Hello once again and welcome to Behind the Lines!
It’s been a week since we first sat down and got to know each other and as promised, I have spent the time between working like a Reman Slave Miner to bring you a killer opening DOUBLE feature!
First up I review of the most recent addition to the new Star Trek Voyager series [amazon_link id=”145166818X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]‘The Eternal Tide’*[/amazon_link]. The fourth installment in the new journeys of the finest crew ever to have wandered off where no one has wandered off before; followed by an exclusive interview with its hugely talented author, the charming and talented Miss Kirsten Beyer.
I think you’ll agree that’s enough Trek Lit goodness right there to send a tingle through anyone’s Bio-Neural Gel packs!
So without further ado, let’s jump in to it with my look at [amazon_link id=”145166818X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Voyager: The Eternal Tide[/amazon_link]
*For those of you who haven’t read this title do not panic. This is a review, not a synopsis or re-telling, and I have kept the spoilers down to an absolute minimum, I promise!
For those of you who don’t know back in 2007 the acclaimed ST novelist Peter David published his TNG 25th anniversary book ‘Before Dishonor’. A story in which, among a list of other terrible ideas to grace it’s pages, David decided to kill off Admiral Janeway as she investigates the previously thought dead remains of a Borg Super Cube.
To say he didn’t win any fans with that would be an understatement, because while many of us could quite happily accept Janeway dying in the line of duty, the casual and brutal assimilation of Voyagers matriarch felt not only incredibly unnecessary, but for me also rang loud and clearly with the sound of something done purely for the sake of its own shock value.
Instantly a number of online petitions surfaced and the fan backlash was audible. One of our greatest Trek heroes had been taken long before her time was due, and it was a sad day indeed to be a Voyager fan.
Years later however while I was casually wasting my life as so many of us do, scrolling mindlessly through Facebook for no reason beyond the fact it’s still there, I came across something that made me almost fall off my chair with pure excitement!
The cover for Beyer’s new Voyager book had been released, and was dominated by none other than Admiral Kathryn Janeway!
It was a clear as crystal sign, because you don’t fill a cover with the face of a dead character for no reason, and then and there we all knew what the Eternal Tide would be about.
Beyer was going back…
…to repair whatever damage had been done…
More Than a Simple Matter of Life and Death…
Once my giddiness over Janeway’s return had settled down, I have to admit the very next thing I felt was nervous. Worried even, because as much as we may passionately want her back…what if they do it badly?
Never mind that Beyer has proven herself with the three excellent Voyager novels that preceded this one, the fact remains bringing someone back from a very definite death in a believable way is not an easy thing for anyone to do well.
But wait Dec, loads of ST characters have died and come back! Search for Spock much?
…and entirely false.
Spock did not technically even die after all. In reality his spirit was preserved in McCoy before the moment of death, had a little holiday in the cantankerous Doctor’s grey spaces, and then returned to a body regenerated by Genesis.
Janeway was absolutely and totally, blown to kingdom come. Atomized and scattered with no soul in safe hands, no cells left to clone, absolutely nothing…
So how do you bring someone back from the dead?
Beyer does it, with a question…
A Fixed Point in Time…
I can usually judge how good or bad a book is going to be by the end of its first chapter. With TET, the most intriguing concept of the story for me was right in the very first line, and I have to admit I was smiling my stupid little face off before I’d even got out of the prologue!
Junior has discovered something that should be impossible. Janeway’s death has become ‘a fixed point in time.’ In every single reality of the entire multi-verse the Admiral dies at exactly the same time and nearly always in the same way. More worryingly still, even in the universes where she wasn’t assimilated something else appears to ensure her death regardless.
For whatever reason the multi-verse has a hard on for killing Kathryn Janeway, and since no mortal’s life or actions have ever become or even influenced a fixed point in time before, Junior is certain something has definitely gone wrong with reality.
Gone wrong too, because Junior is sure that things have not always been this way. That something has happened to change time and space to include this new fixed point, and before long he realizes that whatever it is seems to be affecting him too.
Before the change Junior, like any member of the continuum, had free reign of all time and space. Past, present and future, all were the same and nothing was beyond him. Soon after discovering the significance of Janeway’s death, Junior realises he too has been changed as well. No longer can he travel forwards in time for more than a few days. Beyond that point, there is now only a horrible darkness like nothing even the Q have encountered.
What is it that is so important about Janeway’s death that the entire multi-verse could be affected? And how is the darkness that now looms over it connected to her?
Beyond Happy Ever Afters…
Step back a few years to the Voyager series finale Endgame. Janeway’s counterpart from the future alters time to finally bring the crew home; saving Voyager what would be another sixteen years in the Delta Quadrant, timeline and future be damned.
But did anyone ever wonder what else she undid in the process?
Look at it this way…
Over the Voyager TV series how many lives do you think Janeway’s crew saved in the Delta Quadrant? Hell, how many times for that matter, did they save the entire galaxy? So what if at some point over those sixteen years Janeway cheated out of the Delta quadrant, something happened that they were not there anymore to stop? Something so dangerous that if left unchecked could destroy not only the galaxy, but the entire multi-verse?
This is the question with which Kirsten Beyer sculpts the most compelling, believable and astonishing tale of life, death, and resurrection Star Trek has literally ever seen.
