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Piers Anthony, Jan. 1, 2011 Piers Anthony, Jan. 1, 2011. Photo by Jane McConnell.
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A reader told me that I was cluttering up my HiPiers Column with all the Star Trek episodes, so I am doing two things: I am moving the episodes to their own section following the regular column, and querying my other readers how they feel about it. I have wanted to catch up on Star Trek for decades, since missing half the original series, and now finally I am. This column covers what interests me, but I hope it also interests my readers, many of whom are Star Trek fans. So is this compromise satisfactory, or do you prefer something else? I am leaving my book and movie reviews in place, interspersed with my commentary on this & that.

I watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It starts with wild space action, of course. It has been a while since I've seen a Star Wars movie, so maybe I'm not up on details, but this strikes me as full of sound and fury, signifying not much. Slowly a comprehensible story line emerges from the scattered debris. There are Chewie, C-3PO, Yoda, Luke Skywalker, as incidental characters, to provide some flavor of the original movies. They need to recruit a master code breaker. Little Rose leads one strand with Finn. The girl Rey leads another, as she learns to invoke the immense power of the Force. Even so it is touch and go. A few survive, and they will teach the children. A so-so movie, for me.

I watched Divergent. This one reminded me of The Hunger Games. In the future society is divided into five factions, each a particular type, and folk know where they belong. Erudite. Dauntless. Amity. Candor. Abnegation. Except for Beatrice Prior—Tris—a Divergent who crosses boundaries. She undergoes the classification test that will show her where she belongs. Then she will get to choose, and will forever be bound by that choice. They say that for her it is Abnegation, but she is actually a rogue Divergent and must hide it. She meets Christina and they become friends. She makes a scary jump, and joins Dauntless, the warrior faction, where she meets the leader Four. It starts like military basic training, pushing to physical and mental limits. She has to fist fight another girl, and loses. She is taught that Dauntless never give up. She fights her way up, qualifying to continue training. The second part of it is mental, as she has to face her worst fear. She succeeds. Then she and Four do it together, facing their worst fears. They fall in love. The tests continue, and it's hard to know what is real. There is war between the Factions as Erudite tries to take over. Then Tris is about to be executed, but is rescued by her parents, that she never knew were Divergent. Her mother gets killed, saving Tris, but her father survives. Then she encounters Four, turned by chemistry, now her enemy. But she manages to turn him back, and they struggle to stop the malign program. There is more to do, but they have won the first engagement. This is one hard-hitting movie.

I watched Insurgent, sequel to Divergent. The jacket has an impressive 3D cover picture. This picks up where the first left off. Jeanine, the evil woman, remains in control, spreading propaganda blaming the Divergents for the recent trouble. She has a box from the Founder that will enable her to destroy the Divergents, but only a Divergent can open the box. Tris, Four, and other insurgents are staying with an Amity Faction village, but government troops invade. They flee with her brother Caleb and manage to catch a passing freight train, but Factionless folk are aboard. Tobias Eaton—Four says that's him; that's his original name. They go to see his mother, whom he rejects. They head on to Candor, but Caleb declines to continue with them. But Candor arrests them and will turn them over to the Council. Four persuades them to use Truth Serum. She confesses to killing Will, which alienates them. Troops attack, firing sleep darts. Tris is hit, but it doesn't work on her, because she's 100% Divergent. So the government starts killing people, to force Tris to give herself up. She makes love with Four. The definition is that Factionless belong to no Faction, while Divergents belong to all Factions. They need to get these groups together as Insurgents. To stop the suicides—caused by embedded darts—Tris must pass all five simulations for the Factions. They are brutal. She must rescue her mother from burning house that is being carried aloft on a cable. She succeeds, passing Dauntless. Then Four rescues her, but she catches on that he is a simulation. She has passed Amity by sparing a traitorous friend. But in the next simulation she dies, or seems to. Peter found a way for her to fake it. Meanwhile the Factionless figure out how to stop the suicides. Then she has to fight herself. Then comes a message from beyond the Wall, saying the Divergents are the real hope of humanity. The future of mankind lies beyond the wall. And Jeanine is executed. This sequel is even harder hitting than the original.

I watched Allegiant, the third Divergent movie. The walled city is Chicago, and the wall remains. Now Four's mother Evelyn governs, and she is acting pretty much like Jeanine. They decide to escape: Trice, Four, Caleb, Peter, Christina, Tori. They scale the Wall, under fire. Tori gets shot. They rappel down outside, the five remaining, and discover a devastated world,like the remnant of a huge strip mine. They are pursued by Edgar in a truck. And captured by an unfamiliar army with flying machines. Welcome to the future. They are taken to a base and decontaminated. They learn that the city of Chicago is now a genetic experiment to perfect humanity, to purify the genome. They are known here; they have been watched. Tris meets David, the Director. He tells her that she is the only pure person; the others are damaged. She sees the life history of her mother, Natalie, who left the project in the Fringe to join the city, to help the Damaged. Four and the others go through Simulations. Nita supervises Four. They go on a mission to save some more children in the Fringe. Four has his doubts about this; they're not saving kids, they're stealing them. They tell Four they are returning him to 'Chicago, but they aren't. He catches on and fights them off. Meanwhile David takes Tris to Providence, another island city, and she catches on too. Now she organizes another escape, stealing a flying craft with Christina. They return to Chicago and organize another revolt: “Chicago is not your experiment, it is our home.” Will they get it right this time?

I read The Names of our Tears, by P L Gaus. This is set in Amish country. The Amish don't run drugs, but it seems an Amish girl was coerced into bringing an extra suitcase with her from Florida to Ohio. When she found out what she was carrying, she dumped all the cocaine out into a pond. Then she was shot to death; evidently someone was annoyed. The local sheriff investigates, and discovers that there is a considerable drug running operation using shady methods to move their wares. He does what he can, but it really isn't much, and the novel ends inconclusively. That's the way it tends to be in real life; it's hard to nail a criminal gang that kills any witnesses and terrorizes the rest. I wondered about the relevance of the title, and learned that one legend has it that God names every tear, to honor human pain. A pastor explains this to a desolate ten year old girl who lost her only friend, the original murder victim. She is not much consoled.

I read The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, by Stephen Greenblatt. This is a thorough discussion of the biblical origin of the human species with interesting aspects, and some of the related art. There is a suggestion that Eve was the real hero, as she was the one who grasped the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, freeing us all from chronic ignorance. But Eve was also roundly condemned by the sexist Christian church, apparently because she was sexually attractive and amenable. It seems that the two led a vegetarian life in the Garden of Eden, eating animals only after they were expelled. Which raises a thought in my mind: maybe the true Original Sin was forsaking peaceful vegetarianism and then killing and eating the flesh of innocent animals, God's other creatures. As for sex, of course they practiced it in the garden, as the animals did, thinking nothing of it; only when they ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree did they realize that sex was supposed to be sinful. The question is, what kind of a loving deity would refuse to permit humans to achieve knowledge? Would put the forbidden fruit right there in easy reach as a chronic temptation? He must have wanted them to break the rule so he had a pretext to cast them out. At any rate, this book is not up on the latest: the bone that God took from Adam to make Eve was not a rib; that was an editorial censorship by a scribe. It was his penis bone, the baculum. So now most mammals have bones there, but man does not. That explains why it is that modern man is not missing a rib, giving the Bible the lie, but is missing a key bone. And you wonder why authors don't like censorious editing? This book goes into the life histories of a number of the architects of Christianity, and concludes with appendixes offering variations. One example: the Maker wanted company, so he went to a swampy place, dug out a lump of mud, shaped a male organ, and set it on the ground. Then he dug out another lump and shaped a female organ, leaving it beside the male. During the night the two lumps joined, generating the first Ancestor. Next night they did it again, and again, evidently enjoying it, until there were a number of Ancestors. But again, this book misses one of the nicest stories, from the American Indians: the Maker formed man and woman with open bellies, and gave each of them a length of thread to close them up. The woman meticulously and tightly stitched herself up, but that used up all the thread, and the bottom part was left as an open gash. The man carelessly stitched fast and loose, so that he had thread left over, which dangled down. That explains the anatomy of the two; now you know. So this book is marvelously informative, but I deem it incomplete.

