One of the annoyances of this book was when one of the "diverse" crew would show up and they were an alien never seen on the show. I mean, one or two were described well enough that I could imagine what they look like, but the Chief Engineer and to a lesser extent the Pacifican helm officer annoyed me because I had no idea what they looked like, and they weren't described very well. I thought for a second that the pacifican might have been one of the sentient dolphins a few of the older ST books had. Considering the reveal about her and Riker, its a good thing I was completely wrong about that
I fleshed out Aili Lavena's description in Orion's Hounds
, and she's pretty accurately depicted on the cover of Over a Torrent Sea
And human-dolphin sex is not unheard of. Dolphins will try to have sex with just about anything that moves.
The Chief engineer I thought would be like a large version of the friendly form of the gremlins. I was also way off, but thats what the description lead me to believe for some reason.
Which chief engineer? The original one, Nidani Ledrah, was a Tiburon, a species seen in TOS: "The Way to Eden" and DS9: "The Ship," Her successor, Xin Ra-Havreii, is an Efrosian, a species seen in The Voyage Home
and The Undiscovered Country
I guess you must be referring to Torvig
, who does have sort of Mogwai-like ears. But he's hardly the chief engineer; he was initially a cadet doing work-study aboard the ship, and is currently an ensign serving as a junior engineer.
A lot of the Keru and Norellis stuff felt like a token "Oh, look, gay starfleet officers" thing. I have no problem with gay characters in books/etc, even though I'm straight, but it added nothing to the story and just ended up wasting ink.
I wonder, if it had been a subplot about a romantic flirtation between a man and a woman, would you have thought it was a token "Oh look, heterosexual Starfleet officers" thing? Plenty of stories have romantic subplots that don't add to the main plot. There are such subplots in TTN, such as Vale/Jaza and Ra-Havreii/Pazlar.
So maybe it's not about calling attention to them being gay, but just the opposite: treating them the same way any other character would be treated.