You said that we needed to talk about my mother, and that it is a matter of some urgency. What happened to her?
First, how much do you know about your mother’s recent activities?
How the hell should I know anything? I’ve been lost in the Delta Quadrant for seven years!
-Lieutenant B’Elanna Torres of the U.S.S. Voyager and Commander Loght of the Klingon Empire
Okay. I’ll admit it. Of all the shows that have had “Star Trek” on the header, I liked Voyager the least. I didn’t have a problem with the captain; I’ve never had a problem with a woman in command of a starship. I didn’t have a problem with the concept; stuck 70+ years away from the nearest friendly port had a lot of potential to it. But as the seasons rolled on, I got less enthused by the show; it seemed there was little in the way of consequence from episode to episode. Perhaps I was spoiled by the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine; DS9 of course had the ongoing Dominion War, and actions in previous episodes could have consequences in the next; and even the Next Generation crew evolved (Worf being the obvious example, but there were other great touches such as Picard’s attitude towards the Borg after being assimilated). But in Voyager, after the first couple of seasons…. I realize I’m probably being unfair; there were episodes that carried over consequences, so I can’t point to that as my major problem; I also had trouble with the fact that the Borg had become just another evil-species-of-the-week, or with how Seven of Nine came to dominate much of the show. Or maybe I’ve become old and set in my ways. Even the novels hadn’t inspired me all that much.
But in the present day, it seems that the Star Trek books have become more impressive, and none more so than the Deep Space Nine relaunch, set after that series ended. I expect it had much to do with the fact that the authors had a great deal of freedom to write without fear of a movie contradicting them later on. But because of the successful relaunch, it encouraged me when I heard that there was a Voyager relaunch waiting in the wings taking place after the crew returned home. And that brings us to the novel Homecoming, the kick-off of the Voyager relaunch, and it starts up roughly ten minutes after the series finale. And I’ll say up front-Christie Golden has set up no shortage of subplots to work with! Let me go a step further; to date, I’d say this is the best Voyager book I’ve read (although, granted, this could be considered faint praise).
The crew of the U. S. S. Voyager return to a very different quadrant than they’d left behind, seven years ago; while they’ve been gone, a war had started and ended which had caused a great deal of damage to the worlds of the Federation; the Borg had taken another good hard crack at assimilating planet Earth; the Maquis, a group of fighters in the Cardassian DMZ, had been effectively exterminated as an organization in the war; as a result, the return of Voyager doesn’t quite rate the level of celebration they had received in the alternate future of Admiral Janeway. Worse, there are some in Starfleet who look upon the crew with suspicion-after all, Admiral Janeway busted the Temporal Prime Directive to bits with her actions-and her futuristic technology is still a part of Voyager.
So, what does the future hold for this crew? Well, it shouldn’t surprise anyone who has seen the movie “Nemesis” that a promotion gets kicked through; I’ll reserve my comments on this promotion for a future review, since there may be Star Trek fans who haven’t actually seen it. As for the others…. Well, on this, I have to give Golden a lot of credit-remember what I said about the show and consequences? Well, she picks up a few selected loose ends and tosses them at the Voyager crew, one person at a time. The Doctor and B’Elanna bear the brunt of two, but one whopping loose end comes to affect the entire crew (and I spoil nothing by saying that resisting it might be futile; when the back of the book flat out tells you….). There’s also some great moments as Tom Paris is reunited with his dad-and has to introduce him to his wife and new child; Chakotay dealing with his feelings for Seven of Nine, who becomes somewhat notorious herself because of being a live (albeit former) Borg on a world that just escaped assimilation twice; and Harry Kim, who gets what he deserves on the one hand, and becomes an object of unusual scrutiny on the other.
This was a terrific start to the relaunch; while I don’t think it was quite as strong as the DS9 relaunch’s start, it’s a vast improvement over previous Voyager novels. And the continuing storyline that is starting is following one of the big loose ends from one of the bigger shows in the series (presuming I guess right; it seems obvious to me, but authors have surprised me quite often). If you enjoyed Voyager on T.V., you will love this book. If you didn’t…well, you may be a little lost with some of the references, but I think you’ll find it’s at least worth checking out.