Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Fusion

Star Trek: Voyager
String Theory, Book 2
Fusion by Kirsten Beyer
Published November 2005
Read May 27th 2020

Previous book (published order): Distant Shores
Previous book (String Theory): String Theory, Book 1: Cohesion
Next book: String Theory, Book 3: Evolution

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

Spoilers ahead for
Fusion!

From the back cover:
As the Cosmos Unravels 
The disruption in the space-time continuum caused by the creation of the "Blue Eye" singularity continues: Thread by thread, the fabric slowly frays and peels away, breaking down barriers between dimensions. As the lines between realities blur, the consequences cascade. 
A Sleeping City Awakes 
Voyager pursues Tuvok to a long-dormant space station, a place of astonishing grandeur and wonder. Ancient almost beyond imagining, the city seduces the crew with the promise that their greatest aspirations might be realized. Such promise requires sacrifice, however, and the price of fulfilling them will be high for Voyager. 
A Mysterious Power Stirs 
Unseen sentries, alarmed by Voyager's meddling in the Monohoran system, send emissaries to ascertain Janeway's intentions. Unbeknownst to the captain, she is being tested and must persuade her evaluators that their contention -- that Voyager poses a threat to the delicate web of cosmic ecology -- is baseless. And failure to vindicate her choices will bring certain retribution to her crew.

My thoughts:

Continuing the String Theory trilogy which began in James Swallow's Cohesion, Fusion almost feels like a spooky ghost ship-type story as the tale of this mysterious region of space is picked up by author Kirsten Beyer. Many Star Trek book fans will know Kirsten as the author of the amazing run of post-finale Star Trek: Voyager novels that began with Full Circle back in 2009 and culminated in 2020's To Lose the Earth. Her career has of course now expanded into the television arena, as she works as a writer and producer on a few of the new Star Trek series under Alex Kurtzman.

Interestingly, Fusion is Kirsten Beyer's first Star Trek novel, and signs of the great stories she will tell over the course of her career thus far are apparent in its pages. Beyer obviously has a great affinity and knowledge of the characters, and she deftly writes them in such a way that their voices come through very clearly.

Voyager encounters an array, much like the Caretaker's or Susperia's.

The story itself is an interesting one, full of strange scientific mysteries and anomalous occurrences which are part and parcel of Voyager's style of storytelling. Tuvok, who disappeared at the end of the previous novel, is taken aboard a mysterious space station. This station is referred to as an "array," for reasons that soon become apparent as we learn that it is linked to the Nacene, the creators of the Caretaker's "array" as seen in the premiere episode of Star Trek: Voyager, as well as Susperia's "array" in the episode "Cold Fire."

One of my favorite subplots of this novel is an attempt to infiltrate Voyager by a Nacene who impersonates Kathryn Janeway's sister, Phoebe. This Nacene is able to accomplish this by altering the memories of the crew, making them believe that Phoebe had accompanied the ship on the mission to the Badlands and become stranded with the rest of the crew when they were thrown into the Delta Quadrant. The means by which this deception was uncovered was quite clever, as Beyer makes use of the fact that Harry Kim and Naomi Wildman are not natives of the same universe as the rest of the Voyager crew; fans might remember that they were both replaced by their counterparts from an adjacent reality in the episode "Deadlock." This made them slightly out-of-phase with the rest of the crew, making "Phoebe's" attempts to alter their memories ineffective.

The fact that Harry Kim and Naomi Wildman come from a slightly different universe comes into play in this novel.

I also enjoyed the outcome of Tuvok's part in the story. He is presented with the opportunity to realize his deepest, most profound desire. Ultimately, however, he gives up this chance in order to help another, in a stunning display of self-sacrifice. This revelation of Tuvok's deepest feelings reminded me of a line that always resonated with me, from the season six episode "Muse." An alien playwright tries to explain to one of his actors the nature of Vulcans when the actor is unable to understand the Tuvok character's motivation, telling him that "beneath your unfeeling exterior is a heart that's breaking, silently, and in more pain than any of us can possibly understand, because that's what it is to be Vulcan."

If I have one major complaint about this novel, it's that there is a great deal happening in it, with much of it being somewhat confusing. The story does tend to get bogged down in the minutia of what is happening, and again, there is just so much of it that it is quite easy to get lost. However, a lot of that is mitigated by Beyer's deft handling of the characters, which is what I really connected to. Her firm grasp of these individuals and their motivations was the lifeline I clung to when trying to make sense of some of the complexities of the plot.

Like Book 1 with the fate of Tuvok left in the air at the end, Fusion ends with Tom and Harry missing, and the Doctor seemingly in the extradimensional realm referred to as "Exosia." We will, of course, have to wait until Book 3, Evolution, to pick up these plot threads.

Final thoughts:

I enjoyed Fusion for the most part, despite the overly-complex and often confusing plot. Though this is Kirsten Beyer's first Star Trek novel, one can see why she would go on to make the Voyager "relaunch" novels so compelling. Her grasp of the characters that she so obviously loves to write is impressive, and was the hook I needed to bring me along on the journey of this novel. There is also a great deal of cleverness in the story, with Beyer using past lore from Star Trek: Voyager to great effect. A competent and enjoyable middle entry in the String Theory trilogy.

More about Fusion:


Star Trek: Voyager: String Theory:

Also by Kirsten Beyer:

My next read:

Next up is my review of the recent Star Trek: Picard novel, the Seven of Nine-centric Firewall by David Mack!

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