Prophecy And ChangeBy Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at September 19, 2003 - 2:09 PM GMT
Title: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Prophecy and Change
Author: Various. Edited by Marco Palmieri.
Publication Date: September, 2003
Format: Trade Paperback
Released in celebration of Deep Space Nine's tenth anniversary, Pocket Books' newest anthology of stories, Prophecy and Change, takes the reader on a journey back to the characters and events of the series. It is a very pleasurable and mostly rewarding journey. Ten original stories are included in this lengthy collection from authors both familiar and new. Nine of those stories are set during the series, with only the final contribution being set post-finale. Each regular character has a chance to shine in at least one story, and many of the recurring characters as well.
As with any type of story anthology the writing styles vary, but each story has one thing in common — each succeeds in capturing the mood and atmosphere of Deep Space Nine. Some of the stories look at events set between episodes, others at changes the characters underwent that were never addressed onscreen and still others at unseen events set during specific episodes. Some stories answer questions, others raise new ones. Just as the variety of beings who populated Deep Space Nine contributed to the gratifying experience of watching the series, the variety of stories in this volume make for a full and rich reading experience.
"Ha'mara" by Kevin G. Summers is set a few days after the premiere episode, "Emissary", and takes the reader back to where it all started, the planet Bajor just days after the discovery of the wormhole. The central characters Sisko, Kira, Opaka and Jake are each beginning a new chapter in their lives; some face that future with certainty, some with doubts. When an unexpected tragedy forces each into confrontations both personal and emotional, I felt as if a missing piece of the puzzle of the first season of Deep Space Nine had fallen into place. With this contribution Summers proves that his remarkable Strange New Worlds story, "Isolation Ward 4", was no fluke.
The writing duo of Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels contribute "The Orb of Opportunity", which is set during the third season of the series, shortly after the events of the episode "Life Support". Nog and Kai Winn aren't two characters I would have previously been able to envision working together but the pairing works well in this fun and enlightening story. What I appreciated most was the way the tale clarified Nog's decision to enter Starfleet Academy. That was a decision that seemingly came out of the blue in the series, but "The Orb of Opportunity" gives us a glimpse into the observations and experiences that lead Nog to that decision.
"Broken Oaths" by Keith R.A. DeCandido focuses on the friendship between O'Brien and Bashir. Set shortly after the fourth season episode "Our Man Bashir", DeCandido's story deals with the aftermath of the events of "Hippocratic Oath"; again, something we never got to see onscreen. After what transpired in "Hippocratic Oath" it would be natural for O'Brien and Bashir's friendship to be strained, if not destroyed, but later that season it's as if nothing had ever happened. This absolutely charming story sets the record straight about what happened and is my personal favorite of the collection.
Christopher L. Bennett reunites Grilka and Quark in his contribution "...Love I Not Honor More". Set during the fifth season episode "Soldiers of the Empire", D'Ghor ("The House of Quark") is up to his old tricks, attempting once again to plunder Grilka's House. This time around his scheme is definitely unique and left me feeling that while D'Ghor may look like a Klingon and sound like a Klingon, his soul is pure Ferengi. The story has a light bantering tone, highlighted by the verbal sparring of Odo and Quark.
"Three Sides to Every Story" by newcomer Terri Osborne has a different tone. Set during the opening arc of season six during the Dominion's occupation of the station, this is an insightful and poignant story about two young adults with an awful lot in common: Jake and Ziyal. Each is the child of a famous man, each an artist and each lonely. Drawn to each other by their commonalities and differences they form a close bond. The story explores the experiences and feelings of both, with Osborne utilizing each character to provide insights into the other. Although I felt like the author was straining a bit at times to create the atmosphere, the story was extremely enjoyable and Osborne was ultimately able to make the sights, smells and bustle of life on the station come alive.
