Monday, April 25, 2011

Unworthy

Star Trek: Voyager (Relaunch): Unworthy by Kirsten Beyer
Published October 2009
Read: April 24th, 2011


Previous book (Voyager Relaunch): Full Circle
Next book (Voyager Relaunch): Children of the Storm


Click the cover to purchase Unworthy at Amazon.com!

Spoilers ahead for Unworthy and other novels in the Trek Lit universe!


From the back cover:

Freed with a thought, the greatest menace to humanity, the Borg are gone, absorbed into the Caeliar gestalt. But are they? Can this deadly menace, that has hovered over humanity for decades truly be gone? Might some shadow of the Caeliar remain? The Federation decides that they have to know and Starfleet is ordered to find out. 
The Starship Voyager leads a fleet into a region of space that has lived in fear of instant annihilation for generations, home of the Borg, the Delta quadrant. Afsarah Eden—the new captain of Voyager is charged getting answers, to reach out to possible allies, and resolve old enmities in the Delta quadrant. 
The perfection that was given to the Borg was withheld from Seven of Nine. Left behind she is living a twilight existence—neither Borg nor human—and slowly going mad. The whispers of the Collective, comforting mummers she has always known, is replaced with a voice deep within her that keeps insisting she is Annika Hansen. Chakotay, the former captain of Voyager, offers to help Seven rendezvous with the ships that Starfleet Command has sent into the Delta quadrant, the probable destination of the mysterious Caeliar.
These are not the friendly stars of the Federation, the unknown and the unexpected are the everyday.

About the novel:
Unworthy picks up the Voyager relaunch where Full Circle left off.  The Starship Voyager finds herself once again headed to the Delta Quadrant, at the head of a fleet outfitted with Starfleet's next generation propulsion system, the quantum slipstream drive.  After the death of Admiral Janeway, the Voyager crew has seem some recent upheaval.  She is commanded by Captain Afsarah Eden, with Lt. Commander Tom Paris as her first officer and Lieutenant Harry Kim as the security chief.  Because the current Trek novels maintain continuity with each other, Commander Tuvok is no longer part of the crew as he is currently serving as security chief of the USS Titan under Captain William Riker.  Rounding out the command crew are Lieutenant Nancy Conlon, chief engineer; Ensign Lasren, a Betazoid operations officer; Lieutenant Devi Patel, science officer; blue-haired half-Kriosian Ensign Aytar Gwyn serves as conn officer; and chief medical officer Doctor Sharak, a Tamarian who, thankfully, doesn't speak only in metaphor.

Seven of Nine, who had previously refused a place in the fleet due to having to remain on Earth to care for her sick aunt, decides to join the crew after her aunt passes away.  Chakotay, who had resigned his commission following Janeway's death, joins her as an advisor.  Captain Eden accepts them aboard Voyager, and the fleet heads out.  Along with Voyager, the other ships in the fleet are the Esquiline, Quirinal, Hawking, Curie, Planck, Galen, Achilles, and Demeter.  There are a few more familiar faces among the fleet: The Doctor (the original EMH from Voyager) is chief medical officer of the USS Galen, the fleet's medical ship.  Also assigned to the Galen is Reg Barclay.  Commanding the fleet is Admiral Willem Batiste, the ex-husband of Captain Eden.

In previous novels of the Voyager relaunch, the deaths of B'Elanna Torres and Miral Paris (B'Elanna and Tom's daughter) had been faked in order to escape a group of Klingons who were trying to murder Miral due to her status as the "Kuva'magh," or savior of the Klingon people (as revealed in the season seven Voyager episode "Prophecy").  Following a plan laid out in the previous novel, B'Elanna and Miral are en route to the Delta quadrant aboard a private shuttle, intending to meet with the Voyager fleet when they arrive.  Paris would then tender his resignation, and the three of them would begin their new lives away from murderous Klingon sects in the Delta quadrant.  However, things do not go as planned.  Captain Eden is disappointed in Commander Paris' plan to leave the ship and strike out with his family, and instead persuades him to remain aboard as first officer with his family staying as well.  Voyager's fleet arrives just in time to rescue the two wayward Klingons from an attacking alien vessel, belonging to a race that idolized the Borg.  A highly cooperative society, the Indign see the Borg as having achieved a perfect cooperation, and strive to make themselves "worthy" of assimilation.  However, that goal will now never be realized with the destruction of the Borg during the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy.  The Indign are in the habit of leaving "offerings" to the Borg in the form of slaughtered aliens for them to assimilate.  Soon, Voyager and the fleet find themselves on the Indign's bad side and are targeted by them.  Also, there is an alleged saboteur aboard Voyager who seems to be intent on opening a rift to fluidic space (the realm of Species 8472), and most of the evidence would seem to point to Chakotay.  Finally, a member of the Indign takes control over the consciousness of a holographic crewmember (Meegan) aboard the Galen.  Its purpose, at this point, remains unclear.

Okay, this has been a really long set up.  Let's wrap up quickly!  In the end, Voyager and the fleet are able to resolve their issues with the Indign, Admiral Batiste is revealed to be the saboteur and is in fact a spy from Species 8472 trying to return home, the possessed Meegan escapes Voyager in a shuttlecraft, and the fleet sets out on their mission of exploration through the Delta quadrant.  With Batiste gone, Captain Eden is assigned command of the fleet, and Chakotay's commission is reinstated.  He is assigned command of Voyager once again, and B'Elanna Torres becomes chief engineer for the fleet.


My thoughts:
In the days of televised Voyager, I was not the biggest fan of the series.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it for the simple fact that it was Star Trek, but when compared to Deep Space Nine or The Next Generation, Voyager just did not stack up.  To this day, in my mind, it remains the weakest of the Star Trek series.

However, the relaunch novels have been outstanding.  I've only read Full Circle and Unworthy, but they were both two of the best Star Trek novels I've read.  Kirsten Beyer is great at weaving a complex story with many different threads into a cohesive and enjoyable narrative.  She has the voices of the characters down pat, more so even than the producers of the series.  When Seven or the Doctor speak, I hear the voices of Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo.

I am a huge fan of character development.  This is one of the reasons I enjoyed Deep Space Nine so much more than Voyager.  In seven seasons, none of the characters Voyager (with the possible exception of The Doctor) enjoyed the level of character development that even secondary and recurring characters received on DS9.  However, the novels are a different story.  Each character makes a personal journey in this novel, and each is set on a path to continue their journeys in upcoming installments.  One thread in the story is the falling out between Harry Kim and Tom Paris over the latter's keeping secret the fact that B'Elanna and Miral are still alive.  It was painful to read as the rift between these two friends grew wider, but it rang very true.  Kim felt very betrayed, and part of me can't blame him.  I also see things from Tom's perspective, and the distance that grows between the two seems very genuine and realistic.  They do appear to be making steps towards reconciliation (thanks to Voyager's counselor), but I believe that this issue will continue to be dealt with in the upcoming sequel, Children of the Storm, also by Kirsten Beyer.


Final Thoughts:
An exciting and fast-paced story with many twists and turns.  Often, Star Trek novels can be formulaic and easy to predict; However, this outing, like much of the modern Trek novels, proved to be unique and exciting, with many plot twists I certainly didn't see coming.  I highly recommend reading this tale, but if you haven't read the Destiny trilogy or the previous Next Generation and Voyager relaunch novels, you may feel a little lost.  I feel compelled to give this novel a 9.5/10.  Great read!


More about Unworthy:

Also by Kirsten Beyer:

My next read:
I'm currently reading book three of the Star Trek: Vanguard series, entitled Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack.