Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Abyss

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Section 31: Abyss by David Weddle & Jeffrey Lang
Published May 2001
Read September 17th 2013


Previous book (Section 31): Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rogue
Next book (Section 31): Star Trek: Cloak


Previous book (Deep Space Nine Relaunch): Avatar, Book Two
Next book (Deep Space Nine Relaunch): Gateways, Book 4 of 7: Demons of Air and Darkness


Click to purchase Abyss from Amazon.com!

Section 31: Abyss is also available as part of an omnibus, Twist of Faith, containing the first four novels of the DS9 relaunch:

Purchase Twist of Faith from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
NOTE: This volume contains Avatar: Book OneAvatar: Book TwoSection 31: AbyssGateways: Demons of Air and Darknessand the novella "Horn and Ivory" from Gateways: What Lay Beyond

Spoilers ahead for Abyss and the Deep Space Nine relaunch!

From the back cover:
They are the self-appointed protectors of the Federation. Amoral, shrouded in secrecy, answerable to no one, Section 31 is the mysterious covert operations division of Starfleet, a rogue shadow group committed to safeguarding the Federation at any cost. 
Mere days after the startling events of Avatar, Dr. Julian Bashir faces his darkest nightmare when Section 31 compels him to undertake a mission to stop one of their own. But this renegade is no ordinary agent. Like Bashir, Dr. Ethan Locken is genetically enhanced, a human superior in body and mind. But Locken dreams of remaking the galaxy in his own image—and creating a new human empire based on the example of the infamous Khan Noonien Singh. 
And as he begins to understand the terrifying truth about his opposite number, Bashir will learn more about himself than he ever wanted. 
No law. 
No conscience. 
No stopping them.

My thoughts:

Following the successful "relaunch" of the Deep Space Nine series in book form in Avatar, Pocket Books followed up with another adventure, this time a part of another miniseries: Section 31. In this series, the enigmatic and secretive organization is showcased in The Next Generation, Voyager, and The Original Series. As characters from each of the series comes up against Section 31, we learn more about how the group operates. In Abyss, the series returns to where it all started: Deep Space Nine.

Introduced in "Inquisition," Section 31 has long been Julian Bashir's "white whale," and his desire to bring down the group has been a theme of more than one DS9 story. In this novel, Bashir finds himself working with 31 to take down one of their own agents. Like Bashir, Locken has been genetically enhanced, making him a formidable opponent, as well as someone that Bashir is uniquely equipped to face.

Abyss was a very well-written adventure, showcasing one of my favorite characters. Deep Space Nine handled character development beautifully, as can be evidenced by the path that Dr. Bashir's character took throughout the series. Starting as a brash, young Lieutenant, Bashir continuously grew, becoming the well-rounded and dynamic character we see at the end of the series. His arc continues in Abyss, bringing him face-to-face with what he could become if he let himself: a power-hungry man whose superior abilities breed superior ambition.

Dr. Bashir has come a long way from the green young Lieutenant we were introduced to in "Emissary."
Abyss also features some great moments for the other characters as well. I particularly enjoyed the interplay between Taran'atar and Ro as they fight alongside the natives of Sindorin, the planet that Locken has established as his base of operations. Ezri gets a few nice moments as well. Most of her role is as a counter to Locken's influence over Bashir, and as his conscience, she works quite well.

One interesting thing that leaped off the page: early on, Bashir's contact within Section 31, an agent named Cole, warns Bashir of the dangers that the Federation faces. At one point, he says that the next threat will cause casualties to be counted "not in the millions, but in the billions." Given subsequent events in the Star Trek literary universe, this struck me as a particularly prescient and chilling foreshadowing of things to come.

Final thoughts:

A fun read, and a very good follow-up to the Avatar duology. Bashir is given a chance to shine, and other characters such as Ro and Taran'atar get their moments as well. This "relaunch" series proves to be a fun sandbox for authors to play around in, and the fact that the stories aren't constrained by having to reset the status quo at the end of each novel makes for an exciting adventure that has endless possibilities. I recommend Avatar to any DS9 fan interested in seeing where things go with the relaunched series.

Further resources:

TrekBBS discussion and review thread for Abyss
Podcast: Literary Treks 20: The Bashir-Locken Inversion - discussion of Section 31: Abyss

My next read:

Next up is a classic TNG favorite: Imzadi by Peter David!