Miscellanea and Ephemeron
08/07/2004 Archived Entry: "Trek book review: "The Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine""
Review by Kathryn L. Ramage
Volume I of The Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - the first of a new series from Pocket Books - presumably sets the template for future volumes. This book features not a single novel, but two novellas, each looking at a planet from the Trek universe, but unrelated except for their mutual connection to Deep Space Nine.
The first story, Cardassia: The Lotus Flower by Una McCormack, is set after the end of the DS9 series, as the Federation helps to restore post-war, Dominion-devastated Cardassia. McCormack uses well-established characters from DS9 as her key players: Elim Garak, and Miles and Keiko O'Brien. Former spy/assassin/plain-and-simple tailor Garak has not only returned to his homeworld, but he is working as part of the new Kardasi government ("At my time of life," he laments, "to be reduced to upholding democracy!"). The O'Brien family have been stationed on Cardassia; Keiko is the director of a project to develop fertile soil in a barren desert land, and she encounters some problems with Cardassians who still hold xenophobic values, including a terrorist organization called The True Way. When the arrival of a visiting Bajoran religious figure sparks an incident - in the very contemporary form of a child suicide bomber - these three main characters each acts in their own way to resolve the tense and suspenseful situation: Keiko from the inside, Miles anxiously outside (working with Gul Macet, who bears a striking resemblance to the belated Gul Dukat*), and Garak going back into his past to find his own means of dealing with The True Way.
I enjoyed this story immensely, but I have a long-standing fascination with things Cardassian, and Garak is one of my favorite DS9 characters. I'm also very fond of Miles O'Brien. It was interesting to me to see O'Brien and Garak work together on friendly terms - remarkably friendly, considering some of the tensions between them in the past, but the author makes the relationship work. McCormack understands the two characters well enough- in that they are both pragmatic men who understand they have a mutual goal and can respect each other's strengths in spite of their differences - to make their alliance plausible. The only false note I detected was when Garak addresses O'Brien by his first name. I would have liked a little more mention of Dr. Bashir, since friendship with him is another thing that both men have in common… but one can't have everything in a Trek novel.
In contrast to McCormack's story, which looks at a long-familiar planet in the DS9 saga and gives us a chance to catch up with some old friends, Heather Jarman's Andor: Paradigm involves new characters, who have at most appeared in previous novels, and a planet never visited on the series (or on any other Trek series, as far as I know). Established DS9 characters - Kira, Bashir, Nog-are referred to, but never appear. The story is focused on Humans Prynn Tenmei and Phillipa Matthias as they accompany Andoran Thirishar ch'Thane to his homeworld after the death of one of Thirishar's bondmates. Andorians are a four-gendered species, and are having some biological difficulty because of it; attempts to resolve the problem via genetic and cultural changes in the population have resulted in serious political tensions on the planet.
Once Thirishar and his companions leave the space station, its denizens become unimportant and Andor: Paradigm becomes more of an individual piece of science fiction. This, I think, is to the story's advantage. Although Andorians have been a part of the Trek universe since the original series, there has never been a regular Andorian character, nor much information given about their homeworld. This lack of an established canonical framework gives the author plenty of open ground to work with (although she does acknowledge other, previous novels for plot set-up and background material) and to provide some fascinating glimpses into the society and psychology of the Andorian people. It also gives her more of a chance to focus on the characterizations of Prynn and Thirishar and their bordering-on-romantic relationship, which I also felt was a strong point to this story. Since they aren't the focus here, the gratuitous appearance of regular DS9 characters would have been intrusive and distracting. While I preferred Cardassia: The Lotus Flower (but I admit I am biased toward a good Garak tale), this was also an enjoyable read.
* An inside joke; both Guls were played by Marc Alaimo.
The Wapshott Press
Ontology on the go!
"Ontology on the Go!"
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