Behind the Lines: David Mack: Countdown of Awesome!

Hello again readers and welcome back to Behind the Lines!

In my first review I left you with a final message-Get ready for October!  Get ready because David Mack is about to release his new trilogy, and if you know anything about David Mack you, like me, are already counting the days to COLD EQUATIONS!

Well… erm, the thing is Dec, I actually don’t know anything about this Mack chappy…so why should I care?

What a horrifying revelation dear readers! For shame! Still, instead of embracing my geek rage and beating you all round the head with my Destiny Omnibus I will do as I promised back in my introduction to this blog, and show you exactly what you’ve been missing out on. Show you why when you hear David Mack is writing a trilogy, any true Trek Lit fan sits up and pays attention!

So here is my ‘Countdown of Awesome’ to Cold Equations. Opening Memory Omega up for a rundown of some of my favourite Mack contributions to the Star Trek and the reason he is revered by the fans from here to galactic barrier. Why he has become the legend of Star Trek Lit, and why his new release is destined to be a must read…

David Mack: Countdown of Awesome!

8. Starship Down

(DS9 episode with John J. Ordover, 1995)

Mack’s first contribution to the Trek universe was this season 4 ‘bottle’ episode of my personal favourite series Deep Space Nine. The crew of the Defiant fight a blind and deadly battle of cat and mouse with the Jem Hadar, deep in the depths of a violent gas giant.

With classic scheming from Quark as he cons Dominion bitches and Tulaberry kings, the Karemma, a lesson in command for Worf from everyone’s favourite Trek everyman ‘the CHIEF!’ Miles O’Brian, and an emotional story between Kira and Sisko; this episode was a promising start!

7. It’s Only a Paper Moon

(DS9 episode with John Ordover, 1998)

In his second showing for DS9, Mack and his writing partner step it up in a hundred ways to give us one of the richest, poignant and heart-warming stories of the Dominion War.

Returning to the station for the first time since losing his leg in a fire fight with the Jem Hadar, Nog finds he cannot face returning to his duty and retreats into Vic Fontaine’s holographic world of 1960’s Las Vegas, in an attempt to hide from a war that he’s too traumatised and frightened to face again.

A beautiful tale that looked beyond the glory and action of the Dominion war, giving us a real sense of the tragedy of war and the burden upon the soldiers called to fight it.  Highlighting the struggle of our veterans and war wounded, it is as relevant today as it was when it aired and ‘It’s Only a Paper Moon’ remains for me a stand out episode of the final season.

6. Divided We Fall

 (DS9 comic, with John Ordover, 2001)

If there’s anything that has satisfied the geek in me since childhood, it’s a good old fashioned comic book, and once again Mack doesn’t disappoint! Sticking with his old writing partner, Mack and Ordover combine the crews of DS9 and The Next Generation for this four part story, set shortly after the TV series and S.D Perry’s Avatar.

Satisfying on a dozen levels through wicked art and epic story telling Mack focuses on a new Trill story, featuring  some classic characters ‘eating for two’ such as Crusher wooing  Ambassador Odan, the only lady for Jadzia; Dr Lenara Kahn, and even the devious symbiont snatcher Verad!

Better artwork than Trek comics usually get and even more a blistering story that never loses pace…are we starting to get the idea? YES?

Calm yourself my friend; you haven’t even heard half of it yet…

5. Wildfire, Book 1 & Book 2

(SCE eBooks, 2003)

His first solo project and the first real example of Mack stepping in and completely changing the game, Wildfire was, in my opinion, the first truly EPIC story of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers and set the bar for Trek’s first ebook series higher than it had ever been before.

With echoes of ‘Starship Down’ the motley crew of the U.S.S Da Vinci must brave another vicious gas giant to salvage the U.S.S Orion and its wildfire device-a protomatter warhead capable of igniting the gas clouds into a brand new sun!

This one had me gripped from page one and when it was over I instantly wanted to read it again. An almost blockbuster style edge of your seat adventure, with relentless action, gifted drama, Kirk era heroism and romantic tragedy that kicked the living crap out of every book that had come before in the series. Mack destroyed expectations and left S.C.E fans cheering, weeping and ravenous for more!

4. Tales of the Dominion War: “Twilight’s Wrath” (short story, 2004)

With twelve brilliant short stories, Tales of the Dominion War is quite easily the best such collection there has ever been.

