RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

The Trek BBS title image

The Trek BBS statistics

Threads: 138,332
Posts: 5,353,292
Members: 24,619
Currently online: 659
Newest member: nmatos2005

TrekToday headlines

Sci-Fried To Release New Album
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes Crossover
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Star Trek into Darkness Soundtrack
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Horse 1, Shatner 0
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Drexler TV Alert
By: T'Bonz on Jul 26

Retro Review: His Way
By: Michelle on Jul 26

MicroWarriors Releases Next Week
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25

Ships Of The Line Design Contest
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25

Next Weekend: Shore Leave 36!
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25

True Trek History To Be Penned
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25


Welcome! The Trek BBS is the number one place to chat about Star Trek with like-minded fans. Please login to see our full range of forums as well as the ability to send and receive private messages, track your favourite topics and of course join in the discussions.

If you are a new visitor, join us for free. If you are an existing member please login below. Note: for members who joined under our old messageboard system, please login with your display name not your login name.


Go Back   The Trek BBS > Misc. Star Trek > Trek Literature

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

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old October 21 2012, 02:09 AM   #1
Deranged Nasat
Vice Admiral
 
Deranged Nasat's Avatar
 
Location: I am here. You are here too. Yes.
Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

The "pilot" thread, focusing on the Nasat, did well enough, if slightly hampered by the relative obscurity of the subject race. So here's the second thread, and this time I thought I’d choose a more prominent species. In light of their recent importance to the Typhon Pact, I’ve picked the Tzenkethi.

The Tzenkethi were actually introduced onscreen, in Deep Space Nine, but received no attention on the show other than getting a name, a vague history of conflict with the Federation, and a leader with the title of Autarch. Trek lit, though, has recently taken an interest in them: they appear as major antagonists in two of the Typhon Pact novels, Rough Beasts of Empire and Brinkmanship, as well as furthering plots in three other entries in that series. They’re one of the Federation’s most devoted foes, and lately one of its most prominent rivals. They're also a cross between a human and a scheming, radioactive cheestring, which makes them fun to visualize. Since there's no official art or anything, you'll have to.

The Tzenkethi (comparatively lengthy real world description):

For a long time Trek lit ignored the Tzenkethi outside of a few name-drops here and there, perhaps because next to nothing was known about them. They were introduced in the DS9 episode “The Adversary” as a race unfriendly to the Federation. Remaining unseen in the episode, they were mentioned exactly twice more in the series, and then forgotten. Not usually a problem, except that this particular race apparently engaged in a war or two with the Federation, and were a big enough distraction for the Founders to attempt steering the UFP back into conflict with them.

Speculation about who the Tzenkethi were seemed to focus mostly on their name, and a theory that they were related to/were a homage to/simply were the Kzinti, who appeared in The Animated Series having wandered in from Larry Niven's Known Space. I’ll reproduce what Therin of Andor wrote in the Nasat thread upon hearing of my plan for this one:

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
From my Toon Trek site:

Although we never see representatives of the Tzenkethi Coalition ("DS9: The Adversary", TV), some fans (wrongly) assume that this non-aligned 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....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.." (The Tsankth are from "RuneQuest" and "HeroQuest", RPG)
Their first real outing in Trek lit was probably in Articles of the Federation, where we finally learnt a few facts about their biology, psychology and those parts of the government that aren't the Autarch - but we weren't allowed to see one. A few years later, Tzenkethi ships played a major role in Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers, which established further facts about Tzenkethi psychology, technology and political history but still played coy with their appearance. As a side note, the story Iron and Sacrifice in Tales From The Captain’s Table established the full Tzenkethi naming convention but, you guessed it, didn't show us one.

All was finally revealed in the Typhon Pact series, when the Tzenkethi became one of six former adversaries to form the newest interstellar superpower. They’ve since become one of the most frequently-used nations – some might call them the surprise stars – of the Typhon Pact era.

The Tzenkethi (surprisingly brief in-universe description):

The Tzenkethi are a flexible race of humanoids, or near-humanoids, with no bones other than a spine. They’re instead supported by fluid-filled sacs, which can be contracted and expanded as needed. They’re beautiful and ethereal, glowing with natural light and giving off a noticeable electrical charge. Psychologically, they like enclosed spaces and make use of ceilings and walls as often as they do floors, thanks in part to artificial gravity envelopes. Their ships are sleek, organic-looking vessels armed with plasma weapons.

