The first of the DEEP SPACE 9 novels, and also the novelization of the premiere of the third STAR TREK series, EMISSARY introduces fans through the written word to Commander Benjamin Sisko and the "regulars" who will live and work together on a space station in orbit around Bajor. The series is built on the premise that Deep Space 9, previously used by the Cardassians, will now be occupied by the UFP while Bajor recovers from the exploitation of its natural resources in ore and attempts to rebuild its society. Under the command of Benjamin Sisko, a motley assemblage will serve as both protection and aid. Commander Sisko, Major Kira, Constable Odo, Lieutenant Dax, Doctor Bashir, Chief O'Brien abd Quark will soon be the only persons standing in the way of a new trade and exploration route which could mean the life or death of the Bajoran race, and prevent Civil War from breaking out due to a range of issues from economy to religion.
Like all good stories, each must have its conflicts in order to keep a reader's interest. The surface conflict is, of course, the Bajoran/UFP/Cardassian treaty for peace. While the Cardassians have plundered the planet for all practical purposes and left it in shambles. Gul Dukat is unwilling to relinquish his position of Prefect, which provided him with wealth and power. What will keep the DEEP SPACE 9 stories from becoming stale will be the personal vinettes and internal conflicts amongst its staff. Here we are introduced to Commander Sisko's inability to let go of the death of his wife and the blame he lays at the feet of Locutus/Caprain Picard; Chief O'Brien's struggles with a bloody Cardassian memory and the danger he brings his family with his new transfer; Major Kira's inability to trust; Constable Odo's quest to find remnants of his identity; Doctor Bashir's desire for glory and adventure; Quark's quest for profit; and, the enigmatical Lieutenant Dax.
The story itself varies nothing from the pilot episode of DEEP SPACE 9. The dialogue is taken directly from the teleplay by Michael Piller. Where the differences lie are in the written interpretation of those lines. J.M. Dillard spends a great deal of time delving into the internal psyches of these characters, particularly the conumdrum facing Sisko and Dax. (Dax is currently hosting a Trill within her who Sisko had an enduring friendship with while in its previous host - an old man rather than this attractive young woman.) This insures that the reader is in full understanding of the exposition and character development. Those who have seen the pilot will feel as if they now-know-these characters, along with their faults and strengths.
Herein lies one of the two faults I find with this novelization. By submitting the pilot to the novel form, Dillard allows no room for new interpretation to issues further presented within the series. New storylines and conflicts will arise, new puzzles will be faced, discussed, analyzed, and clever innovations and resolutions will be attained; however, the essential interpretations of personal conflicts will be required to remain static in all novels to come. (For some reason, the novels must coincide with the show, and with each other, but the television series is not bound to the same rules. Yet another one of those terrific double standards!)
The second fault I find is in the all too clever-and-pat ending that is required simply because it is a novelization of a pilot. While the pilot itself was satisfying to me, I felt cheated as a reader. The over-analytical part of me wished for this to -not- have been the pilot in order to have further opportunities to delve into the wormhole entities. We are given a strong look at the concept of existence through the powerful moments of Sisko's past, yet glimpse nothing of the entities themselves except their inability to internalize the idea of a linear process. This is not a new concept for STAR TREK and is beginning to grow a bit old for me. While some may find this intriguing and fodder for future plots (as well as leaving the storyline open for future writers) I was left frustrated, having more questions than answers - much like Constable Odo.
The 274 pages make a fast read abd are mildly entertaining if you like reliving the pilot. For those who enjoy delving into character analysis and trivia, the novelization may show some promise. But if you want something meatier, stick to the novels which have no pilot by which to compare them.
Author: J.M. Dillard
Review by: CL5 Sorsha