Deep Space Nine: Mission GammaBy Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at October 10, 2002 - 3:47 AM GMT
Title: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Mission Gamma Book One: Twilight
Authors: David R. George III
Publication Date: September 2002
Title: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Mission Gamma Book Two: This Gray Spirit
Authors: Heather Jarman
Publication Date: September 2002
The old adage "Good things come to those who wait" certainly applies to the Deep Space Nine Mission Gamma series. At the halfway point in this saga, it has been well worth the year wait for more of the continuing adventures of Deep Space Nine.
Book one, Twilight by David R. George III, and book two, This Gray Spirit by Heather Jarman, do an outstanding job providing readers of the relaunch novels with everything they could hope for and more. Wonderful descriptive narrative, fantastic characterization, meticulous plotting and advancement of almost all of the ongoing plot lines that are a highlight of the post-finale DS9 novels thus far. The style of each of the novels complements the other very well.
Twilight picks up shortly after the evacuation of the Europani during the Gateways crisis when the Defiant is acting as an escort for a convoy of refugees. The action literally explodes from the first page when the ship comes under attack from the Jarada. Upon returning to the station, the crew begins to effect repairs and upgrades to the ship as Commander Elias Vaughn prepares to take the Defiant into the Gamma Quadrant for an extended exploration mission and Colonel Kira finds herself having to cope with the arrival of a Federation diplomatic delegation.
The arrival of the Federation diplomats isn't exactly welcomed by Andorian science officer Ensign Thirishar ch’Thane (Shar) as the return of the his mother, with his bondmates in tow, escalates his already troubled personal situation. But while Shar is, in a manner of speaking, able to leave his troubles behind when the Defiant departs for its mission, the tension between Commander Vaughn and his estranged daughter Ensign Prynn Tenmei must be confronted as the mission progresses. The Vaughn-Prynn storyline is the primary plot in Twilight as author David R. George cleverly uses the plot elements as a way to explore Vaughn's history and bring both characters to the point where a resolution of their differences can at last be achieved.
The subplots set on the station deal with, among other things, the evolving relationship between Ro Lauren and Quark; the Jem'Hadar soldier Taran'atar and his attempts to observe and learn without being disruptive; and Kira's continued struggle to come to grips with the Attainder as she jumps through diplomatic hoops and contemplates the ramifications of Bajor's admission to the Federation.
Primarily a character-driven novel, although there is plenty of excitement, Twilight sets the tone for the entire series and sets up most of the events of the subsequent books. Alternately intense and tender, this is a novel to savor and read slowly -- a novel that provides great insight into the characters and their motivations but still manages to include light touches that prevent the story from being too dark or gloomy.
This Gray Spirit picks up where Twilight leaves off, and the two books flow together superbly. As the Defiant continues its exploration of the Gamma Quadrant, the ship suddenly finds itself in serious trouble. It has unintentionally passed through an extremely unusual weapon, a kind of snare in space that attacks the ships' power sources. When a nearby vessel offers aid, Commander Vaughn has few reasonable alternatives and must rely on the kindness of strangers. When they arrive on the home world of their benefactors, the morally questionable Yrythny, the crew of the Defiant finds an extremely troubled society.
Meanwhile, on Deep Space Nine, the diplomatic maneuvering surrounding the preparations for Bajor's admission to the Federation continue when a Cardassian delegation pays an unexpected visit. Led by Ambassador Natima Lang, the timing of the visit is politically awkward for the Bajoran government, and personally unsettling for Quark who has been pursuing a relationship with Ro Lauren. But the Cardassians seem to be bending over backwards, driven by the devastation of their homeworld and the desperation of their citizens to attempt to reach a lasting peace with Bajor.
To complicate matters further, one of Ensign ch’Thane’s bondmates, Thriss, has begun to emotionally unravel, which allows for the introduction of a new character -- Lieutenant Phillipa Matthias, who joins the station staff as counselor. The introduction of Shar’s bondmates in Twilight also allows the author to delve into the mysteries of Andorian reproduction and biology in This Gray Spirit, something I know anyone reading the relaunch novels has been greatly anticipating.
This Gray Spirit is an impressive debut novel for Heather Jarman. She is obviously right at home in the Star Trek universe and has infused her novel with subtle touches that upgrade the story from satisfactory to fabulous. At times amusing, at times shocking, there is a roller coaster ride of emotions all packed between the pages of this book.
Many fans think of the post-finale novels as "the eighth season" of Deep Space Nine and the spirit of the series certainly comes through in these two Mission Gamma novels. They are thought-provoking, entertaining and skillfully executed. The characters and events linger in your mind long after you finish reading. Luckily there is still plenty more to come.
Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.