Mission Gamma, Book Three: Cathedral
Written by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels
Publication Date: October 2002
Timeline: July 2376; following Mission Gamma, Book Two: This Gray Spirit
Progress: Ro and Sergeant Shul visit Shar’s quarters, where Thriss committed suicide. They gain zh’Thane’s consent to examine the scene in case it was murder rather than suicide, but they find no evidence of foul play.
Shar passes up the shuttle Sagan’s latest expedition, and mourns the loss of Thriss in his quarters aboard the Defiant instead, feeling like he may be overtaken by the same depression that led her to end her life. The Defiant then encounters an alien vessel pursuing another smaller ship, which has taken heavy damage. The crew appears to be an insectoid race. Universal translators fail to decipher their language, and after a brief exchange of fire, the Defiant drives the pursuer away and attempts to help their prey’s injured crew. Communication with the Sagan is lost.
It’s been two weeks since the peace talks between Bajor and Cardassia—negotiated respectively by Second Minister Asarem and by Ambassador Lang—broke down, and Gul Macet urges Kira to help get them back on track. She doesn’t feel comfortable revealing to Macet that Bajor’s negotiating intransigence stems directly from Shakaar, and so the matter is out of her hands. Two hooded Bajoran individuals not wearing the traditional faith-symbolizing earrings approach Kira and thank her for disseminating the Ohalu texts. Meanwhile, Taran’atar’s holosuite combat is interrupted by the appearance of Vic Fontaine.
Aboard the Sagan, Ezri, Bashir and Nog are investigating a unique energy resonance in a nearby system’s Oort cloud. Without warning, an inter-dimensional alien artifact—the eponymous “cathedral”—appears, as large as four Galaxy-class starships and half a billion years old. Hailing attempts by the Sagan trigger the transmission of a huge text file. The shuttle’s energy readings go bonkers, presumably as it passes through the artifact’s “dimensional wake.” The Sagan then receives a transmission from the Defiant: Prynn Tenmei informs them that the Defiant has wounded aboard and requires the doctor’s return. The Sagan sets a course back.
Vedik Yevir is visited by Cerin Mika, who was once involved with Dukat’s Pah-wraith cult on Empok Nor, and who gave birth to a half-Bajoran, half-Cardassian child. She is the niece of Vedek Solis Tendren, and is now involved with the Ohalavaru, “Ohalu’s truthseekers.” She wishes Yevir to rescind Kira’s Attainder, but he refuses. Seeing her child, though, makes him think of the jevonite statue that Kasidy gave him, which also appears to represent a melding of the Bajoran and Cardassian peoples. Inspired by this idea of unity, he books a transport to DS9.
The Sagan returns to the Defiant, and each member of the away team begins experiencing strange symptoms. Ezri initially feels spacesick, Nog’s artificial leg itches, and after lowering the gravity in the sickbay to help with the treatment of the eight surviving aliens, Bashir has an unusual moment of clumsiness with an exoscalpel that ends up further harming one of them.
On the station, Ro continues to deal with the aftermath of Thriss’s suicide, as Andorian custom calls for the three surviving bondmates to assemble in shared grief before Thriss’s body can be interred or autopsied. Dizhei has drugged Anichent to prevent him from succumbing to despair and suicide. Later, Ro and Quark confirm another forthcoming holosuite date. Gul Macet requests immediate departure clearance from the station, and Kira grants it. Unbeknownst to her, Yevir has hatched a plan that involves working with Macet.
Ezri has collapsed: her body is rejecting the symbiont, and Bashir is forced to remove it in order to temporarily save the lives of both Ezri and Dax. Meanwhile, Nog is sprouting a new limb from the stump of his leg, which had been lost in battle. During his surgery on Ezri, Bashir makes another mistake, confusing boramine and isoboramine, thereby endangering the symbiont’s life. In order to remember what the counteragent is, he enters his memory “cathedral,” where he has a powerful memory of an old doctor he knew at Starfleet Medical. Though he ultimately saves Ezri and Dax, Bashir realizes that he isn’t immune from whatever affected the three of them on the Sagan.
With the historic entry of Bajor into the Federation only one day away, Shakaar and Asarem, who will officiate the signing, arrive on the station. Taran’atar discovers an affinity for root beer floats at Quark’s, and Quark talks to him about Vic Fontaine. The Trill diplomatic aide Hiziki Gard, in charge of security for the Federation delegations during the signing ceremony, asks Ro out to dinner, but she declines, since she already has plans with Quark.
