A Stitch in Time (Star Trek: DS9 tie-in novel)

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Title: A Stitch in Time (Star Trek: DS9 tie-in novel)
Creator: Andrew J. Robinson
Date(s): January 1, 2000
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: DS9
Language: English
External Links:

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A Stitch in Time is a Star Trek: DS9 pro novel by Andrew J. Robinson, the actor who portrayed Elim Garak.

book cover

From the Book Jacket

For nearly a decade Elim Garak has longed for just one thing – to go home. Exiled on a space station, surrounded by aliens who loathe and distrust him, going back to Cardassia has been Garak's one dream. Now, finally, he is home. But home is a world whose landscape is filled with death and destruction. Desperation and dust are constant companions and luxury is a glass of clean water and a warm place to sleep.

Ironically, it is a letter from one of the aliens on that space station, Dr. Julian Bashir, that inspires Garak to look at the fabric of his life. Elim Garak has been a student, a gardener, a spy, an exile, a tailor, even a liberator. It is a life that was charted by the forces of Cardassian society with very little understanding of the person, and even less compassion.

But it is the tailor that understands who Elim Garak was, and what he could be. It is the tailor who sees the ruined fabric of Cardassia, and who knows how to bring this ravaged society back together. This is strange, because a tailor is the one thing Garak never wanted to be. But it is the tailor whom both Cardassia and Elim Garak need. It is the tailor who can put the pieces together, who can take a stitch in time.

Comments by the Author

I started writing about Garak because, coming to the Star Trek franchise and being cast as an alien, a Cardassian, I had no idea what that was. I barely know about human beings. But then suddenly to be cast as an alien... it was a challenge. So I decided to write about the character and create the world of the character and I did this in the form of a diary that Garak kept: every day he would write about his experiences and so forth. And then I started going to conventions, like this one, and I started reading from the diary and the fans, the audiences loved it. So I started writing more, and I started crafting it more and, like a lot of people, I've always wanted to write a novel! That's when I started working into a novel. Then the people at Simon and Schuster, the publisher, agreed to let me do it, and it was a bit of a big deal because I was the first actor to write a novel without what they call a ghost writer, or with someone else writing it for me. Because I wanted to write it by myself, I didn't want anybody else writing it. [1]

Other Pro Books Written by the Actors About the Characters They Portrayed

Fanworks Inspired by "A Stitch in Time"

Reactions and Reviews

"Robinson's novel is structured as a letter from Garak to Dr. Julian Bashir - his best friend and longtime breakfast companion on Deep Space Nine. Much fan fiction about Garak speculates that his feelings for Bashir went beyond the platonic relationship depicted on television, a belief Robinson does not refute. Indeed, in A Stitch In Time, Garak has crushes on both men and women. "I loved that sexual ambiguity," Robinson states. "I wanted to get away from our sexual prejudices. I thought, this is an alien! Who knows what alien sexuality is, if indeed there is strict heterosexuality or homosexuality, those delineations? That's something that I kept in the book. Though that was more interesting to me in the playing of Garak than the writing of it; this book is for kids too, so I chose not to get more explicit sexually because of that." [2]
It's always interesting to read stories written by actors about the characters they portrayed. Sometimes it works better than others. Avon: A Terrible Aspect by Paul Darrow left me wondering how Darrow had managed to portray the character so well without understanding him. With The Companions of Doctor Who: Harry Sullivan's War, Ian Marter captured his character perfectly, but, if memory serves (it has been 24 years or so since I read it), it had some writing and plotting issues. So it was with some trepidation I picked up A Stitch in Time by Andrew J. Robinson. Deep Space Nine is my favorite of the Trek series and the brilliantly complicated character of Garak is one of my favorite characters. Andrew J. Robinson did such an amazing job bringing him to life on screen I felt an uncharacteristic optimism he would be able to bring that spark to the page. I wasn't wrong. Robinson captures Garak's tone and voice perfectly. While it would be easy to gloss over Garak's flaws, Robinson gives them their deserved attention. [3]
Bashir asks him, "Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true?"

"My dear doctor," Garak says, "They're all true." "Even the lies?" "Especially the lies." With A Stitch In Time, we are given the chance to see just how true the lies were. Written in the form of journal entries, and told in non-linear fashion, Andrew Robinson has written a compelling account of Garak's life before his exile to DS9, and his life after his return to his now-shattered homeworld of Cardassia. Garak's careers as a gardener, spy and tailor are each shown to be fascinating in their own way. You truly learn why Garak is the way he is. A word of advice: don't call him "spoonhead" (a derogatory term for Cardassians, referring to the oval-shaped indentation in their foreheads). The characters are rich, distinct, and complex. Though it's set on an alien world with alien sensibilities, I was drawn into the history of the world and its people. The pacing is excellent. Robinson knows just when to switch from one time period to the other, without losing the threads of his other storylines and their requisite characters. It is also quite refreshing to see Robinson's interpretation of familiar characters such as Bashir, Quark, Kira, Odo...and Garak's mentor and head of the Obsidian Order, Enabran Tain. I was particularly interested in how Gul Dukat would be illustrated, as seen through Garak's eyes (a hint: they really don't like each other). Some have speculated whether Robinson actually wrote this novel or had a ghost writer. According to various press releases, Robinson did indeed write it himself, based on his impromptu performances at various Trek conventions. I never doubted it. Throughout the book Elim Garak's voice rang true and clear.

I hope that Andrew Robinson will write more novels. I don't care if it's Star Trek, science fiction or contemporary fiction. I will read it. [4]
I read this book right after DS9 finished airing and I absolutely adored it. Andrew Robinson knows the character of Elim Garak better than anyone and fleshes out his backstory with ease and intrigue. I'm currently reading this book again a second time and it makes me want to rewatch the whole series again. [5]
Garak was perhaps my favorite character from DS9, so I was very excited to read this book, and enjoyed it despite its flaws.

There are numerous typos and other errors any editor should have found, many characters go through multiple aliases in different parts of the books making them hard to distinguish, and the narrative itself is a bit jumbled: there's many smaller stories with minimal overarching narrative, and the ending is an unsurprising win for democracy and freedom; something I would expect from a TNG novel, but not DS9.

That said, most every line of the book is easily and unavoidably read in the voice of Garak himself, almost certainly because the author also is the actor behind the main character. Just as with "good news everyone", "it's not a tumah", and numerous others, there's much pleasure to be had in reading "My dear Doctor Bashir" and bringing a character's voice to life in your imagination. [6]
I really have mixed feelings on this one. I love Deep Space 9, I love Garak, and I love Andrew J. Robinson. I really wanted to love this book. It has it's good parts, but it falls down on several points. The Elim Garak of the novel does not capture the same urbane charm as the Elim Garak of the TV series. The plot drags at points. Some of Robinson's choice for backstory were not what I would have chosen. Also, as much as I love Garak, he always works best when working with other characters; he was not meant to be the star of the story. This book vacillates between three and four stars, depending on where you are in the narrative, and if Goodreads allowed half stars I would give it three and a half. Since it does not, I feel it deserves four stars more than three. If you're on the fence and like Garak, give it a shot; it's certainly better than a lot of Star Trek "literature." [7]

References

  1. Star Trek Andy Robinson Interview - Inside Star Trek Magazine (2011), Archived version
  2. Andrew Robinson's Stitch In Time, Archived version
  3. Dianah, 2010 Goodreads
  4. Mark, 2011 Goodreads
  5. Casey McKinnon, 2011 Goodreads
  6. Julian Simoni, 2013 Goodreads
  7. Blaine, 2014 Goodreads