Spoilers VOY: The Eternal Tide by Kirsten Beyer Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Aug 20, 2012.

?

Rate The Eternal Tide.

  1. Outstanding

    84 vote(s)
    47.7%
  2. Above Average

    55 vote(s)
    31.3%
  3. Average

    29 vote(s)
    16.5%
  4. Below Average

    2 vote(s)
    1.1%
  5. Poor

    6 vote(s)
    3.4%
  1. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Location:
    On the USS Sovereign
    Just started. I am somewhat surprised that no one has written a Q junior/Amanda meeting until now.
    The Q sections are interesting the rest seem more of the same( short of Eden's genome).
     
  2. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    I'll show you "wall of text" you pretenders! *waves stick*

    Once upon a time there was a girl named Kathryn. She had many adventures and made many friends, but her life was tragically cut short when she was suddenly knocked down by a Borg Cube. Those who had known her were saddened, angry and in some cases very philosophical about the nature of loss, but what really got them going was the possibility that she might be brought back. This was rather controversial for many reasons, and the controversy was itself controversial to those who were missing her most keenly. Some thought the intensity of the fans’ response - on all sides to some degree but particularly on those who felt something truly irreplaceable had been lost - a bit excessive. Making Janeway a focal point for everyone’s personal insight on life, death, loss, and fate was going a bit far, surely? Janeway’s fate wasn’t actually a matter of life and death, after all. It wasn’t the end of the universe. Only it was, actually. Because in this novel, the force of pure creation and the force of pure destruction are both demanding attention, and right in the middle is Kathryn Janeway, who has to walk a rather apologetic and careful line between them. Not only that, but she must do justice to both while not shying away from her own strength and the desire to walk her own path.

    I would hazard a guess that Kirsten Beyer rather identifies with the character she’s writing, sometimes.

    This is a very ”meta” sort of novel, really. It’s the novel about the Janeway controversy, about the heated arguments, thoughtful examinations and occasional self-immolations that this fandom-within-a-fandom has hosted since Before Dishonor. But it’s also a novel about Janeway and her influence on the crew – how they coped with losing her, and how things might have changed now she’s back. And the problems confronting the characters as they wrestle old status quo with new, uneasy status quo with the knowledge that change and time will cut them off from both, are also the problems confronting the readers. We are truly with the characters this time, which was perhaps inevitable given the power the Dead One (or NOT DEAD one ;)) holds over both them and us. Granted, Janeway’s back – but does that have to negate the change in the other characters since she was lost? Are things back how they were on Voyager, or does undoing her death not undo the impact of it? What’s been lost for good and what can be reclaimed in new, perhaps better form? Is it fair to throw Janeway back into life – fair on her, fair on others, fair on us as readers? But life’s not fair, is it, and neither is death. And compromise makes no one fully happy, but hopefully content...

    Five ships down, now. A price paid for Janeway’s return (so enforcing the sense that you don’t get to avoid the harsher realities), or edging us closer to the familiar – Voyager alone and Janeway in charge (so doing just the opposite?) It’s up to us, I suppose. This is a careful novel indeed, though part of the beauty is that for all it encompasses the debate it can fuel any position among the perspectives comprising that debate, depending on how we interpret it.

    In the first half of the book, the Q are essentially giving voice to the fan debates, representing them within the novel continuity itself, filtered through the realities of the plot and the setting. They’re certainly not out of place or jarring – it’s very sensitively handled – but it did make me think that this novel can’t really be evaluated as most would. It’s too much a novel of the fandom, not just for it. It brought the ongoing disagreements over Janeway into the novel universe. In fact, I’d go further and say that Q and Q and Q weren’t having only the Janeway Debate but also the Direction of Trek Lit Debate, the Darkness Vs Optimism Debate, the Where Are They Going With This Debate. This novel seemed to examine fan responses to the direction taken by Trek lit as a whole since Janeway’s death, not limiting itself to just the one series.

