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TRILL / BAJOR

A novel by Andy Mangels, Michael A. Martin, and J. Noah Kym (2005, Pocket Books)
The Worlds of Deep Space Nine Book 2

Trill faces civil war after news of the Parasites becomes public. Jake Sisko goes on another journey to find himself, while Ro investigates the burning of a Bajoran village.

 

 

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Read July 31st to August 14th, 2007  
   

There is a lot to like about this book, these two stories. They were different enough from the previous stories, and from each other, to keep the series interesting.

While the stories in the Cardassia/Andor book were completely separate, the story that takes place on Trill, Unjoined, will have repercussions on the stories that are to be told in the future in the Star Trek universe. This story gets a rating of ***. The two main characters here are Dr. Bashir and Ezri Dax. Continuing what we know about Trill society from several Deep Space Nine TV episodes, as well as the stories told in The Lives of Dax, this is a tale about secrets seeing the light of day.

Unfortunately, like in the previous two stories, we get another terrorist plot. I realize these are the villains of the day, but so far they have been in three of the three Worlds of DS9 tales. Trill as a planet doesn't seem too different from Earth of today. The scenes felt too contemporary, and had nowhere near enough science fiction to them. For a society so old that they have a forgotten star-hopping era, their cities feel very 20th-century Earth. The buildings are described as a contemporary city, even to the point that people had to open doors inward or outward, instead of the sliding doors found elsewhere. When the people riot, they do so against police in dark uniforms with clear shields, which is something we've seen on the news for the last decades on Earth. Is there no other police advancement in an alien culture hundreds of years in the future?

More geography that I don't understand: how can the most modern buildings be at the city centre? That would require the oldest city to be shaped in a vast ring that would have made trade and city-life impossible until they worked their way into the modern middle. I suppose that explains why there were no more advances in architecture -they simply ran out of room, and were unwilling to demolish buildings.

Now that I have my complaints out of the way, I have to say that there were a lot of moments that I liked about this story. While Ezri was stubborn as a Dax (as Sisko used to say), and was therefore a frustrating character who was hard to relate to, she definitely got the better part of the story. All else going on around Trill is secondary, except to say that Trill society has had it with its government's secrecy. People have been lied to all their lives about how many people were suitable to be joined. They also want to know the relationship between the Trill symbionts and the alien parasites that killed Shakaar and were barely stopped back in Lesser Evil and Unity.

So Ezri undertakes a journey to an unknown part of the symbiont caves, deep deep down where the symbionts who return go to die, or to grow old and huge. I get the feeling that the symbionts can grow to be as large as whales! They communicate with Dax the same way Dax communicates with Ezri. They show her that Trill had an expansionist period in its past, to another planet that was capable of supporting both the Trill humanoids and the symbionts. We even go back to the earliest memories of the symbionts, who discovered that it was possible to go out and enjoy the world on two legs, and form a symbiosis with the humanoids. On the colonized planet, however, something went wrong, and the symbionts started dying of a disease. This caused the Trill scientists to try and alter the symbionts to make them more resistant to the disease, which continued to mutate as fast as they could find potential cures. Eventually, the parasites were created, but they were no longer the same, full of rage and the desire for power. After all failed attempts to revert the symbionts, the Trill government decided, instead, to destroy all traces of their civilization on that planet. So all remaining Trill on the planet were killed, using electromagnetic weapons that disrupted the symbionts' neural connections.

Obviously, some of the parasites survived. I think this story is an excellent restructuring of what we know about the parasites, if we were to assume the link with the symbionts was true -and now it is part of Trek lore. It has enough plausibility to it, and the author does a good job, through the first person memories, in making it believable.

And how is Trill society changed forever? The same kinds of bombs used in attempted genocide in a time long forgotten are used on Trill, such that so many symbionts die that a moratorium is passed on future joinings, for as long as it takes the symbionts to recover.

Thanks to the medical knowledge rediscovered (way, way too quickly, as far as I'm concerned) by Bashir, taken from the Jadzia story in The Lives of Dax, the ailing symbionts can be removed from their hosts without killing the hosts. The President of Trill undertakes this procedure voluntarily, in order to become Unjoined, as the majority of her population is, and will become in the future.

This leaves only a relative handful of joined Trill, Ezri included. She may be the last Dax for a very, very long time. Of course, it also opens story possibilities, on her responsibility as one of the last of the joined, and of the possible symbiont black market she wonders about. As with all DS9 characters, at one time or another, Ezri is again an outcast.

Ezri and Bashir also break up at the end of this story, something I completely disagree with. I agree that they got together for the wrong reasons, even under false pretenses (for Bashir loved Jadzia before), they appear to have learned to love each other. So what if they started out as a lie? They admit to each other that they still love each other. They shouldn't take the easy way out, based on their broken logic. That makes an otherwise interesting story even more frustrating.

