First serialized in the 1954 September to November editions of Incredible Tales of Scientific Wonder, Rocketship Voyager is the classic space opera that inspired the 1990's UPN television series.
...or, if we can break Kayfabe for a minute here, it's a fanfic that takes the basic plot of the opening episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and re-tells it in the style of a 1950s sci-fi short story.
The complete story is posted here and here.
Rocketship Voyager provides examples of:
- And I Must Scream: The Caretaker keeps his human specimen in a form of suspended animation that leaves the subject entirely conscious, but cuts off all sensory input. He casually notes that she probably went insane decades ago.
- Asteroid Miners: The Maquis are a militant faction of Belters who are resisting the forced evacuation of the Asteroid Belt, which have been claimed by a hostile alien race on Jupiter. At the start of the story, Voyager is returning to Earth with Maquis prisoners and several holds full of contraterrene and other minerals confiscated from the mines.
- Atom Punk: Voyager has everything from atom-tipped torpedoes to a radium-heated coffeemaker in the captain's cabin, and her space marines are equipped with micratomic grenades, bazooka-launched A-rockets and nuclear-powered flamethrowers.
- Baby Factory: Captain Qu's plan for the women of the Valkyrie.
- Big Damn Heroes: Let's just say certain people don't know how to appreciate a good Heroic Sacrifice. Though considering that the Psiborg intend to use Janeway to help them subject Earth to a Fate Worse than Death, that's just as well.
- Big Dumb Object: The Array is a cylindrical portal over fifteen miles long, in orbit around a black star. Made of Indestructium by an unknown race, its exterior surface is covered with spaceships that have been seized by Space Pirates, stripped of technology and reconditioned into habitats for the inevitable Hub City that grows up around the Portal Network.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: As a half-Venerian, B'Elanna has three lungs and retractable "arboreal claws" in the palms of her hands.
- Bring It: After defeating Chakotay in battle, Captain Janeway has the shipbuilder's plate of the Valjean hung up in the officer's wardroom. This gets a Call-Back when the Hirogen Alpha decides that Voyager is worth his attention.
"My name is Karr D'knn. You are worthy prey, Captain Janeway. I shall hunt you down, and your bones will adorn the bulkhead of my ship."
"You're welcome to try," was Janeway's retort. "There's room for another shipbuilder plate in my wardroom."
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Justified. What we would call "computers" are "electronic minds", but this is because this version of Voyager is so low-tech that "computer" retains its original meaning, i.e. a person who does mathematical computation.
- Catholic Schoolgirls Rule: To Paris, part of B'Elanna's appeal is that she attended a convent school.
- Chekhov's Gun: The decompression-shelter balloons, first seen in Chapter II, reappear in Chapter XII, when Janeway is rescued.
- Collapsible Helmet: Discussed — it's mentioned that practical experience has caused the space marines to replace their fault-prone collapsible helmet with a sturdy Asteroid Miner helmet made of armorglass and boron carbide.
- Deadpan Snarker: Not hard to find on this rocketship, though Chakotay and Paris are notable experts.
- Deconstruction: The goals of the Psiborg Collective are Not So Different from the Overlords in Childhood's End.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance:
- Women under thirty are referred to as "girls", African-Americans as "Negroes", B'Elanna is a "half-caste" and Chakotay is a "Red Indian".
- Tom Paris thinks that Seska has "the cunning and ruthlessness that came naturally to a Russian."
- The reason Captain Janeway never married Mark Johnson was because she would have had to resign her commission. It was a literal Career Versus Family choice because the Bureau of Eugenics would forbid her from having children even if she did resign now, having spent so much time exposed to cosmic radiation.
- Even Captain Janeway thinks that men have a natural aptitude for tinkering with engines, so doesn't regard it as strange that the Glowing Gang is an all-male clique, and is not willing to force the issue when B'Elanna Torres wants to work in Engineering.
