Thursday, April 25, 2024

A Plain and Simple Story

Deep Space Nine
was robbed of having follow up stories in motion pictures by the poor performance of the later Next Generation films. 

So sad. 

The series was excellent and I have had some desire to follow up in the novels. As usual, I am far behind in my reading. (Or perhaps "as always" would be more accurate.) I also wasn't familiar with many of the authors. 

However, since I learned of its existence, I have wanted to read A Stitch in Time, the follow up story of Garak, written by Andrew Robinson, the actor who portrayed him. Garak is my favorite character on the show, and I think accepted by most fans as one of the most (if not the most) interesting of the non-main cast. Robinson's excellent performance led to him being brought into the main storyline in an increased capacity as the show continued. He played a key role in one of the highest regarded episodes, "In the Pale Moonlight." he brought some of the darkest moments into that episode, and also one of the funniest in the series:

Garak- “I've locked him in his quarters. 
I've also left him with the distinct impression that if he attempts to force the door open, 
it may explode.”
Sisko- “I hope that's just an impression.”
Garak- “It's best not to dwell on such minutiae.”

I came to the show late, and the book has been out of print for quite a while. I'm old and don't read digital books. Refusing to pay well over a hundred dollars for a paperback left me with a problem until recently. 

The audio version of the book was released last summer, read by the author.

While I enjoy full on radio plays (the Douglas Adams ones, Flywheel Shyster and Flywheel, Big Finish Doctor Who) I've never been a fan of audio books, because I can usually read much faster than they are recorded, and have a better audio effects house in my brain than what gets put on tape.

A Stitch in Time is a huge exception due to Andrew Robinson.

This is a prequel, sequel and behind the scenes to the action of the Deep Space Nine television series. Three time periods of Garak's life intertwine in the narrative.
1) His past before his exile on Terok Nor from his childhood up to when the station was transferred to the Federation and became Deep Space Nine.
2) His personal thoughts and preparation before the invasion of Cardassia that took place during the final season of the series.
3) The reconstruction of Cardassia following the end of the Dominion War and show.

I listened in the car and it felt like I was driving around with Garak as he provided diverse, enthralling and entertainingly presented details about himself, his inner thoughts, his associates and Cardassian culture. 

Multiple events from the series, including every important Garak story beat I can remember, were brought up in context and critical to the story, not as simple fan service. 

I knew Garak was intriguing, and I knew Robinson was a fine actor, what I was not prepared for was his taking on the roles of all the other characters in the story rather than simply reading them.

While he did not do impressions of the inhabitants and visitors to Deep Space Nine, he was able to reproduce their timing, cadence and voice attitude. For new characters, he established similar characteristics. Therefore although it was Robinson reading the entire time, it was clear who was speaking for each part.

As to be expected with Garak, while multiple answers were provided about the character's shrouded past and possible future, many more questions were left open for further consideration.

Overall it was a wild, fun and enlightening experience, and one, now that various reveals are known to me, will be equally entertaining when I go back to listen to it again.

Robinson's list of acknowledgements included Armin Shimmerman. His Quark related novel The Thirty Fourth Rule inspired Robinson to do this. The Ferengi actor reads his own work as well. I'll have to check it out.

A Stitch in Time opens with what may be the most famous (and memed) Garak quote from the show, which is just as accurate for this tale as his appearances in the series.

Doctor Bashir- "So of the stories you told me, which ones were true?"
Garak- "My dear doctor, all of them were true."
Doctor Bashir- "What about the lies?"
Garak- "Especially the lies."

However, there's also an uplifting call back to another of his famous lines as he deals with the optimism and hope for the future of a man who believes Cardassia can be better than it has been. (And is also, ironically, the man Garak broke in an interrogation simply by sitting and staring at him for four hours referenced in an epiosde.)

"Perhaps there's hope for us yet."


longbow said...

If there's one thing I've learned from TV and movies, tailors are always spies.

Jeff McGinley said...

They do have a great many opportunities don't they?
Thanx for joining in.