When E and I moved in together, I was helping her to pack up a cupboard in her old flat when what should we find but a box-load of books that hadn’t been unpacked since her last house move (probably decades before). It turned out that it was a boxful of Star Trek books. Imagine my delight. I can only tell you, dear reader, how my delight grew when she insisted that, despite having forgotten that she owned them, we absolutely had to keep them and transport them to our new flat (and the one after that) and give them valuable bookshelf space. Now, I’m not some kind of book-judging monster – if my dearly beloved wants to read dubious books, then who am I to stop her – but my main gripe is that AT NO POINT in the entirety of our time together, EVER, have I seen her read one of these books. Not once. Ever. And I will always remember her unholy glee when I realised that my book reading challenge would involve having to read all 35 of them AND another bonus book on the metaphysics of Star Trek. God help me. That is 3 Star Trek books a month. Nobody should have to do that.
So, I asked E to help me choose the first one to read. I refused to engage with her first question around which generation I wanted to start with because I didn’t understand it and was pretty sure “grandparental” wasn’t a valid answer. She clearly thought I needed help so gave me some helpful background information which I will share with you in case you too, dear reader, are out of your depth here.
The background (more or less verbatim): The ship got caught by an alien and thrown across the galaxy. So they are trying to get home and collecting waifs and strays along the way. (I clearly looked a bit blank at this so she added a bit more) That means that the characters are not just Star Trek officers, but also “some random aliens”. So off we go!
Page 3, and already 15 billion people have died. I am not exaggerating. E looks unrepentant.
Page 30: the death toll reaches 300 billion. But it is ok because Captain Janeway is on the case and she coils her hair up into a bun.
Page 75: Captain Janeway has had a haircut. But still no closer to discovering why all the bodies are dead. They are also exploring a mystery planet sending space-y pulses (probably they were sonar or electrical, I wasn’t following closely) into space. They think it might be caused by a transportation system gone wrong causing a whole population to vanish. They’ve clearly never grappled with the London Underground or they would know that it makes the population appear to triple, not vanish.
Page 76: apparently it is a ‘sub-space pulse’. Pay attention at the back.
Page 79: I have just realised that the reason this story makes no sense is because it is actually two different versions of the same story running in parallel. This is almost undoubtedly caused by the ‘sub-space pulse’. It appears that I should have paid attention to the start of each chapter which tells me that I am either in ‘Location: 2,410 parallel universes to the right of ours’ or ‘Location: 2,542 parallel universes to the right of ours’. Evidently this isn’t a series in which you can arbitrarily disregard all space jargon.
E just advised me that there may, in fact, be three parallel universes. I will report back if I survive the next ‘sub-space pulse’.
Page 80: Neelix (a person) has a blood splattered crest. Unclear if this is metaphorical but does raise questions about the species of his partner Kes.
Page 88: I think that one of the crews has worked out where all of the dead people are coming from. But please don’t ask me to explain it to you.
Page 91: E was right. Apparently this chapter takes place in our universe. I’m sitting quietly and hoping they don’t notice we are here.
Page 96: In our universe we have just lost Voyager.
Page 101: Another bad thing just happened.
Page119: Oh God! Now different people from each plot-line are being transported into other parallel versions of the same universe. Wondering whether a gin will aid comprehension.
Page 121: Getting a gin.
Page 157: I’m sure I’ve just read this chapter. Oh actually, it is more or less exactly the same as the chapter before but with slight differences because, of course, it is the same thing happening in parallel universes. More gin.
Page 158: One of the Janeways is wearing her hair in a braided coronet.
Page 165: All the Janeways are determined to STOP THIS NOW. Would that I could follow their lead.
Page 170: This Janeway’s hair has pulled almost completely out of its usual coronet.
Page 205: They think they have come up with a solution! I don’t understand it.
Page 215: Oh God – now they are talking about time travel – as if all these parallel universes weren’t complicated enough. More gin.
Page 278: That was quite the ending!