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A novel by John Vornholt (1998, Pocket Books)
The Dominion War, Book 3

Picard and his small crew wind their way through the badlands and attempt to destroy the artificial wormhole.



2 stars

Read March 28th to April 1st, 2000  

Thoroughly unimpressed as I was, I cannot say that I actually disliked the events that took place in this book.  But when I read a Star Trek Next Generation book, I expect to experience the characters from that show, and to see the Enterprise do battle, or at least play a significant part of it.  This did not happen. 

The book picks up immediately after Book 1 ended.  The new crew finds out about the one-armed Romulan on board, and are alarmed at what he was part of, killing the previous crew.  The ship sets a course to the badlands, and are, of course, detected by a Cardassian ship.  Picard gives the Vulcan Taurik and the Romulan control of the ship, to convince the Cardassian that they are not in violation of Cardassian space.  It works, and they make it into the badlands. 

Here, they encounter a new problem, which stays with them for most of the story.  In fact, it becomes the major plot in the book, setting the wormhole plot to secondary importance.  Sabotage, and a traitor on board.  In order to gain new replicators, the crew is forced to team up with a bunch of pirates, who are looting derelict ships.  But the ships are not so derelict.  They come alive every so often, by a race of beings that is slightly out of phase from normal space.  The pirates want the stuff that comes into phase every so often with these people. 

I think this makes Picard less respectable than any book should.  They should not have allied themselves with these people, and I don't think Picard would have, no matter how desperate they were.  It was just the author's way of showing something strange.  And I don't think the Star Trek universe needs any more strange stuff.  It could have been worse, though.  I really thought they were going to discover the origins of the badlands.  They kept referring to the mystery of that area of space, and after Book 1's derelict space station, and the derelict ships here coming to life, I thought we might see an ancient battle reenacted.

I'm glad I was wrong.

But most of the book is put to use finding the traitor on board.  The transporter operator is killed, without a mark on her.  They also discover that the subspace beacon they were supposed to use to call for the Enterprise, as well as the explosives, have been sabotaged. 

Some of these scenes are neat, while others are stupid. 

Picard questions every crew member, threatening them with a mind-meld.  Even Picard would not do this.  The threat, perhaps, but not the meld.  I could believe it for the interviews, but when one crewman refuses, he actually orders Taurik to perform the meld! 

But that is the key point, because that is when Ro discovers that Taurik is actually a Changeling in disguise!  I was pleasantly shocked by this revelation, because I was really afraid that somebody was trying to sabotage the mission.  I wonder what he would have done if Picard had not been called away?

Of course, Picard gets suspicious, and thinks there might be a Founder on his ship.  I still can't follow his reasons for this.  But he implements a passcode between him and Geordi.

Geordi is working on converting their last lifepod into an asteroid, with a transporter and other stuff that they will use to knock out the artificial wormhole. 

Through a bunch of chases through the small ship, and wrong passcodes after posing as the Captain, the changeling is found, and wounded, then killed.  Unfortunately, it managed to send a distress call before it died. 

An unbelievable contrivance follows, as they prepare to die at the hands of a Jem Hadar warship.  Armed with photon torpedoes, Data appears in his shuttlecraft, and saves them.  He then helps them get to the wormhole and set the charges. 

Of course, not all goes as planned, and their ship is destroyed, they meet more resistance than planned, and the Trill wormhole scientist is killed.  But Ro arrives in her ship, and manages to distract the sensors long enough for the team to beam back to Data's shuttlecraft. 

As the wormhole opens, and the fleet of Jem Hadar ships is about to pour through, it is destroyed.  Of course, the Jem Hadar on this side are not happy about that, so the shuttle is in trouble.  But just then the Enterprise arrives to save them and get them home.  Ugh.

That last scene was even worse than Data showing up.  Riker spent all his time on that Starbase trying to get his ship out of repairs, but it was mostly dull stuff.  It appears that he finally did it, and managed to cross half of Cardassian space without being detected, when the Bajoran craft could not go more than a few light-years without being stopped.

I also wonder what kind of force the Dominion was actually expecting to arrive, when Riker has reported that Deep Space Nine was retaken a couple of days ago, which means that the Jem Hadar fleet was already decimated by the Prophets. 

Anyway, it is not worth analyzing.  Picard was way out of character here, and the plot was boring, not to mention all the contrivances it took to bring about any sort of resolution.  As far as Ro and the lieutenant are concerned, I would rather not think about their relationship.


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