Review: "Star Trek: Summon the Thunder" by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore

Vanguard: Summon the ThunderWhen you step back and think ponder that the original Star Trek will soon celebrate 40 years on television, the mind boggles.

Even more mind-boggling is the fact that Pocket Books has been producing bestselling, original Star Trek novels for twenty plus years now and that the Star Trek publishing empire shows no signs of stopping any time soon.

What began as a series of books that were a nice way to recapture the essence of an episode of Star Trek have, in recent years, expanded beyond their original premise. Instead of a Trek crew just encountering an anomaly or saving a planet or the universe from certain destruction, the Star Trek novels of the past decade have slowly but assuredly began to tie together pieces of continuity inter- and intra-Trek series and carved out their own niche in the Star Trek universe.

It all began with the granddaddy of them all, Peter David's superlative New Frontier series and has continued to expand with the continuation of the DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise sagas as well as exploring unique areas of the Star Trek universe like the Star Fleet Corp of Engineers or Riker's taking command of his own starship in the Titan series.

Add to this on-going exploration of the Trek universe, Pocket's newest spin-off series, Star Trek: Vanguard.

In many ways, Vanguard is DS9 for the classic Trek era. Instead of exploring the universe on a starship, the main action takes place in and around a confined region of space. In this case, it's Starbase 47 at the edge of the Taurus Reach. In the first Vanguard novel, Harbinger, we met the characters and established the mystery of the Taurus Reach. Now a year later, popular Star Trek writing team Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore take us back to Vanguard in Summon the Thunder, expanding the mystery, exploring previously established characters and introducing new ones and bringing new elements into play like the ever-popular Romulans.

Admittedly I didn't care much for Harbinger. Beyond the revelation of the meta-genome as the central mystery arc to the story, there was little else new or groundbreaking about the book. The characters were clichéd and the conflicts a bit trite. But being a faithful fan and being intrigued enough by the ongoing mystery, I decided to give the series another shot with the second book.

And it paid off. Summon the Thunder is the start of Pocket's campaign to celebrate 40 years of Star Trek. And it's a solid one.

This time, the universe expands beyond the station crew and civilians. We get to go out and explore the Taurus region a bit more. There are at least three plot threads going at all times in the book and to the authors' credit none of them get short-changed or feel neglected. Watching the politics of the region unfold is fascinating and including the Romulans along with the Tholians and Klingons in the story is a nice touch.

The book is longer than your average Trek novel—weighing in at just over 400 pages. Ward and Dilmore take full advantage of this added page count to deliver a great story. They nicely bring readers back up to speed on what's gone on before without having to do info-dumps of information. However, new readers may be advised to pick up Harbinger before Summon the Thunder.

If Summon the Thunder is any indication of the quality we can expect from the Trek fiction line in the next few months, all Trek fans are in for a real treat as we celebrate 40 years of our favorite show.

Summon the Thunder by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore
Published by: Star Trek (2006)
ISBN: 1416524002