The Bottom Line…
Of all the things that make this book the ten out of ten it cannot be denied, is that before I read it, I fully expected it to be a one off story dedicated solely to Janeway’s resurrection. A departure from Voyager’s mission statement to seek out remains of the Borg and a break from the individual stories like the mystery of Afsarah Eden’s past. I would have probably been happy at that too, but as it turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong…
Beyond Janeway’s return there is still a feast of other stories at work within this book!
An intense return to a well known colony of former Borg, the Origins of the Q, and even more than all of that, this is the story that solves the mystery of Afsarah Eden!
Truly, for me this is the most un-missable title since Star Trek Destiny!
SO! The question here friends is not whether you should read this book, it’s why haven’t you already?
And now as promised a few questions on The Eternal Tide straight to its Author, Kirtsen Beyer.
From the moment the previews of the front cover for TET dropped, the community was alive with cheers for Janeway’s return. How long have you known you would do this story?
I didn’t know I was going to write this story until May of 2011. I had hoped I would be the one given the chance to write this story since I began my work on Voyager. It was important to me because I had pulled together and reshaped every other facet of the Voyager story over the last several years, and given that the door for Janeway to return had been left open by Peter David in Before Dishonor, for another author to tackle this story would have made my heart hurt.
Janeway’s death being a fixed point in time was a stroke of genius and I for one was grabbed instantly by it! What was your inspiration for this?
The idea was tossed out in as part of a larger discussion of temporal mechanic related stuff. I had just finished Christopher Bennett’s brilliant DTI: Watching the Clock and was trying to figure out if anything he had done there beyond developing the idea of what would have happened had Janeway not made the choice she did to alter time in “Endgame” might be relevant to the task at hand. We started discussing broader themes and that’s when my editor explained their notion of what a “fixed point in time” was…and defined it exactly as I did in the prologue.
Skip to several months later, when I actually finished writing the book…
I’m a pretty big Dr. Who fan, and the entire last season had been sitting in my DVR for maybe a year, and one of my rewards for finishing the novel was sitting down over several nights to catch up on it. And then the last few episodes come along and suddenly the Doctor’s death is a “fixed point in time” and…
…and I’m pretty sure I choked on whatever I was drinking at the moment.
Of course, their working definition had nothing to do with mine (but) I figured immediately that someone was going to read TET and decide that I had either stolen the idea or just gotten it wrong. As if there is only one definition of such a thing and we aren’t all just making this sh*t up as we go along.
I was right too. But needless to say, I didn’t change anything, even after the odd coincidence came to my attention.
It was just weird.
I have said before I believe Peter David was a little too casual with Janeway in Before Dishonor, and that her death was not only needless, but written for shock value. What are your thoughts on this?
I think Peter’s vision of Janeway is his own and he is entitled to it. It is not mine, but that’s beside the point. Janeway’s death in Before Dishonor was part of a bigger picture…one in which the Borg were returning as a much more frightening and destructive force than we had seen before. They were going to have to do some real damage…And killing one of the most respected and beloved characters in the Trek universe certainly counts as damage.
For what it’s worth, I completely understood and shared the challenges that story presented for fans of Voyager and Janeway. But it was never contemplated as a way to simply shock people for shock’s sake, (or) to get rid of Janeway because nobody knew what to do with her.
Put it this way…if you believe that exploring the effect of Janeway’s death on the rest of the Voyager family was fertile story material, as I did, you can’t have that without BD. Whether or not you believe the execution of that story could have been better, the fact remains that unless we go there…we never get here. And I believe it was a journey worth taking.
It’s generally considered that since taking over you have single-handedly saved the Voyager series. How does that make you feel?
It’s hard to say. Obviously, I’m thrilled that on the whole, people seem to like what I have written and where I am taking the story. On the other hand, I’m looking at this from a place that the readers don’t get to stand. I understand the challenges Christie was faced with when she picked up with Homecoming. She was continuing a story that had come to a sort of natural end and moving forward from there was a big challenge. I’m allowed to imagine stuff on a scale that didn’t exist even ten years ago. That’s good for me and good for the readers, but it doesn’t mean I have any less respect for what those who came before me have achieved in their work.
TET has a feeling of wrapping up what I like to call ‘season 8’ of Voyager. Do you intend to continue writing for Voyager and if so, any thoughts on ‘season 9’?
This is the first time I get to state it publicly, but yes; I do plan to continue writing for Voyager. In fact, I’m working on the next story right now. It is not yet a done deal, by which I mean that the contracts have yet to be finalized and until that happens, nothing is certain. But I can confirm what the intention is at this point and as soon as the paperwork is done, I will make a more formal announcement.
And please, for the love of all that his holy, stop thinking about these things as parts of a season! Too much is in constant flux for any such designation to be accurate or appropriate. A number of big issues were resolved in The Eternal Tide, but there are still some threads out there dangling. I look forward to their continued development, along with lots of new stuff, and appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue forward.
You heard it here first boys and girls! Beyer is already writing another Voyager title and I for one cannot wait! A huge thanks to Kirsten for being so generous with her time from Behind the Lines!
Next time I’ll be reviewing Una McCormack’s newest addition to the Typhon Pact series ‘Brinkmanship’. I’m already beyond excited to read another story from the lady who brought us ‘The Never Ending Sacrifice’ and I’ll hope you’ll join me again to discuss it.
Until next time friends!
Oh…and get excited for October!
Want to pick up a copy of The Eternal Tide to see what all the excitement is about? Check out [amazon_link id=”145166818X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]here[/amazon_link]!
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