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More war stories
on 12 October 2004
One of the unique (as far as Star Trek TV series go, anyway) things about Deep Space Nine was the two-year "Dominion War," where the shapeshifters from the Gamma Quadrant allied with the Cardassians and waged war on the other Alpha Quadrant races. Of course, being a television series about Deep Space Nine, the series couldn't really delve into what was going on in other parts of the Federation. We get no clue what the crew of the Enterprise was doing, for example. We hear about some things, of course, but mostly in the background.
Keith R.A. DeCandido, editor of Tales of the Dominion War decided that these holes needed to be filled. Since there is a lot of Trek franchises bouncing around these days, why not have a book of short stories that tell some of these tales? You've got your title all made up for you, too, so you don't have to work very hard at that. DeCandido lined up the best and the brightest of the current crop of Trek authors to give us a sampling of the huge events that took place during this war. The stories are mostly good, but a few clunkers along the way as well as some good stories with questionable elements keep this from being a top notch book.
Probably the best story is "Safe Harbor," by Howard Weinstein. Weinstein is the elder statesman of Star Trek books, having been involved with them since the very beginning (though I think he's been away for a while). He tells the story of Admiral Leonard McCoy and Scotty, trying to get back to Earth in a clunky old ship. It begins with a chilling image of a horrible attack on San Francisco, with Jim Kirk and Spock dying horrible deaths. This image quickly moves to McCoy waking up and ultimately realizing that he's really old and that his faculties may be beginning to desert him. They find safe harbor on a planet that prides itself on its neutrality in the war. They're able to wrangle a few hours for repairs, but then they have to leave. Soon, however, a badly damaged Federation ship also shows up, with all of its senior officers dead. McCoy has to counsel the extremely young acting captain as well as deal with the news that San Francisco actually was attacked. Dominion ships are in the area, searching. Will they be able to convince a young engineer on the planet to let them stay long enough to finish all their repairs and hide from the Dominion? This story had wonderful characterization (it should, as Weinstein always gets McCoy exactly right, even when McCoy's 150 years old) and an interesting dilemma. McCoy is wonderful both with the captain as well as with the engineer, and Scotty isn't bad himself. The story did have minor problems, however, which wrenched me out of the narrative. The first was the lack of an explanation for the dream. The dream was too exact for my taste, the only difference from real life being the involvement of Kirk and Spock. Is McCoy suddenly a prophet? And why isn't it mentioned again? Secondly, the ending is a little bit too treacly for my tastes, almost drowning in patriotic sugar. Still, it is a wonderful story.
Of the rest of the stories, my least favourite was "Twilight's Wrath," by David Mack. This story involves Shinzon, from the movie Star Trek: Nemesis, and how he was able to gain some of his power. He and his fellow Remans are ordered to mop up a Tal Shiar base that's been attacked by the Dominion, retrieving some items and making sure there's nothing left for the Dominion to find. Of course, being Remans, they're seen as expendable, and they're not expected to survive (even going so far as to have them killed once they have accomplished their mission). Shinzon outwits his Romulan superiors, however, and steals the information for himself. Along the way, he finds out information about his past, including his birthright, which will propel him into the events of the movie. This story was overly violent with a lot of hand-to-hand combat, severed limbs and other gut-wrenching things. That's ok by itself, but Shinzon is not even the least bit interesting. In fact, there's not a character in this story that I wanted to follow. I was hoping they would all fall victim to a grisly death. It does explain a couple of the inconsistencies in the movie, however.
Finally, a story that just mystified me. "What Dreams May Come," by Michael Jan Friedman, is the story of a Vorta (one of the Dominion toadies who keep the footsoldiers in line) on an isolated Federation world conquered by the Dominion. It's a quiet little place and he's really set in his ways. He has made servants of some of the local populace, but one of them isn't who he says he is. He relates to the Vorta a dream that he had, one where his people attacked the Dominion base. A dream that turns out to be all too real. At its heart, the story is extremely basic, but that quality makes it really uninteresting. If Friedman was trying to say anything with the story or do anything with it, I didn't catch it. It just sits there. While it's only a few pages long and doesn't take any time to get through, it does begin the book on a wrong note.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed Tales of the Dominion War. It was interesting to see all the difference facets of the Trek universe and how they dealt with the war. There's even a couple of Deep Space Nine stories as well, which was nice. Most of the stories are worth reading with some real gems in there as well. Good stuff.