This week the Library Computer looks deep into the heart of the Wormhole with Olivia Woods’ “The Soul Key”, just now arriving in stores. “Soul Key” brings closure to the current Deep Space Nine story-arc. Find out how well it pulls it off in our review below.
REVIEW: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Soul Key
Following the events of last year’s “Fearful Symmetry”, Olivia Woods returns the DS9 crew to action in two universes as “The Soul Key” begins bringing resolution to the events stretching back to Taran’atar’s attack on Kira and Ro in “Olympus Descending”.
“The Soul Key” is told in non-linear fashion, which is fitting, given the involvement of the Prophets in the climax of the story. The bulk of the tale revolves around a major offensive in the Mirror Universe headed up by the insane Illiana Ghemor of the DS9 universe. Ghemor, who is now passing herself off as Intendant Kira, believes that she has been called to be the Emissary of the Prophets in the Mirror Universe, Ben Sisko having already staked the claim at home. The problem is, the Prophets seem to have something else in mind – at least that’s what Ben Sisko has told Elias Vaughn. As a result, Vaughn accompanies Captain Kira across the dimensional divide and begins to explore the heart of a new possibility for Bajor and the Mirror Universe at the behest of a native of the alternate continuum – one Illiana Ghemor.
Confused? Well, when you are dealing with the Mirror Universe, nothing is as it appears to be on the surface, and Woods does an outstanding job of providing multiple sequences that involve some pretty deep consideration for the cast and the reader alike. The problem is, while the content is good, it isn’t consistently gripping. Some chapters are written with expansive and emphatic language, while others languish with unrealized potential.
In Woods’ book, only two particular areas managed to break the tedium:
Taran’atar’s arc through “The Soul Key” really kept my interest, and I can say that, right up until the very last sentence of his arc, I was completely satisfied with his development and disposition. (The jury will have to remain out on the last sentence until a follow-on story explains its ramifications.)
Vaughn’s encounters with Sisko (both in this book and “Fearful Symmetry”) are perfect in light of everything we come to learn as the current story unfolds.
Last summer, in my review of “Fearful Symmetry”, I wrote "Something is missing. The answers we do get are too pat, too 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."
I feel exactly the same way about “The Soul Key”- something remains missing in this outing. Woods’ writing remains uneven; and, where books like “Troublesome Minds” and “Unity” felt like complete and compelling episodes, “The Soul Key” feels like a lackluster mid-season breakpoint, complete with a poorly placed epilogue that serves to introduce some new nasty-ism to the DS9 universe.
In summary, just as so much more could have been done with “Fearful Symmetry”, so too could “The Soul Key” have stood much more work – beginning with more meat on its bones. Sadly, a key turning point in DS9 history has been, over a thirteen month span, glossed over. With it now in the rear-view, a paraphrase of Seals and Croft comes to mind: “We will never pass this way again…”
"DS9: Soul Key" is shipping now
DeCandido and Swallow win Scribe Awards
The 3rd annual Scribe Awards presentation, from the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, was held at Comic-Con on Friday and two Trek tie-in writers picked up awards. Keith R.A. DeCandido picked up the Grandmaster Award, and James Swallow won Best Original Speculative Fiction for his 2008 book "Star Trek Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers." Congrats to James and Keith. [more on the Scribe Awards at ComicMix]
Up next – more DS9
Pocket Books keeps its Summer of Deep Space Nine with Una McCormack’s "Never Ending Sacrifice" coming out in August. The book gives you a glimpse into the Cardassian Empire after the Dominion War.
"DS9: The Never-Ending Sacrifice" (available for pre-order)