The entire sector is waiting to see what the newly reopened Bajoran wormhole will mean for the shifting political landscape in the Alpha Quadrant.

On Deep Space 9, Captain Ro Laren is suddenly drawn into the affairs of the People of the Open Sky, who have come to the station in search of sanctuary. Despite the opposition of the station’s security officer, Jefferson Blackmer, Ro Laren and Deep Space 9’s new CMO, Doctor Beverly Crusher, offer the People aid.

But when Dr. Crusher’s highly secure files are accessed without permission—the same files that hold the secrets of the Shedai, a race whose powerful but half-understood scientific secrets solved the Andorian catastrophe—the People seem the likeliest suspects.

As tensions rise on the station, the science vessel Athene Donald arrives as part of its journey of exploration. The brainchild of Doctor Katherine Pulaski, this ship is crewed by different species from the Khitomer Accords and the Typhon Pact.

Pulaski’s hope is that science will do what diplomacy has not: help the great powers put aside their hostilities and work together. But when the Athene Donald is summarily stopped in her voyage by the powerful vessel of a hitherto unknown species, Pulaski begins to wonder—will this first contact bring her crew together or tear them all apart?

Order The Missing:

“I know,” Pulaski said with a laugh, “that I’m not the kind of person to attract confidences. So I appreciate your trust. I’ve always felt that because of that brief time I spent on the Enterprise that people … I don’t know … put us into competition somehow. Compare and contrast us. But I was always more than chief medical officer on the Enterprise.”

“I know exactly how you feel,” said Crusher.

*   *   *

I have long been a fan of Una McCormack’s Star Trek work. The first of her novels that I read was the outstanding Deep Space Nine novel The Never-Ending Sacrifice. From that moment on, I was hooked. McCormack has a way of getting to the core of what a story is about, with redemption being one of her favorite topics, and The Missing is no exception.

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There are a number of plotlines that make up the story of The Missing. First, the Olympic-class science vessel Athene Donald is embarking on a civilian mission of exploration. Aboard the Athene Donald is Katherine Pulaski, the one-time chief medical officer of the Enterprise-D, as well as one of the “co-conspirators” in devising a cure for the Andorian reproductive crisis. The mission of the vessel is to bring together various species in the spirit of peaceful cooperation in scientific endeavors.

At the same time, a ragtag fleet of starships arrives at Deep Space 9, populated by a group calling themselves the “People of the Open Sky.” Meanwhile, a Cardassian civilian petitions Odo to act on her behalf in repatriating her son, a prisoner of the Romulans since the end of the Dominion War, along with a number of other Cardassian POWs.

Una manages to stitch each of these stories together quite well, creating a “day in the life” feel on this new Deep Space 9, a feeling that has been missing for some time. In many ways, The Missing felt like an actual episode of DS9.

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While I didn’t quite enjoy The Missing to the same extent I liked McCormack’s previous outings — including Hollow Men, The Never-Ending Sacrifice, Brinkmanship, or my favorite Trek novel of 2013, The Crimson Shadow The Missing is still very well-written and engaging. With Una McCormack, I tend to set the bar very high, and even her weakest novel is still miles above most others!

Earlier, I mentioned that Una McCormack likes to deal with redemption in her novels. In The Missing, a highlight for me was the character of Peter Alden, a character that was first introduced in Brinkmanship. His character arc surprised me by being one of the great parts of this novel. His relationship with unwitting Tzenkethi defector Corazame (also from Brinkmanship) was a touchstone of the character work in The Missing.

The contrasting ideas of politics and conflict versus the ideals of exploration and discovery have been a central theme in Star Trek novels lately, and that contrast was played out very literally in the character of Peter Alden.

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Final thoughts:

The Missing brings us back to Deep Space Nine in a way that made the series great. More than any other Star Trek series, the premise of DS9 allowed for “day-in-the-life” vignettes and on-going story arcs, and The Missing showcases those features expertly.

