Open Secrets - Dayton Ward I've mentioned in my reviews of the Vanguard series how Mack is the visibly better writer than his collaborators. I've offered no examples to illustrate my contention, which is poor form. Partly, that's because this is my brain-candy reading and I'm not picking over it like a grad student studying Horace's use of adverbs.* But I've also recently finished volume five of the 13-volume Chekhov short-story collection, which featured some of his best stories so far (IMO), and it got me to wondering what's the difference? Why is Chekhov considered a master and why do I intuitively grasp that Mack is the better writer?

I make no claim to a definitive answer but an element in such an answer would be that Chekhov (and Mack to a lesser extent) is able to establish a character's distinctiveness early on in a story, and subsequently doesn't have to rely on clunky adjectives & adverbs or tedious asides to explain actions. We know that Character A sneered when he said "X," it's inherent in the character, as is his decision to do "Y."

Beyond these general reflections, Open Secrets is a decent entry in the series. It gets bogged down in an extended period when Dr. M'Benga tries to cure T'Prynn (who fell into a coma when her Klingon lover was killed in the third novel) and Reyes' court martial. The pacing is definitely off.

But, otherwise, it's OK.

* This is an example from life: One of my grad school profs wrote his thesis on this very subject. And, no, I haven't read it.