    As a side note, I really appreciated how this novel handled the Q. The situation we find them in may by necessity draw on the Voyager interpretation of Q - extended Q family, the drama of omnipotent squabbling, but the general dignity with which the Q are written brought to mind the TNG Q (or, to be fair to Voyager, Death Wish), where serious and difficult issues were evident beneath the petulant clowning. The Q in this novel were philosophical and even noble; they had the feel of a family, but they also felt convincing as a society, as a force of sapience (and one existing on a more sophisticated plane at that). And Q Junior was actually convincing as the same character having “settled down”, which is impressive. And continuing the reproduction/family/pursuit of the perfect thematic arc that I’ve noted flowing through many of the 24th century novels since Greater Than the Sum, I’m glad someone confronted the question of what procreation really means for beings like the Q.

    I also think this novel a great ending for the Q, actually. In Q&A (which was referenced in The Eternal Tide in a scene where Q stresses the significance of Picard being the One), we saw how the Q had been guiding humanity toward new experiences, new truths, in an effort to save them all. And we were given the impression, in that novel and in this one, that Q is genuinely proud of humans. In The Eternal Tide, it was the same idea but with the favour returned; here humans guide the Q to greater understanding and new experiences, so that all can be saved. There was, to me, a sense of completion to it, that this was the complementary balance to Q&A. Janeway’s defence of the Q – “even on their worst day, they’ve done more good than evil” was rather touching. I feel that we’ve been shown the Q completing a journey of sorts. The Q and the humans are allies now, friends even. And even Q’s angry insistence that Janeway “has made an enemy today” is proof of that; it’s not the distant threat of an incomprehensible power but a misplaced anger that actually points to a comfort and familiarity. Very satisfying.

    Let’s see, other matters. On the darkness/hope front, since I said I thought the novel was dealing with that debate too, there’s a slight disconcerting sense (one I enjoyed) of the Caeliar having done too much good in one swoop, that it’s not easy to grasp the good fortune, and that any pure transcendent high is going to give way to some muddy lows at some point. As Chakotay says, how long until the colonization rush begins, once it’s realized that prime real estate is up for grabs in Borgsville? Of course, the fact that it was Borgsville will no doubt keep many people out on principle; I assume they wouldn’t want to head into space where the terrifying force that uprooted their civilizations or destroyed their homes still has power – even if it’s just the power of a bad memory. I imagine to many races Borg space will always be the Great Empty, the expanse to be shunned and shivered at, new growth be damned. But that’s not going to be everyone. Indeed, if it’s the “less sensitive” civilizations which will turn their attention to it first, it might make it more likely that fighting and squabbling will break out in the future. On that note, I thought it amusing and appropriate that some of the Malon are apparently using it already. No time for reflection or superstition or uncertainty, we’ve got waste to dump. They’re a twisted sort of practical, those Malon, at least when it comes to smoothing the wrinkles of their wider impracticalities.

    The multiverse can’t catch a break, can it? If Janeway doesn’t alter history, the Borg eventually assimilate everyone; if she does, the Omega crisis. No wonder laughing at the absurdity is considered the highest truth in the Trek Lit universe. Also, between this and the Strings (glad to get some references to String Theory by the way), Janeway is picking up a nasty habit of nearly unwinding the universe. :p

    Lengthy aside: It seems to me that Trek lit over the last few years (has it really been 4 years since Destiny?) has really expanded in scope. The Caeliar in Destiny made several intriguing references to the wonders and terrors of the wider universe, even suggesting that the Milky Way is like a little sheltered pocket in which they can hide. Indistinguishable From Magic took us to see some of those trans-galactic wonders, and introduced us to truly universal beings. Other books have given us hints at a system of galactic ecosystems, systems of intersecting time travel events that actually make coherent sense, etc; it seems that just as slipstream risks making the setting look small, the books are pushing the boundaries further and further. I don’t know if this is a justified impression, or just my narrow view of Trek literature (beginning as it does in 2002), but I thought I'd comment just the same.

    Back to TET: I also liked the possibility that Naomi is entertaining thoughts of leaving her Starfleet training. We’ll see how it goes, but I think her doubts make sense, and aren’t just the strain of the intense work. She was always an intelligent, driven child, and she seemed to make the most of the opportunities available. In the self-contained world of Voyager, that meant looking to Starfleet (captain’s assistant and all). Now, though, her world has expanded rapidly, and maybe it took her awhile to truly come to terms with that – particularly as she’s driven and focused. Maybe it took her a while to realize there were other paths.