Ezri somehow recovers after the removal of the Dax symbiont, returning to full health and active duty. Shar makes limited progress in deciphering the alien language, establishing that their designation for the alien artifact is “cathedral/anathema.” Krissten Richter, Bashir’s chief assistant, determines that Bashir, Nog, and Ezri are all exhibiting the same unusual quantum resonance pattern that Tenmei detected coming from the shuttle—and it’s increasing with time. They realize that each of them is reverting to an earlier version of him- or herself. In Bashir’s case, his genetic enhancements are being undone. Shar’s translation work allows for limited communication with the aliens, named the D’Naali. Vaughn requests that one of their crew act as a guide to help them find a cure in the alien artifact for whatever is afflicting his three senior officers. The aliens who had originally been pursuing the D’Naali, called the Nyazen, re-appear, closing fast and powering up their weapons.
Taran’atar decides to pay Vic Fontaine a visit, and runs into Admiral Akaar in the holosuite, where they discuss the concept of faith.
Macet, one of his officers, and Yevir arrive in the ruins of Lakarian City, where they meet up with Cleric Ekosha, a boy named Mekor (one of Dukat’s children), and Garak. On Cardassia, the Oralian Way has recently been legitimized, and Garak proposes a plan of action to help Bajor and Cardassia with the stalled peace talks.
The Defiant retreats, and Nyazen ships form a blockade around the alien artifact. Vaughn asks Nog and Shar to figure out a way to transport to the artifact without being detected. Ezri struggles with the loss of the knowledge and experiences of the Dax symbiont. Nog has a heart-to-heart with Shar, who reveals his devastation at Thriss’s death.
Quark and Ro have their date on the holosuite at Vic’s, where Ro reveals that after much soul-searching she’s decided that she can’t wear a Starfleet uniform again. Vic suggests to Quark that once Bajor becomes part of the Federation, Quark and Ro should go into business together, an idea that immediately appeals to Quark. General Lenaris Holem visits Kira and reveals that he is now following in the path of Ohalu. He asks Kira to openly join this group, but she declines, even when Holem dangles the carrot of a possible reversal of her Attainder.
Bashir’s regression continues, impairing all his faculties. Nog and Shar figure out that the alien artifact was originally designed as an inter-dimensional energy collector. Something went wrong and it ended up destroying the planet of those who created it. The D’Naali describes the effects being experienced by Ezri/Dax, Nog and Bashir as “misaligned worldlines.” With this Shar concludes that they are becoming unmoored from this reality and are at risk of being sent to an alternate universe with a different quantum signature. They must get inside the artifact in order to undo this.
Vedek Solis Tendren, having embraced the prophecies of Ohalu and announced his candidacy for kaiship, makes a case with the Assembly to remove Kira’s Attainder, but comes up short on votes.
Ezri asks to be relieved of duty, but Vaughn denies her request. Nog devises a plan to use the Oort cloud bodies as platforms for self-replicating transporter relays that will vastly augment the Defiant’s transporter range. The crystalline bodies’ natural subspace resonance patterns should also cloak the transporter beam from the Nyazen. The plan is high risk, but having witnessed the three affected officers vanish for a second, pulled into an alternate universe, Vaughn gives the go-ahead.
Yevir, Macet, Garak and Ekosha, donning radiation suits, venture into the sub-basements of a Cardassian facility once maintained by the Obsidian Order.
Nog, Ezri/Dax and Bashir are successfully transported to the cathedral using Nog’s ingenious plan. But several Nyazen blockade ships break away from the main group and approach the Defiant at high speed; with no choice but to withdraw into the system’s interior, the Defiant loses its transporter lock on the away team.
Vedek Capril’s sermon in the shrine is interrupted by a group of Ohalu followers, who cast off their earrings and invoke the name of Kira Nerys. Shakaar calls in security and asks for them to be arrested. Ro struggles to keep the situation under control, but when Kira herself makes an appearance and asks the protesters to move out in a quiet and orderly fashion, things settle down. Ro then seeks out Kira and tells her she’ll be leaving her post as the station’s chief of security once the Federation ceremony is complete.
Ezri, the Dax symbiont, and Nog experience extremely vivid versions of alternate lives aboard the alien artifact.
