Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Inferno

Star Trek Millennium, Book III: Inferno
© 2000 Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
410 pages

"I did everything I could," Sisko cried into the silence that engulfed him.
But everything he had ever done was for nothing.
Everything that had ever been was for nothing.
Zero seconds.
It was over. (p. 366, The War of the Prophets

Well, it's over. The universe is kaput. The two Bajoran wormholes have collided and the very fabric of existence winked away, just as the Bajoran prophecies foretold.  But the competing gods of Bajor, the Prophets and the Pah-Wraiths,  are still fighting -- and while their cosmic struggle tarries for just a little while longer, hope lingers for what few survivors there are. In the final moments of the universe's existence, two ships entered the Bajoran wormholes, and were thus sheltered from oblivion. Aboard them are the crew of the Defiant,  three 'emissaries', and a scattering of civilians. As surprised as most of them are to learn that the Bajoran prophecies came to past, the wormholes -- now, truly, the Celestial Temple -- also carry within them the space station Deep Space Nine, protected -- as with the ships -- inside a bubble of existence. Deep Space Nine still exists -- though in what timeframe, no one can be sure -- and by returning home, Sisko and his crew hope to change history and prevent the end of everything.

This is truly a wild series. The first novel contained an intriguing mystery that partially buds off the station's history, while the second throws the reader into a kind of fantasy/political drama. Inferno is another beast all together: a science fiction novel in which our characters try to figure out a way to restore existence from the past without actually changing the past: every timeline, every 'universe' is like one face of a diamond which is the multiverse, and if the multiverse itself is destroyed, nothing else matters. I like time travel stories, and this novel forces Sisko, Kira, O'Brian, Jadzia Dax, Worf, Jake Sisko, Quark, Garak, and others to scurry around the station while constantly shifting to various timeframes, trying to figure out some way of preventing history from repeating itself while being harried by two madmen, the Pah-Wraith possessed Gul Dukat and  Kai Weyoun, infested by nanites that make him a loyal servant of the other Pah-Wraiths.  Though this has been a series deep in Bajoran mythology, here it takes a backseat to temporal mechanics and a race against....well, time. True to form for a book about time travel, quite a few plot developments are counterintuitive and resolve -- or create -- some of the mysteries seen in the first book. The ending shocks even the characters. While this series isn't notable for the kind of intense character drama seen in say, David Mack's work, there are some golden scenes in here -- most notably, between Sisko and his son. 

This series was written after the television show's end, and is set before "Tears of the Prophets", in which a canon Pah-Wraiths v. Prophets storyline erupts. (Jadzia Dax is killed there, while she's still alive and kicking here.)  Foreshadowing for the rest of the sixth season and the whole of the seventh season abound,  though they tend toward the depressing -- the writers allude to Jadzia's future death on several occasional throughout the series. 

As good as I remembered. Though a different kind of epic story than Destiny,  Millennium is grand storytelling in its own class.

No comments:

Post a Comment