The Cardassian Mask
|Title:||The Cardassian Mask|
|Cover Artist(s):||L.R. Bowen|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: VOY|
|External Links:||online here; PDF version here|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
It was first posted to alt.startrek.creative.
AboutFrom the author:
THIS NOVEL was originally intended as a short story. Bet you've heard that one before. Its composition began approximately one week after the episode "State of Flux" first aired in March 1995. As more episodes aired, I incorporated more facts and details until the MS was substantially complete in early November 1995. At that point, I sent it to a number of readers who gave excellent feedback and encouragement. When "Maneuvers" aired later that month, it confirmed many of the themes already established, but I had to decide how to integrate all the new information about Seska. Work progressed slowly, with other projects taking up my attention until February 1996, when the present novel began to take shape. It reached its final form in May/June 1996, after all the second season's episodes had aired. I couldn't take every element of the Voyager timeline into account, since I had to cut it off somewhere in order to finish writing! I decided to set the story at the end of the first season, after "Learning Curve" and before "The 37s", since it is basically a response to that set of shows. The stardate assigned to it reflects that placement. Details and foreshadowing from the second season crept in during revision. As a result, "The Cardassian Mask" will fit into canon up to the events of "Resolutions", at the end of the second season. Since the Janeway/Chakotay relationship took a welcome but unexpected turn in that episode, nearly all J/C fan fiction that had been written up to that point was made non-canon, and "The Cardassian Mask" is no exception. This story exists in the universe created by so many fan authors; that of a possible route these two might have taken towards connection, given their friendship and attraction so tantalizingly offered on the show itself. I'd like to make it clear that this is an adult novel, not meant for minors. This is not primarily an erotic work, but it contains some strong language and intense situations that may upset sensitive people. If you don't enjoy reading about sexual matters, be warned. 
Sample interior art by L.R. Bowen
Reactions and Reviews
At a point in the timeline immediately after "Learning Curve" (the end of the first season), Voyager visits a beautiful, fertile garden to gather food, but far more grows there than fruit trees...Seska may be gone, but she's not finished with Voyager. Captain and first officer make an intimate misstep after Chakotay returns to the ship with a holorecording of the garden. He discovers a trace image of his fugitive ex-lover in the background of the scene, and Voyager returns to capture her. Tuvok speculates uneasily about the result of a reunion, and Torres vows to get even with her former friend. Janeway must balance her obligations against very personal loyalties. Seska's got her wits about her, however, and she knows far too much about Chakotay and all the crew of Voyager. And those nasty Kazon are bound to show up any minute, whether she wants them to or not... Suspicion, longing, peril, anguish, joy, and Neelix's cooking ensue. Written very much for Janeway/Chakotay aficionadoes, there is still plenty to enjoy for all Voyager readers. This is an adult novel, and contains several explicitly written sexual situations, including some not-fully-consensual sex. There is potential for offense to tender sensibilities. This zine will not be sold to anyone under 18. ...The artwork in this zine, and the layout and production, are exceptional. 
This one is dark and grim, in a lot of spots. But the characters ring true; the motivations make sense -- and it just *works*, ok? Trust me, bubbehs, this is worth the read, even though it is kinda long. 
CARDASSIAN MASK is Laura's tour-de-force. There are running novels on a.s.c (novels posted in-process, like Alara's ONLY HUMAN), and then there are a few posted complete. Among those, CARDASSIAN MASK is one of the "must read," along with Killashandra's BITTER GLASS and Gabrielle's IF IT'S NOT ONE THING.... Yes, they take time, and more diskspace to download (for those for whom that's an issue)...but CM is worth it. It's not for the faint of heart, however. It's dark: a version of 'Seska gets her hands on Chakotay (and Janeway)' before the show took that on. Currently, Laura's doing this one as a fanzine, with very nice illustrations (a few of which can be seen on her homepage), so for those who don't like reading long things in front of a computer screen, check out the option for the fanzine. In any form, this is one worth reading. ;> 
This story, truly not for the weak-hearted, is the most intense treatment of the J/C relationship that I have read in this group. L R Bowen put these characters through a set of unimaginable circumstances, all the while maintaining the individual personalities of the characters. If you want to read a VERY mature story about Voyager's commanding officers, check out this story.