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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old October 13 2012, 09:08 PM   #1
Deranged Nasat
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Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

Yes, I’m hoping to make this a semi-regular feature. I thought we could have a new race up for discussion every week or so. I have no idea how this is going to turn out, or whether it will lead to anything interesting, but I thought I’d give it a try.

First up, I thought I'd go with a relatively minor and uncontroversial race (no Andorians just yet ), and I picked the Nasats for my lightweight pilot episode, since they're in my "name" (and my avatar). I wonder if anyone will actually have anything to say about such a minor race, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The Nasat

If you don't read the SCE/Corps of Engineers books, I imagine your first response will be "the who?" Indeed, I came to that series rather late and so for some time I wasn't sure who they were myself. My first exposure to the Nasats was in the context of minor factoids littered through other books, which caught my attention precisely because they were all referencing something I didn't know about. The Sundered mentioned that they were able to survive vacuum and were naturally armoured, A Time To Sow mentioned they had extra hands (from a human perspective), etc. I didn't get an internet connection until 2008, so my knowledge was limited to books. I couldn't recall any canonical species called Nasat; it was like a conspiracy, and I had to piece together the clues to reveal the truth.

This is the truth:



The Nasat, for those not in the know, are a timid race of cowardly woodlice (pillbugs, I should say...) based off a character in The Animated Series. P8 Blue, a (relatively) major character in the SCE books, is a Nasat. They're minor Federation members from an eponymous planet featuring dense rainforests. They're brightly coloured, coming in 5 exciting varieties, and their preferred response to a crisis is to curl up and roll in the other direction. They don't usually carry axes or dress up as Gendo Ikari, and I'm sorry if I confused anyone.

One interesting thing about them right off the bat is that they're non-humanoid, and so in a minority as far as Trek races go, even in the books. They're particularly in a minority within the Federation, which has a few genuine non-humanoids (Pakhwa-thanh, Alonis, Sulamids) and, to be fair, a reasonable amount of semi-humanoids, but still comes across as weighted toward the familiar and human-esque. (The Typhon Pact actually looks more diverse on the surface). But...how non-humanoid are the Nasats, really? Physically they're different, yes, but psychologically are they just humans who happen to...also be pillbugs? How alien a character is P8 Blue? Not very, I think we'd agree. She's quite an endearing personality (at least, I'm a fan), but she's not that different from a human in terms of how she thinks. Whether or not that's a bad thing is up for debate. One of our members (I forget who it was, sorry) once stated here that he/she liked the fact that P8 was "one of the girls" rather than sticking out as alien, as many characters in Star Trek: Titan do, for example. Yet in Balance of Nature, when she’s placed in context with other Nasat, the writing draws more attention to the non-human aspects of P8 Blue – and how humanoids rub off on her.

Not only are they non-humanoid, but Nasats are arthropods. Okay, so they can move and breathe and everything just fine while also being the size of a small man, so they're not actual arthropods, but you know what I mean. There are a lot of tropes associated with insectoid, arachnid or crustacean aliens, and the Nasat play into some while averting others. There’s no hive mind, for one thing. They’re social but a bit standoffish (no lovers or families, but apparently preferring to live in sizable communities). On the other hand, they're a very conservative society, in keeping with insectoid norms (the novel Imbalance has an interesting discussion of "typical" insectoids within the Trek universe, and one of the points made is that insectoid societies are structured, orderly and wary of change. Nasats have no hive, but seem to tick that particular box). Thinking about this further, Nasats do care for their young - not their young, but all the community's young - so they might be said to have something resembling the colony structure of other insectoids. As another note, woodlice are very social and care for their young, so does this make Nasats another "Earth animal as sapient alien" species, like Caitians?

There are many, many bug jokes in SCE, along with a few serious discussions of entomophobia - what’s it like to live and work alongside a giant bug? But humour and phobia aside, are the Nasats truly explored in the sense of being some form of "giant arthropod-like thing" or are they just walking jokes? Either way, they're the most prominent example of friendly "insectoids" in Trek lit (in fact, after Xindi-Insectoids, which are antagonists for the most part, and Tholians if we’re counting them (ditto) I’d say they’re the most notable arthropods full stop).

I'd like a little section about characters, but in this case, it's mostly it’s just P8, and she’s exceptional. And I've already covered the main point regarding her Nasatness - is she an alien or a human woman who happens to be a giant bug? The only other recurring Nasats are Z4 Blue, the reasonable authority figure from Balance of Nature who then got promoted to the Palais team in Articles of the Federation, and C29 Green, who isn’t really important other than being the Nasat on the Federation Council in Palais stories. Okay, they're not a very prominant people. But it might be nice to see some more Nasats, those who fit the stereotypes rather than avert them?

