Bah Humbug, Haters! 


Amazing! Had a customer enter the store tonight and I could see by his immediate disgust, as he looked around, that he was thoroughly ticked-off about all of the decorations and such – (it wasn’t helpful, either, that ‘Silent Night’ was playing over the P.A.). As I was in his line of fire (so to speak), he belts out: “This is ridiculous! It’s complete bullshit! It’s. Not. Even. THANKSGIVING. Yet!” – as if, I personally, had set all of this into motion. (I agree, that November 12th is a bit-early for the Christmas music, though… Can’t we wait until the bird is eaten – first, before Bing Crosby starts crooning ‘White Christmas’?!) 

But, being a professional, I smiled and said: “We are here to serve you, Sir. How may I help you?” In my mind, I was thinking: ‘You’re a little late, Sir. Bitching and moaning about the rush to this ‘sacred’ holiday began weeks-ago!’ Oh…about the same time ‘Christians’ began knocking the ‘Spock Dying’ Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan Hallmark Ornament, for not setting the proper ‘tone’ of the season. Really? You’re fucking kidding me – right? I don’t remember hearing any complaints about any of the other ‘non-Christmasy’ Trek ornaments that Hallmark has produced over the past 25 years; but, that’s a debate for another time… 

I used to be like that guy, though. Hell, I still am! However, I have a new perspective on it, this year. I’ve spent my entire working life in customer service, in one capacity, or another; but never, have I worked in such a large store, as this one. Over the past year, I’ve watched our overnight team-of-associates busting our asses, as we try to anticipate the ‘needs of the many,’ in regards to the changing of the holidays. We hear the complaints, and the bitching and moaning; the groans of annoyance, the snide comments…and, yet – we toil on. 

Our society’s greed and gross  materialization of Christmas (indeed, of all of the holidays), has set all of this in motion. (Ahem, BTW…Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, folks; only 103 days, to go! Whoop whoop!) Yet, the same ones who complain the loudest about our rush to put the tree and tinsel up, are the same ones who will be trying to kill one another come 6 o’clock, Thanksgiving Day -over a marked-down big screen TV! And, most-likely, are the same ones who leave their Christmas lights on their houses ALL YEAR

Putting all of that aside for a moment: Do you have any idea as to the logistics involved (on our part) in keeping up with the holidays? I mean, I don’t hear anyone complaining about, say – putting summer clothes out in winter, or vice-versa… Yes, back in early October, we began redecorating the store and puttting out the thousands of Christmas items that will have you flocking to ‘The Extravaganza’ on ‘Gray Thursday’ – (same as we began stocking school supplies, etc, in June… “My God! They’re already getting started on ‘Back to School’ and the kids just got out for the summer!” – said no one ever). With that in mind, though, we’re STILL preparing for your Christmas/Holiday/Festivus/Whatever-shopping! 

The planning, the manhours, the scheduling, the endless delivery of freight – (we’re talking about thousands of pallets, ranging from toys, to clothes, to food, to candy – my God, the fucking candy – from appliances, furniture and housewares, to electronics, hardware and automotive products, to those ‘must have’ Christmas items, tree/house/lawn decorations and stocking-stuffers…); plus – there’s the moving of the normal, day-to-day merchandise, to make room for Christmas… (I mean, just where do you think all of those Garden Center products go?!) It’s staggering, folks, the amount of merchandise we (the ridiculously-underappreciated workers) have to move around, put out, set up, display – months in advance, mind – just so you can complain about it! Hey, guess what? It’s all for you! So that on Christmas Day, you can sit back and enjoy the holiday with those you love; while boasting/whining about how much money you spent, and/or – complaining about what you didn’t get, etc, etc…

Look, I get it; but all of you folks need to see the other side, as well. We spend a lot of time, and take a lot of pride in, being prepared for you – ALL. YEAR. ROUND! – so that you can have a joyful and merry holiday with your family, friends and significant others. We want you to have the very best! We also-want  you, to have a bit of respect – for us, as we bring in these holidays, together… 

So, I’ve had my say. Thank you, for hearing me out… I won’t go into ‘Murica’s made-up ‘war on Christmas’; or – preach to you about ‘the reason for the season‘; or – God forbid, get into the brouhaha over those Starbucks ‘Devil-worshipping, you hate Jesus’ red coffee-cups – (where’s the outrage over those white lids, dammit? Or, for their horrible coffee, for that matter?!) But, I will leave you with this: Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! And, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah, and a joyous, safe, and prosperous New Year, as well!

