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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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04/28/2004 Archived Entry: "Star Trek DS9 Book Review: Unity"

Unity
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
by SD Perry
Publisher: Pocket Books, 2003

Reviewed by Ida Vega-Landow

This book is the finale in the "Deep Space Nine: Avatar" series. It begins with a Linear Time calendar describing all the events that have occurred aboard DS9 and to its characters since the mysterious disappearance of Captain Benjamin Sisko. It seems to be a capsulated version of all the DS9 novels that preceded this one, which either saves you the expense of buying and reading all those other books, or makes you curious to find and read them.

After taking us through the last eight months of the year 2376, we finally arrive at the present, star date 53679.4. The Starship DEFIANT is returning to the Alpha Quadrant after a grueling mission in the Gamma Quadrant. The C.O. is Commander Elias Vaugh, a centenarian human who is second in command at DS9 since Colonel Kira was promoted after the departure of the Emissary of the Prophets, a.k.a. Sisko. Commander Vaugh is a man of many sorrows, chief among them the recent death of his wife, Commander Ruriko Tenmei, at his own hands. She was only believed dead before, but it turned out that she was assimilated by the Borg, and he was forced to kill her before she could assimilate their only daughter, Prynn Tenmei, also a Starfleet officer. Now he's living with his guilt daily, as well as his daughter's hostility, but since she's currently serving under him, she can only avoid him during her off-duty time.

The other members of the crew are carrying their own personal burdens; Doctor Bashir, Ezri Dax, and Ensign Nog are still recovering from an "out of body" experience in the Gamma Quadrant, where they encountered an alien artifact which put them out of phase with the space-time continuum and caused them to live alternate lives; Bashir lost his genetic enhancements, Ezri rejected the Dax symbiont, which had to be removed, and Nog's leg, which was shot off during the Dominion War, grew back. The young Andorian helmsman, Thrishar ch'Thane, a/k/a Shar, is estranged from his mother, the Andorian Ambassador, because he wouldn't return home to get married and one of his three bondmates committed suicide due to his perceived desertion.

The only happy people on board are two of the passengers, Jake Sisko and the former Kai Opaka Sulan. Jake went into the Delta Quadrant in search of his father, hoping to fulfill a prophecy in an ancient Bajoran text written by the heretic Ohalu, which describes a son who is destined to enter the Celestial Temple and return with a lost herald. Jake thought that meant he would find his father, but instead he found the Kai, whom DS9 fans may recall was left behind on a planet where the inhabitants were perpetually at war; something in the air kept bringing them back to life so they could fight over and over again. Now she is returning to Bajor, along with Jake, who is anxious over the welfare of his stepmother, Kasidy Yates, who still hasn't had the baby she conceived from her husband before his disappearance.

Most of the book's plot centers around the heretical Ohalu text, which concerns the unborn child, referred to as the Avatar, the Second Child of the Emissary. So far the text has proven truthful, but not always in the manner interpreted. For example, the ten thousand deaths that were supposed to occur before the birth of the Avatar were found to have happened over a century ago, thus fulfilling the prophecy without sacrificing present lives. But the controversial text is still causing a commotion on Bajor, ever since Col. Kira uploaded it on the Bajoran comnet so that all Bajorans could read it. As punishment for her action, the Vedek Assembly has declared her Attainted, the Bajoran equivalent of excommunication. She can no longer practice her faith.

The Cardassians, led by Gul Macet, a cousin of the still MIA Gul Dukat, are now in charge of station security, because they're the only ones immune to the parasites that are infesting people's minds and trying to take over the Alpha Quadrant, starting with Bajor. These are the same parasites that Captain Picard had to contend with in the Next Generation episode, "Conspiracy" in the first season. Old villains, new heros, but still as much action and suspense as you would expect from an episode of "Deep Space Nine" in its' prime. S.D. Perry is obviously as well-informed about the series as the most devoted Trekker, and her devotion shows in the way she manages to bring in all the familiar, well-loved characters from DS9 and uses them to advance the plot, not as filler to cover up the holes in it. If there were any holes in this plot, they were too small for me to see.

I found it heartwarming to read about Sisko, seeing that his compassion and determination haven't changed, even among the Prophets. He still cares deeply about Bajor and its' future, but he also cares about his own people; fellow Starfleet officers in general and his family in particular. He plays an important part not only in saving Bajor from the invasion of the parasites (who have infested major heads of government as well as some of the vedeks guarding Kasidy in her house on Bajor), but in saving Commander Vaugh from his ever-present guilt over what he was forced to do for Starfleet and for his ungrateful daughter. After one of the parasites' Bajoran hosts violently interrupts Vaugh's orb experience with the Orb of Unity, he is sent into the same dimension as Sisko, whom he meets as Benny Russell, the Black science fiction writer from the DS9 episode "Far Beyond the Stars". He and "Benny" appear to be patients at the same mental hospital, where Vaugh's subconscious apparently believes he belongs for the killing of his wife, and where Sisko found himself in a false vision sent by the Pah-wraiths while he was trying to dig up the Orb of the Emissary on Tyree in "Shadows and Symbols", the first episode of the seventh and final season of DS9.

Ro Lauren, now a lieutenant and in charge of DS9's security, also appears in this novel. Apparently she's one of the few survivors of the Maquis who was able to return to her home planet after the Dominion War. She tried to fit into the Bajoran military, but was miserable on Bajor, so they sent her up to DS9. The spoilsports at Starfleet Command still want to court-martial her for desertion, but her former commanding officer, Captain Picard, is running interference for her. (He doesn't appear in the novel, but he makes his presence known.) I admired her courage in the face of much opposition and hostility from Starfleet, and was amused to learn that she was dating Quark, of all people! Our favorite Ferengi is less than thrilled at the prospect of Bajor joining the Federation, because that would mean the whole planet would switch to a moneyless economy, meaning no currency in any form, and no more lovely latinum for Quark's Bar. He's planning to leave Bajor when it becomes a member planet and wants Ro to join him, journeying among the stars in search of profit. Ro is even seriously considering the offer, which shows you how far she's come from the angry young Bajoran refugee whose only dream was to live in peace on her own planet, free of Cardassians. But when the parasites finally make their move, taking Kasidy, Jake, and Sisko's father and sister hostage as they seize the monastery containing all the Orbs, Kira is forced to leave Ro in charge while she rushes down to Bajor to rescue the Emissary's family. Ro then discovers she can dissemble with the best of them as she holds off the clueless Starfleet admiral who keeps demanding that things be done by the book and doesn't appreciate subordinates who use their own initiative during a crisis. (Kirk had to deal with these kind of people on a regular basis.)

The talented Ms. Perry has succeeded in bringing back most of our favorite Star Trek heroes one way or another, without making them look ridiculous or superficial. No "walk-on" parts here; even Odo makes an appearance near the end of the novel. Yes, it does have a happy ending, but only after much adversity and a few close calls for our heroes. Along the way, we find out about the surprising link between the parasites and the Trill symbiotes, the interesting marriage customs of the Andorians, and what became of Sisko after he went to the Prophets. All in all, a very satisfying read.

***

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