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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers

Day of the Vipers - James Swallow Review from The Literary SnobFirst off, the fact that I even picked this book up is a credit to the author or the marketing team or someone.I admit, I am a "Trekker." In middle school, I read twenty or more Star Trek novels; I haven't picked up one since. They were enjoyable, but they were little more than your average action/sci-fi thrills and I needed something meatier as began to fulfill my role as a literary snob.Aside from my hope for a Trek novel with more literary merit, what attracted me to Day of the Vipers was its subject matter: the Cardassian occupation of Bajor. It’s a part of Trek history that viewers never saw; rather, we were given glimpses of its repercussions in the series Deep Space Nine. I'll spare you the details (if you're curious, read this article), but the fifty-year occupation of Bajor rolls many of humanities darkest moments into one, i.e. colonization, genocide, and slavery.This book, the first in a series of three, covers the first ten years of Cardassian intervention. Focusing largely on the conspirators and the manipulation of the common man, it moves slower than one might expect. At first this pace bothered me, but I realized that this is how monumentous events happen—it takes many moves on a chess board, many of which involve pawns, before a game builds into something notable. Swallow does an excellent job of making each "chess move" relevant to the story regardless of how tedious some may seem.I also like that Swallow does not cast the Federation (the mostly human republic and basis for all Star Trek series) as the perfect society as is too often done. Deep Space Nine was brave enough to venture into some of the corruptness of humanity's future and I was glad to see the author here did the same. Making only a few scattered appearances, the Federation prevents intervention in the brewing conflict due to the same bureaucracy we see in today's society.The most difficult part with Day of the Vipers is the characters themselves. I found many of them to be unrealistic and flat. One of the primary characters, the chief security officer of the Bajoran city focused on, often played the cowboy and felt a bit too cliché. Gul Dukat, who made many appearances in the DS9 series, seemed too dark and not as dimensional as he is in the series. These character discrepancies were not glaring, but they were distracting from time to time.Overall, I felt Day of the Vipers captured a part of (future) history that needs to be told. It was done well enough that I'll probably read the next book in the series, Night of the Wolves.I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book to the non-Trekker, but I do think anyone could follow the simple storyline. The story of such heinous acts is, unfortunately, a story we know all too well.