Heather Jarman contributes "The Devil You Know", also set during the sixth season but a bit later, between the episodes "In the Pale Moonlight" and "Time's Orphan". This is a Jadzia story that features a character considerably more frayed around the edges than we are used to as the emotional toil of the war is beginning to catch up with her. When the recent alliance with the Romulans requires Jadzia to work closely with T'Rul ("The Search") in a joint venture to develop more effective weapons with which to combat the Jem'Hadar, Jadzia's principles are tested to the limit. Just like many of DS9's best episodes, "The Devil You Know" is a thought-provoking tale. Grief, anger and frustration are powerful emotions and this dark tale reminds us that when in the grip of such strong unrelenting feelings, it is very easy for an individual's moral or ethical boundaries to shift.
"Foundlings" by Jeffrey Lang also brings back a one-shot character, the Cardassian security officer Thrax ("Things Past") who preceded Odo as the stations security chief during the Cardassian occupation. Set between Deep Space Nine's sixth and seventh seasons, Thrax has returned to the station to investigate the destruction of a transport during a mutual exchange of war dead arranged through neutral third parties. Although the investigation apparently becomes a dead end, Odo can't let it go — too many things don't add up. Odo's determination to get to the bottom of the matter leads him to confront emotions he thought he had succeeded in burying long ago. This is a thoroughly delightful little mystery.
Geoffrey Thorne, also a Strange New Worlds contributor, offers up "Chiaroscuro", an Ezri tale set during the seventh season shortly after the episode "Aftermath". In this story Ezri, as the latest incarnation of Dax, must finish something begun by her predecessor before Jadzia was assigned to Deep Space Nine. As the 'key' to a puzzle, Ezri must struggle with her own uncertainties even as she confronts Jadzia's. While I appreciated Thorne's allusions to Dante's Inferno, I'm afraid that was all I did find to enjoy about this particular story, but then Ezri is not a character I particularly enjoyed.
"Face Value" by Una McCormack takes us to Cardassia Prime where Garak, Kira and Damar struggle with each other and their own ghosts even as they struggle to find a way to resurrect the fight to free Cardassia. Set primarily during the seventh season episode "The Dogs of War", this story is extremely powerful and effective. This is an impressive debut for McCormack, who exhibits an ability to explore the characters in great depth, leaving you feeling the intensity of those final days of Dominion control.
Also set on partially on Cardassia Prime is the final story of this anthology, "The Calling" by Andrew J. Robinson. Set after the events of his critically acclaimed novel A Stitch in Time and the stage play "The Dream Box" (performed at numerous conventions with Alexander Siddig (Julian Bashir), "The Calling" takes the character of Garak a bit farther in his quest to help his people rebuild their world. When I first had Prophecy and Change in my hands I almost read this story first but decided instead to start at the beginning and read each story in order. I am very glad I did. Although this story demonstrates a vivid imagination and beautiful writing style, and of course an intense understanding of the character of Garak, I found it to be tremendously disappointing.
I don't know exactly what I expected but it definitely wasn't "The Calling". Perhaps I prefer my Garak portrayed as the charming but cunning, cold-blooded and ever deceitful character I grew to know and love on the series instead of this tragic and heroic figure that is struggling to find a way to unite his people once again. Perhaps I expected something more like the incredible novel A Stitch in Time, or a more hopeful story with a more historical feeling — I really have no idea. Whatever I was expecting, "The Calling" failed to deliver for me. As the reader it was probably a mistake to assume a story I knew almost nothing about would be the highlight of this volume for me, but thankfully the enjoyment I received reading the majority of the other stories contained in Prophecy and Change more than make up for the disenchantment I felt when I finished "The Calling".
Ultimately, each individual who reads this anthology will form his or her own opinions about each story. There will be stories you will probably like or dislike based on your own tastes and preferences. Some may even love them all. I know that sometime in the future I will want to revisit this collection and it will be interesting to see if my favorites during my first read through this volume, "Broken Oaths", "Foundlings", "Face Value", "Ha'mara", "Three Sides to Every Story" and "The Orb of Opportunity", provide the same level of pleasure when read for a second or third time. But that is ultimately what I enjoy most about reading a great anthology — and I believe Prophecy and Change fits the description — it stays on the shelf for a period of time but eventually you find yourself wanting to revisit old favorites. Deep Space Nine fans definitely won't want to miss this collection.
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.