Book Review: Star Trek Voyager: Acts of Contrition

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TrekMovie looks at the latest literary adventure of the Starship Voyager as we review Kirsten Beyer’s new novel, “Acts of Contrition”.

REVIEW: STAR TREK VOYAGER: ACTS OF CONTRITION
Author: Kirsten Beyer
Pocket Books Paperback and E-Book
Retail: $6.47

Those who have followed my novel reviews with any regularity know that, while I am not a fan of what Star Trek: Voyager was, I am a huge fan of the work done by Kristen Beyer in bringing the Voyager back into the mix of the Trek family. Her latest novel, “Acts of Contrition” is a perfect example of why.

Beyer has taken her writing to a new level with “Acts of Contrition”, a richly woven tapestry of complex stories, each of which leaves the reader thirsting for more. Within the first thirty pages, I counted eight different plot-points to follow; but, far from being a burden, they were all deeply interesting and felt rightly placed together within the book.

“Acts of Contrition” makes use of time in both the Delta Quadrant as well as back home, with Tom Paris facing a custody battle with his mother, and an interconnected yet diverse set of storylines surrounding Seven, Dr. Sharak, Icheb, and Samantha Wildman taking place in the Alpha Quadrant, while Janeway, Chakotay, Kim, and the Doctor all spend their time discovering the Confederacy of the Worlds of the First Quadrant.

As Janeway and company quickly discover that all is not right in their potential ally, Tom struggles with his past actions and their reflection on his fitness for parenthood; all while a medical emergency continues to develop in within the Federation beyond any reasonable ability to explain.

Reading through this voyage, an overwhelming recognition for me was that Beyer is consistently able to place you not simply in the presence of the characters, but actually within their minds for entire scenes. You feel Seven’s questioning, concern, and growing skepticism while she’s on Earth. You join Harry Kim for his moment of embarrassment on a shuttle-ride home from the First World. Presider Cin, though playing a limited role in terms of page count, shines as a magnificently complicated individual from beginning to end. It’s not that she’s writing a first person narrative… no, no… it’s that she is painting such a vivid word-picture with her writing that it’s impossible not to enter into the mindset, motivations, and though processes of her subjects – even when she’s not writing them from that perspective at all.

“Acts of Contrition” requires of the reader keen concentration. There is not a wasted word to be found within its covers. Coming in at nearly 400 smallish type pages, one might be tempted to think it too long, but it is not. Beyer has perfectly honed her ability to wordsmith what is truly needed for the story, and, reflecting her legacy with the Voyager line, she has handed to fans her greatest work yet.

This is a complex, fun, and thought-provoking read. It touches on contemporary society in the sight of a more perfect future. It delves into family relationships. It touches cross-cultural relationships not simply on a diplomatic level, but on a very personal level, and – of course – it includes plenty of action for those fans who just have to have a chase scene or a space battle.

Building on her legacy with Voyager, Kirsten Beyer turns out an outstanding work, one which, like each of her preceding Voyager novels, deserves a place on the bookshelves of even the Voyager haters out there.

Yes… it’s just that good.

Acts of Contrition_bookcover

 


 

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In times past, when criticizing a ruler or religion could cost you your head, a way to make a point with “plausible deniability” was to do so in literature or on the stage. Doing so today when anything goes, and in such a clumsy and stereotypical manner, largely ruined what was in other respects an excellent ST book.

Yay new ST news! seemed like there was a news recession lately

Not a Voyager fan myself, but this sounds intriguing, and worth a read. I’ll definitely give it a look.

In the meantime, why no coverage here of the conclusion of IDW’s adaptation of the original Ellison teleplay of “The City on the Edge of Forever”? That, too, is well-worth the reader’s time.

Yeah it was a great book, when it came out MONTHS ago.

Holy negativity.

@4

Maybe it was such a good read, the reviewer couldn’t put it down. Kind of hard to type a review while holding a book.

BOO-YEAH!

Good review Robert. (Nice to know something’s happening around here too.)

Yes. Good review. And the book came out Sept. 30th.

Y’all realize nobody gets paid for the articles they post here, right?

A huge fan of Voyager from the beginning, I have loved every one of the relaunch books, starting with Christie Golden and now Kristen Beyer. Can’t wait to read this one.

So……. This story takes place after Voyager’s return? My wife and I are winding up season 7 of Voyager and have discussed what the crew would do upon their return and we both came to the conclusion that the first thing they would do would be to GET AS FAR AWAY FROM THAT SHIP AS THEY POSSIBLY COULD! Certainly some of the friendships would last for the rest of their lives but having anything to do with the ship other than being a former member of the crew would be highly unlikely. I would wager a great portion of the crew would ditch Starfleet after having spent years on the same ship with pretty much zero contact from home save for Barclay’s project. I would also lie to add that it is in my opinion that Voyager, the series, get’s too much of a bad rap. After having sat down and actually paid attention to what was being attempted (with varying degrees of success), Voyager is strikingly similar to TOS (put down your pitchforks). Yes the execution wasn’t always perfect and sometimes it was silly. Like TOS. And some of the episodes were flat out Bat Sh*t crazy. Like TOS. But it had a great heart and made several attempts at giving the viewer stories with real world relevance. Like TOS. I’ll bet a great many of you haven’t even seen all of the episodes of Voyager. I admit that I haven’t, because I didn’t give the show much of… Read more »

They should have called it…..”Now, Voyager” and made Bette Davis Captain!

#11–Harry

1000 internets to you.

I’m SOOOO tired of people complaining about Voyager. I mean even beginning this article is something negative about Voyager.

