814. The Children of Hamlin
PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #3, Pocket Books, November 1988
CREATORS: Carmen Carter
STARDATE: Between Symbiosis and Skin of Evil.
PLOT: 50 years ago, the enigmatic Choraii massacred the colony of Hamlin and took all the children. Today, the Enterprise, already carrying a large group of displaced farmers to New Oregon, takes on the survivors of the USS Farrel, destroyed by the returning Choraii. Aboard was the mysterious Deelor, an envoy authorized to negotiate for the return of Hamlin's children, and his translator, the aloof musician, Ruthe. Now, the Enterprise has been tasked with helping Deelor, even as the farmers get more and more impatient. A third-generation child and a first-generation adult are recovered from the Choraii, but the adult dies, as apparently, many have in the past. As the Enterprise finally reaches New Oregon, it has been destroyed by the Choraii, and its children taken. Ruthe makes a final trade for them with the aliens, herself, returning to where she once lived before being "traded" 15 years before. Bringing humanity's music with her, she brokers a final peace.
CONTINUITY: Chief engineer Logan (The Arsenal of Freedom). In addition to references to various first season episodes, the farmers find a holographic field reminiscent of Yonada, which tells me the asteroid-bound Yonadans made it to their destination planet safe and sound (For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky).
DIVERGENCES: Worf is often used as tactical officer, though Tasha is standing right there.
SCREENSHOT OF THE WEEK
REVIEW: While the farmer/Wesley subplot is distracting (and not uncoincidental), the story has some good elements, surprising for one of the early TNG novels. The aliens ships are very alien (and the aliens themselves so mysterious we never see them), and that's something I like the novels to explore. The Choraii communicate with music, have organic, globular ships and little knowledge of smelting, and use humans as "bonding gifts", holding them in an honored, yet servile, place. Not very fast-paced, The Children of Hamlin is nonetheless a thoughtful moral play, like many Star Trek efforts. Do humans need to be freed? Or should we respect this imposed, but legitimate, new culture? And despite my comment under Divergences, Carter uses Tasha better than the show's makers.