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Book Review

Book Cover

Star Trek
Deep Space Nine
Fearful Symmetry


Author: Olivia Woods
Pocket Books
RRP: £6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $9.50
ISBN-13: 978 1 4165 6781 3
ISBN-10: 1 4165 6781 X
Available 04 August 2008

During the years of the Bajoran occupation many attempts were made to infiltrate the resistance, the most audacious of which was a plan to replace Kira Nerys with a Cardassian operative who had been genetically altered. Though the plan did not come to fruition, the operative, Iliana, disappeared. Kira’s subsequent kidnapping by the Obsidian Order revealed the extent of the plan. Now a plan which was started nearly two decades ago has come back to haunt Kira, when the explanation of Iliana’s disappearance is finally explained. She is back and she has a plan...

Fearful Symmetry is a new novel by Olivia Woods, which follows on from the events in Warpath. This is Wood’s first Trek novel and one of the first things that you notice about the book is that it is actually two novellas which have been placed together so that you have to turn the book over to read Iliana’s story. It’s a nice idea, which reminded me of the pulp books of my youth that used the same device when wrapping two stories up in the same cover. The other nice choice that has been made is not to mix the two stories together, so you get Kira’s contemporary story without the need to continually jump back and forth to tell Iliana’s, which is told separately.

Anyone who remembers the original television episode Second Skin, will remember that it tells the story of Kira’s kidnap by the Obsidian Order who claim that she is a deep cover operative and child of Tekeny Ghemor, who also believes that she is his daughter. Although in the original story it turns out that this is just a ploy to expose Tekeny Ghemor as a dissident, the real fate of his daughter is not revealed, until now.

Both stories are pretty straightforward. Kira discovers that Iliana is alive, believing that she is the true Kira she plans to dispose of every other Kira in this and any alternative reality. This first portion of the book looks at Kira's response to the threat, which spans both her and the alternative universe and the novella only gets to the point where a plan to thwart her is about to be initiated. Here Woods is a little constrained by previous books and known information about the Deep Space Nine universe, that said she does a good job of setting up the plot.

What should have been the more interesting half of the book, Ilana’s story, felt a little too contrived. Initially she is portrayed as somewhat of a social rebel, wanting to be an artist rather than join the military. It is only her ill fated love affair which seems to turn her from a relative pacifist to wanting to join the Obsidian Order out of a sense of revenge. I did not seem plausible to me that someone would change so radically their moral and political stance, no matter how tragic the circumstances. Wood’s then goes on to describe Ilana's training and the reason why she disappeared. I wont go into it here as it would spoil the book.

Overall, the book did not feel wholly successful, especially Ilana’s sudden change of heart regarding the Cardassian occupation. That said, it raised enough intriguing questions to warrant taking a look at her follow up novel.


Charles Packer

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