Star Trek: Review: Vanguard 6: Declassified

by Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, Marco Palmieri, and David Mack

Pocket Books, out now

Four tales that help to set the scene for the Vanguard finale novels…

Those who have read my reviews of the Vanguard series over the years will know that I have regarded it as one of the treats of the Star Trek novel universe, taking the situations that we all know so well, and giving them a sharp twist. It’s been described as Star Trek for cable, and there’s a lot of truth to that: the characters are permitted the shades of grey that Gene Roddenberry wouldn’t allow in the TV series that he controlled, and their reactions to situations are more realistic than sometimes can come across in episodes – and books – that are more tightly controlled.

Although David Mack’s is the only story that really moves the ongoing plotline forward – and you definitely need to read that before continuing with Dayton Ward’s next novel in the series – all of these stories flesh out the characters in important ways.

Ward’s opening novella takes us back to the dawn of Operation Vanguard, filling in some of the motives of the lead characters. Kevin Dilmore’s first solo Vanguard outing focuses on journalist Tim Pennington who has to make some tough choices. Editor Marco Palmieri’s debut story for the saga takes us even further back to a crisis facing Diego Reyes, while Mack shifts the entire story up a gear with a fateful mission for Cervantes Quinn and Bridy Mac.

Each resonates for a long time after reading, with the various writers’ styles different enough to be noticeable, yet not jarring with each other, as happens far too often in anthologies, and a serious look at the themes of betrayal, trust and exploration that thread through the entire series.

Verdict: A change in pace that allows a breather before all hell lets loose.  7/10

Paul Simpson

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