An original novel set in the universe of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine—a direct sequel to the New York Times bestselling story arc, The Fall!
Deep Space 9 is once again becoming an important way station in the Alpha Quadrant for many different people with many different agendas. Uniquely crewed by representatives of different species from both the Khitomer Powers and the Typhon Pact, the Federation science and exploration vessel Athene Donald stops at the station as its final port of call before heading into uncharted territories. The whole project is the brainchild of Dr. Katherine Pulaski, who hopes that science will do what diplomacy alone cannot, and help various powers put aside the tensions of recent years, returning to scientific research and the exploration of space.
On DS9, base commander Ro Laren has her hands full with the sudden arrival of a ragtag flotilla of small ships crewed by a group calling themselves the People of the Open Sky. Ro is not keen on handling this first-contact duty, but becomes increasingly intrigued by the People, who are made up of several hitherto unknown species. Describing themselves as explorers, they are interested in everything about the station. Ro begins to enjoy her assignment, particularly as she takes counsel from the logs of Jean-Luc Picard. Blackmer, however, is more suspicious about these apparently friendly arrivals and monitors their movements around DS9…
Of all the writers currently working in the Star Trek litverse, two of the finest are women. While Kirsten Beyer has been doing amazing things with the Star Trek Voyager storylines, Una McCormack is a little bit more eclectic, with a penchant for Deep Space Nine and the Cardassians. Her work, especially the Cardassia-centric The Never-Ending Sacrifice, have been must reads for most Treklit fans for the past few years and in The Missing she does not disappoint.
Picking up on numerous threads left hanging in the recent Star Trek books, The Missing follows three main storylines: Beverly Crusher settling in aboard Deep Space Nine, Katherine Pulaski aboard a civilian starship encountering a strange alien ship and a murder mystery aboard the new station. Within those storylines, McCormack continues to develop the DS9 characters, especially current commanding officer Ro Laren and security officer Jefferson Blackmer, while spinning out some new directions for such fan favourites as Odo. Characters from Brinkmanship, including the Tzenkethi Corazame and Starfleet Intelligence officer Alex Gardner, also appear and McCormack does a great job of developing them from where she left them in Brinkmanship. She also is able to use these characters to have a discussion on where Starfleet and the Federation as a whole seem to be heading in this Typhon Pact era.
Where McCormack does the best job, though, is definitely in her handling of Crusher and Pulaski. While Crusher's seeming abandonment of Jean-Luc Picard and their son could have been mishandled (see the fan reaction to Sisko's storyline in the early post-Destiny novels), McCormack instead makes it easy to understand and empathise with her decision. She also rehabilitates Pulaski, a character many TNG fans learned to dislike if not despise during her tenure on the show. Here Pulaski maintains her "difficult" personality but McCormack does enough to round out the edges without gutting the character. It really proved to be a fantastic handling of the character, and I hope McCormack gets a chance to return to her in the future.
All in all, the various storylines and characters are handled with style by McCormack, bringing a number of characters seen in recent novels to conclusions and new beginnings. At the same time, she manages to write more of a classic Trek novel, returning to the sort of adventures found in the beginning of the DS9 relaunch and boding well for what would appear to be a more exploratory, scientific direction for the Treklit verse in the coming months. The Missing shows again why McCormack is one of the finest Trek writers working today.
I gave The Missing 4 stars.