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A novel by S.D. Perry (2003, Pocket Books)
Star Trek Deep Space Nine Relaunch Book 9

Jake's journey through the wormhole sparks an adventure in the Gamma Quadrant that allows him some self-discovery.



Read April 28th to May 4th, 2005  

A nice coming-of age story for Jake, with an interesting plot and well-developed characters.

When Jake disappeared back near the end of Avatar Book II, something strange was happening to him, and he disappeared for at least 6 books. This single book takes place during the same timespan as all of those books, and even includes a reference to the Gateway crisis that appeared in Demons of Air and Darkness. The end is known, of course, because the last chapter of Lesser Evil actually takes place after the end of this book.

This was the author's chance to show off a non Star Trek crew with totally new aliens, who generally have a different culture and some of whom are not humanoid. I like the fact that the authors are starting to branch out into the stuff that the series never did. Imagine Pif, the canine-like alien who can't stop talking. I know a lot of dogs like that! There is also Stess, a multipart alien, reminiscent of some rarer aliens I've read from other books, and a crystalline alien who can inhabit electronic machines. There are several humanoids, including a Cardassian left over from the ill-fated attack on the Founder homeworld, two Ferengi who keep track of the accounting, and some Gamma Quadrant aliens who we haven't seen since the first couple of seasons of DS9. Glessin's Cardassian points of view were some of my favorites. His backstory came as an emotional reaction, not as exposition. He still carried the scars from his time in the Obsidian Order's attack years ago.

Most of these aliens are well depicted, and get to show off their different nature and their unique abilities at several instances. Stess gets to be in many places at once, especially during the Drang mission. Pif can run like the wind, and keeps the Drang busy while the rest of the retrieval team attempts to abort the compromised mission.

My favorite part of this culture, however, was getting to know the Gamma Quadrant lingo, especially their terms for technology, like the "quadrant war" for the Dominion War, among other things like the holodeck. These aliens don't know everything, except a general knowledge of who Jake's father was, which was also refreshing. This crew also answered a question I had throughout most of the Mission: Gamma series. Dominion territory didn't extend to the wormhole until they noticed a distinct influx of ships from the Alpha Quadrant. After that, they kept a steady presence, but when the war was over, they retreated to their original territory again.

I treat this book as an extension to the Mission: Gamma series, because it deals with the same themes: the alien cultures of the Gamma Quadrant, and the reactions of the main characters to these differences, which are much more extreme than anything we saw in the TV show. Unlike the Mission: Gamma series, however, this book was anything but boring, and actually gave some enlightenment. In fact, it's the only book so far to show us how the Gamma Quadrant was affected by the Dominion War, though only tangentially. It would have been nice to visit a world that was still recovering.

However, because of the nature of the "retrieval" crew, that was not possible. The captain of the ship is Dez, with first officer Facity, a Wadi gambler. When they stumble upon Jake's ship, Dez takes in immediate liking to the boy, and is determined to be his father figure, because Dez's father abandoned him very young and refused to have anything to do with him later in life, and because he knows that Jake's father is gone, for who knows how long.

Those of us who know Jake better than Dez also know that Jake will never be suited to a life of profiting from the misfortune of others, even if those others are long gone. That is spelled out explicitly when they stumble upon New Bajor, which had been destroyed at the end of the second season.

Dez sets the right tone, however, appealing to Jake's archaeology background, his yearning to be a true adult, and his desire to separate himself from his recent loss. We get to see a couple of missions, the ones that affect Jake most. Some, like the Drang mission, we get in detail. Given how much  we were told about that mission before it took place (in a set of awkward dialog between Jake and Facity), there was no doubt that it would backfire on them. It was just a question of how badly. Unlike the other Mission: Gamma stories, however, I actually cared about the main alien crewmembers, showing how much better this author is than those ones. Fortunately, nobody was killed. That had to wait until later, when two parts of Stess triggered land mines, killing the whole being. Stess' death was quite a poignant moment, and one of the best parts of the book.

Looking back at all of the missions that the readers got to experience, the team was never truly successful in any of them. Sure, Jake so innocently found the living artwork box that made them all rich, but the actual mission was a failure.

Jake himself is written as a very honest character. The way the scantily-clad Facity described him is just the way he was portrayed on DS9, very easy going and eager to help. It was nice to see him find a niche, even though we knew it couldn't last. Dez and his crew don't come off as manipulative (at least until Stess's death). He was genuinely concerned for Jake, and really thought that the salvage business was the right place for Jake to grow into a mature adult. He didn't have any ulterior motives, except to be a father figure. When he saw that he was losing Jake, he became desperate and started hiding things from the boy, but he wasn't being malevolent, as he could have been portrayed, given Jake's naiveté. That would have been yet another frustrating story.

When they reach the port of Ee, however (I love that name!), the story becomes manipulative itself. It stops being an adventure, and starts fulfilling the prophecy that sent Jake on this mad search for his father in the first place.

The crystal that sent the Tosk into a frenzy, putting pressure on him to find the seer of visions, and easing that pressure when he was nearing his goal, is very frustrating because there was no real reason for it. The task was there only because it needed to be there for this part of the story to function. Tosk finds Jake, and they are overheard by another Gamma Quadrant alien, who takes them to see the Seer, who turns out to be former Kai Opaka. We already knew that this was going to happen from her appearance at the end of Lesser Evil, so it is not so much of a shock.

I liked Jake's reaction to her, since her appearance reminds him of the prophecy and the Prophets, making him an unwilling pawn in their determination of the future. Of course, Opaka is the Herald specified in the prophecy, not Benjamin Sisko, as he had assumed. I like the misdirection. Opaka's short description of her time on the planet where people couldn't die was very well written, especially considering that there were no main TV characters in it. I'm not certain of the way the destruction of the satellites caused the micro-virus to stop working, and I definitely don't like the way it reversed their sterility, but the author obviously wanted to offer some hope. Opaka has a way of doing that. Her discussion with Jake about his father was quite emotional and very engaging. I wished that we had seen Opaka's interpretation of the prophecy, though.

Opaka and Tosk play a part in what happens next, in the trip to the Eav-oq planet, where they manage to restore an entire people from subspace, and rotate an entire section of space in no time at all. This is very strange stuff, and I hope we get some sort of explanation in a future book. Eav-oq is Bajor's sister planet, and now resides a similar distance from the wormhole as Bajor, but on the Gamma Quadrant side. This makes the future of the wormhole very interesting, and Bajor's relationship with the Prophets much more complex.

In the end, Jake resigns from Dez's crew, and he, Opaka and Wex take off on their own. When their ship malfunctions, they are rescued by Weyoun, who was about to arrest Dez and his crew, but thought he could gain better political leverage by saving a Bajoran. We know from Lesser Evil that Jake is ready to go home after this adventure.

Most of the book was a very good story, and the whole thing had extremely well developed characters, making it quite enjoyable. My chief complaint falls around the fulfillment of the prophecy, which felt more like a role-playing game than people inadvertently doing what fate dictated. Much of the dialog, especially early on, felt clipped and stilted, much to my surprise. I think it was supposed to feel more casual, because the Even Odds was not a military vessel (the Wa was a very strange thing in its subdeck!), but it was very distracting sometimes.

In all, though, due especially to the intense character work involved, this was a book very much worth reading. Only one character really got any development, but it was a lot of development. I really enjoyed Jake's diaries, which often went on for pages at a time. Plus, we get the return of Opaka, who will undoubtedly cause a major stir on Bajor when she returns. I look forward to the next book in the series.


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