I read Escaping Paradise by Kambry Ellis. This is a Romance on steroids. Alyssa Marks is a healthy young woman, out on an exercise run. When she returns there is a flyer on her windshield: a temporary employment agency. She plans to be a graphic artist, but it takes time to develop a clientele; maybe a temporary job would do. So she follows up, and it leads into romance, challenge, a brush with a kind of cult, amazing sex, torture, and fears of betrayal. Whom can she trust? Her boyfriend has an alarming alter ego. She gets more or less trapped on the cult site, theoretically a guest but unable to escape it. The leader is a pretty woman, soft spoken, wanting only the best for her followers—until she gets crossed and shows a much uglier side. This sort of thing interests me because I had an uncle who truly followed God; in fact it was hard to have him speak more than one sentence without God intervening. “The price of beans in Bohemia? I don't know the answer, but I know Someone who does...” He got in a mini religion, and in the end it cost him his wife, who committed suicide because of her resistance to the indoctrination, and he died up alienated and unhappy, having dedicated his life to a false cause. That's my cynical interpretation, which surely differs violently from that of others, but it left me with a profound aversion to cults. There were those who saw me as being rather similar to my uncle. Ouch; I have always been a total unbeliever. Regardless, I'm glad to see a novel addressing the subject. This story is incomplete, to be continued in the sequel Chasing Freedom, but it strikes me as hitting close enough in that respect.

I read Elf Doubt by Bryant Reil. I read the author's first novel in this series, Elf Mastery, in 2016. My aging memory is not what it once was, and the details of the first book have faded, but I remember liking Kyla, the perky and sometimes headstrong tree-dwelling elf girl. In this sequel Kyla quickly gets on a new mission and into serious trouble. It is a restless time, politically, with threats against the existing order, and she discovers that it's hard to trust anyone else, including the queen herself. Details are complicated, with many intertwining threads, and violence and death strike all around her. She seems to have been selected for some special purpose, but she doesn't know what it might be, and her friends may not really be her friends. By the end the king and queen have been dispatched, and Kyla is chief of one group and queen of another, without much notion what she should be doing or whether she is likely to survive long enough to find out. In fact the story becomes grim, and it is not yet done, as this book ends in the middle of the action. So this is no sweet gentle innocent girl story. I suspect that much anguish remains before it ends.

Harlan Ellison died. There will be plenty about him elsewhere, but this is my purely personal take on him. He was about two and a half months older than I, about five inches shorter, and was the one person I knew of who may have had more trouble with publishers than I have. We had a lot in common, beginning with that matter of height: folk including other writers poked fun at him for his physical stature, but I never did. When I graduated from ninth grade I was the shortest and smallest person in my class, male and female, standing five feet tall and weighing one hundred pounds. Then I grew most of another foot to five ten and a half, and gained fifty pounds, and what do you know, the bullies disappeared. But I remembered, and was never amused by jokes about Harlan. As an adult my arena was no longer physical, but mental and legal, as his was, and I had many battles, including getting blacklisted for six years when I protested being cheated by a publisher. Harlan never blacklisted me, understanding what it was to stand up to publishers when few others did. We were fellow arch liberals; I know of no political differences between us, though there were social ones, as his five marriages vs. my one 62 year long one hinted. So we got along, generally, until I broke relations. Why? That's a story in itself.

We met in 1966 at the Milford Writer's conference, sponsored by Damon Knight, where writers submitted their stories for critiques. I liked Harlan's story, “I have No Mouth And I Must Scream,” and I think he liked mine, which later became the basis for my collaborative novel with Philip Jose Farmer, The Caterpillar's Question. Harlan was a frequent topic of private discussion; the consensus was that his input and his output were not connected. That is, he insulted others freely, but was hyper sensitive to any return insult. I overheard him on the phone, for something like half an hour, bawling out someone else for a baggage foul-up; he just couldn't let it go. He also craved attention; he could keep telling jokes indefinitely, as long as he had an audience, and he was good at it, a showman. But discussions at that conference could get quite pointed. I described other fiction of Harlan's as like garbage being hurled at the reader's face. But Harlan was hardly my only fracas there. I remember how Algis Budris had raised the question in a column of his own about male writers writing female perspective stories, and vice versa: did readers find that off-putting? I don't, and I have written many female protagonist stories that have been well received; for a time there was even a rumor circulating that I was a female writer myself. I take that as a compliment to my writing skill, and having raised two girls I do feel for the female perspective in this male dominated culture. But I thought the question was worth considering, so I raised it at the conference. John Brunner not only disagreed, he said there was something wrong with me personally because I even raised the question. Note that a general question was being answered not by consideration of the issue but by a personal attack, an error that intelligent folk are generally careful not to make. I have great respect for the body of Brunner's fiction, and appreciate that he was born the same place I was, Oxford, England, not long after me, but he was dead wrong here. What did the other writers think of that? They applauded Brunner. That was an eye-opener, and I suspect it was not entirely coincidence that in the ensuing decades my success as a commercial writer may have eclipsed that of all of them combined, in sharp contrast to my unsuccess with critics. My thinking was simply more rational, and I had one phenomenally lucky break, which is what it generally takes to launch a writer out of the struggling pack. But of course the other writers might disagree, if they even remember the incident, if they are alive today. So where was Harlan on that matter? He wasn't there; he was elsewhere that afternoon. I like to think that had he been there, he would have set the matter straight, as he had to be much aware of being unfaurly personally targeted. But it shows the kind of interactions that could occur, and I think is one reason why neither he nor I had a lot of respect for Milford. Theoretically it was a conference for writers to improve their skills, but it had become a kind of in-club that resisted critiques from outsiders regardless of their merit. I understand that writer and critic James Blish in a prior conference had told Harlan that he was so bad a writer that he would never sell a word. Harlan then sold many words, and won many awards, and said openly “Well, I'm here.” More power to him on that score. Meanwhile Blish said he had finally figured out what made a story popular, and he had written one. Others were careful to avoid the real issue until it was my turn to comment. Then I spelled it out point by point: the story stunk. Blish got heated, unable (like Harlan) to accept the kind of criticism he dished out himself, and was never thereafter any fan of mine. But after I had spoken, the others had to admit I was correct. He was an excellent literary writer and critic, but he didn't know beans about commercial writing. That effectively alienated Milford, and cost me the market of Damon Knight's annual anthologies, and I was not held in good regard thereafter. It is dangerous to speak truth to power, or to insult a local god by exposing his feet of clay. So I was like Harlan there, in that respect, both of us becoming pariahs for refusing to fit a false mold. It's a sad commentary on the state of many writers' ability to think rationally.

Then there was a critique of another writer's story, an aspect of which related to the perception of male and female. I am and have always been highly aware of the distinction; I love the look and feel of women. But Harlan found my commentary far off-base, openly expressing derision even as I was speaking. He went and got a fly swatter and batted with it as if my comments were an infestation. Another writer chided him for his lack of courtesy. Then it turned out that the author had put in several copies of her story, and the gender of the protagonist had been reversed in the version I had read. That also torpedoed Samuel R Delaney who, being gay, was also highly aware. So Harlan was taking off on me discourteously for commenting on a different version of the story than he had read. Mark that strike number one. I still supported Harlan's efforts generally, and he supported mine; when other fans attacked me without showing me the attack, so I was unable to respond immediately, Harlan defended me. Why didn't they show me the attack? Because they knew I would refute it quite effectively, as I did when I finally did catch up to it. I stick to the truth, and that is usually an excellent defense against those who can be slipshod about facts. When there was early movie interest in my work, Harlan tried to help. But I remembered both the positives and the negatives.

Move ahead several years. My review of Harlan's provocative anthology Dangerous Visions in a fanzine (amateur magazine) incited a discussion that lasted almost two years. I approved the effort, and said that if he ever did another, I meant to be in it. That, by his own statement, turned him on to the idea of a sequel, Again Dangerous Visions, and indeed I was in it with my story “In the Barn,” where in an alternate reality the cows had died out so they used buxom human women as the milkers. (A reviewer who evidently had not read the story called it vegetarian science fiction. I think there should be standards for reviewing.) But in the volume's introduction Harlan chided me for a supposed error that, like the changed gender at Milford, was actually his misunderstanding of the issue, as I remarked in a recent HiPiers column. So I was chastised in print for an error I had not made. Harlan had not bothered to check for accuracy. I let it pass without more than a refutation in another fanzine, but I remembered. Strike Two.

