Posts Tagged With: S. D. Perry

Rising Son, by S. D. Perry

risingsonA Herald, unforgotten, but lost to time, a Seer of Visions to whom the Teacher Prophets sing, will return from the Temple at the end of this time to attend the birth of Hope, the Infant Avatar.  The welcomed Herald shares a new understanding of the Temple with all the land’s children.  Conceived by the lights of war, the alien Avatar opens its eyes upon a waxing tide of Awareness.
The journey to the land hides, but it is difficult; prophecies are revealed and hidden.  The first child, a son, enters the Temple alone.  With the Herald, he returns, and soon after, the Avatar is born.  A new breath is drawn and the land rejoices in change and clarity.
-A portion of the prophecy of the Avatar


He has been a reporter and a writer.  He is close friends with the son of the Grand Nagus.  He’s seen the horrors of war, experienced the thrill of accomplishing a feat once performed by the ancient Bajorans, and acquired an extremely rare baseball card for his father just before the Dominion War.  He is the son of the Emissary.  And now, he is the star of his own book.  Jake Sisko has been missing in action ever since the events of Avatar, and not a peep had been heard from him until the very end of Mission Gamma.  The question has been hanging out there for quite some time now.  Now, the author who stuck Jake in the wormhole in the first place chronicles just what he’s been up to since in Rising Son.

As the reader may recall, Jake had read a prophecy that seemed to hint at the return of his father, Ben Sisko (former commander of DS9) from the Celestial Temple in time for the birth of his child-and it further indicated that Jake would have to go and get him.  So he took a shuttle and went into the wormhole near the station to do just that.  Unfortunately for Jake, he forgot one of the rules of prophecies (and really, as a writer himself, he shoulda known this one):  no prophecy is as straightforward as it sounds.

The novel opens up with Jake in a bad spot.  His shuttle is a mess, and he’s about to die-worse yet, he knows it.  He does, however, managed to get extremely lucky.  He is rescued before he succumbs fully to hypothermia (although it’s a close thing) by…well, a rather interesting group of characters in the Gamma Quadrant..  Their ship is called the Even Odds, and its crew consists of a hodge-podge of a number of Gamma Quadrant races, both familiar and new (and a couple of Alpha Quadrant races who have in the past had cause to be there).  They spend their time, as their captain Dezavrim put it, “looking for trouble”.  They’re a group of fortune-hunters, salvage experts, and retrievers, and their activities have gotten the attention of the Dominion (although things are pretty quiet with them lately).  And because they do business, they don’t really have the time to immediately ferry Jake back to the Alpha Quadrant.  And that begins a trip unlike any Jake has taken before, both physically and emotionally-and drives him to a meeting with destiny.

Where to begin?  Well, first, let me say that it was a distinct pleasure to open the first page and see the return of the first Gamma Quadrant species that the crew of DS9 had ever encountered.  It only got better from there:  the entire novel is sprinkled with exclusively Gamma Quadrant references.  For example, the war with the Dominion was known as the “Quadrant War”; the folks on the other side of the Anomaly (that’s the wormhole, for those who didn’t know) can be referred to as “Alphies”, and we meet again at least two other races known to exist in the Gamma Quadrant-races unaligned with the Dominion!  There’s even a brief segment that shows that the whole Gateways storyline had at least a little impact on Jake’s journey.

Then there’s the crew of the Even Odds.  Dez is the most interesting of the bunch (hey:  he’s the captain!  What’d you expect?), but Perry also has some other interesting crew members as well-such as Sraal, a life-form that interacts with machinery in a rather unique way; Pifko, who is certainly the most enthusiastic member of the crew; and Arislelemakinstess, a character I still haven’t been able to wrap my brain around (it doesn’t help that the character is actually kind of five characters, only one of which actually talks).  But it is Dez who takes an early personal interest in Jake, seeing perhaps a chance to be a better father to Jake than Dez’s father was to him; of course, he has to walk carefully, as he’s dealing with Jake’s memories of his own father, as well as the “Starfleet sensibilities” he was raised with.  The ship itself is an interesting one, as it has been patched together over time, and includes a portion of a subdeck that tends to migrate around (not to mention change size-although the ship itself doesn’t alter in size or shape).

But  make no mistake:  while the new characters and their ship are interesting, this is Jake’s story.  In the television series, we never really got to know Jake as well as I’d have liked; we knew he liked to write, and that he loved his father; he was best friends with Nog, and got along well with the entire crew of DS9.  Perhaps Jake didn’t even know himself that well, either-but in Rising Son, Jake manages to grow into a new role, at least for a while (in fact, he manages to overcome one of the more unpleasant episodes in his life in his time on the Even Odds).  And while I had a good idea of the end result from Mission Gamma and having seen the cover of this book before that, it was fun to see exactly what Jake Sisko was up to for the months he was missing; and the climax of the book will add a new dimension to the Bajoran religion as well (and I’m not talking about the obvious).  The Deep Space Nine saga continue to roll on, and Rising Son does a great job on advancing the DS9 storyline, and that of Jake Sisko-I sure hope that we haven’t seen the last of him in future books, because he does a respectable job as his own character here.

