Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Defcon, Feb 19, 2017.
The cancelled 2005 novel by DS9 writer/producer Bradley Thompson?
Yep. But I presume that no one knows how much would have happened in that book, so... No clue. Haven't read The Long Mirage myself yet.
Did not cancel the download, which is good because the B&N did not have it out.
Rather irritating at the beginning: Ascendance was over a year ago, with an intervening DS9 novel having nothing to do with this arc, and the ending wasn't an obvious enough cliffhanger to prompt me to write down notes on the situation. Neither did Mβ have anything on it but the cover blurb. And yet the present opus was written as if the events of Ascendance were fresh in the reader's mind.
That said, I'm about 36% into it, and it's fascinating (and the pages go by much faster than the pages of Spock: Messiah did, a few days ago).
I just started reading it, and so far so good
Generally I really enjoyed this, sped through it this morning and voted above average.
It really felt that DS9 could leave behind all the lingering plot lines from the time jump and The Fall and really move on with a new era.
It's not perfect, the plotting is haphazard, there's a really long info dump mid way through to fill in all the back story between Vic and Morn which didn't convince me at all. Also the whole question around the Prophets nature and the Endalla falsework seems a bit too easily resolved though it leaves it open for more to be revealed later on.
Where it really shines is remembering there are many characters who have been neglected for too long. Quark actually gets some attention and particularly the long ignored Quark/Ro relationship. It's nice to see Ro really face up to her actions here - too often lately she's been written as generic captain so here it was good to see her wonder whether she's changed too much and lost her edge and realise how badly she had treated Quark. That said given that after thinking that she goes along with Quark it would be nice if she actually did anything a bit rebellious on their mission but she doesn't really and then Starfleet turn up and it all gets a bit safe again. Ok she then does something a bit unexpected to save Vic but more could have been made of it.
Blackmer, O'Brien & Stinson don't get much to do but their small scenes work well. Blackmer gets to be competent and not suggest he should resign for once and it's nice to see someone pull up Odo on his attitude, he's been excessively dismissive of the Federation and Starfleet recently. Nice to see the O'Brien kids growing up and a more relaxed Keiko/Miles interaction than usual.
I'm still not entirely happy with Kira in the religious life but at least here she acts like the Kira we are familiar with, confronting the Kai, doing her own thing in her speech and keeping Dans at bay. The reunion at the end was nice to see as well.
And at last Candlewood gets some attention, I like how a throwaway line from the Mission Gamma books gets picked up here with his former crush on Nog. I don't think there was anything specific to say he was gay before this book but it's still pretty rare among the command crews of the various book series so nice to see. That said he does shift out of focus as the book goes on so still more to do. I liked him, Nog and Lani working together so more of that friendship in the future would be nice if Lani stays around. Nog once again worked well in Las Vegas, his Ferengi nature fitting in well with this environment. Lani was a bit of a plot device here to get things going but she was interesting enough for me to want her to stay around.
The Dominion plot line is obviously a set up for the next book but it does its job by making me want to see where it goes.
All in all like the recent TNG book I felt this was just what the series needed - some quieter time to spend with the characters and a bit more attention to the more neglected ones.
The first thing that came to mind was 'forward momentum.' After walking away from the last several DRG DS9 books feeling that they were moving so slowly, roughly a third of each or more could have been hacked out and no discernible difference could have been made, because nothing was really even happening, just people saying 'that's a thing that's going on, wonder about that thing, that thing's gonna be important one day, let's be concerned about that thing, since we don't know much about that thing, that thing that's going on.' ...This felt like things were actually addressed and developed and that we were not still in the same place at the end that we were at the start.
We got momentum and resolution to plot threads that had been (for me at least) dragging for the better part of a couple of years, finally resolving issues with Morn and Vic, which I had honestly found to have been so tangential to the matters actually going on in the 'main' plot - the station's reconstruction, the lingering thread of the Ascendants, and the Endalla issue - that I'd have been happy to see these threads dropped entirely, despite the characters I liked being involved. It honestly felt like the purpose going in to this book was to clean up the lingering mess (for lack of a better word) left over from DS9's time jump so that a genuine status quo and main cast could solidify between this book and the next, something I've been hoping for over the last several years. If we want to broadly approach the DS9 focused books over the last several years in the same way as we would a television show, despite the years-long stretch of time that they take, from Plagues of Night/Raise the Dawn to here, this was the finale to a season that had a lot of things to sift through and clean up, for better and for ill, and it proceeded to set up the next season, free of most of the baggage of these various threads that have been tied up in a knot for so long.