Yet there are limits. When Harlan made comments that could be dangerous to my career, I wrote to him privately saying in essence that I did not want trouble with him, as we were on the same side in so many cases, but if he repeated some of the things in print I would have to take legal action to protect my reputation. He was dismayed, listing three things that I should have said and had not. I replied by quoting all three things from the first page of my letter. Again he had accused me without cause. It was apparent that he was incorrigible, simply not capable of getting such things straight; he was a loose cannon, possibly more dangerous to friends than to enemies. Strike Three. I decided to disengage. “Fare well, Harlan,” I wrote, and cut him off. When I became a best seller and a publisher sent me on an Author Tour to California, I declined to be interviewed by him, though it might have facilitated sales. But when he sued the Internet giants for facilitating pirating—I forget the details, but was satisfied that he had the right of the case, and of course most of my works have been pirated—I supported him with a check for $5,000. He won his case, and repaid me. But we remained personally estranged, by my choice.

And so it was when he died. I remember a story he wrote, where a man helped another who was dying, and then at the end asked “Did you think you would have to go alone?” and went with him. I hope Harlan found a friend to support him similarly on that final journey. He was a remarkable figure in the field, but he had some phenomenal liabilities and, to paraphrase Shakespeare, taken all in all he was a man, and we shall not see his like again.

Personal notes: my wife and I had our 62nd anniversary, and celebrated with a slice of blueberry pie. At our age, that suffices. I had another cat-scan, and it revealed no malignancy. Remember how the incidentalomas can be bird, rabbit, or turtle? I have a dead turtle. That's a relief. Meanwhile I am making notes for Xanth novel #45, A Tryst of Fate, and have decided to have a lady character called Incident who is an oma, who has three animals: a bird, a rabbit, and a turtle. They are dedicated to deadly mischief, but get converted to doing good. Can't think how that notion came to me. We are still marketing the prior three Xanths; maybe next column I'll have news.

Healthy living: researchers now believe that loneliness is as bad for a person as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It can shave eight years from life expectancy and has a negative effect on quality of life. It is also important to be optimistic and to have a purpose in life. But material welfare also counts. There is a book titled Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, by David Graeber, whose thesis is that a large share of workers today are engaged in performing pointless tasks. Up to 40% believe their labor has no meaning for contributing to society, and the indication is that they are right. They spend their time in make-work, pretending to be useful. Why do such purposeless jobs persist? Because they keep the masses busy and subdued. Then there is the wage mystery: with the economy doing so well, and unemployment under 4%, why is wage growth stagnant? It seems that the big companies are putting downward pressure on wages. They have largely gotten rid of the unions, or rendered them powerless, so the average man has no recourse. Today a minimum-wage worker can't afford a two bedroom apartment anywhere in the USA. And maybe not coincidentally, the combined wealth held by the world's millionaires has increased for the sixth consecutive year, passing $70 trillion, and rising rapidly. And the suicide rate is rising in tandem with the wealth inequality. Meanwhile the big companies that benefit most from the Trump tax cuts are not spending more, but hanging on to it. You expected generosity? There are now more guns than people in the United States; that facilitates suicide. So your job is meaningless and your wage is stagnant, but don't be negative, because that isn't healthy.

Food: if meat is grown in the laboratory without harming any animals, what should it be called? Clean Meat? The conventional meat industry doesn't like that, because it implies that traditional meat is dirty. I, as a vegetarian, don't like it either, because I don't want to eat any meat, dirty or clean. So I have a suggestion: spell it backward. Taem, or Kaets, or Feeb, or Bmal, or Korp, or Nekcihc (maybe Neckich). Problem solved.

Fakery: a news item reports how press secretary Sarah Sanders and a party of eight entered the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. The owner quietly asked them to leave, because several of the restaurant employees are gay and Sanders is a known bully who echoes President Trump's bigotry on that score. Sanders then attacked The Red Hen on Twitter, trying to ruin it, and so did President Trump. Well, I say a pox on both their houses. I disagree with that cake maker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding, because he is in the business of serving the public, not of imposing his bigotry on others. If he feels otherwise, he should leave that business. Similarly, the Red Hen is serving the public, and should not have asked Sanders to leave. That kind of opposition to bigotry is its own bigotry, and fake liberalism. Had the party started a fight, or thrown food on the floor, or been otherwise obnoxious, they could have called the police to settle it. But just going there to eat? Refusing to serve them because of whom they were? The way blacks and Jews used to be refused? They should have been politely fed, like anyone else. At least it would then have been evident who was civil and who was bigoted.

PIERS


STAR TREK

I watched Star Trek The Next Generation Season 6, Episode #21 “Frame of Mind.” Riker is rehearsing for a role in a play by that title that Beverly is directing. He says he may be surrounded by insanity, but he is not insane. Then he encounters an odd person, and wonders. Then he finds himself elsewhere being treated by Dr. Syrus for mental disorders. It seems that his position on the Enterprise is a delusion. He wakes; was it a bad dream? What is reality? Dr. Syrus puts him into Reflection Therapy, interacting with different aspects of his own personality. These are animated by other officers of the Enterprise. He rejects them as delusions, and they vanish. He keeps breaking out of delusions, into other delusions, until they finally rescue him for real. This is an exercise in paranoia to which anyone can relate.

#22 “Suspicions” Beverly says she's not a doctor on the Enterprise any more. What happened? She tells Guinan, and we go into a flashback. A Ferengi scientist has an invention that others don't take seriously. But Beverly has read his paper and is impressed, so she assembles four noted scientists to check it out. It is a shield that can protect a shuttle flying into a star. Something goes wrong, and a scientist is lost. Then the Ferengi scientist dies. Did the Klingon woman kill him? Beverly does an autopsy on the Ferengi's body—and finds nothing. She has violated protocols for nothing. Guinan persuades her to investigate farther. She takes a shuttle into the star, proving that the shield works. It failed because it was sabotaged. It was, but the saboteur is aboard planning to steal the invention for himself, and she has to fight him off. But she has won her case.

#23 “Rightful Heir” Worf does not report on time for duty. Something is wrong. He is trying to verify his Klingon beliefs. Picard gives him leave to visit Boreth, a sacred planet, and do what he needs to. And the hero Kahless returns, not a vision, but real. Worf challenges him, but can't prove anything. Kahless is beamed aboard the Enterprise. The leader Gowron comes, skeptical. They test Kahless' blood, and it matches. Gowron fights him and defeats him, which disproves him as the greatest warrior of all. Then the elders explain that he is a clone of the original Kahless. But the people need him as a moral leader. Worf argues that he should be Emperor, exercising moral power rather than political. But Worf's own faith has not been found.

#24 “Second Chances” An Away party beams to Planet Nirvala IV, during a brief window of opportunity that occurs only once every eight years. And the man they encounter is Riker. So now there are two Rikers, genetically identical. He knows Deanna Troi; they had a relationship. She has moved on, emotionally but he hasn't; he still loves her. She is interested. It seems that he was the one who broke it off before; now he won't. They go together to receive a key database; there's an accident, and Riker senior saves Riker junior. Deanna may join Junior in the future.

#25 “Timescape” They pick up a Romulan distress call. Meanwhile, about to return from conferences, Picard, Data, Geordi, and Deanna are comparing notes, but there are several one second pauses that only Deanna notices. Then she freezes for three minutes. The others notice that. Then their shuttle malfunctions. There's a temporal anomaly that accelerates time 50-fold. They discover temporal anomalies all around, each governing time at a different rate, moving toward the Enterprise. They discover the Enterprise and a Romulan warbird frozen in time together. They make a protective time capsule and three of them beam aboard the Enterprise. They find everyone frozen, and three Romulans aboard, also frozen. It seems the Enterprise was in the process of beaming more Romulans aboard when the freeze occurred. They learn that temporal aliens mistook the Romulan engine core for a natural black hole, and placed their young there, triggering devastating time warps. Time is proceeding forward and backward. They manage to help enough to enable the aliens to depart, restoring things to normal.

#26 “Descent, Part I” Stephen Hawking has a bit part, playing himself in a holodeck sequence, which also features Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. That is interrupted by a problem outside; a strange vessel is there, and a planetary station may be in trouble. Riker, Data, Worf, and a woman beam to the station, which seems inoperative, the personnel dead. Data bypasses the primary system. Then they encounter the Borg. This is odd; they seem to be acting as individuals, with emotion. The Borg and their ship depart, but the oddness remains. Data is concerned, because he felt anger. Is he finally coming alive? Then the Borg attack a colony again. Two Borg beam aboard, and one survives. That one persuades Data to depart with him. Riker and Worf beam to a planetary surface with a team, looking for Data. They and other search parties canvas the terrain. Picard with Deanna and Geordi read another party, and get ambushed by the Borg. Data is there, with an artificial Data, now the enemy. This concludes Season Six. We'll see what is next.

