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July 14 2024


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Worlds of Deep Space Nine Volume One

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at June 14, 2004 - 6:49 PM GMT

Title: Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Volume One
Authors: Una McCormack and Heather Jarman
Release Date: June 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-7434-8351-0

When Pocket Books editor Marco Palmieri announced Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine he stated that these books were intended to immerse the reader in the cultures of the chosen planets and allow an experience those societies from a familiar character's point of view. At the same time, the Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine advance the post-finale storylines. Both stories in Volume One definitely succeeded in doing both of those things in spectacular fashion. Warning—the remainder of this review contains spoilers for the novel Unity.

Una McCormack transports us to Cardassia in “The Lotus Flower” where Keiko O’Brien has accepted a position to head up an important agricultural renewal project. The recovery and reconstruction efforts are continuing slowly when the O’Brien family, Vedek Yevir and other innocents become pawns in a dangerous political game instigated by those on Cardassia who are opposed to the leadership of Ghemor. Garak, an old hand at playing such games, must call on all of his skills to avert a tragedy that could spell the end of hope of a democratic future for Cardassia.

In many respects McCormack has the more difficult job in this first volume of Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and she definitely rises to the occasion. Life on Cardassia has been portrayed before, while Andor is another kettle of fish entirely; it’s more of a clean slate. McCormack builds on what has already been established about Cardassia and does a wonderful job of allowing the reader to catch glimpses of what Cardassian society had been like before the Dominion War, while at the same time portraying what they are experiencing now.

The short chapters really keep the story moving along at a very fast pace and make it seem a bit shorter than it actually was. McCormack does a very good job of illustrating her theme: the idea that major change can be very frightening and that fear can leave people, particularly children, vulnerable to manipulation. She also succeeds in driving home the point that politics can be a very dangerous and cold-blooded game.

What I enjoyed the most about "The Lotus Flower" was McCormack’s characterization of Garak. It is outstanding. She's got him down cold and I found myself missing the character very much indeed when I finished. There are also several sweet and effective character moments for the O'Brien's.

The prose is a pleasure to read and very straight forward. Most of the time the narrative is quite evocative but it's a bit uneven. The Garak scenes were the strongest. You can clearly tell she loves the character and understands him well. There is a whole ‘men in the shadows’ element to the story that allows a sense of mystery and menace to creep in and McCormack does an excellent job of using that to build suspense. In the second story, “Paradigm”, Heather Jarman paints a portrait of Andor that you won’t soon forget. Shar, Ensign Thirishar ch'Thane, returns home to Andor to face the consequences of his choices but he doesn’t travel alone. Ensign Prynn Tenmei and Lieutenant Commander Phillipa Matthias accompany Shar and the trio arrives on Andor as the society stands on the edge of an abyss. To save their species, the Andorians may be forced to make tough choices, choices that may save them as a race but destroy their culture.

“Paradigm” is a very impressive piece of fiction. Heather Jarman’s narrative is so rich and vivid that it’s quite easy to become lost in the story. As the story unfolds the tension builds continuously providing moments of satisfying release before it builds again. It is like being on a thrill ride that gives you moments to catch your breath before it races off again.

World building is something Jarman excels at and in “Paradigm” she provides a duel look at Andor and Andorian society that works perfectly by giving the reader both the point of view of a native of the planet and a visitor. Shar, in his role as tour guide provides one perspective, but we also get to see Andorian society from Prynn’s outsider looking in position as she struggles to understand the complex culture.

There are also moments of lightness and clever inclusions, for example Jarman’s way of handling the name of the planet issue and those curious about Andorian sexuality will certainly be satisfied. The issue is handled very tastefully. A glossary of Andorian terms at the end of the book comes in quite handy if all the alien pronouns confuse you as much as they do me.

Although “The Lotus Flower” comes first in Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it doesn’t matter what order you read the two novellas. Chronologically “Paradigm” is set before “The Lotus Flower”. Each story stands on its own merits and each is outstanding in its own way.

There are two more volumes to look forward to in the Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series early in 2005. In January Volume Two will explore Trill and Bajor. Volume Three, which follows in February, takes a look at the Dominion and Ferenginar.

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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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