Ro is busy with security preparations for the imminent ceremony when she gets word from Etana Kol that the Trager has returned to the station, with Vedek Yevir onboard, and that he and Macet are excited about something but won’t say what it is.
Julian has his own immersive trip into alternity and his pre-enhancement past, which leads him to the epiphany that the boy he used to be, Jules, has never really left him.
On the Promenade, Yevir gives a long speech about collaboration and trust with the followers of Cardassia’s Oralian Way, led by Cleric Ekosha. He then reveals that together they retrieved all four missing Bajoran Orbs—the Orb of Truth, the Orb of Destiny, the Orb of Souls, and Orb of Unity—which will now be returned to Bajor. Shakaar is furious about this, and pulls out a small silver box in which he studies his reflection. Asarem shares with Shakaar that she has received a communiqué from Ambassador Natima Lang, who in the wake of Yevir’s announcement wants to resume talks between Cardassia and Bajor, but he is dismissive of it. Asarem worries about what Shakaar’s real agenda for Bajor’s future might be.
Shar’s antenna tip him off to the fact that the D’Naali possess an internal electromagnetic organ that allows them to communicate via subspace, a kind of low-level subspace telepathy. Vaughn then realizes that the Nyazen aren’t trying to prevent the D’Naali from worshiping the artifact, but rather from destroying it. He negotiates a temporary alliance with the Nyazen to successfully retrieve the away team.
Back on Earth, in New Orleans, Joseph Sisko, who has been struggling since the disappearance of both his son Benjamin and his grandson Jake, collapses in his garden. His body is discovered by a member of the Creole Kitchen’s staff, Gabrielle Vicente.
Vaughn files his report on the alien artifact, and as the Defiant sets out on a new trajectory through unexplored Gamma Quadrant sectors on its homeward journey, the crew discusses various scientific and metaphysical interpretations of recent events.
During the historic Federation ceremony, Hiziki Gard assassinates Shakaar.
What you don’t leave behind: A myriad of continuity threads in this one, both to episodes and previous novels. They all feel organically integrated into the story—the kinds of memories that would naturally come up in the circumstances, rather than fan service. Some of my favorites:
If the other novels contained references to the events of the comic book miniseries Divided We Fall, they failed to make an impression, but this one was clear and apposite: “…Back when she had been Jadzia Dax, and Verad Kalon had forced him to remove the symbiont from her body. Jadzia’s voice, weak and fading, spoke from his private citadel of memory: Don’t blame yourself, Julian. You did everything you could.”
The episode “Melora”, on reasonable grounds, tends to not be a fan favorite, but I nevertheless have a sentimental weakness for it. Its reference here, when Bashir interacts with the naturally-low-grav D’Naali, pleased me: “The creature’s quivering, willowy limb brought to mind the time he had spent with Ensign Melora Pazlar, whose thin Elaysian bones were probably just as frail because of her homeworld’s low gravity.”
What pleased me even more was that another bit of that same episode, which I think is essential Bashir backstory, later surfaced when Bashir remembers a formative experience that led him to medicine: “The death of that poor little girl back on Invernia II, which he had witnessed at the tender age of ten, had occurred because an ion storm had prevented anybody from reaching a doctor in time—and because nobody had known that a local herb could have saved her from the fever that took her life.”
A recollected version of Dr. Elizabeth Lense, who beat Bashir for the valedictorian position at Starfleet Medical Academy, brings up the error that kept him a salutatorian: “You’ll never confuse a preganglionic fiber with a postganglionic nerve ever again.”
Kukalaka, who appeared at a key moment in Avatar, Book Two, is in the Gamma Quadrant! He’s put to poignant use in this scene: “She [Ezri] recognized Kukalaka, Julian’s childhood teddy bear, which she had once been amused to discover that he still owned. Until now she hadn’t realized that he had brought it along with him to the Gamma Quadrant. Then she saw the crazy quilt of razor-thin, intersecting lines across the stuffed creature’s abdomen. Obviously Julian had been using Kukalaka to practice whatever surgical skills he could still remember.”
Worf’s grief at the loss of Jadzia is vividly recalled by Vic Fontaine: “The guys in the band are still jumpy from all those times Worf went berserk in here last year.”