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…

Lt. Eric Cone 

Star Wars : Shattered Empire 003 – 004


Hey folks! We’re getting closer to that moment of geek bliss! Are you excited, or what? I may be going to a closed-screening of The Force Awakens – (courtesy of a coworker, who’s husband’s company is giving its employees a sweet Star Wars Christmas present; I’ve been invited to attend, as one of their guests). Today, though, the international trailer debuted and there were mixed reviews about what was added, what was missing, how the trailer differed from the previous sneak-peeks, etc. I, myself, chose not to view it; I’m content to wait the next month and a half for the whole movie.

But, how about this massive media and product marketing-blitz we’ve seen?! My gods, there are toys, games, books, comics, makeup, cereal, shoes, clothes; hell, I just saw a Death Star waffle maker! – Star Wars is every-flipping-where! But I love it! It’s great to see the old and new fans going nuts over this epic event. 

Speaking of comic book tie-ins, Star Wars: Shattered Empire – a ‘Journey to The Force Awakens’ – is now concluded. This 4-part miniseries was published by Marvel, of course; it was written by Greg Rucka, art by Marco Checchetto (and Angel Unzueta issues 002-003), colors by Andres Mossa, lettered by Joe Caramagna, with editing in the hands of Jordan D. White. The graphic novel should hit the shelves on Nov. 17. 


Lieutenant’s Log: Emperor Palpatine is dead, Darth Vader is in another plane of existence, the second Death Star has been destroyed and the Galactic Empire has been crushed – or, has it..?

Shattered Empire began during the final moments of the Battle of Endor, introducing readers to Lieutenant Shara Bey and her husband, Sergeant Kes Dameron; both of whom have been an integral part of the Rebel Alliance, since before the Battle of Hoth. In Part 1 Bey and Dameron have pivotal roles at Endor; she is part of Green Squad, while he is on the Forest Moon with Han’s team, bringing down the shield generator. They are briefly reunited, before their duties call them back into action against the Imperial Fleet.

Part II focuses on Shara Bey and Princess Leia; the former (having overworked herself) is given light duty as the latter’s pilot, as Leia is tasked with going to Naboo to beg Queen Soruna’s support in forming a new senate. Kes Dameron is mentioned, but not seen; Shara Bey is basically window-dressing, as she has very little to do in this chapter. The princess is successful, though, in that the queen readily agrees to Leia’s proposals; however, Imperial Forces – in orbit above Naboo – begin ‘Operation Cinder,’ in an effort to annihilate Naboo completely. 


Scattered, yet – still willing and able to do the bidding of its dead master, Imperial Forces continue to be a thorn in the Rebel Alliance’s side, thwarting their hopes to end decades of bloody battle. In Part III, Bey and Dameron continue in their assigned duties. Lt. Bey, Princess Leia, and not-surprisingly, Queen Soruna manage to avert a near-catastrophe on Naboo; while Sgt. Dameron accompanies Gen. Han Solo to different Imperial bases and strongholds in an attempt to gather critical Imperial plans, data and secrets from their computer banks.

In Part IV, Bey is tapped by Luke Skywalker, himself, for a quick trip to Vetine – a secretive recovery mission. (I hope we see the significance of all of this in The Force Awakens, ’cause, I’m just stumped – “What’s it all mean, Basil?!”) That said, their mission is a success and the storyline has a nice finish for Lt. Bey and her family.

My Take: I really enjoyed issues 003 and 004; especially Queen Soruna on Naboo, showing herself to be a competent leader of her people; while displaying selfless acts of courage in defending them against the evil machinations of the Empire. Also, it was great to see that Leia’s power in the Force is growing; but – where in the hell did Darth Maul come from, all out-of-the-blue, like he does? A hint of things to come? I liked seeing the softer, more-personal side to Leia, as well; something we didn’t see a lot of in the previous films. 

