Both playing in a Star Trek game and watching the Borg collection inspired me to visit some old friends in the form on this Deep Space 9 book. It’s one of the Section 31 series. I assumed that I could read it as stand-alone just the Next Gen books that I’ve read before. I was wrong, again.

There have been quite some changes to the DS9 crew and even to the place itself after the end of the show: Colonel Kira is the station’s commander, Ro Laren is the security chief, and there’s a completely new first officer, Commander Vaughn. Also, I presume that the engineering chief is also a new person unless it’s Nog but that would be very, very quick promotion indeed. They also have their very own Jem’Hadar, courtesy of Odo. There are also enough older issues resolved and some new things started that it felt like I was tuning in in the middle of a story arc which is what I apparently did.

However, since I already knew the characters and the situation it was pretty easy to jump in and most of the book dealt with the main plot anyway. A new Section 31 agent, Cole, tells Bashier how they had first recruited another genetically enhanced human doctor to their cause, then they had taken the doctor and a team of 31 people to an abandoned Jem’Hadar factory in the Badlands, and finally the doctor had taken over the building and started to engineer his own Jem’Hadar soldiers and is apparently bent on ruling the galaxy. Yup, they created a genuine mad scientist and they want Bashier to mop up because nobody else can! Of course, Bashier can’t resist that and he takes Ezri, Ro, and their very own Jem’Hadar with him. The mission turns up to be quite a bit more complex and darker than they realized.

Now, I’ve read more than my own share of the mediocre Next Gen novels. Indeed, I’ve read them all up to the Gemworld novels and some after that (they where quite difficult to get here for a few years but apparently are now easier to get again). But this is only the second DS 9 novel I’ve read and was very pleasantly surprised. The characterization and the atmosphere of the novel are very close to the TV-series. It’s not the best Trek novel I’ve ever read (which is Diane Duane’s Dark Mirror) but it’s definitely in the top 5. It’s inspired me to get the Avatar books through BookMooch and I hope they’re as good.

Much to my surprise I had quite a bit of trouble remembering the Dax isn’t Jadzia anymore. To my mind, Ezri is… Ezri, not the competent Dax. Sigh. Maybe I should read some of the older DS9 books with Jadzia.