Star Trek: Voyager
String Theory
Book 3: Evolution

Author: Heather Jarman
Pocket Books
RRP: 6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $10.99
ISBN 1 4165 0781 7
Available 03 April 2006

Voyager and her crew are used to reclaiming victory from disaster, but within Monorhan space events have lead to nothing less than a catastrophe. Captain Janeway lays in a life support machine more dead than alive, the Doctor, Tom and Harry are missing, possibly dead. Voyager remains damaged and the space around them is changing in such a way as to spell the end of the whole universe...

Evolution by Heather Jarman is the last in the String Theory trilogy and boy what a job she's taken on. At the end of book two, Fusion, Kirsten Beyer had pretty much got a big spoon and created an apparent dilemma for everyone from the lowly gel-packs to the almost godlike Nacene. I was intrigued to see how Jarman would cope with so many threads to explore and resolve. Well, give the girl a biscuit and a big fat cheque; she's done a damn fine job of bringing the series to an exciting, logical and engrossing conclusion.

This was no small task, which explains why the book runs to a value enhancing four hundred pages. With most trilogies it's best to start with the first book, however, Jarman has succeeded in writing a story that works well in isolation, based on its own merits. Although, I had reviewed the previous two books, I retained little if anything of the story; Jarman provides enough hints regarding the back story, so that you never feel lost.

There are three distinct stories going on, each with their own tone all of which dovetail together at the end of the book. Jarman keeps a deft hand on each of these strands so that you never get the feeling that you're loosing the threads of any of the individual narratives. It's difficult to discuss the book as a whole without giving away spoilers. I'll try to keep them to a minimum but if you don't want to know look away now.

The tone of each story is different, whilst the others are off on their individual adventures, events on Voyager are as dark as they get. Chakotay finds himself captain of a crippled ship. Many of the crew have either lost their lives or are trying to continue their duties whilst under burdens of loss or injury. With the loss of so many of the command crew Voyager is a ship which has had its head cut off. B'Elanna Torres naturally feels the loss of Tom, a burden that at times even her innate Klingon stoicism is unable to protect her from. Tuvok struggles to come to terms with regaining his individuality, having in the previous book imperilled the ship in an effort to gain a union more in common with Seven's experience with the Borg. In such a poor condition the crew mourn their lost captain and try to find a way to rescue their fellow shipmates, if indeed they are still alive.

The Doctor, meanwhile, finds himself cut off from Voyager having been sucked into the Nacene's home dimension of Exosia, facing the terrible visage of Vivia, leader of the Nacene who had not crossed over to Voyager's dimension. In order to be granted passage back to his ship and save the Monorhan he strikes a Faustian deal with Vivia which will take him to Ocampa's distant past and an unexpected meeting with an old friend.

If all this sounds a little grim fear not as it would appear that Tom and Harry, far from shuffling off their mortal coil, have instead been taken to the Q Continuum, where the ever mischievous Q has a proposition for the hapless boys, which finds them engaging in space racing, gambling and generally getting into some very amusing trouble.

The nice thing about the book is that none of these stories can be considered padding. Each part moves inexorably towards the conclusion and each are needed for the end of the book to make sense.

So Evolution is a nice stand alone book and a good end to the trilogy.

Charles Packer

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