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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tuvok's getting even uglier than he was before, 12 Jan 2006
By 
David Roy (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: String Theory: Fusion Bk. 2 (Star Trek: Voyager) (Mass Market Paperback)
String Theory: Fusion, by Kirsten Beyer, continues the strong Voyager performance shown in Cohesion, though there are more minor problems here than there were in the first book. Still, Beyer does herself proud with her first novel (she has a lot of screenplay and teleplay credits, however). It has a bit more technobabble than the first one did (and that one did have a lot), but Beyer doesn't completely forget the characters. In fact, she concentrates on the Voyager crew even more than Lang did.
The starship Voyager continues its trek through an area of space that shouldn't exist. Space continues to fall apart around it, but the crew has more to worry about. Tuvok, their security officer, has made off with a shuttle (it's amazingly easy to steal these things) and is answering a psychic call that leads him to a fueling station inside the singularity. Risking the entire ship to follow him, Janeway and her crew manage to navigate (with a little help from the array itself) to a docking port, where they discover the answer to all of their refueling needs. They also discover a mystery, one that will lead them to the answer of what happened to the 14th tribe of the Monoharans that left their home planet in search of paradise. They also find another mystery, one that harkens back to one of their early adventures, and one that could ultimately lead to their destruction. Even if they rescue Tuvok in time to prevent a hideous (or joyous, in his thoughts) transformation, will they be able to save Janeway?
There are passages in Fusion that tend to drag, mainly when Janeway is having the entire history of the alien race explained to her. The plotting isn't as crisp and the flow isn't as smooth as Cohesion, but Beyer still manages to have a good number of character moments in the book, demonstrating that she really does have a handle on these characters. She even manages to not have Neelix be too annoying. In fact, Neelix gets some very good characterization, showing how his love for Naomi Wildman, the little girl for whom he is the godfather, has given him another purpose in life after the events of a past episode where he discovered that the Talaxian version of the afterlife is not true. His soul-searching does go on a bit much at times, but overall his characterization is really strong.
Beyer captures the other characters just as expertly, and she doesn't have to worry as much about the alien viewpoint as Lang did, with only one alien character (the one who is pretending to be Janeway's sister). One thing these authors are really highlighting (I'm assuming Heather Jarman will too, in the third book, but maybe she won't) is a sort of unrequited love between Chakotay and Janeway, something the series hinted at but never resolved. Some of Chakotay's pining in Janeway's ready room is more than just the "Janeway's such a good captain, how can I replace her?" whining. I always found that romantic tension between them a little annoying, so it becomes even more so here. However, it is true to what the series gave us, so Beyer is just working with what she's been given, and she does it effectively. Lang managed to make it a little less certain than Beyer did, but that's a completely subjective judgment, in a "I'll know it when I see it" manner. She doesn't use the narrative technique of calling Janeway "Kathryn" when a passage is told from Chakotay's viewpoint, or at least not as much. Of course, there aren't as many scenes with them together, so that would explain that.
So what about the plot? I liked how it reflected back to the beginnings of Voyager's trek through the Delta Quadrant, and the use of continuity was extremely well-done on Beyer's part. In hindsight, there's a lot there, but it's not that intrusive. In fact, there were a couple of times where I had a little trouble realizing what she was referring to, which shows that she wasn't over-explaining every little reference. I enjoyed that. As I said, there is more technobabble here than in the other book, but it's not completely out of left field. The huge "war in heaven" explanation for the alien race does go on a bit long at times, but I appreciated that Beyer *showed* us the history (through the allegorical reenactments for Janeway's benefit) rather than just doing a massive infodump. Janeway and Phoebe are still talking through the entire thing, but at least it was a start.
Fusion also makes a nice continuation to Cohesion. It is certainly capable of standing on its own, as anything from the previous book is explained in this one (such as the Torres/Seven link that was done in the first book, as well as the key that ends up being very important here). However, it adds to the rich texture of the first book, explaining one of the mysteries from it and adding even more. The book, much like its predecessor, ends on a cliffhanger, but this particular story has been told. It will all link together, but you can come in to the series at any point and know what's going on. It's an effective way of telling a trilogy.
Finally, I liked the little touches. Fusion uses, as a way to move the plot forward, a reference to the episode Deadlock, where Voyager is split in two. It's these subtle (though well-explained, for the reader who never saw the episode) things that I really enjoyed about the book. Fusion is another in a string (pardon the pun) of great Voyager novels. Worth checking out if you have any kind of liking for the Voyager crew. And even if you don't, maybe you will.
David Roy
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String Theory: Fusion Bk. 2 (Star Trek: Voyager)
String Theory: Fusion Bk. 2 (Star Trek: Voyager) by Kristin Beyer (Mass Market Paperback - 5 Dec 2005)
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