Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Lives of Dax

The Lives of Dax
© 2002 various authors, ed. Marco Palmieri
367 pages

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One of the more interesting species introduced in Star Trek Deep Space Nine were the Trill, a symbiotic race consisting of two species: humanoid hosts and slug-like symbionts, which fit inside an abdominal pocket and join minds with the hosts. The resulting personality is a combination of both the host and the symbionts. There are far more symbionts than hosts, and so symbionts are passed along from generation to generation, being joined to hosts who prove themselves worthy in the eyes of the Trill Symbiotic Commission. The symbiont retains its memories and personality, and becomes ever more knowledgeable and seasoned as the generations tick by.

One such symbiont, Dax, constituted two characters on Deep Space Nine, both of which are displayed on the cover. Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax, in the rear, served as DS9’s chief science officer for six seasons until her demise, at which point the Dax symbiont was hastily placed inside Ezri Tigan, who subsequently took the name Ezri Dax and received an assignment as counselor. Dax’s preceding hosts were frequently mentioned, and in one case (“Facets”) even temporarily brought to life through an ancient ritual, but not until The Lives of Dax were Dax fans given a thorough look at their lives.

The Lives of Dax is in effect a collection of short stories, as each preceding Dax host (Lela, Tobin, Emony, Torias, Audrid, Joran, Curzon, and Jadzia) is spotlighted in a story. These stories are book ended by Ezri Dax’s attempts to come to terms with her new and totally unexpected status as a joined Trill. The stories were all written by different authors, although one DS9 veteran, S.D. Perry, contributed to two.  Most of the stories are written in the third person and focus on Dax as the main character, but two differ by focusing on Leonard McCoy and Benjamin Sisko as main characters. Interestingly, the Sisko story, featuring Curzon Dax, is told in the first person. Although Ezri’s story is set in the Deep Space Nine relaunch period, the stories themselves are placed at various times over several hundred years (No dates are given, only surmised given the history that unfolds within them and the lifespans of the hosts.)

I think the collection fairly strong: I thoroughly enjoyed all but two stories, and they weren’t badly done. The book obviously recommends itself to DS9 fans and less so to Trek fans in general. I think the book is also enjoyable by non-Trek fans, as elements traditionally associated with Star Trek -- the main ships, their crews, latent philosophy -- are by and large absent.  Although McCoy and Sisko both tell two of the Dax’s stories, they are the only “intrusion” of this sense and knowledge or affection for them is not required. As they are both “young”, their personalities as seen on the shows have not developed yet.

6 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting. I really like collections of short stories that have a character in common.

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  2. Interesting. I thought DS9 was the best of the various Star Trek franchises.

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  3. Mmmmmm... Dax...... [drool]

    hesiodos said: I thought DS9 was the best of the various Star Trek franchises.

    Oh, I thought it was the worst.... [shudder]. Each to their own I guess....

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  4. Baley: Dax undergoes a transformation of personality with every new host, but memories and thus some traces remain.

    Hesiodos: DS9 was the only series I was able to watch as it aired, so I have a soft spot for it. I'd say it was my favorite, but being able to watch the others has complicated matters.

    CyberKitten: Which one? ;) I liked Jadzia when I was younger, although Ezri's a cutie. I didn't like her at first just because she replaced Jadzia: I tended to be a knee-jerk "different is bad!" conservative in those days, heh.

    The religious approach it took makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable these days, but its characters are some of my favorite.

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  5. sc said: Which one? ;) I liked Jadzia when I was younger, although Ezri's a cutie.

    Both - for different reasons....

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  6. Next Generation was my favourite spin-off but the Dax complexities of DS9 made for some interesting stories - especially when Worf had to get used to the fact that the person he loved suddenly had a completely different body. (Mind you, given the way the Kilngons are supposed to make love, it's amazing that the first body survived at all.)

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