I cried when Optimus Prime died.
Oh so many years ago, watching the animated Transformers The Movie, I cried. Optimus Prime was noble, and wise, and just, and patient and kind. Everything that to my young mind a leader and hero should be. So when he lost his life in battle to the treachery of the evil Megatron, I was shocked and horrified and appalled. And I cried.
A few years later in a trio of episodes he was resurrected briefly to perform one last heroic act before dying again. I was thrilled at his return and a little angry and heartbroken that he didn't get to stay not dead.
This was neither the beginning nor the end of my close emotional ties with certain fictional characters.
Spock. Joyce Summers. Old Yeller. Tara. The Green Lantern Corps. Jason Todd. To name just a few.
Sometimes it's easy to become insulated. To view what is important to oneself as IMPORTANT and to view what is unimportant to oneself as ... *shrug*.
I was guilty of that regarding the death of Kathryn Janeway. Frankly after watching Voyager I didn't much care for her. Seeing her make choices that came off to me as high handed and dictatorial did nothing to endear her to me. I wasn't terribly interested in what happened to her post TV run. When she appeared and then died in Before Dishonor I largely shrugged. And when the "Bring Back Janeway" crowd started vocally protesting the fate of the character well honestly I was bored and just wanted them to shut up already.
At the same time I didn't really have anything invested in her staying dead either. I truly just did not care one way or the other.
Comes the time for the next Voyager novel and I learn just moments before buying it that apparently Janeway was going to be resurrected. Now there might be circumstances under which I would have serious reservations about picking up the next book. But not in this case. It's all because of Buffy's sister.
I can hear those of you reading this saying with one voice... "Huh?" So I'll explain.
During the summer prior to the fifth season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, it was announced that the season would prominently feature Buffy's sister Dawn. Who would be revealed to have always existed. Despite the fact that Buffy was firmly established as an Only Child, in the four seasons previous. I was livid. I proclaimed it the stupidest thing ever etc. And then came the time for the new season and I watched riveted and loved every bit of it. Joss and company made the whole thing work and work brilliantly.
It was from that season of Buffy that I learned an important lesson that has stuck with me to this day. When a creative person has proven themselves to you, trust them. Just shut your mouth, reserve judgment and give them room to show you where they want to take you. Then when the ride is over you can decide if you are going to continue to give them your trust.
With the prior Voyager novel Ms. Beyer earned my trust. She proved that she understood with a kind of passion and depth that not all do, what makes Star Trek so unique. So I waded in to The Eternal Tide.
I loved it. I loved seeing Seven and Hugh begin their relationship. I loved seeing how the fleet was finding it's footing as a working unit. I loved how assumptions I'd made about the details of Before Dishonor were shown to be wrong, and the truth made so much more sense. I loved getting to know more about Afsarah Eden and her history. I loved seeing Hugh and The Doctor snipe at each other. I loved an Internet meme coming out of the mouth of the only Trek character that it could have come from and not seemed forced. And to my shock and surprise, I loved the return of Janeway. I loved how her death was not undone, and how nothing that the characters have gone through in the last months has been made any less meaningful.
By the time the book was nearing its climax I was caught up completely. I was amazed and afraid. And when Junior gave his life to save the Multiverse, I cried.
Janeway's back. And she's back in a way that feels meaningful. There has been no "reset" button used here. (Compare this book to Year Of Hell which while it has some great moments is rendered almost meaningless by undoing everything at the last minute) Whatever happens next the characters are going to be dealing with the repercussions of their choices for some time to come. And I strongly suspect that some of those repercussions are going to be unexpected to us all.
If Ms. Beyer is permitted to write the next book however what will not be unexpected to me is how much I will enjoy it.
Peace and Long Life