"The Deep Space Nine Companion"

by Michelle Erica Green

I'm not much of a computer gamer, nor someone who changes my screensaver often, so in the past I have often overlooked new Star Trek CD-ROMs. I will never make that mistake again. Gary Himes, author of The O/K FAQ, recently sent me a transcript of a lost Odo/Kira scene that had been cut from the episode "Body Parts," but appeared in the shooting script. Where had he gotten the script, I demanded? Turns out he got it from The Deep Space Nine Companion, a CD-ROM containing the scripts of all 176 episodes. There's a Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion CD-ROM containing all the scripts for that series as well. The discs also contain the video trailers plus still images for all the episodes, but that's just gravy.

The Deep Space Nine Companion costs about $20. In comparison, The Q Chronicles - a paperback containing only the Q scripts of TNG, DS9, and VOY - costs $18. For about the same price, you can own all the DS9 scripts. ALL of them. I am not sure I can accurately convey my excitement at this discovery. For the past several days, my family has had to endure my reading aloud several Kira scenes that never aired...not to mention my shrieks of laughter at the stage directions for Worf and Dax's love affair, and the notes about Kai Winn's reaction whenever Sisko starts talking about the Prophets. The Companions are indexed electronically, so a reader can look up all the episodes which feature a specific character or a specific word. Want to find all the episodes where people eat gagh? Want to check out the citations for Keiko O'Brien, who was mentioned in twice as many episodes as she appeared in? Now you can!

The interface isn't perfect - only a few lines at a time can fit on the screen, and the print is rather small. Plus there's no simple way to get the photos onto your desktop to use as screensavers (I'm sure there must be a way to hack through the CD code, but I'm also pretty sure that violates copyright). Still, it's more than worth the money. Here are lost moments of Garak picking on Bashir, deleted lines between Kira and Odo, plus the entire contents of the series' run, including the magnificent sixth season when I don't think the show aired a single clunker of an episode.

I don't have The Next Generation Companion yet, but I can't wait to get it and go looking for Picard contradicting himself on the Prime Directive and Troi sensing hostility. I have been dying to see the scripts for such gems as "Half a Life" and "The Outcast" since they aired. What gems these CDs are...and what unbelievable bargains!

The spring Next Generation novel The Valiant, which tells the story of Picard's first command, is very good. But as long as I'm talking about bargains, I might as well point out the book's biggest drawback: it costs $23.95, or the full price of a Companion CD-ROM plus shipping. The question with Trek hardbacks is rarely whether or not they're worth reading - most of the books chosen to be released in hardcover are excellent. The question's whether they're worth the extra money to buy now, instead of when they come out in paperback in a year.

The Valiant has a fantastic first 50 pages, and that's even before Picard arrives. The story starts three hundred years before present Trek time, when the S.S. Valiant becomes the first ship to pass through the galactic barrier and a crewmember suffers the same fate as did Gary Mitchell on The Enterprise many decades later. Starfleet believes the Valiant lost with all hands aboard, until two humans with strange extrasensory powers arrive at a starbase claiming to be the descendants of the Valiant's crew.

Jean-Luc Picard has just been informed of his captain's plan to make him first officer of the Stargazer when his ship is called to the starbase. The Stargazer takes aboard one of the exotic humans, a stunning woman named Serenity with whom Picard establishes a bond, even as he realizes he cannot trust her. For Serenity claims that she traveled through the barrier to warn her distant human relatives about the Nuyyad, a vicious alien species planning to invade the Milky Way.

With the help of a Kelvan (the aliens from "By Any Other Name" who came from Andromeda), the Stargazer heads out to investigate. But in their first contact with the Nuyyad, the captain dies and the first officer is rendered comatose, leaving Picard in command. Cut off from Starfleet on the other side of the galactic barrier, with mutinous senior officers and duplicitous allies, he must make decisions questioned by nearly everyone on his crew. The stakes aren't merely the lives of the people aboard the Stargazer; they could very well include every sentient being in the Milky Way.

This is a grand epic, and Michael Jan Friedman tells it stylishly, with many references to Kirk's Enterprise and some foreshadowing of later events in Picard's career. I recommend the book strongly. But I make most of my decisions on when to buy hardback Trek books based on their immediacy. Jeri Taylor's Pathways was worth getting in hardback because it was interesting to read the characters' backstories in the middle of Voyager's run. Since there are no TNG episodes or film currently in production, I don't know that I'd rush out to buy The Valiant in hardcover unless I really needed a TNG fix.

In other words, if money is no object, then by all means go purchase and enjoy The Valiant. But if you're deciding, say, between buying this book and the The Next Generation Companion CD-ROM, heck - wait for The Valiant in paperback and get the 178 scripts.

Click here to buy Valiant or The Deep Space Nine Companion CD-ROM from amazon.com.

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