Part III hammers home some major points: the Empire is far from being finished, they have some pretty twisted plans to bring the Rebellion to its knees and, Lt. Bey and Sgt. Dameron are formidable warriors; they’re well-respected and liked by their peers, they are major assets to the Rebel Alliance and, finally – they love each other. They believe in what they’re doing. Respectfully, though, I don’t believe we got to know these characters; what parts do they play in the big picture – other than, maybe being Poe Dameron’s parents? And, while it was nice to see how events played-out after Endor, do we really know anything ‘new’? I mean, the trailers and leaked info for The Force Awakens makes it pretty obvious that the Empire didn’t go quietly into the abyss, and there are always growing pains and plenty of negotiations and strategizing going on when trying to rebuild a new government. So, I’m torn… It was a fun read, as it puts the reader back into that long ago, far, far away galaxy, again: but I came away unsatisfied; wanting something more. 


Part VI was a disappointment, as well. Sure, seeing R2-D2 was cool, and we all get a glimpse into how far Luke has progressed (just a mere three-months after the moment his father died); but this secret mission he had them on left me saying: What the hell?! Plus, it left me totally clueless about where Luke goes from there. Is he good, or has he gone to the Dark Side? I guess, we’ll find out soon enough.

Overall: Greg Rucka has done a good job; however…this story could have been fleshed-out over several more issues, than this seemingly rushed 4-part miniseries. We didn’t really get to know the characters, we are left with more questions, than answers, and – in my opinion – we didn’t get what we were expecting. How can you ‘journey into The Force Awakens,’ by seeing glimpses of events that are approximately 31 years in the past (using Return of the Jedi as jump-point)?  Shattered Empire is a trope-filled, action-packed, if not, predictable story, but it did have some good moments. If you’re looking to get a feel for what’s coming, though… Move along. These are not the clues we’re looking for. Well, for me, at least. 

But, let me tell you what I did like: the marvelous artwork by Checchetto, Unzueta and Mossa! Every single issue left me wanting more! Incredible details, beautiful coloring, fantastic likenesses (of all of the characters), terrific shading and proportion, awesome battle scenes…this miniseries is a real treat, in that regard! I have nothing bad to say; only the highest praise, for a job well-done! Plus, those Checchetto covers are super-awesome! They’re hanging on my wall… 

I’m glad I bought the series, I had a great time reading them, and this is one of those times, when the art really ups the quality of a mediocre story. Indeed, it’s the art that bumps my rating up to four stars. 

I think I’ll pass on the graphic novel, though. 

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone 

Star Trek #50


While everyone is going out of their minds over Star Wars: Episode VII – with damn good reason, mind you – I’m sitting back and enjoying another galaxy; one that’s closer to home, but in a future that’s far, far ahead…

Yes, I’m talking about Star Trek. As this revitalized franchise warps towards its 50th Anniversary in 2016 – did you know there’s a new movie coming out next July? – we’re just-now beginning to see some hints of things Beyond; locations, uniforms, cast, etc, and I’m getting very excited! It’s going to be a fantastic trek! I know we’re in good hands with Simon Pegg, who co-wrote the script – in a big damn hurry! – and director Justin Lin, and it sounds like this enterprise is going to try to heal some of the butthurt some of the fans felt after Into Darkness. I don’t want to rile anyone up, but I like JJ Abrams take on things; and – I just don’t understand the hate he’s received. As I write this, Zachary Quinto (who just wrapped shooting) said, “…filming ST:B was an incredible experience.” I’m going to take that as a good sign.

Next year is going to be a blowout celebration for Star Trek; the anniversary, the movie Star Trek: Beyond; then, there’s Star Trek Las Vegas (in August) and I’m sure, many other Trek-themed cons around the globe. Plus – there will be tie-in merchandise, and some sure-to-be-awesome literature is being penned by the likes of David R. George III, Dayton Ward and David Mack (just to name a few); and, finally – we’ll be getting more incredible comic books from IDW, as well. 

Speaking of which, I just picked up an historic issue: Star Trek #50!! (Shown above) Today, marks a pretty cool milestone for IDW – (and, no…I’m not referring to Back to the Future Day; but that’s damn-fine timing for this to happen today) – because in the 48-year history of Star Trek comics, only two previous publishers have reached the 50 mark: they’re Gold Key Comics and DC Comics! And, man – what a helluva-comic it is, too! I’m going to have a tough time reviewing this issue without spoiling it, but I’ll do my best…

…but, here’s a hint.


