Warp Factor Trek

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With the recent documentary What We Left Behind, viewers got to see the writers and creators of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine break down a hypothetical eighth season of that TV series. Simon & Schuster took the same step in 2001, with a range of novels presenting readers with what said season might have looked like. This run of books culminated in the novel Unity, released in 2003, DS9’s tenth-anniversary year.

Recently, I enjoyed reading the beginning of the DS9 relaunch in the omnibus collection Twist of Faith, which combines the first four novels in the range and a segment from the Gateways novella collection What Lay Beyond. For some reason, I never got around to reading these novels when they were first released, but with monthly ninety-nine-cent book offers from Simon & Schuster beginning this past May, I decided to try them. This omnibus collection, released in May 2007, presents all the books in chronological order, along with a new foreword from writer David R. George III, reflecting on the history of the series.

The covers of Avatar, Books One and Two (Simon & Schuster)

First are the pair of novels Avatar, Books One and Two, written by S.D. Perry. It’s four months after the series finale, and life on DS9 continues. Colonel Kira Nerys, once Captain Sisko’s first officer and liaison to Bajor, is in command of the station and handling all the station’s affairs, frequently in conflict (due to opposing views) with Lieutenant Ro Laren, the station’s new chief of security. Julian Bashir and Ezri Dax, who became a couple in the series finale, now find their relationship strained by Ezri’s struggle to reconcile the past lives of the Dax symbiont and Julian’s inability to see her for her. Nog continues serving aboard the USS Defiant, proving himself repeatedly, and Quark is still the same, running his bar and wringing every profit he can.

But, as with many long-running series, new characters also appear. There’s Shar, a young Andorian ensign assigned to the Defiant, who soon develops a friendship with Nog, while trying to forge his own identity and escape the fact his mother is a prominent Federation Council member. There’s Commander Elias Vaughn, a 100-year-old Starfleet officer who can outpace others half his age, and Prynn Tenmei, a young officer with a grudge, especially towards Vaughn.

In the Avatar two-parter, S.D. Perry successfully weaves multiple stories into a cohesive whole without overwhelming the reader, while setting up the overall narrative for the relaunch. Jake Sisko, still saddened by his father’s disappearance, goes on a vision quest into the wormhole, in an attempt to bring him back. Meanwhile, the incoming attack of a Jem’Hadar fleet may spell the beginning of a new war with the Dominion, and a mysterious visitor arrives… but is he friend or foe? Also, the murder of a Bajoran minister leads to the discovery of a book that puts Kira’s allegiance on the line.

Next, Abyss, by David Weddle and Jeffrey Lang. As he and Ezri work on their relationship, Julian is visited by a mysterious Section 31 agent who promises a new empire of augmented warriors. All Bashir has to do is promise his allegiance to a new Khan. But what exactly is the tipping point that turns friends into foes? With the threat of Section 31 looming in the background, it’s nice to see them again, even though it won’t be the last time.

Abyss to the left, Demons… to the right (Simon & Schuster)

Moving on, we have Demons of Air and Darkness, by Keith R.A. DeCandido, the fourth book in the Gateways miniseries. The threat of a planet’s destruction results in the forced evacuation of hundreds of thousands of its citizens. Kira must negotiate with a xenophobic race to ensure their survival, but their efforts are impeded by the emergence of numerous mysterious portals, unseen for at least a decade. Keith DeCandido keeps the sense of urgency flowing, as Kira and her team race to save the planet’s inhabitants and solve the mystery of the portals.

Kira’s story continues in Horn and Ivory, the fifth and final book in the omnibus. It’s also written by Keith DeCandido, and is taken from the novella collection What Lay Beyond, the seventh and final book in the Gateways miniseries. Having succeeded in rescuing the citizens of Europa Nova, Kira finds herself transported thirty thousand years, to Bajor’s distant past, a time before the planet was even named “Bajor”. Caught up in naval battles and struggles among groups who want to lay claim to the planet, she’s torn between being resigned to her fate and finding her way back home.

Rating: 5/5

All five books lay the groundwork for the epic meta story that will develop over the years and form the continuing story of Deep Space Nine and all the shocking twists and turns to come. If you’ve read all the books already and decide to give this omnibus a read, you will definitely enjoy them all over again. And if you’ve never read them… get ready for the ride of your life!

Twist of Faith is available now from Amazon.com, and directly from Simon & Schuster.

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