The Star Trek Story That Inspired Voyager’s Best Character

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

Many were cynical about Star Trek: Voyager adding Jeri Ryan to the cast because adding a buxom lady to the crew and having her spend all of her time in a skintight catsuit was such a transparent attempt to boost ratings that it might as well have had a cloaking device. Still, the ex-Borg character Seven of Nine quickly settled in and became part of our favorite episodes, and her fan-favorite status is part of why the character was brought back for Picard. Most fans consider Seven very original, but she is a rip-off of a Star Trek book character created by Peter David.

Seven Of Nine Was Heavily Influenced By Peter David’s Novel Vendetta

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Back in 1991, years before Voyager was even a twinkle in Paramount’s eye, Peter David wrote Vendetta. The story linked together The Original Series and The Next Generation in a big way by presenting the Doomsday Machine that Kirk tangled with as a weapon originally designed to fight the Borg. Captain Picard gets caught in this ancient war between implacable alien cultures, and along the way, Dr. Crusher is able to restore the humanity of former Borg Reannon Bonaventure.

What Seven Of Nine Has In Common With Reannon

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Here’s where the similarities to Star Trek: Voyager kick in; like Seven of Nine, Reannon is a human who gets assimilated into the Borg Collective before being rescued by Starfleet. Another similarity is that in the book, she is theorized to be the first human encountered by the Borg because she entered their space while traveling in a cloaked ship known as the Phantom Cruiser. As for Seven of Nine, she was assimilated by the Borg when her parents’ ship accidentally ended up in Borg space.

Peter David Created The Concept Of Gendered Borg

best star trek villain

At this point, you might defend Star Trek: Voyager because the concept of “restored human Borg who once traveled too close to Borg territory” may not sound all that original. But keep in mind that when Peter David wrote Star Trek: Vendetta, it was the official position of Paramount that Borg had no gender whatsoever.

In fact, when the novel was published, it contained a disclaimer “the plot and background details of Vendetta are solely the author’s interpretation of the universe of Star Trek, and vary in some respects from the universe as created by Gene Roddenberry.”

Paramount Fought Peter David Over Female Borg

Star Trek Picard Seven of Nine

That weird disclaimer is there because Peter David had fought with Star Trek archivist and The Next Generation research consultant Richard Arnold. Speaking on behalf of Paramount, Arnold argued for Reannon Bonaventure to be removed from the book entirely because there were no female Borg. Since David refused to do so, the disclaimer was put on the novel.

Fast-forward six years and the introduction of Seven of Nine to Star Trek: Voyager, and it became clear that Paramount had softened to both the idea and the storytelling possibility of a female ex-Borg (conveniently only after David’s story with one became a New York Times bestseller).

Seven of Nine Has Become A Sci-Fi Icon

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Over time, Seven of Nine became a fantastic character in her own right, and there were eventually more differences between her and Rheannon than we could shake our Vendetta paperback at. However, we can’t shake the feeling that Jeri Ryan’s iconic Star Trek: Voyager character would never have existed if Peter David hadn’t paved the way with his amazing novel. If you’d like to read the book that helped make Seven of Nine a reality, you can order a digital copy of Vendetta today, but be warned: once you start reading David’s Star Trek books, you won’t ever want to stop.