Dayton Ward - Shastrix Books

Dayton Ward

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Dayton Ward

23rd June 2019

The latest Star Trek: The Next Generation continuation novel successfully balances two plots - one covering the ongoing events from previous novels that have rocked the Federation and a second being a stand-alone mission that the Enterprise is on.

I really enjoyed both aspects of the story. I’m a big fan of the Star Trek novels that have dealt with Federation politics, and spent time with the various presidents, and so happy to see some more of this. Ward has also crafted a lovely stand-alone story that feels like an episode of the television series, but uses the opportunity of a novel to tell a story that wouldn’t have been possible with the television technology of the 80s and 90s.

The grasp of the characters is excellent, both for those that we’ve known for decades and the newer characters who have been introduced in the novels and who get to play a large part here. They now feel as much of the family as Picard and Worf.

A great continuation novel - but probably one that requires a decent knowledge of the novels that have proceeded it going quite far back. There’s at least one more on the way for this TNG universe, and I’ll be sad if that’s the end - because the existence of a new Picard TV series may mean that this version of the Trek future is overwritten, and it’s been a fun journey.

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Drastic Measures

Drastic Measures

Dayton Ward

25th March 2018

The second novel based on the new Star Trek television series, Discovery, is set some ten years before the series and gives an insight into the backstory of two of the secondary character - Philippa Georgiou and Gabriel Lorca. Serving in Starfleet as Commander and Lt. Commander respectively, the two officers’ paths cross when a (later infamous) famine breaks out on a distant colony world after crops are infected by a deadly fungus.

I think this is a really good story, better than the previous novel, using these side characters really well to tell a tale that provides extra context, but not interfere with the direction that the television series is taking. It also of course provides an opportunity to tie elements of Discovery in with events mentioned in other series.

It’s hard to say a lot about the plot itself without dropping in spoilers for this novel or the first season of the television series (the book is intended to be read after season one, I think, through after episode 12 should be fine). My memory of some of the elements referenced was a little rusty, which I think helped build some tension as I couldn’t remember what had been established in canon, though also distracted as there were elements I had mis-remembered.

A good novel to tide me over until there’s some more Discovery on TV.

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Hearts and Minds

Hearts and Minds

Dayton Ward

19th July 2017

A new entry in the Next Generation continuation series, this follows a long line of novels taking the story of the Enterprise and her crew forward several years from the last time we saw them on screen. Despite that, this does serve as a pretty stand-alone story in the classic style.

The Enterprise is exploring and comes across a planet that nobody’s made contact with before, but then strange orders arrive from Starfleet Command, and Picard is left to investigate without really understanding.

It’s a great mystery thriller, with a new premise that harkens back to some of the classic tropes of the series. It’s also the third entry in the author’s pseudo-trilogy featuring callbacks to the 20th & 21st Centuries - though having not read the first two (they are Original Series novels which I generally don’t read) I can’t comment on how it fits into that.

An enjoyable adventure, and one that mostly stands alone. But if you are reading everything, I’d recommend this is read after David Mack’s ‘Control’, as there are some references.

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Headlong Flight

Headlong Flight

Dayton Ward

18th March 2017

After the second half of 2016 focussed on blockbuster trilogies to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, it was nice to get back to a simple, stand-alone adventure for the crew of the Enterprise. Or not that simple in-fact, because in this novel (as the cover strongly implies) there are two Enterprises.

This book is very much a stand-alone, and it felt a bit weird returning to that headspace after such grand adventures. I kept expecting something earth-shattering to occur to change the direction of the whole series, and felt a little bit let down by the story that perhaps didn’t have quite that resonance.

On the other hand, being a stand-alone meant that Ward was able to do some fascinating things with the characters, and show us some of the things that might have happened on the Enterprise-D. It was good to spend some time with some other familiar characters and to see the effect that the two crews had on each other.

Overall, this story read like a good episode of the TV series. And what more can you ask. It’s was contained, entertaining, and showed some interesting variety. A happy diversion to read.

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Purgatory's Key

Purgatory's Key

Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore

8th October 2016

The third and final part of Star Trek's fiftieth anniversary celebratory trilogy follows Kirk and his crew, and selected special guests, as they attempt to tie up the many problems that the last two books have raised.

Ultimately I suppose that is where this story suffers - it doesn't really have the chance to set up its own internal plot, but instead is left to put the toys back away. While this does lead to some interesting quite science fictiony concepts that get explored, it also drives a secondary plot which seems bolted on and doesn't seem to add much other than to delay the conclusion of the story. I also felt that some of the detail went over my head - whether because I missed something key or something key was missing - which meant that although I got the ending it wasn't entirely clear how or why we had got there.

The characters didn't all feel quite as fleshed out as in the previous stories, and I didn't find them as engaging, particularly the special guests. It also felt in places like this novel had been written without an understanding of what was happening in the others, as several scenes have characters reflecting on having not done something before that they had only just done in the previous book.

Overall it did well at wrapping things up, but I don't think it was as strong as the other novels. Admittedly, I'm not really an Original Series fan and so might not be the target audience, but it hasn't done anything to make we want to pick up anything else from this era in the near future.

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Armageddon's Arrow

Armageddon's Arrow

Dayton Ward

20th June 2015

The Enterprise E returns to regular missions after the novel continuity's recent upsets, and this does feel a lot like some of the older novels - much like an episode of the series rather than part of the ongoing story, and that's really great.

While investigating a potential first contact, the Enterprise comes across a drifting spaceship with a mysterious provenance, and the crew have to deal with the repercussions of this discovery on the local planets.

It's great to spend some time exploring something new, and Ward has created a fascinating scenario that allows him to plant a number of references to various of the TV series, follow up on a few of the new and old characters, and provides some real tension and intrigue.

As much as I love the ongoing arcs that flow through these books, it is nice to have one that's mostly stand-alone, and I'm glad that Ward had the chance to deliver this one. It's good to see one of my favourite crews back on the road again and I enjoyed travelling with them.

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Peaceable Kingdoms

Peaceable Kingdoms

Dayton Ward

18th January 2014

The final book of The Fall - the 'event' mini-series that's rounded off the 2013 catalogue of Star Trek continuation novels - wraps up everything that's been building over the past few novels. The book follows two of the regulars in particular: Doctor Crusher as she's sent undercover to meet a Cardassian under mysterious circumstances, and Captain Picard as he's left on the Enterprise.

As a single story, it felt surprisingly small compared to the scale of the previous books in the series. The narrow focus on Crusher was interesting as she's an underserved character, but I missed some of the other characters and was expecting more of an ensemble piece to round out the series.

The author uses a lot of flashback to fill in what happened in previous novels, and to add backstory that we've not been aware of so far, and throughout the novel this feels very awkwardly presented and disrupts the flow of the narrative.

The political thriller feel of previous novels in the series lent a lot of depth and this felt more like a military thriller - you knew these things were happening elsewhere but it felt like they were unimportant and secondary. I understand that the publisher's plans for the future of the series are to depart from the more connected political universe of recent years' Star Trek novels, and I for one will be disappointed if this is the case.

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