WARNING: This contains major spoilers for the newest Trek book ‘The Eternal Tide’ (and everything leading up to it of course).
16 years and 3 months – that’s how long it took for us to finally get what was promised to us on May 13th, 1996 – “Resolutions”. Because on at exact that date the Voyager episode with the same name was aired for the first time, raising hopes among fans and especially shippers that out favorite couple, Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay, would become a couple.
Back then, as we all know, nothing happened. Well, not much at least. Of course the two of them came to change to a first name basis throughout the episode and talked about ‘parameters’ – the latter then probably becoming the most hated word among J/C shippers.
But other than that, the episode title was merely an empty promise. Moreover, those who had hoped for it to be a starting point to someday cross this last boundary were disappointed as well since over the years, KJ and C fell (back) into an only-friendship that was clearly not headed towards anything more – even though most of us felt that there were moments that could indeed have meant a change, especially since more than once feelings deeper than anything that could still be described as (and with) friendship showed now and then to those who wanted to see them… and maybe even not see them.
For J/Cer, the show ended on an almost annoying note. No, not almost. An actual annoying note – not only wasn’t there a resolution for us, quite the contrary, they brought together the most unlikely two people to have a relationship (or however you will call it). C/7 was a slap in our faces and safe for a few exceptions, most loathed and judged the decision, and those who had had a word in it.
Many people don’t consider Treklit as official canon. But fact is that those are the only sequel we have after the shows end. So I personally do see the books as continuation of canon, of the shows after their finale. It’s the closest to ‘realistic’ we’ll ever get, the closest to continuity that fits canon. As well all know – exceptions prove the rules.
I very much enjoyed reading that TNG’s Beverly Crusher and Jean-Luc Picard are finally together. I enjoyed even more that the books immediately had C&7 separate after their return to the AQ.
What I surely I didn’t enjoy KJ was being killed. And luckily, I wasn’t the only one.
The “Bring Back Kathryn Janeway” campaign that even has an own FB group with almost 1000 members was fighting for it, bringing out word that KJ’s death is everything but right – after all is she one of the most important characters in Star Trek history, a woman who changed the Trek!verse AND many fans, especially female ones.
It was a hard fight we had to put up, against other fans who didn’t want KJ to return, against Pocket Books who didn’t seem to care at all, and in general against indifference.
And yet, we have won. We won because we had help – an ally in enemy quarters.
First, there was Jeri Taylor. The former show exec who unfortunately left the fandom years back gave us Resolutions – even though she was stopped where there was originally a way more romantic approach to the episode.
And then came Kirsten Beyer. Not to the show, no; it is debatable though whether this wasn’t for the best, as she probably would have been stopped just like JT. KB brought us the first real shipper moment in Treklit: A kiss and a few honest words in “Isabo’s Shirt”, included in the short story collection “Distant Shores”.
When KJ was killed in “Before Dishonor” (a TNG novel, no less!), it shocked a whole fandom. As far as I am concerned, I couldn’t believe it. I cried at the end of that book and never touched the following Voyager novel “Full Circle”. But, I knew what happened in FC – J/C spent a night together and were finally ready to commit themselves to each other (or mostly KJ to C, the other way around it was never a question I guess). Written was this, of course, by Kirsten Beyer. Giving us at least one night of our favorite couple together where she wasn’t able to bring her back (yet).
When word, or more precisely, cover got out about “The Eternal Tide” and showed KJ, we all got our hopes up, maybe even despite better knowledge and many disappointments in the past. But, we also knew that the novel would be written by KB – which was indeed a reason to hope. If anyone would do her best and at least try to bring KJ back AND her and Chakotay together, it would be KB.
Well. What should I say. She did. She brought KJ back. She gave us KJ fans and also us J/C shippers closure. Finally.
So, is this the end of an era? An era that brought together fans for so many years, and still does even a decade after the show’s end? In my opinion, it is no end – it’s just the beginning. One, because ST fans and shippers have proved over the years that they are faithful to their fandom, no matter what. And two, because there is still a good number of fans/shippers who don’t consider Treklit as canon and who won’t be that impressed by TET in general, even if they love it.
As for me, I do see the books as kinda-canon; therefore my very first ship – and still one of my favorites – has gotten its “Resolution”. It is closure; it feels like the same. Will it bring me away from the fandom? No. But it makes my heart lighter, as I’ve always been and will always be emotionally attached to my shows and ships.
And all that is thanks to Kirsten Beyer. The one professional who never forgot the fan and shipper inside her.
Thank you, Kirsten Beyer. Thank you.