Most notable is their social structure, which is orderly, hierarchal, and controlled to an obsessive degree. All Tzenkethi are placed into roles determined by genetics and testing in youth, and every member of their society knows his or her place, ranked according to exact occupational duties and proficiency level. The absolute leader is the Autarch, who is advised by the Tzelnira ministers but, as the title suggests, can do as he or she wants by virtue, it seems, of being genetically perfect. Otherwise, chaos and uncertainty are anathema to Tzenkethi, as is democracy, and they fear and hate the sprawling mass of the Federation next door. Their media apparently spins any and all galactic news to portray the Federation as imperialist madmen, apparently because the Tzenkethi leadership fears the UFP will infect their society with its chaos and confusion. Within the Typhon Pact, they seem to favour stability over agitation, in contrast to their blatantly provocative stance against Federation interests. They manipulate their allies, enemies and neutral parties alike, and prior to the Pact's formation had apparently been standoffish with everyone.

That’s enough for the introduction. My own ponderings on the Tzenkethi and their role in recent Trek lit will come later; I’ll let someone else take it from here.
__________________
We are all the sum of our tears. Too little and the ground is not fertile and nothing can grow there; too much, the best of us is washed away.

Last edited by Deranged Nasat; October 21 2012 at 02:20 AM.
Deranged Nasat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 21 2012, 07:57 AM   #2
rfmcdpei
Captain
 
rfmcdpei's Avatar
 
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
View rfmcdpei's Twitter Profile
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
My own ponderings on the Tzenkethi and their role in recent Trek lit will come later; I’ll let someone else take it from here.
Bennett's The Struggle Within established the Tzenkethi as agoraphobes, a sentient species that originally made its home in caves and still feels safest in enclosed spaces. One charactertic of Tzenkethi architecture is that every available surface is used, with gravitic technology used to make walls and ceilings just extensions of the floor. The Tzenkethi like their space managed.

TV Tropes has it that the different civilizations of the Trekverse have been shaped by different formative traumas. For the Cardassians, the trauma comes from the struggle to survive on their sere worlds. For the Romulans, it all comes from the stresses of the calamitous flight from Vulcan to Romulus and the difficulties of setting up a civilization on a virgin world. For the Klingons, it's their world's ravaging by the Hur'q. For the Tzenkethi, their formative trauma was first contact with aliens, who were entranced by the beautiful fluid colour-changing aliens and abducted the primitive Tzenkethi from their caves for nefarious purposes. That experience of domination and humiliation is something that has shaped the Tzenkethi, giving them an unswerving determination never to be so dominated again.
rfmcdpei is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 21 2012, 10:17 AM   #3
Gul Re'jal
Commodore
 
Gul Re'jal's Avatar
 
Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

I find the Tzenkethi very interesting but I have a hard time imagining what they look like. The descriptions are so unclear to me (or describe something so alien) that I can't just see them in my mind's eye. I wish someone drew them.
__________________
In a Cardassian library or in a Cardassian gallery?

"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
Gul Re'jal is online now   Reply With Quote
Old October 21 2012, 01:47 PM   #4
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

^The description suggests they're fairly humanoid in facial appearance, just with large eyes, glowing skin, and flexible bodies.

Here's an image I found online that might be in the ballpark, except I think the Tzenkethi are described as having hair.
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 4/8/14 including annotations for Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel

Written Worlds -- My blog
Christopher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 21 2012, 04:26 PM   #5
Gul Re'jal
Commodore
 
Gul Re'jal's Avatar
 
Location: Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space station
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

Those flexible bodies are what I have the problem with. For example rearranging their lower parts when they sit down. It could be my problems with understanding English and, therefore, the descriptions, but I just can't picture what it looks like.

Not that it's a big deal. I can still fully enjoy them
__________________
In a Cardassian library or in a Cardassian gallery?

