Thursday, November 6, 2014

Disavowed

Star Trek: Section 31
Disavowed by David Mack
Release date: October 28th 2014
Read October 30th 2014


Previous book (Deep Space Nine characters): Lust's Latinum Lost (and Found)
Next book (Deep Space Nine): The Missing

Paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Disavowed and the current 24th century continuity, including last year's The Fall miniseries!

From the back cover:
Amoral, shrouded in secrecy, and 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. Doctor Julian Bashir sacrificed his career for a chance to infiltrate Section 31 and destroy it from within. Now it's asking him to help it stop the Breen from stealing a dangerous new technology from the Mirror Universe–one that could give the Breen control over the galaxy. It’s a mission Bashir can’t refuse—but is it really the shot he’s been waiting for? Or is it a trap from which even his genetically enhanced intellect can’t escape?

My thoughts:
I've made my mistakes. Committed my sins of action and omission. But whatever else history might tell of me ... at least now it can say I deserved to be called a doctor.
Julian Bashir: hero, traitor, and the man who hopes to bring down Section 31 once and for all.
Julian Bashir has had a roller coaster of a life of late. Having committed a felony against the United Federation of Planets by appropriating scientific data on the Shedai meta-genome (see: Vanguard) and using it to assist Andoria in overcoming its fertility crisis, Bashir has become a hero to some, and a villain to others. How appropriate is it, then, that this story involves an organization that belongs to both of these categories in the minds of some as well?

Section 31 is the infamous bogeyman of many Trek stories. A secret organization that has remained hidden in the shadows since the very beginnings of Starfleet, before the Federation even existed, and the bane of one Julian Bashir. In this novel, he and his partner, Sarina Douglas, set out to enact a plan to bring down the enigmatic organization. However, like many of the machinations set in motion in this novel, it doesn't exactly go according to plan.

In fact, if I were to pick a theme from the pages of this novel, it would be that no matter how much thought is put into a grand scheme, it is not enough. Or, to put it in cliché terms, "the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Julian and Sarina plan to take down 31, but the organization is wise to their plans. The Breen have an intricate plan to hijack a Galactic Commonwealth "jaunt ship," but the Commonwealth and Section 31 are able to thwart them at every turn. And 31 itself has a plan to steal intel from the Commonwealth, but find that they are stopped by Saavik and her team at Memory Omega.

Which brings me to one of the aspects of Disavowed that I truly loved: a return to the Mirror Universe continuity established by David Mack in The Sorrows of Empire and Rise Like Lions. Ever since the epilogue of Rise Like Lions, I have been craving a story that revisits the Mirror Universe and the Galactic Commonwealth. With Taran'atar's appearance at the close of that novel being such a tempting lure, I was thrilled to see that story continued in Disavowed.

I was very excited that the mirror universe Taran'atar made an appearance in Disavowed.
Disavowed's depiction of the "mirror" Dominion was absolutely brilliant. Like "our" Dominion, the Founders set out to bring order to the galaxy, but in a much different manner. This Dominion is based on the absolute rule of law and justice. Rather than acting as the frightened, abused shapeshifters of our universe who founded the Dominion in order to subjugate the solids of the galaxy, the alternate Dominion has ensured security by employing justice in the broadest – and fairest – possible sense. In fact, characters in this novel speculate (half-jokingly) that the universes must have swapped Odos at some point in the past, in a particularly sublime example of David Mack's excellent writing.

There are many such examples in this novel, and I found it a true delight to read. The "plans within plans" angle of the story, combined with the double-crossing and surprises at every turn meant that I was up late into the night, saying to myself "just one more chapter" over and over again.

Final thoughts:

Another incredible tale from David Mack, telling a story that incorporated many of my favorite elements from recent Trek lit: Julian Bashir, the Mirror Universe Galactic Commonwealth, action, suspense, and superb writing that compelled me to blast through this novel in two evenings.

With only one novel left before the end of the year, I can see that I will have my work cut out for me in naming the best Star Trek novel of 2014. The writers seem to have been pulling out all of the stops this year, and I'm having trouble choosing a clear front runner. One thing is apparent, however: Section 31: Disavowed is certainly in contention! I am also very much looking forward to Section 31: Control, hinted at in the final pages of this novel.

More about Disavowed:


Also by David Mack:



My next read:

A return to the Deep Space Nine relaunch, but taking a break from the goings-on on the station for the first book of an epic two-part Klingon story by J.G. Hertzler & Jeffrey Lang: The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One!