    Onto major characters: I still like Cambridge and Seven. :) I think he’s a wonderful character to “put with” Seven, to bounce off her, to draw her out. I still didn’t get any Sharak though (well, one scene). The Tamarians are a race who I’d love to see mined further. It’s a great opportunity here and I’m getting impatient. Board, please commence an ongoing “Sharak getting the Shaft” controversy; that should help.

    Small note: Tom’s humorous chiding to “sit there in your wrongness and be wrong” reminded me so much of a friend of mine I nearly laughed. That’s exactly the sort of thing she would say.

    I’ve already proposed that the novel was a full-on examination of the Janeway Death issue, from all angles and perspectives, before hopefully, gently asserting its own inoffensive position. Despite that, though, I think I’m choosing to see the Voyager relaunch-relaunch as less of a “dealing with Janeway’s death” arc and more of a “Janeway and Chakotay” story. At least, that’s where I think the real meaning lies. Or to be sly, the uncontroversial meaning. At heart, it’s the account of the trials and obstacles two people have to overcome before they can be together; it just goes a little further than most such arcs because it has to work around “one of them dies for a bit”. I’m glad they’re together at last. Picard and Crusher did it, so can they. When Janeway said “I love you”, it made me a little tearful, I must admit. I’m forced to conclude, then, that I am now a “shipper”. It may be time to take me outside and get the shotgun.

    To conclude this lengthy ramble, I’m still torn as to how I relate to this one, enough so that I’m giving it an “above average” score rather than the “outstanding” it might have been courting. Probably that’s because, no matter how skilfully and sensitively it handles the controversy, a novel that’s this aware of its context can’t help but feel at times like it’s swallowed more than it can keep down. This wasn’t pure Trekkian enjoyment, this was more a community catharsis. That’s a great achievement, to be sure. In Spock’s World, McCoy notes that his Big Speech is “every argument I’ve ever had with (Spock) rolled up into one”. This novel, I think, is “every (well, nearly every) debate this board, this fandom, has had on the Janeway issue, rolled up into one”. And I think, yes, it probably won. The issue remaining for me is – does that make for a great novel or merely a good novel serving a secondary purpose that detracts from its status as a novel? I’m not sure, which is why I’m going to think of The Eternal Tide as the book that brings Janeway and Chakotay together, and the book that concludes the Q arc, rather than the Janeway Issue book it can’t help but really be.

    TL;DR: It’s about Janeway.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
  3. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    May 9, 2003
    Location:
    Germany
    Finished the novel last night and IMO it's definitely weaker than the last novel. I haven't voted yet, since at the moment I'm not clear yet if I should give it an average or above average, the tendency is strongly going toward average, though.

    My main problem is that I feel that the series status quo is a lot less interesting after the events of TET than it was after CotS. Almost everything of the good work done in the last few novels has been undone to pretty much return the series as near to TV series Status quo than possible.

    Another thing is that I don't see yet is why it was necessary to bring back Janeway beyond her role in this novel, if all she does is pretty much swapping back places with Eden. I actually think the more interesting move (if you feel the need to return Janeway to the living) would have been to have both Eden and Janeway around.

    Anyway, to make it short: A little disappoinment after the great CotS. But Kirsten Beyer undoubtedly is a talented author, and I will definitely check out her next Voyager novel if/when it comes out.
     
  4. Tirius

    Tirius Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Thank you Defcon for putting into words what I failed to do.

    Nothing against the premise of the story, but with the exit of Eden and over half the fleet I too feel we've lost too much of the "Full Circle Project" concept and associated characters that I so enjoyed. I'd rather have seen a further exploration of Eden's character before we got to this point and am hoping we will not end up with Janeway just taking over Eden's place - the character deserves better than to be remembered as the one who "kept Janeway's seat warm".

    I think Kirsten Beyer made a good effort with what she had to work with though. Being handed the task to bring back Janeway is something I wouldn't have wished on anyone, given what there was to work with and the obvious controversy of the subject among fans. So I too am still looking forward to the next book, to see where the story goes next.
     
