BOOK REVIEW: Unworthy, by Kirsten Beyer

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unworthy.jpg

Era: Post-Voyager

Series: Voyager: Full Circle (#2)

Publisher: Pocket Books

Genre: Space Opera

Pages: 370

Publication Date: 2009

Verdict: 5/5

 

Voyager returns to the Delta Quadrant, this time spearheading a fleet tasked with exploring this distant region of space. Their first priority is to seek out traces of the Caeliar, the enigmatic species who defeated the Borg. Yet not everyone has the same agenda, and secrets could tear the fleet apart before the mission truly begins . . .

Full Circle was a weighty novel, not just in pages, but in content. For a lot of the Voyager crew, it was their lowest ebb. A very good book, but not a terribly happy one. Nowehere was this more apparent than with the character of Chakotay. At the end of Full Circle, Chakotay turned down a chance to retain command of Voyager, and resigned his commission. Along with Seven of Nine, Chakotay remianed behind as the fleet left for the Delta Quadrant. Torres too was not part of the fleet, but snuck along for the ride in order to desert with husband Paris. It was a lot of interesting set-up, presenting a real shake-up of the Voyager series.

Unworthy is odd, because it almost immediately undoes a lot of that set-up. Or at least it doesn’t go the way I expected. Chakotay, Seven and Torres are all aboard Voyager fairly swiftly, and though the status quo is not precisely restored, the Voyager we leave at the end of this book is a different one to what we see at the beginning. But none of this feels like a betrayal of concept. It’s nice to see the crew back togather, albeit in a slightly altered form. The sense of familiarity is a return to that classic Voyager feel, just like being back with old friends. After a pretty bleak opening to this new era, Unworthy rekindles that optimism that defines Star Trek.

Of course, there is more to Unonworthy than just reestablishing character relationships. The return to the Delta Quadrant brings Voyager into contact with an alliance of species called the Indign. This cooperation of species worships the Borg, though fundementally misunderstands what they represent. One of my favourite features of Voyager was the detail it gave to the Borg, and Beyer continues that work here. Seeing how the Borg have affected species by means other than pure assimilation is really interesting to read. It’s original, it has issues, and it presents a Prime Directive condundrum. In short, it’s the perfect Star Trek puzzle.

On the whole, Unworthy does a stellar job of balancing the episodic ‘problem of the week’ approach that Voyager  employed so hevaily on television, with the detailed and ongoing character work that novel series tend to be better at. There are callbacks to prior plotlines, both novel and televised, and acts that are clearly setting up something further down the line. Though it’s not the first Voyager novel, not even the first in this arc, Unworthy does feel like a new start for the series. It shakes things up enough to be interesting, but also feels like coming home again. Yes, it relies on a fair few established plot points, but it just might be a better jumping on point than Full Circle.

Beyer’s Voyager novels are rapidly proving to be everything I want from Star Trek and more. A real must-read series for any fan.

Published by Alex Hormann

I'm a writer, reader, and farmer, with an interest in all things speculative.

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