Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Seven of Nine

Star Trek: Voyager #16
Seven of Nine by Christie Golden
Published September 1998
Read April 14th 2020

Previous book (Published order): Pathways
Previous book (Numbered): #15: Echoes
Next book (Numbered): #17: Death of a Neutron Star

Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for
Seven of Nine!

From the back cover:
Once she was Annika Hansen, an innocent child assimilated by the fearsome, all-conquering Borg. Now she is Seven of Nine, a unique mixture of human biology and Borg technology. Cut off from the collective that has been her only reality for most of her existence, and forced to join the crew of the Starship Voyager, she must come to grips with her surprising new environment -- and her own lost individuality. 
Seven of Nine has already captured the imagination of fans all over the world. Now the most sensational new character of the twenty-fourth century stars in her first full-length novel. Resistance is futile.

My thoughts:

Going into this novel, I had a few expectations. First, given the title, I think I expected the story to be an origin story, or a biography, of Seven of Nine. Even the publisher's description on the back cover would seem to be written to make you think that this will be the definitive Seven of Nine story. It definitely isn't that, but is rather a fairly straightforward Voyager adventure, albeit with Seven as the primary character. I suppose when the novel first came out, it made a lot of sense to title it Seven of Nine. At the time, Seven was a brand-new breakout character, and there was likely a lot of thought given about how to capitalize on that. This was the first introduction of Seven of Nine into the Trek literary world, and the title would likely have meant greater sales. However, 26 years after publication, the title makes a lot less sense.

Having said that, we do learn a lot about Seven of Nine in this book, and the story does a good job of developing her character. Due to the unique circumstances she is presented with, we get to see a bit of Annika Hansen, Seven of Nine's identity pre-assimilation. This gives us an interesting juxtaposition between the two versions of her character. Seven of Nine, especially at this early point in her development as an individual, is cold and distant, keeping the rest of the Voyager crew at arm's length. In contrast, young Annika Hansen is warm, friendly, and open to the people around her. This makes Annika Hansen the person that Seven of Nine believes the Voyager crew would want her to be.

We learn more about Seven of Nine pre-assimilation, when she was Annika Hansen.

The main plot of the novel involves a species called the Skedans who live under the rule of an emperor named Beytek. Recently, a number of Skedans became victims of the Borg, assimilated and killed by the relentless cybernetic horde. Rather than being protected by their emperor, the Skedans were left to fend for themselves, and a small group of survivors have come aboard Voyager with what seems to be a plot against the emperor. While the crew of Voyager suspects that the Skedans' plot is an attack meant to kill the emperor using an orb they have brought aboard as a bomb, the truth is more poignant: the orb contains the memories of the dead and assimilated Skedans. When it is smashed at the feet of the emperor, he and the gathered crowd hear their final moments, an event that is far more meaningful than a physical attack would have been.

Throughout the novel, Seven is experiencing the memories of people she has assimilated over the years thanks to telepathic interference by the Skedans. This leads to a sort of dissociative identity disorder whereby Seven actually manifests the personalities of her prior victims. While the cause is different, this is very much reminiscent of a fifth season Star Trek: Voyager episode: "Infinite Regress." The similarity of the plots might lead one to think that one influenced the other; however, this novel was published in September of 1998, while "Infinite Regress" aired just two months later in November. It's likely that this is simply a case of two writers coming up with similar ideas around the same time.

Seven experiences a similar condition in this novel as she would in the season 5 Voyager episode "Infinite Regress."

For the most part, I enjoyed Seven of Nine. The author, Christie Golden, has a very good handle on the voices of the Voyager crew, and wrote the character of Seven of Nine deftly, especially considering she was such a new character at this point. This novel works as a great companion piece to another Voyager episode in which we learn a lot about Seven: season four's "The Raven." Thematically, there is much that is shared between these two stories, and if you're a Seven of Nine fan, this is one you don't want to skip. Again, however, don't expect a biography. This is something different.

Final thoughts:

In writing this review, I found myself having to travel back in time in my mind to the first introduction of Seven of Nine. At the time this novel was written, she was a very new character, and no one knew in which directions she might develop. Reading Seven of Nine, however, one can marvel at how much of a handle Christie Golden had on her character in those early days. Now, 26 years later, the character has grown so far past her origins in season four of Star Trek: Voyager (even more so in the Star Trek: Picard series and attendant novels), and one can see the seeds of that growth in this novel. While it is not the origin story for Seven that the title might imply, it is still a great foundational work for an exceptional and crucial character.

More about Seven of Nine:

Also by Christie Golden:

My next read:

The next catch-up review is for the Kelvin Timeline novel The Unsettling Stars by Alan Dean Foster.

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