Saturday, April 29, 2017

Homecoming

Star Trek: Voyager
Homecoming by Christie Golden
Published June 2003
Read June 5th 2016


Previous book (Voyager): The Nanotech War

Next book (Voyager): The Farther Shore



Spoilers ahead for Homecoming!

From the back cover:
After seven long years in the Delta Quadrant, the crew of the Starship Voyager now confront the strangest world of all: home. For Admiral Kathryn Janeway and her stalwart officers, Voyager's miraculous return brings new honors and responsibilities, reunions with long-lost loved ones, and for some, such as the Doctor and Seven of Nine, the challenge of forging new lives in a Federation that seems to hold little place for them. 
But even as Janeway and the others go their separate ways, pursuing new adventures and opportunities, a mysterious cybernetic plague strikes Earth, transforming innocent men, women, and children into an entirely new generation of Borg. Now the entire planet faces assimilation, and Voyager may be to blame!

My thoughts:

Ever since the success of Deep Space Nine's Avatar, the Pocket Books Star Trek novel line has shown great interest in setting books after the finales of the various series, with novels such as Enterprise: The Good That Men Do and The Next Generation: Death In Winter kicking off the "relaunches" of their respective series. In some cases, the relaunch attempts to "right the wrongs" of the series finale, most obviously with the revelation of Trip Tucker's true fate in The Good That Men Do, undoing the grave disservice to his character in the Enterprise finale, "These Are the Voyages...". In a similar manner, I feel that Homecoming attempts to fix some of the problematic parts of the Voyager finale, "Endgame."

But what happened after the credits? Homecoming answers that question.

One of the biggest problems I had with "Endgame" is that we don't see the aftermath of Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant in any way. This is a goal they've been struggling towards for seven years. The culmination of that epic journey of over 70,000 light-years is a plaintive "We did it" from Janeway, an order to set a course for home, and the roll of the credits. Regardless of one's thoughts about Voyager, I felt that fans of the show deserved a better ending than that. Thankfully, we get a bit of restitution in Homecoming, which deals with the arrival of Voyager and the repercussions not only for the crew, but for the Federation as well.

It turns out that with all that has happened to the Federation recently, especially the devastating Dominion War, the concerns regarding Voyager and her crew are very much secondary. I thought this was an interesting take on the story, the idea that all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding their return as seen in the future portion of "Endgame" would not be something that a Federation which has just been through a major conflict is interested in. While the return of Voyager is an important event, it really does take a backseat to other issues the Federation is dealing with.

Voyager's return ends up being a little more low-key than some were expecting.

Another issue from "Endgame" that I felt needed "fixing" was the poorly thought-out relationship between Seven of Nine and Chakotay. The entire relationship came out of left field, and I was supremely happy when Christie Golden ended it in Homecoming. However, kudos to her for paying it the respect it deserved. Chakotay and Janeway do not immediately leap into each others' arms; after all, the Chakotay/Seven relationship did happen, and it is at least worthy of acknowledgement even though its ending is most welcome.

Seven and Chakotay's relationship ends in Homecoming, and its ending is quite welcome (in my humble opinion).

There is a lot going on in this novel, and something interesting for each character to do, which is very welcome, especially when it comes to characters who have been under-served by the television series. Conspiracies and hidden plots abound in Homecoming, with some characters perhaps having agendas contrary to what we would expect from them. Unfortunately, Homecoming ends on a cliffhanger, with the story being taken up in the following novel, The Farther Shore. With my commitments to the Literary Treks podcast, I haven't been able to get to that novel, and it looks like I won't be able to for some time. Hopefully I can read it at some point, however, because I'm eager to see how this all plays out!

Final thoughts:

Righting some of the wrongs of "Endgame," Homecoming is the return home that fans of Voyager deserved. However, while it does get a lot right for the Voyager crew, it is certainly far from perfect. The story takes some strange turns plot-wise, but a great deal of intrigue will keep the reader interested enough to pick up part two, The Farther Shore.

Also by Christie Golden:

My next read:

Look for my next video book review, for the David Mack novel Section 31: Control, coming soon! As for written reviews, the next one will be for Enterprise: Kobayashi Maru by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels.