The Eternal Tide (Star Trek: Voyager) – Kirsten Beyer – review

The Eternal Tide cover

The Eternal Tide by Kirsten Beyer is the latest Star Trek Voyager novel. I don’t think I’m giving anything away to say that this novel deals with the return of Kathryn Janeway to the Star Trek universe (her picture is on the cover after all). Janeway was killed off quite some time ago, and it does feel like the last few novels have been building up to this return.

I’ve been mildly enjoying the Voyager relaunch series. As I mentioned in my review of  Children of the Storm by effectively cutting Starfleet down to nine ships sent off into the Delta quadrant, Beyer has created some containment to a story universe that seemed to be expanding out of control.

Janeway is returned in really the only way possible, by the intervention of the Q Continuum. She was pretty definitively dead, so Beyer had to go even further than the device used to bring Spock back in the Star Trek movies. Given the constraints, it was understandable but I’ve been a little disappointed in how the books in the Star Trek universe have backtracked on getting rid of major characters (I’m thinking and Sisko and Janeway mainly here). It feels a bit like caving to fan pressure, rather than good story telling.

I’ve been hoping that the characters in the Voyager reboot get some decent character development. However, I’m not entirely convinced that they do. To a large extent it seems the purpose of the last few books has been essentially to restore everyone to their previous role, but bumping them all up a grade (everyone wins a prize).

(I’ve got to say, the “Tom and B’Ellana have the perfect child” subplot was really starting to grate by the end of this novel. Everyone thinks their child is perfect, but 99.99999999% of the time they are not. Again this feels like the author is a new parent still very much in awe of their own child, and it’s about as welcome as a new parent talking about their “amazing child” at a dinner party. I hope future books can move past it, the characterisation is very irritating)

Having said all that, there was some very interesting plot in this book. I was intrigued by the back story of Fleet Commander Afsarah Eden and I did like the treatment of the Q Continuum. Beyer is not afraid to kill off characters and has winnowed away a lot of the excess, leaving a manageable cast of main characters for future books. I thought the main story thread here (once you remove the stuff primarily designed to justify Janeway’s return) was good.

For fans of Voyager and Captain Janeway, this will be a must read. If you haven’t been reading along on the reboot, this isn’t the place to start.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.

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This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

Children of the Storm by Kirsten Beyer – review

Children of the Storm by Kirsten Beyer is the latest in the series of Star Trek Voyager books that traces the adventures of the crew of the Voyager after they return to Earth.

Star Trek novels are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine – I really enjoyed the various TV series when they were on (although watching repeats on Foxtel sometimes reminds me to never revisit the things I remember loving!). Still, I’ve been particularly enjoying the continuation of the Voyager, Deep Space Nine (my favourite of the TV series) and Enterprise stories in book form.

Children of the Storm continues the story of a group of Starfleet vessels, lead by Voyager, that returns to the Delta quadrant using slipstream drive technology. I think this has been a very clever premise for this particular storyline. In some ways, the Star Trek universe has gotten too big and the Federation too powerful to have really interesting stories. The scale of the threat required to trouble the Federation as a whole are so grandiose that the scale of story telling required to match it had become almost impossible to do well.

The move to a nine ship fleet in hostile space means that the stories can be toned down as well, and that is frankly a relief. I enjoyed that aspect of this story.

The story itself was fairly standard Star Trek fare, with an inscrutable alien race, cultural misunderstandings, the threat of war and inter-species understanding triumphing in the end. The story was competently executed, although there was a significant amount of “set up” work this story had to achieve to help establish the fleet and the main characters. It did this well – in some places it was a little clunky, but only in a minor way.

One element grated a little – the constant reference to the miracle of young life in the form of a precocious child was overblown. It reminded me of the way new parents can go on at length about their wonderful child, when everyone else in the room is rolling their eyes (I was/am not immune to this syndrome myself, but in my case it’s different – my children really are that fantastic). I was not surprised to read in the author’s afterword that Beyer was a new parent. Hopefully that element of her authorial voice will get toned down a little in future books.

Apart from that a well executed novel establishing an interesting story arc for the Star Trek universe. Looking forward to reading more.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.

Creative Commons License
This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.