Speaking of stereotypes, Balance of Nature suggested that the mini-Rainbow of Nasats contains colours associated - through biology, culture, or some combination of the two - with particular tasks and attitudes. I've got a few observations on that count:

Reds: The reds seem to be the Nasats most comfortable with change and challenge, or at least the ones most able to buck tradition. This is likely coincidence, I admit, but I note that most prominant scientists, forward-thinkers and expat Nasats are reds. F3 Red the Nasat Einstein, V1 Red and V5 Red the progressive engineer and politician, the Nasats who left home to live on Phantas 61, etc.

Blues are the next most adventurous in my estimation, being rather outspoken; they seem more assertive but also more "grounded", as though they're not as flighty and creative as reds but instead more concerned with the practical realities. Where a red might wander off and change things because he/she's got a good idea, a blue will more likely get fed up with other people being impractical and promote something new because it gets the job done. Personally, P8, Z4, and B6 Blue (Bishop) in Constellations all strike me as having an open mind and a strong sense of the need to do what they think is right regardless of the squemishness of other Nasats, but they're practical people, not dreamers.

Unless I've missed something, all the Nasat Starfleet officers we've seen so far have been red or blue.

Yellows are conservative and stuck in their ways, even by Nasat standards. This at least is stated explicitly in Balance of Nature, so it's not just me this time. Stoic, reliable and methodical, Yellows get things done, just don't ask them to do anything unexpected or "different".

Greens seem friendly and reliable, but less solid and narrow-minded than yellows and also not "progressive" like blues or reds. P8 once makes a comment about green males being timid even by Nasat standards (nod to M3 Green or however we’re spelling it today); that was prior to Balance of Nature.

Browns are Hufflepuff House, apparently. Not very notable, apparently friendly and hard-working.

I doubt any of that is rigidly accurate, but as a loose guide to Nasats as they've been shown to us so far, it's something I've picked up on. I'm not attached to it, it's a rather selective categorize-for-the-sake-of-categorizing activity, but there did seem a general pattern or two in there, even if inadvertant.

Finally, I should bring up Balance of Nature one more time, being as it's the Nasats’ chance to shine as a culture. Heather Jarman at her world-building best. In my opinion, this is also one of the best SCE stories. What do the rest of you think of it, in the context of the wider SCE series (in which it’s quite distinct, featuring only one cast member and having nothing to do with the da Vinci)? Am I the only one hoping for a return to Nasat, or was this self-contained story all we needed? Any curiosity as to what happened in the aftermath? In Articles of the Federation, Z4 Blue, having himself been airlifted out of BoN, mentions Nasat histories being written over the last few years, which suggests the Nasat took some of the lessons to heart. Given that KRAD wrote this one, and he was the driving force behind SCE, and that AotF is littered with other references from Strata to Koas, I like to think it's a deliberate link and not a case of forgetting that Nasats don't write histories.
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Old October 14 2012, 01:55 AM   #2
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

Wow as interesting an idea as this, I couldn't make myself read that whole post.
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Old October 14 2012, 04:44 AM   #3
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

I do like them but i was only able to read wery little about them unfortunatly.
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Old October 14 2012, 05:19 AM   #4
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

I like the idea even though the post was a tad long winded. Interesting race though.
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Old October 14 2012, 06:52 AM   #5
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

What is going to be the next species highlight?
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Old October 14 2012, 09:58 AM   #6
Deranged Nasat
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

ryan123450 wrote: View Post
Wow as interesting an idea as this, I couldn't make myself read that whole post.
Yeah, in hindsight I should have thought of that. I get caught up in my nattering.

Well, this is a "pilot" of sorts. First obvious lesson for next time: stagger it a bit. One thought at a time, maybe?
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Old October 14 2012, 09:58 AM   #7
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

Drago-Kazov wrote: View Post
What is going to be the next species highlight?
Probably Tzenkethi.
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Old October 14 2012, 01:39 PM   #8
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

ryan123450 wrote: View Post
Wow as interesting an idea as this, I couldn't make myself read that whole post.
Why not just add to Memory Beta and/or use that format?

Surely you should also acknowledge Em/3/Green (voice of David Gerrold), who started it all for the Nasat in the TAS episode, "The Jihad" by Stephen Kandel?

Good luck!

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Probably Tzenkethi.
From my Toon Trek site:

Although we never see representatives of the Tzenkethi Coalition ("DS9: The Adversary", TV), some fans (wrongly) assume that this now-alligned race, with whom the Federation fought two wars ("DS9: Paradise Lost", TV), was intended to be the Kzinti, due to the near-anagram of the name. A Tzenkethi settlement is located on M'kemas III ("DS9: The Adversary", TV). Garek claims to have been a spy on Tzenketh ("DS9: By Inferno's Light", TV). Tzenkethi male described as a "feliform" biped ("DS9: Infinite Bureaucracy", SS, in "Strange New Worlds VII"). In 2006, the screenwriter Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who coined the term "Tzenkethi" for DS9 recalled, "I basically made them up. And yeah, I named them. But I can't remember if I was making a purposeful homage to Niven or not. If I had to guess, I suspect I did my usual and combined a couple things. Probably Kzinti and Tsankth. But when I picture them in my head, they weren't big cat people. I thought of them as more like the Hakazit." (The Tsankth are from "RuneQuest" and "HeroQuest", RPG. The Hakazit are from Jack L Chalker's "Well World" novels, and are described inconsistently as either: three-metre tall Tyrannosaurus Rexes with powerfully strong arms; or large mosquitoes.)
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Old October 14 2012, 03:01 PM   #9
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

