- Star Trek: Voyager: String Theory (#2)
- Set between seasons 4 and 5 of Voyager
- Published by Pocket Books in 2005
- Space Opera Adventure
- 378 pages
Space isn’t what it used to be. Voyager’s actions have accelerated the breaking of reality, and now Janeway must lead a desperate struggle to prevent the end of life as we know it . . .
These days, most people who read Voyager tie-in novels will know the name Kirsten Beyer. She is the author who brought about a renaissance of the relaunch with Full Circle, and has written more Voyager novels than any other author. She’s also a producer on Picard, and has written for Discovery. What I’m saying is that this is a woman who knows her Star Trek. Fusion marked her debut in long-form fiction writing, but already it displays the traits she will be known for in later works.
Fusion does exactly what the middle volume of a trilogy should do. It builds on what has already been established, and pushes the plot towards where it will be needed in the next book. In purely structural terms, this is all it needs to do, and Beyer pulls it off with aplomb. The stakes are much, much higher this time around, but it feels like a natural evolution (pun intended for those who know the title of Book 3) of events as already portrayed. This being a tenth anniversary celebration, it feels right to bring back other members of the Caretaker’s species, giving the adventure a continuity that the TV show often lacked. It’s no slave to nostalgia though, because it actually builds and develops what little we know of this species into something original.
Where Beyer and I part ways is in what draws us to Voyager. I like the characters, yes, but I’m here for the big ideas. For the strange new worlds and tricky moral dilemmas. Beyer, however, is very much a character author. Her adoration of Janeway leaps off the page, but it comes at the expense of other characters. If you like character-driven novels, then this is all well and good, but I for one don’t need everything in the universe to revolve around a handful of chosen individuals. Thankfully there is little of the Janeway/Chakotay romance that dominated the Full Circle books here, as this has always been my least favourite relationship from the show, regardless of who is in the writers’ room.
That personal bugbear aside, however, this is still a perfectly competent book, and a fine starting point for one of Trek literature’s stars.
More by Kirsten Beyer
Voyager: Full Circle
Deeper Dive: The End of the World (Again)
Modern Star Trek has a problem. No, this isn’t going to be one of those unhinged expletive rants. As it happens, I quite like modern Trek. But there is something about it that bothers me. It’s too apocalyptic. Discovery has faced the end of all life three times in four seasons. Picard started with an existential threat, and even the second season pulled a cosmic disaster out of nowhere in the final twenty minutes. The film reboots were laced with Earth-ending enemies.
My problem is twofold. Firstly, when the stakes are all of reality being at risk, I never believe that the show will go through with it. You’re not going to actually end the universe, or you’d have no show. The second is one of personal stakes. Clearly, heroes will have a vested interest in saving the universe. After all, they live in in. But when you make every stake personal, you also make every character selfish. A true hero should be able to intervene without any personal stakes in the matter. That’s what heroism is.
String Theory started with Voyager helping a group of refugees, as heroes are wont to do. But with this book it becomes another case of needing to save the galaxy. And honestly, I’m just not as interested in the latter story. There’s no real morality issue there, as the end of the world renders it all moot. Obviously, the authors wanted a big story for the tenth anniversary, but sometimes the old adage is true. Less is more.
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