Star Trek #50: Live^Evil is an IDW Publishing 3-part miniseries, set in the ongoing storyline. It’s written by the amazingly-talented Mike Johnson, penciled and colored by the phenomenal team of Tony Shasteen (that’s his cover, above) and Davide Mastrolonardo, lettered by Neil Uyetake, with Sarah Gaydos editing.

Lieutenant’s Log: The U.S.S. Enterprise is about halfway through its 5-year mission, charting unknown space; continuing to explore strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations… Everything is shipshape and smooth sailing – “…But, it wouldn’t be deep space exploration if the seas didn’t occasionally get rough…” – Kirk’s Captain’s Log.

My Take: Oh boy! Issue 50 is a real treat! Can anyone say ‘Mirror Mirror’ – on crack?! Previously, IDW put out a mirror universe 2-parter (#’s 15 & 16), but that story was a ‘what if’ scenario, that dealt primarily with our crew’s twisted counterparts – and, it was a deliciously-warped tale, to be sure. However, the fallout from those events continues in this storyline, as well. I’d suggest that you read ‘Mirrored,’  before proceeding – it’s not required, but it will give you a better understanding of what’s going down.

I’m not going to give any spoilers away, but I will tell you that Mike Johnson is on-course to outdo himself, yet-again. In ‘Live^Evil’ these diversely-different crews meet, and it isn’t pretty for our beloved crew, this time. Plus – you’re going to freak, when you see who’s guest-starring in this shattered-mirror adventure! This is most-definitely not your grandpa’s Star Trek. 

As for the art… Wow! Shasteen just makes it look so easy and Mastrolonardo compliments him perfectly with his coloring and shading; both, moving Johnson’s story along with great pacing. ‘Live^Evil’ has everything I’ve come to expect from these guys; the likenesses are dead-on, the panels are rife with details and imagery that the JJ films are known for, the colors just pop from panel to panel, and the storytelling flows seamlessly. Of course, Neil Uyetake’s lettering is always exceptional, too; and this issue is no exception

I have a couple of slight grumbles about the cover, though… To me, Kirk seems a bit off, almost sickly-looking; and, when I posted it, other fans noticed this, too. Also, the Enterprise doesn’t ‘gel’ with the rest of the cover; it seems dull and flat. But, it’s still a beautiful wraparound, and I am in no way trying to undermine these folks’ skills and talents. This cover is already on my wall…IMG_7819
‘Live^Evil’ has a slew of bonus-materials, too. My friend Joe Berenato (New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics) has a great essay on the history of ST comics; plus – IDW gives us loads of other extras. Of course, the price went up for this 50th issue, to $4.99; but well-worth every penny! 

Overall: This is damn-good Trek, folks! Great story, realistic blending of universes, plenty of action and surprises, sensational art; this awesome 50th issue is an excellent beginning, to what is sure to be an epic miniseries. I mean, come on…it’s that green-blooded, inhuman, goateed Mirror Spock, for God’s sake! If you’re a *hater*, well…you’re in the wrong universe! I’m giving ‘Live^Evil’ 4 1/2 stars! 

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone 


Star Wars: Shattered Empire 002


“Resistance. Rebellion. Defiance. These are concepts that cannot be allowed to persist, Captain…”

Hey folks! I’m sure – by now – that you have all seen the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens – right? If not, here ya go… 

No, seriously…if you haven’t seen it (and, you’re probably the only person on the planet who hasn’t); here are some links: The Force Awakens. Most of the human race has seen it, dissected and analyzed it, written about it…cried over it. (You know who you are…)

Well, you get the idea. 

I wasn’t one of those who were slobbering over it, but that’s just me. However, I’m here to tell you a bit more about Star Wars: Shattered Empire; specifically, issue 002. Shattered Empire is a 4-part miniseries tie-in from Marvel – a ‘Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ if you will. It’s written by Greg Rucka, penciled by Marco Checchetto, Angel Unzueta, and Emilio Laiso, colored by Andres Mossa, lettered by Joe Caramagna, with cover art by Marco Checchetto; edits by Jordan D. White.


