Sunday, October 14, 2018

Fallen Heroes

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #5
Fallen Heroes by Dafydd ab Hugh
Published February 1994
Read May 2nd 2018


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): #4: The Big Game

Next book (Deep Space Nine): #6: Betrayal


Purchase:
Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Fallen Heroes
!

From the back cover:
When a troop of alien warriors demands the return of an imprisoned comrade – a prisoner no one on Deep Space Nine knows anything about – Commander Benjamin Sisko has a deadly fight on his hands. Under sudden attack from the heavily armed warriors, Sisko and his crew struggle desperately to repel the invaders and save the lives of everyone on board. 
Meanwhile, a strange device from the Gamma Quadrant has shifted Ferengi barkeeper Quark and Security Chief Odo three days into the future to a silent Deep Space Nine. To save the station they must discover what caused the invasion to take place, and find a pathway back through time itself.

My thoughts:

"The book where everyone dies."

Fallen Heroes has gained a reputation over the years as being a novel that took a lot of risks and went out on a limb with regards to its story. However, many years have passed since its first publication back in 1994. The intervening time and the many years of Deep Space Nine that followed may have colored our impressions of this novel somewhat.

Fallen Heroes involves Odo and Quark teaming up to solve a mystery that has lead to nearly the entire population of Deep Space Nine being killed.

The plot of the novel involves Quark coming across a mysterious artifact that, when activated, causes him and Odo to be transported three days forward in time. They discover that, during that time, Deep Space Nine has fallen in a massive siege to warriors from the gamma quadrant. It is up to the two of them to investigate what has happened, and eventually to find out how to return to their original time and prevent it from happening in the first place. Although the plot seems a bit repetitive at times, the story is fairly compelling. However, there are a few areas in which Fallen Heroes falls somewhat short.

For one thing, the characters seem off. By quite a bit. In some ways, that is understandable, given that the novel was written fairly early into DS9's run. However, there are references in the story to the finale of season one, "In the Hands of the Prophets." If the author had access to that script, or if that episode had already aired, then there is no reason that some of the characterizations should have been so far off. Particularly egregious to me is Major Kira, who comes across as way too intense of a hothead in this novel. At one point, she calls a character a "pinhead," which is just not a word I can see Kira using. Also, Jadzia Dax had a couple of moments that gave me pause. At one point in the novel, Sisko orders her to undertake a dangerous assignment, and her internal monologue has her bristling at this order and asking why Sisko wouldn't do it himself. This is way out of character for Dax, in my opinion.

As angry as season one Kira could sometimes get, I still can't see her calling someone a "pinhead."

All of that said, however, the author gets some of the other characters perfectly. The interplay between Quark and Odo, for example, as they explore the ruins of the station following the attack struck just the right tone. These two characters have a very distinctive relationship, and I feel that Fallen Heroes captured it perfectly.

Much of the plot of the "future" part of the story involves Quark and Odo moving from room to room in the station, piecing together what has happened. In some ways, it feels like an rpg computer game in which the player must accumulate clues and items to move on to the next part of the narrative. This part of the story is somewhat interesting, but I felt that it became quite repetitive. The most interesting part of this section of the story comes when the pair discover Jake Sisko and Molly O'Brien, who survived the catastrophe. I feel like the author particularly captured Molly's experience as a toddler quite well, showing how a young child would cope with the horrors that have occurred.

The best parts of the novel involve the flashbacks that show what happened during the missing three days. The desperation experienced by the DS9 crew as the outcome appears more and more inevitable was interesting, and the way that each member of the crew faces it was particularly memorable. However, the story does take a number of leaps in logic that I found to be unlikely. For example, Commander Sisko is able to inform his son to take shelter from his plan to flood the station with an electromagnetic pulse simply by mentioning an ancient Bajoran sun god. How Jake made this leap, I will never understand. It seems pretty far-fetched that Jake would understand Sisko's meaning so easily.

Final thoughts:

There are certainly some good aspects of Fallen Heroes, and it's true that the novel takes some risks that other novels of the time tended to avoid. Even the reset button ending doesn't bother me as much as it really should, and I chalk that up to the heroic actions undertaken by Quark and Odo that sell the ending for me. However, there are some very rough characterizations here, as well as some astounding leaps of logic that drive the rating down. Definitely an interesting story, but with a lot of issues that took me out of the story from time to time.

More about Fallen Heroes:

My next read:

Next up is the third book from the A Time To series: A Time to Sow by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore.