15 December 2015

Deep Space Nine Reread, Season Five: Day of Honor: Honor Bound by Diana G. Gallagher

Reread September 2015
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #11: Day of Honor: Honor Bound
by Diana G. Gallagher
illustrated by Gordon Purcell

It took me all of an afternoon (as long as it takes my wife to make tacos) to read the 11th DS9 young adult novel, Day of Honor: Honor Bound. Season 5 has slim pickings when it comes to book-length fiction: it's this, Vengeance by Dafydd ab Hugh, the main story of The Captain's Table: The Mist by Smith and Rusch, and the Rebels trilogy by ab Hugh. I remember none of these fondly, to say the least. Maybe I should have reread Marvel's Telepathy War crossover instead? But this is what I opted for.

It's an okay book: Alexander is having difficulty living on Earth with his grandparents, and Worf swings by to celebrate the Day of Honor with him because Alexander has been getting into trouble at school. This is the third time Worf's experienced some excitement on the Day of Honor, and the second time we've seen Alexander go through it, too.

As an adult, the existence of DS9 YA novels baffles me; despite the presence of two child characters in the main/recurring cast, it's probably the least child-friendly of all the Star Treks. It ended one book after this one, and I kind of wonder if tying into the Day of Honor crossover was a way of bolstering sales in a dying line by appealing to the collectors/completists. (It obviously worked on me; though I have many of the TNG and TOS YA novels, this is the only DS9 one I own.) It's even weirder that this one stars a character who had never appeared on DS9 when this book was written, though (I assume by total coincidence) he finally did appear the month this book came out. More on that later.

Alexander's difficulties come down to a fear of his own strength, and problems controlling his anger; Worf tells the story of the soccer player he killed (from Season 4's "Let He Who Is Without Sin"), which is a nice tie-in. Basically Alexander keeps on throwing fights with bullies, but this only encourages his bullies. Worf has to both help him manage his anger (through Klingon techniques he's avoided his entire life, like mok'bara) and defeat his bullies... honorably. This book won't win any medals for sophisticated prose (the opening line is, "Alexander Rozhenko was one-quarter human, three-quarters Klingon and totally furious!") or dialogue (at one point, one of Alexander's bullies says, "I'm so flabbergasted, I don't know what to say"), or indeed, characterization. We're told of Alexander's tendency to become savage, but we never really feel it.

Still, it's a decent way to spend an hour, and peeks into an aspect of Worf that DS9 neglected for Worf's first two years. There is a really nice conversation between Worf and Alexander about honor, and the hard choices Worf has had to make in its name over the years, including when not to fight.

My favorite bit was when Worf told a girl at Alexander's school that Alexander snarled at her because he was into her. Would have loved to have seen Michael Dorn play that one on screen! Also Alexander's school's librarian makes googly eyes at Worf, which is just delightful.

Continuity Notes:
  • As far as I could tell, Alexander's age is never given. He's seven chronologically, but looks more like 12-14 in Gordon Purcell's illustrations, as do his bullying classmates. This is fortuitously consistent with what "Sons and Daughters" will imply about Klingon aging.
  • It's set sometime early during Season 5, before hostilities with the Klingons come to an end, and before the uniform change in "The Rapture." I'd suggest after "Nor the Battle to the Strong," since one of the kids at Alexander's school had an uncle killed in the Klingon conflict, and that seemed to be the hottest the war got; most of the time it's more subdued.
  • Worf references a Master from Boreth, Lourn. To my surprise, he's a character from Diane Carey's novelization of "Way of the Warrior".
  • Zefram Cochrane wrote a book called The Potential of Warp Propulsion; Alexander's school library has a first edition. There's a typo in it hand-corrected and initialed, allegedly by Cochrane, but it's probably a fake. A pre-WWIII publication?
  • Kids of the 24th century watch "holoflicks"; the ones at Alexander's school are excited about a new Ferengi comedy.
  • Obviously Diana G. Gallagher couldn't have known, but it's a bit of an awkward fit with "Sons and Daughters," which I coincidentally watched just before writing this review. In that episode, Alexander says, "you haven't tried to see me or talk to me in five years"; this book takes place approximately a year prior. Of course, that line is bad on its own terms because, 1) "Sons and Daughters" is set less than three years after Generations, when Worf sent Alexander back to Earth, and 2) that's completely terrible and implausible! I can kind of accept that Worf rarely visits-- he's not a great dad-- but to never even talk to his son over subspace for five years, or even three!? Impossible, Worf's mother would kill him.
  • More difficult, though is Alexander's decision at the novel's end that he doesn't have to choose "to be a diplomat or a Klingon warrior or a Starfleet officer or something else entirely. Right now, he just wanted to be a kid." He seems to reach something of a peace here, both with the elements of his Klingon heritage and with his father. It's possible that his utilization of Klingon ritual and technique here sends him down the path that leads him to joining the Klingon Defense Force, but his anger at his father in "Sons and Daughters" would still come out of nowhere. On the other hand, Worf going through so much to help Alexander stay in human school here would make his anger at Alexander's joining the KDF very understandable!

Other Notes:
  • Supposedly this book takes place in Russia, in a settlement called Mirnee Doleena, near Bobruisk. You wouldn't know it by the names of the characters: Bernard Umbaya, Kim Ho, Jeremy Sullivan, Suzanne Milton, Howard Chupek, Ms. Marconi, Mr. Houseman, Mrs. Miyashi, Mr. Cunningham, Mr. Santiago. There is a Ms. Petrovna. I get that the future is multicultural, but really? (Also Worf goes to a briefing at Starfleet Headquarters at the same time Alexander is in school; it must be a very early morning briefing!)
  • Despite appearing on the cover, the Defiant is nowhere near this book. Worf seems to take a commercial flight to Earth.
Next Week: Sisko learns how much the past sucks in Far Beyond the Stars!

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