I'm conflicted, because I love
character stories, and this was definitely a story about characters.
However, it was so slow, and the author's obsession with giving every
single detail about a scene made it difficult to read.
This book explores Vaughn, delves deep into his soul, his
relationship with his daughter, and gives him a change in his life. It
may be a big thing for him, but it was a small change for me. We don't
really know this character very well, even after this very long book, so
we didn't get to see the struggle he was going through, and we barely
got any detail on who he and Prynn were, through four previous books.
A significant part of the book takes place on the station, before the
mission to the Gamma Quadrant leaves. The book actually starts with the
rescue mission to the Jarada planet, where Vaughn was able to convince
that xenophobic species to accept refugees in
Demons of Air and
Darkness. On the first page, we get Vaughn's first thoughts on losing
his daughter, as Prynn seems to have been killed on the Defiant, because
the Jarada discover the Gateways won't be reopened, thus the information
they received about the passageways is now meaningless.
Defiant makes its way back to the station, and Prynn is healed.
Vaughn attempts to take her off the Gamma Quadrant mission, but relents
when she yells at him for it, and he pleads to keep her there when a
Starfleet Admiral thinks her presence might hinder his command.
The other characters get very little time in this book. Shar's story
is the most interesting, a continuation of the story as it has been told
over the last few books. His mother tries to convince him to return to
Andor so that he can mate -at least that's how it seems to be. We don't
know anything about Andorian biology yet, so I can't be sure. It seems
that Andorians mate in fours, and Shar is the true male of the group.
There is a male who has female tendencies, a female who has some male
traits, and a very stereotypical female. Shar's mother brings them all
to the station, in the hope that they will convince him to go home. Shar gets
angry, however, resenting this "conspiracy". Eventually, he relents to
the true female, Thriss, and promises he will return home after the Gamma
Quadrant trip. It should prove to be very interesting by the time they
Ezri gets a little story of her own, which continues her command
training. In the Gamma Quadrant, she loses a crewwoman due to one of her
decisions, something which weighs heavily on her. Then, later, she takes
a great risk to a great reward.
Nog and Bashir didn't get much to do except hang around the
background and react to the situations. Nog had a significant moment
near the beginning of the book, when he runs into Taran'atar, and is
frightened nearly to death. Of course, he lost his leg to a Jem'hadar
soldier in the seventh season of the series, so he has every right to
feel that way.
I don't yet find Vaughn to be a compelling character, which may be
why I had so much trouble getting through this book. Perhaps I need more
familiar points of view. We'll see, as the series progresses.
Perhaps, though, it was the plot that left me feeling less than
enthusiastic. Vaporizing the remains of the Vahni moon, admiring the
scenery with so much detail, and wandering a deserted planet for so many
pages didn't do anything for me. The plot of the Gamma Quadrant mission,
for what it was, dealt with a giant pulse that swept through space to
the world of the Vahni, an interesting species that communicates by
sight, rather than sound. I was really puzzled by the geometry of the
pulse. If it originated from the world they found, which was rotating
once a day or so, revolving around its star once a year or so, what are
the chances that it would hit any other world, which would also have its
own days and years, on a different scale? I think the chances of it
hitting the Vahni world once are very small -but the author wants us to
believe that this has happened many times in decades! Worse, that two
pulses in a row would hit the Vahni world!
Vaughn, Prynn and Shar end up in a shuttle crash while trying to
penetrate the huge cloud barrier that surrounds the planet of the pulse.
Shar seems to be near death, though he makes a typical recovery through
the rest of the book, despite a leg bone that tore through his skin, and
severe damage to an organ that Vaughn didn't even recognize. When they
first crashed, Vaughn knew that Shar needed to see a doctor "quickly". I
guess he meant within the next few days.
These people seem to be able to go to the brink of death, and recover
without even a scar. I thought it would be interesting to have Shar lose
his leg, so that he would be similar to Nog. Nog's experience was far
more traumatic, so there could be a real learning experience between
them. It was not to be. The main cast, though, has a remarkable ability
to survive those near-death experiences. Vaughn survives the tower
collapsing, Ezri in the shuttle (how did the Defiant get a tractor beam
to her, if they were so deep in the atmosphere, surrounded by thousands
of rocks?), Prynn on the bridge, and Shar and Prynn both in the shuttle
I don't generally like shuttle crashes, as they are cliché in Star
Trek, simply as a way to either get characters to bond, or to extend the
story time, usually unnecessarily. While Prynn works on the damaged
transporters in the shuttle, Vaughn sets off across country to try and
disable the pulse on his own. So he walks, and walks, and walks... He
encounters moments in his life where he felt lonely, thus enforcing his
desire to reconcile with Prynn. Somehow, Prynn comes to the same
conclusion at exactly the same moment.
The plot was tedious, but at least we got some great character
development. If only it didn't take on such a dull form.
The author is very wordy, giving descriptions to every minute detail.
It borders on irrelevant at times, as it delays so much of the story.
While it's nice to see attention to details of our lives at times,
describing everything in everybody's life is too much. At least the
author deals with thoughts and emotions in the same manner, which I
enjoyed a lot more.
