"Deep Space Nine: Millennium"

by Michelle Erica Green

The Fall of Terok Nor and The War of the Prophets, the first two books of the excellent Deep Space Nine trilogy Millennium by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, came out in March 2000. The third book wasn't available until April, for which someone at Pocket Books should be punished severely, since the cliffhanger at the end of Book II stops with the end of the universe! To some extent (though not completely), that situation is reversed in the early pages of Inferno, the final volume of the trilogy, which should surprise no one since the book doesn't have blank pages. But it was still terribly cruel to leave us all hanging - not to mention poor Benjamin Sisko, whose final sight before the end of time is...ahem.

The books work wonderfully on many levels. In The Fall of Terok Nor, what begins as a station mystery involving the murder of a smuggler rapidly deepens. As Jake and Nog reveal the existence of a secret Cardassian holosuite where they played as kids, Quark, Garak and Odo realize that they have no memories of the day when the Cardassians left the station forever. With the help of an Obsidian Order operative who holds his staff hostage, Sisko learns that the smugglers and Cardassians seek a trio of lost Red Orbs which reputedly can open a second wormhole with a second group of Prophets...or Pah-wraiths. Kira and the Kai both scoff at the fables. But when the Emissary successfully travels with the Cardassians to a deadly Bajoran moon, where Sisko finds the final lost Red Orb and returns it to the station with its mates, all hell breaks loose.

The War of the Prophets begins 25 years in the future of those events. The Defiant has been thrown forward in time after an accidental slingshot around the new red wormhole, which opened in the middle of the Promenade and destroyed Deep Space Nine. The people of the future are expecting them, based on their own temporal manipulations and certain ancient Bajoran prophecies foretelling the end of the world. While Worf, Dax, and Bashir struggle to understand a shattered Starfleet which seems determined to destroy both Bajor and its wormholes, Sisko, Kira, Odo, and Quark become the prisoners of Kai Weyoun, Emissary to the True Prophets of the Red Wormhole and sworn enemy of the False Prophets to whom Sisko is committed.

Though most of the crew only wants to go home from this hellish future - in which both Earth and the Klingon Empire have been destroyed - they have greater obligations. For if Weyoun succeeds in reunifying the two Celestial Temples, the resulting shock wave will destroy space and subspace. To make matters worse, Weyoun's Bajoran Ascendancy and their Romulan allies have adapted technology from the Grigari, a horrific species that can reanimate the dead and destroy the minds of the living. Not even Tom Riker can help Sisko in the face of these enemies.

Though it starts in the Celestial Temple following Sisko's transformation in "What You Leave Behind," Millennium is an alternate-timeline DS9 story. Fans who didn't like the way the TV series ended probably won't prefer this, because it revolves around the same themes: the nature of gods and religion, the responsibility of people to pure ideals rather than institutions, the horror of war versus the need to wage it in the face of absolute evil. Yet anyone who liked the series should love these books. On a dramatic level, it's undeniably thrilling, with epic space battles and lots of station intrigue. Moreover, there are guest appearances in the future timeline by an aging, senile Picard, who has been Nog's inspiration following the loss of his family, plus two female admirals from the long-returned Voyager who lead an initiative to change history using combined Borg and Federation technology. One of those female admirals is in love with a certain holographic Doctor, and Picard has married another doctor of Trek fame.

Dukat and Weyoun have different destinies in Millennium than they did on the show, yet they are still the power-hungry, deluded madmen they had become at the end of the series. Garak has some poignant moments contemplating the nature of evil and wondering whether the destruction of the universe would be such a bad thing. Kira gets the short shrift at least in these first two books, usurped by a young Bajoran Starfleet officer who gets to have philosophical discussions with Sisko. Quark is hilarious and the authors definitely know their Ferengi Rules, yet the lobed one seems rather unconcerned that his smuggling has unleashed a disaster of epic proportions on the station.

Ironically, the catalyst for all this chaos is Vash...who was apparently chosen as a prominent character by the designers of the Millennium CD-ROM game, because they thought she'd make a good Lara Croft figure. Vash is much more interesting in the books than she ever was on any Trek series, but her inexplicable devotion to Picard remains, well, inexplicable. By the third book she's assumed heroic proportions and given a surprising role in Bajoran history. This didn't bother me, as the writers do a marvelous job addressing the question: if the beings in the wormhole answer prayers, control the fate of Bajor, and have the power to destroy the universe, isn't it sort of moot to argue about whether or not they are gods? I was overjoyed that for once Trek writers didn't shirk from this question or reduce the godlike figures to pompous comic relief.

My favorite character in the Millennium books is Jake Sisko, who is better developed here than he was on the series. He straddles the rowdy pursuits of his youth with his obligations as a man and a writer. Each book begins with quotes from his novel Anslem, which may or may not be written in this timeline, yet they reminded me of his father - and of Benny Russell, the writer his father became in another Prophet-controlled timeline. This stuff is deep, it's engrossing, and despite a few continuity errors it's terrific Trek.

Click here to buy The Fall of Terok Nor (Deep Space Nine Millennium Trilogy #1), The War of the Prophets (Deep Space Nine Millennium Trilogy #2) and Inferno (Deep Space Nine Millennium Trilogy #3), or The Millennium Omnibus, from amazon.com.

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