Lieutenant’s Log: The Death Star is destroyed. Palpatine and Vader are dead. Having won a hard-fought victory following the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance finds itself embroiled in skirmishes with persistant Imperial Forces across the galaxy – the war is not over…

My Take: In issue 001, we were introduced to Lt. Shara Bey; a Rebellion fighter pilot with impressive skills and plenty of grit. Indeed, Bey is overworking; signing on for every battle she can get into. Knowing the real reason she is pushing herself, the commander of her group, L’ulo, assigns Bey to light duty: enter Princess Leia…

Leia (with Bey as her pilot) is tasked with asking Queen Soruna of Naboo, to help form a new government and a new senate… 

Elsewhere, a messenger from Emperor Palpatine, himself, issues new orders to Capt. Duvat of the Star Destroyer Torment: “Operation Cinder is to begin at once.” Naboo is to be scoured…

Okay, so we’re two issues in and I’m still not sure how Shara Bey will factor into The Force Awakens. I’m aware that some EU references and storylines are in play; unfortunately, I haven’t read a lot of this material, so I may be a bit lost – I’m a Trekkie! Furthermore, other than her opening battle scenes, Bey doesn’t have a lot to do in this issue; she’s basically just a companion for Leia on her diplomatic mission to Naboo. Not only that, but Bey’s husband (Sgt. Kes Dameran, seen in issue 001) is out of the picture entirely; just a couple of mentions. For those of us who haven’t followed the EU, I’m finding myself confused; I feel like I need to know more. 

As for Leia’s mission (It’s so good to see her back in action…), and the Empire’s refusal to just simply die, I’m enjoying what I’m seeing. These questions I had about the days after Jedi are being addressed and events seem to be playing-out as I imagined they would. Kudos to Rucka on that front. 


And, again, the art is beautiful! I’ve really gotta hand it to this team; great likenesses of the characters (that are consistant), plenty of amazing detail and accuracy; and it has that Star Wars flavor, that really gets me excited to get my butt in that theater! I totally feel like I’m being treated to a new ‘Episode’ in these pages. I’m all about great art, and you’re getting your money’s worth in Shattered Empire – at least, so far… 

Overall: I was going to give issue 002 3 1/2 stars, but the art, letttering and cover has me over the moon; so I’m going to bump it up to four. Don’t get me wrong, folks, I am enjoying this miniseries! I just hope that Bey and Dameran’s story becomes clearer in the two remaining issues. I’m hoping some light will be shed on other aspects, as well: Luke, Kylo Ren, Finn and Rey. Judging by issue 004’s cover, we might get to see what’s happened with Luke, anyway…

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone 

Star Wars: Shattered Empire 001


A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Gives ya goosebumps, doesn’t it? Especially, after the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer broke the internet, mere-seconds after its halftime debut during Monday Night Football – Does anyone even remember who played? Just to give those grossly-overpaid ballplayers their due, it was the Eagles 27 and the Giants 7; and – just as Jeremiah predicted, the ratings took a nose dive immediately after the trailer aired. 

Then, chaos took the etherwebs by storm; movie sites crashed (as fans tried to buy advance tickets), grown men wept like babies – “The Dark Side…the Jedi… They’re real…”; the haters, too, came out,  ratcheding-up their ridiculous #BoycottStarWars agenda, spewing their poisonous dark-sided racist propaganda all over Twitter, et al. Out of all of that, though, one thing is certain: Star Wars is back; and it’s bigger than ever!

Which, brings me to why I’m shouting-out, today. There’s more than trailers out there giving us clues for what’s to come; you may have heard about Star Wars: Shattered Empire?? 


Shattered Empire is a Marvel 4-part miniseries taking place during the last moments of The Battle of Endor. Written by Greg Rucka, Issue 001 was penciled by Marco Checchetto, colored by Andre Mossa, lettered by Joe Caramagna, and the main cover (pictured above) was done by Phil Noto; Jordan D. White did the editing. The header catagorizes this series as a ‘Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’ 

Lieutenant’s Log: “It’s a trap!” You can almost hear Genenal Ackbar’s warning cry as Issue 001 opens. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are in the middle of their final battle, with Emperor Palpapine gleefully, if not arrogantly, anticipating Luke’s end. General Lando Calrissian, in command of the Millennium Falcon, is barreling towards the ‘fully operational battle station,’ with the hopes of billions riding shotgun, as he prepares to destroy this second Death Star, once and for all; and the Rebel Alliance is taking a pounding, as they engage Imperial forces, amidst the stars above the Forest Moon. Meanwhile, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Princess Leia work frantically to overpower Imperial troops on Endor’s moon, as well, in their efforts to bring down the shield generator…