Season 7 #1 “Descent, Part II” Data is a Borg now, experiencing emotions. Picard talks to him, getting him to think about right and wrong. He begins to reconsider. His evil brother Lore is ready to kill him, but Data kills Lore. Meanwhile the Enterprise figures out how to destroy the Borg ship. So in the end the humans win, and Data is back as he was.

#2 “Liaisons” They formally meet the Lyaar ambassadors. Worf has to show one around the ship, and is not keen on the notion. Deanna shows another around. Picard goes with the third, Voval, to visit their planet. All the Lyaar are taciturn to the point of rudeness. Picard's craft crashes on an anonymous planet, and he is rescued by Anna, a survivor of a prior crash seven years before. She says she loves him and tries to keep him there, and is distraught when he demurs. It turns out that Voval is a shape changer who assumed the form of Anna in order to study human love. They return to the Enterprise, mutually educated.

#3 “Interface” Geordi is testing an interface that seems to put him in the scene physically though it's actually a probe there. Then they learn that the Hera, the ship that his mother commands, has disappeared. Meanwhile he interfaces with a locally distressed ship, but its crew are all dead. And there's a fire, and he burns his hands, despite not being there physically. He visits another ship, and encounters his mother on the Raman. He touches her, there is a flash, and he is disconnected. The others don't credit it, because the Hera should be 300 light years away. Geordi risks his own death in his effort to save his mother and her crew. But it's not his mother, but an alien who assumed her form to communicate with him. At least he manages to save the aliens.

#4 “Gambit Part I” A crew from the Enterprise are at an alien bar, questioning creatures about the disappearance of Picard. The report is he got vaporized. It seems he is dead. They are all sad and angry, Riker especially; he is determined to deal with those who did this. They go to the planet where the mercenary perpetrators went, and the Away team gets ambushed and Riker gets captured. And Picard is there, now called the smuggler Galen, or someone who resembles him, saying Riker should be killed. But Picard is faking; it's a matter of survival. The mercenaries are stealing Romulan artifacts, looking for one particular one, to sell to the Romulans.

#5 “Gambit Part II” The Romulan woman Tallera turns out to be a Vulcan agent who exchanges confidences with Picard. She says they are searching for a device that enhances telepathy so it can be used as a weapon. That's the point of this whole business. Picard and Riker manage to fool the mercenary leader, and Picard and Tallera take over the mission. In the end Picard understands the artifact better than Tallera does, and knows how to defeat it. So all ends well. It may not be relevant, but I must say that Tallera, as a Romulan or Vulcan female, is quite attractive as a human, too.

#6 “Phantasms” Data suffers a nightmare. How is that possible? He is using a program for dreams, but why have they turned bad? Then he has one while awake, a bad vision, a hallucination. And others, as they cause him to attack Deanna Troi. He thought he saw a mouth on her shoulder, that he had to destroy. Then they discover odd creatures that feed on people like leeches. Data may be reacting to them. It turns out that Data can emit a high pitched noise that hurts the creatures. That eliminates the infection that came aboard with a new phase converter.

#7 “Dark Page” Deanna's nuisance of a mother, Lwaxana, visits again. She is communicating with the Cairn, a visually telepathic race, and it is wearing her out emotionally. She collapses when communicating with Maques, a Carnn man. There's something about the interaction between two kinds of telepathy that can damage a person's mind. Deanna links with Lwaxana and finds herself in her mother's bad dream. Incidental comment: ever since a visiting captain required Deanna to don a conventional uniform, she has continued wearing it. I think she looks better that way. Lwaxana's horror is the memory of the accidental death of Deanna's older sister Kestra as a child; Lwaxana blamed herself. Now she can let it go.

#8 “Attached” Picard and Beverly Crusher beam to the Kes, who seek admittance to the Federation of half of their world, an unusual request. Instead they arrive as prisoners of the Prytt, the other part of the planet. There are control implants in the back of their necks. They used a tractor beam to divert the transmission. Alone, they talk, and we learn that long ago he loved her, but she was married to his best friend, so he was silent, and now it has faded to friendship. The implants enable them to read each others thoughts to a degree. They escape the prison and flee across the surface, then are rescued. The implants are removed, but it is clear that feelings remain.

#9 “Force of Nature” They are in search of the lost medical ship the Fleming. They locate it. A lady scientist, Dr. Serova, has a theory that cumulative warp drive use can disrupt space. She tries to demonstrate, putting the Fleming in danger. Her brother Dr. Rabal does his best to help them. They beam the Fleming crew aboard and ride a distortion field out of the rift, bit it's a rough ride. Warping does affect space. Hereafter Federation ships will be limited to Warp 5 except in extreme emergency.

#10 “Inheritance” Planet Atrea is cooling, solidifying the molten core at a rate that will make it uninhabitable in 13 months. They will try to use the phasers to inject energy that will keep it molten. The lady representative, Juliana Tainer, explains to Data that she was once Dr. Soong's wife and was there at Data's creation; in a sense she is his mother. But she turns out to be an android herself, who believed she was alive, and his mother. Data decides to keep the secret, rather than destroying her fond illusion. And they succeed in stabilizing the planet.

#11 “Parallels” Worf returns from a Klingon competition that he won. Then he experiences dizziness, and seeming loss of memory. But he clearly remembers things that the others don't. What is happening? Then he turns out to be married to Deanna Troi. Riker is captain, as Picard died four years ago. This is weird! They conjecture that Worf is being shifted to different realities. Then different realities start merging, producing multiple Enterprises. They succeed in sending him back to his original reality. His memory is intact; he will have a considerable story to tell. Lost in space 12 years ago.

#12 “The Pegasus” This ship was lost in space 12 years ago, but now the Romulans may have found it. It was Riker's first ship. The Romulans claim to be surveying local space. It seems that they were doing an experiment, and maybe they can now complete it. Admiral Pressman joins the Enterprise, Riker's captain when the Pegasus was lost. He talks with Riker: did they do the right thing? Picard learns from Riker that at the time of crisis, there was a mutiny aboard the Pegasus. Riker sided with the captain. Why did the others mutiny? Riker won't tell Picard. They find the Pegasus inside an asteroid, having materialized overlapping it. They salvage a key piece of equipment. It is a special cloaking device that can also phase through matter. It is also in violation of the Federation agreement. That's why the Romulans were after it. They arrest the Admiral; there will be a court martial. Riker will be charged also, though he may give evidence and get off.

#13 “Homeward” They answer a distress call from Nikolai, Worf's human brother, who is an observer of a primitive culture. The planet Boraal may become uninhabitable in 36 hours. Worf's Away party beams to caverns, where he meets Nikolai. Picard refuses to violate the Prime Directive by saving the natives, but Nikolai beams a village to the Holodeck. They don't know they are no longer home. They are taken to Vacca, the most likely suitable planet. But Vorin, their young village chronicler, happens to wander out of the Holodeck and discovers the Enterprise. They have to explain things to him. If he tells his people the truth, it will destroy their culture. But can he live with a lie? Vorin, in an impossible situation, kills himself. The Boraalsians reach their new planet and will survive, their culture intact. Nikolai marries one of their women and will stay with them.

#14 “Sub Rosa” A memorial service for Beverly Crusher's grandmother, Nana, who raised her after her mother died. They are visiting a recreated Scottish colony. Beverly reads a journal. Ned the caretaker warns her that a particular candle brings bad luck, but she insists on keeping it. She learns from the journal that her grandmother, over a century old, had a 30 year old lover, Ronin. Ned says the house is haunted, and if she lights the candle it will summon a ghost. Ronin is the ghost, 800 years old . He has loved Beverly's ancestors through the centuries. She is highly intrigued. Ronin tells her to light the candle so they can be together always. She lights it. He comes, dissolves into vapor, and phases into her. She resigns her commission and means to join the colony. Data and Geordi zero in on the source of an odd energy signal. Then Ronin appears to Picard and knocks him out. They exhume Nana's body, and Nana wakes. Beverly catches on and destroys the candle, then shoots Ronin though she almost loves him. She is sorry to have eliminated the entity that made her ancestors so happy. This is one intriguing ghost story.

