The Star Trek: Voyager Companion

Book titleOrder this bookStory: The journeys of the starship Voyager are explored through extensive synopses of every episode.

Review: First, a note about how we approach things here at Even the stuff that we don’t really get into, we realize that someone, somewhere, probably adores. When it comes right down to it, it’s just our opinion anyway, and everything is somebody’s curate’s egg. We really try not to pan something relentlessly. That being said, readers should be forewarned that, in this reviewer’s honest and fair opinion, The “Star Trek: Voyager Companion” sucks. I cannot believe Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, or Viacom Licensing let this turkey hit a printing press in this form.

Lulled into a false sense of security by the magnificent work that was the “Deep Space Nine Companion” (see Jeff Godemann’s review of that book here), I grabbed this official guide to all seven years of Voyager and headed for the cash register without cracking the cover to look inside.

Big, big, Delta Quadrant-sized mistake.

This book contains no factual analysis of the episodes, and if you’re lucky, there might be three or four sentences worth of behind-the-scenes trivia on a given show. It’s a sickening culture shock after the “DS9 Companion” spoiled me with page after page of interviews with writers, directors, actors, designers, effects artists, and producers. That sort of information is limited to a handful of sidebars on the characters and introductory chapters to each season.

As much as I cringed at the fawning tone of the late Stephen Poe’s “A Vision Of The Future”, that book at least had meat to it. The author of the “Voyager Companion”, Paul Ruditis, has written behind-the-scenes sections for the novelizations of the past couple of Star Trek movies – and it’s astonishing that he hasn’t even brought the depth of those brief end-of-the-book inserts to a book of this length. Was that effort not expended on this book to begin with, or was behind-the-scenes material subject to approval by Paramount, by Rick Berman or Brannon Braga, or by some other party? As it is, the book’s episode synopses are epic-length, there’s marginally fascinating trivia about which shuttles have been destroyed or how many times the crew has contacted Earth, but there’s no meat to the book – there’s virtually nothing about how the show was made and shepherded through every season.

It’s a poor excuse for a reference book, even if it is only a reference book to a science fiction television series, when the “Voyager Companion” is more than likely to be outstripped as a source of information by the DVD extras on next year’s box sets.

Simon & Schuster has made it clear that the Star Trek nonfiction titles haven’t sold as well as they used to, and they’re not making any plans for further books of that genre beyond the “Voyager Companion”. And if this is as much effort as the publisher plans to put into the proceedings, good riddance, I say. The days of stellar books like “The Making Of Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek Phase II” are long gone, replaced by this, a book that’s thick on pages and thin on any kind of useful or even interesting content.

I’ll admit, Voyager wasn’t my favorite Trek spinoff – but I was looking forward to this book so I could learn why certain creative decisions were made, gain some insight and maybe increase my understanding and enjoyment of the show. Instead, we’re given something just short of page-long synopses for each episode – thanks, but I’ve done the synopsis thing – and we’re none the wiser about those creative decisions.

Do yourself a favor and take a pass on this one.

Year: 2003
Author: Paul Ruditis
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 482