My Take: At the end of Return of the Jedi, we were left believing everything was fine; the Rebellion was victorious, the Galactic Empire was overthrown, Luke had defeated his greatest enemies and emerged triumphant, as a ‘true’ Master Jedi, and Han and Leia would finally be able to pursue their love for one another…


If you thought everything was hunky-dory, think, again. The Empire didn’t just topple over and gasp it’s final breath, as we were led to believe. And, Shattered Empire plays the continuing struggle out in grand Star Wars style, with artwork that matches the tone brilliantly. The Battle of Endor was a crushing blow, yes; but – there are ‘dark’ days ahead for our weary rebel friends. 

In Shattered Empire, we’re introduced to new characters, as well. Making their debut is ‘Green Four’ A-Wing fighter-pilot Shara Bey and her husband, Sergeant Kes Dameron; each playing pivotal roles in the Rebel Alliances’ victory, as well as, in the events afterwards. I’m still not certain how they play a part in Episode VII‘s story, but I’m intrigued, nonetheless.

Overall: I really enjoyed this first issue of Shattered Empire. It’s great seeing the gang back together, again; well-mostly, as Luke and Leia are conspicuously absent, (aside from the cover and Luke’s lightsaber battle with Darth at the opening, they’re not featured). But, there are terrific moments: the dogfights over Endor, Luke escaping the Death Star in that Imperial shuttle, Han and Lando bickering (good-naturedly) over the damage to the Falcon, Shara and Des reuniting after the battle; and – the ending, here, really let’s the reader know that the dark times are far from over. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the artwork in this issue! Everything was spot-on-accurate, right down to the damage to the Millennium Falcon and the Ewoks playing drums on those Stormtrooper helmets. The sheer detail and accuracy is just amazing; plus – as I said, the art is dark, setting just the right tone to this bittersweet victory. And, those battle scenes…AWESOME! 

My Rating: I’m giving Shattered Empire 001 four stars, simply because Luke and Leia should’ve had more attention allotted to them; I mean, they were the main characters…amirite?

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone 

The Returned 


Star Trek: New Frontier – The Returned 

Published by: Pocket Books (eBook format only)

Written by: Peter David

Release Date(s): Part I: July 7, 2015, Part II: August 4, 2015, Part III: September 7, 2015

Well, it’s about damn time! Coming in four years after – leaving fans on the edge of their seats, leaving us awestruck, leaving us to contemplate the fates of Calhoun, Soleta, Necheyev – hell, the Federation, itself – after the events in BLIND MAN’S BLUFF, Peter David brings us the finale in his exclusive Star Trek: New Frontier eBook series THE RETURNED; bringing about the much-anticipated return of Peter David, himself, to the Star Trek genre, as well. For those of you who are not familiar with Star Trek: New Frontierclick here to read my exclusive behind-the-scenes interview with John J. Ordover and Paula M. Block, to learn more about NF‘s creation, it’s unique cast of characters and what’s been going on with the series…

What’s to come, depends on the success of this 3-eBook series; which means – YOU need to BUY them!

And, I highly-recommend that you do…

Peter David doesn’t disappoint. In my opinion, THE RETURNED is his best showing, since RESTORATION. In Part I we get a full-accounting of what is happening with the captain and his crew, while gearing-up for the new threat that is heading towards the Federation. In Part II, Captain Calhoun faces-off with the Dayan; these aliens pose a greater threat than the ones we were going after, to begin with; plus, PAD gives readers a terrific look back at Thallon’s history, as he prepares us for an epic conclusion in Part III. 

With Peter David back at the helm, readers get it all: fun, excitement, action and adventure, suspense, plenty of twists and turns and lots of gut-busting humor, as he pens the Excalibur on a high-stakes mission to unknown territory – a mission that could be its last. 

Captain Calhoun has been left lost, alone and broken, after the genocide of his entire species, (the Xenexians, at the hands of the D’ymurj); now he has to make some of the toughest choices of his life, as he questions his core-beliefs and shattered judgement. But, don’t count our gallant captain out, just yet…

Yes, all of your questions are answered and Peter David doesn’t hold back any punches; with THE RETURNED he has, once-again, proven he is a master of his game and has cemented his place amongst the greatest Star Trek authors of the modern-day. 

