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Series: Voyager # 12
Author: David Niall Wilson
Published: March, 1997
Review by: Cmdr. Amanda Sielu Paris

If there's one thing that Voyager has taught its' loyal readers it's that the Delta Quadrant has way too many Earth-like planets that are never what they seem. Perhaps you're screaming to Janeway that she should just fly by the green and blue marble that reminds her crew of home, but she hasn't listened yet and she does the same thing she's done in previous books. David Niall Wilson recites the story of Voyager and how they were too far from home to get supplies. Like we don't know that Voyager has to stop at any M-class planet and check for supplies. It's happened in like every other book that even remotely starts out this way.

And like all those other books, the crew stumbles upon the inhabitants of the planet after Neelix swears up and down that the people had died off from the planet. This is the other shocker in the opening of the story. These people, the Urrythans, however, are open with their lavish gardens and disappear quickly. Their ability to fool the sensors of Voyager and the tricorders when the Urrythans stand right in front of them makes Tuvok uneasy. But the ruins of the planet intrigue the crew's curiosity and the gardens provide plenty of supplies for Neelix, so the away team proceeds despite Tuvok's warnings.

A mysterious, beautiful flower becomes a culprit when a young ensign falls under the effect of its' pollen and thus where the real trouble begins. The doctor, still stuck on the ship and in Sickbay at all times, sends Kes to help find the source of the problem to Ensign Kayla's mysterious coma. Janeway summons the Urrythans for some kind of answer and hopefully a solution. The Prime Directive never seemed so vicious when Janeway finds out that it is a natural process of life on this planet. The people fall under the influence of this flower after years and their "voices" join in harmony with their elders who have gone on before them. The interference that is the cause of Tuvok's uneasiness is the voices of the elders. As the Urrythans get older and are closer to their "Ascension", their voices are a small part of this "One Voice".

Despite the chilling characteristic of the Borg this "One Voice" shares, Janeway is calm and collected until the Urrythans insist that they prepare Ensign Kayla for her "Ascension". The captain is put in a rock and a hard place. Should she let the Prime Directive rule to let these people do what they do naturally when a member of their own goes into Ascension or should she rule that it can't be done because Ensign Kayla did not agree to this like other members of the Urrythans have. She decides to fight, but the Urrythans steal the ensign just before the doctor finds an antidote. Now they must get the ensign back in time for this antidote to work and before this questionable "Great Awakening" happens.

I almost groaned out loud as I read the opening lines of this book in the break room of Wal-Mart on my lunch. It was starting out like any other book I had read in the Voyager series, but it takes a dramatic twist. Some parts kind of it disturbed me with some of Tuvok's un-Vulcan like ways, but I greatly admire how Wilson approached this book. You have the scientific view on this whole culture while you also get the almost religious views of the people. Star Trek has not really gone into much detail of the religions of the characters in the past when it's not their own, but Wilson has a few of them questioning their own at the end of this one. I like that dramatic twist. I would gladly suggest this to any Voyager fan. There's in a few humor spots in there that will make your fellow co-workers think you're crazy for laughing out loud.... or is that just mine?