Review of Star Trek: Vulcan’s Soul Book 3: Epiphany by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz

SFFaudio Review

Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul Book 3: EpiphanyStar Trek: Vulcan’s Soul Book 3: Epiphany
By Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz; Read by Richard Poe
10 CDs – 12 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9731419315176
Themes: / Science Fiction / Star Trek / Vulcans / Romulans /

For a long time, Star Trek on audio was limited to the excellent yet abridged productions published by Simon and Schuster Audio. The Simon and Schuster recordings are packed with music and sound effects, but Recorded Books has published this trilogy of unabridged Trek novels (this is the third) in their single narrator style.

Die-hard Trekkers will find the whole trilogy interesting, as it explains in detail the origins of the Remans, which were introduced in the film Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). It also tells the story of Spock and Saavik, a romance that has been explored in Star Trek novels, but not on the screen, though Captain Jean-Luc Picard mentions attending Spock’s marriage ceremony in the Next Generation episode, “Unification”. He doesn’t mention who Spock married in that episode, but Sherman and Shwartz included the ceremony in their previous novel (which is not part of this trilogy) entitled Vulcan’s Heart.

The trilogy as a whole follows two connected storylines; one from the distant past, and one in the “present”. In the past, the story follows the family of the Vulcan Karatek as they leave Vulcan and travel across the stars to find a new world to colonize. In the “present”, which is set after the Dominion War but before Star Trek: Nemesis, Spock diplomatically deals with the Watraii, a race with grievances against the Romulan Star Empire.

In this book, Karatek’s family and other Vulcan exiles are imprisoned on Remus, indentured to hard labor mining the various ores the inhabitants of Romulus need. The present thread finds the crew of the Enterprise-E fighting Commander Tomalak and the Romulans as they try to find the origins of the invading Watraii and their claims on an artifact that predates the Romulan sundering from Vulcan at the time of Surak.

Richard Poe once again does an excellent job, voicing the various characters of the story; not imitating the actors, but mimicking their speech patterns. He even voices the women well. This is an excellent series of books for those Trekkers who like reading about Star Trek history.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson and Scott A.

Review of Star Trek: Vulcan’s Soul Book II – Exiles

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Vulcan's Soul: ExilesStar Trek: Vulcan’s Soul Book II – Exiles
By Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz; Read by Richard Poe
9 CDs – 10.5 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1419315129
Themes: / Science Fiction / Star Trek / Vulcans / Romulans /

This is an excellent book. It is the second in a trilogy, the first one being Exodus and the next one being Epiphany. Recorded Books has published the first two in unabridged format, read by Star Trek actor Richard Poe (he played Gul Evek on TNG, DS9 & Voyager). I expect them to release the third when it is appears in print next year.

Exiles tells the story of the Vulcans who departed their planet because of an impending nuclear holocaust and traveled across space to find a new home on the planets of Romulus and Remus, two thousand years before the Dominion War and the Romulan struggle against the Watraii.

Intertwined with that story is the 24th century mission of the U.S.S. Alliance. Her hastily assembled task force includes Spock, Saavik, Scotty, and Data. In Exodus, the Romulan world was threatened by a race called the Watraii, and here our heroes attempt to infiltrate their homeworld to rescue a prisoner and a revered Romulan artifact. Not much is known about the Watraii, other than they claim owning the planets Romulus and Remus before the Exiles colonized them.

Richard Poe again does an excellent job narrating. He depicts the individual characters well, giving them emotion and even breathlessness to characters who are sick. Data and Spock are given their familiar speech cadences, and appropriate accents are given to Scotty and other characters. A first-rate Trek novel, very well written, and very well read.

Review of Star Trek: Vulcan’s Soul: Exodus by Sherman and Shwartz

Science Fiction Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Star Trek Vulcan's Soul: Exodus by Josepha Sherman and Susan ShwartzStar Trek: Vulcan’s Soul: Exodus
By Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz; Read by Richard Poe
6 Cassettes – 8.5 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 2005
ISBN: 141930920X
Themes: / Science Fiction / Star Trek / Vulcans /

