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July 22 2024


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Star Trek S.C.E.: Wildfire

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at November 27, 2004 - 7:25 PM GMT

Title: Star Trek: S.C.E.: Book Six, Wildfire
Authors: Keith R.A. DeCandido, David Mack, and J. Steven York and Christina F. York
Release Date: November 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-7434-9661-2

When Pocket Books launched their Star Trek eBook line in 2000 with the groundbreaking Starfleet Corps of Engineers series, a lot of skeptics, myself included, did not hold out much hope that a series of stories featuring a bunch of engineers could be a success. After all, how interesting could it be to read about a bunch of characters we really had no reason to care about, who are serving on a type of ship we'd never heard of before and run around fixing things? Happily, I was soon proven oh so very wrong.

As this series has developed, the Starfleet Corps of Engineers has not only established itself as a success, but over the past four years the continuing monthly installments have proven to be some of the most diverse, innovative and exciting storytelling set within the ever expanding Star Trek universe. (As of this month the series is up to #46). The success of those monthly installments has led to their being reissued in paperback compilations. The latest of those collections, Wildfire, is the sixth paperback collection of this best-selling and extremely entertaining series collecting together three titles previously published as eBooks #20 through 24; "Enigma Ship", "War Stories" and "Wildfire". If you have not yet tried the S.C.E. books Wildfire would be an excellent introduction.

Originally published in 2002 "Enigma Ship", by the husband and wife writing team of J. Steven York and Christina F. York, is a search and rescue mission with a twist. Assigned to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the USS Lincoln, the da Vinci's crew discovers that the Lincoln is trapped within a huge holographic vessel. The Quanta, the aliens who control the ship, are telepathic and have the ability to sense what a person would expect, or want, to see and to recreate that environment so perfectly that it is almost impossible to tell what is real and what is not. It takes the combined ingenuity of the entire crew; with a bit of help from Reginald Barclay, to affect a rescue that unexpectedly liberates more than just the ensnared Starfleet personnel. This fun, lighthearted story provides a well-balanced narrative that never sacrifices the characterizations for the action. The story unfolds tightly and quickly builds to a satisfying climax and an audacious conclusion.

"War Stories" was originally told in two-parts but is more effective when presented as one longer story as it is in Wildfire. Written by Keith R.A. DeCandido, who also edits the S.C.E. series, "War Stories" can be appreciated in more than one way because it provides the reader the opportunity to get to know some of the members of the da Vinci's crew a bit better by taking a look at their experiences during the Dominion War. At the same time it imparts four distinct tales that dramatize the pressures of the war in an effective and compelling way. In an effort to better understand why the crew of the USS da Vinci has defeated him in the past, their old foe Androssi Overseer Biron manages to obtain log entries of S.C.E. commander Sonya Gomez, Dr. Elizabeth Lense, cryptographer Bart Faulwell and engineer Fabian Stevens. The action scenes in "War Stories" realistically convey the horror and anxiety of battle while at the same time provide significant insight into the personalities of some of the main characters.

Which bring us to the tale that has gained well-deserved accolades since being first published in early 2003 and after which this compilation takes its name, "Wildfire" written by David Mack. Like "War Stories", "Wildfire" was told in two parts but for this collection is presented as one novel. "Wildfire" is plain and simply exceptional in every way and one of the most emotionally moving pieces of Science Fiction you could ever hope to read.

What starts out as a salvage mission when the crew of the da Vinci attempts to retrieve the experimental Wildfire devise from the atmosphere of the gas giant Galvan VI becomes a riveting tale of heroism and sacrifice unlike any other Star Trek story you have ever read. As the stunning plot unfolds before the reader, the tension slowly builds until the story begins generating palpable terror and heart pounding fear. David Mack exhibits superior skill in drawing the reader into the story. The poignancy of the actions of the crew is portrayed in an extremely vivid and sensitive manner. One of the things I enjoyed most about "Wildfire" was Mack's choice to allow the reader to experience the influence of the tragic events through the eyes of several of the characters, each seeing the horror of what they are living through in a different way. This is a story you'll never forget or regret reading.

One of the reasons this series holds your interest over the long term is the variety it provides and three stories told in Wildfire do a good job of showcasing that multiplicity. The various storytelling styles of the authors who contribute to S.C.E. allows the series to exhibit different qualities than what most of us have come to expect when we pick up a Star Trek novel. As you read you'll get to know the crew of the USS da Vinci, a group of diverse characters you can't help but like and who quickly feel like old friends you want to keep revisiting.

Wildfire is Star Trek storytelling at its finest; bold, inventive and thought provoking.

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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.

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