Monday, December 28, 2020

#StayAtHome: "Star Trek Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind"


David Mack's "Reap the Whirlwind " is the third book in the Star Trek: Vanguard series, a set of Original Series novels set in the Taurus Reach, an area outside the Federation and bordered by the Klingon Empire, the Tholian Assembly, and the Federation. The Organian Peace Treaty does not exist yet, so the setting features intense espionage, sabotage, diplomacy, and intrigue among these three powers. 

The intrigue isn't just about territory: there is a series of ancient alien archaeological finds on many worlds in the Taurus reach, finds that promise great power for the faction that can unlock their secrets. But one of the three factions would rather keep these secrets buried...

In Star Trek Adventures terms, the Taurus Reach is a campaign setting ripe for exploration and intrigue. There is Starbase 47 (the station name for this Watchtower-class starbase is Vanguard), the Federation's primary footprint in the sector, and the heart of Federation operations covert and overt in the area. There are four important starships in this novel: USS Endeavor, the Constitution-class starship assigned to the sector after the destruction of the USS Bombay; the USS Sagittarius, an Archer-class starship (the small ship on the book cover which is trying to dodge a Klingon D7), the operations "runabout" (as it were) assigned to the starbase; USS Lovell, a refurbished Daedalus-class explorer assigned to a Starfleet Corps of Engineers crew; and the Rocinante, a free trader whose Captain, Cervantes Quinn, is beholden to both the Orion syndicate and to Lt. Commander T'Prynn, the Starfleet Intelligence liaison to Starbase 47. 

Yes, Rocinante does come up as a rogue ship name in SF from time to time, doesn't it?

I am not sure how accessible the book would be to someone just starting the series with this book, but there is a 30+ page glossary at the back. I plan to continue reading the series, even though I am not a huge fan of the ancient alien threat at the center of the series, and I find some of the characterization a bit tiresome; to wit, please either stop referring to female crew as the "brunette", or do the same occasionally with males; consider less frequent introduction of new female characters as annoying antagonists for male characters; consider not blowing up one of the two lesbian characters in the book, especially just after the characters' big break up scene.

So there are things in the series that annoy me, for sure. But in sourcebook terms, it IS a very interesting effort to create a setting for new Star Trek adventures (insert a capital "A" if you like; a Taurus Reach boxed set would be A GREAT IDEA for the RPG). You would really want this particular book in the series for its glossary, if you were going to use the setting in advance of a boxed set, and you'd want the first book in the series, Harbinger, for its nifty fold out map of both Vanguard and the exteriors of the Sagittarius. I know that this Archer-class starship has become a favorite for some Star Trek Adventures fans, as it is warp capable, able to land planetside, and small enough to be crewed by a handful of PCs. 

I have even thought about using the Taurus Reach for convention-based scenarios; it's probably just a matter of time until I figure out a story I want to tell. In the meantime, I am starting in on book four of the series, Dayton Ward's Open Secrets.

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