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Avatar, by S. D. Perry

   

It is not necessary that I understand, only that I obey.  Obedience brings victory.  Victory is life.
-Credo of the Jem’Hadar


Okay, true confessions time.  I love Deep Space Nine.  I rank it only slightly above the original/classic series of Star Trek.  It had a shaky start, but it became pretty unique by Trek standard:  things that happened in previous episodes had consequences.  It probably helped that the setting was a space station that had to deal with such things, as opposed to being on a starship that could pick up and leave.  But eventually, the television series ended.  That was the last we’d see of the crew.

That’ll teach me.  I should’ve known that someone would run with this.

Avatar takes place a few months after the series finale, after the United Federation of Planets concluded a war with the Dominion.  If you don’t know anything about DS9, don’t worry:  there’s a marvelous preface at the beginning that hits all the highlights of the entire DS9 television series that brings you up to speed.  So if there’s something off in my review, take heart in the fact that S. D. Perry does a good job on the explanations.

For a few months, it seems that the Alpha Quadrant of the galaxy is at peace.  The commander of the Bajoran space station Deep Space Nine, Colonel Kira Nerys, is busy working on the station and their on-site battleship, the Defiant-after the war, it seems that the station and the ship are both getting long-delayed upgrades and repairs.  Unfortunately, this means that the station is vulnerable to a sudden attack from beyond the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant.  This attack makes the Federation and its allies wonder if the Dominion is already breaking the truce between itself and the United Federation of Planets.

Meanwhile, not too far away, the U. S. S. Enterprise-carrying a strategic officer named Elias Vaughn to advise on Breen tactics-stumbles upon a derelict Cardassian freighter.  The away team investigating-led by Vaughn-discovers something that not only has great importance to the Bajoran people, but changes his own life in the bargain.

And on the surface of Bajor, Jake Sisko, son of the former commander of the station, is given pages from book of prophecy in the archaeological dig at B’hala, which seem to imply great changes in store for Bajor, which center around the unborn child of Benjamin Sisko and his wife Kasidy Yates…and also imply that Jake must go into the wormhole to seek the Prophets of the Celestial Temple, and return his father back to the station for the birth of his child.  The woman who gave him the pages, however, meets a dire fate on DS9-which brings the attention of the religious powers on Bajor, still deciding who will be named Kai (their religious leader).

I’ve chosen to review both books of Avatar as one, mainly because it really is a single story, and because they came out simultaneously.  It does a great job with the backstory in the timeline mentioned above, and it picks up speed from there.  There’s a lot happening here, with the attack on the station, the fallout from that attack, Jake’s quest, the Enterprise involvement, and the prophecies of the Avatar.  The book seems to fall a little short on the new characters, who replace the lost members of the crew.  Ro Laren (a favorite character of many fans of the Next Generation), and Elias Vaughn get a fair amount of time in these books; I find Vaughn intriguing, as a 101 year old man who is still vigorous-and wears his age a lot better than the only other long-lived human I know of in the Star Trek canon; I think I might get a little tired, though, of him seeming to know characters or relatives of characters of almost everyone he meets-I realize a body can see a lot in 101 years, but the galaxy’s a big place.

There’s subplots being built up as well, one of which concerns the new science officer, an Andorian named Thirishar ch’Thane, and another involving the Jem’Hadar scowling at us on the cover of the second book.  Ezri Dax and Julian Bashir are still continuing their relationship, although bumps appear on the way; Nog is dealing with the problems of upgrading the station and fitting into the shoes of Miles O’Brien; and Kasidy is dealing with the reality that she’s the mother of the Emissary’s child-and all the heavy religious baggage that comes with it.  I also have to admit I enjoyed a couple of cameo appearances; a half-Romulan doctor from the Next Generation series seems to have improved his career immensely, and we get a look at a couple of DS9 characters who have moved onto bigger and better things in every possible way.

Avatar is the kickoff for the continuing line of Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine novels, all set after the end of the series.  It not only sets the tone for the next set of books, but shakes up the status quo further (as if the end of a terrible war wasn’t enough) in the Bajoran sector and beyond.  And the finish of the book promises big things for the future.  This isn’t the first time I’ve really wanted to enjoy a book before I actually got around to reading it…but it seems that for once, the expectation was met by reality.  For fans of the television series or novels of Deep Space Nine-don’t miss this.  I think that newcomers will enjoy these books as well-while there’s plenty of continuity involved, I think that the timeline does a great job on filling things in.  Get on station for this series:  it’s off to a great start.

