Star Trek #1645: Balance of Nature

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: S.C.E. #27, Pocket Books, April 2003

CREATORS: Heather Jarman

STARDATE: None given, but following Wildfire, at the same time as Age of Unreason

PLOT: P8 Blue (AKA "Pattie") returns to the Nasat homeworld to drop her larvae and for R&R, but her reunion with her Federation mentors who taught her how to speak - as she was born a "quiet" - is short-lived when a quake wreaks havoc on her township. She insists on helping in the investigation of what could be harming the mother-tree and convinces the town leaders to send a team to the forest floor, which is never done. While under the canopy, she feels a presence and while escaping a predator, finds her way to a cave built by ancient Nasat, on whose walls is painted a war between the insect-like race and a vegetable one. As the plant-like Citoac pounce, she makes contact, a natural ability of the "quiets", and becomes their voice. The Nasat, adverse to history, had forgotten their treaty with the Citoac and built over their sunlight. The recent attacks on the township was retaliation. Pattie brings new understanding to her people and the township starts to dismantle the offending platforms. She's also solved the mystery of her genetic anomaly!

CONTINUITY: At the very end, Pattie contacts Bart who is on his way back from the mission in Age of Unreason. Tarak's wife was lost when the USS Cairo crossed into the Romulan Neutral Zone during the Dominion War (In the Pale Moonlight). This is probably a good time to remind ourselves that the Nasat first appeared (tough were not named) in the Animated Series' The Jihad (with a character named M3 Green or Em/3/Green). The portrayal there of a cautious race is well-presented in this book.


SCREENSHOT OF THE WEEK - A monstrous Nasat sloth
REVIEW: We've never learned so much about the Nasat, nor Pattie herself! As a result, the ebook doesn't seem short at all, but rather rich and full. We're truly on an alien world, and come to understand P8's own difference (almost a prerequisite for non-human regulars on Star Trek), which just isn't an issue aboard a starship. And the differences mount up - she's been "infected" by the "softs'" values and attitudes. Her mentors, a Betazoid-Vulcan couple are good characters who could have happily returned, unusual "parents" for a Nasat, but while we don't necessarily get what difference the variably-colored shells make in their society (things I'm sure a longer novel would have gotten into), they evoke a strange and colorful world. The mysteries are interesting and not too techie, even if P8 brings some engineering expertise to it, and indeed, they converge pleasantly in the story. Heather Jarman has a holistic view of this world where everything we learn about them has bearing and consequence on the rest. And plenty of action to go along with the world-building. A fun book that makes you hope P8 will get more development down the line.