Tuesday, March 27, 2012

No Man's Land

Gateways: Book Five of Seven: Star Trek: Voyager - No Man's Land by Christie Golden
Published October 2001
Read February 23rd, 2012

Previous book (Gateways): Book 4 of 7: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Demons of Air and Darkness
Next book (Gateways): Book 6 of 7: Star Trek: New Frontier - Cold Wars

Click to purchase No Man's Land from Amazon.com!

Spoilers ahead for No Man's Land and the Gateways miniseries!

From the back cover:
Throughout the galaxy, an ancient network of interstellar portals has been reactivated, instantly linking distant planets and civilizations.  Back home in the Alpha Quadrant, Starfleet can devote all its considerable resources to coping with the Gateways crisis, but in the Delta Quadrant, there is only the Starship Voyager...
Just as Voyager enters an unusually hazardous region of space, the ship and its crew are confronted with a flood of lost and disoriented starships from all over the the galaxy.  Accidentally transported incredible distances by the unpredictable Gateways, the diverse alien castaways regard each other and Voyager with hostility and suspicion.  Captain Kathryn Janeway suddenly finds herself struggling to hold together an extremely fractious fleet of dislocated vessels even as the newly awakened Gateways hold open the prospect of finally bringing her own ship home!

About the Novel:

In the Delta Quadrant portion of the Gateways series, the USS Voyager happens upon an idyllic planet where Janeway decides the crew can spend a little shore leave.  However, on the surface, the crew encounters the unexpected: a small animal, similar to an Earth canine.  Clearly someone's pet, the animal seems to have been deposited on the planet by some sort of a gateway.  Unable to return him, the crew decides to adopt the animal, hopefully for a short while.

Soon, larger gateways begin opening in the space around Voyager.  At first, only one ship arrives, and Captain Janeway and her crew do their best to aid them.  However, many more vessels soon arrive, and it's clear that none of them know how they got there.  It's up to Voyager to organize the vessels into a fleet and guide them through a very treacherous region of space replete with spatial anomalies and other hazards.  There is a great deal of enmity among the various species represented by the fleet, however, and soon these hostilities manifest themselves in acts of sabotage and even murder.  Can Voyager and her crew keep the fleet intact and guide everyone safely through "no man's land," or will the forces of chaos and treachery win the day?

My Thoughts:

In No Man's Land, Christie Golden has done a superb job in capturing the voices of the Voyager characters.  However, as I was not the biggest fan of Voyager during its television run, I feel I might be a little biased against this novel.  However, the story and the characterizations were solid and well-written, so I have only a few small complaints.

Because of the timing of the Gateways crisis, I thought that the Voyager story would coordinate well with the Alpha quadrant-based stories.  After all, the novels make a point of stating that the stories take place shortly after the Voyager episode "Pathfinder," in which the crew of Voyager finally makes semi-regular contact with Starfleet back home.  However, this plays no role in the story whatsoever, and No Man's Land has no bearing on the unfolding crisis in the Alpha quadrant.  While I enjoyed this story, I feel like there was a missed opportunity in not tying the stories closer together.

The culture-building in this novel is definitely one of the highlights.  One species is so governed by fear that it is entirely possible to frighten them to death.  One can imagine how terrifying the situation is to them: catapulted through a gateway to a far-off sector of the galaxy with no discernible way home, having to navigate through a treacherous region of space surrounded by strangers.  Needless to say, the journey does not go extremely well for them.

To me, this story was very reminiscent of the Voyager episode "The Void," one of the highlights of the series for me.  In both stories, the Voyager crew takes a leadership role in a fleet of ships in a dire situation, espousing the Federation's values as a blueprint for survival.  Both stories came out in the same year, so it's unclear whether one influenced the other.  I merely point out the similarities as a positive aspect, as I thought "The Void" to be a top-notch episode for Voyager.

The positives: The characterizations of the Voyager crew are well-handled, especially Seven of Nine and The Doctor.  While I was not a big fan of the series while it aired, Christie Golden has done a solid job making them seem like their television counterparts.  A strong story, with stakes that feel real round out the pros of No Man's Land.

The negatives: I feel like an opportunity was missed in not tying this story to the larger Gateways series.  Don't get me wrong, it's not a necessary component.  One need only  see the strength of Star Trek: Challenger's Chainmail to see that.  However, it would have been interesting to see Starfleet coordinating a response to the Gateway crisis across the light-years into the Delta quadrant.

A solid, interesting entry in the Gateways series.  The lack of coordination between this story and the rest of the series is a little disappointing, but does not detract too much from a generally interesting, if not overly compelling story.

Final score: 6.5/10.

My next read:

The past month has seen a lot of changes for me, and I have to admit I've been distracted from updating this blog as much as usual.  However, my reading has not slowed down by much!  Look for reviews of the following books over the next few weeks:

Gateways: Book 6 of 7: New Frontier: Cold Wars by Peter David

Gateways: Book 7 of 7: What Lay Beyond by various

Star Trek #57: The Rift by Peter David

Star Trek: Errand of Vengeance Book One: The Edge of the Sword by Kevin Ryan

and finally, April's new release that I am currently reading, the final entry in the Vanguard saga, Storming Heaven by David Mack.


  1. There's no way the stories influenced each other, especially if they came out in the same year. It takes far longer to write and publish a book than to write and produce a TV episode; when Trek novels resemble episodes that come out fairly close to them (something that happened on multiple occasions), it's because there wasn't enough time to change them once it was discovered that the show was doing something similar. When possible, the books were expected to avoid covering the same ground as the shows, but because of the much greater lead time, they sometimes couldn't avoid it. Going the other way, the makers of the shows were too busy to pay much attention to the books, which were only read by a tiny fraction of their audience anyway.

    Besides, "The Void" is itself very similar to the animated Trek episode "The Time Trap," which seems to have been an uncredited adaptation of a Gold Key comic from the year before. Similar stories get told all the time, and it's usually just the result of coincidence, or of different creators perceiving the same potentials in a given work.

  2. Cool, thanks for the insight! That was kind of my thinking as well. I assume the writers of the show don't tend to pore over the novels, and the writing time for the novel being too long for the show to have influenced it makes sense.

    Thanks again!