These questions are from Melissa Davis and are quite long, as are their responses, so I'm going to break this one up.
I’m going to begin by thanking you for giving me an opportunity to ask a question (or five) since a family reunion is interfering with my chance to come to your Bring Back Janeway panel in person. Well, the reunion and the fact that I live in Kansas.
I do have several questions, but I understand that you may or may not use any or all of them. Quite possibly, others will ask similar questions in a format that you prefer, and that’s fine. However, these are all issues I’d love to hear you discuss!
Question 1: The editor who supposedly told Peter David to “kill” Janeway has been quoted as saying that “Janeway’s story had been told” in the televised series and that as an admiral she was not going to do anything worth writing about. The implication was that there was nothing left for Janeway to do. Do you agree with this assessment? That is, can you imagine Janeway involved in things that would have been interesting to the readers? Should that decision be revisited?
What Margaret actually said...I was in the Shoreleave panel at the time...was that in some ways
Janeway's story had been told. I know it sounds like I'm splitting hairs here, but I think the distinction is important because to just say "her story had been told" sounds vaguely idiotic, which Margaret is not, and leads people to further implications that are simply not part of the statement as a whole.
What this meant to me, and I tend to agree with, is the idea that Janeway's most compelling character arc as captain of Voyager
was getting her crew home. It starts in "Caretaker" and is there all the way through "Endgame." No one ever said that after she got her crew home she wasn't going to do anything worth writing about and no one ever implied that there was nothing
left for Janeway to do. In fact, she appears as an Admiral in several novels prior to Before Dishonor
and is featured in Full Circle. Paramount
made the decision to promote her to Admiral..as we all saw in Nemesis
, and Christie Golden made the choice to make that promotion happen virtually the moment the crew got home in her first relaunch novel.
What that means is you only have a handful of choices going forward. You either leave her as an Admiral and keep her actions somewhat separate, but likely interrelated in some way with the events that are happening on the ship. You let the events on the ship become less important and focus more on Janeway as an Admiral. You focus more on the ship and allow Janeway to become a less significant character. Or you find a way to have it make sense that going forward the ship would need an Admiral on board.
Here's where everyone usually starts to scream and yell that we knew we were going to have an admiral leading the fleet back to the DQ and why in the name of all that is holy didn't we just use Janeway as that admiral and spare everyone this misery.
But the fact is, we didn't have any idea that there would be a fleet going back to the Delta Quadrant when Margaret first conceived of the notion to allow Janeway to die as part of the bigger Borg/Destiny arc of books. Marco and I came up with the fleet years later and long after Before Dishonor
had been written.
Yes, of course, interesting things could have been devised for Janeway, despite the dangers of retreading old ground ala Kirk's many adventures after he became an admiral but somehow kept finding his way back to Enterprise's captain's chair.
But it seemed to me at the time, and to my editor, that one of the most interesting things she could do was to die in the line of duty because, as I've said many times before, this was a story we'd never seen before. Maybe not interesting for her since she's, you know, dead. But terribly interesting for everyone she left behind who still has a job to do and must now do it while wrestling with their grief at her loss. And terribly interesting for Voyager
as a whole.
I don't think the decision needs to be revisited, by which I mean that I don't think it was a bad call at the time. It has given us some really good stories which, if they do not appeal to you, you should definitely not bother reading. And they in no way preclude the possibility that she could return and be a part of more really interesting stories going forward.