The entire cast (plus – numerous surprise guests) have their moments to shine in the spotlight, as Peter David ties-up loose-ends and brings this brilliant story-arc to its phenomenal close – mostly; Moke never returned after Part I and I was expecting another appearance towards the conclusion. Also, Admiral Necheyev is only mentioned in-passing, after… Because of New Frontier, I grew to like the admiral and I would like to have seen some kind of exchange between her and Mac; or, at the very least, an update about her condition. One more thing: I still can’t figure out why there’s an Ambassador class Excalibur on the cover of Part I. (Cover artist Doug Drexler had no idea, why Pocket Books chose to use the image, either.)

That said, if – this is to be the end of the road for New Frontier, then Peter David has sent Captain M’k’n’zy Calhoun, and the crew of the U.S.S. Excalibur, out in grand TNG style – er, with one exception: I guarantee you, Eppy is not telling Soleta, “You are always welcome,” in the closing act; but – I’ll let you be the judge…

If it is to be the end, then I am totally satisfied! Well-done, Peter David! Bravo! And, thanks…for 17 ‘Awesome’ years of New Frontier memories. It’s been a helluva-ride, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone 

Palisades Park


Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Author: Alan Brennert

Released: November 2013 

PALISADES PARK is one of those books… It’s the kind of magical novel that says, “Pssst! Hey you! Come with me…” (Or, maybe in this case, “Come on over!”) Then, without realizing it, you find that you have been transported to another place and another time, and you find yourself living within its pages; sharing laughter and tears, triumph and heartbreak, indeed – life and death, with people you, yourself, have just met. So, it’s an amazing thing, when an author can make you feel as if you’ve known these characters your entire life – or, theirs…

At the heart of this novel is Palisades Amusement Park, and Alan Brennert does an incredible job of bringing this historic tourist destination to life. Although, the park opened in 1898, the book begins in 1922; the height of the Great Depression looms over the country like a pall and the park is barely making a profit. But, a new saltwater pool (the biggest in the world) and a transfer in its ownership is about to change the park, and the lives of the millions who will go there, forever. 

Enter Toni Stopka; a seven-year-old dreamer and adventurer, who aspires to become a professional high diver. Spending her childhood summers within Palisades Amusement Park, (while her parents run a popular French fry stand), Toni will meet a diverse cast of characters who will guide her and leave their indelible marks upon her life; shaping her into the woman she will become, as she follows her dreams. 

Before I read PALISADES PARK, I had never heard of the place. The park closed in 1971; at that time, I was five years old and living in Jacksonville, Florida. Through Alan Brennert’s writing (from his own personal experiences), I feel (vicariously) like I’ve been there many times. Some reviewers have complained about the chronological gaps in the story, but I don’t see the reasons for those gripes. As I said, the heart of the novel is the park, and the story revolves around key points in its storied history: fires, wars, segregation, etc., and how those times changed the park and those within its gates. 

While the Stopkas may be fictional characters, Alan Brennert brings them to vivid life with rich detail; as well as the many colorful characters (many of which are based on real people) who come and go over the passage of time. I’m not generally one to show my emotions, but I found myself moved to tears on several occasions throughout the book; one passage in-particular takes place in Pearl Harbor after the attack. 

By the same token, I found myself equally-awed, and- amazed, as well. I could feel the rumble of The Cyclone and hear the music playing across the midway; I could taste the fries and cotton candy, and the sweat, too, dripping off of the brows of amazing people as they prepared to perform death-defying acts for sold-out crowds. I raged over the beatings of protestors during the race demonstrations in the 50’s and I cheered when certain characters overcame their fears.

What really sold PALISADES PARK, for me, was the history Brennert seamlessly meshes into the book. You are literally transported to another time and another place (many, I should say) and you find yourself noting the changing of music, fads, culture, politics and, yes – even comic books (another favorite attribute, of mine) as the decades roll by. And, at the end of the day, you’re left feeling satisfied with the conclusion; if not nostalgic for another ride, another dive, another kiss in the Tunnel of Love… 

If you’re looking for a great, fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping, summertime read, checkout PALISADES PARK, and enjoy the ride! I sure did. And – be sure to read the ‘Author’s Notes’ afterwards, as they will make you smile when he unveils the book’s ‘secrets’.

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone