Star Trek Destiny Book 1: Gods of Night (Spoiler)

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Oct 7, 2008, 4:48:34 PM10/7/08

Warning: This text is very long and full of spoilers.

Because New Frontier is mentioned in this book, I am also posting the
text to Peter David`s newsgroup.

After the big build-up towards the Destiny trilogy and especially after
having read some excerpts before getting the first book I could see
myself that Destiny will be one of the biggest events in Star Trek
literature. Yes, it is about the Borg but already the first book offers
so much more. What we first of all see in “Gods of Night” is a rich
tapestry of character development. Some of them are influenced by the
Borg threat, some aren`t.

This book is dealing with a lot of characters but when reading it, I
never felt overwhelmed. I am admittedly a regular Star Trek book reader
and familiar with most of these people and their back stories.
Nevertheless, I think also people who aren`t shouldn`t have trouble to
follow what is going on and I found the Appendix helpful, too. David
Mack did an excellent job when introducing these people in this book,
providing the foundation and then build on that.

There are four main storylines in this book:

AVENTINE (Captain Ezri Dax)

I admit it, when I first learned that this book will feature a captain
Ezri Dax, I was very sceptical. As much as I like her, I still had the
Ezri from the DS9 TV series in my mind and that Ezri Dax was not
suitable for being a captain. On the other hand, when I thought about it
more thoroughly, I definitely noticed a change in Star Trek literature.
One of my frustrations was that with the exception of “Abyss”, authors
and editors had the unfortunate habit to show that when Ezri and Bashir
were a couple, they tended to turn immature and annoying, losing a
significant portion of their professionalism. I still love “Abyss” and
had high hopes that this relationship will build on that but later I
gave up and thought, if they are determined to show a bickering,
childish couple, better to get it over and done with and separate them.

I think Ezri Dax blossomed after the separation and I am glad that she
is now allowed in the Star Trek books to find her full potential. I
liked Captain Ezri Dax very much in this book and am looking forward to
read much more. But I am also curious now what will happen in DS9
Relaunch, how Ezri will develop in that series.

What also makes me happy is that Simon Tarses is now chief medical
officer on her ship. I still remember “The Drumhead” very well and
Picard`s prediction that his career has ended. I was glad when I first
met him in DS9 Relaunch again but this goes much further than I hoped
for. I also liked the other characters but although some of these other
names sound familiar, I can`t place them right now in my memory.

I have no problems with it that Ezri Dax advanced in rank so quickly and
the circumstances of it. Ezri Dax is not only highly qualified because
she is a joined Trill but also because she proved herself in battle and
in this war so many qualified captains (and, of course, so many other
people) were already killed.

I think David Mack captured the spooky atmosphere of the mysterious
wreck of the Columbia very well. I kept wondering with Dax and her crew
what happened here. It was interesting to discover the answers step by
step. I had the right suspicions after I read about the mutiny and that
one of the Caeliar was on the ship. What the poor alien went through is
dreadful and I very much felt for him. For a species to whom life is so
sacred, I am sure it was little consolation for him that he was not
responsible for his actions when he killed and fed on three of Ezri Dax
officers. Then he died so close to finding out about the recovery of his
species. Very sad indeed.

TITAN (Captain William Riker)

We have seen that even so very different species like Vulkans and humans
or Bajorans and Cardassians can have children with each other without or
with little help. That Deanna as a half Betazoid and half human has so
serious problems having a child with her human husband surprised me. I
wondered if Deanna would have this problem also if the combination would
be different, including with a Betazoid male. On the other hand,
counsellor Haaj mentioned her husband`s “genetic shortcomings”. But then
I learned what the cause for her problems really is, that it is rooted
in the TNG episode “The Child”. The explanations make a lot of sense to
me, so much that I wondered why I didn`t think of this before.

At a time when medical science is so much more advanced than today in
real life, maybe it is good to see that the miracle of life is still
partly a mystery and that there is still a lot to discover and learn. I
feel very much for Deanna and Riker but I think it is important to show
sometimes that there are limits to medical science and that doctors are
not gods.