Speaking of grief, Ro ruminates on events described in “Ensign Ro” but thankfully realizes that she’s no longer defined by them: “And there had been her father’s grisly death at the hands of Cardassian torturers, which she had witnessed at the tender age of seven. But she also knew that it was possible to survive such horrors.”
An incident that occurred off-screen during the show’s sixth season here serves as useful backstory for Vedek Solis:
Kira would never forget the quarrel she had had with Odo more than a year earlier, after the constable had briefly detained Solis for conducting charitable fund-raising activities aboard the station without a permit. The vedek’s actions had brought some quick, desperately needed relief to Bajoran flood victims. Like Odo, the man she had fallen in love with, Solis usually wasn’t one to place the niceties of paperwork ahead of the urgent needs of people.
It makes sense to see the consequences of the Europani evacuation continue to play out—that was a big deal: “They had discussed the effect that the Europani refugees were having on the North-west Peninsula lands to which they had been temporarily relocated; the local water tables were falling, and food supplies were stretched to the limit.”
Ezri recalling the events of “Afterimage”: “…her apparent failure to help Mr. Garak cope with his claustrophobia during the war.”
A strategy devised during “Call to Arms” continues to pay dividends in the form of spin-off applications:
“The whole idea reminds me,” Bowers said, “of the self-replicating mines Starfleet set up outside the wormhole during the war to discourage the Dominion from bringing reinforcements into the Alpha Quadrant.” Nog swelled with familial pride. Those mines had been conceived by his father, Rom, the year before he became the grand nagus of the Ferengi Alliance.
“Parallels” is alluded to by Vaughn, right after Shar debriefs him on the phenomenon of quantum resonance pattern drift afflicting the Sagan’s crew: “Vaughn recalled some of the mission files he had read during his brief time aboard the Enterprise shortly before coming to DS9. About six years ago, a member of Jean-Luc Picard’s crew had experienced something quite similar.” And you know what? Just like Worf, who won Champion Standing in that adventure, this crew too, despite alternative universe drift, proves triumphant!
Your journey’s end lies not before you, but behind you: The prophecy cited in Mission Gamma, Book One—“When the children have wept all, anew will shine the twilight of their destiny”—pops up twice. The first time is when Kira is beating herself up for her role in potentially dividing the Bajoran people, where it takes on a consolatory meaning. The second is during a powerful moment of emotional release, during which Kira embraces Vedik Solis right after learning that the four lost Orbs are being returned to her people. Is this then the twilight of Bajor’s destiny, rather than entrance into the Federation? Or will there be yet a third alternative? Prophecies are fun.
Don’t tell me you’re getting sentimental: Kira continues to be put through the ringer, with at least two moments of major self-doubt: 1) “‘Maybe Vedek Yevir was right about me all along. Maybe what I did was rash and unthinking and stupid. Maybe I’ve only begun to reap the condemnation I’m due.’” 2) “What have I done to Bajor? Kira thought, surveying the wreckage of her office. She looked out the window at the stars, sending a silent prayer toward the wormhole—the Celestial Temple of the Prophets. What have I done to the faith You have sustained me with?” We feel your pain, Kira.
But, in a nice ironic reversal, Yevir, who delivered Kira’s Attainder in retaliation for her dissemination of the Ohalu texts, is now responsible for an action that inspires her with hope:
Despite the trials of the previous months, today’s recovery of the Orbs and the signing ceremony for Bajor filled Kira’s heart with a renewed sense of hope. Perhaps the future was not so bleak as she had imagined. She had endured so much already during her brief life; to see both of today’s epoch-making events—to be a part of them—was incredible, to say the least.
Much, much better!
All I do all day long is give, give, give: Quark’s jealousy over Gard’s flirtations with Ro, and her obvious inherent, albeit curbed, reciprocal interest in Gard, certainly makes him endearing. But it was this glum prognostication about Bajor’s Federation membership future that really tickled me: “‘And the Bajorans will become just like the hew-mons,’ Quark said. ‘Flat broke, but too well fed to realize it.’”
A chance to enjoy paradise again: This is the most impressive deep-dive into Bashir’s psyche that I’ve seen the re-launch novels (and possibly all Star Trek novels?) undertake. We probe Bashir’s core, warts and all. But, as happened previously, it’s one of Vaughn’s observations about Bashir that perhaps strikes me as the most unique and insightful: “Vaughn was often impressed by how painstakingly empirical Bashir could be in the pursuit of knowledge. And he was occasionally amused by the young doctor’s apparent obliviousness to all matters mystical.”
