At the end of 2385, in a significant shift of its goals from military back to exploratory, Starfleet sent Captain Benjamin Sisko and the crew of the U.S.S. Robinson on an extended mission into the Gamma Quadrant.
Tasked with a yearlong assignment to travel unknown regions, they set out to fulfill the heart of Starfleet’s charter: to explore strange new worlds, and to seek out new life and new civilizations.
But now three months into the mission, their first contact with an alien species comes in the form of an unprovoked attack on the Robinson.
With the ship’s crew suddenly incapacitated, seventy-eight of the 1,300 aboard are abducted — including Sisko’s daughter, Rebecca.
But Rebecca had already been kidnapped years earlier by a Bajoran religious zealot, part of a sect believing that her birth fulfilled the prophecy of the arrival of the Infant Avatar.
Does her disappearance now have anything to do with the harrowing events of the past? And for what purposes have these enemies taken Sisko’s daughter and the rest of the missing?
David R. George III returns for his eighth consecutive Star Trek: Deep Space Nine relaunch novel with his latest work, Gamma: Original Sin.
The novel follows Captain Benjamin Sisko and the USS Robinson’s exploration of the Gamma Quadrant. George has written a tightly-focused adventure story that serves as both one of the best standalone novels of his run while also advancing the larger narrative that he initially set up in 2011’s Rough Beasts of Empire.
George has been advancing a rich narrative in his DS9 novels, with a number of compelling threads still ongoing. When he first took over the series, fans objected to the editorial decision to jump ahead four years in the narrative given how many ongoing plot threads were still hanging, and had further difficulty when those plot threads (like the Ascendant storyline) were not immediately addressed.
However, given the long game that George has been playing with these stories, many of the earlier decisions that seemed objectionable have led to bigger and more fulfilling payoffs down the line. The recent conclusion to the Ascendants narrative was well worth the wait. Through George’s work, we are now engrossed in the middle of a sprawling story that rivals the Star Trek: Voyager novel series by Discovery writer Kirsten Beyer for its depth.
Original Sin is a Captain Sisko novel, with a strong focus on Sisko, his wife Kasidy Yates Sisko, and daughter Rebecca Sisko. The story follows two main plot lines – in the first, the USS Robinson is ambushed while exploring the Gamma Quadrant.
During the ambush the starship’s children, including Rebecca Sisko, are abducted. The second story, set six years earlier, tells the story of a previous abduction of Rebecca by a Bajoran fanatic, which had been referenced in previous novels but never shown in detail. There are strong thematic connections between both plot threads, and provide new insights into Rebecca Sisko and Captain Sisko’s relationship with the Prophets.
The Siskos have faced many hardships in their family life since Captain Sisko returned from his time living with the Prophets in the Bajoran wormhole. But despite those hardships — teased by the Prophets shortly before their marriage — they continue to work at their relationship and raise their daughter.
Deep Space Nine was celebrated for its focus on family, and particularly the strong bond between Sisko and his son, Jake. Despite Jake not making an appearance in the book, those themes are continued and furthered here, and I for one continue to root for the Siskos’ success.
The only other Deep Space Nine character that makes an appearance in the novel is Captain Elias Vaughn, a novel character from the earlier relaunch series. Vaughn was a fan favorite novel character who met his demise in the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy by David Mack, and so seeing him in action once again is most welcome.
This is not an ensemble novel, but tightly focused on the Sisko family and their story, and really benefits from it as a character drama.
In addition to the Siskos, the other main star of Original Sin is the USS Robinson herself, a Galaxy-class starship. It has been a long time since a story has been set on a Galaxy-class ship, and George makes great use of its locales. The bridge, the briefing room, captain’s quarters and shuttle bay are featured locations, and it reminds me how much I miss the grand Galaxy-class. Star Trek moved on from her too quickly.
If there’s one disappointment in Original Sin, it’s that the crew of the USS Robinson in the Gamma Quadrant portion of the story continue to be unmemorable. This appears to be a deliberate choice insofar as Original Sin is concerned, because it’s a character drama starring the Siskos, but for future “Gamma” novels it will be likely be necessary for the rest of the crew of the Robinson to become more interesting characters to alleviate the burden from the Siskos.
However, the characters from the Bajoran thread are well developed, including Rebecca Sisko’s misguided kidnapper.
The narrative is deftly handled, and the Gamma Quadrant and Bajoran plot lines are well balanced. In addition, the new alien race introduced by the book are truly alien in a way that you would hope from a novel unencumbered by the realities of a television budget. Their weapons, their home, and their motivations mix interesting new concepts with innovative takes on previous ideas.
Original Sin is a compelling character drama, that teases interesting directions for the series ahead and some of the television series themes, particularly in regards to Captain Sisko’s relationship with his family and the Prophets.
Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long for an announcement of a new Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel penned by George, and that he is allowed to continue telling his ambitious meta-narrative.
If you liked Original Sin, you should check out:
- Rough Beasts of Empire, by David R. George III – The novel that kicked off George’s run on the series, Rough Beasts of Empire found many of the characters in very different places than we previously left them.
- Plagues of Night and Raise the Dawn, by David R. George III – The second and third novels in George’s run follow the involvement of DS9’s crew in the larger political machinations with the Typhon Pact, with devastating consequences. It’s a real page-turner, and the shocking ending to Plagues of Night will make you immediately pick up Raise the Dawn.
- Serpents Among the Ruins, by David R. George III – Part of “The Lost Era” series of novels, Serpents Among the Ruins stars Captain John Harriman of the Enterprise-B and tells the story of the Tomed Incident that led to the Romulan Empire withdrawing from interstellar affairs for 100 years.