24 February 2021

Star Trek: The Destiny Era: Revelation and Dust

Published: 2013
Acquired: April 2019
Read: November 2020

Star Trek: The Fall: Revelation and Dust
by David R. George III

22 August–1 September 2385
As much as I have often been critical of Destiny-era fiction, I would say that it has all reached a basic level of competence: they are all stories about people trying to accomplish things against obstacles placed in their way. Now, this might seem like damning with faint praise... but it's praise one cannot bring to Revelation and Dust, a book where almost nothing happens for the first 250 pages.

No one is trying to accomplish anything and encountering obstacles; rather, we just get a series of dull scenes intended to establish what all the Deep Space Nine characters have been up to since they were last seen in Raise the Dawn. Sisko thinks a lot while Yates makes dinner in a replicator. Ro thinks a lot while looking at a park. Quark thinks a lot while looking at his bar. O'Brien thinks a lot while putting on his dress uniform. Nan Bacco has meetings that don't really go anywhere, but I assume are meant to set up things that will happen in later installments of The Fall. There seem to be an interminable number of scenes where people go to memorials or other ceremonies. But nothing actually happens.

A lot of the book seems to be there to set up the new Deep Space 9. There are paragraphs about things like turbolift design and the layout of Ops and what the new hospital is like and what the names of every counselor assigned to the station are. Quite frankly, I don't care what it all looks like if there's not a story it's all in support of. In any case, as long as the station gets rebuilt and replaced, there's no way destroying it could really change the fundamentals of DS9 storytelling in a meaningful way. It's like when a comic book crossover kills off a minor-but-beloved character to prove the situation is serious... it doesn't prove anything at all, because you know that the next time a writer wants to use, say, Firestorm, he'll be back, and he'll be fine. DS9 is back, and it doesn't matter if "Ops" is now called "the Hub," everything was fine.

The one exception to this is the Kira subplot. Kira was on a runabout that exploded in the wormhole in Raise the Dawn (I guess? I actually totally forgot about this), and we find out what happened to her here. First she spends her time observing a, I shit you not, 25-page line-by-line recap of every single wormhole scene from "Emissary." It is so boring. I have seen "Emissary," and whatever new spin one might gain on it is quickly drained away by the fact that Kira is way behind the reader in terms of what is happening. I have no idea what this was supposed to be in aid of.

I should have counted my blessings, because soon Kira is in the ancient past of Bajor, inhabiting the existence of someone named "Keev," and it is 100% people you don't care about with space names interacting with other people you don't care about with space names. The novel never gives you a reason to want Keev to succeed, and I quickly turned to skimming these chapters when they appeared. This is actually the third time in the DS9 relaunch there's been an extended sequence of Kira in Bajor's past (it also happened in "Horn and Ivory" and Warpath), so this is a well that's been gone to a bit too much at this point. As my friend Brendan pointed out, "all they ever feel like is a thematic crutch. Why not have Kira evolve and learn lessons based on events in her actual life?"

SPOILERS: Two thirds of the way into this book, Federation president Nan Bacco is assassinated. You might thing this would kick the book into high gear, but instead, people sit around and think about how sad they are. The investigation has little sense of urgency, and not all the actions Ro and Blackmer take make a lot of sense. (Ro announces Bacco is dead, and it doesn't occur to her that all the other heads of state might have security concerns until they contact her.)

The lack of urgency is exacerbated by the fact that at this point the Keev chapters increase in frequency, now alternating with present-day events, so every time something does happen, you're promptly jerked to something you don't care about.

I like David R. George III as a writer-- Twilight and Serpents among the Ruins rank among my favorite Star Trek books-- but his Destiny-era stuff started out feeling misguided, and seems to keep getting worse.

Continuity Notes:

  • The O'Brien family moved to Cardassia in 2376, if I recall correctly; O'Brien was then assigned to build the new Deep Space 9 in 2383. That means he lived on Cardassia for seven years... as long as he lived on the original Deep Space 9! To be honest, I just don't feel it, and I don't know if I ever will.
  • Also, why has Nog essentially been demoted in responsibility? Before his assignment to the Challenger in Indistinguishable from Magic he was chief engineer of Deep Space 9; now that he's returned, he's assistant chief engineer! And he's assistant to a guy he considerably outranks.
Other Notes:
  • Copy editing is a bit poor. On p. 45, for example, we're told Kira "didn't care much for the sport [of baseball]-- or really even understand it," and then two paragraphs later that Kira "[a]lthough she had eventually learned the rules of the sport, she had never really understood it." Yes, I got it the first time!
  • There's also some very clunky dialogue, such as a sequence where O'Brien, Nog, Bashir, and Sarina discuss how many heads of state are on the station: "'I'm not talking about worlds,' O'Brien said, 'I'm talking about empires and unions and hegemonies.' 'Don't forget alliances,' Nog said, doubtless speaking about his Ferengi origins" (p. 239).
  • To be honest, I feel like it's hard to justify Ro and Blackmer keeping their jobs. They had one station sabotaged out from under them, and then on the day the next one opened, the president of the Federation was killed! What kind of operation are they running?
I read Destiny-era Star Trek books in batches of five every few months. Next up in sequence: The Fall: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack

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