Blizzplanet Review: StarCraft: Ghost — Spectres
DeCandido will be missed, and hopefully we get to see more of his work. However, Spectres is a work by Nate Kenyon. He’s a (new writer) in the arsenal of Blizzard Entertainment novelists, but don’t let (that) fool you.
Nate Kenyon is an award-winning author of science fiction, horror and suspense novels. Nominated in 2009 by the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stroker Awards for the short fiction KEEPING WATCH, his novel The Reach in 2008, and Bloodstone in 2006.
StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres is not really a novelization of the postponed video-game. That might disappoint some fans. There is no black ops mission against Zerg hives, or Mar Sara bases. We’ll see Nova investigating a special case in a Dominion fringe world, and there is some Zerg action, but no Protoss at all.
StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres is not a novelization of the StarCraft: Ghost first-person-shooter video game, but there are some strong elements that spin-off straight from the video game’s original storyline. The Terrazine gas plot was born and revealed long ago during the Nihilistic Software-Blizzard Entertainment days, back in 2002.
The Terrazine gas topic returned in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty during the in-game mission: “Welcome to the Jungle”, where Gabriel Tosh offers a deal to Jim Raynor. Gabriel Tosh sends Jim Raynor to the Tal’darim planet Bel’Shir to collect Terrazine Gas — also known by the Tal’darim tribe as “the Breath of Creation” — in khalani language. According to them, a gift of the Xel’Naga to commune with them.
The Spectres are former Ghosts who inhale this Terrazine gas as sort of a drug. The Spectres get their Dominion inhibitor implant surgically removed only to prevent Dominion detection. The Terrazine gas causes a telepath to regenerate brain cells — overcoming, thus, the ghost program conditioning’s brainwash, and augments their psionic abilities considerably.
The novel takes us to a mission in planet Altara where Kath Toom investigates an apparent UED terrorist cell activity just to find out it’s a trap. The Dominion didn’t send her there in the first place. Gabriel Tosh, Kath’s former love in the Ghost Academy, is attempting to gather all the members of Team Blue. However, this won’t be an easy feat. Most of his former teammates are Dominion Ghosts. Their memories were erased after their graduation’s first mission, and no longer know anything about their own past. They are addressed by a number. Their real name never used, and forgotten.
Nova is sent by Emperor Mengsk to investigate why several Ghosts have gone missing. Readers are introduced into a world of deception, betrayal and conspiracy. Perfect ingredients that make up a true StarCraft story.
Nate Kenyon excelled at researching the StarCraft: Ghost universe. The entire novel is a continuity hub connecting the dots between StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty single-player, StarCraft: Ghost–Nova (2006) and StarCraft: Ghost Academy Vol. 1-3 (Tokyopop, 2009).
StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres features characters and flashbacks from the original novel. Wrangler Malcolm Kelerchian is a major character supporting Nova throughout the story. Her past comes crashing back on her when she’s exposed to the Terrazine gas, regenerating her brain cells, and weakening her brainwash conditioning. However, without Jorium to counter the side effects, Terrazine gas causes severe hallucinations.
She will also remember events seen in the StarCraft: Ghost–Academy manga. Characters from the manga show up too: Lio Travski, Kath Toom, Dylanna Okyl (team red).
If memory doesn’t fail me, StarCraft: Ghost–Academy Vol. 4 was never published, and Tokyopop shutdown its California office on May 2011. In Volume 4, the Ghost Academy was going to take team blue to planet Shi for their first graduation mission. The Old Families had sent their offsprings there after the Zerg invaded Tarsonis.
Unbeknownst to the people, Emperor Arcturus Mengsk delivered a Zerg drone to Planet Shi to finish off his enemies. The volume 4 was never published leaving fans in the dark of what happened next in the climax of the story.
StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres sorta wraps up what happened in the missing and never-published volumes of the manga concerning the fate of the last remaining descendants of the Old Families, and reveals exactly why an idealist and loyalist to Mengsk like Gabriel Tosh became a renegade Ghost. It happened after the events in planet Shi. We also sorta find out why his eyes look white in comparison with his younger self in the Academy.
As you see, this novel is not exactly a novelization of the StarCraft: Ghost video-game step-by-step, but it does orbits around the Terrazine gas concept originated in the video-game, and for your knowledge the supportive character of the video-game is a central figure in StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres … Colonel Jackson Hauler, commander of the Nova Squadron.
