Series: Voyager: Full Circle (#3)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2011
The Children of the Storm are one of the more enigmatic species the federation has encountered. Powerful, secretive, and brooking no intrusion into their space. Yet Voyager must now journey to their territory in order to uncover why Starfleet vessels have been attacked . . .
Now that the new status quo has settled in, the Voyager relaunch series (a label that is literal as well as narrative) can get back to investigating the mysteries of the Dela Quadrant. The first mystery on their list is the titular Children of the Storm, first seen in David Mack’s phenomenal Destiny trilogy. When an alien species introduces itself by blowing up millions of Borg before kindly asking Starfleet not to bother them, you know there’s something interesting going on. On that note, I must say it’s unusual that the Federation so readily ignores the threats of violence from this isolationist people. When Starfleet goes to talk to the Children, it doesn’t seem to be for a reason other than ‘because we want to.’ While the Children’s response is excessive, I’m pretty much on their side from the outset. Starfleet’s actions are questioned, but no one ever gives too much thought to the needless risk taken here.
The Children of the Storm are what Star Trek does best: a unique alien species that seems beyond human comprehension, but ultimately has something to teach humanity about ourselves. There isn’t heavy-handed metaphor here, though. More like a natural pairing of storylines as we’ve seen so many times through the franchise, and here it works very well. While the Children are at first beyond understanding, on Voyager the crew are learning to understand each other. For Seven of Nine and Harry Kim, there may even be love in the air, and Beyer is doing excellent character work in general, not just with familiar faces, but with newer ones too.
Children of the Storm is split across two timelines, only two weeks apart. And that’s where the book falters a little. While the present day section sees Voyager tracking missing vessels, the flashback chapters (they alternate for much of the book) shows what happened on the ill-fated starships. This results in many present-day chapters feeling more like recaps than I would have liked. Had the time difference not been made so explicit, I don’t think it would have bothered me as much. Even as it stands, it’s a niggle rather than a problem. But it does rob these scenes of tension, and Voyager‘s actions feel less consequential when there is no race against time.
Though there are a few ongoing threads here, this feels much more of a standalone than the previous two books. The character arcs are a continuation, and there is a mystery or two left unresolved by the novel’s end, but the main body of action – the mystery of the Children of the Storm – is neatly wrapped up by the final chapter. It’s the perfect balance of long- and short-form storytelling, at least so far as novels go. With Voyager as a TV show having a clear purpose of getting home (even if they took a rather meandering route) it’s interesting to see how Beyer turns their return to the Delta Quadrant into a more traditional Star Trek tale of exploration.
All in all, this is a classic Star Trek idea, and even if I’m not entirely sold on the presentation, it’s definitely worth a read.