Just got through reading three of the stories! I don't know that I'll be reading the human story, but we'll see what happens.
WARNING! SPOILERS ABOUND in this post. Continue reading at your own peril.
Anyway, as you might imagine, I started with the Cardassians, in "The Slow Knife." I could really feel and believe the characters in that story...not sure what it says about me, but I always feel at "home" reading a Cardassian story, and James Swallow
(as he has already proved with his work in the Terok Nor
series) does a great job of evoking that in me.
I picked up what seemed like a really awesome 1984
allusion--that statement that occurred multiple times: We are always at war
. Maybe it's Eastasia, maybe it's Eurasia, maybe it's the Klingon Empire, maybe it's the Federation...but the Union defines itself in the minds of its people through opposition to someone.
Even though it plays out differently the way I envision it (call it an AU I have in my head), I was very impressed by the telling of what happened because of what Enkoa did.
The way Enkoa's hubris and irresponsible actions at Setlik III ended up being used by those who wanted a shift to a more aggressive stance (not to mention certain people put out of power)--and the way Kein walked right into it were very fitting of the wheels upon wheels we know to exist in Cardassian politics and society. So even though I picture a different scenario, this one is very, very believable and an excellent read.
That particular telling of it definitely begged a question in my mind, though: not in the sense of something wrong in the story, but one that had me curious. Where was Macet at the time? And beyond that, I especially wonder where Glinn Daro was. The way he was talking in "The Wounded" made me think he knew something very deep about the incident, and I find myself wondering what ship's crew you see him as being part of: Enkoa's, Relaw's, or one of the ships that came after? Or was he not present on the planet but just knew of it?
As for one character that DID show up, the ever-present and unnamed character in every tale of Cardassia, I must say...you write a VERY chilling Garak. No matter how sympathetic some writers try to make him, I find myself believing he is at heart a cold-blooded killer. Or at least, if you actually believe the potential you later see in him in A Stitch in Time
to become something else, you definitely seem to recognize that said potential had come nowhere near realization at that point. I should also point out that you captured the same voice of Garak that we saw in "In the Pale Moonlight," again...another sign of the cold-blooded killer that perhaps even after the destruction of Cardassia will never fully be able to atone.
Now there was one other piece of terminology that caught my attention--probably an accident, but you can bet it put a smile on my face. Rank sigils
(I'm curious, though, about the rank insignia--is this an indication that they're wearing the old-style uniform from "The Wounded"? I ask because I've never noticed the sigils on the standard black uniform...)
OK, next author up...Greg Cox
, with the Pakled story, "Work is Hard."
I have to say, what was done here went a long, LONG way towards redeeming what I think was one of the worst mistakes ever made in TNG--the portrayal of the Pakleds. You managed to make (crud, gotta look at the spelling) Snollicoob an engaging character that we end up pulling for. Considering the circumstances he's in, I really found myself warming up to him. I definitely enjoyed him catching his captain on his failure to read the sensor reports. But probably the best moment was when Snollicoob used the quantum filament to bounce himself back to his ship, without any prompting from LaForge.
I also thought there were some tantalizing little hints as to what was going on with the Pakleds and how they are able to keep themselves alive at all, in space, despite their comparatively limited verbal skills. The moment when Snollicoob sent over the data, and LaForge realized just what he was looking at and how detailed it actually was--and had to re-evaluate his prejudices--was absolute gold. After how arrogant the Enterprise
crew was during "Samaritan Snare," it was really something to watch LaForge's opinions change.
And of course, we got a great explanation of how those Pakleds managed to show up in Quark's Bar!
Last up...I read Mark D. Giller
's "Revenant," about the Borg. The first thing that jumped out to me--and I don't know if it's just me making connections that aren't there--was the name of the ship that the Celtic
stumbled upon. It seems no accident, to my mind, to name what amounts to a plague ship the Reston
. (For those of you who have not read The Hot Zone
, by Richard Preston, that refers to an incident that occurred in Reston, Virginia
.) I wonder if that was intentional?
As to the nature of the weaponized Borg, I want to see if I've got this right. Are we to assume Section 31 might have been responsible? Also, am I right to assume that somehow some
of the protocols were stripped out of the normal Collective programming, in order for the bare remnants of the assimilated individuals' personalities to remain? (Certain actions suggested it, though I'm not sure if I was just imagining things.)
Anyway, though it was a VERY dark fate for him, I enjoyed seeing what happened to Nick Locarno. I presume there's a chance that if Locarno lived, he is now with the Caeliar?
Three very good stories so far...I will be very interested to see what happens with the other three! (Yeah, I know there's a seventh, but like I said, I probably won't read the human story unless it gets a LOT of good reviews.)