Poll of the Month: Kathryn Janeway: Captain of Controversy

Poll of the Month: Kathryn Janeway: Captain of Controversy

Attribution: Yogan Yalu

(I don’t want my name anywhere near this slander, and on her birthday! – Ed. Genkos Adea)

In The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway, “edited” by Una McCormack, the commanding officer of the USS Voyager writes of her years in the Delta Quadrant:

Reflecting back now on these cases where I had to make ethical decisions, all I can say is that I did the best that I could under the circumstances… I was out on a limb—a Starfleet captain without Starfleet. I could not summon up help or stop off at a starbase for extra supplies. I could not, for most of the time, even ask for advice on the decisions I had to make. (p. 151)

The Autobiography devotes five chapters to the Delta Quadrant. It expands upon many small details from the series and retells them from Janeway’s perspective. For example, she handpicked her chief medical officer, a longtime friend and former crewmate, who was then killed on Voyager’s first day in the Delta Quadrant. She writes, “I have never stopped regretting asking him to come aboard Voyager. He was a fine doctor, a good friend, and his death is one of the biggest regrets of my life.” (p. 181)

The book is also an apologia, in which Janeway defends her conduct and explains the reasoning behind her many questionable command decisions. There are examples of Janeway’s erratic, ill-considered, or simply perplexing decisions throughout Voyager’s run—isolating herself from her crew as they traversed the Void (“Night”), agreeing to sacrifice the Equinox and its crew in exchange for a reprieve from attacks (“Equinox”), and attempting to apprehend two Ferengi con men rather than transit a wormhole to the Alpha Quadrant (“False Profits”) are just a few honourable mentions. This poll, however, will focus on Janeway’s greatest hits.

Stranding Voyager in the Delta Quadrant

Without our help, [the Ocampa’s] move toward self-determination would have been stopped before it had the chance. The Kazon were waiting to move in and seize the array, whatever it might cost the Ocampa. And I couldn’t let that happen. (p. 119)

Prime Directive issues aside, Janeway’s decision to protect the innocent Ocampa also smacks of the same paternalism for which she criticised the Caretaker.

Killing Tuvix

The Doctor would not perform the procedure, and therefore I took it upon myself. Tuvix died, and Tuvok and Neelix lived… Thinking about what I might have done differently will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. (pp. 132, 180)

The classic Trolley Problem has no correct answer. However, the fact that Janeway refers to Tuvix having “died” at her hand suggests she believes deep down that she committed a wrong.

Allying with the Borg against Species 8472

What the hell could destroy fifteen Borg cubes? This, we learned, after sending an away team to one of the cubes, was Species 8472, which, as we discovered from the Borg logs, had defeated them many times before. (p. 139)

Janeway’s decision to ally with the Federation’s greatest existential threat against a vastly superior enemy—instead of the other way around—feels like a short-sighted tactical error.

Promoting everyone but Harry Kim

My last act as captain of Voyager was to give him a long overdue promotion to lieutenant. I would have skipped a couple of ranks if I’d been able: Harry surely deserved it. (His speed of promotion since has made up for it, however.) (p. 182)

The argument that the command structure on Voyager was too fragile to allow Harry’s promotion just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Chakotay and Torres received field commissions. Tuvok and Paris were promoted, the latter after having been demoted. Even Ayala managed to outrank Harry Kim.

Changing history to bring Voyager home early

The admiral complicated matters greatly by revealing details of her future to me: twenty-three years in the Delta Quadrant (dear god, the prospect…!), the deaths of Seven of Nine and twenty-two others, and the horrible thought of seeing my friend Tuvok’s faculties decline… (b. 175)

Captain Janeway is steadfast against altering the timeline until Admiral Janeway reveals the untimely fates of those closest to her: Seven, Tuvok, and Chakotay. Changing the future because things didn’t pan out for you seems like a subject that would have been covered at the Academy.

Click here to head to the forums now and vote in this week’s poll on which you would choose, or let us know your own! Be sure to leave a comment in the thread!

We are a star trek roleplaying game

We are a free, fun, and friendly community of Star Trek fans who write collaborative fiction together. It’s easy to join – we’ll teach you everything you need to know!

Latest Mission Reports

Latest Interviews

Latest News

OOC Activities

Looking for something fun to do? We have a whole list of fleet activities that are looking for members like yourself! Check out the Fleet Activity List today to see where you’ll fit in.