Star Trek: Prometheus - In the Heart of Chaos (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Star Trek: Prometheus - In the Heart of Chaos (Credit: Big Finish)

Written By: Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg

Read by Alec Newman

Released by Big Finish December 2018

Star Trek Prometheus is an ultimately fruitless endeavour.  I felt the first book focused way too much time and attention in back references and a tedious amount of attention to details I felt were unimportant.  The second book won me over, it felt like it had a real story after all, and that the first books overlong set up and an endless parade of references and past characters were just a fluke. But here we are at the end...and a new parade of references and past characters get trotted out as well.  Any interesting story there was feels relegated to the last few chapters, giving us a decent conclusion, but not one worth wading through all the garbage to get to it.

When you spend an entire chapter devoted to the disgraced engineer from a first season episode of The Next Generation, and just when you can't be bored enough with that Wesley Crusher shows up out of thin air to once more play the role and savior of the day by providing the answers we need just in the nick of time...you know you've got major problems. It is distracting to get a recap of a random episode of TNG from 30 years ago.  It is distracting from the actual story of the book and feels like a lazy way to find an answer to a problem. 

This book meanders for far too long, with our main characters seemingly doing very little to affect the story for many chapters, and then the answer is suddenly dropped in their lap by a forgotten engineer and an ethereal Wesley Crusher.  It's weird.  You also get the Chief Engineer Jenna Kirk musing about her ancestor and how he would deal with these situations...and it just made me actually yell at an audiobook and say "give me a break and move on!"  There was no reason for this character to be related to James T. Kirk other than hoping we will applaud them for making pointless continuity connections.  

In the end, I think Prometheus needed to be cut down from three books to just one. They needed trimming, a LOT of trimming.  You could easily take the basic set up in the first book, make it into a prologue and a couple of chapters, then use the bulk of the second book's development, and then cut out all the wasted time and fat in this final book and conclude it.  It didn't need to drag on and on for three full novels when they clearly had a story for one.

I was initially excited by the idea of Big Finish tackling some Star Trek.  But I'm not sure that it works.  Big Finish is best when they have a property being written and produced by big fans of said property. Their Doctor who work is amazing because the company was literally founded with the goal of getting that license.  I think this was less of a goal and more of happenstance.  They managed to get the license to produce basic audiobooks of a trilogy of Trek books, which were originally written in German by a European Publisher.  These books seem like a bit of an oddity in Trek novels.  Their rights were held by someone other than the usual US Publisher.  And the fact that the audiobooks feature the occasional weird pronunciations of standard Trek iconography, just makes me think the franchise doesn't quite fit into Big Finish's wheelhouse. 

While the final chapters give a decent wrap up to the trilogy, the rest of the book just feels like it is wasting time to get to those final chapters. I can't really recommend this book or this series in the end.





Star Trek Prometheus - The Root of All Rage (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 19 August 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Star Trek Prometheus - 2: The Root Of All Rage (Credit: Big Finish)

Written By: Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg

Read by Alec Newman

Released by Big Finish July 2018

I had been pretty disappointed in the first Star Trek Prometheus audiobook, Fire With Fire.  It felt like a lot of wasted time before finally starting to get into an interesting story and mystery...and then it just ends and leaves you waiting for the next book.  So I went into The Root of All Rage expecting it to be more continuity and back references, and a real lack of anything fresh...but luckily, that nugget of mystery and story prevailed, and this second entry in the Prometheus tale builds wonderfully, and actually becomes a fresh new story.  And though it still doesn't have a complete ending, the cliffhanging tease in this story is more satisfying than the end of the first book had been.

While the references and returning characters from Trek lore aren't completely missing, they aren't as overwhelming as they had been in that first book.  Sure, Lwaxana Troi and Picard make an appearance in this one, and there are references to past episodes and characters, but the actual story of the Prometheus and the new characters are all expanded on in far greater detail.  The mystery of what is going on in this region of space and why the once peaceful race has turned to fanatical terrorism begins to unravel...and I found myself far more engrossed in the story this time.

I will admit I was a tad disappointed that the big reveal that the being that may be causing all the havoc might be a reference to a single episode of the Original Series...but they left it open enough and added a more interesting major detail that left me quite interested to see it all end.

This second book turned me around on the series.  The first book spent too much time showing off it's Trek history knowledge, but this one spends that same time building it's own characters and story.  Instead of referencing other Trek works, it adds to the vast Trek lore.  And that is a good thing.There are still some issues. I still don't think this series is accessible to newcomers.  If they could skip all the reference garbage from the first book and pair it down, then launch into the story of the second book, it might actually work as a fun new jumping on point.

