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This is a review of Star Trek: The Fall, the complete series. I wanted to explore how I felt about the tale as an over-all entity, rather than just five separate books.

Warning: This review is comprehensive and, unlike my previous attempts, will contain massive spoilers.

the Books:

  1. Revelation and Dust by David R George III
  2. The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack
  3. A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack
  4. The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow
  5. Peaceable Kingdoms by Dayton Ward

Main Plot: Pretty Straight forward. At the grand opening of the (new) Deep Space 9 station, Federation Nanietta Bacco is assassinated. Captain Jean Luc Picard, with the help of Elim Garak, uncovers that the Cardassian Union and the Cardassian purist movement, the True Way, carried out the murder. Meanwhile, Julian Bashir helps the Andorian people recover from their impending genetic oblivion and gets himself arrested for violating the ban on genetic engineering (among other things).

Things begin to get out of hand as the Federation President Pro-Temp, a Bajoran, Ishan Anjar, begins to take hawkish actions in the wake of Bacco’s assassination, going so far as to have Starfleet ships fire on one another and activating sleeper cells to go around on covert missions killing people (because that’s what a good Federation President does, sanction illegal, covert ops). Meanwhile, Admiral Leonard James Akaar begins to suspect that Ishan is going outside the chain of command to issue orders, thus circumventing the Admirals authority within Starfleet. To this end, Akaar recalls the USS Titan and promotes William Riker to Admiral to help him root out the conspiracy growing in Starfleet (again). Riker discovers that Ishan facilitated the assassination of Bacco by assisting the True Way.

Riker orders Picard to discover the truth. In the end, Ishan is proven to not, actually, be Ishan, but a former Cardassian mole during the Occupation. The Andorian’s rejoin the Federation and Ishan is removed as President.

That’s the plot, broadly.

Sub Plots:

1. Bashir and Section 31. Bashir saves Andor with the help of Section 31, who gave him the data he needed. Section 31 did this to force Bashir’s hand and make him join them. Bashir did this to get Section 31 to help him so he could, eventually, take the organization down from within.

2. Kira and the Wormhole… Okay, this is really random. Kira’s story is interspersed with Dust and Revelations, but really has nothing to do with the over all plot. In the end, she returns from her atemporal, nonlinear pit stop in the Celestial Temple and bumps in Taran’atar. She also spends some time in Bajor’s ancient past, but that’s not really explained and the story is clearly set up.

What Worked: The main thrust of the series, despite being rather cliche and tedious, actually works. The idea that the Federation might buckle under the assassination of it’s president works, if you only think about it from a story point of view.

The character moments were wonderful. The idea of promoting Riker because he’s an honest officer who grew up in a time of peace and exploration and thus still holds those ideals works perfectly. He trusts his crew and his crew trusts him, even when that means spying on Starfleet HQ. Also, the idea that Titan’s labs can be set up in isolation for experiments and versatility plays a major creative role in the Poisoned Chalice. Great use of the Titan as a ship.

Bashir’s story line was amazing. He, for the principles of Starfleet, violates regulations, ditches his commission, and uses his artificially enhanced intellect to save a dying species. All for altruistic reasons, screw the politics. He get arrested in the end, but can live with himself. It’s a very similar emotional journey to Captain Sisko in “In the Pale Moonlight,” a classic DS9 episode.

Garek’s story line amazed me as well. The depth of his character, who loves Cardassia so much that he goes against his nature of staying in the shadows and becomes the elected ruler of the Union is amazing. In his letters to Bashir, the friendship and honesty that is revealed makes me remember how awesome he is a character.

What Didn’t Work: Definitely reads like a series pieced together as an event and not from a story point of view.

Also, despite me saying the story worked, I meant that strictly from the perspective of logic and telling beats. In terms of actual plot, I despise this plot. Assassinating a leader and having Starfleet festering corruption and officers firing on one another, with secret orders, is completely over done in main stream fiction. It feels forced here, in the world of Star Trek. This is not the kind of story that should ever be told in this universe.

But first, let’s get back to the assassination. By itself, it’s weak concept. It deprives the Star Trek universe of a political power that people had begun to respect, who did’t let the power go to her head. Bacco was actually making interesting relationships with the Gorn and Romulans. I would have loved to see what the fruits of that long game produced, not this short sited event crap. So, her death, is a bad thing

The random appearance of the Kira plot that just hangs there, undeveloped with nothing to do with the rest of the plot annoyed me. It serves no purpose in the Fall, just setting up other events that may or may not happen. This isn’t the first time this has happened.  The DS9 Relaunch is rife with these moments, like the events that lead to Kira becoming a Vedek and the Ascendants story line, along with her being the Hand of the Prophet. I hate that these ideas keep coming up and then no one really pays attention to them.

Basically, this series didn’t read cohesively. The unfortunate matter is that the Fall reads like an Event. There were individual stories in some books that didn’t add up to anything, like Kira, and there were some complete stories, like Garek and Bashir’s separate tales.

The problem ends up being that there isn’t any consistency in the telling. Some books felt entirely like plot progression and others told independent tales. That’s a weakness. Which brings me to the next point-

Individual Author voice: So, one of the interesting things about Star Trek: the Fall is that each book is written by a different author. That’s clearly evident. Not that I mind that. Comic book authors share characters all the time. And, each voice is generally great.

The weakest telling is probably Peaceable Kingdoms, and then Revelations and Dust. The problems with PK revolve mostly around it’s need to wrap up the series and thus making it an incomplete tale, but also around Dayton Ward’s need for flashbacks. I found the flashbacks to be a weakness in the story, often relied upon as a crutch exposition device or just taking up space.

RnD is that half the plot doesn’t really matter. Kira’s story never complete’s itself, and, unlike the stronger entries in the Crimson Shadow and Ceremony of Losses, which tell complete, interesting character driven stories but also advance the main arc, RnD doesn’t seem to do much of anything with it’s primary plot except set up the series and, well, that’s all. I liked Ds9, I liked the repercussions of it’s destruction, and I normally love David Mack, but this didn’t fit with the series.

Random Thoughts: I hope this ends the string of books about corruption in Starfleet for a while. This entire series was about that and cleaning it up, along with the mess from the Borg invasion. Can we ignore that suedo politics for a second and go back to exploring and telling interesting stories? At least the Typhon Pact books gave us looks at other cultures, without resorting to massive violence. Star Trek should be beyond that, unless you’re JJ Abram.

Sure, I find it weird to have Riker call Picard ‘Jean Luc’ cause he’s an Admiral now, but that’s established lore and tradition. It’s also a core character of Riker’s to advance more. But it’s cool that he still wants to be a captain.

Overall the series was a blast to read, with exciting moments and great characters. I found the Fall to lack cohesion, but as far as individual tales go, not bad. If you haven’t realized it, the stories in the middle were strongest, but that might be due to set up and conclusion nature of a series. Even those excuses can save them from their date of being bad.

Verdict? Read it. Doesn’t take more than a day and these are characters who should never have to die. They’re immortal to us.ssse

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