50BC09: Book Number 44


I think this might be my last Trek novel of the year.

Wait, before you all start reading into what that means in regard to this novel, let me say simply that I make this decision based on my recent review of the books I have read this year.

Damn but I’m a dork.

I have read so much science fiction and horror this year. I know that I own other books. I see them sitting around the house in their random piles, patiently waiting for me to pick them up, dust them off, and jump into them with the same fervor and passion I reserve for what are obviously my favorite genres. When it comes down to it, though, when I’m faced with choosing between a book that doesn’t have Kathryn Janeway on the cover and one that does…well, guess which one the dork is going to pick?

So why stop now? Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’m just saying that for the moment…but come tomorrow, I’ll be sorting through my stacks of books, looking to pick up on those DS9 “eighth season” novels. I do need to consider, however, that if I take up this challenge again next year, I should probably focus on expanding my book choices. You know, get back to me English major roots, what?

However, I needed to end on a better note than the teeth-rattling screech of Before Dishonor. I also needed to read a novel that would restore some dignity to the Voyager character eviscerated by Peter David, who apparently harbors a deep well of hatred in his soul toward Voyager and her former captain.

So I come here now, not to berate Voyager, but to praise a novel based on the life of its captain. Well, sort of praise it. Truth be told, I think that Jeri Taylor’s Mosaic would have been better if it had been written as a straightforward “biography” of Kathryn Janeway. Instead, Taylor alternated between events from Janeway’s past that would lead her to the captain’s chair and a rather dull current plot involving her Voyager crew.

Taylor, who started out in the Trek family as a screenwriter of some absolutely amazing TNG episodes (“The Wounded,” “The Drumhead,” “The Outcast”), was one of the three co-creators of Voyager, with Michael Piller and Rick Berman. She was also the primary voice influencing the creation and development of Elizabeth Nicole Kathryn Janeway.

Yes, I do indeed have mixed emotions about this last statement.

That being said, it should come as no surprise that she would be the one tasked with writing a novel about Janeway. It should also come as no surprise that, of all the myriad Trek novels ever written about any of the series, this and one other Voyager novel, Pathways, (also written by Taylor), are the only two ever considered by writers and creators to be canon. I was quite surprised, in fact, when I realized that there was so much within this novel that the writers actually did utilize in later episodes of the show.

There was also quite a bit that never made it into the show, which I think was unfortunate. It was information that really would have added complexity and sensibility to Janeway…two things that every single one of the Voyager characters desperately needed more of. In this regard, then, I view this book with the same level of irritation that I view those ridiculous expository comic books that came out in tandem with the new Star Trek movie. If you can’t figure out how to work this information into the story you’re telling on the screen, then you’re too incompetent to be telling the story in the first place. So please pass it off to someone with a modicum of talent before you ruin the franchise.

Oh, but wait…

Anyway, back to the novel. There’s really not much else to say about it though. It’s all about Janeway. I love Janeway for one of the reasons why I love Dr. Crusher: for the amazing potential that was there, just waiting to be tapped. Janeway could have been my favorite captain if she’d been developed properly, given a stable, rich personality rather than the spotty, somewhat bipolar personality she inherited from the show’s revolving cavalcade of writers. She needed someone to champion her.

That champion was supposed to be Jeri Taylor. From what I read in this novel, she very well could have made Janeway into so much more. It’s a shame that she didn’t.

Final score: 3.5/5. The present-day Voyager plot laced throughout this novel really irritates me, but I think that the moments from Janeway’s past were quite enjoyable. All in all, not a bad way to spend a few hours (which is another reason why I love Trek novels…so easy and quick to read!).