Series: Voyager: Full Circle (#8)
Publisher: Pocket Books/Time Travel
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2016
Moving deeper into the unknown reaches of the Delta Quadrant, Voyager stumbles into a war between two species who claim the same planet as their homeworld. More disconcertingly, one of these armies is led by a woman who appears to be none other than Kathryn Janeway . . .
Ever since Kirk flew back to the nineteen-sixties to study primitive humanity, time travel has been a staple of Star Trek‘s deep toolbox of narrative trickery. From Worf living through a time loop to the Temporal Cold War that Archer found himself embroiled in, there have been all manner of time travel shenanigans on both screen and page. Even the 2009 film reboot only occurs due to Romulans from the future. Time travel is a well that Voyager dived into multiple times during its run, including the first episode after the pilot, the hundredth episode ‘Timeless,’ and of course the two-part finale ‘Endgame.’ One of Voyager‘s most famous episodes, ‘Year of Hell’ (another two parter) takes place almost entirely in a timeline that does not exist by the end of the story. Having wrapped up the story of the Confederacy, it is to time travel that Beyer turns her pen with A Pocket Full of Lies.
Right off the bat, I will confess I couldn’t entirely follow the events of this book. Though it’s not quite as head-scratchingly convoluted as Christopher L. Bennett’s Watching the Clock, this book does run into a regular feature of time travel dramas. Put simply, there is too much going on. In the acknowledgements, Beyer expresses previously held doubts about being able to condense this story into one book, and personally I think this would have worked better as a longer or even two-part epic. Of course, there are undoubtedly smarter people than me out there who fully understood this book, and I suspect these people would get rather more out of it.
One major strength of A Pocket Full of Lies is the reintroduction of Tuvok. Though other books have seen him assigned to the Titan under Captain William Riker, here he is brought back to investigate the mysterious second Janeway. Beyer captures Tim Russ’ excellent take on Vulcan behaviour with uncanny accuracy. In spite of all that has happened to him since the events of ‘Endgame,’ Tuvok remains the reliable foil to Janeway’s more impulsive nature. Not in a way that suggests a lack of character development, just a recognisable face shifting from screen to page. Though his return to Voyager is strictly a one-book events, it’s satisfying to see the team back together again. Now all we need is some meatier material for Neelix to be dealt, and I’ll be a happy man.
A Pocket Full of Lies, when all twists and turns are exposed, feels like the introduction to a larger story, and both the epilogue and blurb of the next volume suggest a second run-in with the Krenim is on the cards. If Beyer can deliver a repeat of the Year of Hell, then sitting through the often confusing and occasionally obtuse A Pocket Full of Lies will have been worthwhile.
Overall, I have to say this is a rare stumbling block in the Voyager relaunch. But the larger franchises has had its fair share of those, and has always risen again, so my hopes for the future remain high.