"The Star Trek: S.C.E. series of e-books has gotten off to a strong start ... the stories make entertaining reading -- Captain Gold's team hold their own about as well as the New Frontier crew, and the writers thus far have done an excellent job drawing in references to all four television series."
---Michelle Erica Green
In 2000, John J. Ordover and I developed the eBook series Star Trek: S.C.E. for Pocket Books. This monthly series of novellas -- which was rechristened Corps of Engineers in November 2006 -- focuses on the Starfleet Corps of Engineers -- they're Starfleet's "fix-it" squadron. When ancient alien technology is found on a colony world, when robot soldiers from an eons-old interstellar battle restart their war in a highly populated sector, when a global computer system starts to break down or take over, in comes the U.S.S. da Vinci and the S.C.E. to fix it.
"The story is fast paced, exciting, and filled with interesting twists and turns ... the story is unpredictable and involves a mystery that the reader will want to leap ahead with in an effort to solve. Fatal Error introduces the reader to a completely alien society we have never before seen in Star Trek. There is tragedy and joy, and at the end the reader is left wanting to know even more about the S.C.E. and da Vinci crew."The series launched with three titles from August-October 2000 (one of them being my own Fatal Error). The three were successful enough to justify continuing it in 2001, and it was published every month through to the summer of 2006. With the relaunch as Corps of Engineers in November 2006 also comes an expansion of the eBook line, so going forward, there will be six COE eBooks per year, with the other six slots going to other Trek fiction, like Mere Anarchy and Slings and Arrows.
---Mary Taylor on Fatal Error, The Explorer
The crew is a combination of past Next Generation and Deep Space Nine guest stars and new characters, plus a couple of old friends: Captain Montgomery Scott -- who supervises the S.C.E. from Earth -- and Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge, who is borrowed from the Enterprise for the missions chronicled in the first three releases. The da Vinci -- a Saber-class ship commanded by Captain David Gold -- includes among its crew Commander Sonya Gomez (the one who spilled hot chocolate on Captain Picard in TNG's "Q Who"), Lt. Commander Kieran Duffy (from TNG's "Hollow Pursuits," the episode that introduced Reg Barclay), Dr. Elizabeth Lense (the valedictorian of Julian Bashir's Starfleet Medical class, seen in DS9's "Explorers"), and an engineer named Fabian Stevens (from DS9's "Starship Down"). New characters include a Bynar pairing, 110 and 111 (cf. TNG's "11001001"), a Nasat (the race M3 Green from the animated series episode "Jihad" was from), as well as a security chief, a linguist, and a cultural specialist.
Gomez is really the main character in S.C.E. She's the CO of the S.C.E. itself -- Gold is in charge of the da Vinci, of course, and is the final authority, but Gomez runs the team. I was intrigued by the character when she first appeared in "Q Who" (and again in the next episode, "Samaritan Snare"), and was disappointed that they didn't bring her back again. She obviously had drive and ambition, and one would hope that ten years down the line she'd calmed down a bit and wouldn't still be spilling hot chocolate on superior officers...
"[A] book that's great fun to read, that develops characters both familiar and novel, that maintains a sense of humor and occasional sexiness despite its harrowing action, and that must be described as worth the cost."And the S.C.E. itself is a little different from the straight-arrow Starfleet crews of TOS, TNG, and Voyager. This is more like M*A*S*H, a weird group of specialists who may not be spit-and-polish Starfleet, but they know their technobabble, and can definitely fix six impossible things before breakfast. The setup provides all sorts of opportunities for high adventure stories, ones in which the S.C.E. must use their brains and talents to overcome impossible odds.
---Michelle Erica Green on Invincible Book 2, Trek Nation
Fatal Error was especially fun to write, as it involves that old Trek standby, the world-running computer. Except, where in such classic episodes as "The Apple" and "Return of the Archons," Captain Kirk would dismantle the world-running computer, in this case the S.C.E. has to come in and fix it. After all, if a computer has been running a world for millennia and is suddenly turned off, it would most likely result in total socio-economic collapse. Unfortunately, the people who sabotaged the computer in the first place aren't going to just let Gomez and her crew waltz in and fix it...