Even more important from my perspective, however, this was, at its heart, a character story. Four stories, Kira-Altek-Pralon, Nog-Candlewood-Vic, Ro-Quark-Morn, and Odo, and I'd say that's roughly about how important they were to book's narrative, and it worked.
For Ro and Quark, it was both surprising and not that they ended up at a point where Ro officially ended their romantic relationship. Surprising because this HAS been an unexpected but solid element of the DS9 novels over the last ten years, that they've had this murky relationship status for so long, but not because... Where was it going, a question Ro dealt with herself. I honestly kind of wished for more of Quark's perspective in the aftermath of that, but I'm comfortable with waiting for the next book to deal with the fallout.
Nog's story was a little less engaging for me, but that was mostly because of the confines of the program he was spending time in. For what it was, though, I appreciated it - it was good, solid character work for Nog, showing his dedication to his friends. It was also very useful in giving Candlewood a character. I've said it in the last couple of review threads for DS9 books, I needed more of the characters to actually make them stick in my mind. Blackmer had been a major figure, Stinson got developed some in Ascendance, and now Candlewood has the building blocks.
Where Nog's story wasn't to my tastes, Kira's more than made up for it. She has been sorely missed, and, while I remain unconvinced of what took her onto the path of the clergy (I said it in Ascendance, it felt like she was retroactively placed on that path, rather than it being a natural development), this FELT like Kira. She set out to do what she saw as the right thing, regardless of the ways that those above her view the matter. But this was a Kira tempered by time, knowing how better how to walk the line. THIS felt like the Kira Nerys I have known for so long, just having taken steps down a new path. The distant figure of Vedek Kira from before was no where in sight, and I was glad for it.
I also appreciated the segment from Kai Pralon's point of view. Like Kira, I was having worries of her turning in the same direction of Kai Winn, and while all of those fears aren't dispelled at the moment, it felt like both the character and the narrative were used in that moment to show that she is trying to do what she feels is best, and that, unlike Kira, she is looking at it from the perspective of someone who thinks about effects on a global scale, while Kira's focused on the personal one.
The remaining issues - Altek's origins and the relocating Dominion refugees - feel like stepping stones for the next chapter of DS9's story. While I still want to see the 'main' storyline of the DS9 novels open up their authorship, if this is the way that DRG approaches future installments, I'll be content with it, in a way that I didn't feel as comfortable saying after previous works that were lacking in the feeling of genuine conclusion.
That's not to say that there weren't some moments that didn't work so well. The expansion of established characters is appreciated, but taking them one at a time like this, Blackmer one book, Stinson the next, Candlewood the following... It's a start, but the main cast still feels incomplete. Ro spends a couple of paragraphs thinking about Slaine's promotion but the character goes otherwise unmentioned, Kira wants to go meet Prynn in person but we don't see this, and I'm still having a sensation of the names of various new characters going in and out of my head in the same second. If we could get these characters and their positions firmly set and their status as either "main cast" or "supporting," as in would they be in the opening credits sequence or not, I would appreciate it. Just mentioning them for a paragraph or two isn't enough, they need to actually play a role.
Additionally, and I know I've said this elsewhere... While this isn't entirely the flaw of this book itself, the new station is still skewing towards the old one in my mind. Even with a passage early on where Kira is comparing the differences in the station's architecture, and even a handful of cosmetic mentions, ultimately, I keep coming back to this feeling that, for all intents and purposes, Starfleet-built DS9 is still Cardassian-built DS9. And some of that is just the fact that Cardassian!DS9 was the visual on the screen for seven years, as well as the conceit of the series that it IS set on a station... the new DS9 just does not have any character of its own for me. In my mind, these conversations and scenes are still taking place in Ops, the Infirmary, Quark's bar. And the comments about how different the station is feel like trying to convince us of it, rather than giving us a real feel for the new DS9 and what makes it different. Maybe this is just the flaw of having destroyed the iconic station and also rebuilding it in the same duology, but I did have this feeling of the book trying to convince me that the station is different without really trying to explain what those differences are.
