Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wrath of the Prophets

ST DS9: Wrath of the Prophets
© 1997 Michael Jan Friedman, Peter David, Robert Greenberger
300 pages

On the cover: Nana Visitor as Kira Nerys, Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren

An epidemic is sweeping Bajor, a pestilence born of faulty replicators smuggled in by a young woman desperate to feed her village.  Placed under quarantine, the planet's peril is so intense that even  renegade Ro Laren emerges from hiding to help transport food there. On Deep Space Nine, Julian Bashir works to find a cure, but every breakthrough is immediately reversed. This is a virus with a deep bench of tricks. In the hopes of expediting matters, two teams are sent into shady markets  to find the source of the replicators and demand some answers.  While Sisko, Odo, and Quark  examine a smugglers' hub in space,  Major Kira grudgingly accepts the company of Ro Laren on Bajor.

Putting Ro and Kira together is a recipe for fun. Orginally, DS9 was written to include Ro Laren, but Michelle Forbes didn't want to commit. Another feisty Bajoran was invented to take her place, Kira. But despite being cut from very similar cloth, Ro and Kira are not bosom buddies. As hot-headed and willful officers, they butt heads repeatedly. Ro's appearance is not welcome by anyone: she deserted Bajor during the occupation to join Starfleet, then went AWOL after Starfleet began pushing around settlers to fulfill the Federation's foreign policy commitments.  Of course, Ro Laren eventually  does make it to Deep Space Nine, in the relaunch -- as the station security chief. The authors are aware of Kira and Ro's linked origin, even having Ro muse that had things been different, they might have switched places. Despite their similarities -- their combativeness, their independence -- the two women are different in substantial ways here. Ro is a cynic,  disheartened by Starfleet's bullying of innocents in regards to the Maquis. Kira isn't naive, but she's idealistic: she believes in her fellow Bajorans, and when she realizes how corrupt Bajor's provisional government is, how even her wartime allies prove to be positively venal, she suffers a crisis of faith made worse by Ro's attitude. Eventually, through much argument and mortal peril, Ro and Kira become the other's comrade-in-arms, and by the book's end they're standing back to back making fiery speeches at Bajor's congress. Attagirl, Ro, you did learn something from Picard.

There are other plot points -- the chief is worried about his family on Bajor whom he never sees, Dax is mysteriously incompetent, being distracted by a previous host's experience with a similar plague -- and the multitude of angles the story is being chased down probably owes to the fact that there are three authors, all of whom needed something to do. But really, twenty years after this book's publication the only reason to read it is for the combination of Ro and Kira.




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