Story: A season-by-season guide to the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Includes season overviews, episode summaries, behind-the-scenes info and insights, photos, production drawings, and anecdotes.
Review: As a huge fan of Deep Space Nine, I had patiently waited for a definitive episode guide to my favorite Trek incarnation. Fortunately for all of us with limited budgets, Pocket Books refrained from releasing a guide until the series had run its course, instead of releasing three or so versions with a little added each time.
So it was with great glee I ripped open that box from Amazon.com and grasped the official episode guide to DS9. The first thing that struck me was that it’s friggin’ huge. Weighing in at over 720 pages, the thing nearly has its own weather! The cover is also very nice, with a nice collage of the station, wormhole, and Sisko. And as much as I like the U.S.S. Defiant, I was pleased to see it absent from the cover. After all, the show was really about the three entities thusly displayed.
As with the TNG guide before it, the guide is split up season by season. Each chapter begins with an overview of the season and includes a story summary and commentary for each episode. The story summaries are quite lengthy and give a lot of detail, much more so than previous episode guides. The behind-the-scenes commentaries also offer a good deal of depth, with many quotes from the producers, directors, and cast members. All parties involved give solid, fascinating insight into the episodes.
Criticism has been aired condemning the book as being overly pro-DS9. Well, to that I say, “Duh.” It’s not very often that a book is going to bash with impunity the series it’s covering, or in the case of DS9, compare itself to the other Treks. To be honest, I disagree with this ascertainment of overt bias. In many of the behind-the-scenes sections, the producers openly admit that certain episodes were of less than stellar quality, without offering up pathetic excuses or “could’ve beens” (at least very often). Naturally, there are certain episodes that the producers defend (His Way being a good example) that fans decried. But by and large Ron Moore and Ira Behr know what worked and what didnâ€™t and are candid about the whole affair.
They also gave several insights, I thought, into what made DS9 an above-average show, to say nothing of a good Star Trek show. The biggest example I found was the revelation that the stupendous episode Improbable Cause was to have been a stand-alone episode. The original ending had Garak threatening Tain with the revelation of information he would find quite embarrassing (thanks to that isolinear rod Garak gave to Bashir before leaving the station). The writers and producers considered that a really lame cop-out, so they made a part two. Shall I even speculate as to what the producers of other Trek shows (which shall remain nameless) would do in a similar circumstance? Nah.
In summary, the “Deep Space Nine Companion” is a must-have for any fan of Sisko and his crew. Even people who hate the show would do themselves a favor by borrowing a copy from an enlightened friend and reading up on the much-maligned middle child of the Star Trek family. They just might come away with a better appreciation of this fine series.
Authors: Terry J. Erdmann with Paula M. Block
Publisher: Pocket Books