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on 28 September 2009
I've read this book once before, but never continued onto the rest of the series. Now I have them all lined up ready I thought I would give them another chance, especially given how much they are referenced in the later continuation novels.

The first instalment sees the Enterprise assigned to a starship graveyard filled with unidentified anomalies, alien scavengers, and ships destroyed in the Dominion War. When things go catalytically wrong the crew head back to earth for court martial.

The point of this series is to bridge the gap leading up to the film Nemesis, and Vornholt sets several of the unexplained plot points in motion, particularly for Crusher, Data, and Wesley, who for me at least makes a welcome return. He also makes good use of a number of guest characters from the TV series.

The plot is fairly straight forward, although there are some parts where events are a little tricky to follow, particularly when set around the spatial anomalies. The second half turns a little towards the legal drama genre, which is quite irritating as the characters we're aligned with are kept in the dark.

The novel has a disappointing lack of conclusions, which I suppose is justifiable as half of a duology, but it would have been nice to have some points settled rather than everything hanging over. Overall a pretty standard trek novel.
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on 12 November 2004
First, there was Star Trek: Nemesis. Then, there was the bright idea by Pocket Books to tell us what led up to the movie. Thus was the "Time to..." series born. It consists of a series of two-part stories by different Trek authors. The first, appropriately enough, is A Time to Be Born, by venerable Trek novelist, John Vornholt. It's an intriguing concept, as the movie had all of the characters ready to move off in different directions, and it would be nice to see how they got there. How is the first book? It's pretty interesting interspersed with some horribly dull parts.
Rashanar is the site of one of the most horrific battles of the Dominion War, and it is now a floating graveyard. Littered with wreckage and gravitational anomalies, the site has become a draw to many greedy species intent on salvaging as much as they can, most especially the Androssi. The Enterprise is assigned security duties at this site, trying desperately to keep the scavengers away so that Starfleet can recover its dead. However, hidden away in all of these fluxes and the warp in the space-time continuum is something sinister, something that can drain the power from any ship it discovers. Their mission will bring Data to a decision point, a decision that could end Picard's career. Unfortunately, the crew may not be alive long enough to care.
There are some really good parts to this book and they make it well worth reading. Unfortunately, there are a few too many scenes of various shuttlepods tip-toeing through the wreckage, playing dead, and otherwise flying around to make it a thoroughly engrossing book. Vornholt tries to make these scenes interesting by providing a lot of character interplay, but he doesn't always succeed. There were times when I was reading where I wished one of these ships would just explode so that *something* would happen. I think I get what Vornholt was trying to do with these scenes, ratcheting up the tension by having it build through the reader not knowing what's going to happen, but sometimes enough is enough.
Thankfully, there aren't too many of these scenes, and the rest of them are very good. The scene where Picard, Data and LaForge explore the wreck of the Asgard is filled with tension, especially when they happen upon the Androssi for the first time. There are also some good scenes between Geordi and Data as they are exploring, especially when they finally find what is hiding in the graveyard. The pace finally picks up when the Enterprise gets back to Earth, even as the action slows down, mainly because I was intrigued by what was happening to Picard back there. Would he be drummed out of Starfleet? What would be the outcome of any court martial? Did he do the right thing?
Vornholt does a good job with the characterization for the most part. He should, as he's been writing these characters for years. The only character who felt a little off was Captain Leeden, mainly because she bounced between competent officer and screaming harpie and back again, sometimes in the same scene. Unlike Counselor Cabot later in the book, Leeden does it for no apparent reason. I know Rashanar is supposed to put everybody under a lot of stress, and she has been there for quite a while, but I just found this to be a little too drastic. Vornholt nails the regulars, though. He also has created an interesting race in the Androssi, and the two main ones we see (Ghissel and her pilot) are well done. Ghissel is a woman on her way up, and the coup that she claims by pulling one over on Picard is nicely done.
