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Shore Leave Part I: DS9 Relaunch Novels

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at July 16, 2003 - 12:35 AM GMT

Members of the Star Trek writing community descended on the Shore Leave science fiction convention in Baltimore, Maryland, last weekend to talk shop with the fans. Jacqueline Bundy attended this scribe's mecca to find out the latest information on Pocket Books' novel releases. She filed this report on the Deep Space Nine relaunch series.

While the last episode of the television series Deep Space Nine may have aired on June 2, 1999, the story and the characters still live on in the pages of the Deep Space Nine relaunch novels. When Pocket Books editor Marco Palmieri conceived the idea to set a series of novels after the final episode a lot of long range planning went into the process. He was determined that there would be a real sense of continuity in the novels. There were so many stories yet to be told and as Mr. Palmieri said, "So many dangling plot threads from the series to follow up on."

Thus far, the master plan has succeeded brilliantly as the novels set after the series finale, "What You Leave Behind", have not only delighted fans the world over, but have definitely raised the bar in terms of writing quality in media tie-in fiction. At the recent Shore Leave convention in Baltimore, Maryland, one of the numerous discussion panels devoted to Star Trek novels included one panel devoted exclusively to the DS9 relaunch novels. Participating in the panel discussion were Senior Editor Marco Palmieri and relaunch authors Andy Mangels, Heather Jarman, Jeffrey Lang and Keith R.A. DeCandido.

The discussion began with the titles scheduled to be released a little later this year. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Deep Space Nine the trade paperback Prophecy and Change will hit bookstores this September. This is an anthology of ten stories. Nine of those stories are set during the series, with the final story, by Andrew J. Robinson (Garak), being set post-finale. The other contributing authors are Kevin Summers, Keith DeCandido, Terri Osborne, Geoffrey Thorne, Una McCormack, Christopher Bennett, Heather Jarman, Andy Mangels and Michael Martin. According to Mr. Palmieri, Prophecy and Change will provide readers with "a sense of the whole tapestry of Deep Space Nine".

The opening story, "Ha'mara" by Kevin G. Summers, is set shortly after the premiere episode. The story by the writing team of Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels, "The Orb of Opportunity", is set during the third season and, according to Mr. Mangels, features what is perhaps "the oddest pairing in DS9 history", Nog and Kai Winn. "...Loved I Not Honor More" by Christopher L. Bennett will take a further look at the relationship between Quark and his Klingon 'wife', Grilka. "Broken Oaths", Keith R.A. DeCandido's contribution, will address the ramifications that the events in the episode "Hippocratic Oath" had on the friendship of Dr. Bashir and Chief O'Brien.

Terri Osborne's story, "Three Sides to Every Story", is set in the early part of the sixth season during the Dominion occupation and features Jake and Ziyal. Also taking place during the show's sixth season, but much closer to the end of the season, is Heather Jarman's offering "The Devil You Know", which will address the direction the writers of the series took with the character of Jadzia during her finale season on the show. Jeffrey Lang's "Foundlings" is set between the sixth and seventh seasons. According to Mr. Lang, his story is a procedural mystery featuring Odo and "sets up some of Odo's choices in season seven".

"Chiaroscuro" by Geoffrey Thorne is set off-station between the episodes "Afterimage" and "Take Me Out to the Holosuite". This is an Ezri story about that character's attempt to deal with the ghost of Jadzia and how she begins to come to terms with being a joined Trill. Una McCormack offers the story "Face Value", set during season seven and featuring Kira and Garak working with Damar on Cardassia. Andrew Robinson's story, "The Calling", follows up on the events of his critically acclaimed novel, A Stitch in Time.

Also up for discussion at this panel was the novel Unity by S.D. Perry, which is scheduled to be released this November. This highly anticipated book was originally scheduled to be released earlier this year, but the unexpected early arrival of Ms. Perry's first child pushed the project back a bit. But Mr. Palmieri was able to assure those gathered that "Unity is done and in the production pipeline. It will be released in November as promised".

Like the television series, the relaunch novels that began in 2001 with the release of the two-part story Avatar contain ongoing and ever evolving plot threads. Each subsequent novel has explored the characters' continuing growth. The storyline has wrapped up some plot threads while adding others. Thus far, while the Alpha Quadrant is slowly beginning to recover from the Dominion War, Bajor moves towards joining the Federation and Starfleet cautiously renews exploration of the Gamma Quadrant. Each novel has continuously added more layers to the overall story arc. With the most recent relaunch title, Rising Son, "we have brought every characters story arc to the same point so the story could go forward in Unity", said Marco Palmieri.

Unity will contain an added bonus: an expanded version of the chronological timeline that appeared in the first Avatar novel. The timeline will cover every major event that has happened in the story or to the characters since the final episode of the series. Readers who have missed any of the action along the way should find this a very useful reference.

What many of those gathered in the audience most wanted to hear about were the plans to continue the Deep Space Nine storyline beyond Unity. Consequently, the conversation shifted to the plans for 2004 and the next set of novels, The Worlds of Deep Space Nine. The Worlds of Deep Space Nine will be three volumes, with each volume containing two novella length tales. At this time no definitive date has been set for the release but it is very possible that the first book will be out in late spring of 2004.

These books are intended to "immerse the reader in the cultures of some of the planets associated with Deep Space Nine", Palmieri told the audience. "We are tying to recapture some of the feeling you get when reading books like Spock's World." Using both familiar faces and a few unexpected characters, The Worlds of Deep Space Nine will tell the stories from the point of view of a character associated with each society. By taking this approach the authors hope "to provide more insight into the characters by putting each character's behavior in perspective through an examination of their culture", according to Heather Jarman.

Marco Palmieri was able to announce most of the authors for this project at the Shore Leave convention. The first volume will contain stories set on Cardassia and Andor. Una McCormack will be penning the story set on Cardassia and Heather Jarman the story set on Andor. The second volume will be set on Bajor and Trill. The author writing the Bajoran instalment has not yet been confirmed but the writing team of Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin will be writing the Trill portion. The third and final volume will focus on Ferenginar and the Dominion. Keith R.A. DeCandido will be providing the Ferengi story and David R. George III will be writing the Dominion tale.

In addition to fielding questions from those gathered at the Deep Space Nine relaunch discussion, those on the panel also wanted to hear from the audience about their impressions and opinions of the books thus far. Among the topics discussed were the need for a truly cooperative approach between everyone involved with the novels. The authors talked about the give and take required to make something of this magnitude work, making it clear that the relaunch is a collaborative writing effort helmed and steered by their editor. They talked about how much they have enjoyed working together and building on what their fellow authors had done.

This monumental collaboration has been extremely successful. There is a real sense of continuity in these books, which not only utilise characters from the television series but also other novels, comics and even the animated series. Rest assured that they are not done yet. Before wrapping up the discussion, Marco Palmieri told the audience that they are already thinking beyond next year's The Worlds of Deep Space Nine. "The ideas are always percolating," he said.

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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.

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