Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Avatar: Book One

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Avatar: Book OneOrder this bookStory: Only a few months after the end of the Dominion War and the disappearance of Captain Sisko in the Fire Caves of Bajor, things still haven’t quite returned to normal aboard space station Deep Space 9. Colonel Kira Nerys has become the station’s commander, though she is shaken when a friend of hers, a Bajoran Vedek, is brutally murdered on the station. Even worse, a surprise attack by Jem’Hadar comes at the worst time, with both the station and the U.S.S. Defiant undergoing much-needed refits. The damage is severe, and Dr. Bashir can’t save everyone. The station’s new security chief, former Starfleet officer Ro Laren (now in Bajoran uniform following the dissolution of the Maquis), seems to be achieving nothing but getting on Kira’s bad side. As Kasidy Yates-Sisko prepares to leave the station and settle in the house that her missing husband built on Bajor, Jake Sisko returns from Bajor with a new mission: a Bajoran Vedek slipped him a few pages of an ancient prophecy that seems to foretell the son of the Emissary retrieving his lost father from the Temple of the Prophets. Jake secretly prepares to undertake this mission, even going so far as to buy his own shuttle from Quark, but what he doesn’t know is that this same Vedek was Kira’s murdered friend – and that the rest of the prophecy, which Ro finds in a book that was in the Vedek’s possession at the time of her death, foretells something else: death on a massive scale on Bajor, something which apparently must happen before Sisko’s second child can be born.

Review: When Pocket Books relaunched its Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel series in the wake of the TV show’s demise, the possibilities seemed endless. Ever the bastard stepchild of the Star Trek franchise, DS9 was effectively being handed over to the authors and editors, who had carte blanche to advance the storyline without having to bring things around to the status quo so the book wouldn’t interfere with future filmed adventures (a requirement that had chased me away from any Trek novels years ago). This almost sounded too good to be true.

Maybe, in retrospect, it was. With the whole world of DS9 on a string, to paraphrase holodeck crooner Vic Fontaine, why on Earth would anyone play it so safe? We wind up with a good chunk of the book being set aboard the Enterprise-E, introducing a new character who will join the DS9 crew in the second half of the story, but there were so many references to previous ST:TNG episodes that even I had to think about them for a bit. And to top things off, bringing Ro Laren to DS9 is a bizarre touch that doesn’t start to seem like a good idea until the book is almost over. She’s still argumentative, forthright-to-a-fault, and sullen…but after seven years of the sometimes dysfunctional DS9 crew on TV, Ro Laren barely even stands out in this new setting. (I won’t even get into the irony that the very reason that the character of Kira Nerys was created for the TV series was that actress Michelle Forbes couldn’t be persuaded to play Ro on a weekly basis.) In the last few chapters, we finally get some meaty stuff with Ro that helps to point up how she might be used in this post-TV storyline, but before any of that can really play out, it’s all over.

The existing characters carried over from the series are at least well-written – I can see them saying and doing the things described in the book, which is a good start. There’s not much in the way of real development for them, though a couple of things look like they’re being set in motion…and again, they’ll only play out in the second book. For that matter, the Enterprise characters are well-characterized too.

The one thing I’m really holding out hope for here is the return of the Bajoran spiritual-socio-political element to center stage. That was such an important piece of the puzzle early in DS9’s televised history, but was set aside to pursue the Dominion War plotline, only to return later, reduced to watered-down prophecies of doom and the occasional horror-movie cliche. I’m most interested to see how that plays out in the second book. Granted, this book was published in May of 2001, but where future books are concerned, if the events the have transpired here on Earth since DS9 left the airwaves haven’t provided grist for the mill of new stories pitting a largely secular Federation against occasional fanatical proponents of Bajoran fundamentalism, then I’m sure the ghost of Roddenberry is weeping somewhere.

I’m not sure there’s much else I can say when this is only half the story. The prose is crisp and economical, the characters are well drawn, but it just doesn’t feel like a proper DS9 story – not just yet, anyway. Stay tuned.

Year: 2001
Author: S.D. Perry
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 284