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I'm currently re-watching Voyager and there are two occasions (so far—I don't think there are any more?) when members of Voyager visit the Q Continuum. On both occasions it is said that what they see is simply a representation that they can understand and the true nature of the Continuum is beyond their comprehension.

In The Q and the Grey, Janeway and later other members of the crew interact with what they see the Continuum as. Voyager also apparently travels to the Continuum by flying directly in to one of the supernovae which are apparently echoes of the battle in the Continuum... which suggest that the crew do actually physically travel to the Continuum.

Is that the case? I originally thought it may just be their consciousness which was "transported" to the Continuum, but Voyager physicially travelling there seems to suggest otherwise.

So, are the non-Q species that visit the continuum actually physically there and if so what are they actually physically doing whilst there, as what they are seeing and experiencing isn't "real"?

(I've got a suspicion that this isn't addressed and the answer is; nobody really knows)

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  • There are only two visits to the Q Continuum; Voy: Deathwish and Voy: The Q and the Grey
    – Valorum
    Aug 9, 2016 at 14:23
  • I did think so, couldn't remember any others and couldn't find any references to any others but I wasn't sure
    – Cai
    Aug 9, 2016 at 14:28
  • You know how the Holodeck looks when it's turned off? It's easy to imagine the Q Continuum once you realise it's just a 47-dimensional version of that. Aug 17, 2023 at 8:02

3 Answers 3

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Probably they're actually there (as you say, in the Voy: Q and the Grey they were able to travel independently to the Continuum by means of a supernova and some careful finessing of subspace), but they're almost certainly not there in corporeal form given that the continuum is an

"... extra-dimensional realm"

Star Trek Encyclopedia

and a

... continuum of the limitless dimensions of the galaxy

StarTrek.com article: The Q

Neither of which suggests that physical matter really has much place there.


Q1 (De Lancie) describes the dusty road scenario as being a mere "manifestation" of the continuum, one that's been dramatically dumbed down to the point that we mere mortals can glimpse some part of it.

JANEWAY: This is the Continuum? A road in a desert?

Q1: (to Q2) I told you so.

Q2: This is a... manifestation... of the Continuum that we hope will fall within your level of comprehension. This way.

[And as they trudge forward... we boom up to see the road stretch to the horizon in infinity. Up ahead is a single rustic building... sort of a roadside "grill"... or road stop].

By the same token the 'civil war' scenario is something that's been dredged out of Earth's history (presumably from Janeway's memory) to explain what the crew are experiencing rather than something that's literally occurring.

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  • Indeed. Much like, in turn, the Voyager crew have been "transformed" by the camera lens to be given the image of 20th Century Earth actors, for our benefit (and for theirs) :) Aug 9, 2016 at 14:55
  • I guess you're right... it's the traveling to the continuum independently that gets me... What happened to Voyager? and what happens to your corporeal form while your in the Continuum?
    – Cai
    Aug 9, 2016 at 16:24
  • I guess I just don't have the Q'ness to comprehend what's going on :)
    – Cai
    Aug 9, 2016 at 16:24
  • @cai - I should assume that Lady Q dealt with it with a click of her fingers.
    – Valorum
    Aug 9, 2016 at 16:56
  • @Valorum Lady Q had lost her powers at the time, hence the need for getting there through the supernovae
    – Cai
    Aug 9, 2016 at 17:01
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I'm sure if I go rewatch those episode the first time they go to the continuum you'd have seen Q1 and Q2 talk secretly and then also say that they agreed that this is a fair interpretation. This implies that what they are seeing/experiencing is the result of 1 or both of the Q agreeing on that look.

In the second circumstance, the power of the Female Q has been cut off but she gives them the way to enter the Continuum the "normal" way while simultaneously, Q has taken Janeways and is doing the same thing as before, representing the Continuum for her in a way that she can experience. When Voy gets in the female Q likely hi-jacks the feed and feeds it into the crew.

Now as far as "What they are actually doing" That we don't know because we've never seen the real form of the Q, but it can be assumed that the crew has been changed into Q like beings and Q and Q are just acting as translators for their minds/bodies so it makes sense to them...We've seen comparible things done by the Q, such Picard's "2nd chance".

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In both instances of humans entering the Q Continuum, the Q purposefully altered their perception of it so that humans could understand it.

However, the Q being "godlike" was a flourish of storytelling. The storytellers purposefully keep things ambiguous so we're left to imagine them as something on a higher level we can't yet comprehend. But even with that narrative in place, we learned through "The Q and the Grey" that their universe was only difficult to fully understand. Not interact with. Not exist as a physical being in. Or, at the very least, interact in the same way you would in the physical world with allegorical consequences.

For example, Janeway treated Q's wounds when injured by Q weaponry. She was able to aid the wounded Q out of the way of additional fire from said weaponry. She was able to spot refuges from the conflict and take Q to them and even brings him water heated by a campfire. In fact, the entire point of Q bringing Janeway there is so she can mate with him to create a new messianic-like figure for the Q. As he said, he could only mate with a species "capable of copulation."

Janeway tending to a wounded Q in "The Q and the Grey"

Voyager entered the Continuum through a supernova that was a direct result of the Q conflict aided by modifications provided by the female Q. Once they get there, they're able to engage in conflict and provide a threat to other Q by using Q weaponry. The humans are able to travel from one point to another just as they would in regular space/time. Communicate with other Q using standard verbal communication. Heck, they even win their first confrontation.

I think people are confusing extradimensional with purely energy. But extradimensional does not mean matter can't exist there. In fact, from what I can tell, it's actually a word science fiction made up. In physics, extra dimensions are just possible dimensions we don't know about yet. But we exist in the four known ones, so it's not really stretching credulity to say corporeal beings couldn't exist in another. It would just be...different. Probably.

That is to say, since the Q's realm isn't really beholden to any scientific principles that say people can't go or exist there, based on what we've seen depicted is we do interact with it just as we do in our realm. It just requires this overlay of familiarity for us to properly do it and understand it. (Not to mention, this overlay was specifically selected by Q so as to give Janeway, whom he noted was of American descent, a frame of reference so she would be more sympathetic to his cause.) As to what happened to the Starship Voyager when it entered, we just aren't told. But since it seems the Civil War analogy applied to the crew as well, one could speculate Voyager just turned into a iron clad gunship or something similar. Which...I really wish we got to see.

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