Fans of the Deep Space Nine relaunch have been waiting for two years for the story to continue. This week’s Library Computer explores Olivia Woods’ new novel “Fearful Symmetry” and asks, “Was it worth the wait?”.
REVIEW: "FEARFUL SYMMETRY"
The Deep Space Nine relaunch novels have a deep and intertwining continuity all their own (see TrekMovie’s guide to the DS9 Relaunch). There are a plethora of new faces in the universe and many outstanding tales have been told in the twenty-plus installments (of various forms) that have been issued in the past eight years. Olivia Woods’ “Fearful Symmetry” is the latest story in this ever-expanding literary series. Two years in the making, Woods offers two different stories in this book. One, set immediately after the preceding DS9 novel, “Warpath” focuses on the aftermath of the events of that tale, and is an enjoyable read. From the opening scene in the Celestial Temple, Woods crafts a different way of thinking about the Emissary (Benjamin Sisko), his role in the universes, and the events of not just the novels, but the entire history of Deep Space Nine. The second, exploring the life of Cardassian sleeper agent Illiana Gehmor, takes place over a period of time stretching from the days of the Bajoran Occupation to the end of the Dominion War. Gehmor’s story is interesting enough, but really lacks any significant depth until the final chapters; pages that may compose some of the darkest moments of Star Trek that we can recall.
Characterizations are spot on, and Woods’ command of Star Trek (particularly DS9) history is commendable. She works into the stories events from televised episodes, the preceding ‘relaunch’ novels, and even material from the recent Terok Nor trilogy with great effect. The writing is solid, with a good flow and is engaging. She makes outstanding use of Kira and Ro in the first side, and frightening use of Gul Dukat in the second.
All that being said, “Fearful Symmetry” is, unfortunately, still lacking.
While the stories are interesting enough, they both suffer from being far too short for their own good. Neither tale feels really complete, and the emotional punch you expect from the title, cover art, and the previous DS9 stories never comes to bear. Something is missing. The answers we do get are too pat, to quickly arrived at, and feel completely out of place given the extraordinary depths that previous Relaunch tales have gone to when fleshing out the story. The stories both fizzle out like a sparkler on the Fourth of July; nice while they lasted, but somehow unfulfilling at the end. “Fearful Symmetry” feels less like a novel in its own right, and more like a post-script to David Mack’s “Warpath”. Instead of answering the question “What’s going on?”, we are left with the answers to a different question: “How did we get here?” Time to hunker back down and await the next installment of the relaunch, where perhaps we’ll get the answers we truly seek.
"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Fearful Symmetry"
is available now from Amazon