Story: With Borg assimilation slowly spreading in viral form on Earth, and Voyager’s holographic Doctor accused of having a hand in a violent “holorevolution,” suspicion is cast on Voyager’s crew. Admiral Janeway is already putting plans into action to free the Doctor, Seven of Nine and Icheb, in the hopes of not only clearing their names, but putting them to work solving the Borg mystery. With help from Lt. Commander Data, who has ostensibly arrived to provide legal counsel in the Doctor’s fight for recognition as a sentient, Janeway and her reunited crew retake Voyager and prepare for the fight ahead, when a shocking discovery is made: a new Borg Queen is behind the assimilation virus, and has been working on it for years – from within Starfleet itself.
Review: Picking up from the end of “Homecoming” and barreling toward the story’s conclusion without pausing for breath, “The Farther Shore” continues to complicate the immediate plotline for Voyager’s crew, but is clearly setting up problems for them to tackle down the road. In some cases – such as the holograms’ equivalent of a civil rights movement – things are left maddeningly unresolved. Other threads, such as B’Elanna’s search for her mother, are resolved but remain oddly disconnected from the main action. Indeed, every time the narrative shifted to B’Elanna playing out what sometimes seemed like the Klingon version of Survivor, I found myself getting antsy to return to the main plotline.
The characters’ voices are true to how they were portrayed on television, but this book takes a turn that too many episodes took: the focus is squarely on Janeway and Seven. B’Elanna has her own prominent plot thread that has no impact on the main story (and delves into Klingon honor and mysticism, topics I hoped we’d seen the back of with the end of TNG and DS9), and there are some interesting scenes for Harry Kim, but Chakotay, Tuvok and the Doctor wind up taking a back seat to Data. This would be less palatable if not for the author at least making good use of Data in the story – considering his anti-Borg exploits in The Best Of Both Worlds and Star Trek: First Contact, actually, it’s suspiciously lucky for Janeway that Data’s along for the ride.
Two things that were probably meant to be shockers – the resolution of the story involving B’Elanna’s search for her mother, and a side story about a Starfleet officer’s change of heart involving holograms – were, in fact, quite predictable. I saw the “twist” to both of these from a mile off…which, perhaps, isn’t good when the latter plotline was meant to be a real mindf**k.
If there was one very real frustration with this book, however, it’s that it doesn’t really deal with the politically-charged ideas introduced in “Homecoming.” That book dealt with subjects such as indefinite imprisonment without specific charges in a very on-the-nose fashion, but this one seems to opt out of the Trek tradition of socially relevant storytelling and uses these things as mere plot complications. Maybe it’s better that way, to stir up the subject in the reader’s mind without getting into a discussion of the politics involved among the book’s characters, but “Homecoming” seemed to be setting up something a little more…well…substantial. Even the would-be Borg Queen turns out to be what Seven describes as a “damaged individual,” and the ending, while effective in tying off the dramatic threads of the story, really seems to lack the kind of bite that will keep the reader thinking about the underlying ideas after closing the cover.
Still, it’s a perfectly serviceable page-turner, and even with these shortcomings, it’s a more effective full-stop conclusion of the Voyager story – with hints of adventures yet to come – than the ending that the series got on screen.
Author: Christie Golden
Publisher: Pocket Books