Heather Jarman's story set on the Nasat home world was one of my favorite SCE stories. I hope we'll see more work from her in the future.
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Old October 14 2012, 08:06 PM   #10
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

Nice analysis, Nasat. P8 Blue was one of my favorite S.C.E. characters; I always thought that she and Soloman got short shrift compared to the human characters (and, later, Tev).

I don't remember "The Jihad" very well, but M3 Green cracked me up in Alan Dean Foster's adaptation of it.
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Old October 14 2012, 08:57 PM   #11
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

This is a lovely idea for a thread series, DerangedNasat, and I hope it gains traction. I remember being likewise impressed with your earlier threads on gender roles in Andorian society and breaking down Bajoran language patterns.

One thing I liked about Balance of Nature was that it revealed that P8 was effectively disabled by her own people's standards. As a "quiet," she became mute and became unable to communicate under stressful circumstances. That was done for story reasons obviously, for the plot regarding the Citoac, but what I liked about it was that that characteristic was given to an alien, a non-human character. By which I mean, usually having a character being an alien is enough, you wouldn't add that extra "baggage" onto Worf or Odo or Neelix. They're already aliens, that's enough to explore on one character. (Melora doesn't count, she's normal by her people's standards.)

I just thought that was nice, that other races have their issues with disabilities as well as us, and that like us, they have presumably made progress in integrating those people into society anyway and allowing them to be equal contributing members, but at the same time that some level of discrimination and bullying still occurs. We're not perfect, and neither are other races. But we're trying, and so are other races.

I have to admit, I am not a fan of insects and spiders, I'm really quite phobic. And I think that's an ingrained human response, something that's down at a genetic level, like Quark said to Odo one time. So I also appreciate that some effort was made to explore that. Other than that, I'm afraid it's so long since I read most of the SCE stories that there's not much else I remember about the Nasats.

As for other subjects, I've pointed out before that, for a race that's been around since TNG season 1, very little of substance has ever been established about Bolian culture. We have a couple of titbits - they're okay with suicide, you can feel their pulse through their ridges, possibly have acidic blood - but beyond that they seem to be mostly just dragged out when a scene needs some alien "colour" without ever really seeing what they're made of. As you say, they're basically humans in alien bodies, rather than aliens.

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Old October 14 2012, 11:16 PM   #12
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

I really enjoyed reading this post and I like the idea of it as series. It would also help as a sort of primer/refresher series, since sometimes time goes by and a person forgets factoids about these kinds of things.
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Old October 17 2012, 01:15 PM   #13
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

Newspaper Taxi wrote: View Post
I really enjoyed reading this post and I like the idea of it as series. It would also help as a sort of primer/refresher series, since sometimes time goes by and a person forgets factoids about these kinds of things.
Exactly! I haven't yet read all of SCE/COE, so most of this info is new to me. As had been mentioned above, maybe that series inspires some people to add info to Memory Beta. There'S always room for additions.

Personally, I am a fan of the Bolians. Too bad they haven't been featured somewhere yet.

Currently, I am reading the Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series. Imho, these novels are an excellent example of featuring species/worlds packed into a solid plot. Maybe, maybe other worlds get featured in such a fashion someday?
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Old October 17 2012, 03:15 PM   #14
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

I wanted to ask and make sure that this green gentleman is a Nasat, but Therin of Andor already answered my question.

Unfortunately, my knowledge of the Nasats is limited to only that one episode, as I haven't read any of the books they're in. And in the episode I was more interested in the Skorr than Mr. Green Bug.

Speaking of the Skorr, are they featured in any novels? I created a lot of background for their culture for my fanfic, but I wonder if there's something in the books about them.
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Old October 17 2012, 07:18 PM   #15
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter One: Nasats!

Gul Spook wrote: View Post
I wanted to ask and make sure that this green gentleman is a Nasat, but Therin of Andor already answered my question.
M3 Green is indeed supposed to be a Nasat, and is the source of the naming conventions that led to P8 Blue. To me that image you linked to looks more reptilian than insectile, but it supposed to be the same species, yes.


Gul Spook wrote: View Post
Speaking of the Skorr, are they featured in any novels? I created a lot of background for their culture for my fanfic, but I wonder if there's something in the books about them.
There is an occasionally recurring Skorr member of crew onboard the Titan. His name is desYog, and there's not a lot about on him on Memory Beta. http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/DesYog

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