Friday, October 10, 2008

Trial By Error

Trial by Error
Mark Garland, © 1997
Pocket Books

Trial by Error is a Star Trek paperback, set in the Deep Space Nine series. The setting is Deep Space Nine, near the planet Bajor and stationed near the Alpha Quadrant wormhole, a tunnel through time and space that allows ships to travel from one end of the galaxy to the other in a relatively short period of time. Trial by Error is set during either seasons four or five: Commander Worf is present (and living in the Defiant, which I could use to narrow down the location further -- but that's not really necessary.), but the Federation is not yet at war with the Dominion, who dominate (har har) the Gamma Quadrant and who try to expand their dominion to include the Alpha quadrant.

The book is written much like an actual episode in that there's a clear A-story and a clear B-story. There's much more to it than that, however, and the author brings the two stories together in a way that's pretty well done, I think. The story itself begin with a trade deal of Quark's gone wrong: Quark is a Ferengi bartender on the station and one who is constantly involved in business deals of one form or another -- shady or otherwise. The book's back cover indicates that the deal goes south and that Deep Space Nine is suddenly the center of attention for three groups of aliens, all of which are accusing the other of thievery, murder, deception, etc -- but that's not the end of it. Klingons and more of Quark's business partners also show up, equally furious. This launches the B-story, which will as the book goes on prove to be more important than originally suspected -- but then again that often happens with DS9 episodes.

So how was the book? The story was interesting and I didn't notice any canon gaffes. My only gripe is that Odo's dialouges with Quark seem a little weak, especially in the beginning. The problem with writing a story set in a setting everyone is familar with and characters everyone is familar with is that when writing about those characters, you have to allow previous authors to dicate what you can write. You can't introduce a polite Klingon, and you can't suddenly reveal that Sisko keeps a large terranium in his quarters. You have to play within the rules that have already been established by the script-writers. Everything else was enjoyable.

My main reason for reading this was that it's been a long time since I read a Star Trek novel for the first time, and all of the Asimovian science fiction I've been consuming recently was giving me a desire to read some Star Trek and Star Wars literature.

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