As a contrast to such incredible detail, at times we are left hanging
about an event, such as Prynn's recovery at the beginning, and the
reader has to make the connections between what came before and what the
author was telling us, though he does fill us in later. I rather enjoy
that method of storytelling at times. On the other hand, when we did
flash back to whatever happened, it was also given in great detail.
There must be a happy medium!
The only place where I found the author's great detail to be more
interesting than irritating, was ironically in the second shuttle crash.
In the aftermath, when Vaughn comes to consciousness and surveys the
landscape, the full description actually aided the storytelling.
The author also put in too many last-minute circumstances, like
saying that Shar would have died only hours later if they hadn't found
him (if that's so, then the explosion should have killed him, even in an
EV suit), or that the pulse would fire again in days (then hours) when
it hadn't fired in a year before the pulse they first saw. Why did Nog send
bombs to seal the subspace breach? What kind of engineer doesn't allow
for a safety factor?
So what was the pulse? Energy building up to allow a new sort of
creature to emerge from its own universe (or subspace pocket) into ours.
It learned of our universe through the former inhabitants of this
planet, who had tapped into the thoughts of this creature as a virtual
reality thing. When they stopped, realizing that it was a living
creature, it became very lonely, and entered through the VR entry,
enlarging it as it went. Vaughn decides to set it free, instead of
sealing the gateway as Nog had intended.
The interesting part of this, which didn't take nearly enough time
(which was devoted to Vaughn instead) came from the communication
between Dax and the "thoughtscape". If Dax stopped communicating
Ezri, then it could feel what happened in the life of this creature.
That, of course, put Ezri's life in danger, but with Bashir's help, she
survived (of course).
Of course, there are other plots in this book, though the one just
described would have taken up a book of its own. I wonder if this book
should have kept a tighter focus, and not dealt with so many things at
Intertwined with the Gamma Quadrant mission is Bajor's renewed
petition to enter the Federation. Most of this comes from Kira's point
of view, as she deals with Starfleet Admiral Akaar, who doesn't seem to
like her very much. I suspect that's just who he is, maybe what his
species is like. In such a very short time, which is excused by Kira
thinking that it really was a short time, Bajor is actually
admitted! I think this should have spanned the whole Mission Gamma
series, but presumably the authors have something different in mind.
Kira's introspection was at least more interesting, though the minute
details of her life were as overexposed as with Vaughn. The most
interesting part of her story was her religious development, even though
she is still forbidden to pray with other Bajorans.
Ro and Quark fared a little better, surprisingly. We get a love story
between them! Who would have thought? Ro is lonely, and feels that she
will lose her place in life, again, if Starfleet takes over the station,
since they will never accept her re-entry. Just when she was settling in,
her life will once again be turned inside out. Quark is his usual self,
except that he is smitten with Ro. He doesn't realize that he should
behave differently towards her because she actually has feelings for
him! He gets into trouble by flirting with the Orion girl that he and Ro
picked up in the last book.
I still hate Vic Fontaine, but he was put to relatively good use with
Quark. I thought Quark didn't like Vic in the TV series, either. As far
as I know, Vic's seemed like competition, since people would tell the
hologram their secrets instead of him. At least we didn't have to put up
with his singing. He had some pretty good words for Quark, and the
author captured his sentences and mannerisms perfectly.
Kassidy gets a little time, enough to remind us that she is still
pregnant, worried about Jake, and getting used to the Bajorans treating
her like a religious idol. Nothing more.
Taran'atar gets as little time as Kassidy, but his is far more
interesting. He is still observing people on the station, but he has
gone to different sections, instead of just the operations center. He
visited the daycare! He scared the educators, but not the children. The
author's style seems much better suited to long stretches of conflict
rather than when the characters aren't doing anything. His emergence
into Quark's bar also interested me, especially since Quark could hear
On a technical note, I agree completely with the author when he uses
"Defiant" or "Trager" for ship names as opposed to "the Defiant", but it
is inconsistent with the way the characters and writers on the TV show
used it. It also feels more clumsy, probably only
because we've used it the other way for ages. Kirk would not sound right
saying "We'll see you on Enterprise". "We'll meet on the Enterprise"
sounds much more natural.
I also nearly laughed out loud when I read that Jonathan Archer was a
great explorer, according to Vaughn! Ha! Maybe he's a good explorer, but
he's a lousy captain, from what I've seen on Enterprise!
The Bajoran people get to grow up in this book, albeit rather
quickly. I don't understand why they still use oil lamps -they are far
older then Earth's society, and have advanced ships. Maybe they don't
As for the rest of the characters, particularly the ones in the Gamma
Quadrant, they go through typical near-death experiences, and long
periods of isolation, which changes their lives. In the case of Vaughn
and Prynn, it's for the better, as they do reconcile in the last pages.
We still don't know who Vaughn is. We know who he wants to be, and we
definitely must get to know him better as a character. Somehow, though
he was the focus of this book, I don't feel that I know him better
because of it.
Hopefully the next book will be more lively, while at the same time
giving the characters the character growth that we've seen so far in