"Within a mere 100 pages Keith R.A. DeCandido manages to introduce and describe a quite interesting and complex culture, develop several SCE characters quite a bit further, play an interesting game of hide and seek within a huge computer, and give some interesting twists and turns to what at first glance appeared to shape up as nothing more than a template story. I'm impressed."Cold Fusion is a crossover with the Deep Space Nine novel relaunch, about which you can read more here. The first two books in that relaunch (Avatar by S.D. Perry) end with the station having a bit of a problem. The solution to that problem is presented in the next book (Section 31: Abyss by David Weddle & Jeffrey Lang). What Cold Fusion will do is show how that solution was actually arrived at by the S.C.E. and guest star Lieutenant Nog. Cold Fusion will also introduce a new alien race called the Androssi, whom we will be seeing again...
---Sander van Lambalgen on Fatal Error, JUIMA.org
Invincible is a Gomez solo story that sees her working alone with a group of hostile aliens on a tricky project that goes sour when a vicious native predator that should be harmless starts attacking the project and killing the workers. I cowrote that one with David Mack -- who coscripted two episodes of Deep Space Nine and whose other Trek work includes the New Frontier Minipedia and "The Making of Star Trek Klingon." It's different from the prior S.C.E. pieces, in that it focuses completely on Gomez (the bulk of the story consists of her log entries).
"The relationships among the crewmembers continue to evolve ... In this regard the S.C.E. books remind me of New Frontier, as well as the use of neglected characters and concepts from across the Trek franchise. Plus DeCandido's sense of humor is well in evidence in Here There Be Monsters."The two-book War Stories tells us what the various members of the da Vinci crew were doing during the hostilities of the Dominion War. Book 1 focuses on Dr. Lense on the Lexington, Bart Faulwell at Starbase 92, and then-Lt. Commander Gomez on the Sentinel; Book 2 shows the da Vinci itself, and introduce us to Gomez's predecessor, Commander Salek.
---Michelle Erica Green on Here There Be Monsters, Trek Nation
"Fans curious about the Dominion War and how it affected people beyond Deep Space Nine will want to read War Stories. Long-time readers of the SCE eBook series will see some long-standing questions about the characters answered, and newcomers to the series will have no difficulty jumping into the series with this book of three self-contained tales. War Stories is a book about history, not just of the universe but of the characters, showing us glimpses of who and where the SCE characters were before we first meet them in Belly of the Beast ... these are three stories of the characters experiencing the realities of 24th-century warfare from their own unique perspectives, and Keith R.A. DeCandido finds something unique to say with each of the tales."Breakdowns is a Gold-and-Gomez solo story. After the events of Wildfire Books 1-2 by David Mack (which I'd rather not spoil here), we did four spotlight stories (Home Fires, Age of Unreason, Balance of Nature, and Breakdowns) that focused on how some of the characters dealt with those events. All four of those stories were collected in a book also called Breakdowns.
---Allyn Gibson on War Stories Book 1
Security focuses on Corsi, finally revealing the backstory between her and Enterprise security chief Christine Vale (mentioned back in The Belly of the Beast), as well as her background with the mysterious "Dar" (hinted at in Cold Fusion and elsewhere). There is also a subplot involving Tev.
Finally Many Splendors is the last of six flashback stories told under the umbrella title What's Past, and also the last eBook in the S.C.E. series before the relaunch as Corps of Engineers. The story chronicles the romance between Sonya Gomez and Kieran Duffy on the Enterprise-D, also providing some background on the "lower decks" characters on the ship during the second, third, fourth, and early fifth seasons of The Next Generation. A set of annotations for the eBook is available.
"Displaying a surprisingly gentle touch and tremendous skill, Keith R.A. DeCandido ... has crafted the perfect tribute to the fallen heroes of the USS da Vinci."Here are the COE titles:
---Jacqueline Bundy on Breakdowns, Trek Nation
To read an excerpt from Fatal Error, click here; to read an excerpt from Cold Fusion, click here; to read an excerpt from Invincible Book 1, click here; to read an excerpt from Here There Be Monsters, click here, to read excerpts from War Stories, click here for Book 1 and here for Book 2. You can also read an interview with me about this and my other Trek work.
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