  5. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

    I really appreciate this review. You have pointed out everything I wish I was smart enough to say. Well done and well done Beyer!
     
  6. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Location:
    The Black Country, England
    I'm going to defer reading that post until I've read the novel. If Amazon ever get it to me. Shouldn't take much longer than the novel to read... :)
     
  7. Enterpriserules

    Enterpriserules Commodore Commodore

  8. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    May 9, 2003
    Location:
    Germany
  9. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2006
    Location:
    Star Trekkin Across the universe.
    Yeah, I'm not too happy about the whole reset button premise of this thing. I was kind of hoping Janeway would stay dead because it makes Star Trek more mature that actually deal with the death of a main character, but this just comes off as treating death like a minor temporary annoyance which I find kind of insulting.

    And yes, I would feel the same way if they went through this with another Trek captain.

    Well at least DS9 isn't (hopefully) letting me down in this area.
     
  10. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    EDIT: Never mind.
     
  11. Square

    Square Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Currently stationed in Little Rock, AR.
    I'm giving this an "above average."

    RE: "Death."

    No, I'm not disturbed by the so-called "reset button." Look, ST is filled with alternate timelines, other dimensions, alien super-technologies, ect. It's not surprising that mortal "death" doesn't hold quite the same significance as it would in a universe without the aforementioned. The "nature of existence" is fair game for science fiction to explore, and it's been referenced in many ways throughout the series. It's canon. "Death" =/= "end."

    Is it a bit of "fanservice?" Sure, but, I don't see how anything in the novel gave the impression that the characters were getting off scott-free. There were heaps of angst and emotional upheaval. As for KJ's resurrection "undoing" the character development thus far, Beyer isn't stupid. One particular conversation between B'elanna and Tom ("You can't put the genie back in the bottle.") hints strongly that Lady Beyer is very much aware of that potential issue, and has no wish to return the VOY gang back to the "status quo." Besides, as Chakky said, there's more the Federation has to worry about than the Alpha and Beta quadrants now, and the DQ is replete with potential.

    BTW, I really enjoyed the way the novel lays out the pro-resurrection argument along with smacking down some anti-Janeway sentiment ("Janeway was selfish! Boo-hoo."). :techman:

    Ultimately, this novel did exactly what novels are supposed to do: it kept me entertained and put me at the edge of my seat waiting for the next one. If there was one thing I hated most about Janeway's demise, it was that we wouldn't get to see Beyer writing for her. Kirsten M.F. Beyer has show a remarkable talent for characterization, plus a love for VOY that makes me confident that we're heading in the right direction.

    Lastly, there's no point in "reviewing" novels that haven't even been written yet, so I say we just wait and see, huh?
     
  12. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Location:
    On the USS Sovereign
    Only mildly surprised at how Janeway was resurrected. I think it was unnecessary to the limit if what I have read.
     
  13. Square

    Square Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Currently stationed in Little Rock, AR.
    So what's the "necessary" way to bring someone back from the dead?
     
  14. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2006
    Location:
    Star Trekkin Across the universe.
    I'm going to go with not to.
     
  15. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2007
    Hm.....

    Need to let this sink in a while. I liked it, a lot. I suppose there's no need for me to put anything in spoilertags, since appereantly no one seems to bother with this anymore and people felt it neccesary to spoil the return of Janeway quite early in this topic.

    In any case, whiping out half the fleet.... Wow. That kinda went far. I mean, out of nowhere, Project Full Circle is Project Less Then Half A Fleet. I thought that with the destruction of Planck in CotS, and the near-destruction of Quirnell (spelling??) we wouldn't see so much destruction that quickly again. No sure how I feel about all this just yet.

    Q's involvement (all three of them) was very interesting, but sometimes felt a bit odd. Still, it was welcome seeing them again, and Junior's ultimate fate was interesting, if not a tad out of the blue to me.

    Janeway.... I hadn't expected to find her return gratifying. I thought I would hate it, since I'm not a big fan of bringing people back from the dead. And although the entire storyline about how and why still has me feeling a bit 'I dunno' about it all, Kirsten does write Janeway very well, and that made it feel good, I suppose.