- All that said, the series' treatment of women would still be considered Fair for Its Day. Fittingly, as it's meant to be written by "K.C. Hunter", Major Kira's counterpart from Benny Russell's universe.
- The Prime Directive is a ban on miscegenation (albeit referring to interspecies rather than interracial romance).
- Dissimile: Nee'Lix explaining the workings of a holodeck to Chakotay.
"It's just like your Illusionarium! Well, not like it actually... a bit more advanced. A lot more advanced. In fact, it's so advanced it's not like your Illusionarium at all."
- Everybody Smokes: Appropriate for a story written with 1950s sensibilities. Scientist Janeway keeps a pack of cigarettes in her office, and Chakotay, when offered refreshments, asks for and visibly enjoys a cigarette. When the crew relaxes in a shipboard lounge, the air is hazy with smoke.
- Faction Motto
To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before. It had been the motto of Spacefleet since its foundation in 1966, when the only space exploration Humanity had to boast of was the Big Wheel space station, a struggling colony on Luna and the Martian fiasco.
- Fan of the Past: Much of Earth's history and culture has been destroyed by three world wars, ideologically-motivated Book Burnings, and a general apathy towards the past in a technological future. Over the objections of Spacefleet psychotechs, Captain Janeway tries to preserve some of it by decorating her officer's wardroom with artefacts and books she has salvaged from the ruins of European cities. She's surprised when Chakotay quotes The Divine Comedy to her, which he read in the Arkive of a colony ship he was traveling on.
- Fantastic Ship Prefix: UNRS Voyager.
- The Federation: The Tri-World Federation is an attempt to put Earth, Venus and Mars on an equal political basis, backed by the military power of Spacefleet, to counteract the threat of an overpopulated and expansionist Earth.
- Fold the Page, Fold the Space: A variation; while explaining various theories of Faster-Than-Light Travel to Tom Paris, B'Elanna Torres uses a slide rule to demonstrate folding space and a bubble of alcohol floating in zero-gravity (from a squeeze-tube of illicit moonshine) to demonstrate a warp bubble.
- The Great Politics Mess-Up: Parodied. A significant number of Janeway's crewmembers hail from nations that no longer exist in OTL 2020, including East Germany, South Vietnam, and Yugoslavia. Seska is explicitly an expatriate Soviet Russian.
- The Greys: The Caretaker bears a strong resemblance to this old Terran image of aliens. It's suggested he, or his species, might be the source of that image.
- Half-Human Hybrid: B'Elanna Torres has a Brazilian father and a Venerian mother, and was raised in a convent after her father took off back to Earth, until the day her mother turned up with an Amazon Brigade, slaughtered the convent sisters and dragged her into the jungle to be trained as a Amazon warrior.
- Have a Gay Old Time
Carey smirked at his gay outfit. "If you're wearing that
to impress the ladies, Paris, you might as well go back to Voyager
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- It sure looks like somebody is gearing up for one, as of Chapter X. And follows through, in Chapter XI.
- Later Carey will follow suit, by remaining in the engine room despite a radiation leak, to make sure power is available to the drive. Which, of course, is also reminiscent of Spock's sacrifice in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- Hot Topic Phlebotinum: As befits the 1950's; Tech Lieutenant TuV'k is the ship's Tactical Psionics Officer, and Tom Paris brags about the transistors used on their Computer Deck.
- Humanoid Aliens: The work takes several species that were Rubber-Forehead Aliens on the show and turns them into these.
- Nee'Lix and his people are smaller (three or four feet tall) and more rodent-like, with prehensile tails.
- The Hirogen are seven feet tall and have claws, snouts, and long tails. They are explicitly described as looking like dinosaurs.
- The Caretaker, as mentioned above, is basically a Grey.
- In the Style of...: Written in the retraux style of a 1950's science fiction magazine serial.
- Insistent Terminology: Janeway insists that the women of the Valkyrie did not mutiny; they "detained [their] officers." Notably, this was the wording in their acquittal.
