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ABYSS

A novel by David Weddle and Jeffrey Lang (2001, Pocket Books)
Star Trek Deep Space Nine Relaunch Book 3
Section 31 book 3

Bashir is sent to destroy a genetically-enhanced madman, before he unleashes his own justice and Jem'hadar on the quadrant.

 

 

3+ stars+

Read March 25th to 29th, 2003  
   

A very good continuation of the Deep Space Nine series, though a lot of the plot seemed unnecessary, and the bad guy was more of a nuisance than a threat.

I was really expecting this book to be a vessel for the exploration of Bashir's character. However, the one who went through the most crisis was not the doctor, but the Jem'hadar, Taran'atar! He gets the absolute best scenes in the book, and some great discussions with various others.

It was nice to see such character growth in a plot-oriented novel. I was never a fan of Section 31 on the TV series, and was not really looking forward to another adventure with them. However, the author pulled it off rather neatly, and ended it in a way that I think could welcome more.

Contrary to what Cole says in this book, Bashir didn't out-think Sloan in the end, but forced his hand. Sloan knew that Bashir couldn't have the cure to the Founder's disease, but had to check on the claim, anyway. Regardless, I would like to forget that episode of the show ever happened.

The plot takes Bashir, Ezri, Ro and Taran'atar to a planet, Sindorin, in the Badlands. Once there, they are split up, with Bashir and Ezri getting captured by Locken, the genetically-enhanced person whom they have been sent to stop. The author must have watched the Khan shows, because this guy was just as smooth as the original! He attempts to divide the two lovers, and succeeds, though we know that Bashir has to be faking it -because we know him better, and would be angry if the author actually changed him like this, and because we never see these events through his eyes.

Though Locken was quite convincing about the need for a stronger Alpha quadrant, Bashir has never doubted the moral thing to do. When he sees the clones that Locken has made of himself, and the virus that could wipe out trillions in the quadrant, he only has one option -to get inside the guard of the potential tyrant and destroy him from up close. Being outwardly hostile, as Ezri was, could not have allowed him to destroy the man.

Ezri behaved exactly as she should have, and exactly as I would have expected her to behave, except for running like a damsel in distress at one point. I especially liked the way she poisoned the Ketracel White!

Ro and Taran'atar were beamed to the surface before their runabout crashed with the others aboard. Ro is a typical character, but it was most interesting to see how the Jem'hadar behaved, in the pitch blackness of a torrential night-time rain in a deep forest. They meet up with the Ingavi, small ape-like creatures that had escaped from their world decades ago when the Cardassians took possession of it. Those creatures have come to loathe the Jem'hadar, and Locken in particular. Locken seemed to want to help children, but I wonder how he could have justified what he did to those young Ingavi?

Ro adds emotional support to the plot, but it didn't really need her. All she did was reduce the number of Locken's Jem'hadar soldiers, but even that wasn't necessary, since Ezri had poisoned the White supply. She shows up inside the complex after everything is over.

Taran'atar, helping Ro recapture the runabout, is badly injured and captured. He is tortured, but manages to get into a great philosophical debate with Locken's Jem'hadar First. Locken had modified the genetic code so that the soldiers were loyal to him, only. Taran'atar manages to convince the First that Locken isn't a god, and only means to enslave them.

It seems that we missed a good part of that conversation, though, as I can't see Taran'atar playing dress-up and accompanying Locken to capture Bashir. Obviously we know how he escaped, let go by the First, but I think he would have been more likely to kill Locken the moment he met him, rather than playing along and pretending to be ready to shoot Bashir.

Once his plans have been exposed, Locken runs and tries to control his Jem'hadar. This was a very silly way to treat a character who is supposed to be superior. His message on the gutted Romulan warbird didn't sound smug or superior to me (more like bored), but at least it was better than his last moments, hysterical as the First incited his soldiers to kill their god. Afterwards, I think it was also bad writing technique to have four characters standing in a hallway describing their adventures to each other like they did.

I have never liked the need to explain Bashir's intelligence away with genetic engineering. It also contradicts what we know of him from early seasons. However, it was treated relatively well through the rest of the series, and I can live with it. My biggest question, though, is what of the other species in the galaxy? Do they participate in genetic engineering? What would a super-Romulan be like? Or a super-Cardassian? Would they try to take over the galaxy, as well? Is humanity the only species that goes unstable and megalomaniac with enhanced brains?

There is a lot of continuity in this book, from the Avatar series and from the TV series. There is almost too much of it, actually. Sometimes it looked as if the author was trying to fit in as much as he could, which is not a good thing, even to the point where he referenced the Next Generation movie Insurrection with the holoship. That was an interesting observation, though, that they might have been behind the Admiral's motives... Regardless, much of the continuity was well-placed.

There were a few scenes that took place outside the main plot, on the station itself. These were always a welcome break. I like the fact that the events of Avatar are still in focus, with the station core still gone, the characters still finding their places. The station is evacuated as Nog and the Starfleet Corps of Engineers (from the SCE e-books) replace the core with the one from Empok Nor, which was towed to Bajor!

Shakaar calls Kira, and she gets to talk with officers, regarding her rejection by the Bajoran spiritual community. I really liked those conversations, though Kira handled Shakaar terribly- always on the defensive.

I also really like the way the character of Vaughn is being treated. We are slowly being let into his life. He was introduced in Avatar as likely being part of Section 31. It was nice to discover that he is as set against it as Bashir is. It might be nice to see them team up together and face off against their nemesis sometime. I also loved the misleading evidence we had about Tenmei -that Vaughn might be attracted to her (even Quark makes that mistake), but she turns out to be his estranged daughter. I do wonder how he found out about the Ingavi, though, enough to put them in the holoship and transport them off before Section 31 destroyed Locken's complex and all creatures around it.

There was a lot of setup for future installments, stuff that I'm sure the authors don't even know how to use, yet. There is the business-like Orion who dealt with Quark, Ro finding Odo's security stash, and so on. I look forward to the future of the series.

I enjoyed the adventure to Sindorin, though I was a little disappointed that Bashir and Ezri didn't get to go to Earth, to visit O'Brien and Sisko's father. I thought he would be the one to discover that Jake was missing. Instead, that went to Kassidy.

Taran'atar gets to say a lot about the Jem'hadar in this book. He loathes Locken's soldiers, because they are inefficient, even when they barely stir a blade of grass when moving. His contempt is great to behold. He also respects Ro for her background, and I wonder if he will use her as an example in the future. Finally, he is constantly doubting his gods, the Founders. His discussion with Kira at the end was perfectly described -as is Kira's belief that blind faith is not faith at all. I love how the religious aspect plays into everything that has happened in these novels. It was absent as a focus for too long on the series.

What would have made this book a little better is more introspection, like what we got in the first Avatar book. I liked most of the debates between Locken and Bashir, but it could have been more psychological if we got inside their heads a little more. Still, there was a lot to like, and Section 31 didn't play as large a role as I thought it would. We actually got to see the characters under different stresses, and their reactions. That is what I look forward to in these books. We know many of the characters very well, that it is wonderful to see them grow anew in this series.

 
   

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