I very much enjoy Una McCormack’s writing, and I love that she feels free to experiment with different styles of narrative. For example, each chapter in The Missing begins with a personal log entry by Captain Picard, discussing various aspects of discovery and exploration. Each log entry set the tone for the chapter, bringing the story together in a fun and interesting way.

For this and many other reasons, The Missing was definitely a joy to read.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
"The Missing"
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  • Platitude

    Cover is kind of ugly. Some artwork with Pulaski and Crusher would have been better. Book sounds interesting!

    • James

      Agreed. The cover art is very poor and I really don’t like the rebuilt DS9.

      • The Noble Robot

        Also agreed. The awful new DS9 and those randomly designed, kitbash-esque ships make it look like a Babylon 5 novel or something.

        • James

          It’s surprising too, because the revised station was designed by some massively talented people – Doug Drexler, Andrew Probert and Douglas E. Graves. I guess that’s time pressure for you.

        • I rather like the cover. Designed by Doug Drexler, all of the ships on the cover have been used on-screen in Star Trek. However, most of them come from Enterprise, which does make them somewhat anachronistic, I suppose!

      • Optimistic Doodle

        From a graphic point of view the new space station is a work in progress, a sketch, anything but a graceful ‘final ’design that radiates the care & respect DS9 (and Star Trek as a whole) very much deserves.

    • mjdavid

      I agree. When it comes to cover art for the Star Trek novels Beverly Crusher has been grossly underused. A novel with both Crusher and Pulaski on the cover would have been fantastic.

  • The Noble Robot

    I know the post-Typhon Pact books have mixed things up, but are there any actual DS9 characters in this DS9 novel?

    • Sastrei

      The review mentions Odo.

      • The Noble Robot

        Ah yes, I forgot that. That makes it all better. 😉

    • Odo, O’Brien, Quark, and Nog are all in this one. From the other DS9 novels, Ro and Blackmer also play large roles. I’d count them as DS9 characters at this point!

      • Zarm

        Nog? Did I miss him somewhere?

  • Zarm

    Urg. Three chapters in, and already going crazy. What’s with the bizarre Lemony-Snicket esque aside to the readers at the start of chapter 2 (as if we aren’t already eavesdropping on all the characters’ private thoughts already?)- it doesn’t at all fit the tone or style of this kind of novel.

    And to see that Crusher is here because of that idiotic ‘I need a hero, not a husband’ bit from the second Cold Equations book? It is the most asinine plot point that I’ve ever seen in a Trek novel, and makes Crusher look like a miserable, ungrateful imbecile. I thought that ludicrous notion had been allowed to die; to see it continued here as a narrative thread is a misery. I can only hope the remainder of the book will wrap it up in a manner that doesn’t try to insinuate that Beverly was right.

    (Incidentally- if there’s a sniper on the loose and I’m standing next to my wife and the President, I’m gonna jump in front of her… just as, I suspect, she would if she was the one that saw the sniper and I was the one unawares.)

    • Zarm

      Fortunately, neither turned out to be a major plot point, and the novel smoothed out nicely. A bit unsubtle (for instance, Crusher and Ro’s pointed discussion about infant vaccination- er, I mean, medical care for the People of the Open Sky), but that’s become standard for modern Trek novels. I had a bit of a niggle about Peter Alden- his attempts to help Cory (while well-meaning) were certainly awkward and Earth-centric, focused on what he wanted her to have rather than what she wanted… but other than that, his scum-bagginess and the EVILs of being with Starfleet Intelligence felt rather like informed attributes. Everyone talked about how horrible he was… but in practice, he was diplomatic, put up with a lot of uncalled-for insults, genuinely cared about Cory (albeit in an inept way), was helpful, and even friendly.

      However, since a number of the plot threads seemed to revolve around the assumptions and impressions we form of people and how they can turn out to be false, I’m willing to write this off as an intentional dichotomy (albeit strange to see the folks on DS9 talking the same way).

      Overall, a nicely done novel with a good A/B/C plot that made it really feel like a DS9 novel… even if it was strange to see how few of the actual main characters from the DS9 series are still ON Ds9 anymore. And poor O’brien only got a cameo, even though he was there the whole time…! 🙂