- I Want My Jetpack: A 1954 sci-fi pulp set in the far future of the year 2020. Humanity has flying cars; megacities; colonies on Venus, Mars and the Asteroid Belt; and torchships powered by Anti Matter.
- It Will Never Catch On: Tom's opinion of Hyun Kim's preferred video selection.
Kim: How about that new space opera series? A Trek Through the Stars.
Paris: Come off it, Hyun! That show will never last.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: The only Ray Gun shown is a cumbersome crew-served weapon that's quickly destroyed by the Space Marines who are using flamethrowers and recoilless machine guns.
- Meaningful Echo: "There are three rules about being a Spacefleet captain: always keep your coverall zipped up, go down with the ship, and never abandon a member of your crew."
- Meaningful Rename: On learning of the upgrades her ship will be receiving, Janeway mentally renames it from "Rocketship Voyager" to "Starship Voyager."
- Mercy Kill: Janeway for the Caretaker's human specimen.
- Mythology Gag:
- When Captain Janeway first enters the Array, an Obstructive Bureaucrat grills her on a Long List of hazards her crew might have been exposed to, all of them Negative Space Wedgies encountered on Star Trek: Voyager.
- Ensign Kim encounters a psychic who foretells he will have seven years of torment and won't get promoted either.
- There's an Urban Legend about an ensign on Enterprise who ended up with three breasts.
- After getting into an argument with the Dianetics auditor, B'Elanna says to Chakotay that at least no-one is using his religion as a therapy tool.
- A former captain of Janeway's, "Qu," is described as a madman who believed he could alter reality with a snap of his fingers.
- How Space Lieutenant Tu'Vix dies: cut in half.
- It's implied that the wine Janeway and Chakotay share was made by the Picard family.
- Chakotay describes Michael Jonas as an excellent mole. He means asteroid miner, though that's not the type of mole Jonas was in the TV series.
- At the holographic beach, three amphibians are looking plaintively at Janeway, apparently not for the first time.
- Unlike her TV-series counterpart, Janeway is not about to let Nee'Lix become ship's cook.
- The ship's computer — meaning literally, a person who does computations — is named Majel Barrett.
- An unplanned, and unwelcome, haircut has Janeway grousing, "A bald captain? Maybe I'll start a fad."
- National Geographic Nudity: When B'Elanna is assigned a sleeping pod, she finds a pin-up left by the previous occupant: an actual National Geographic pic of a Venerian "Amazon warrior". She is not amused.
[The] female Venerian [was] bedecked in jewels, a sword harness, and not much else.
- Noodle Incident: Several in various characters' back stories, including Paris's accident on Deimos and Chakotay's experiences in the Venerian War. Averted with Janeway's role in the Valkyrie mutiny, of which the full story is eventually told.
- Not So Different: Chakotay suggests that Janeway's motives in the Valkyrie incident were not unlike his own motives for joining the Maquis. She doesn't appreciate the comparison.
- Outside-Context Problem: Voyager is an early-21st Century torchship with no Deflector Shields, Matter Replicators or Universal Translator, that finds itself on the far side of the galaxy where alien races have access to vastly superior technology like Tractor Beams, Artificial Gravity, Holodecks and Faster-Than-Light Travel.
- Retro Rocket: The UNRS Voyager is a single-stage contraterrene-powered cigar-shaped torchship. In one scene, B'Elanna Torres is Planning with Props while explaining the theory of Faster-Than-Light Travel.
"Imagine this is Voyager..." B'Elanna picked up her spoon, then reconsidered, replacing it with the squeeze-tube which was more appropriate to Voyager's shape.
- One of Captain Qu's officers is Space Commander Adams, who shares a surname with the ship's captain of Forbidden Planet. Ensign Janeway's fellow mutineers are Alice Keefer and Eve Maryk, who share surnames with characters from The Caine Mutiny.
- Several to Isaac Asimov:
- Spacefleet's robots (including the doctor) are Three Laws-Compliant.
