Reviews

Links to and quotes from reviews of my work by others.

In what is generally a favorable write-up of Star Trek: Seekers #1 – Second Nature, reviewer Steve Donoghue of Open Letters Monthly makes an observation I find troubling:

“In this first volume in the Star Trek Seekers series, Second Nature, Captain Terrell heads a somewhat predictably multi-racial crew — there’s a Vulcan, a Trill, an Arkenite, a Denobulan, etc. — and, unfortunately, Mack tends to lean on these race-implications just as so many Star Trek fiction writers have done before him. (It lends itself to an egregious laziness that would be condemned as simple racism if it were being applied to people from Lithuania instead of Alpha Centauri; countless times, Mack designates these characters by their races – “the Vulcan” this, or “the Trill” that).”

seekers1Considering how eagerly I and other Star Trek authors of recent years have strived to create a more inclusive portrait of humanity and of diverse ideologies and lifestyles in the novels, this note of his gave me great pause.

Have we been guilty of perpetrating a “lazy” and “casual” form of racism by using species identifiers in our prose? I know that I and some other authors do it to avoid pronoun confusion in scenes where several characters are of the same sex, and to avoid resorting to physical attributes (“the blonde,” “the tall man,” etc), or overusing the proper names to the point of distraction.

But now I’m curious. Does Mr. Donoghue have a point? Are writers of speculative fiction (including but not limited to Star Trek) committing a sin against the inclusive philosophy many of us consider important by using species identification as a form of literary short-hand? Or is this reviewer overreacting to an innocuous trope of the speculative fiction genre?

I’m not looking to pick a fight or incite people to pile onto Mr. Donoghue. This is a serious inquiry: How can we improve this aspect of SF and Star Trek fiction without creating clunky prose problems in the process? Or is this not even really a problem at all?

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silentweapons_coverAnother month brings another terrific critical discussion of my work over at the trekmate.org.uk site’s Ten Forward Book Club. This month, regular book club host Sina is joined by Delta Quadrant Podcast host Melissa to review and talk about Silent Weapons, the second book in my recent Cold Equations trilogy.

Once again, it’s an in-depth and very astute analysis of what does and doesn’t work in the novel. As with their review of The Persistence of Memory, it’s interesting to see how Melissa reacts to many of the book’s elements, as she has not read much of recent Star Trek fiction. The contrast of her viewpoint with Sina’s is especially interesting.

Give it a listen, leave them some comments on their Forum, and tell them Mack sent ya.

 

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destiny_omniThough it has been several months since the publication of my Star Trek: The Next Generation trilogy Cold Equations (September–December 2012) and will be months until my next novel hits shelves (Star Trek: The Fall, Book III — A Ceremony of Losses, in November 2013), a spate of new reviews of my work have hit the Internet this week.

Over at the United Federation of Charles on blogspot.com, reviewer Charles Phipps shares his in-depth reactions to all three volumes of the Star Trek Destiny trilogy. I’ve been pleased to see how thoroughly he enjoyed the trilogy, and that many of his favorite parts as a reader were my favorites as the author.

A couple of great excerpts. First, from his review of Gods of Night:

“David Mack does a wonderful job with twists in this plot. When there’s conflict with Erika Hernandez and her crew about the new aliens, I was sympathetic to both sides. However, I squarely came down on the side of those who wanted to escape the Caeliar’s planet at all costs–and against those who disagreed. Seeing how this situation turned out was one of the few times I was genuinely stunned as a reader.”

And this snippet is from his review of Mere Mortals:

“Erika Hernandez is a complicated character as she’s able to bond with the Caeliar in a way her crew can’t and this occasionally makes her an unsympathetic character. Erika Hernandez might have decided to stay with the Caeliar of her own free will but the others hate them for holding them indefinitely, despite there being no malice. Erika, herself, starts to comprehend this only after her crew begins dying off. Watching her rediscover her humanity at the end was genuinely heartwarming.”

Read Charles’ full reviews on his blog:

Star Trek Destiny, Book I: Gods of Night

Star Trek Destiny, Book II: Mere Mortals

Star Trek Destiny, Book III: Lost Souls

persistenceOn the audio podcast front, my friends Michael and Sina at The Ten Forward Book Club on trekmate.org.uk —ably abetted by fellow podcaster Melissa— dig into a detailed discussion of Star Trek: Cold Equations, Book I: The Persistence of Memory. It’s a spirited discussion, with Melissa coming to the book cold, not having read any of my previous work, nor any of the recent Star Trek fiction. It’s interesting to see how she reacts to a Star Trek universe and characters who are very different than what she remembers and expects, and noting which make sense to her and which don’t.

As always, Sina, Michael, and their guest Melissa are incisive and insightful commentators, and their discussion of the book’s story, themes, philosophies, and characters is lively and spot-on. They present some superb literary review and criticism, and I encourage everyone to settle in and listen to this podcast, because it is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT.

You can find The Ten Forward Book Club’s podcast review of The Persistence of Memory here.

#SFWApro

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