© 2005, ed. Marco Palmieri
Only hours after the onset of its first mission, the USS Voyager was thrust across the galaxy into the Delta Quadrant — a distance so great that even at maximum speeds, returning home would take at least seventy years. Rather than giving into despair, Voyager duly set a course for home, determining to search for new technologies and shortcuts on the way while still fulfilling Starfleet’s directive to explore space and seek out new life. Seven years later, having blazed a trail of new discoveries, alliances, and repeated victories snatched from the jaws of defeat, Voyager emerged from her long exile. Distant Shores celebrates the show’s tenth anniversary with a twelve-story anthology featuring now-familiar authors like Christopher L. Bennett, Kirsten Beyer, and Keith Decandido with many others. While a few authors write their stories around episodes from the show, other stories are completely new or examine parts of the Voyager story that the show ignored — the integration of the Maquis and Equinox crews into Voyager’s ranks, or the effect of the ship’s disappearance had on the friends and family of her crewmembers.
The stories are arranged chronologically by season, with a slight concentration on the fifth and sixth seasons, and every member of the ensemble cast has a story in which he or she dominates. The book as a whole assumes some familiarity with the show, which is understandable given that it’s written for fans of the show who want to take a nostalgic look back ten years after the story began. Lay readers can piece together the details of what happened with the Equinox from the two stories that feature their difficult integration with the crew, but they’d be better off looking up the episode in question. There are no disappointments here, and even though I had no intention of reading the book this week, I found putting it back down once I’d read the introductory story to be difficult; I read most of the book through in one sitting.
Although not essential for enjoying the Voyager Relaunch books, Kirsten Beyer did build on certain elements introduced in this collection when writing Full Circle and Unworthy. The collection is also perfectly enjoyable on its own, both for general Trek readers and those with a particular fondness for Voyager.
Some stories of note:
- “Command Code”: when Captain Janeway is put out of action soon after integrating Chakotay and other Maquis members into her crew, the newly-appointed First Officer Chakotay and Tuvok have a face-off on the bridge amidst a crisis when Tuvok doubts Chakotay’s judgment and suspends his just-minted command access.
- “Letting Go” takes place across the opening seasons Voyager, as the loved ones of Voyager’s missing and presumed crew try to adjust to the thought of their spouses, friends, and children being gone forever — and try to move on with their lives.
- “Eighteen Minutes” gives the Doctor’s side of “Blink of an Eye”, wherein in the course of eighteen minutes he experiences years of life on the surface of a planet wherein time passes a bit differently.
- “Isabo’s Shirt” explores Janeway and Chakotay’s friendship and gives J/C shippers something to squee about.