(2012 note:  Originally published as two separate novels, this can be found in a single book omnibus.)

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Unity by S. D. Perry

I know what it is, to stay in pain.  You think it’s beyond your control, that you don’t have a choice…but you can decide to let it go.  Because here’s the thing-even if it’s true, even if you actually murdered her, it doesn’t matter anymore.  Whatever happened, it’s the past, now.  For you, this place is like a cage of the past.  It’s a trap.  And you can leave it behind.  You can-you must-choose to set yourself free.
-Benny Russell


It’s been a long time coming.

It has been almost nine months since the end of the Dominion War.  In that time, much has happened.  Kira Nerys took over command of the station Deep Space Nine, defied the vedeks of Bajor, became Attainted, and saw a former love assassinated.  Ro Laren became security chief, and became involved with-of all people-Quark.  Doctor Bashir and Ezri Dax continued their relationship, even through the manipulations of Section 31 and a grueling mission in the Gamma Quadrant.  New crew came aboard, both of Starfleet-Elias Vaughn and Shar ch’Thane-and of elsewhere-Taran’atar.  Kasidy Yates, the wife of the departed (?) Captain Ben Sisko is about to give birth.  Jake Sisko, long missing, has been found in the Gamma Quadrant, in the company of the most revered figure on Bajor outside of the Emissary.  Bajor itself is a breath away from joining the United Federation of Planets.

But there’s still a number of things that are not well.  The U. S. S. Defiant is returning from the Gamma Quadrant, its command crew emotionally beaten down-only to be confronted by a number of Cardassian warships.  Shar must deal with the fallout from the suicide of one of his bondsmates.  Vaughn and his daughter must deal with the fallout of Vaughn’s killing of Prynn’s mother.  Ro and Quark have to figure out just what their future will be after the Federation accepts Bajor, as both feel as if they do not fit in such an environment.  And Kira has to deal with the fallout of the assassination of the late First Minister of Bajor, and the reasons behind it-a war between alien forms of life that use humanoids as a battlefield.  This is the setup of Unity, the latest of the post-finale Deep Space Nine novels, the climax of a whole bunch of long running storylines, and the second hardcover for this series (anybody remember Warped?).

There’s a lot stuffed into this book.  The biggie is the war between the Trill (more specifically, their symbiotes) and the parasites (last seen waay back in the Next Generation early episodes).  To say the parasites have big plans is putting it mildly-and Perry does a great job in getting me to believe that they can pull them off.  You think the Borg are scary?  You can at least see the Borg coming a mile away!  And these things aren’t exactly locked into a logical mindset.  But to be honest, that was almost a subplot as far as I was concerned.

The real juicy parts of this book was how the various subplots built up over the last several books started coming to fruition.  Shar finally has it out once and for all with his family, making a decision that will change his life forever.  Vaughn finds that he’s taken one hit too many with the end of the Mission Gamma books, and finds that he may not even be able to reconcile with his daughter anymore.  And lest I forget-Kasidy is just about to give birth, and since it’s nice to have family and friends on hand, the remaining Sisko clan, including the long absent Jake, and the O’Briens show as well (and you know the Chief can’t resist helping out his old friends on the station a little).  Opaka Sulan is also back on Bajor, and her arrival creates a bit of a stir amongst the spiritual leaders of the world, including Vedek Yevir; hm, talk about having your ambitions thwarted just a bit….

Hm, and what about that extra face on the cover….?  Hmmm…..  And what about Wex, from Rising Son?  What’s her story?  And why’s she hanging around the local Jem’Hadar?  And what will become of Bajor and its relationship to the Federation?  Expect answers….

Let me say it plainly-this was a helluva book.  What I have always seen as the greatest strength behind Deep Space Nine has always been in the complicated characters, from Ben Sisko to Gul Dukat, from Elim Garak to Jake Sisko. Unity took that strength, along with a very nice plotline, and ran with them.  By the time the book ended, it felt as if I had seen another season finale for Deep Space Nine-one of the non-cliffhanger type.  After all, there are a number of major changes, and all have far reaching consequences.  But, up until the last two pages, I was almost certain I was seeing the end of the DS9 relaunch (sure, I know about the Worlds of Deep Space Nine series, but it’s not the same….).  But it’s hard to still feel that way when the last sentence says “The Saga of Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine Will Continue”.

To which I say:  “Good”.

(2012 note:  this gets to be the first repost because it’s the one that’s actually still floating around on some sites on the Internet-even on Amazon.com.)

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