I do like Dr. Ree but his treatment and attitude towards Deanna leaves a
lot to be desired. I had to remember what Dax told Bashir in an episode,
it is arrogant to believe that because he can`t find a cure that there
isn`t any.

This story touched me more than any other in this book because it feels
so personal to me. My husband and me had to wait nearly 10 years for our
daughter. She was born a year after a miscarriage and I know from
experience that pregnancy and birth can be dangerous. It just made this
experience and our child more precious, also because I have been told
that me getting pregnant again is not impossible but very unlikely.

It wasn`t spelled out that clearly in the book and I also think that
wouldn`t have been necessary or even desirable but the debate between
the “pro life” position and “pro choice” one was very visible. David
Mack walked a very fine and sensitive line. It was mentioned quite a few
times that Deanna`s baby is not viable, that the little girl definitely
won`t survive and that this doomed baby is endangering her mother`s
life. I can understand that (if I am correct) this is as far as Star
Trek literature is probably willing to go but I wonder if things would
be different if this baby has a chance to survive but with severe
disabilities. I can understand both sides of the fence, the choice
Deanna made and Riker`s position. It is one of the most difficult
choices any couple could face but first of all it must be the choice of
the pregnant woman who is carrying the baby and who has to face the
risks of pregnancy and birth.

I am very much pro-choice. Long before I had my daughter my husband and
me discussed what we would have done if we had found out that our child
is severely disabled. Especially if the mind is affected, I would have
aborted it. We both agreed on that. Our daughter was born with a hip
defect that took nearly a year to fix but now she is a healthy, bright
little girl.

As much as I understand Deanna`s instinctive reaction to keep her baby
and how difficult it must be to deal with her emotions, I felt very
uncomfortable with it that she resented her husband for feeling
otherwise. What counts is that he supported her decision because at the
end it must be hers. This brings me to the incredible statement Dr. Ree
made, that he has the right to force Deanna to have the fetus removed,
in other words, to have an abortion. I was shocked. It is now finally
against the law to order a Vulcan to force having a mind meld with
someone else, something that was long over due. Forcing a woman to have
an abortion, that is so wrong on so many levels and this is not
something that I would have expected to find in Star Trek that is
supposedly about a humanity that is more advanced and better than in
real life. I also wonder, on a more general level, I thought also people
in Starfleet as in real life have the right to refuse treatment.

I am sure, if Dr. Ree would really have insisted, Deanna would have
resigned and I definitely could not have blamed her. It wouldn`t
surprise me if Riker would have done the same. I am surprised that the
choice between following such an order and resigning was never mentioned
in this book unless I overlooked it. And what would forcing mean:
Physically dragging Deanna on the operating table or stun her before
doing it? I doubt it.

I am also appalled that he suggested a hysterectomy to Deanna. Yes, her
ovaries, her genetic code is severely damaged. But her womb is perfectly
fine. Even if she will never be able to use her own eggs, there are
other possibilities even today in the real life world to get pregnant.
Taking that away from Deanna would be a worse crime than forcing an
abortion on her.

From early on I wondered if Dr. Ree is actually unable to understand
what this unborn baby means to Deanna and Riker because his species is
so different. Maybe Dr. Ree should talk to the counsellors on board so
that they can explain the situation to him. From what I have seen about
dinosaurs and reptilians, many of them lay eggs, bury them in the sand
and walk away from them. That is very different from carrying a growing
and moving baby inside you for nine months, give birth and look after a
completely helpless infant afterwards that needs you to survive. I am no
biologist but I can imagine that laying eggs is much less dangerous to a
female than giving birth to living babies. From what Dr. Ree thought
later in the book, I could see that I was right.

I was very impressed and very moved how David Mack dealt with this
sensitive story, how he looked at it from different perspectives and
described the thoughts and feelings of everyone involved. That included
colleagues and friends. I think it was a good choice to show very
clearly that Riker and Picard are different people who also approach
command differently. Vale showed that she is an excellent first officer
who understands people, an important skill for a high ranking officer
but who also showed that she is a good friend. I liked the scene in
which he finally told her about what happened and she supported him very
much. Unfortunately that changed later. I also think it would be wrong
to remove Deanna from duty completely. She has skills that are very
valuable and keeping her busy and challenged will help her and benefit
the ship. I also think it was unfair to assume that Riker gave Deanna
special treatment. I am sure, if any other female officer would be in
the same or similar position, Riker would have defended her right to
choose as well.

