Following my first attempt at reading Star Trek, in which I was notably baffled throughout, E and I have conferred and agreed that it is probably best to take the advice of the immortal Julie Andrews and start at the very beginning. So, here we are with book one of the third series. It isn’t the actual beginning, but it is, at least, a beginning. Apparently we don’t own the very first ever book because, despite appearances, we don’t actually have the entire collection. The mind boggles. I have also taken the precaution of having a gin by my side from the off, so I don’t have to interrupt this ….reading experience.
For any new readers, who may be concerned by my apparent predilection for Star Trek books, I can only apologise. The challenge for this year involves reading every unread book on my bookcase and, ultimately, that involves reading E’s vast collection of Star Trek. So I’ll be doing one per week for the next 34 weeks. But I promise we will get through it, and then we don’t ever have to do it again.
Now, this story begins with Ben Sisko being on a spaceship that is pretty much annihilated by the Borg. The Borg, it would seem, are the baddest of all baddies. I had a German teacher called Borg once, but that is, perhaps, a story for another time. During this encounter (with the Borg, not my German teacher), a lot of people die, including Sisko’s wife, although his son, Jake survives. I wonder if severe casualties in the first chapter are going to be a feature of all of the books in this series. If so, then there is every chance of space being entirely depopulated by the time we get to the end of book 35.
We then flash forward to a few years later when Sisko, against his will, and still in a state of grief, has been put in charge of Deep Space 9, which, as far as I can work out, is a giant spaceship so big it can support casinos and markets and wotnot. Deep Space 9 is floating above a planet called Bajor, populated by a peaceful and mystical people, which has just been more or less destroyed by some aliens called the Cardassians. Now, I don’t know much about the Cardassians, but we know that they are rotters because (as well as having destroyed the planet) they have horrendous taste in brutalist architecture. Imagine!
So, Sisko arrives and faces the scepticism of the frontier crew, but he wins them over almost immediately because, luckily, it turns out that there is a Bajoran prophesy about how he is going to fix everything. For me, this rather lets the plot down because once you know someone is the prophesied saviour of the planet, you sort of know that there is going to be a happy ending.
Alongside the Sisko saving the world plotline, there is the Jake going in for a bit of teenage rebellion plotline. Jake makes friends with a young Ferengi (a type of alien that will try to cheat you but is not as much of a rotter as a Cardassian – probably having better taste in architecture) and gets into all sorts of scrapes because he is, at heart, a good boy and can’t keep up with the derring-do. It is just lucky that his Dad is the station commander.
The story proceeds via a mystical orb, a wormhole, explosions and lots of shouting of things like “I’ll be damned if I kneel to a Cardassian again”, as Sisko vanishes on a quest to speak to some other aliens leaving his ship at the mercy of some Cardassians that have appeared from nowhere and seem a bit cranky. Still with me? No?
The main thing is that there is an epic battle where Sisko’s crew are the plucky underdog, which must have looked great on TV. Who knows whether they will survive??? We all know.
So, what have we learnt?
Ranking of bad aliens
1. The Borg – the baddest
2. The Cardassians – poor taste in architecture
3. The Ferengi – low-level cheats (E has just described them as the ‘comic relief’, which just goes to show her lackadaisical approach to proper law and order)
Pearls of ever so worthy wisdom
1. That the most important thing to know about humans is: “It is the unknown that defines our existence”. This ‘gem’ came out of a discussion about baseball. I kid you not.
2. That you can’t grieve forever, even if your wife was killed by the Borg, otherwise your son will turn into a juvenile delinquent while you are off communing with aliens that don’t understand baseball or time.
3. That it doesn’t matter how advanced technology gets, all computers converse with the smugness of a sat-nav.
Useful space-jargon, that you can use should you ever need to convince someone you know how to run a spaceship
1. “They’re flooding subspace with anti-lepton interference. It will cut off our communications with Starfleet.”
2. “All right. Initiate transit mode, three-axis stabilisation. Status of aft thrusters?” (Correct response is “Aft thrusters ready.”)
3. “Couldn’t you modify the subspace field output of the deflector generators just enough to create a low-level field around the station?” (Apparently, you could)
If anyone has any insight into what any of this means, I would be grateful.
Actually, maybe I prefer it in its incomprehensible state. It almost has the poetry of the shipping forecast. Almost.
Join us next time.
North Utsira southwesterly 6 to gale 8, occasionally severe gale 9 in south. Rough or very rough, occasionally high. Good, occasionally poor.