Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Ascendance by David R. George III
I read it as a: paperback
Source: my own collective
Length: 351 pp
Publisher: Pocket Books
This definitely wasn’t my favorite Trek novel. It took forever to grab my attention. I found this to be generally a meandering, hodgepodge example of a book that was a struggle to pay attention to. What should have taken me maybe three days to read took me closer to three weeks, literally. I found myself procrastinating, doing housework, writing other things, to avoid reading this book. At one point, I even did yard work, which I loathe. Possibly it would have been better on audiobook, but for whatever reason, Star Trek seems not to do full length audiobooks on any but the most recent books, which is disappointing for those of us who enjoy a good audiobook. Just saying. Dear Star Trek/Simon and Schuster: If you want a narrator for Star Trek books, I am available. Just not for this one. This one was not my favorite. I have a list of older ones I’d love to read for you, though. Feel free to contact me. 🙂
There was a lot of action in the first part of the book, then not so much. It was like two entirely different narratives crammed into one. I think it would have been better served as two separate books. Both narratives could have been fleshed out better that way. I felt there were quite a few unanswered questions, or spots that just could have been addressed more thoroughly if it had been given its own book. And the whole thing with Vic Fontaine just felt tacked on. What was even the point of that at all, other than VF is a popular character? Just delete the program already.
A quirk DRG3 has is that he recaps stuff that we literally just read. Like a couple pages previously. It’s annoying. It is understandable when referencing events that happened in previous books, but I find it intrusive to have a reminder from just a few pages back.
There’s some really good discussion about religion, which I did enjoy. I think it has always been a strength of DS9 that religion was a focal point in so many story lines, and that it shows how religion can impact politics in so many ways. Sci-fi is so well suited to discuss social topics like this in a meaningful way because it provides distance to examine what can be sensitive issues with something approaching logic and critical thought. It was probably the most interesting part of the book.
HOWEVER. Ro Laren finds religion? No. That was so out of character. A couple sentences thrown in saying she had thought about it a bit does not make a convincing argument in favor of her conversion, especially after a lifetime of being an unbeliever. If it had been explained better, maybe I could buy it. People do have conversion experiences. But the way Ro’s was handled was, to me, unsatisfying and unbelievable. Asking questions and wondering and doubting is one thing, and believers and skeptics alike can do it. But it didn’t seem like that was the case. It seemed that Ro had become a believer, or was very soon going to become one, and it just doesn’t really fit with her in a way that I can see. On the flip side, her super religious first officer, Cenn Deska, lost his faith based on the same evidence that was making Ro have questions in the other direction. He had to face evidence and ask some hard questions and he had a difficult time dealing with it, but if he is a logical being, he will find a way to reconcile the evidence with his belief, if he still wants to be religious. Plenty of people manage to be religious as well as scientific. It gives me cognitive dissonance, so I’m atheist, but you do you and I know plenty of people who have no problem reconciling the two. Deska will probably manage it. Or he’ll sink into a pit of despair and blow himself out an airlock. Whatever.
It was good to see Taran’atar, who is an interesting character anyway. I kind of have to give a side eye to the way the Ascendants were taken care of. Kind of similar to how David Mack took care of the Borg a little bit, isn’t it? I mean, yay for not killing everything all the time forever! And it was interesting that THAT’S where that wormhole planet came from! But absorbing/changing big threats has been done now. I do like that it was Taran’atar who figured out how to do it without destroying everything forever, though. That was pretty shiny.
Also, this totally isn’t DRG3’s fault, but the font in this book was fucking tiny. I thought it was just me being an old, but I got another recent Trek mass market paperback off my shelf to compare and nope. The font in that one was noticeably larger and easier to read. What, they couldn’t add 30 pages and use a bigger font? It made an already fairly tedious reading experience that much less enjoyable.
Overall, though I didn’t hate this book, I didn’t love it, either. I’m disappointed – I had been so looking forward to reading some Star Trek, now that I had time to do so, and I was just underwhelmed. I really miss the old days of the numbered, stand-alone Trek novels, actually. The writing seemed tighter and didn’t involve a floppity billion interwoven crossover novels that you have to read all of them or you have no fucking clue what’s going on. If I go a long time between reading the relaunch novels, as I do now because of various and sundry adult reasons, I feel like I almost have to reread all of them to keep things straight, and it’s not because I’m old. It’s because they are convoluted now.