Pocket Books, out now
Some things are fixed points in time and cannot (and should not) be altered – unless, of course, you have the power, and the arrogance, of a Q…
We’re coming a bit late to the party on this one, but for those who are unaware of the fuss, a brief explanation is needed: in one of the Next Generation relaunch novels, Peter David killed off Admiral Janeway in a way that many regarded as disrespectful to the character. Kirsten Beyer was charged with rebooting the Voyager novel line and as part of this, reworked the events of Before Dishonor in her first Voyager book, Full Circle, so that Janeway’s death had far more meaning. There was, to put it mildly, a continuing outcry about the lack of The Bun of Steel in the Star Trek novels, with some feeling that Janeway’s replacement, Asfarah Eden, was not fit for purpose. Across two further novels – Unworthy and Children of the Storm – Beyer laid the groundwork for explanations…
…and, as it has turned out, for the return of Kathryn Janeway in The Eternal Tide. That’s no spoiler – she’s on the cover, and her involvement in the book (if not the storyline with the Voyager fleet) is clear from the outset. Whether Beyer agreed with the decision to revive Janeway or not is irrelevant (and those who accuse her of kowtowing to pressure really don’t understand the dynamics of this sort of situation); she does an admirable (pun intended) job of making it fit within the continuity she was starting to develop.
The story focuses on many of the Q that we’ve met, as well as picking up on elements of the String Theory trilogy of novels and other plot points from across Voyager’s seven years on screen. Beyer moves between the different strands, advancing each so that the reader is occasionally a step ahead of the characters; you may realise why Janeway has to return ahead of Kathy herself, and certainly you’ll predict the final twist, but that only adds to the enjoyment.
In her acknowledgements, Beyer notes that this is a story that “required telling”; while I agree that it did, its time may have been a bit further down the line. That aside, this is a fitting use of the character, and it will be very interesting to see how she fits in with a crew who have become used to her not being there.
Verdict: The pieces of the puzzle are skilfully assembled into an enjoyable novel that has to serve various different agendas. 8/10