Here in good 'ol Blighty (the UK) we have a magazine called SFX, I faithfully buy it every month it covers just about everything in Science Fiction and Fantasy that I need to know. But that's enough plugging, this month it featured a feature on "SF's Top 10 Irritating B*st*rds". It was a funny article to read it, covered everyone from Wesley Crusher to Snarf from Thundercats.
Seventh on the list was Keiko O'Brien. Now I must admit she's never been my favorite DS9 character, but I think they were a little harsh, under the column "Intended Role" it said "Winging botanist wife of long-suffering Chief O'Brien". Under "Actual role it said, "To moan. And whine. And whinge. And complain. And tut. And frown. And flounce. And gripe. And look uncomfortable acting with small children."
So it seems not many people like her then, so it's strange to find her under the spotlight in this book. And it even stranger to find that it's actually not that bad.
Set at the beginning of season four (Worf has just come on board), the station is having a wee bit of a crisis. A huge (and I mean huge) plasma storm is being attracted to the Bajor system by the gravitational effects of the wormhole, if it gets there it will probably destroy the station, wormhole and Bajor (see told you it was big). In my eyes however it all really doesn't matter, what I actually liked about this book was the "B" plot. This basically revolves around the O'Brien family. Keiko and Molly have come back from Bajor for a bit and (surprisingly) she isn't all that pleased with all the time her husband has been playing darts, drinking ale etc. Not that's she's had much time to see her husband you see since the station is becoming overrun with passengers of ships that have docked to wait out the storm. O'Brien has been running around fixing stuff when minor emergencies happen and is feeling a bit guilty.
Anyhoo, Dax studies the plasma storm while Keiko gets a bit bored having nothing to do apart from looking after a hyperactive little girl that's on the busiest and most exiting station in the quadrant.some people eh?
So O'Brien in "apologetic doting husband mode" lets her have a look at Dax's readings and quickly finds out that the plasma storm is acting like an organism.
Then (a bit too much out of character to my liking but still in the realms of believability) Keiko goes to Ops to ask if she can go with Dax in a Runabout to go off and study the storm. In a nice scene Sisko gets to act like a parent when talking to Molly, but isn't afraid to ask this new improved feisty Keiko what's going to happen to her daughter? Which is a fair question, Sisko goes on to ask how her husband will feel about this. Keiko retorts (in one of the most thoughtful scenes in the book) if anyone consults her when the chief goes crawling into a damaged plasma conduit. I have my reservations about her solution to keep Molly in a holosuite with a "Nanny" program running, but I suppose needs must.
A technobabble scene ensues with Dax and Keiko attempting to take samples from the storm. In my opinion this storm plot is a waste of time, to be blunt it does nothing for me, I'm never left wondering "Will they save the station?". And the technical jargon used to describe (and ultimately defeat it) would put an episode of Voyager to shame. To me it seems like an excuse for the publishers to put "A plasma storm threatens Bajor, the wormhole and Deep Space Nine!" on the front cover. Somehow I doubt "Keiko O'Brien gets bored and irritated with her daughter and husband which threatens Bajor, the wormhole and Deep Space Nine!" would have sold as many copies.
Anyway, O'Brien is dealing with a few minor emergencies one of which means he has to turn off non-essential power, which he realises means the holosuites..
Hmm.maybe putting your only child in the hands of forcefields and protons during a station emergency wasn't such a good idea after all.
He runs to Molly's aid to find her crying her eyes out. He want to comfort her but is really rushed off his feet. So what does he do? Gives her to Odo to act as babysitter.Hmm lets see we've had plasma storms that's are actually organisms, possibly the winner of the 24th century bad parenting blunder, by the O'Briens and now we have Odo just about to start flying around the room with the aid of an umbrella, suspension isn't the word, termination of belief would be a better phrase.
It's strange then to find that it actually all works, Odo makes a great nanny, when this guy plays "Horsy" he's not one to mess around. We haven't seen this side of Odo since season two's "Shadowplay" (remember the spinning top?) and oddly it transcends cute, you could actually imagine him with kids.
At this point we're at the middle of the book and that's when my review stops, not because I don't want to reveal too many spoilers but because it's here the book falls apart, the plasma storm scenes become very surreal to the point where I was confused and just skipped them. The station is saved they manage to deflect the storm and all is well. And that's about it really.
If you are going to buy this book don't buy it for the front cover, ignore the main plot and the "C" story involving Worf and concentrate on the O'Briens.
It's all very well done (apart from the few glaring out of character moments) especially well handled is Keiko, who for once shows us an insight into what being a full- time mother is like. I have no idea whether Susan Wright has children, but I would suspect that she does, it's all very realistic, one of the stand out scenes involves Keiko walking through Quarks trying to shield Molly from being `contaminated' all the characters hit the right notes and we're left with Keiko wondering how her husband can spend so much time in here with these people.
Maybe now I don't dislike Keiko quite so much.
Title: The Tempest
Author: Susan Wright
Review by: CL5 Smiley