#15 “Lower Decks” This concerns promotion of lower ranking officers, who are much concerned with contacts and recommendations. Meanwhile the ship is near Cardassian space, and they have a wounded Cardassian in sick bay. He is actually a Federation operative. But the lady junior officer assigned to accompany him on his return is killed in the line of duty. That is a pall on all. This is a nice change of pace episode, showing another side of fleet operations.

#16 “Thine Own Self” Data seems to be suffering amnesia on a colony. He is carrying a radioactive artifact. They name him Jayden. Then he inadvertently shows his strength, amazing them. He learns to function well enough in this society. Then he is injured in the head and its metallic nature is revealed. Meanwhile the radioactivity sickens his host and the daughter Gia. He makes a liquid to cure it, and that helps. But the villagers distrust him and run a spear through his body. Then a party from the Enterprise comes and rescues him, getting him functioning again.

#17 “Masks” They encounter a rogue comet, en route for 87 million years. Something from it seems to be affecting the Enterprise's computer. They vaporize the shell of the comet, and inside is an 87 million year old structure. Then Data changes to the alien Ihat, who says Masaka is waking. And prostrates himself before Dianna Troi. He has the android equivalent of multiple personality disorder. Meanwhile the ship is being reconfigured. A piece of equipment becomes a writhing nest to snakes. The alien artifact is using the elements of the ship to create its own culture. Picard dons the mask of Korgano that Data made and back Ihat off, restoring the ship.

#18 “Eye of the Beholder” A junior officer, Lieutenant Kwan, suicides. He seemed normal almost to the end. Why did he suddenly turn suicidal? Deanna talks with Maddy, Kwan's girlfriend, and with his supervisor; both say he was normal. Then, in his workplace, Deanna experiences a sudden suicidal urge. Later she revisits it, with Worf as backup, and he disappears. She sees visions. Then Worf is back. She may have experienced an eight year old incident there, when the Enterprise was built. Later she talks with Worf, and they kiss and make love. They discover human remains that may have triggered memories. They plan to talk with Lieutenant Pierce, a person of interest, Deanna suffers hallucinations and tries to commit suicide. Worf saves her. She has relived an eight year old murder and suicide sequence. That is evidently what happened to Lt. Kwan.

#19 “Genesis” They are testing enhanced weapons, and a torpedo goes astray. Worf is upset; he is evidently suffering emotionally. He tears up his bed to sleep on the fragments. Deanna seems to be suffering too. She takes a bath in her uniform. Others are also reacting, including Riker. Something is spreading, causing mischief. Picard and Data return to the ship, and find it weirdly shut down. They find Deanna who has become an amphibian. The bridge is unmanned. Riker is an animal. The crew is de-evolving, becoming more primitive, victim of a virus. Some are transforming to completely different creatures. Data manages to develop a cure than slowly returns the ship's personnel to normal.

#20 “Journey's End” Wesley Crusher returns to the Enterprise, but seems ill at ease. Meanwhile there's a new treaty with the Cardassians, and some colonies have to be moved, including an American Indian one. But they don't want to go, as this echoes the malign experience on Earth. Wesley meets with an Indian seer, who enables him to have a vision of his late father, who tells him to follow his own course. He resigns from the academy, knowing that removing the Indians by force is wrong. Wesley tries to intervene, and discovers that the Indian sage is actually The Traveler, his alien mentor. They depart. Picard and the Cardassian leader confer with the Indian chief, and they decide to let the planet leave the Federation and became part of the Cardassian Empire. War is averted.

#21 “Firstborn” Worf is trying to educate his son Alexander about becoming a warrior, but the boy does not want to be a warrior. So they attend a Klingon ceremony. That impresses the boy. But Worf gets attacked, and his brother K'mtar intercedes, and also talks to the boy about Klingon culture. Who tried to ambush Worf? The Klingon Duras sisters Lursa and B'tar. So they go in search of them. Then Alexander returns from 40 years in the future, as K'mtar, trying to change the past, and make himself a warrior so he could protect Worf from a later, successful attempt at assassination. If he failed, he was going to kill himself as a child.

#22 “Bloodlines” A small probe projects a Ferengi holograph: the Bok Ferengi says
Picard killed his son 15 years ago, and now he will kill Picard's son, Jason Vigo. Picard did not know he had a son from a casual liaison 24 years ago, but it could be true. They rescue Jason from a cave, a genetic test indicates that he is Picard's son. Bok appears in Picard's room. Jason is not much interesting in getting to know his father. Bok appears again, swearing revenge. Jason has a neural condition that could kill him if untreated, so they are treating him. Then Bok manages to beam Jason to his own ship. Picard pursues and rescues him, but has learned he is not actually his son; Bok faked the record. Picard and Jason part amicably.

#23 “Emergence” Picard and Data are in a Shakespearean play rendition in the holodeck when a physical train passes through: the Orient Express. And the Enterprise jumped into warp just in time to save it from disaster, without human direction. Also, at least seven holodeck programs are overlapping scenes. The holodeck has control of the ship. They help the train move forward, and it moves the ship forward at warp 9. When a new life form occurs, it takes off, and control of the ship returns to the regular crew.

#24 “Preemptive Strike” Lieutenant Ro Laren returns. There is a distress call from a Cardassian ship, that seems to be under attack by several small Federation ships. This is odd. The attack by Maquis ships is in violation of the treaty. Someone is trying to stir up war. They send Ro as an undercover agent, as her history makes her credible as a rogue. She succeeds in hijacking medical supplies the Maquis need for their mission. Now they trust her. Instead of leading the Marquis into a trap, she aborts the mission, saving them, and joins them. Picard is not pleased, but perhaps understands.

#25 “All Good Things...” Picard seems to be time traveling in his own life, one moment being young, another moment being an old retired man in a vineyard. He is with Tasha when they first met, then back in the present, then back in the future. He suffers from Irumodic syndrome that messes up his awareness. He keeps seeing others laughing at him. In the course of these shifts we gain a picture of the future of these personnel. Worf is to be with Deanna. Picard marries Beverly. And Q appears. He is putting Picard and mankind on trial, and the decision is to destroy mankind. They go to the Devron system to investigate an anomaly in the neutral zone. Here time and anti-time are merging and annihilating each other. Q says that Picard causes the temporal anomaly at the beginning of life on Earth, and the anomaly is destroying mankind. They create it by firing from three different times, and destroy it by nullifying it from three times. They have saved humanity. And The Next Generation series has ended. I really enjoyed it, finding it a shade more intellectual and sensitive than the original Star Trek, and with impeccable taste in sightly ladies.

Deep Space Nine season 1, episode #1 “Emissary” This is an outlying station tear the Cardassian border. The station is attacked by the Borg, who have taken over Captain Picard. The station is destroyed as Commander Benjamin Sisko escapes. Three years later they are reconstructing the station. Sisko meets Picard on the Enterprise. Then the Ferengi Quark. And Major Kira. Chief O'Brien, formerly of the Enterprise. Lieutenant Dax, who only appears to be an attractive young human woman. Sisko and Dax travel through a stable wormhole. Meanwhile the station is attacked by the Cardassians. Then the wormhole opens by the station, and Sisko returns. The Cardassians back off. The presence of the wormhole makes this an area of strategic importance to the Federation, changing the picture. Sisko, in doubt about remaining, has changed his mind. I suspect the actor was chosen for his remarkable evocative voice; it has a smoky quality that stands out in a way his appearance does not.


DS9 #2 “Past Prologue” A Bajoran officer, Tahna Loss, is chased by Cardassians and seeks refuge at the station. The Cardassian envoy Garak demands that Tahna be turned over to them. The Klingon women Lursa and B'tar arrive; Odo disarms them and lets them be, but watches them. They are troublemakers who show a lot of breast. Tahna is plotting to destroy the wormhole; Kira fights him, making her choice of sides: supporting Sisko and the station.

DS9 #3 “A Man Alone” This is a murder mystery. A visitor that security constable Odo doesn't like is abruptly stabbed to death. It looks as if only a shape shifter could have done it, and the only one on the station is Odo, the head of security. Sisko relieves him of duty, though he doesn't think he's guilty. Odo becomes a pariah. Then they find that the murder victim was a clone; in effect he killed himself to frame Odo.

