© 2005 Una McCormack
Deep Space Nine is notoriously the darkest of the six Star Trek series, repeatedly exploring corridors of the human experience that other series gave a wide berth. The horrors of war dominated the latter half of the series, and no character escaped the grim costs of war…especially not Captain Benjamin Sisko, who, in “In the Pale Moonlight” struck a Faustian bargain to save the Alpha Quadrant from outright conquest at the hands of the Dominion. What began as a devious exercise in manipulation ended in murder, twice over, with a succession of increasingly dubious steps connecting the two. Uma McCormack follows up on this most intriguing episode by exploring the consequences of Captain Sisko’s actions when he and his co-conspirator Garak are summoned to Starfleet Headquarters. Sisko, morally plagued, hopes for punishment and redemption; Garak anticipates savage treatment at the hands of Starfleet Intelligence, almost hopefully so – but neither man has any idea what is in store for them.
Hollow Men is almost a creature from Trek literature’s previous generation in that it seems episodic; there’s a large A-story, and two smaller threads that connect together for a B story. The primary action takes place on Earth, where Sisko explores his conscience, and Garak, paradise. On the action, Odo deals with a security crisis and his thawing relationship with Colonel Kira. The two stories share a common theme, however; the cost of war. When an old nemesis of Odo arrives on the station, the constable is absolutely positive the recently-released convict is there to commit a latinum heist. New Federation security measures give him a lot of leeway in times of war, but is his personal satisfaction worth using such extreme measures? On Earth, both Sisko and Garak confront a Starfleet captain turned peace activist – but for their own reasons, and Garak’s are not his own, for powers on Earth attempt to convert him into a pawn in their own game.
Deep Space Nine stands apart from the rest of the franchise not only for its darker themes, but its reliance on long-running arcs and rich characters. McCormack’s narrative definitely keeps with DS9’s tradition there; weaving the story’s threads seamlessly into Deep Space Nine’s sixth season – building on content from the show, or setting it up. All this she does and delivers two mysteries and a lot of room for thought. This is very much a keeper for Niners.