Star Trek: Voyager: Distant ShoresBy Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at November 2, 2005 - 6:37 PM GMT
Title: Star Trek: Voyager: Distant Shores
Editor: Marco Palmieri
Release Date: November 2005
Format: Trade Paperback
Any television series, especially viewed in hindsight, misses storytelling opportunities. Pocket Books Editor Marco Palmieri set out to exploit some of those missed opportunities on Star Trek: Voyager in the new anthology Distant Shores. In Distant Shores Palmieri has brought together a blend of veteran Star Trek authors and newer voices to pay tribute to the 10th anniversary of the series with a beautifully balanced collection of stories that accomplish something I did not think was possible; reading the stories within its pages made me feel nostalgic for Voyager.
Each of the stories in Distant Shores is set within the series's seven year run and the stories are presented in chronological order with a framing story bookending the first and last entries. Twelve different and singular voices contributed to Distant Shores: Christopher L. Bennett, Kirsten Beyer, Ilsa J. Bick, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Robert Greenberger, Heather Jarman, Robert T. Jeschonek, Jeffrey Lang, Terri Osborne, Kim Sheard, James Swallow and Geoffrey Thorne. Collectively this volume shares the spotlight among all the characters and provides for the reader a very real sense of the long journey the crew undertook and the changes that occurred along the way.
The first story up, "Command Code" by Robert Greenberger is set shortly after the pilot episode "Caretaker". Even without the notation of when this story is set you would know immediately as Greenberger perfectly captures the ambiance of tension early in the series when the two crews were still distrustful of each other.
"Winds of Change" by Kim Sheard, which is set immediately after the third-season episode "Warlord" features a surprising character pairing, Kes and B'Elanna, two characters who were never seen interacting much on the series. Given their contradictory personalities it might initially seem odd that Kes would turn to B'Elanna for help, as she does in "Winds of Change" but it works perfectly.
The light and amusing little romp, "Talent Night" by Jeffrey Lang will plaster a grin on your face that's likely to linger for a while. Taking the story idea from a single line by Neelix in the third-season episode, "Coda", "Talent Night" not only has a little fun with the characters and some of their quirkier traits, but the story also provides a discerning glimpse into the Tom and B'Elanna relationship.
"Letting Go" by Keith R.A. DeCandido is a wonderful story that does not feature a single Voyager character. Rather, "Letting Go" is a story compassionately told from the point of view, over a period of several years, of the families and friends that the crew left behind.
James Swallow's contribution, the very touching tale "Closure" finds Neelix and Seven trapped amid ancient alien ruins. "Closer" is set during the fifth-season as is "The Secret Heart of Zolaluz" by Robert T. Jeschonek. In "The Secret Heart of Zolaluz" Jeschonek delves into how Seven of Nine learned to overcome and cope with the dark thoughts she must have experienced from time to time given her life's experiences and it is a surprisingly uplifting story.
"Isabo's Shirt" by Kirsten Beyer is another fifth-season story and one that many fans have long been anticipating. In "Isabo's Shirt" Beyer at last resolves the often hinted at, but never really explored, potential romantic relationship between Janeway and Chakotay. This story stood out the most in terms of Beyer's narrative style but what I appreciated most about "Isabo's Shirt" was the tidy little 'Chef Chell' touch.
Christopher L. Bennett moves the reader into the sixth-season of Voyager with "Brief Candle" a tender and poignant story of the former Borg drone Lt. Marika Willkarah's last weeks. Bennett prose exhibits great sensitivity in this follow-up to the episode "Survival Instinct".
Set during the sixth-season episode "Blink of an Eye" is Terri Osborne's contribution "Eighteen Minutes". This extremely clever story sets out to discover what the EMH was doing for three years through the perusal of his own personal logs and Osborne totally nails the voice of the Doctor. The added little touch of the precision of the Stardate calculation is just perfect.
The final two stories "Or the Tiger" by Geoffrey Thorne and "Bottomless" by Ilsa J. Bick, set during the sixth and seventh season respectively, both make use of ex-Equinox crewmembers but in entirely different ways. Thorne's excellent story shed's new light on B'Elanna's internal struggles with her own baggage while Bick's dark but affecting tale explores the need to belong.
"Da Capo Al Fine" by Heather Jarman both supports and compliments the eleven stories told between parts one and two. In "Da Capo Al Fine" Jarman uses the final moments of Admiral Janeway very effectively as a focal point that leaves you pondering the internal and external conflicts that the crew of Voyager had to face on their long journey home.
Each story in this collection is, in its own way, a true tribute. In this case, missed opportunities are to the benefit of the reader. Distant Shores is a wonderful commemoration and celebration of Star Trek: Voyager.
Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.