The Good: It ends the trilogy
The Bad: Writing style, Predictable, Lack of character development, Makes (ultimately) little sense.
The Basics: Sacrificing character for closure, the plot-heavy Inferno puts the Millennium story to rest, with little sensibility.
On its own, Inferno, a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel by masters of Star Trek Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens is just plain terrible. As part of the Millennium trilogy of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novels, it's awful. One has the vision that the editors of Pocket Books was whipping the pair of writers they demand they work fast, shouting "Write! Write! Sensibility be damned! Get those pages out! Write!" I certainly hope that if I ever meet them at a Star Trek convention, that is the excuse they give me.
Having reviewed volumes one and two of the Millennium trilogy, The Fall Of Terok Nor (reviewed here!) and The War Of The Prophets (reviewed here!), respectively, I felt I had to see the series through. Inferno is the third book in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Millennium Trilogy. For those who insist upon going against my ultimate recommendation and looking into this book and series, the far more economical way to do it would be to pick up the Millennium omnibus (reviewed here!). Because Pocket Books made no bones about how they were producing a trilogy with these books, they are clearly intended to fit together and those who suffer through this novel are probably going to want to find out how the book continues and ends. The best way to do that is through the omnibus edition.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to talk about Inferno without revealing the end of the last book, so . . .
Inferno begins with the end of the universe. Yup, the crew of the U.S.S. Defiant failed to stop the apocalypse and the universe has ended. Wow, that sucks for the Star Trek universe.
But wait! There's more.
Because it can't simply be ended there (especially considering that the Millennium trilogy occurs between two episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), the universe ends, but key members of the crew of the U.S.S. Defiant make it to the Red Wormhole as it and the Celestial Temple are opening and as the universe ends, they take refuge there. Inside, they discover that space station Deep Space Nine is intact and Vic Fontaine is living aboard it.
However, time and space are not functioning as normally they would within the Red Wormhole and despite the fact that the universe has ended, Sisko, Odo, Garak and Quark discover they can travel through time and space to Deep Space Nine and the Day of Withdrawal (the day the Cardassians left Terok Nor and the Bajoran system, about a week before the television series began). There they do their thing to try to prevent the entire mess, er, book from ever happening.
The most problematic aspect of Inferno is the beginning/ending. I can safely say that it will not ruin anyone's reading experience to know that the Star Trek universe is saved. The universe does not end (which one pretty much had to figure, given that this happened in the sixth season and there was a seventh season for the show) and the timeline is more or less reset (three people from the future end up in the distant past as prophets, though, so it's hard to see how that works) but Sisko is able to relate the story to the Prophets after he ascends following the series finale. This is roughly equivalent to a character talking about events in the season wipe out by the Patrick Duffy shower moment on Dallas. If it's reset and never happened, how could Sisko remember?!
But the process of getting there is an absolute mess. Characters run through various time frames trying to avoid one another and other versions of themselves. I get that, even though it's a little Back To The Future for me. But the entire premise is overdone and lacks a fundamental bit of sensibility and it is this: the idea doesn't work.
First, at the end of the first volume, Deep Space Nine is destroyed by the opening of the Red Wormhole. This is a violent rip in space and the authors describe it being torn apart. So, we see it torn to shreds, but it's perfectly intact in the Red Wormhole . . . Come to think of it, Weyoun became Kai when passing through the Red Wormhole with a fleet of ships: why didn't he see it in there? Okay, this sounds nitpicky - it's truly not, this is basic storytelling gone horribly wrong here - but perhaps the fundamental problem I have with the book will make sense to more people: the universe ends, the Red Wormhole is in the universe. Why does anything happen after that? It's not like there's some exception to the time/space continuum because it's the Red Wormhole; the apocalypse happens BECAUSE of the Red Wormhole coming into contact with the Celestial Temple. This is the equivalent to saying that when a match is lit, there is a piece that remains unignighted and it is up to something on that piece to try to put the rest of the match out. Utterly ridiculous.
And to accomplish this feat of plot resolution, in addition to gutting any conceits the Reeves-Stevens's established in the other novels, all sense of character is undone. Gone is any charm to Captain Nog, Admiral Picard and even Thomas Riker. Instead, the pocket universe with its collection of misfit encounters on Deep Space Nine reads like a French farce time travel story. It's all about plot and the characters are simply the pawns which make the plot possible. They do not so much make decisions guided by their own sense of values or ideas, they are moved around as the plot dictates, solely reacting to the situations they are faced with.
And it's just bad. On its own, it is a convoluted mess that is so self-referential that anyone who picks this book up on its own will be utterly and completely lost. There is nothing to this story to appeal to anyone who has not read the other two books. More than that, Inferno is likely to let down the vast majority of those who did read the other Millennium novels.
It's pretty bad when a fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine can find nothing so redeeming in a Deep Space Nine book by two authors they respect, save that the volume finally ends.
For other Star Trek novels, please visit my reviews of:
Federation by Judith And Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Avenger by William Shatner
Star Trek: The Motion Picture The Novel by Gene Roddenberry
For other novel reviews, be sure to check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the fiction books I have reviewed!
© 2012, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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