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- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Fearful Symmetry by Olivia Woods (Review) | the m0vie blog.
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After all, she is more compelling as a mystery. What happened to her? Is she still alive? How did she go missing? These are all big questions left open by Second Skin. How could her fellow Bajorans have traded one group of overseers for another? How could her people have allowed themselves to be duped into believing one of those new taskmasters was Touched by the Prophets?
This is a powerful character beat, and one that feels like it could play into the key themes of identity and character that are woven through Second Skin.
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Sadly, Fearful Symmetry brushes these ideas aside. Fearful Symmetry features all manner of absurd and off-the-wall concepts. It goes for broke with concepts that feel more like they came from a particularly excited comic book crossover than from a Star Trek novel. It is a great hook for a short story collection. Deep Space Nine is a show that often meditated on fate and identity, so providing Sisko with a glimpse of lives not lived is fascinating.
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Fearful Symmetry quickly reaches escape velocity and refuses to fall back to Earth. Not only is Iliana Ghemor alive, she has replaced the Intendent in the mirror universe!
Star Trek Ser. Deep Space Nine: Fearful Symmetry by Olivia Woods (2008, Paperback)
To be fair, the novel does at least acknowledge this level of convolution and absurdity at points that seem almost self-aware:. How simple do you think I expect it to be? Sadly, this wry sense of humour is the exception rather than the rule, with Fearful Symmetry playing too much of its plot with po-faced seriousness. Fearful Symmetry is not a novel that does subtle or understated. Everyhting feels so heightened and so exaggerated that it is hard to get any frame of reference.
As with a lot of these sorts of novels, it feels like continuity is thrown in simply for the sake of it — that characters make references and trade stories based not on the demands of the plot, but simply to demonstrate that the author has done their research. And yet, despite that, there are some very interesting ideas here. So it is interesting to approach the mirror universe in light of the legacy of the Dominion War or Bajoran spirituality. In the opening sequence, Sisko finds himself confronted by these sorts of questions, taking the reader all the way back to the first encounter with the mirror universe in Crossover:.
You never wondered why no one in that universe ever opened their Temple Gates, despite the presence of a Sisko in that continuum. Not even after you learned the truth about your origins…that Benjamin Sisko does not exist by accident, in any universe.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Fearful Symmetry
The question of whether mirror! Sisko is the mirror!
Emissary is an interesting metaphysical quandary, particularly when considered in light of the revelations made in Signs and Symbols and Images in the Sand. It is a ridiculous sentence, but one bristling with storytelling opportunities. That said, a lot of the first half of Fearful Symmetry feels like an attempt at stalling. The first half of Fearful Symmetry feels rather light and insubstantial. The ground covered her could be dealt with in the opening chapter of The Soul Key. However, the second half of Fearful Symmetry is much more interesting… for the most part.
The idea of exploring the society and culture of Cardassia, at seeing the Star Trek universe from an unusual perspective, is particularly interesting and compelling. One of the more interesting — and perhaps controversial — aspects of the Deep Space Nine relaunch has been the way that the mythos has been adapted to reflect contemporary concerns.
Broadcast in the mid-nineties, Deep Space Nine was a show ahead of its time. Not only did it hark forward towards the serialisation and arc structure that modern television takes for granted, but it also touched on themes and ideas that seem more relevant in the wake of the War on Terror than they ever did before. To let Bajoran extremism win? That would hurt them as well as us. These are the same arguments that are typically used to justify foreign intervention in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.
The justifications provided by the Cardassian government do fit with some of the standard rhetoric of contemporary foreign affairs. This certainly seems like an unfair and exaggerated comparison, to be sure. The Iliana sections of the novel do run into trouble when it comes to the portrayal of Gul Dukat. It is revealed that Iliana disappeared because Dukat kidnapped her a placed her in a secret dungeon where he raped and beat her for years upon years.
Somehow, Dukat was able to hold on to that dungeon despite his constantly-shifting fortunes. Even when he became a lowly freighter pilot after Indiscretion and a rebel in a Klingon Bird of Prey in Return to Grace , Dukat still had a secret rape dungeon.
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The portrayal of Dukat borders on that of a comic book super villain, with a hidden layer and gratuitous violence against a female character. At the ceremony, she also notices the presence of a mysterious man named Corbin Entek ; Skrain Dukat and his cousin Akellen Macet are also present. She immediately hates Dukat for his words about Bajor and how to treat the Bajorans. Soon after, she and Ataan become a couple, but finally, he has to leave for Bajor, serving as a security guard. Entek then first approaches Iliana to ask whether she wants to join the Obsidian Order — an offer she angrily refuses.
Iliana receives letters from Ataan, depicting the situation on Bajor. First, he seems to be pleased by the progress he makes — but only until terrorist attacks increase and he struggles to understand the underlying reasons. Finally, her father tells Iliana that Ataan has died in one of these attacks. It is then when Iliana leaves the art school where she studied and decides to really become an agent of the Obsidian Order.
In the next two years, Iliana undergoes a heavy agent training. During the last days, she kills her first victim — believing she is in a simulation. After the training, Iliana gets to know her mission — she is to infiltrate the Bajoran resistance by replacing a Bajoran resistance fighter named Kira Nerys. She learns that her memory will be "wiped away" but still will be restored after the assignment and she will be implanted with Kira's memories.
She agrees to take the mission, knowing that she will not be herself for two years. However, after having been surgically altered and implanted with Kira's memories, she is held captive by Dukat, serving as a mere slave to him.
Together with the Kressari Shing-kur, the Tellarite Zhag and the Romulan Telal, she manages to escape — but finds out slowly in the process that she is not Kira Nerys, because she discovers files of the Obsidian Order's training in the prison's computer system. And finally she regains all of her memories — being split between the resistance fighter Kira Nerys and the agent of the Obsidian Order, Iliana Ghemor, and obsessed with the thought that she is the only person to bear the name Kira Nerys.
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