Being Janeway: Twenty-five years of Star Trek: Voyager by Una McCormack

If I’m completely honest, I was chiefly a Deep Space Nine fan. (Actually, I was a Babylon 5 fan, but that’s a story for another day.) But because I am naturally inclined to like anything which involves a spaceship, I dipped in and out of Voyager, finding much to enjoy. But I hadn’t returned to the programme in depth until this year, the twenty-fifth anniversary of its first transmission.

Kate Mulgrew as Captain Janeway

I came back to Voyager because I had been commissioned by Titan to write one of their ongoing ‘autobiographies’ of key characters in Star Trek. So far, Titan have published autobiographies of James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard (both by writer and producer David A. Goodman, whom you’ll surely know for work on Futurama, Family Guy, and The Orville). There’s an autobiography of Spock coming next year. Keep an eye for that one.

The conceit of these books is fun: a first-person narrative account of the life and times of the character, taking in not only their on-screen adventures, but also childhood, time at the Academy, and after their respective shows have finished. The powers that be decided that for Kathryn Janeway – the first (and, so far, the only) female captain to serve as the central character of a Star Trek series – a woman writer was needed. So they asked me.

I honestly can’t think of a project so firmly within my areas of interest. I adore writing first-person narrative. I love taking on the voice of a character: learning their idiolect; seeing the world through their eyes; exploring too what their blind spots might be. And of course one of my ongoing passions (and creative projects) is to put as many girls and women as I possibly can into my science fiction, in all their variety, diversity, and individuality. To show them growing up, exploring, changing, learning, developing, maturing, succeeding, losing, winning.

Kathryn Janeway had everything: she’s bold, courageous, dedicated, and funny. She has flaws, too, she’s occasionally too rigid, she sometimes makes some bad decisions. But that’s what makes her real – she isn’t the perfect citizen of frictionless utopia. She’s a human being, trying to do her best by the people for whom she is responsible, in a frightening and difficult situation. And I found scope to explore one of my very favourite themes: female friendship and mentorship. Sisterhood.

This book was a joy to write from start to finish. I loved my time being Janeway. I hope you enjoy it too.

Una McCormack
September 2020

***

The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway is available now from all good booksellers and Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Autobiography-Kathryn-Janeway-Star-Autobiographies/dp/1789094798

Star Trek Discovery: The Way to the Stars is also available: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Trek-Discovery-Way-Stars/dp/1982104759

Star Trek – Picard: The Last Best Hope is also available: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Trek-Picard-Last-Best/dp/1982139447/All the Starfleet Ladies! Panel on female-identifying characters in Star Trek at San Diego Comic-Com@Home2020, with Una McCormack, Swapna Krishna (space, tech, and pop culture journalist), author Cassandra Rose Clarke, LJ Jackson (publicity manager at Saga Press), and moderator Kendra James (editor at StarTrek.com): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bn8F0BDks_g

About Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford maintains this blog. She is a writer of science fiction and fantasy (www.jaceybedford.co.uk), the secretary of Milford SF Writers (www.milfordSF.co.uk), a singer (www.artisan-harmony.com) and a music agent booking UK tours and concerts for folk performers (www.jacey-bedford.com). She's also a Home Office / UK Visas and Immigration department licensed sponsor processing UK work permits (Certificates of Sponsorship).
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