Bv the way, I enjoyed the refreshing honesty of the Tellarite
counsellor, Pral glash Haaj, very much. His approach takes some getting
used to but it is very effective. I like him a lot.

As much as I understand that Riker and Deanna need to get their feelings
sorted out, I think what happened between Riker and Vale should be a
warning to Riker: The longer this goes on, the more it will poison not
only the marriage but also affect his relationship with the crew. In
other words, it is all right to fall down in a crisis but you have to
get up and deal with it as quickly as possible because the longer it
takes, the more difficult it will be.

I am hoping very much that Riker and Deanna will both be able to do
that, to master this crisis. I know from experience that a serious
crisis can either break up a marriage or – as it was in our case – make
the bond between the couple even stronger. I don`t know at this point
what authors and editors have in mind but there are several options. The
most obvious one is considering adoption but there are others that are
less obvious I don`t want to spell out here because they would be seen
as giving story ideas to professional writers. I even see some
theoretical possibilities for a happy end but my gut feeling tells me
not to count on that.

I wonder what will happen now that Vale, Deanna and the rest of the very
colourful mix of the away team have reached New Erigol, the rebuilt home
of the Caeliar. The Caeliar were burned by an unknown more advanced
species as well as desperate humans who couldn`t understand what they
were meddling with and what consequences it could have. I wonder how
such a powerful but extremely non-violent species will deal with the
Borg threat. My guess is that they might have an idea how to deal with
Deanna and her baby. It could very well be something also Dr. Ree was
not even able to imagine.

It was a nice touch that Tuvok immediately recognized the human woman
who welcomed the team together with two Caeliar. I must admit, when I
first heard of the idea to place Captain Hernandez from the time frame
of the series Enterprise into the present day Star Trek, I was not happy
about it. I kept joking, after nearly all members of the TOS Enterprise
ended up one way or the other in modern Star Trek, when will the same
trend start with the people from the series Enterprise? Captain
Hernandez ship is not Archer`s Enterprise but nevertheless.

I am torn now. I still don`t like the general idea but I must admit, the
story is excellent and doesn`t feel forced to me at all. All right, if
it will really stop here it might even add an interesting element to
present day Star Trek.

I want to mention another character story, the one dealing with Melora.
I found the descriptions of what Ra-Havreii designed for her very
interesting indeed and could understand Melora very well who feels so
comfortable in this environment. But I am worried what this will do to
her, emotionally and physically, if she keeps herself locked away in her
own comfortable world for too long and only interacts most of the time
with holographic avatars. I don`t think this is healthy.

ENTERPRISE (Captain Jean-Luc Picard)

As I said on previous occasions, I am very happy that Picard and Beverly
finally got married and started a family. I smiled when I read about how
Picard kept watching his unborn son because I felt the same when I saw
my unborn child for the first time. That Picard kept bracing himself
against the feeling of loss after what he already experienced in life is
understandable but I keep hoping that this time there will be a happy
end in his private life.

But from what I can see Picard has to battle with a different kind of
crisis than Riker. Like his wife, I am worried about him and can
understand the immense pressure he is under very well. The war against
the Borg is a dreadful burden to any Starfleet officer, especially the
ones who have to make the difficult decisions. On top of that there is
another element that was already explored in the Myriad Universes story
“A Gutted World”. Picard can be a warrior if he has to be but he is a
scientist, an explorer at heart. I could understand very well that
fighting this bloody war and taking lives is becoming more and more
difficult for him. Each battle and each loss destroys him a bit more. Of
course there is also Picard`s history with the Borg, his still existing
link with their collective minds and serious lack of sleep. There is
only so much even the strongest person can take and I wonder when will
Picard reach his breaking point?

