Star Trek: Voyager
String Theory
Book 2: Fusion

Author: Kirsten Beyer
Pocket Books
RRP 6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $10.99
ISBN 1 4165 0955 0
Available 07 November 2005

The crew of the
Starship Voyager have barely survived the spatial anomalies that make up space directly surrounding the Monoharan system. They have little time to reflect on their recent experiences. Although their actions seem to have averted the most recent disaster they have lost their first officer, Tuvok, who has uncharacteristically stolen a shuttle [I feel a shuttle crash coming up] and headed off into space towards what appears to be a massive space station, surrounding a black hole. Unable to use their warp field, they cannot overtake him before he arrives. Meanwhile, Captain Janeway has her own problems; odd occurrences within her ship have started to trouble her so that she has less time to deal with her sister Phoebe...

String Theory: Fusion is set between seasons four and five of the television show, and is the second book in the String Theory series. Written by Kirsten Beyer, who had previously contributed the story Isabo's Shirt to the Distant Shores anthology, Fusion had a lot to live up to - as I personally thought that Cohesion by Jeffrey Lang, the first book in the series, was a hum dinger of a story. For the most part, whilst I think that Fusion was a worthy successor, I don't think that it was as successful as the first novel.

Overall, I thought that the book was very well written, the voices and mannerisms of the main characters from the show ring true. Having said that, there were a few criticisms, the problem here lies mostly with the third part of the book. Once all the pieces are set on the board, for the end game, it takes way too long to wind up the plot. The inclusion of an extra Vulcan to act as a conduit for a prostrate Tuvok is patently unnecessary; there is nothing in the narrative that would have precluded Tuvok just speaking for himself.

There was also way too many characters explaining the purpose of the key, an artefact central to the plot, and the possible genesis of the main protagonist, effectively imparting the same information to the reader. That's not to say that there was little of merit in the third part, many of the passages are well written and some of the harder pan-dimensional ideas are put over very well.

Due to budgetary constraints, novels are usually the place where the imagination of the writer can expand exponentially on the show. In this case Beyer has been no slouch. Her descriptions of the massive station, and its interior, show up her quality of writing and depth of imagination. The inclusion of the Nacene was an excellent opportunity to both explain some of the races background and expand on its mythic qualities. The addition of the race goes a long way to explaining the events of the first book whilst throwing up questions of its own.

Overall a nice addition to the set but I can't help feeling that, with a little less padding and the exclusion of unnecessary characters, this would have been a more enjoyable read. Having said that I look forward to any new novel she may produce. This was a good read with some great ideas and truly enjoyable descriptive passages.

Charles Packer

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