this story, which gives us the first opportunity to get to know the crew of the U.S.S. Endeavor, one of the starships assigned to the station.
This second book is quite a bit longer than the first. The story offers plenty of surprises and leaves you anxious to find out where the story goes from here.
Station 47, also known as "Vanguard," occupies a region of space between two rather violent empires: the Klingons and the Tholians. The Starfleet presence in the Reach is ostensibly to facilitate colonization, but it also has a deeper purpose. Remnants of an ancient civilization have been found, including bits and pieces of a huge genetic construct that could be a weapon, or something even worse, and it must be kept secret from all outsiders until they know. This has already cost the Federation one starship, and it appears that another one may be doomed as well, when something on the planet Erilon awakens, and it's not happy. Could this entity also be responsible for the destruction of a Klingon world too? And how is it related to the meta-genome that Starfleet scientists are desperately trying to solve? Tensions are heightening between the Tholians and the Klingons, and even the Romulans are wondering what's going on in this region of space. Will the political situation explode before Starfleet can figure out what's going on? The conspiracy of silence is broadened as Commodore Reyes is once again forced to try to explain what happened to a ship without letting every conceivable cat out of the bag.
Summon the Thunder is an awesome book, suffering in comparison to Harbinger only in the pacing issues, and since that is the only real problem with the book, I'll get it out of the way quickly. The first third of the book explains a lot of stuff, with a lot of characterization and rearranging pieces for the rest of the story. A lot of the characterization is good stuff (I love the sequences between disgraced Federation reporter Tim Pennington and rogue trader Cervantes Quinn as they go off on their mission), but some of it just seemed a little too detailed and started to drag. There is one action sequence, incredibly told, and there is some plot movement, but it smacked more of setting the table than anything else. I read this book more slowly than many Trek books, and while part of it was the size (it's 135,000 words) part of it was the slow pace at the beginning.
Surprisingly, given my problems with the last Ward-Dilmore books I read (A Time to Sow and A Time to Harvest), this had nothing to do with continuity references. There is a fair share of them, and they do have to give some idea of what happened in Harbinger for those who missed it, but these references were extremely well done and didn't affect the pacing at all. In fact, I'd have to say this is the best written book by them that I've read (granted, I've only read three of them, and one by Ward himself). The plotting is dense but completely understandable, and a lot is happening, especially once you get to the half-way point. The action scenes are almost up to David Mack level, especially those in the claustrophobic setting down on the planet.
Exceptionally good are the characterizations. There are too many to go into, but I loved Quinn and Pennington (who also added some much-needed humour to the proceedings) the most. Quinn feels guilty for his part in Pennington's downfall (though not guilty enough to admit to it, of course), so he's taken him in. The dialogue between the two of them during their trip to their various destinations is a riot, creating a relationship that is two parts frustration and one part grudging respect between the two. I don't think they particularly like each other, but subsequent events bring them just that little bit closer, and the authors do a great job on them. While I can't really detail any of the others, I can definitely say that there is not one characterization misstep in the book. All of them are interesting and have their own quirks that make them human (rather than quirks that sound like they come out of a character profile).
Ward and Dilmore also do the plotting tap dance with precision. It must be hard in an open-ended series with an overarching plot to give the reader some sense of plot advancement without giving too much away too early. Summon the Thunder does that in spades, where we find out some tasty tidbits about the history of the Taurus Reach, the Federation makes some discoveries of its own, and some of the character subplots are brought forward too. Especially interesting is a revelation about the diplomat's assistant who is really a Klingon spy. We find out that she's much more than a spy, and the authors reveal this in a very low key way. I actually had to stop myself and ask "did we already know this?" Of course, we didn't, and I like the fact that attention wasn't drawn to it.
Summon the Thunder is a worthy sequel to Harbinger. A wonderfully told story that just whets your appetite for more of these vivid characters. Some claimed that the characters weren't that sympathetic in the first book. I think those who feel that way will be pleasantly surprised. Bring on Reap the Whirlwind!