I am sure, without Beverly`s support as his wife and friend, the
situation would have been much more difficult for him and I liked the
scene in which she slapped him and brought him back to his senses very
much. Yes, it looks very bad but giving up is not an option that is
acceptable. As I said before, falling down in a crisis can happen but
you have to get up and face it afterwards. That Picard is torn between
extremes right now is understandable and I can only hope that he will be
strong enough.

COLUMBIA (Captain Erika Hernandez)

I haven`t read the latest Enterprise novel yet and am not familiar with
any name of her crew. I don`t find this crew as distinctive and as
interesting as the other ones in this book but that doesn`t mean that I
didn`t feel very much with them and their fate.

There is just a minor thing here that irritated me. It is very minor
compared to the rest of this excellent book but I want to mention it.
What is it about Germans (Is that man Austrian or German?) in American
literature or movies sometimes? All right, it was not as bad as the
dreadful broken, misused and misspelled German Marvel inserted years ago
into the X-Men when Nightcrawler appeared but I have never met any
German who speaks English and sprinkles German words into his or her
English as found also in this book. I certainly don`t. Something else:
Be careful with literal translations. “Scheisskopf” is not a swear word
that exists in the German language. I had to laugh when I read that
because I remember that my husband wanted to be clever and used this
word when driving after I had told him off for swearing at the wheel
when our daughter is sitting on the back seat.

As with the other captains in “Gods of Night”, also Captain Hernandez
showed that she is a highly qualified officer who had to deal with a
terrible situation. When reading this part of the book I always had that
image in my mind of the abandoned, broken ship on a desolate world.

Also in this case, David Mack captured the desperate mood on board and
the torn feelings among the crew very well during their long journey
until they met the Caeliar. They are very interesting beings, higher
evolved than humans, isolationists and against taking lives under any
circumstances. On the other hand they are looking for civilizations
further developed than they are. I wondered from early on how realistic
this attitude is because maturity and wisdom are not necessarily
combined with a higher level of development. For example, when looking
at the Q, maturity and level of development are two very different matters.

As I learned later, that includes the question of peaceful intent. I
knew that something bad must have happened but I had no idea. Well, I
know now a lot of what happened to the Columbia and its people on board
but I have the feeling, there is more to learn.


I think David Mack dealt very well with the fact that when writing about
a war, especially a war on the scale as in Destiny, it is important to
also show sometimes how other people than the main characters are
affected and the difficult choices they have to face.

I found the part of the book when the Ranger sacrificed itself in a
suicide attack, destroying the Borg vessel and saving the Klingon world
Khitomer extremely moving. It was an interesting choice that it was an
Andorian who was unable to execute the order for the suicide mission. I
couldn`t blame him. I am not sure I would be able to do it. I think
nobody knows until he is actually placed in a life or death situation,
especially in one that looks like a hopeless sacrifice that is expected
of you. I am very curious how this noble sacrifice that saved so many
Klingons will affect the relationship with the Federation in future. I
liked the appearance of Martok and I want to use this opportunity to ask
the people at Pocket Books again, please continue KRAD`s Klingon series!
I want to read more.

Admiral Paris death was unexpected and moved me a lot, too. I will miss
him. I liked the scene when his son, Tom Paris, got his message and
learned soon after that he will never be able to speak with his father
again. I regretted it that Tom and B`Elanna separated. It seems what I
could read in Christie Golden`s novels was the beginning of the end of
their relationship. I don`t think their relationship was ever very
stable so that I am not surprised that it didn`t survive the
difficulties coming with their return from the Delta Quadrant. But I
would have hoped that B`Elanna would at least allow the father of her
daughter to have some access to their child.

It was great to read that Calhoun and his Excalibur managed to destroy a
Borg ship! This adds another teaser to the already long list of what I
would like to see explored in the New Frontier series. I learned that
“Treason” won`t have any connections with Destiny but I am hoping that
Peter David will deal with this topic in a future book.

I also welcomed it to meet some of the characters from “Articles of the
Federation”, first of all Federation President Nanietta Bacco.
Appointing Seven as her new deputy security advisor is not unexpected
but interesting. I am curious how this part of the trilogy will develop
in future.

Hopefully it won`t be long until I will be able to read the next Destiny

Baerbel Haddrell

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