DS9 #4 “Babel” Chief O'Brien. Is working continuously to fix a glut of problems, losing sleep. He starts not making sense. Kira takes him to Dr. Bashir. He has become aphasic. Then it happens to Dax. And to others. It's a virus that randomly reroutes mental signals. It quickly spreads throughout the station. It seems to be an artificial Bajoran virus left here 18 years ago. The doctor gets it. Sisko gets it. It's up to Kira, Odo, and Quark. And Kira gets it. They find the antidote, and things are slowly returning to normal.


DS9 #5 “Captive Pursuit” A small ship come through the wormhole, transported 90,000 light years. The pilot is Tosk. His ship needs repair. He refuses to reveal his mission. “Allow me to die with honor,” he says. Another ship comes through the wormhole. Three red suited figures beam aboard. This is a hunt, and Tosk is the prey. He lives to outwit the hunters, until he dies with honor. To be brought back alive would be his greatest humiliation. O'Brien helps him to resume the hunt. Sisko bawls him out, but tacitly helps. He understands.

DS9 #6 “Q-Less” And of course Q messes in with Deep Space Nine. Archaeologist Vash, an attractive and mischievous woman who once dated Picard, and also had an affair with Q, is passing through on business. She has a way with men of any species. But Q wants her back, and is guiding the space station into the wormhole where it will be torn apart, in the hope of persuading her to join him. Unless they can divert the power drain that is doing it. They succeed, barely in time. Q remains jilted.

DS9 #7 “Dax” Three strangers abduct Jadzia Dax, knocking her out. They catch a ship out, but a tractor beam hauls them back. Then they say they have a valid arrest warrant for her, for treason and murder that occurred 30 years ago. It is established that when a Trill goes to a new host, memories remain complete. It is a symbiosis, neither governing the other. Curzon Dax, the prior male, whom Sisko knew well, was an honorable man, incapable of what he is accused of. But his wife has a different impression. But Jadzia refuses to defend herself. Until the wife comes to testify that Curzon was in her bed at the time he is accused of sending the traitorous message. That ends the case. Jadzia did not want to tell.

DS9 #8 “The Passenger” Kira and Bashir answer a distress call, going out in a ship. They rescue Kajada, who was guarding a dangerous prisoner Vantika, who is dead—if he really is dead. He may be using a portion of another person's brain. Maybe Kajada's. Or Bashir's. A Federation security officer Primmin works with Odo. Vantika takes over Bashir's body and hijacks a ship. After a tense showdown they manage to enable Bashir to recover control and they banish Vantika.

DS9 #9 “Move Along Home” A Wadi ship comes through the wormhole, for First Contact. But all the Wadi want is to play games. They turn out to be excellent gamblers, consistently winning. Then Sisko, Dax, Bashir, and Kira get trapped in some alternate frame where they have to play a child's game and go through mazes to make progress. Odo is left to figure things out, along with Quark. They are caught in a deadly game whose rules they don't know. They lose but survive: it is only a game. The Wadi move on.

DS9 #10 “The Nagus” The Ferengi will have an important conference at the station. This is of course mischief. The Grand Nagus conducts it. There are millions of new worlds to exploit in the Gamma Quadrant, that are not familiar with the dubious reputation of the Ferengi. Quark is assigned to lead the effort as the new Grand Nagus. That makes him a target for assassination by his brother, who wants to take over. He is saved by his father, who isn't dead after all. So he loses the position, which is surely just as well.

DS9 #11 “The Vortex” There is an altercation, and a killing, and Odo learns that there may be other shape shifters like him in the sector. But Croden, the only one who can take him to them, is a conniving criminal being returned to his world for justice. They pick up. Croden's daughter on the way, and Odo gives them passage to a Vulcan planet, sparing Croden.

DS9 #12 “Battle Lines” Opaka the Kai visits and they take her on a tour into the wormhole. Sisko, Kira, and Bashir operate the ship. They encounter others, are fired on, and crash on a planet. Opaka is killed. It's a prison planet. Then Opaka revives. Also a dead prisoner. They are in chronic war. But they can't leave this planet or they will die. But all they want is to destroy their enemy. So they leave without Opaka. That is not a suitable answer.

DS9 #13 “The Storyteller” They are to negotiate a decision between Paqu and Navot, who are chronically at war. The course of a river has changed, butting land in the other territory. Who gets the land? The representative from Paqu is an attractive young woman, Varis. There is also a plague in a village on Bajor, so Bashir and O'Brien got there. The Dal'Rok comes, resembling a twisted cloud of smoke. Their dying leader, the Sirah, says O'Brien can stop it from destroying the village, just by standing up to it. And it works, as the Sirah dies. Now O'Brien must be the next Sirah, which he doesn't want. Meanwhile the boys, Jake and Nog, get in trouble, trying to cultivate Varis. O'Brien learns that the Dal'Rok is the manifestation of the villagers fears. The Sirah unifies the villagers to emotionally repel it. Finally the villagers accept the apprentice Sirah as the real Sirah, letting O'Brien off the hook, and Varis works out a compromise between the enemies.

DS9 #14 “Progress” The moon whose molten core they hope to tap for energy was supposed to have been evacuated by now, but there is a sign of life, so Nerys Kira beams down to check. There's a whole family there, determined to stay. Meanwhile Jake and Nog try to arrange a good deal for surplus merchandise, in this case self-sealing stem bolts. Kira likes the old farmer and sympathizes with his position, but she has to get him off the moon or he will die. Sisko likes Kira and understands her position, but reminds her that now she is on the other side. Finally she burns down the farm house and takes the old man off the planet, doing her job the hard way. It is touching and painful.

DS9 #15 “If Horses Were Wishes” O'Brien tells his daughter the Rumpelstiltskin story. Then Rumpelstiltskin appears in the flesh. Meanwhile Dax comes on to Bashir. He likes her very well, but doesn't trust this, as she has rejected his prior advances. She's a duplicate generated from his imagination; the real one still exists. In fact the two Daxes get into an argument about who is a cold fish. Delightful! A baseball player Sisko likes also appears from the holodeck. And an emu bird. Two sexy women for Quark. Something has turned the whole station into a holodeck of wish fulfillment. The figments get together and discuss the situation. So do the real folk. It's a rupture in space that is expanding; they need to end it. Kira experiences a scary hallucination that does disappear. They finally manage to end the rupture, and adjust their imaginations, and the figments disappear. Mostly. It seems there is a species that is observing the station, and this is part of that. A really fun episode.

DS9 #16 “The Forsaken” Four ambassadors visit and are a supreme bore. Betazoaid Lwaxana Troi, of prior series fame, is one of them. She says her brooch has been stolen. Odo finds it on a relative of the Ferengi, and Lwaxana is highly impressed. She comes on to him. Meanwhile an alien probe arrives, tumbling through space; they check it cautiously. The station computer malfunctions. Odo and Lwaxana are trapped for hours in an elevator. He has to dissolve every 16 hours, and the time comes upon him. She catches him in her apron. The station finally gets back in working order. Odo and Lwaxana are developing mutual respect. Another fun episode.

DS9 #17 “Dramatis Personae” a Klingon ship come through the wormhole and explodes. They manage to beam one Klingon aboard. He says “Victory!” and dies. Meanwhile Kira is convinced a Valerian ship is bringing weapon grade Dolomide to the Cardassians to be used against the Bajorans. She seems to be conspiring for power against Sisko. But Sisko does not seem entirely rational either. There seems to be a telepathic field that is causing people to choose sides for a confrontation. That's what happened on the Klingon ship. That's what destroyed it. Odo manages to eject the field into space, and the personnel return to normal. Close call.

DS9 #18 “Duet” A freighter docks, and has an ill passenger, Marritza, who is beamed directly to the infirmary. Kira checks, and asks for immediate security. She recognizes him as a Cardassian criminal whose disease must have been acquired at a notorious labor camp, Gallitep. She interviews him, and his story differs; he was only a file clerk. But when they check a picture, they discover that he was not a file clerk, but the camp leader, Gul Darhe'el. He is proud of what he did, running a completely orderly camp, killing Bajorans. Further investigation indicates that Gul died six years ago. The prisoner had surgical alteration of his face to resemble Gul. He is actually Marritza, torn by guilt for the crimes he was unable to stop. He's really on the same side as Kira. So they release him—but a Bajoran murders him simply because he is a Cardassian. A powerful episode, reminiscent of the horrors and passions of World War II.

