BookBin2010: The Lives of Dax

After struggling through two back-to-back book bummers, I decided to dip once more into my stash of reliable literary sorbet: Star Trek novels. Well, maybe not reliable (I’m still pissed off at Peter David for Before Dishonor), but quick and relatively brainless.

So, have I ever mentioned before how much I love the Trill? I think, after Bajorans, they’re one of my favorite Trek aliens. Maybe not in execution, which was always somewhat spotty (no pun intended), but in concept. I mean, think about it: It’s an entire race of people who at some point in their cultural evolution decided that, if they could just figure out some way of inserting giant slugs into their abdomens, they would finally be complete.

I’ve seen my share of slugs and snails before, but never once have I had an overwhelming urge to ingest one. Okay, maybe the ones sauteed in a nice butter herb sauce…but I don’t think that’s quite the Trill way of symbiotic bonding.

That’s one of the things that I always wanted answered about the Trill: How exactly did this symbiotic relationship begin? Who was that first Trill who went back to his or her peers and said, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea! You know those big slugs that live in those milky pools underground? Call me crazy, but I’ve got this hunch that one of those in my gut would be AWESOME!”

Maybe I’m just thinking about this too much. But it’s a bizarre thing to contemplate, to be sure. And not something that has an obvious answer. Maybe that’s why no one ever tried to answer it on any Trek series. It’s right up there with the question about how the Trill hosts/hostesses went from have lumpy foreheads to looking like Famke Janssen’s character from “The Perfect Mate.”

[For the record, Terry Farrell actually did test variations of the original Trill headpiece, but TPTB hated every attempt to make her an “attractive Trill.” Don’t believe me? Go to Memory Alpha’s Jadzia Dax page and scroll to the bottom. And never doubt Loba again.]

And don’t even get me started on how the Trill couldn’t use transporters in their TNG appearance while Jadzia and Ezri were beaming fools on DS9. Actually, there’s such an overwhelming amount if incongruity between the TNG Trill and the DS9 Trill that I might injure myself trying to figure it all out in the scope of this one post.

But yet again I’m derailing myself by my own insurmountable nerdiness.

Back on track: The Lives of Dax is just as the title indicates: a compilation of stories that give tiny glimpses into the lives of each host to carry within them the symbiont known as “Dax.” The book is broken down into a chapter apiece for each of Dax’s hosts: Lela, Tobin, Emony, Audrid, Torias, Joran, Curzon, and Jadzia (yes, even bad boy Joran gets his own chapter). Plus, there’s a chapter at the beginning and at the end for Ezri.

I always took slight umbrage at Ezri. Really, I took umbrage at how Paramount so royally screwed over Terry Farrell, and Nicole DeBoer’s presence was just a constant reminder of that bit of underhandedness. But that’s a rumor for another mill. Ezri never got a chance to develop properly on the show, but I’ve read books that deal much more adeptly with her character. Her portions of this novel are equally well-played, as are most of the other hosts.

Admittedly, some of the storylines were predictable. We get more about Torias’s shuttle accident, young Sisko’s first encounter with the “Old Man,” Joran’s homicidal side, etc. Standout stories were the ones for Audrid and Joran, ironically the two written/co-written by S.D. Perry, my new Trek author crush (take that, Peter David!). Biggest letdown for me was probably the Curzon Dax vignette. Happily, Jadzia’s story was unexpectedly strange but still satisfying.

Another bonus from this compilation are the appearances of others from the Trek universe: Odan, Leonard McCoy, Kathryn Janeway’s admiral father, Ben Sisko, Vic Fontaine, and a surprise appearance by a TNG alien species seen only once…but in a menacingly memorable episode.

Final Verdict: This solid offering, released as part of a DS9 10th anniversary celebration, definitely gets to stay. It was a wonderful way to wile away some time away from reality. Plus, you’re never going to hear me complain about getting to spend time with the lovely Dax. I just have to remember to keep it away from salt. So no margaritas. And no more bad slug jokes. Honest.