The quality of writing by the whopping fifteen writers that was as astonishing as it was compelling, and I really cannot remember a bad one among them!

His contribution? An all-out Armageddon of a war story that features Shinzon (Tom Hardy’s creepy clone and master-of-bastardry from Star Trek Nemesis) and reveals how the future Praetor  obtained the Thalaron weapons he used to take over the Romulan Senate and the flying Scimitar death bird our beloved Data sacrificed himself to stop.

Bloody, muddy and furious! Violently clever and the prefect prologue to Nemesis…if only they’d let him write the movie!

3. A Time to Kill/Heal

(TNG novels, 2004)

On the topic of Nemesis prologues 2004 brought us the A time to… series. A nine book saga that told the story of the year leading up to the last TNG movie and the disbanding of the classic TNG crew.

In ‘A Time to Kill’ Mack destroys it with another ‘Blockbuster’ style turnout. Serving up a Gadhafi /Saddam style dictator begging war with the Klingons and in bed with a corrupt Federation Presidency, Mack throws up political intrigue, espionage, and a brilliant commando style mission that takes us across the seas, jungles, arctic and mountains of Tezwa –Mack’s Afghanistan of the future.

His occupation of Tezwa in A Time to Heal was so poignant and relevant to the conflict in the middle east of the time was so compelling and realistic I once again found it incredible the man has no personal history in the forces.

Gems in a series that is easily the finest TNG collection to date!

2. The Sorrows of Empire

(Short story 2007, novel 2010)

If there is one thing ST books do well it’s fill in the many gaps left by the television series, and the Sorrow of Empire is one of the finest ‘lost era’ style stories there is.

Between leaving mirror universe in TOS and returning to it in DS9, we were told that Kirk’s first visit had such a profound impact on the alternate Spock that it changed his point of view forever. Alone, Mirror Spock began a crusade to bring peace and a new way to the evil Terran Empire, eventually rising to leader and bringing about harmony and Federation style ethics to his people. But as the Mirror Universe is no place for such things, its end result was little more than a weakened Terran Empire that was consequently left it unable to defend itself from the Klingon/Cardassian Alliance.

This book tells that story and instead of painting the picture of one man’s greatest mistake, Mack shows us that there was so much more behind Spock’s motives in this truly fantastic story that gave the Mirror Universe endless more depth and reality for it.

Originally published as a short story in the collection Glass Empires, fan reaction was so amazing it was developed into a full novel and I loved every single page of it.

One to certainly grow a goatee for!

1. Star Trek Destiny

(Trilogy, 2008)

Perhaps the single greatest trilogy Trek lit has seen to date, Destiny involved almost every crew of the Star Trek Universe to tell the story of the Federations greatest and indeed final battle with everyone’s favourite cyber zombies, the Borg.

An absolute Armageddon that consumed the Alpha Quadrant killing over sixty billion and wiping out huge areas of Trek real-estate, this book has easily been the defining moment in Mack’s career so far. Destiny explained the origins of the Borg in a way that actually felt right and in a way no attempt has before (there’s another that involves V’Ger from Star Trek the Motion Picture, but like everything to do with that movie it’s better to pretend it never happened) and giving us a final battle with the Collective that no one could forget.

A story that weaves across thousands of years alongside our heroes the crews of the Enterprise E, Titan, Aventine and even the NX-02 Columbia, Destiny is another example of Mack’s Blockbuster style and is probably one of the most loved and adored Trek series throughout the world over. It shook up the entire book community, readers, writers and editors all! Forcing the Star Trek books to explore new more intense stories of greater scope and depth.

Seriously, with this one Mack truly made himself a legend!

A absolute MUST read for any Star trek fan and if you haven’t already, get on it. You’re only missing out on something wonderful.

It’s also worth noting Star Trek Online fans can thank Mack for introducing the awesome Vesta Class that they will be able to play in game come November…

Om nom nom….

So there you have it! My David Mack: Countdown of Awesome. If you don’t have a good reason to go out and get Cold Equations now, I seriously have to wonder if you’re mentally well…and you should probably seek help.

For the rest of us who aren’t nipping off down to Sickbay to have our heads looked at, Cold Equations releases on October 30th with Book One: Persistence of Memory and you can be sure we’ll be talking about it in the next Behind the Lines!

So what are you waiting for people? Go pre-order now! It’s bound to be one of the best ideas you’ve ever had!

Until next time…

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