This is a nice set of stories, but like
all short story collections, there were good ones, bad ones, and others
that didn't affect me much.
The main problem I had with these stories is that they talked almost
exclusively about the hosts, not about the symbiont. Only in the case of
Jadzia do we get any sense that these Trill are joined. The other
aspects of their lives, of the stories that we are told, could be those
of anybody at all, of any species.
We start the collection with Ezri, and once again I let out a
depressed sigh when Vic Fontaine made an appearance. The authors got the
character down properly, but I've always found his archaic and
stereotypical speech to be annoying. The authors obviously disagree,
because they could have easily reduced the amount of it he was given. He
took up way too much screen time on Deep Space Nine as a TV series as it
The framing story doesn't do much except set up Ezri's need to give
her memories a voice. She starts it off by describing the events that
led to her being joined. I dislike it when authors change the details
that we know, like her not being the only Trill on board the ship when
Dax became unstable, and the presence of a changeling. In fact, she was
the only Trill available on the ship, because the other one had been
replaced by the changeling and was missing somewhere. Still, there were
lots of descriptive details, and the story was engaging, showing us how
not all Trill believe the stereotype that they should yearn to be
Dax's first host was Lela, a politician in the time before Trill
became truly spacefaring. They had had contact with Vulcans, but wished
to remain isolationist forever. Lela showed them that they must change,
as the galaxy might come to them. As it turns out, an impatient species
visits, desiring a rather rare mineral, which they steal when the Trill
government decides to ignore them, killing fifty people. Lela shows others in the government
that progress can be a good thing, and that knowledge about the other
species in the galaxy is absolutely required.
Still, although I enjoyed the story, I thought there should have been
more to it. I also thought that the first Dax story should have focused
more on Dax, as opposed to the host. The joining was new for both of
them. We don't get to know how Dax feels, only Lela. The only change Dax
apparently gave her was a desire to know the stars. But perhaps the lack
of experience and excess of passion she shows in the Council chambers
stems from that inexperience.
This story and the next one have distinct contradictions to the Star
Trek continuity as shown in Enterprise. Frankly, I like these better.
I like T'Pau as an ambassador who speaks her mind to Lela, not an
outcast, even though she speaks of Earth in a strange way, having just
achieved First Contact recently. I also like the idea that humans were
not the ones to invent the transporter, in Tobin's story. Perhaps it
made its debut in Starfleet, and then became standard equipment within a
short time period, as opposed to Enterprise, where every species already
has a transporter. The Romulans in this story don't even have
faster-than-light drive. As I recall from previous Trek canon, Romulans
ended up using Klingon birds of prey.
Tobin's story barely held my interest at all. Set near the end of the
Romulan wars, the Vulcan on board doesn't even know that he is distantly
related to the intruders, anothing thing that I liked (as opposed to
T'Pol, who knew everything anyway). The tale itself was rather boring, and the
writing was nothing special, either. It was standard Star Trek, with a
standard tech solution. Nothing much happens, at all. I did wonder,
after the ship was torn in two, why the Romulan vessel wouldn't chase
after the saucer section, especially after having picked up their
crewmembers ejected from the airlock. For if they could find their crew,
then finding the saucer section should be very easy. Tobin's use of the
transporter showed some discomfort, but I think the author was trying to
give us an idea why Trill didn't like being transported during the Next
Generation era. It was so vague, however, that it didn't give us nearly
I rather liked Emony's story, though only because of the interaction
with McCoy as a teenager. McCoy really goes for older women, and I'm not
talking about the symbiont -his mother saw Emony win athletics before he
All throughout these stories, we get little nods to continuity. There
was the First Contact reference with Lela, the Romulans and transporters
with various safeties with Tobin, and McCoy here. Even better, however,
they order Chateau Picard wine!
McCoy finds out how bigoted he actually is in relation to other
species, even though he thinks he has a very open mind. At the first
mention of the symbiont within Emony, he runs off. Later, after the
attack on Emony and the death of the other Trill athlete, he gets to
feel inside. As Jadzia mentioned in Trials and Tribblations, when McCoy
and Dax made love, he had the hands of a surgeon, even if he didn't know
his true calling at that time. It is unfortunate that the story ended so
abruptly, with the cliché of Emony telling McCoy that their destinies
lay along different paths. Not a subtle way of giving rejection.
The dialog and narrative of this story was rather simple and somewhat
stilted, however they were still pretty interesting. I wonder if the
problem simply lies in the short nature of the stories, so that there is
no time to do things more subtly. I was proven wrong, of course, by a
few of the next stories in this collection...
Audrid's tale was the first that I could say that I truly enjoyed.
Told by the author who would bring us the superb Avatar novels, this
story was crisp, contained well-developed characters with good dialog
and an abundance of plot, and continuity that doesn't seem out of place.
Audrid's story is told in the form of a letter from Dax to her
estranged daughter, who blames her for letting her father die when it
was not necessary. Here, we finally get the backstory for some of the
events that occurred in Lesser Evil. From Dax's point of view, the
information seemed to come out of nowhere, especially since the
parasitic aliens appeared in the same book on DS9.
At this point in Trill history, they have opened up to aliens and
space travel, but still hold their symbiotic nature secret from
everybody. So when Starfleet tells them of an asteroid approaching Trill
with biosignatures similar to some of their inhabitants (the joined
ones, of course), they rush to investigate. An aging Christopher Pike
joins them, before his accident and the events in The Menagerie.
Audrid's husband is infected by the parasite, because it is most
definitely not a symbiont, but a related species, the parasite that took
over so many high level Starfleet officers during Picard's time. The
host and symbiont were affected, and had to be both allowed to die when
the mission was over.
