Review: The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway by Una McCormack

Jack McMorrow

Through the writing of Author Una McCormack, the Autobiography series continues with the story of Captain Janeway, her life and journey in Starfleet. What did we think? Find out below.   

Some of the most unsung aspects in recent Star Trek has been its literary works which aim to extol the lives of leading characters from past Star Trek series. One of the more popular examples has been the Autobiography series which so far has focused on Kirk and Picard. In both books Captain Jonathan Archer is at least alluded to but as for Sisko, for reasons passing understanding, the character is literally a God now so it’s not known if the two legendary captains will ever feature in their own autobiographies at some point. One can only hope. But what about Janeway?

Between new episodes of Discovery, and with both Picard and Lower Decks capping off great debut seasons, coupled with the news that Voyager’s Captain will be reprised after a two decade break, you’d be forgiven for missing that Una McCormack’s The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway was released earlier this month without much in the way of fanfare. But was it exactly worth the wait or bypassing the Captain of Deep Space Nine or the NX01 Enterprise? Let’s find out.

Firstly, the book came out less than a week ago. If you are thinking I must be a fast reader, The Star Trek Destiny trilogy took me nearly 3 months and I always take longer to read anything than my kindle says it will take. This book is barely 200 pages. This immediately sets off alarm bells to me: how can a character with such an intricate and decades long fictional history possibly be done justice with such a short book?

Well, over two decades ago, Jeri Taylor’s novel Mosaic – which sees the Voyager crew fighting off a Kazon warship while Janeway reminisces about her childhood – helped fill in Janeway’s backstory pretty well and in not many more pages than the autobiography. Maybe I’m just reading too much into the short page count here. Mosaic is quite brief, and I’ll recommend it to anyone, but it is apparent that while Mosaic was albeit a little longer and could flesh out selected years of Janeway’s backstory prior to the Voyager episode ‘Caretaker’, with a shorter page count this book has to not only do that but re-cap the seven years spent in the Delta Quadrant and the chapters of her life post ‘Endgame’. Not to mention that while certainly referenced, the Janeway mentorship of Seven of Nine gets only fleeting references here despite being a focus from Seven’s debut in ‘Scorpion Part 2’ to the series finale ‘Endgame’ a full 4 seasons later. This is only exacerbated by the fact that, although examples of it at present are few and far between, Star Trek: Picard has already contradict the book and with Janeway now returning to our screens, it is almost inevitable that more and more aspects will be contradicted, thereby making this book’s content continue to decrease in canon value. This is of course no fault of the author as while writing the book its clear that she was not privy to the inner workings of the Star Trek TV Universe, but it is something that will crop up again with the upcoming Autobiography of Mr Spock due out next year and possibly post Strange New Worlds, but this could be why she chose to flesh out more of Janeway’s story pre ‘Caretaker’ and not add to much to her life once she returned home.  

Overall, this book is the quick and very simple Pop Tarts breakfast variety of the literary Star Trek world. It looks nice to have on a shelf or e-reader next to the other entries in The Autobiography Of …. Series. It spends a third of its pages focusing on the Delta quadrant, rushing through the details somewhat with incidents in the show that were ripe for expansion such as Janeway knocking out the power to multiple decks on the USS Al–Batani – Janeway’s first posting under the command of Captain Owen Paris –briefly mentioned with others entirely omitted. Many long sequences, each worthy of their own full-length books such as Janeway’s Academy years or childhood are all glossed over to which given that the book spends a lot of its time building up to Star Trek: Voyagers first episode, seems strange to not want to expand on further which makes the book feel rushed.

While It’s nice to see the occasional Voyager regular crop up and we do get some insight into Janeway’s relationships with her former crewmates which we were not privy too already, the book spends far too much time before the events of ‘Caretaker’ and in this reviewers opinion, not enough time after the events of ‘Endgame’. We have already seen the years adrift in the Delta Quadrant so that should have been the shortest element of the book. If you are a fan of the extended universe of Star Trek in novel form, especially with the re-launch series then that early period has not only been covered in Janeway’s life but done better.

However, if you are a casual reader of Star Trek books then this entry into the autobiography series will give you a decent insight into the life and times of Captain Janeway. For me and maybe more avid readers, given the book’s brevity and its missed opportunities I would only recommend buying this book if you wish on ensuring your Autobiography collection stays up to date.




Kathryn Janeway reveals her career in Starfleet, from her first command to her epic journey through the Delta Quadrant leading to her rise to the top as vice-admiral in Starfleet Command. Discover the story of the woman who travelled further than any human ever had before, stranded decades from home, encountering new worlds and species.

Explore how she brought together Starfleet and the Maquis as part of her crew, forged new alliances with species across the galaxy and overcame one of Starfleet’s greatest threats – the Borg – on their own remote and hostile territory. Get Janeway’s personal take on key characters such as Seven of Nine, her trusted friend Tuvok, new arrivals like Neelix and her second-in-command, Chakotay

Available now at Amazon

Have you read The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway? If so, what did you think? Do you agree with our assessment? Let us know in the comments below or on our social media pages.


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