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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Pliable Truths book review: An important story connecting DS9 and TNG

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Pliable Truths book review: An important story connecting DS9 and TNG
Image credit: Simon & Schuster

Discover the Untold Story of Cardassian Occupation in “Pliable Truths”

If you’re a fan of the powerful Star Trek: The Next Generation two-part episode “Chain of Command,” or the series premiere for the excellent TNG spin-off series Deep Space Nine, then author Dayton Ward has a treat for you in his newest book, Pliable Truths.

Serving as both a sequel to that two-parter where Cardassians torture Captain Picard, and a prequel to Commander Benjamin Sisko taking command of the Cardassian space station formerly known as Terek Nor, Pliable Truths fills in a gap in Star Trek lore we didn’t realize was rife for exploration. Indeed, Pliable Truths is a great example of how Star Trek literature can adeptly expand this sci-fi universe we know and love far beyond what we see on screen.

The Cardassian occupation of Bajor is over, in no small part due to the events of “Chain of Command,” and the Enterprise-D and her crew arrive at Terek Nor to oversee the earliest stages of a formal peace between the Bajorans and Cardassians. Captain Picard accepts the assignment with hesitation but willful determination, as just recently he was tied up and blinded by the infamous Gul Madred; the mental and physical scars from that encounter still linger.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Pliable Truths cover art
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Pliable Truths cover art | Credit: Simon & Schuster

A few issues confront the Starfleet crew, including Cardassians who already are trying to rewrite the history of their brutal occupation of the peaceful planet below; a mysterious poisoning on Bajor that brings together some of the Enterprise’s crew and a soon-to-be-well-known Bajoran resistance fighter; and elsewhere in a galaxy, evidence that the Cardassians are researching strange new ways to assert control over those they deem inferior.

It’s quite a bit to tackle for the veteran Ward, who marks this release as his 25th Star Trek publication. He knows this universe better than perhaps any other author, and it shows in his ability to weave complicated new story threads among previously established lore. While Pliable Truths may not be the best Star Trek novel out there thanks to its slow-burn nature, lower stakes, and lack of crucial climax common in most storytelling, that didn’t stop us from enjoying the valuable lore- and character-building Ward conjures from disparate Star Trek episodes.

Even though it’s a slow burn, that’s not to say there aren’t standout moments in this book. Quite the opposite. For instance, we got chills when Picard, who is mediating the Bajoran-Cardassian peace talks, finds his aforementioned torturer on the other side of the negotiating table. We also appreciate Ward connecting the dots for how and why Miles O’Brien was assigned to DS9, why the station was in such disrepair just before the events of DS9’s “The Emissary,” and how Picard ultimately finds some measure of peace after his recent ordeal with Gul Madred.

“It’s no surprise that victory over an opponent allows one to craft whatever version of facts they feel best serves them,” said Picard. “It could be as complex as the history of one civilization’s subjugation of another, or as simple as determining how many viewing ports are set into that bulkhead… Are there five ports, or only four?” – Picard to Madred during post-Occupation negotiation.

Pliable Truths is great of you are a fan of lore connections in the ever-expanding Star Trek universe; the intriguing Bajoran-Cardassian relationship that has always been representative of dark real-world history; and a simmering plot that features little action but much intelligent conversation and commentary on social justice and political maneuvering. No one can quite weave a Star Trek tale like Dayton Ward, and he picked a great spot in Star Trek history to practice his craft.

Pliable Truths is now available on Amazon.


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Written By

Kyle Hadyniak has been a lifelong Star Trek fan, and isn't ashamed to admit that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek: Nemesis are his favorite Star Trek movies. You can follow Kyle on Twitter @khady93.

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