Series: Voyager: Full Circle (#9)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2018
Seeking to avoid further confrontation with the Krenim, Admiral Janeway leads the Full Circle Fleet in a scientific investigation of the sort Starfleet was founded to study. But what she and the crew see as an opportunity for relaxation could hide a deadlier threat than anyone realises . . .
Architects of Infinity isn’t remotely the book I expected it to be. Yes, the blurb tells of mysterious planets and scientific missions, but after all the build-up of the previous novel, I was expecting to see more of the Krenim and their time controlling weapons than a few references. The resolution of A Pocket Full of Lies is largely wrapped up in the prologue, with a cameo appearance from the Department of Temporal Investigation (and a character from Christopher L. Bennett’s series of the same name). After that, the larger playing field of the Delta Quadrant is essentially ignored in favour of a much more traditional Star Trek tale. In fact, this penultimate volume in Beyer’s relaunch may just be the most standalone of the lot, and it is an incredibly strong example of using Trek tropes to the fullest.
The most remarkable thing about Architects of Infinity isn’t the standalone nature, however, nor the excellence of the mystery at its core. What sets this book apart from others in the series is the focus on less familiar faces. of the original Voyager crew, the one with the most to do is Harry Kim. Beyer captures the same earnestness that Garrett Wang brought to the role, but with a new, more determined edge that ten years of service have brought about. Kim’s relationship with fellow officer Nancy Conlon is a key part of the book, having been developed over the course of the series. While Star Trek has a rocky record with romance, Conlon’s and Kim’s is one of the more believable, benefiting from a single writer and long gestation period.
It’s not just Conlon and Kim though. With most of the major players taking a well-earned break, Beyer shines a light on Voyager‘s new supporting cast. Scientist Devi Patel and Helmswoman Aytar Gwyn continue Voyager‘s fine tradition of great female characters, while showing a changing of the guard as the next generation (pun intended) of officers climb through the ranks. While the original crew retain their iconic status (in universe as well as out) it’s not only nice but also entirely logical to see new faces taking over familiar roles. We’ve seen it before with new doctor Sharak and counsellor Hugh Cambridge, but having new characters be the driving force of the narrative highlights the dawning of a new era.
Even without all this excellent character work, Architects of Infinity‘s premise would be enough to entertain any Star Trek fan. The unnamed planet Voyager investigates is perfectly enigmatic. Abandoned, but with signs of previous habitation by species that humans are seemingly unable to understand. It’s clear from the outset that something powerful is at work there, and Beyer pulls it off beautifully. Without going into too much detail, there is mega-engineering at work, and it’s possibly my favourite trope that Star Trek has rarely tackled so well as here.
Even though it seems like a diversion from important events, Architects of Infinity is a fine novel, and a finer example of what Star Trek can be when done right.