- Paris's family underwent a similar experience to that of Elijah Baley, with his father losing his job because of technological advancement and the family ending in poverty. "Zymoveal," a yeast-based protein, is Poverty Food in both societies.
- The theory that there might be a small habitable zone on the border between the hot and cold halves of Mercury harks back to an old Asimov short story.
- It's suggested that the Voyager crew could establish a "Second Foundation of Man."
- Ray Bradbury
- Janeway's father is described as a "fireman" in the same sense as the firemen of Fahrenheit 451: he burns books. (And like the novel's protagonist, saves a few for himself.)
- A tri-vid on the man-eating lions of The Veldt is not recommended for children.
- The two space marines mentioned by name are Sergeant VanBuskirk and Corporal Juan Rico.
- Heinlein's Noisy Rysling is among the artists B'Elanna hears and recognizes in a playlist of post-atomic music, along with Theodore Sturgeon's Starr Anthim. She doesn't know what Also sprach Zarathustra is doing on the playlist, though.
- Among the sentient species in Earth's solar system, Janeway lists "...some nasty slugs on Titan you wouldn't want to meet."
- When Nee'Lix is pointing out all the different alien species aboard the Array, he mentions that the ones that look like centipedes come from a fast-spinning, high-gravity world. (For bonus points, their home planet is called "Kelemane's World"; "Kelemane" seems to be a play on "Clement".)
- Triffidus are among the plants Keshari is growing in the arboretum. As are some suspiciously large tomatoes.
- The early space astronauts include Friede and Wolf Helius.
- Non-SF Shout-Out: Kurt Weill, with Hyun Kim singing his apt "Lost in the Stars."
- Space Pirates: The Briori hire the K'Zon and Hirogen as mercenaries to kidnap slaves and steal technology, using the galaxy-spanning Portal Network they control.
- Stay in the Kitchen: In early space travel, when a pilot's size and weight were critically important, women were pioneering astronauts. By Janeway's day, however, drives are more efficient, making astronauts' physical size irrelevant, and there is a strong push to limit women to less dangerous roles. A recent UN study suggests that command track should be limited to men, because of "their natural authority." You can guess how Janeway feels about this.
- This Cannot Be!: The reaction of the Voyager crew when encountering a Tractor Beam, Faster-Than-Light Travel and Hyperspeed Escape for the first time. The first means the ability to switch on a gravity well and focus it on a single point, the second is theorized but impossible under current Earth technology, and the last should have left the crews of the alien vessels splattered against the bulkheads.
- Twin Telepathy: The Delaney twins share it, and are involved in an experiment on the subject, with Jenny on Voyager and Megan on Mars. Paris suspects something is very wrong when Jenny says she can't "hear" her sister.
- Underestimating Badassery: Seska thinks Chakotay could easily defeat Janeway for control of Voyager, as he's a fighter by training and Janeway is a scientist. Chakotay reflects that he had expected to defeat her in their last encounter for just that reason, right up until she torpedoed his rocketship.
- Venus Is Wet: In keeping with the story's Retraux aesthetic, Venus is a rainy world filled with swamps and jungles (and a race of Rubber-Forehead Aliens who serve as a substitute for the Klingons).
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: On Earth, the artificial production of diamonds is so common that diamonds are no longer regarded as precious gems, and are used solely for industrial purposes. But on Venus, the native Venerians still regarded diamonds as rare and valuable when the first Terran colonizers arrived, so the Terrans cut some very lopsided deals with the locals.
- Your Mom: Nee'Lix attempts this against the Caretaker, only to be informed, "I was born in a cloning tank so I have no maternal ancestor."
- Zee Rust: Voyager has a Master Computer that takes up an entire deck and has only recently been upgraded from vacuum tubes to transistors, and an 'Illusionarium'—a three-dimensional theatre with interactive couches that provide sound, touch and smell; coordinated with a cabinet-sized microcomputer that uses punched cards and is repaired with a soldering iron.