This novel will reveal who Colonel Jackson Hauler is, and his mysterious agenda with Nova.
Emperor Arcturus Mengsk appears a few times and surprisingly trusts Nova and Malcolm with a few secrets only top Dominion military knows about. Many of you who played the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty single-player may have heard Gabriel Tosh and Captain Matt Horner mention Project: Shadowblade — the secret project that studied the Terrazine gas and led to the creation of the Spectres. Project: Shadowblade is fully explored in this novel.
Nate Kenyon added a mind-blowing twist to this story no one will see coming. The story is very fluid and action-packed, pitting Nova against impossible odds with Spectres that are more powerful than her in certain ways. Nova uses her guts and experience to overcome her fears and to outsmart Protoss-level superghosts and their leader. Oh … Gabriel Tosh isn’t the top kahuna. Not yet. There is someone else moving the strings here since the days of the Project: Shadowblade — a project deemed too risky and shutdown by Mengsk two years ago.
This novel shows Emperor Arcturus Mengsk isn’t necessarily one to be worried the most in the spiral of deceit, betrayal, and conspiracy surrounding the Koprulu sector.
Nova is a Dominion loyalist, and even now with her memories back — and knowing the atrocities perpetrated by Mengsk — she knows the death of Emperor Arcturus Mengsk would simply create a power vaccum that might be overtaken by worser menaces lurking out there.
It’s unknown if Nova will remember these events, or if she’s secretly pretending. Nova remembers her past, and the inhibitor implant who forces her to tell the truth and to obey is not affecting her at all. Her level powers after inhaling the Terrazine gas have overcome the implant’s effects.
The outcome of StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres, leads us straight to encountering Gabriel Tosh in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty during the Redstone III mission.
We find out now why exactly Gabriel Tosh wanted Jim Raynor to help infiltrate New Folsom Prison. Not only to free some of the Ghosts and latent telepaths held prisoner there. One of the only three survivors who worked in Project: Shadowblade is held prisoner there.
One who can restart the project to create more Spectres. Hopefully, we learn more about this in future campaign episodes, and/or new novels.
Nate Kenyon is a good choice to continue fleshing out the StarCraft universe along with Christie Golden. Hope to read more of his work.
At the end of the book, readers will find a very extensive timeline of the StarCraft history broken down by year. It provides source references to help you identify which book, manga, web short story, or comic book issue contains details referenced in StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres for those who wish to read more StarCraft lore. The Blizzard Entertainment Creative Team has worked hard to maintain a continuity between the game and the printed media. StarCraft: Ghost Spectres is another gem in their collection.
- Book Description
- Book Excerpts
- Blizzplanet interviews Nate Kenyon
- StarCraft: Ghost–Academy Vol. 1 (Cryptozoic — iPad, iPhone)
Straight to the point. Nate Kenyon is an award-winning author of science fiction, horror and suspense novels. He definitely adds these three elements into the StarCraft universe setting with plenty of action, blood and gore.
StarCraft lore fans will welcome and savor all the continuity nods from the various printed and in-game sources. The outcome of the never-published finale of the StarCraft: Ghost Academy series is poured in into StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres as a generous bonus.
This book could get a 9/10 merely because (it didn’t actually novelize) the StarCraft: Ghost video game’s storyline the way Warcraft: Lord of the Clans novelized Warcraft Adventures the video game, or how Starcraft: Queen of Blades novelized step-by-step the events in the original StarCraft (1998) game. The lore community can be harsh sometimes and too demanding. Some QQ and all that.
Despite (this), the author is not responsible for taking this decision, thus it would be unfair. Was there a ulterior reason why the StarCraft: Ghost storyline wasn’t entirely novelized? Are we going to see the game shipped someday? This might be a possible reason. Moving forward, Nate Kenyon brought with him his style and Horror/Suspense genre. This is likely why Blizzard Entertainment and the Pocket Star Books publisher brought him in. Mission accomplished. His contribution to the StarCraft universe definitely deserves a 10/10. Keep them coming.
- Atticus Minor
- Oasis town
- Planet Altara
- Augustgrad city — center of Dominion power
- Hudderstown colony
- Planet Shi
- Gehenna Station
- Korhal IV
- Nidhogg town
- D-4358 — named later Demon’s Fair, is a fringe planet where two years earlier the Terrazine gas was detected for the first time by a Terran probe.
