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NEMESIS GAMES is the latest installment of James S.A. Corey's* "Expanse" series. While part of a series, the book - thanks to the skill of the author - also works as a standalone. Corey switches from a plot where the crew is essentially in one place to the solar system wide settings of Tycho Station in deep space, the Asteroid Belt, one of the colonies of Mars, and Earth. Each character has a separate story (which eventually ties back in) that also builds up their background. A lot of secrets are revealed, some old ties are renewed and some are firmly broken. Corey writes a nice story that neatly balances character, plot, background and science without overwhelming you with information. I was sorry to see the story come to an end, as it means I have to wait another year before I find out what kind of trouble the crew of the Rocinante gets into next!
Really, the title says it all: Star Trek and Planet of the Apes (How has this not been done before?). The story primarily focuses on the Enterprise crew and their reactions to this other Earth; we don't meet George Taylor until after he's experienced the events of the first movie. Of course, once we do, we realize that he and Kirk are going to fundamentally disagree since Taylor is a man of action and Kirk's hands are tied by the Prime Directive. The dialogue feels very faithful to the original Star Trek series. That is a mixed blessing, because it means there's a lot of explanatory dialogue. It might have tempted a lesser artist to draw a bunch of talking heads; fortunately, Rachael Stott comes through for us. Her art is great. Whatever is happening on the page, she keeps the visuals interesting and gives the layouts variety while maintaining a smooth flow. The characters, both humans and apes, resemble their real-world actors without looking awkward or overdrawn. Their faces are expressive. And Charlie Kirchoff's mix of vibrant colors and earth tones keeps everything feeling well-balanced. The focus on the dialogue doesn't mean there's no action. From space battles to fisticuffs, the apes, humans, Klingons, and one Vulcan duke it out throughout the story. (No spoilers, but Kirk gets into a couple of brawls with big-name opponents). The Primate Directive does justice to both franchises, and the high-quality art makes it even more of a pleasure to read.