I started loving Star Trek because of Voyager. I had no idea what Star Trek was until one episode caught my interest and immediately I became obsessed with VOY. and it completely made my whole childhood! I eventually I made my way to DS9 and later on the movie and TNG. I have never really seen TOS but of course I know my history. I’ve never been interested to watch TOS because I have tried and I find it very cheesy. Its decades before I was born and I cant really get into it. REGARDLESS I respect it. I understand those who grew up with it LOVE IT and nothing compares it… I do NOT bash it EVERY time I get a turn.

I see all series as children.. and they are all different and unique in their own ways. You may always have a certain connection with a certain child but you dont sit and bash the other ones. So please… for the love of God…. GET OVER IT! If Voyager wasnt your cup of tea.. keep it moving! Some of you love to bash the exact reason why someone fell in Star Trek in the first place and I find it disgusting!

@ THX1138

Voyager was always better than DS9. I remember when DS9 started in 1993 coming at the end of TNG and thinking “What the $%#@ is this crap?!” I have tried to go back to it 20 years later to give it a second chance, but no, DS9 is still garbage from beginning to end. But when Voyager started in 1994, I thought this is Star Trek! Adventure, exploration, boldly going….everything DS9 had none of. And Voyager actually had interesting aliens, unlike DS9 with the relentlessly boring Cardassians, Jem Hadar, Dominion, Breen….

Hey – THX, I appreciate your point of view. I had the same attitude when DS9 first came out. I just couldn’t get into it. maybe i wasn’t mature enough or something, but later i loved it. With Voyager, I never missed an episode. Even with it’s imperfections, it was great to have a series to follow, and you’re so right about the similarities with TOS. I always hoped they could continue working together as diplomats if not as a starship crew once they returned and took some time off.

“Voyager” certainly was not similar to TOS. “Voyager” was TNG-lite, had a number of boring or annoying characters, too much technobabble, and an overall inconsistency from season to season.

It wasn’t a terrible show, but apart from seasons four and five, the show was riddled with too many holodeck episodes or boring bottle shows.

TOS is far and above the superior show. Heck, DS9 is probably the only spin-off that, in my opinion, actually matches TOS in how humans would realistically be like centuries into the future.

I watch “Voyager” every once in a while, but it is the least interesting of the series.

I would rank all of the shows in this order:

TOS/DS9

TNG/ENT

VOY

It’s funny, there’s a fairly laudatory Voyager think piece (called Now, “Voyager”: n praise of he Trekkiest Trek of All) on RogerEbert.com that made me, well, think.

http://www.rogerebert.com/balder-and-dash/now-voyager-the-least-beloved-star-trek-offered-some-of-the-franchises-strongest-feminist-messages

#15 – Wow. Interesting article. Thank you for that link.

10–There have been numerous books in the Voyager series since the show ended. Homecoming by Christie Golden was the first and it starts immediately after their return home. She wrote the first 4 books in the Voyager relaunch. I really enjoyed the first 2. The 2 that followed were ok then there was a few years where there weren’t any until Kirsten Beyer picks it up with Unity. Her books have been great since. I almost wish she were around when the series was on the air to write some stories. It’s certainly possible to pick up this book without reading the ones that came before (though I think you’d be missing some great stories and there are a number of new characters and ships you may not be familiar with). Beyer gives just enough exposition of what happened up to this point to get you on track (but without boring you with excessive detail). My only, admittedly minor, complaint is she’s starting to fall behind with the dates again. This story takes place in 2382, however the newest TNG and DS9 books are now in 2386. That makes it a bit confusing when she’s talking about President Bacco and some other characters that are now gone. BTW, started reading David Mack’s new Section 31 novel. I’m already hooked and only about 100 pages in. He too always writes great books. It’ll be nice to see a DS9 standalone print novel next month too. And finally, FINALLY, next week a… Read more »

Also, the novel covers have made a dramatic improvement over the last year or so. They were really getting weak around the time of the Typhon Pact novels, but they have picked up. There are still a few clunkers, but by and large they have gotten much better.

@16. For me they rank out like this.

1. TNG
2. VOY
3. TOS
4. DS9
5. ENT
6. TAS

@20. The German covers are usually much better, especially for Destiny & VOY: Homecoming & Farther Shore.

@10 @19 Unity is the DS9 Sisko returns & Bajor finally joins the Federation novel by S.D. Perry. The Voyager Relaunch novels are as follows: Homecoming pt. 1 – Christie Golden The Farther Shore pt. 2 – Christie Golden Spirit Walk #1: Old Wounds – Christie Golden Spirit Walk #2: Enemy of my Enemy – Christie Golden Full Circle – Kirsten Beyer (almost 2 novels in one) Unworthy – Kirsten Beyer Children of the Storm – Kirsten Beyer The Eternal Tide – Kirsten Beyer Protectors – Kirsten Beyer Acts of Contrition – Kirsten Beyer Atonement – Kirsten Beyer (Aug 2015) Some others you might want to read to fill in gaps & because they’re related stories: TNG: Resistance – J.M. Dillard TNG: Before Dishonor – Peter David (MAJOR Janeway events, Spock involved, Planet Killer makes a comeback, 7 of 9 major character & is on cover, the “Is Pluto a planet?” debate is finally settled.) TNG: Greater Than the Sum – Christopher L. Bennett (Significant Picard/Crusher events, return of Hugh) Destiny #1: Gods of Night – David Mack Destiny #2: Mere Mortals – David Mack Destiny #3: Lost Souls – David Mack (Destiny Trilogy chronicles events in Enterprise era while avoiding use of any of the Enterprise crew, focuses on Capt. Erika Hernandez of NX-02 Columbia, takes place during DS9, & just after events of Greater Than the Sum. The three aforementioned novels lead into the trilogy. Features characters from TNG, DS9, & VOY throughout. The trilogy focuses mainly on… Read more »
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