Ultimately, though, I would give this an A-. A few minor flaws that keep it from going over the top, but a significant step up in character development and story momentum from the way that the last few 'main' DS9 books (re: ones written by DRG, not The Missing or Force and Motion) have felt dragged out.
I have to say I agree with many of the sentiments others have. I marked outstanding, because I felt real effort had been made in areas I criticised elsewhere. Even Sisko was actually doing something somewhere even if he's not a feature in the book. Series characters, even O'Brien, who could be shown and handled were...with it still being relevant to plot or theme (there are various relationship issues and love triangles in the book...and the O'Briens are there as contrast, as well as the sort of soap opera element which is part of Trek and DS9 in particular.) So many threads that had been hanging for too long were sorted, a couple were transmuted or left open perfectly well, the book had three ongoing stories which were either narratively linked or thematically linked. Even the title works. The 'new' characters were directly involved with the old which actually gives them some grounding...I agree with the above comment that it feels like there's a deleted scene where Kira visits Tenmei, (and presumably mentions her fathers last appearance in the wormhole) but everything actually makes sense for once. Almost none of it takes place on the station again (except purely as a location) which I think highlights the issue with its existence...but it also explicitly being contrast with the old by many characters (bike wheel, gyroscope) which is helping.
Stuff is getting done. Which is really really good...and the characters are pretty much themselves.
Oh...and the religious/non-religious is Back to being in line with Ds9 as it was, sensibly neither for nor against, with Kiras speech and the (saw it coming but was pleased...if surprised Kira hadn't figured it out herself already.) parallel universe stuff.
Much better job than previous books.
One assumes that there are sufficient info dumps/recaps throughout the book to cover the events of the last one and a half books?
He hasn't given up info dumps for lent, though they are shorter than in previous books...there's also one in the second half of the book reminding your the first half of that particular thread from the same book. It's not a perfect jumping in point for a new reader, but there's enough there you can theoretically jump in with minimal previous reading or research (it even covers Kira's career changes briefly...a few other sentences link right back to the TV series too.)
Cheers, I actually gave up on Dave the Third and his DS9 books the second from last of his books, it felt like nearly a quarter of that story was just recapping of what has happened since the beginning of time for some of the characters. What you've said doesn't make me want to re-evaluate that decision either.
I don't know if I'd say Quark has been neglected, he did get two entire 100+ page e-books focused on him.
It's much much much more restrained. Like a paragraph to bring you up to speed here and there. And I found it helped me for once, because I think I drifted off in the climax to last book and actually didn't remember the ascendant link thing. The only sore thumb exposition is the bit where we are told what is happening in vics story when we had just been reading it a couple of chapters earlier, but maybe this was going to be two books or more at one point. It's really noticeably pared down compared to the previous books. Which in some ways is a shame...I would rather see longer books that get as much as this done, rather than spreading this much story over a few years and a few books, as had been the pattern.
There's no million page recap of emissary here, and that was the only tip of the hat the novels gave to Ds9s anniversary. Also...this book actually makes some sense of Kiras experience that occurred in that book. There are now no major long running plot threads left dangling, just a couple of character arcs (I think it's likely the Ro/Quark thing isn't actually over either.) left to carry on, and some newish developments in this book to deal with later. It's much much more in keeping with the arc style of Ds9 itself, rather than something indeterminable and long winded like Game of Thrones (as the Ds9 books were becoming....epics don't work if people basically stop caring. I was hardly George R R Martins biggest fan, but read them to keep my wife company as she read them...frankly the most remarkable thing about those books is that anyone still actually gives a monkeys about what happens in them. I think people only stick with them to see if their pet theory comes true in amongst the grim dark.) we basically have three plots going on here, two of which dovetail (awkward that Morn technically showed up in a recent standalone novel about ten feet away from Quark.) and one of which continues and wraps up a lot of the Bajor stuff...it's the more 'serious' plot to an extent, but is thematically in keeping with the other two plots (what constitutes reality, what constitutes moving from one to another...dreams basically.) and both plots have their love triangles, which allows for a vignette showing the O'Briens to contrast those relationships with difficulties to one that is mature. It's a much tighter book, with much less in the way of epic goings on than previous entries.