    And that would be my biggest plus for this novel. Again, Kirsten pulled that part of so well. The Voyager characters feel like the people we got to know on the show. Just as DRGIII knows DS9, Kirsten nows Voyager. It's a very comforting thing, like putting on your favorite slippers.
    The only downside to that is, I really wish she would explore the new characters a bit more. The only two non-tvshow characters getting a lot of attention are Nancy and Cambridge. She introduced more new officers then just those two, I'd like to see a little more focus on them. Like the new doctor... I can't even remember his name. There was such a big fuss about him being the first of his species in Starfleet, but he only gets a few cameo-like appereances so far.


    I suck at writing reviews, so this is where I'm going to stop. In any case, I'll vote above average. I feel there were certainly a few things not quite right, and few ascpets I really did not like. But overall, I really enjoyed. I'm still looking forward to more Voyager, and that's what a novel should make want; more.
     
  16. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Really didn't like this one, especially after how good COTS was. Didn't like how the Q were used, didn't like how the eden story arc finished off and all the O stuff, didn't like either how or why Janeway came back.

    Also, quick question for those who follow this kind of thing better then me, why were people acting like the fighters were something the federation had never countenanced before given that they used something fairly similar during the dominion war? Just because it was during war?
     
  17. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2007

    Well, the 'fighters' we saw during DS9 were basicly the same as the Maquis were using. And they were basicly nothing more then shuttles with weapons slapped on them, right? Civilian ships with weapons mounted on them, not actually designed to be fightercraft. I seem to remember something similair said during the double-episode that introduced the Maquis in DS9. Perhaps Starfleet thought 'what they could, so can we', and decided to bolster their attackforce with some of these fighters.
    Then, after the war, they decided to actually design some fighters from the ground up.

    Again, this is just speculation, probably not right.
     
  18. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 25, 2011
    Location:
    Soaking up the sun
    Surprised by some of the negativity here...

    Well not really.

    First my review.

    In a word: Amazing.

    Kirsten Beyer has handled an impossible task with skill and grace. The Eternal Tide was exciting, interesting, and engrossing. She handled multiple story lines, did a fantastic job with the Q (and the Q, Q, Q, and Q) which is always a challenge, and even managed to get me to like Chakotay. She handled a deep scientific concept with a Christopher Bennett like - skill, and was able to convey the deep emotions experienced by the families (Voyager's, Q's, and Eden's) that were the heart of the story. She even managed to use the "mysterious anomaly" story structure without an eye - rolling moments. Kudos to you Ms. Beyer.


    This book places Kirsten in my mind as an equal to David Mack, and she was able to repair a hole in the Star Trek universe in a way guaranteed to make both sides of the "Janeway" debate a little peeved, which is the best way to handle the whole situation, in my opinion.


    This book is a fitting conclusion to the Voyager quadrology (?) and I hope that Kirsten will please grace us with another wonderful story very, very soon.
     
  19. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 25, 2011
    Location:
    Soaking up the sun
    As to the whole "keeping the seat" warm issue.

    Janeway is a canon character with 7 TV seasons of episodes and character exploration. It would be very difficult for a non - canon character introduced in the novels to EVER have the story potential that she does. So even though the character of Afsarah Eden was fascinating and interesting and undoubtedly fun to write, an author that loves Voyager as much as Ms. Beyer does would likely give up a lot to get a chance to write a story with Janeway in the starring role.

    As much as the fleet exploration concept was interesting, in practice it had to be a bear for the author to keep track of and organize. There are literally dozens of minor characters in that fleet that would have been difficult for any new author to depict properly and would have sent most readers to Memory Beta just so that they can remember who Lieutenant Wehardlyknewyee was. So the easiest way to fix that problem is to cause half the fleet to be lost in a titanic struggle, and now we can go back to the main characters - which is why we bought the book in the first place.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^Well, except that the Full Circle fleet wasn't all together at any one time. Usually it was split up into thirds, or would've been if it had existed long enough to have a "usually." So they could've just acknowledged that the other ships were out there but focused just on Voyager and its two support ships. So whatever the reason was for this change, I don't think that was it.