Star Trek: Dark Passions Book One
I want to express my deepest appreciation to Pocket Books Senior Editor John Ordover for understanding something all previous Trek editors have neglected: sex sells. Ordover describes Dark Passions as "Star Trek: Bad Girls." With this miniseries, official Trek publications venture where none have gone before -- into the delicious realm fan fiction has been exploring for decades. This is heaven for lesbians and a lot of fun for male readers who like to watch girl-on-girl action, with a surprising degree of detail, if not explicitness.
Writer Susan Wright has set the novels in the mirror universe, where no one thinks it's strange for Kira to be having an affair with Seven of Nine...except that Seven is a low-caste human. Intendant Kira from "Crossover" fights for power against Bajoran First Minister Winn Adami, Terran Intendant B'Elanna Torres, and Regent Worf's consort Deanna Troi. The first novel starts with Annika Hansen, Agent Seven of Corps Nine of the Obsidian Order, preparing to assassinate Worf's close friend and ally Duras. She takes her orders from Cardassian mentor Enabran Tain, who hopes to destabilize the Klingons by casting suspicion on Gowron...thus giving the Cardassians greater power in the alliance that governs the Alpha Quadrant.
Unlike many humans, Seven has never been a slave. But when Kira wins the coveted post of Overseer and takes possession of transporter technology that could give her nearly unlimited power, Tain sends Seven to spy on Kira in a guise she has never used before: the human face with which she was born. To the Intendant, all humans are slaves. Seven becomes her friend, then her lover, and ultimately her pawn in power games involving free Terran Sisko, smuggler Jadzia, political rebel Leeta, Winn's trusted assistant Ziyal, and Tain's bitter enemy Dukat. Since this is the mirror universe, most of the games involve sex. Lots of sex. Regular Trek could learn a thing or two from the dark side.
The warping of familiar characters is delightful. Deanna remains an empath, but lives in terror that her human background will be discovered. B'Elanna's human heritage is no secret, but in this universe, she lives in shame of that side of herself, while her proud Klingon background makes her a member of Worf's inner circle. Winn, a devout servant of the Bajoran people, has joined the Circle of rebels who fight to free Bajor from Alliance interference. Adami has never forgiven Nerys for killing her mentor Opaka, yet she raised half-Cardassian Ziyal as a member of her own household. Kira -- who lusts after timid Keiko and openly lesbian Leeta, as well as the Regent, the Regent's consort, Sisko, Seven, and dozens of others -- wants unquestioned adoration and allegiance more than power.
These characters are a lot of fun, sexy and smart-mouthed, but Wright's Seven is a revelation. She has many of the same emotional problems as Seven of Nine. Her parents died when she was a child, she was given a neural implant by her captor-saviors, now she struggles against emotions she has been trained not to feel at the same time as she wishes to escape her violent past. She has familiar identity issues; within the first few chapters, she appears as a Klingon, an Andorian, and a human, although she thinks of herself as Cardassian. When she expresses hopelessness about the fundamental selfishness and self-righteousness of all the people she encounters, even fierce patriots like Winn and Ziyal, one can't help but pity her. It's easier to like this Seven of Nine than the one on Voyager.
Wright tells a terrific story, with lots of action and witty irony. One tries not to think too much about the fact that bisexuality is inherently tied to "bad girl" behavior in these novels, and it's annoying that the men are characterized as straight, even traditional slash star Garak. Yet Dark Passions Book One is worth owning for the cover alone, depicting beautiful human Annika Hansen and Klingon warrior woman Deanna Troi flanking the leather-clad Intendant Kira. The cover of Book Two shows Agent Seven with enslaved humans Beverly Crusher and Kathryn Janeway, who wear tattered clothes and look quite delectable. Tune in to discover what pleasures await inside.
Star Trek: Dark Passions Book Two
When we left our heroes in the alternate universe at the end of Dark Passions Book One, Intendant Kira had become Overseer for the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance and had taken control of all trade and shipping in the vast network. Kira has many enemies, including Gul Dukat, Deanna Troi, the allies of Winn Adami who don't even realize Kira ordered Winn's assassination, and B'Elanna Torres, Intendant of the Sol system. But Kira also has two things going for her: she has acquired an Iconian portal that allows her to travel to any point in time and space, and Seven of Nine has become her ally and lover. If Intendant Kira weren't such a needy, greedy person, she could live contentedly as the second most important person in the Alliance, answering only to Regent Worf.
But as we all know, the Intendant places a higher value on her lusts and her ego even than power. When Deanna Troi seduces her, hoping to win back the rights to regional gambling licenses so that she can build a retreat for herself and Worf in the Betazed system, Kira jeopardizes everything to attempt to take revenge against a woman she once loved. In her ruthlessness, Kira sells Seven as a slave, unaware that the Cardassian-reared human is secretly an agent of the Obsidian Order. It appears as if nothing can save Seven, not even her budding friendship with Torres, until Seven encounters a group of rebel miners led by a woman named Kathryn Janeway.
F/F slash fans, rejoice, for although the men are apparently as straight in the mirror universe as they are on regular Trek, the women are much more interested in each other. Deanna, who thinks of Worf as the great love of her life, nevertheless spends most of her energy in Dark Passions seducing Kira -- and she does a good job convincing readers as well as the Intendant that her desire is sincere. B'Elanna, who wants to impress Worf and bolster the Sol system, develops a strong bond with Seven, who has already become Kira's intimate. Unfortunately, lesbian Leeta barely gets mentioned in book two and Ziyal forgets her crush on Winn Adami during the trauma of discovering her true parentage, but there's still plenty of female bonding.
Janeway/Seven fans will be particularly pleased, for although Seven and her mentor don't actually get together in Dark Passions, they meet on more equal footing and build a more mature bond than their temperamental mother-daughter relationship on Voyager. When Seven first encounters Janeway, she cannot even speak, having had her vocal chords tampered with by Kira. Yet she manages to win the trust of the older women after Janeway impresses her with her resourcefulness, and by the fact that she never acts like a slave. Chakotay, Paris, and Kim are also prisoners in the mining complex, along with Beverly Crusher and Robin Lefler; J/Cers may be pleased to know that Chakotay remains Janeway's devoted second in command even in the alternate universe, though unfortunately he doesn't get to say much.
I'm not sure why, but I like Wright's Seven better than Voyager's. The two are in analogous situations, since the mirror universe's Cardassians raised Annika Hansen in much the same way as the Borg reared Seven of Nine, with her individuality subsumed to the violent dictates of duty. Seven retains her childlike vulnerability while performing extraordinary feats, and doesn't sound like nearly as much of a know-it-all, perhaps because the Intendant and her cronies behave so badly. Although she was born Human, Seven knows far more about nearly every alien species, and hasn't found much to like about her own kind until she encounters Janeway. The transition seems more natural somehow, more balanced.
The ending is a bit unsatisfactory only because these books precede Deep Space Nine's "Crossover." It's hard not to wonder what happened to the balance of power in the months between the events of Dark Passions and the television episodes. But maybe Wright will write a sequel, and get some of the men naked for a change.
Click here to buy Book One and Book Two from amazon.com.
Trek Book Reviews