The Bajor stuff is moved on, with some wrapping up, which is just how the Bajor stuff always worked on the show. An evolving background where narratives don't entirely end, at least not without feeding something in to the next. DRG3 has really upped his game on that front, even at the cost of more relaxed prose (my eyes sometimes skipped over the 'previously on' exposition out of habit, but I soon stopped doing that because it's only a tiny bit here and there, and as someone who came to the books part way through arcs, I appreciate the need for just a little.)
It's a good way to wrap up, and I will come back for the next book, one more time. If this one hadn't done what it's done, I would have given up. I still do t like the new station, and some of the bits and bobs...Bashir is noticeable by his absence, even though his name crops up lots (mainly because Vics program has his name in) as to an extent is Dax. (We have the 'new' science officer doing her job more or less, and I now know he is gay, a bit odd, a bit callous, and is called Candlewood. This is four things I did not know about him before because nothing made an impression. Five if you count even knowing he was male, six if you count realising Ds9 still had a science officer...he's also filling the Jake shaped hole to some extent, which had previously been that Andorian chap who had the soap opera plot about having kids. There's this odd sense that Nog is often being toyed with by writers regarding his sexuality. I had mental money on him ending up in a sort of fourway marriage back in the day, with the Andorians. But he gets a girlfriend here, once again proving Quark runs a dating agency as well as a bar.) O'Brien gets short shrift, but organically so...he has a decent scene, hands some plot info over, but that's fine...he's had a soloish outing recently, and this book isn't crying out for his inclusion in the way 'the one where Bashir Buggers Off' did (I literally do not remember the title.) Sisko fans will get pretty much nothing from this book, but at least he has actually managed to get his ship out the barn doors this time, and is theoretically doing more than answering an email or angsting about dinner. Jake is no where, but though he is main cast on the show, he does lean more to being ensemble anyway.
I would recommend reading it just to get some closure on the arcs you sat through...then only come back if you still care about the two threads left dangling. Or if they have Ezri and Bashir on the next ones cover, under a moody looking Sisko. Because then they will have finally got the band back together.
They weren't in print though were they? (Though they were reasonably priced for once. I am starting to feel like people are listening to me xD) they were like standalone...but he's rarely hard done by. People love him I guess.
As jaime pointed out, neither of those books were released in paper form. For many people who don't read e-books, then they would have no idea what occurred in those books, and as a result those plots are more or less E-stories to the main storylines, and can easily be mentioned within the main story lines.
72% in now.
I did not find the info-dumps excessive or obtrusive, and I would have liked to have seen some sort of preface that would have gotten me back up to speed on
things like the Ascendants uniting with Taranatar, mutating into shape-shifters, and forming a planet-sized link within the wormhole. And it was only after I'd been repeatedly clobbered with the business of Odo's injuries that I remembered the circumstances of them. Likewise, I'd completely forgotten about Vic's disappearance.
I guess I didn't notice the info dumps. Then again, I hadn't read the previous books, so they would have been useful to me (and therefore not noticed as extraneous).
What I didn't buy was how quickly the religious strife ended after Dans actions. Just couldn't buy that.
And Ro Laren was a bit of a dick to Quark. Really.
Absolutely loved the Kira-Odo scene, but my only Trek "ship" is that one so my love of the scene would be no surprise.
Yes the info dumps for past books were ok this time round I thought.
Fair point - I had forgotten them even though I've read one of them! I do think he's been neglected in the main narrative of the series though and as I said his relationship with Ro somewhat ignored.
Hopefully will get to start on Friday.
As one of the biggest defenders of DRGIII in the last few years here, even I got a bit annoyed with all the info-dumping in his last few novels.
Sofar, The Long Mirage has avoided that particular pitfall and is going on at full speed!! Very curious to see what's gonna happen....
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