Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pathways

Star Trek Voyager: Pathways
© 1998 Jeri Taylor
438 pages


Star Trek Pathways throws Voyager's entire bridge crew (save Captain Janeway) into an alien prisoner-of-war camp where tenants are expected to fend for themselves, Andersonville-style. While Commander Chakotay, Commander Tuvok, Lieutenants Paris and Torres,  Ensign Kim, Neelix, and Seven establish a shelter for themselves, survive the harsh surroundings, and attempt to find a way out, they tell stories to pass the time -- stories about themselves, the stories of their lives that brought them to Voyager. Because Jeri Taylor helped produce the show, and wrote this novel while Voyager aired, Pathways (and its sister volume, Mosaic) enjoyed the exceptional status of being regarded as canon, if only temporarily. 

While the metaplot that holds the stories together isn't much (they build a transporter to escape, ho-hum, but Janeway uses an interesting little trick to guide the group to safety), but the stories themselves deliver more character development than we were able to see on the show. They answer questions -- how did Chakotay and Torres come to join the Maquis? Why did Tuvok enter Starfleet, resign it, and then begin a second career years later?   What was the accident that led to Tom Paris' disgrace and imprisonment? -- and add depth to the relationships of the characters, especially Chakotay and Paris. They're introduced as characters with bad blood between them, but Taylor's story shows that this isn't true from Paris' perspective -- it's very well done, especially given how strong the bond between those two is in the Voyager relaunch. Seven doesn't have much of a story to tell -- as she says, "My parents sang 'Happy birthday, Annika. Then the Borg took us." --  so Kes visits Neelix in a dream and tells her story in that way. I didn't like Kes in one of the first episodes I saw her in, so she's never really grown on me -- but even so, I enjoyed her here.

The book would have been most enjoyable during the series' run, but if there are any Voyager fans or readers out there who've not read this one, by all means look for it. Considering the strength of the Voyager relaunch -- it has met universal praise from readers at TrekBBS -- Pathways can still serve as an intro to the characters for those just getting into the series.

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