DS9 #19 “In the Hands of the Prophets” O'Brien's wife is now a teacher, teaching science, not religion. A Bajoran woman, Vedek (priestess) Winn, says this is blasphemy and must not continue. The teacher refuses to delete science from the program. So it is war. Most of the Bajoran children stop attending the school. There also has been a murder of a crewman. Then the school gets bombed. O'Brien's assistant Neela, a Bajoran, is evidently part of a plot. It is increasingly apparent that there is more here than a simple difference of philosophy. It turns out to be a plot to prevent a more liberal Vedek from assuming leadership. This is another hard-hitting episode, addressing the problem of religion vs. science. It is clear that Deep Space Nine is ready to explore challenging issues. This ends Season One. I am favorably impressed.

DS9 Season 2 #1 “The Homecoming” A Balsic freighter captain gives Quark an earring to deliver to Bajor, saying any Bajoran will know what it is. He takes it to Kira, who does recognize it. It is from Bareil Li Nalas, a Bajoran resistance leader presumed dead; she must rescue him. Meanwhile the emblem of The Circle appears; that movement believes that Bajor should be for the Bajorans alone. Sisko is wary of that. Kira and O'Brien take a runabout to Bajor, theoretically to deliver a delicacy to an important figure. They land at a work camp, finding a number of Bajorans there. There are supposed to be no Baroran prisoners remaining. They rescue six in a pitched battle. The Cardassian commander apologizes and also returns the four prisoners they had to leave behind. Li Nalas has returned to unify Bajor at last. It badly needs it, but he does not want to do it. He says his reputation is based on an exaggerated story; he is not the man they think he is. He is appointed to be the new Bajoran liaison officer, replacing Kira. That pleases none of them: Kira, Li Nalas, or Sisko.

DS9 S2 #2 “The Circle” It seems that Kira has been promoted, but she is going extremely reluctantly, and none of the station officers wants her to go. For now she goes to the monastery, associating with Li Nalas. Bajoran unrest continues. Odo, in the form of a rat, is evidently checking out a ship suspected of running guns. Kira is abducted from the monastery and learns that Minister Essa Jaro runs the Circle and means to take over the government of Bajor. Sisko leads a raiding party on the Circle's headquarters and rescues Kira. But ships are converging, and the station must be evacuated. The Cardassians seem to be in the verge of taking over Bajor again, and the station, and the invaluable wormhole.

DS9 S2 #3 “The Siege” Sisko means to stay to oversee the station evacuation, theoretically. Actually to try to delay things long enough for the Cardassian plot to be revealed. He releases the others to depart, but all of them elect to remain. But they will evacuate their families. The troops arrive and board the station, finding no one there. Until they get quietly ambushed. Meanwhile Kira and Dax locate and activate a ten year old shuttle and fight off other craft. Kira can pilot, and Dax has memories from one of her former hosts that has technical expertise. In the end they manage to show the Bajoran general that the Cardassians are behind it, and that ends that plot. Bajor has been saved.

DS9 S2 #4 “Invasive Procedures” A plasma storm forces a temporary evacuation of the station, with only a skeleton crew. Klingons invade and take over the station, having had Quark disable the security system. What do they want? Their leader Verad wants Dax—not the girl, but the sympbiont. They set Verad and Dax up in parallel beds in the infirmary and the symbiont is transferred. Now Verad has Dax's memories, while Dax herself is dying. Mareel, the girlfriend, is sure she remains so, but Sisko tells her she isn't. It is apparent that Verad is not the same man he was. Then Sisko shoots Verad, and they transfer the symbiont back to Dax. So they have Dax back, whole.

DS9 S2 #5 “Cardassians” Garak is a Cardassian tailor who does business with Bajorans, which requires considerable mutual trust, as their species are passionate enemies. A Bajoran man and his adopted Cardassian son, twelve year old Rugal, visit the station, and the boy bites Garak on the hand. That precipitates an investigation. Gul Dukat, the Cardassian leader, wants this clarified. There may be more going on here than shows. They separate Rugal from his father in order to learn more about him, and he stays with O'Brien and Keiko and plays with their four year old daughter. He turns out to be the son of a prominent Cardassian official, who thought he was dead and is eager to reclaim him. Sisko must arbitrate to decide where the boy goes. He decides to return him to his natural father, and the boy reluctantly goes. It is as much a political decision as a family one.

DS9 S2 #6 “Melora” A new cartographer comes, pretty Melora Pazlar. She is from a low gravity planet and needs a kind of powered wheelchair to get about, but she is fiercely independent, declining to accept much help. Meanwhile an old friend, Fallit Kot, comes to see Quark, saying he has come to kill him. Melora entertains Bashir in her non-gravity suite; she's not at all weak or helpless there. He finds a treatment that enables her to walk normally in this gravity. She must move on, but she has enjoyed her stay here, especially with Bashir. And Quark buys his way out of trouble.

DS9 S2 #7 “Rules of Acquisition” Quark becomes a negotiator for the Nagus, with the chance to make a fabulous profit. The Dosi will hold a conference here. He enlists smart assistant, Pel—who turns out, in private, to be female. Ferengi females are not allowed out of the house, but she pretended to be male and has done well. Until she fell in love with Quark. That complicates things. It is not clear to me whether this torpedoes the big deal.

DS9 S2 #8 “Necessary Evil” This is a murder mystery. Quark gets shot and robbed. His brother Rom gets accused, though he didn't do it. Gul Dukat asks Odo to investigate the murder of a Bajoran. The widow points out a suspect: a girl her husband was having an affair with. Odo questions the girl, who says no, no affair, just an acquaintanceship. Quark was shot for a list of names of Bajoran collaborators with the Cardassians. Kira was involved, needing the list to find out who was betraying the resistance. I am not clear what happened when, who who killed whom, but Odo was quite sharp, observing details few would catch, and did figure it out.

DS9 S2 #9 “Second Sight” Sisko meets lovely Fenna, who is passing through. He offers to show her around the station, but she is gone. Professor Seyetik visits, a terraformer. Fenna reappears, highly approachable, but quickly departs when he asks her about herself. She turns out to be Seyetik's wife Nidell! Only she says she never met him before, and there's no record of anyone accompanying Seyetik. Then Fenna reappears, says she thought she was looking for a place to stay, but realizes now that she was looking for a person. She kisses him, and disappears, fading out before him. Then she reappears in his room. It turns out that Nidell is a psycho-projector, and Fenna is her projection. Nidell is unconscious and dying; Fenna doesn't know she is just energy, an illusion. The professor, conscious of the situation, commits suicide, to free her. But she fades, and Nidell can't remember her, and goes home. The woman of Sisko's dreams was only a dream. My favorite episode so far.

DS9 S2 #10 “Sanctuary” The musician Varani plays so beautifully that Quark is distraught; folks are listening instead of eating, drinking, and gambling, and profits are down. Meanwhile a ship is in trouble and stops for repairs, but the translators can't handle their language so there is no verbal communication. Gradually the translators catch on, and dialogue is established. They are the Skyrreeans. Three million of their people need to be brought through the Eye of the Universe—the wormhole--here. They were virtual slaves to another culture, but escaped what that culture was destroyed by a third culture. Now they are refugees. There seems to be an ideal planet for them, but the Skirreeans want to go to Bajor. They refuse to listen to reason. They go to the other planet, feeling betrayed.

DS9 S2 #11 “Rivals” Odo arrests a con man, Martus. In a cell with an ailing man who dies, he takes a gambling device that resembles a child's toy. Meanwhile Bashir plays racketball with O'Brien and wipes him out. Martus, released, resumes his con man ways. He's good at it, and Quark resents it. But a run of bad luck occurs at the station, with people suffering minor injuries, computer foul-ups, etc. Quark promotes a big match between Bashir and O'Brien, to raise money. Dax discovers that neutrinos on the station are spinning the wrong way. This seems to affect luck, making highly improbable things happen. The “toy” is doing it. They destroy the toy and normalcy returns.

DS9 S2 #12 “The Alternate” Dr. Mora Pol comes to the station. He was the scientist at the lab where they were figuring Odo out. Mora thinks they may have discovered the origin of Odo's kind. They go there and beam up a stone monument—and the ground shakes and they barely escape. They have a life form, but it escapes and trashes the lab. Mora is ailing. There is a 43 second gap in the security camera record. Then a blob attacks Bashir. Mora suspects that the blob is actually from Odo, when he's in his gelatinous state. He's right. They lure the thing into a force field and it materializes into Odo. They eliminate the aspect that is messing him up; he should be okay now.

