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Old August 23 2012, 09:16 PM   #352
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Re: TP: Raise the Dawn by DRGIII Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Finally finished these, so I'm going to give my thoughts without reading the rest of the thread first. Apologies if some points are repeats of earlier posts.

So, my overall opinion of these two books was "Yeah... that was fine I guess."

I have no major complaints, everything made sense and was well written for what it was. But I just didn’t seem to be emotionally engaged or invested in anything. I wasn’t especially excited by the action sequences, or hurt by the destruction of the station, or elated by the return of familiar faces. It all just... happened. It was good, but it didn’t blow me away.

I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong. It’s always nice to see my favourite characters back again. And as is surely obvious, DS9 is by far my favourite of the ST series. While they may not have been exclusively or officially DS9 books, they were certainly effectively DS9 books, even with the heavy guest appearances of the Enterprise and all the other threads. Everyone felt mostly in character despite the massive changes in their circumstances.

But I still have some problems. And I guess this is mostly a problem with the entire Typhon Pact series than with these books specifically. Perhaps I’m not emotionally invested because we spend so little time with the characters in order to get invested in them. Massive, massive events happen, and yet I feel nothing. Is it my fault? Do I just not care anymore?

Looking back at the DS9 relaunch, back when it began with Avatar, it felt like DS9. It really did. We knew everything that happened on that station from one day to the next. It took an astonishing 18 separate novels (not including the side-stories in various collections and crossovers) to fill just one year of time. One book took place entirely in just one day. Although personally I didn’t really see the need to cram everything in quite so tightly, which is why I prefer to think of it as taking two years from Avatar to The Soul Key.

Regardless, we now seem to have gone to the opposite extreme. It took only four books (five if you count Disharmony, which is only peripherally connected IMO) to cover an entire two-and-a-half years (plus yet another year for the very last scene). After feeling like we missed so much in the intervening years, surely I shouldn’t be feeling like I’m still missing so much even within these novels.

DRG3 obviously had a specific story he wanted to tell, and he told it well. I don’t argue with that for a second. It makes sense (in the real world at least) that such large geo-political changes as have happened since Destiny take time to happen. Although, the original DS9 show had geo-political upheavals at least twice annually, so it’s not unprecedented for things to go a bit quicker.

But there still seemed to be so much missing from it. Not plot holes, but rather story holes – parts where we seemed to have taken shortcuts over important events. Look at Bashir’s story, for example. We skipped over what would have seemed to me to be vitally important moments for his character. After only finding out in the last moments of Zero Sum Game that Sarina was an S31 agent, and him having no idea during the whole course of Plagues of Night, how can we possibly find out in internal dialogue after the fact that she told him all about it “off screen”? How can we have not seen that conversation happen?

That should have been a core moment in Bashir’s development – that the woman he loves admits to being an agent of the organisation that has plagued his life for years and he is supposedly dedicated to bringing down. How that can possibly not have been an important thing to see? Likewise his conversation with Ro later on, when she admitted to him she was using Sarina to flush out the real villain – did no-one else think we should have seen that conversation happen, rather than only hearing about it after the fact? Such storytelling choices astound me.

And the business with the True Way guy. We hear – again in internal dialogue, again after the fact – about why he’s doing what he’s doing. Wouldn’t have it been better to see these events take place? Isn’t “show, don’t tell” a basic storytelling principle? Would some sense of life on Cardassia – of how the people are living now, of how they react to Cardassia’s decision to join the Khitomer Accords, of the varying factions – not have given some depth to that character? Why did we not see Morad’s attack on the industrial replicator, his trial, his recruitment into the True Way by Makbar?

And even the station itself. When some kind soul spoiled the destruction of DS9 in a thread title on this very board (for whom my undying hatred, btw), I basically sighed and sagged a little. I have never been a histrionic apocalypse-decrier. I did not threaten bloody vengeance when Janeway was killed, or when any of the various Enterprises were destroyed, or when Sisko filed for divorce. But with this series being my favourite, I would have expected myself to be able to generate a little more feeling. But the most I got was mild disappointment.

Why? Because we didn’t spend any time on the station, or get to know any of the people there, or care about them at all. Ro, Bashir, Prynn and Quark are the only regulars still aboard. Quark got one scene per book. Prynn moped about her father. Bashir I already talked about above. Ro was good, especially in the first book. But all the other former regular characters already left the station years ago, and everyone else was basically a bit-part player. Blackmer disappeared for the entire second book (during which he could have been, oh I don’t know, investigating the destruction of the station). Stinson got one scene, in which he got chewed out for being a jerk. The final “everything’s-going-to-be-alright” seen as Ro shows them the new DS9 seemed unearned, since nobody seemed to give a shit when the old one went up. When the biggest loss is that Jeanette Chao died, that’s not a good state of affairs.

And there’s another hole – where was the outpouring of grief from the survivors? Where were the people devastated by the loss? Where was the official memorial service, in which Asarem and Bacco might have waxed poetic about the momentous galactic events that had taken place at that station, about how it had literally changed the galaxy, about how it would never be forgotten? Again, are those not scenes that should have been depicted? I might have cared more if the characters had seemed to care more, but they basically shrugged, said “Oh, that’s a shame” and got on with their jobs. Even Sisko only seemed to be upset about possibly losing Kasidy, not about the station. Hell, Bacco was angrier about it than he was.

Now, I don’t expect all of this to happen in just one or even two books. Like I said, DRG3 had his story that he wanted to tell. But that brings me back to the duration thing. Why did this one arc – the “slipstream/Sisko” arc one might call it – have to be squeezed into only four books? The “Federation/parasites” arc took 10 books. The “WoDS9/Iliana/MU” arc took 10 books. When Kira finally rejoined the church in Unity, it felt like a victory, a catharsis, because she had struggled so long and we had seen every step of the way. When Sisko went back to Kasidy in Raise the Dawn, it felt like, “Okay, so that storyline’s finished now.”

I can understand that these novels focused on repeated attempts by the Typhon Pact to acquire slipstream drive. And that, had that been extended out into a greater number of novels, there might have been a danger of each successive novel becoming “They try again, Starfleet foils them. They try again, Starfleet foils them. They try again, Starfleet foils them.”

But were there not other interesting things we could have done in the meantime? Were there not adventures to be had on the exploratory missions into the Gamma Quadrant? Was there not more story potential to be mined out of the Section 31 thread? Or about events surrounding Spock or the Tzenkethi, both of whom disappeared from Dawn? Or events on Cardassia? Or getting to know the new characters on the station, so that I might care when they are put in jeopardy? There was more story here, but we seem to have ignored so many other potentially interesting things just so that we can barrel on and get to the core of this particular story.

Anyway, after all of that outrageous rant (Word tells me I’m already at 1500 words), it probably sounds like I didn’t enjoy these books. You might not believe me now, but I promise I did. I enjoyed them for what they were. I’m just disappointed that they weren’t more than that.

And now I shall go and read the rest of the thread.

What happened between THE SOUL KEY and DESTINY? Find out in DEEP SPACE NINE SEASON 11 !

Read 11x21 "INFERNO" now, or download as a pdf or ebook to read later!
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