I have read the previous works by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, titled Star Trek: Vulcan’s Forge and Star Trek: Vulcan’s Heart, and both were excellent. Star Trek: Vulcan’s Soul: Exodus is no different. All are excellent meditations on what it means to be Vulcan, and Exodus delves into the planet’s history, back to the time of Surak, the Vulcan who guided his race into suppressing their emotions and adhering to logic. The main focus of this novel is a group of Vulcans who are preparing to leave the planet. These people eventually become the Romulans, and their story will continue into the next books, titled Exiles and Epiphany. Plus, a story that takes place in the 24th Century after the Dominion War, where the Romulan homeworlds are threatened by the alien Watraii. Spock and his wife Saavik, as well as centenarian Admirals Uhura and Chekov, assemble a fleet of Federation, Klingon and
Romulan ships, against Starfleet orders, to deal with them. (I guess if McCoy can still be alive to take a tour of the Enterprise-D 100+ years after his first tour as Kirk’s chief medical officer, then I guess Uhura and Chekov can still be alive after the Dominion War.)

I also like the addition and update of another Original Series character, The Romulan Commander from “The Enterprise Incident”, and I’m pleased to see she’s finally been given a name: Charvonek.

The audiobook is read by Richard Poe(who played Gul Evek in several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager). You’d think that his deep, distinctive voice would make it hard to give voice to the women in his story, but he manages admirably. He also does well at giving emotion to the characters, applying just the right anger and sadness, and even adding breathlessness to fight scenes. I can’t wait to hear the next book.

Ed. – This audiobook is the first Unabridged Star Trek novel we’ve come across. Recorded Books has very recently published an Unabridged version of the second book in the series, Star Trek: Vulcan’s Soul: Exiles, also read by Richard Poe.

Review of Star Trek: Vulcan’s Soul by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz

Star Trek Audiobooks - Star Trek Vulcan's SoulStar Trek: Vulcan’s Soul Book I: Exodus
By Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz; Read by Boyd Gaines
3 Cassettes or 4 CD’s, 4 hours [ABRIDGED]
ISBN: 0743529995 (Cassette), 0743530004 (CD)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Published: 2004
Themes: / Star Trek / Vulcans / Aliens /

A disheartening thing about being a fan of Star Trek is that one of its most beloved characters, Spock, has been left with an unfinished story. The last time we saw him on the screen was during the two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode entitled Unification. That the ratings for that episode are among the best Star Trek has ever gotten demonstrates the fan’s desire to see more of Spock. Alas, the business world encroaches, and for whatever reason, Spock was left on Romulus, his fate uncertain.

Enter Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz. Their previous two Star Trek novels, Vulcan’s Forge and Vulcan’s Heart (both available on audio) were excellent science fiction, focusing on Spock in particular and Vulcan culture in general. Vulcan’s Soul Book 1: Exodus continues that story in the same manner, focusing both on the character of Spock and the Vulcan world during the time of Surak, the great Vulcan philosopher who championed logic over emotion, and to whom we were first introduced during the Original Series.

The story takes place one year after the Dominion War. A hostile and powerful race called the Watarii, claiming to have an ancient score to settle with the Romulans, invade Romulan space. Spock and his wife, Captain Saavik, swoop in to help, enlisting the assistance of old friends Admiral Uhura and Admiral Chekov. They work to unravel the mystery of the Watarii while doing their best to assist in defending against them. Frequent flashbacks tell the interwoven story of Surak’s effect on the planet Vulcan.

The story is fast paced and extremely well-read by Boyd Gaines. The sound effects and music typical of previous Star Trek audiobooks is also present, effectively used to establish setting and tone.

My only quibble with this one is that I hadn’t heard from Uhura and Chekov in so long that I had to seriously question whether or not they would be alive one year after the Dominion War. The answer is: apparently so. They’d be over 150 years old, but possibly still kicking. Uhura is mentioned in a previous novel (Catalyst of Sorrows) as being the “centenarian head of Starfleet Intelligence.” I’m certainly finding this kind of thing old. I assume Sherman and Shwartz have a valid reason for using these two particular characters, but I’m currently not sure why they would bring yet another couple of TOS characters into the TNG/DS9/VOY era rather than using some contemporary characters from other series. Perhaps the Enterprise-A encountered some kind of strange nebula which had a hypnotic effect that prevents these folks from retiring… Another story, perhaps.

Other than that annoyance, this was a very good Star Trek novel with lots of Vulcan mythos, lots of eyebrow-raising conundrum, and a fantastic battle scene.

Find more on Star Trek audiobooks here!

(I’d like to acknowledge the kind assistance of Scott Armstrong, who did some research for me for this review. Any mistakes, of course, are my own.)

Posted by Scott D. Danielson