Book Review: The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway, edited by Una McCormack

The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway, by Una McCormack, is the third book in a series of planned Star Trek “autobiographies” following 2015’s The Autobiography of James. T. Kirk and 2017’s The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, both written by author David A. Goodman. The book spans the entirety of Janeway’s life from her idyllic childhood on a small farm outside Bloomington, Indiana, to her position as vice-admiral in Starfleet Command. In between, we learn of Janeway’s time at the Starfleet Academy, her first command, and insightful revelations concerning her time lost in the Delta Quadrant—an adventure first recounted in the seven seasons of Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001).

Nearly all of the book points to why Janeway was the perfect captain to get stuck in the Delta Quadrant. Much of the autobiography is a straight-forward retelling of events without any noticeable conflict. Janeway had as normal a childhood as possible, with loving parents, grandparents, hobbies, etc. We learn that, while Janeway was an exceptionally bright child, she was completely driven by her passion for space, Starfleet, and her love for her family, especially her father, who was often away for long periods of time. The book works best when Ms. McCormack allows the scenes to be recreated on the page with dialogue, character interaction, and conflict. This especially works during Janeway’s first meetings with Boothby and her decisions regarding Tuvix, Tuvok, and Neelix. Fans of Star Trek: Voyager will be pleased to receive added insight into favorite storylines from the series; unfortunately, such scenes are few and far between.

Often, the most insightful sections of any good autobiography are the personal collection of photos that are sometimes completely new to the reader. However, the included photo gallery is a true disappointment. The pictures look quickly thrown together with little understanding of how photos and artwork should add to the emotional depth of the story.

Una McCormack has also been tapped to write The Autobiography of Mr. Spock, due in September 2021. Janeway’s autobiography is about a hundred pages shorter than the first two entries in the series. My hope is that for Mr. Spock, Ms. McCormack gives us those hundred pages and fills them with many more of the sort of personal, in-scene elements that work best in The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway.

Greg Hammond

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