If I get lost: Nog’s technical creativity and savvy once again save the day. The transporter plan is both exciting and cinematic. His “alternate Nog” sequence contains good character insights, too. His attitude toward the Jem’Hadar during the novel’s start is troublesome, though, to say the least, as evidenced by these lines spoken by him to Ezri: “‘I mean that all Jem’Hadar are cold-hearted killers, and nothing can change that. Not even a direct order from Odo.’” Oh Nog, we know what you went through, but please don’t be that guy.
Fortunately, his experience aboard the cathedral seems to have a transformative effect on him. After being attacked by Jem’Hadar in his vision, he has a pretty surreal exchange with his imagined Taran’atar, who tells him he’ll be seeing him “in all the old familiar places” (see “The Siege of AR-558” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon”). Nog’s reaction is to realize he can probably deal with that.
This one’s from the heart: Vic gets a fair amount to do in this novel, and I’m unabashedly a fan. His meeting with Taran’atar is everything I could have hoped for. But one thing that becomes pretty clear is that a little Vic goes a long way. Either that, or his voice is somewhat off, because the more time he was given, the more I found myself thinking that his idioms and analogies sounded forced. Three examples of what I’m referring to:
“I never work Harry Blackstone’s side of the street. But I’d have to be a real Clyde to miss the fact that something’s really eating you. A farmer could scrub his overalls on your corrugated but otherwise charming forehead.”
“I heard enough, pallie, to make one thing as clear as where Goldwater stands on JFK: You two gloomy Guses are made for each other.”
“Okay, let me spell it out for you in great big letters, like the Sands’ marquee: You two need to gallop off to the frontier and go into business together.”
All bets are off: Kira Nerys becoming a sort of lightning rod attracting a new religious group is a development I didn’t see coming, but it’s entirely logical, and was nicely foreshadowed in the previous volume with those mysterious religious gifts being left outside her quarters.
For Cardassia!: Martin and Mangels pick up smoothly on the societal changes introduced in A Stitch in Time, and it’s an absolute delight to have Garak back in the fold! The Cardassian perspective is, in hindsight, an element that now feels oddly missing from Mission Gamma, Book One, to that book’s detriment. Its growing importance from book two to the current volume in this series was nicely handled.
Dramatis personae: I wish we could have spent more time with Phillipa Matthias, who piqued my interest in the prior volume. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who liked her. Here’s Ro on Matthias, helping articulate one of the reasons I appreciated the character: “She genuinely liked the station’s new counselor, not simply because she was friendly toward her—not to mention solicitous of her sometimes prickly moods—but also because she spoke plainly and directly. Starfleet counselors were rarely so refreshingly free of professional psychobabble as was Matthias.” So, hopefully she will not be sidelined in future novels.
Though Lenaris Holem’s appearance is relatively brief, I thought it was powerful and spot-on. The way he talks with Kira, and attempts to persuade her to join the Ohalu cause, was completely believable, and easy to imagine being portrayed by John Doman. My favorite part of this interaction occurs right near the end of the scene, when Kira begins to rebuff his offer of a possible Attainder reversal, and he finishes her own argument for her, saying “‘—and none of my damned business.’” He accepts the rejection good-naturedly and immediately recognizes that he’s overreached himself, which does wonders for his likeability, and speaks to his shared past with Kira. I sure hope that future writers don’t take this character in a dark direction. Please.
Behind the lines: This is my favorite of the Mission Gamma books so far. Character development is consistently excellent, and for once I feel like the scope of the story wasn’t over-ambitious. Holding true to the promise of exploring a strange quadrant of the Galaxy, we’re introduced to two new alien species, and a possible third ancient and mysterious race. The plot involving the Sagan’s crew either regressing, or being overwritten by, alternate versions of themselves, doesn’t necessarily stand up to close scrutiny, but because it’s in the service of character, and relies mostly on pre-established Trek phenomena, I’m happy to go along with it.