But the plot doesn't really matter compared to the narrative and the
emotion that the author puts into the story. I was amazed at how quickly
the story flowed, and how interested I was, compared to the others in
this book so far.
The story of Torias, however, was just way too technical and typical,
and barely interested me at all. It seems that Torias only had the Dax
symbiont for about six months. I don't recall the details of the
previous hosts, but that seems like a very short time to be considered a
"lifetime of experience". Is Torias' wife the love of his life that
Jadzia encountered in the episode Rejoined? Torias is a test pilot, and
is testing the Transwarp engine that will be used in the Excelsior
project that we see in Star Trek III. Who knew that Saavik was part of
the project, as well, as a Starfleet Ensign?
The transwarp concept is very strange. Was Excelsior supposed to
travel to "everywhere" at infinite speed as described by Torias in his shuttlecraft? Or
was that project abandoned to more traditional engines when the ship
finally used its transwarp drive in Trek III? It certainly didn't
revolutionize space travel as expected. Perhaps after Torias died, they
didn't make any more progress.
Fortunately, the next story is co-written by S.D. Perry again, and is
very, very interesting. Joran was the host who wasn't quite suitable,
became a monster murderer, and who was erased from existence for a
while. The story was very engaging, as we watched the detective hunter
and Joran the hunted do a musical dance. Once again, the plot was not
important; it was just there to showcase the characters, who were
wonderfully written. The two stories by this author were so far above
the others in terms of quality, they raised the whole calibre of the
book. We know a lot about Joran from a couple of DS9 episodes. This
story just fills in the details. Joran Dax was different from the person
he was when unjoined. His musical masterpiece was written from the
emotions of his victims as they died. It is a twisted story, balanced by
the meticulous nature of the detective. Wonderfully done.
Of course, we can't get two great stories in a row. Curzon's tale was
quite bizarre, but not all that interesting. It features a young
Benjamin Sisko, who was way too sex-crazed to be recognizable. In fact,
I can't see him as a younger version of the Captain we knew from DS9 at
all. He and Curzon spout meaningless philosophy like it was second
nature. He even gives nicknames to the strange creatures of the Azziz,
derogatory comments that annoyed me greatly.
This author wrote a Star Wars book that I read recently,
Deception. Like this story, it was riddled with inconsistencies. He
wasn't even consistent about his units of measurement, as Sisko used
miles, inches and millimetres within a few pages of each other. Somehow
Sisko was late for a meeting, even though the computer woke him up.
Wouldn't he have been the one to set the alarm in the first place? I
also found the Azziz to be too much like a peaceful version of the
Yuuzhan Vong. The author seems to enjoy hive-like aliens, judging from
these two stories.
Like an Enterprise episode from the second season, the other species in
this story required a third sex in order to reproduce. She is very
sensual, though she was supposed to have been put to death after the
recent deaths of the royal family. Curzon manages a compromise by
sending her home with the Azziz when one of their members was killed.
That seemed like a really stupid race, too, despite all of their
biotechnology. They sent out a spaceship that couldn't lose a single
piece of itself without the ship dying. For a spacefaring race, they don't seem
to understand the dangers, natural and from other species, of being in
space. At the beginning of the story, Sisko says that the Azziz are his
first First Contact, but later, we learn that humanity had met the Azziz
two hundred years earlier. I wish somebody had checked this author's
In spite of all Sisko's efforts, he doesn't get to have sex with the
wonderfully sensual woman from the bar. He gets to dance with her
through the night, though, before she leaves. This story just frustrated
me... and I also wondered how Ezri could tell a story from Sisko's point
The best story, however, was saved for last. Jadzia's tale was the
most powerful of all told in this collection. Wow. I was shivering from
the outstanding character work done here. I don't recall mention of
Jadzia having a sister in the series, but I loved Ziranne immensely and
shares a bond with her sister that is stronger than any other. The trust
that she put in Jadzia was absolute and marvellous, whether it was when
they were children sledding and she got hung over a cliff, or in the
time of this story, when she brought a stolen symbiont home to Trill.
Having a black market for symbionts is a very strange concept, but
Trek has been stranger... But it also brings into the stories Verad, who
temporarily stole Dax from Jadzia a year earlier. He had plans to share
a symbiont among many of the unjoined, though some of the plot was a
It is strange that some of the best discussions of Dax come in the
form of flashbacks to when Jadzia was not yet joined. When her sister talks
about how Jadzia will still remain part of herself, we can see the
selflessness there. But it also talks about how the symbiont becomes
part of the host. Needless to say, Jadzia saves her sister and the
symbiont. This story was one of only a few in the book that were truly
enjoyable and very well-written.
Through all the stories, we might gain a little more appreciation of
Trill society, as it developed from introspective and isolationist to
more and more open, reducing the stigma attached to discussing symbionts.
Unfortunately, the symbionts and their effect on the hosts was largely
ignored. Most of the authors didn't discuss the symbionts at all, except
to say that the hosts were joined. There was nothing really special
about the people they described, except that Dax seemed to be involved
in many scientific and political breakthroughs through history. These
could have been any set of individuals. Fortunately, there were a couple
of authors who did more than just tell us a story about a host. The
joined Trill who were described that way were very well described.
Jadzia's story in itself brought my rating of the book up half a point
So the final tally goes as such: I really liked Audrid, Joran and
Jadzia. Ezri, Lela and Emony were pretty good, Curzon and Tobin didn't
do much for me, and I didn't really enjoy Torias.
I have never really been a fan of short stories, mainly because they
are always too short. However, a couple of authors showed how to write
excellent short stories that told more than I would have expected, and
made the book worthwhile.