DS9 S2 #13 “Armageddon Game” Bashir and O'Bcien are helping another station eliminate their stockpile of gene disruptors, the harvesters, left over from a war. One more weapon remains to be destroyed. Then raiders shoot the personnel; only Bashir and O'Brien escape, barely. Ambassadors tell Sisko that O'Brien accidentally caused a security device to flood the station with radiation and kill everyone aboard. That's a lie; something more is evidently afoot. They are out to kill all who know anything about the harvester virus, so that it can't ever be replicated, and that includes Bashir and O'Brien. And O'Brien has been infected by the harvester virus. Keiko views the recording and realizes that part of it is wrong. Sisko catches on and he and Dax manage to rescue them.

DS9 S2 #14 “Whispers” O'Brien is reviewing a wrongness. Keiko and their little girl Molly are acting oddly, and so are others. He suspects that they are not the real ones. He tries to check via the computer, but access is denied to key files, as of his return from the Parada system. He talks with Odo, who promises to check into it. But then Odo demurs, and he realizes that Odo, also, has been compromised. Then Sisko and others come, and he fights them off and escapes. But now he is a fugitive and they are searching for him. He beams himself to a shuttle and takes off. He contacts the admiral, who tells him to turn around and go back to the station. Instead he enters the wormhole and goes to the Parada system. He is pursued, but hides, then beams down to Parada II, were he is caught and turns out to be a replica himself. They don't know what his programmed mission was, but the replica believed he was the original. I love there paranoid adventures!

DS9 S2 #15 “Paradise” They explore for good locales to set up new colonies. Sisko and O'Brien beam to a promising forested planet and are challenged. People were on their way to colonize elsewhere and had to land here, where no electronic equipment works, and have been here ten years. They have made a viable community governed by Alexus, but there are aspects that are not nice. It is really a dictatorship, masked as beneficial reforms. They punish Sisko because O'Brien tried to make his transporter work. O'Brien continues, and locates the buried device that suppresses technological activity, and turns it off. Now their phasers work. Now rescue is at hand, and all can be evacuated. But most of the community elects to remain.

DS9 S2 #16 “Shadowplay” Odo and Dax go to investigate odd particles beyond the wormhole. Dax hints that a woman is interested in Odo, but he's not interested in any romance. They learn that 22 people have mysteriously disappeared over the last few months. Odo interviews Taya, the child daughter of the last one to disappear, and really likes her. She is really curious about his shape changing, but he demurs. It turns out that the whole village is populated by holograms: illusory people, who don't know they're not real. In fact they have been marrying and having children. Exactly what is reality, anyway? These people seem real enough. But the projector is breaking down. That's why they are disappearing. Dax fixes it, and they are all back. Before he leaves, Odo performs one shape change for Taya, becoming a fancy jug, then returning to human.

DS9 S2 #17 “Playing God” Arjin comes to visit Jadzia Dax. He's a prospective host for a trill, here for field training. Dax has a reputation for eliminating candidates. On the way, their shuttle collides with something, and they bring it in to the lab for analysis. It is a proto universe, destined to grow into a new universe. As it does, it will destroy this one. They need to contain it. But there's an indication of life in it, which could be advanced. They don't want to risk destroying it. They will take it back through the wormhole, to get it to where it can safely expand. This requires precision flying, but they get through. Dax will give Arjin a good recommendation.

DS9 S2 #18 “Profit and Loss” A Cardassian ship is in trouble. They bring it in and work on repairs. On it is a pretty Cardassian woman, Natima. Quark knows her and loves her, from seven years ago, but she wants nothing to do with him. The ship was attacked by another Cardassian ship. It seems they had an affair, but he stole money from her and she felt betrayed. Garak, a Cardassian who has been here, says the visitors are rebels that the government is hunting down. Quark has a cloaking device that can help them escape, but he wants Natima to stay with him. She agrees; she does love him. But the provisional Bajoran government has agreed to turn them over, and this is a Bajoran station; their will governs. They depart, using the cloaking device. Maybe Natima will return one day.

DS9 S2 #19 “Blood Oath” Dax in a prior host, as Curzon, swore a blood oath with three Klingons for vengeance against the Albino. Now they have found the hidden enemy. 80 years ago they set out to eliminate the predators, but one escaped and killed Dax's godson. Curzon swore vengeance for that. Jadzia Dax inherited that oath. Sisko tells her not to go, but she joins the three Klingons and they raid the Albino's well defended compound. They kill the Albino, but the Klingons die in the action. Jadzia returns to resume her duties, and Sisko does not challenge her.

DS9 S2 #20 “The Maquis. Part I” A Cardassian ship implodes as it departs the station. It can't be an accident. The Cardassian Gul Dukat appears, saying he wants to help Sisko. Indeed, something is going on. Meanwhile Quark dialogues with the pretty Vulcan lady Sakonna, who wants to buy weapons. There is a group called the Marquis involved. Sisko, Kira, Gul Dukat and others get abducted. There is real mischief here.
DS9 S2 #21 “The Maquis Part II” It seems that Sisko's friend Cal has joined the Maquis. Sisko refuses to join him. Sisko and a party rescue Dukat. Thus Sisko and Dukat become unusual allies. Dukat is quite effective in hardball negotiation. Quark lectures Sakonna about sensible strategy, and he makes sense: better to establish peace now, than escalate to war. Sisko manages to stifle this outbreak, but fears he has only delayed the inevitable.

DS9 #22; “The Wire” the Cardassian Garak is ill. It seems that the Cardassian Obsidian Order is involved, and that's devious mystery. Something has been implanted in him that alleviates the pain of the local environment. He was once important in the Obsidian Order. Bashir is determined to find a cure. He does, and Garak recovers.

DS9 #23; “Crossover” This is an alternate reality episode, where the actors get to play entirely different roles. Some nice ones are now mean ones. Those are fun. Bashir and Kira are returning in a shuttle from a spot mission, but run afoul of an anomaly in the wormhole. They discover the station with the same personnel playing different roles. It is an alternate reality where Cardassians and Klingons are allied. Kira talks with herself in this frame, who is the cold-blooded leader, and her alternate understands the situation. Several others do too, but they are playing their own roles. Sisko laughs all the time. Garak wants her help for him to take over the station, but betrayal is treacherous. Sisko helps them reach a shuttle and escape. Oh, are they glad to be back!

DS9 #24; “The Collaborator” Vedek Bareil, Kira's boyfriend, is visiting. In two days he will be elected kai. He is running against Vedek Winn, and there was trouble the last time she was on the station. Bareil suffers a warning vision of his betrayal and death. Kira investigates, and learns that there are conflicting versions of who was responsible for a massacre of Bajorans. Vedek Beku? Another Vedek? A key section of the records is restricted, and the files erased. By Vedek Bareil? Yes, he betrayed the rebels in order to save many times their number of innocent Bajorans. But is that all? No, Kira learns that he is accepting the falls for the late Kia Opaka, to preserve her reputation.

DS9 #25; “Tribunal” O'Brien and Keiko take a vacation, but their shuttle is intercepted by the Cardassians, who arrest him for some undefined crime, his execution already scheduled in the manner of their law. His lawyer is Kovat. Odo will be his nestor, or adviser, as he qualifies by Cardassian law. Someone has planted weapons in his runabout. Sisko investigates and discovers the Cardassian operative on the station, presents him to the court, and the judge realizes that the ploy is over and releases O'Brien. That's how you handle a stacked deck.

DS9 #26; “The Jem'Hadhar” The final episode of Season Two. Jake and Nog have a science project, and Quark insists on coming along, ruining Sisko's planned father/son time. Then on the forest planet Sisko and Quark get captured by a tribe that was chasing a woman, Eris. She's telekinetic, but the Dominion puts a collar on her to suppress her talent. The two boys are not captured, and get to the shuttle. The station comes to the rescue. O'Brien beams aboard the shuttle. Quark picks the lock on Eris' collar and frees her, and she then frees the three of them from confinement. Then the shuttle beams them aboard. They escape, but discover that Eris is actually an agent of the Dominion. She beams away. The mischief has only begun. We'll surely see it in Season Three

Having watched two seasons of Deep Space 9, I have to say that to my surprise I like it just as well as The Next Generation, and perhaps slightly better. In due course I will be watching Voyager and Enterprise, measuring them against the standard set by the first three series
PIERS
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