Series: Voyager: Full Circle (#7)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2015
Admiral Janeway must stand trial for her crimes in the Delta Quadrant, but the odds are rigged against her. Meanwhile in the Alpha Quadrant, Seven of Nine and Tom Paris fight to unravel the conspiracy behind the spread of a deadly disease . . .
Atonement is a book that’s all about consequences. I’ve written before about how Star Trek‘s episodic nature could be a weakness when it came to following up on the consequences of the main character’s actions. Picard had to wait twenty years before seeing them, and Sisko only faced problems because he lived in one place, where those he had wronged could find him. As I read through the Pocket Books post-Nemesis timeline, however, the more and more struck I am with how much they show consequences, both on a personal and an interplanetary level. Seeing the political fallout of Janeway’s journey (some would call it a rampage) through the Delta Quadrant is a treat, and a logical outcome of the Full Circle fleet’s return to former Borg space. It does, unfortunately but not unexpectedly, come with a drawback. More so than the rest of this series, Atonement relies heavily on prior Star Trek knowledge, not only familiarity with Beyer’s relaunch novels, but those of other authors. It would also really help to remember the episodes of Voyager in which Janeway first met the Vaudwaar, the Voth, and the other species who put her on trial. Though if you’re reading the relaunch novels, you probably recall those episodes better than most.
Truth be told, the ‘trial’ – such as it is – barely takes up any page time at all. It’s something of a shame, as I would have loved to see Janeway defending her actions during those original seven years. She had to make a lot of tough calls, with no one to hold her accountable at the time, and a real trial to determine the level of her guilt would have been great. Since we know going into Atonement that the trial is a sham, however, perhaps it’s for the best that the charade is cut short early on. Certainly it avoids repeating the legalese segments Paris faced in the previous book.
Surprisingly, I found that it was Paris’ section of the book I enjoyed the most. Having won his custody battle, he is free to be involved in the larger schemes faced by Seven, Sharak, and Wildman. That’s Wildman senior, though Naomi does make a welcome, albeit brief, appearance. Back in the Alpha Quadrant, we get to see a look at the ongoing fallout from the Borg Invasion, as well as glimpsing the rise of the Typhon Pact. I read the Typhon Pact books several years ago (and will likely reread in the near future) but had forgotten just how interconnected the storytelling of the Pocket Books could be. Even Voyager, which essentially goes its own way, ties back into the connected universe at crucial points. While I’m not a fan of sprawling universe (*cough* MARVEL *cough*) these glimpses at the wider world are just enough to anchor events in a larger continuity without drowning the main thrust of the story.
All told, Atonement is another strong entry in the series, and one that wraps up a lot of loose ends that have been left hanging along the way.