Deep Space Nine Relaunch – Avatar Book 1
Author – S.D. Perry
Published – June 2001
I originally tried to read this book when it first came out, I’m pretty sure I didn’t finish it, but I remember really hating it. A couple of weeks ago I had a sudden urge to jump in with the relaunch and so wanted to start from the beginning again. I realised I had gone too many years without knowing what became of my favourite crew.
When I was a teenager I loved the Original Series of Star Trek, watching it on the weekend matinee repeats every Sunday (along with Land of the Giants, Lost in Space and Man from UNCLE). I remember that I watched a lot of Next Generation, back in the days when BBC was the home of all things nerd (except when the bloody snooker was on!). When Deep Space Nine first started I couldn’t get into it, I found it too dark. Literally, I could barely see anything – the lighting on that Cardassian station was bloody terrible. But around season 2 I started to tune in and I became addicted. It tackled some really dark aspects of life and as the show continued, it became grittier, with war after war, love, loss, and the faint scent of lilac.
To this day it is one of my favourite ever shows and I cry every time I watch the final epsiode. I think perhaps when I first started reading Avatar years ago I just wasn’t ready for it. I wasn’t ready for all that change and loss to become real. I wasn’t ready for a Deep Space Nine without Sisko, Worf, O’Brien… even Rom and Leeta!
Unlike the previous DS9 books, Avatar is the first book in the relaunch, continuing on from where the television series ended.
From Amazon –
In the aftermath of the Dominion War that brought the Star Trek universe to the brink of ruin, space station Deep Space Nine – the galaxy’s nexus of military and scientific intrigue, situated as it is on the wormhole that links two quadrants – once again becomes a flashpoint of impending Armageddon when a surprise attack cripples the station, killing the First Officer and threatening the fragile peace. Colonel Kira and the surviving crew of DS9 – along with four controverisal new officers – are all that stand against the outbreak of a new conflict and a doom fortold by the Prophets to coincide with the birth of Captain Benjamin Sisko’s child. Meanwhile, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise make a startling discovery, one that will determine the course of an entire civilisation and profoundly affect the lives of the crew of Deep Space Nine…
As I started reading this I knew immediately why I didn’t like it previously – it’s incredibly depressing. That’s not to say it isn’t a good story. The main story follows life on the station, firstly getting back to ‘normal’ after the upheaval of the War and it’s aftermath and then an unexpected attack on the station that threatens to restart the war. Alongside this we observe the crew, new and old, getting to grips with life, as well as Jake Sisko, a potential prophecy about his father and the murder of a religious figure. Off station – in a parallel to the Enterprise’s appearance in DS9’s pilot episode – the story follows the crew of the Enterprise, their guest and new character Commander Elias Vaughn, and their discovery of a Bajoran Orb.
I think the last time I tried to read this I didn’t want to accept the new members of the crew with such fresh pain of the old ones having left. This time round I was ok with that, and it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I remember on that point. With time these are likely to become well fleshed out characters, though for the course of this book, Ro felt to be the only one really fully evolved (perhaps due to her appearances on TNG).
In terms of the characters, this was a reasonably good reintroduction to the world of DS9, and certainly interesting enough for me to immediately download Book 2 to see where this goes. However, something that has really irked me throughout, and I hope becomes improved upon with time – is the misery. When we last left the station it was a time of new beginnings, which were both happy and sad. It was the end of a devastating war, so I had expected that there would be some aftermath to that, both physical and emotional – it was a bittersweet time. Instead, we rejoin the station struggling with repairs and relief to the point of edging members of the crew, most especially now commanding officer Colonel Kira, towards breaking point. There are clashes between crew members, and almost immediately the station is attacked and a new crew member they had all come to befriend is killed in action. Quite honestly, half way into this book and I felt drained over it all.
Above all that the thing that jarred me the most was the one light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be an oncoming train. When we last saw Bashir and Dax their relationship was blooming and they were in the first flushes of love. We knew it wasn’t likely to be easy, with their history and the turmoil of the times, but we were left with hope for them. Three months later and we are robed of that hope as their relationship immediately hits the rocks. I hope that it recovers, as it was too long in the setting up on the show just to have it broken down so quickly. The issues they face are actually quite interesting and worth exploring, but for my mind it came too soon after the end of the show, and just added yet another piece of misery to this depressing yarn.
Overall, this was an interesting and at times enjoyable read, but was marred by the constant downer – a broken station attacked, crew members suffering from emotional fatigue, relationships on the rocks. DS9 was arguably the darkest of the Star Trek shows, but the line between dark and down right depressing are blurred here and not for the better. The story itself, though partly fueled by my desire to know what happens to the station and crew beyond the television show, is compelling enough. I look forward to seeing where it goes in Book 2, I just hope wherever that is, its a happier place – before we start finding crew members just giving up completely and throwing themselves out the airlock!
My Review of Avatar Book 2 will be next week’s Flashback Friday post…