There is one bit of characterization that is really badly done, however. That is the various romantic relationships. Troi and Riker don't have very many scenes together as a couple, but the two Androssi do, and it's extremely juvenile. It's also incredibly pointless, considering what happens to them. While I found Ghissel and interesting character, I didn't find that this relationship added anything to her character at all, and I have to wonder why it was included. Even some of the descriptions of Troi and Riker are a little too "cute" for my taste.
Overall, though, Vornholt has created a very satisfying novel. Some bits of prose are a bit clunky. I have no idea why he keeps introducing Wesley as "The Traveler" every time Wesley comes on the scene, and then starts using his name. Wesley is a Traveler, but either use it consistently or just say Wesley. Don't do both. However, this is a minor point and Vornholt generally carries the reader's interest throughout. Even the boring exploration parts are relatively short. The second half of the book is wonderful, too, so don't' be disheartened if you find the first part even more boring than I did. It does pick up.
A Time to Be Born is a very good start to the series. I'm hoping that the rest of the series continues this, or even picks it up.
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on 17 March 2005
In this book you get 2 things not shown on TV or film. First Wesley and the Traveller appear and you are given a better idea about how that unexplored loop of the TNG universe works. Second you get the darker side of one of Picard's brave decisions. The Federation actually has some politics! It's not all sweetness and light! Picard and the Enterrprise crew become the scapegoats for a difficult diplomatic situation. The realism works - the old cliche of 'making a difference' and 'saving the univrse' can get boring after a while! Read it if you want a grown up Trek book.
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on 1 December 2004
I've read a number of Star Trek books, and this is BY FAR the best I have I've read from TNG. From the start to the end the author keeps us wondering what is going to happen, just like in an episode of TNG, this is a truly fantastic book and I'm about to order the next one, 'a Time to Die', these books are set between Inserection and Nemisis.
Capt. Jean-Luc Picard is in threat of loosing his post as captain and the only person wo can truly stop this is the person who started it - Lt. Commander Data
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on 30 March 2004
This is the best Star Trek novel I have read in a long, long time. What impressed me was not so much the plot (although that is interesting) but the fact that, for once, the author appeared aware of the long term relationships amongst the crew. Picard was allowed to make reference to his fondness for his crewmates - this is almost unheard of apart from, strangely enough, the Shatner novels and a few of Peter David's works. Yes, there are a few cliches and the editing could have been a bit tighter but unlike a previous reviewer, I felt the author stayed true to the characters and allowed a great deal more insight than is normally the case in these books. I was pleased to see an adult Wesley caring for his former crewmates and family. I look forward to reading the next installment.
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on 16 February 2004
This is an excellent book - and will answer a lot of questions such as what happened to Wes after he left with the traveller and what they all did between the last 2 films.
But its only book 1 of about 7. The final one doesn't seem to be published until about October 2004. I can't wait that long!!
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on 14 December 2007
This book is awful, it really is... I have read some terrible books in my life but this book was actually painful to read, I couldn't get past page 97. The over-description of every tiny little detail was bad enough, but to constantly remind the reader of every single one of the most basic facts? That's just stupid, sorry, and makes it very hard to sit through.
As another reviewer said, every time Data speaks he cocks his head, well the author does this throughout the whole story, repeating the same little descriptions, character quirks, etc, to the point where you wanna feed the book to the author.
Perhaps someday i'll force myself to read the rest of it and see if the second book is any better, but i'm afraid i've had enough for now...
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on 14 September 2016
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on 13 March 2004
This is an awful book. It's like the author watched a couple of episodes of TNG, made notes, then went back and inserted 'character'. Every single time Data says something he 'cocked his head'. I forced myself to read to page 60, then could take no more...
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on 20 April 2004
I found this book absoluteley appauling.It has poor description and is almost as boring as the television show.If you are a trecky freak this is not the right book for you and if you are not a freak this is still not the right book for you.
This book has lowered my idea of amazon standard.If i was you i would search throungh the rest of amazons fantastic range of books.
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