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5.0 out of 5 stars And now Voyager gets the anthology treatment, 19 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Distant Shores: Star Trek Voyager Anthology (Paperback)
Star Trek: Voyager was ten years old in 2005, and as part of the celebration, Pocket Books published Distant Shores, an anthology of stories set during the television series. Edited by Marco Palmieri, this collection is definitely better than a lot of the episodes, with great characterization of the regulars, imaginative extrapolations from existing episodes, as well as original stories that don't have anything to do with the episodes. One of the things I've noticed about these anthologies (Prophecy & Change for Deep Space Nine is another one) is that the stories are often used to show us things that the various episodes weren't able to show, for whatever reason.
Thus, we get some closure to the relationship between Neelix and Kes ("Closure"). We see some of the survivors of the Equinox (from the episode of the same name) who joined the Voyager crew, and then disappeared into the vast Central Casting pool, never to be seen again. Some of the stories are quite touching, while others are fun. This is definitely a collection for any Voyager fan, and even non-Voyager fans might actually like it a little bit.
The anthology begins and ends with "Da Capo al Fine" (Heather Jarman),told in two parts and separated by a cliffhanger. The Admiral Janeway from the future who came back to help Voyager home (in the finale) is being mentally assaulted by the Borg Queen. Or is she? Could some alien be returning to deliver what he promised? She visits numerous instances of the life and death decisions she's had to make over seven years in the Delta Quadrant, and she must decide whether to turn down a final offer that could eradicate all of that. I wasn't sure what to make of this story at first, but ultimately it could almost be an analogy for the whole Voyager series. If we had it all to do over, would we begin this tragic journey again? These seven long years? Ultimately, the answer is a given, but it's still an interesting exploration in Jarman's hands.
Probably the best story in the entire book is "Brief Candle" (Christopher L. Bennett). Lieutenant Marika Willkarah has recently been rescued from the Borg collective, but unfortunately her severing from the link is going to kill her soon. She decides that she has to live her life to the fullest in her limited time. She becomes attracted to Ensign Harry Kim, who feels he can't return her feelings because he would get too close to her and her death would be too painful. Whether or not she convinces him to ignore that fear, we see her carry out her goal. And when it's time to go out, she is able to make the choice her own way. This is an incredibly touching story that did leave a tear in my eye at the end. It ties in nicely with the episodes that are supposedly around it, and Bennett's characterization is wonderful. Kim is a great mix of naïve and afraid, and his best friend, Tom Paris, is not afraid to let him know when he's being an idiot. The coda to the story is what definitely makes it work, however. This is a must-read for any Voyager fan.
Coming very close to "Brief Candle" is "Letting Go" (Keith R.A. DeCandido). What about those who the Voyager crew left behind? Told from the eyes of Mark Johnson, Janeway's fiancé, this is the story of the survivors and how they coped with the supposed loss of Voyager. It covers about three years in time, from the one-year anniversary of Voyager's disappearance to just after they discover the Voyager is stranded, and it's a very poignant story. Mark is basically living his life from day to day, never quite severing his ties with Janeway, until a friendship develops with another Starfleet officer who also lost a loved one on Voyager. She finally forces him to let go and live his life again, and he finds a woman right under his nose. Meanwhile, a young man whose father was on Voyager also can't let go, and that may have more tragic consequences. This is a side of Voyager that the television show could never show us, and I'm glad DeCandido did. It almost brought a tear to my eye. It's a story of love, loss, and mourning, and ultimately how we can hold too tight to the past if we don't let go. It's simply wonderful.
There really isn't a bad story in this book, with just minor characterization problems, or slightly boring bits, being the main problem with any of them. I could only say that about one or two of the stories, though. Otherwise, this is a standout story collection, and a must-have for any true Voyager fan.
David Roy
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