The second story in the book is Fragments and Omens, which rates ****. The story itself is somewhat fragmented, as it tries to reconcile separate plots, one of which is simply setup for the future.

In the smaller plot, a village on Bajor has been burned to the ground, killing everybody in it. It is the small village that Bashir and O'Brien were sent to back in the first or second season, where they had to channel the fears of the villagers to defeat some supernatural monster. I love the way the authors can take some obscure event and explain it. What was a supernatural monster doing in Star Trek? In Kirk's time, they were always computers lording over societies. In that DS9 episode, nobody could explain what was going on. Here we learn that the person who first created the dangerous illusion used a shard from one of the Orbs, and now somebody has stolen it and burned the village to prevent witnesses.

This story serves two purposes. The first is obviously to set up the next threat, because the fragment of a story is not resolved (which is a somewhat frustrating aspect of these books). The villain is obviously Kira from the mirror universe, from the way the prisoner they find on the ship reacts to "our" Kira, and the surprise the prisoners show.

The second purpose was far more interesting, from my perspective. It serves to show how Bajor as a whole is reacting to Federation membership. This, in my opinion, is what the TV show should have been about. Ro deals with frustrated Militia members who feel like they are being abandoned as hundreds of thousands of Bajorans apply to Starfleet. We get the feelings of the people involved, from both sides, mainly from Ro's perspective. First Minister Asarem has to deal with the Federation politically, in appointing a new ambassador after the first one dies -of natural causes. Eventually, she talks her ex-husband into the position, a prominent person from The Circle trilogy, who tried to resist Federation membership nearly a decade ago.

The main part of this book takes the form of Jake Sisko's journey of self-discovery. This is the second story in four books with Jake trying to find himself. This was a very different type of story than Rising Son, much quieter and from a stranger's point of view. It was very enjoyable.

The author has Benjamin Sisko's speech and mannerisms down perfectly. I was completely amazed. Mainly, Sisko thinks about and reacts to his new daughter, Rebecca. The author conveys his sense of fun as well as his serious side. I could easily see his mischievous smile come out when he wanted something, and knew he was going to get it.

Jake meets a young Bajoran woman named Rena, as they wait for the river passage to reopen after a devastating storm. It is obvious from the beginning that they have a connection, and no real surprise that they make love after a traumatic rainstorm on the barge that shipped them down the river. Rena doesn't even know that he's Jake Sisko, son of the Emissary. When they travel to her hometown, her responsibilities cause her to reject Jake - or Jacob, as he wants to be known, to distance himself as much as possible from his religious position.

Not much actually happens, but that is because it is a real character study, as Rena tries to deny her love for Jake, as she tries to make her past life work, the life she had before she went to university, and before her grandfather died. Jake represents so much who she is now. She doesn't love her arranged fiancÚ anymore. She doesn't want to work in the bakery in her town any more. She loves her art and wants to do more of it. Most importantly, she is most inspired when she is with Jake.

When she finally breaks up with her fiancÚ, in his most belligerent drunken stage, she realizes that her friends know what they want to do, mostly to stay in their hometown and continue their parents' professions, she also realizes that she doesn't want these things. At a ceremony that informally grants young couples a night as a married couple because of an old legend, Rena and Jake come together again.

Jake was interesting from an outsider's point of view. Rena had the typical Bajoran prejudices against outsiders, and Federation citizens in particular, that Jake surprised her at every turn. He knew how to speak and write in Bajoran! He knew ancient Bajoran legends. He actually used his skills as a writer to adapt those legends into a modern story for her, and decided that would be his next project.

I fully expected Jake and Rena to take the next step, but not so quickly. Jake's father has been so important to him that he has always included him in everything. He committed suicide in "The Visitor" to get his father back. He was so excited when he thought, in Avatar, that he was bringing his father back that he went away in complete secrecy. And now he gets married without his father's knowledge? Even for the new Jake, I find that very much out of character. Still, it's a nice touch that Rena turns out to be Korena, old Jake's wife (or ex-wife) in the alternate history of "The Visitor".

The omens of the story's title come from the presumed setup for the next set of plots, as Sisko knows something is coming that will change Bajor forever, and everybody can feel the change in the air. Opaka is leaving to be the Bajoran ambassador to the Eav-oq on the other side of the wormhole -even though we all know now that Vaughn is in love with her! And mirror-Kira (assuming it is her) wants to know something about an infinite number of exits from the wormhole, as postulated by the sirah of the burned village -the only surviving member.

Like I said, I love the way the authors of both stories can take the tiniest point from the TV episodes or previous books and blow them up into stories. Collectively, this book was better than its predecessor, and I can only hope that the next book will be even better. I wonder if the Dominion story will somehow deal with Taran'atar's fall into the cave on the asteroid when Ezri and Bashir were looking for more parasites. It felt so out of place and irrelevant, that I have to think it served some purpose. With this series, I have little doubt that we will find out!

 
   

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