- New Folsom Prison
- Tyrador IX
- Maltair IV
- Battlecruiser Palatine
- Grizzly Armed Carrier
- CMC-400 powered combat suits
- System Runner
Some of these names are either major, support or mentioned characters:
- Kate Lockwell — UNN reporter
- Agent X41822N — November Terra
- Agent X52735N — Kath Toom
- Private Godard
- Coloner Jackson Hauler
- Captain Rourke
- Officer Harvey
- Lieutenant Chet Ward
- Gabriel Tosh
- Dr. Shaw
- Wrangler Malcolm Kelerchian
- Karl Lee — Palatine Science team leader
- Emperor Mengsk
- Ghostmaster Celsus
- Michael Liberty
- Dylanna Okyl (Ghost Academy, Team Red)
- Lio Travski
- Delta Emblock (Team Red)
- Lila – 12-age low-teep girl from Oasis town
- Bones — Talen Holt aka Agent X72341R
- The Veteran
- Major Spaulding
- Captain Vincent – The Annihilators second-in-command. Fall of Tarsonis veteran.
- Julius Antoine “Fagin” Dale
- Markus Ralian — Fagin’s second-in-command
- Aal Cistler
- Private Hunt
- General Warfield — in charge of the Terrazine experiments at Project: Shadowblade.
- General Cole Bennett
- Corbin Phash
- Senator Huntley
Some of these organizations are mentioned in StarCraft: Ghost–Spectres.
- Kal-Bryant Conglomerate
- Kel-Morian Combine
- UED terrorist Cell
- 22nd Marine Division: The Annihilators
- Dominion Psi-Ops Division
- Umojan Protectorate
- Umojan Ruling Council
- Sector 9 (Kal-Bryant Operation)
- Umojan Shadowguard
- Tal’darim Protoss
Chapter 1: Altara
Chapter 2: The Zerg
Chapter 3: Kath Toom
Chapter 4: Mal Kelerchian
Chapter 5: Emperor Mengsk
Chapter 6: Gabriel Tosh
Chapter 7: Project: Shadowblade
Chapter 8: Oasis
Chapter 9: The Annihilators
Chapter 10: Gehenna
Chapter 11: Augustgrad
Chapter 12: Spectres
Chapter 13: The Battle for Augustgrad
Chapter 14: The Panic Room
Chapter 15: The Lost
Chapter 16: Spaulding
Chapter 17: The General
Chapter 18: Dr. Shaw
Chapter 19: The Escape
Chapter 20: The Palatine
Chapter 21: Gehenna Station
Chapter 22: Nova
Chapter 23: The General
Chapter 24: Gabriel Tosh
Chapter 25: The Cell
Chapter 26: The Cavern
Chapter 27: Old Friends
Chapter 28: Detonation
Nate Kenyon Bios
Nate Kenyon grew up in a small town in Maine, an avid reader and writer from a very early age. Kenyon’s first novel, Bloodstone, was published by Five Star to critical acclaim, named a Bram Stoker Award finalist in hardcover, winning the P&E Horror Novel of the Year, and becoming one of the publisher’s all time bestselling speculative fiction titles. His second novel, The Reach, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and raves from Booklist, Pop Syndicate, Dark Scribe and many more. The Reach, also a Stoker Award Finalist, was optioned for film. His third novel, The Bone Factory, was called “masterful” by Booklist. His fourth novel Sparrow Rock, was released in May 2010 to critical acclaim, and also optioned for film.
Kenyon’s trade paperback science fiction novella, Prime, was released in July 2009 from Apex Books. He has recently had stories published in Shroud Magazine, Permuted Press’s Monstrous anthology, Horror World, Dead Lines, The Harrow, and Legends of the Mountain State 2, and has many others forthcoming, including a story in The Monster’s Corner, edited by Christopher Golden. Four of his stories were featured in the Dart Arts anthology When the Night Comes Down.
Kenyon’s novel StarCraft Ghost: Spectres, based on the bestselling video game by Blizzard Entertainment, will be released by Pocket Books in September 2011. He is currently working on a Diablo novel for Blizzard and Pocket. Kenyon is also working on a new thriller for Thomas Dunne Books. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers.
Kenyon still lives in the Boston area, and is at work on his next novel. — visit http://natekenyon.com