A new author to me, Dafydd ab Hugh has written a wonderful book dealing with my favorite concept in STAR TREK -- time travel. No great surprise as most fans who enjoy science fiction have fallen in love with the idea of being able to go forwards or backwards in time, or even exploring alternate universes on a parallel timeline. Ab Hugh's novel pairs Quark and Odo against all odds as the most unlikely of dynamic duos trying to solve the latest mystery aboard DS9. Inside the pages of the novel he manages to catch the flavor of adverseries stuck on their own type of survivor island while still allowing for growth in their relationship.
Square-Deal Djonreel, a trader, visits Quark at DS9 with a Cardassian strongbox for sale. But this is no ordinary safe. In order to open it, Quark will need to use all of his cunning and knowledge of the Cardassians. Once the box is opened, inside Quark and Odo find a strange object unknown to them. In a flash, Quark and Odo disappear. Shortly after their combined disappearance, a ship of alien origin appears through the wormhole and wages war on DS9 demanding the return of the prisoner. Mystified by the aggression, the crew scramble to defend themselves against seemingly invincible body armour as one by one they are brought down maliciously. No one is safe. Suddenly, Quark and Odo reappear to find that they seem to be the only survivors of a devastating attack on DS9 and time is running out to when they can jump back in time to prevent the attack.
The creepiest, yet most enticing thing about this book is the discovery of slaughtered inhabitants (including the senior officers) of the station. The alternating passages which describe the remains found and the actual deaths of Keiko O'Brien, Miles O'Brien, Jadzia Dax, Kira Nerys, and others brings about horror-filled states. While recognizing that these figures are fictional, as a fan it is difficult to temporarily separate that fact from what is being read on the page. We have become attached to these individuals. We have intimate knowledge of their thoughts, their dreams, their motivations, through the third person narrative of the series. In our hearts, we know that these characters would never be permanently removed from the show due to those "rules" of STAR TREK regarding loss of life and relationships. Still . . . momentarily I found myself gasping and even crying over their final struggles facing the enemy.
The brutality of the enemy gives us something other than The Borg to direct our conflicts against. This is an enemy who seems to have no conscience. While the Borg would assimilate life rather than destroy it, these creatures cut down children, women, men, civilians, and officers with no thought or compassion. If the individual does not or cannot help them, they respond with violence most swift. It takes great ingenuity on the part of Jadzia Dax to bring down the first invader, despite the fact that it ultimately costs her her life. It takes the intuition of a child to preserve itself. It takes the teamwork of two adversaries to bring about the conclusion of what could easily become the worst massacre since Wolf359.
The one flaw I find within this storyline is that the changes within Odo and Quark's relationship can only reach so far. While the books must recognize the television series as "canon," the process is not reversible. I've argued this before in my review of "Emissary." While there is a stalemate of acceptance between the two characters, it will never be recognized except in novels which are privy to the information in ab Hugh's novel. It would appear that even STAR TREK is irrevocably bound by its own rules of existence.
A great exploration of characters and a fitting tribute to the inhabitants of DS9. Based on recent events here in the States (WTC and Pentagon attacks), the idea is truly brought home regarding how do you want it to end? Will you wait and hope that a miracle will happen brought about by the hands of others? Or will you go down fighting for those that you love and the ideas you believe in? To be or not to be . . . that is the question.
Title: Fallen Heroes
Author: Dafydd ab Hugh
Review by: Sorsha