In general, the ideas in this book, like the notion of faith, and accepting our life choices, get breathing room, and the book doesn’t suffer that syndrome of walk-on walk-off characters with which I was slightly dissatisfied in the previous volumes. Also, though Mission Gamma, Book One spent a lot of time with Vaughn, he didn’t feel particularly interesting or fresh in that depiction to me. Martin and Mangels are far more efficient, economic storytellers, who manage to make us care about and engage with Vaughn by showing him in action, rather than laboriously introspecting. And the moments of reflection connect nicely with earlier scenes, as in this example, which relates to the Avatar duology:
In spite of himself, Vaughn had to wonder if he was staring into the business end of another one of the universe’s transcendent, inquiry-resistant mysteries. […] The artifact also brought to mind the life-changing epiphany he’d received from the Orb of Memory, when he had helped recover it from the derelict Cardassian freighter Kamal only a few months earlier.
This trait of Vaughn’s, his openness to and even thirst for metaphysical mystery, feels like a defining characteristic for me, and I was gratified that this book’s authors glommed on to it.
It was interesting to learn more about Ro’s backstory, too, through snippets such as this one: “She recalled all too well the desolation she had felt after a Jem’Hadar minefield claimed the life of Jalik, a fellow Maquis fighter.” Ro feels like a character that’s been tricky for the writers, on the whole, to get a firm grasp on. I think S. D. Perry’s take was very convincing, but she’s felt a little hit-or-miss to me ever since. Part of that may have been accepting her budding romance with Quark, which seems more intellectually motivated than driven by chemistry, and part of it is simply that she’s a complex character with many layers that will require time to unfold and come into her own. That said, I don’t love where this story takes her—meaning specifically her resignation as chief of security. For something like this to pack dramatic heft, I feel like it should be better earned, and come after the character has spent more time in this role. We’ll see, I suppose… Kira does say she’s going to try her best to keep her on.
Besides the abounding in-universe continuity, I picked up on a number of other fun references. Two come to mind, though I believe there were others. A nod to Carl Sagan: “‘That’s one big document, all right,’ Bowers said with a whistle. ‘There’s megaquads and megaquads here.’ Ezri heard Bowers crack a joke featuring the phrase ‘billions and billions,’ an expression which apparently had been mistakenly attributed to the Sagan’s human namesake.” And a wink, of all things, to Plan 9 from Outer Space’s Criswell (!): “She [Ro] recalled the words of one of her Starfleet tactical training instructors. Welcome to the future. It’s where we’re all going to spend the rest of our lives.”
Speaking of the future, this is a hopeful sentiment: “With the addition of Taran’atar, who was keeping a low profile in a corner, the room even had its Gamma Quadrant delegate. Ro wondered briefly if Vaughn and the crew of the Defiant had made enough allies during their exploration mission so that future diplomatic events aboard the station would see even more Gamma Quadrant species represented.” I would love to see that.
Two last-act story developments I want to touch on. Joseph Sisko’s collapse is cause for concern—let’s hope he’s not dead! If he is, that would feel a little out of left field. His point of view is so well-developed in the brief chapter featuring him that I wish the character would have figured more centrally in this quartet. Again, as with Ro’s resignation, the emotional impact would have been greater that way. Hopefully he’ll return in Book Four.
Second, Gard’s assassination of Shakaar wasn’t as shocking as I think this series was hoping for. Given the huge build-up to the Federation signing ceremony over hundreds of pages across three books, something was bound to go wrong. Add to this the fact that an assassination attempt during a momentous occasion such as this one seems par for the course on DS9. And if that weren’t enough, the person in charge of Starfleet security, if not one of the main regulars, should always be a suspect after what Sisko went through. On the plus side, it nips the incipient-romance-with-Ro subplot in the bud, which I’m relieved about.
Besides the character development, I’d say this novel excels at pacing. There were only two chapters that I felt were a tad long (the ones in which Ezri, the Dax symbiont, Nog, and Bashir experience their alternate selves on the artifact), which is a considerably lower ratio than the previous two books. The action sequences were more clearly described too, and more exciting. Finally, the balance of Defiant/DS9 storylines was perfect.
Orb factor: I found Cathedral rewarding on several levels, and am happy to award it 9 orbs.
In our next installment: We’ll be discussing Mission Gamma, Book Four: Lesser Evil by Robert Simpson in this space on Wednesday December 4th!
Alvaro is a Hugo- and Locus-award finalist who has published some forty stories in professional magazines and anthologies, as well as over a hundred essays, reviews, and interviews. Nag him @AZinosAmaro.