Beyond that there is still the issue of Star Trek phrases being mispronounced, which is not terrible, but it does leave the audiobook feeling like slightly less Big Finish love was poured into it than some of their other ranges.  Still…story-wise this is a vast improvement on the first book, and I am actually quite interested to hear the conclusion in December.  It may not be great for newcomers, and big Trek fans may be annoyed with some of the mangled Trek words, but there is a good story at the heart of this book. 





Star Trek Prometheus - Fire With Fire (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 14 July 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Star Trek Prometheus (Credit: Big Finish)

Written By: Bernd Perplies & Christian Humberg

Read by Alec Newman

Released by Big Finish July 2018

Continuity is a tricky mistress.  On the one hand, I am a fan of sprawling continuities with lots of nooks and crannies to explore, and it is fun when those dots connect in fun and creative ways.  My fandom of both Doctor Who and Star Trek of evidence of this.  On the other hand, when writers get bogged down in the continuity of a franchise, it can become tedious really quick.  And there lies the major flaw of Star Trek Prometheus

The first half of this book is nothing but nods to continuity, what little plot there is in the first half is essentially the same bits of information being repeated over and over.  There was an attack, members of one race seem to be taking credit for the act, but they don't have the tech to pull it off.  It could be some other group but there is no evidence to suggest that so far.  I think that cycle of information repeated itself for about 4 chapters.  Just the same info being regurgitated to a different character. 

But in those early chapters that isn't what is important.  What is important is references!  We get a ton in the first half, and it becomes tiresome pretty quick. The novel isn't particularly interested in introducing us to the cast of characters on the Prometheus, and even when they do we have a Chief Engineer named Kirk.  And she is Captain Kirk's Grand Niece.  Give me a break.  But don't worry, he comes Alexander Rhozhenko! Miles O’Brien and Nog! And Spock for no real reason!  And Ezri Dax is a Captain.  Why does Trek's spinoff material require that all main cast members eventually be promoted to Captain or Admiral or beyond?  Ezri Dax was a Counselor with no real ambition for command.  And since they make mention that the fleet is depleted because of multiple recent wars and conflicts...why would all these characters end up being Captains?  There can't be enough ships!

While Deep Space 9 is quite probably my favorite Trek series, I do wish that Trek didn't keep resorting to War arcs in all of it's media.  Exploring a longterm arc about War is what set DS9 apart.  But now it just seems like all anyone is interested in doing with Trek.  It seems that the books have been doing that for some time, and even the latest Trek TV series, Discovery, took a crack at it.  I miss sci-fi concepts and exploration in Trek!

At any rate, there is actually an interesting story hidden underneath all the continuity porn.  There was a terrorist attack, and the book works a bit like a mystery about unravelling who was behind it all. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t actually solve it.  The novel itself ends abruptly, then leads into an epilogue which only serves as set up for the second book.  It is wholly unsatisfying, and it left me rather annoyed, especially as the book had turned a corner for me and stopped being so full of itself about celebrating the minutiae of the continuity, but actually about something deeper.  And then the book just ends with "buy another one to find out how this ends!"

I do wonder what the endgame is for Big Finish.  Do they plan to continue making more Trek stuff?  Is this a dry run to prove they can successfully handle the franchise?  As the Prometheus books were originally published in Germany, and were original to a specific company...did they only get the rights to do these three novels and that is it? As it is this isn't a particularly launching point for them.  It has little crossover appeal, and only really can satisfy mega-Trekkies who love continuity and references. And not just a ton of references to the old shows and movies, but this requires a ton of homework of the novel universe as well. It is not an easy jump on point for newcomers, and if Big Finish has any plans to continue with Trek, using this to show they can sell the property has a major roadblock.  And while their Doctor Who knowledge is top notch...as a fan there were nerdy nit-picky things that were mispronounced here and there, and it took down there Trek-cred, making one wonder if they should really take on this property.  I think they really could do some cool stuff, but nothing on par with Doctor Who.  They just couldn't wrangle the casts in the same way. 

This is a hard one to recommend.  Once it gets past the references to all sorts of Trek lore, it has the makings of a decent mystery story that is contemporary and intriguing...but it doesn't have an ending, and it doesn't stand on it's own in any way.  It requires tons of homework just to fully grasp what has been going in the Federation since Deep Space 9 and Voyager went off the air...and you clearly need the follow-up books to even get the full picture of what the Prometheus is about.