"Reagan, it appears, is really only an ardent unionist if the unions in question are in Poland" - Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
Gul Re'jal is online now   Reply With Quote
Old October 21 2012, 05:17 PM   #6
8of5
Fleet Captain
 
8of5's Avatar
 
Location: Lincoln, UK
View 8of5's Twitter Profile
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

Gul Spook wrote: View Post
I find the Tzenkethi very interesting but I have a hard time imagining what they look like. The descriptions are so unclear to me (or describe something so alien) that I can't just see them in my mind's eye. I wish someone drew them.
I tend to think of them looking a bit like a "wacky waving arm inflatable tube man", but more elegant, and glowing...
__________________
Numerically Challenged Drone: Star Trek blog, 2013 books schedule, 2014 books schedule.
8of5 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 22 2012, 01:28 AM   #7
Deranged Nasat
Vice Admiral
 
Deranged Nasat's Avatar
 
Location: I am here. You are here too. Yes.
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

If we're discussing the role played by the Tzenkethi in Trek lit, we should probably talk about the activity they're most frequently found engaged in: manipulation of other nations. Whether it's quietly rearranging the political status quo on Romulus, meddling on Talar, or using the Venetans as puppets, the Tzenkethi of the Typhon Pact era seem to have taken to pushing their own agenda pretty much anywhere within reach. Boosted by the security offered by the Pact, the Coalition apparently feels ready to extend its hand invisibly across known space, into the hearts of other powers - allied, rival or neutral. Given what we learn of the Autarch's agenda in Rough Beasts of Empire and Plagues of Night, it all apparently feeds into an effort to strengthen Tzenkethi power relative to the Federation, so that eventually they can "turn the tables" (keeping in mind that the Tzenkethi leadership view the UFP is a fearful spectre that will destroy them if it gets the chance).

Every time we've seen the Tzenkethi in the Typhon Pact books, they're up to something, maneuvering others for their own ends.
  • They bring the unstable elements of Romulan space to heel while encoraging the reabsorption of the Imperial State, in order to give the Pact greater strength and stability. All this is achieved in an underhanded manner, shamelessly undermining an allied nation and assassinating its officials.
  • They build artificial short-range wormholes, so that the Breen and Romulan intelligence agencies can steal from the Dominion, while not actually sharing the full extent of their plans (note that while the Breen and many of the Romulans seemed to genuinely believe the justification of "we need parity", the Autarch clearly desires much more than a balance of power, stepping up harrassment of Federation shipping and telling Alizome that the UFP will soon come to fear the Tzenkethi...
  • They manipulate the leadership of popular movements on Talar, all in hopes of forcing the Federation's hand and painting them as brutal enforcers squashing protest.
  • They turn the Venette Convention, a potential ally of the Federation, against the UFP through careful exploitation of Venetan naivety, and steer this nation into a close alliance with Ab-Tzenketh, allowing them to potentially place weapons on the Federation border and that of two of its allies.
So: the Tzenkethi are manipulating and using everyone in pursuit of their (or the Autarch's) agenda.

In the Brinkmanship review thread, however, it was suggested by one poster that having gotten a bit of a scare at Venette by finding themselves no longer in control of the situation, the Tzenkethi might start reigning in their scheming a little. That got me thinking about how the master manipulators seem to come undone by failing to understand that things, having fallen neatly into place, won't just stay neatly in place.

First there was Praetor Kamemor. She served their purposes very well when considered as a passive, unknowing piece in the game, but of course she's not a passive piece and that proved to be a problem. When she acted on her own moral and political judgement, she brought the Tzenkethi plan into jeopardy. At first the Tzenkethi had gotten what they wanted - a reunited Romulan state led by a moderate who would strengthen and stabilize the situation - but their plan to eventually turn that strength against the Federation came undone when Kamemor pursued her own agenda and pushed for peace.

Then, the Tzenkethi were forced to back down when the Federation and Cardassians pulled a scheme of their own, despite Alizome being clearly in control of the situation on Venette (and being kept distracted from the counter-scheme by having the Federation delegates put in a situation where they couldn't effectively challenge that control).

It would seem the Tzenkethi are frequently underestimating the degree to which other races will avert the intended outcome of their plotting. The Tzenkethi schemes work very well - but ultimately come undone when the aliens they're manipulating fail to act as expected once the plan has been unfolded. It seems to me that the Tzenkethi don't easily grasp the idea that unexpected consequences might arise when their pawns and pieces do their own thing rather than staying where they've been steered to. When I considered the Tzenkethi social structure, wherein everyone knows their place and function, this made a great deal of sense.

The Tzenkethi leadership, for all their skill at manipulation, are used to tidy manipulation - manipulation of pieces that happily allow themselves to be manipulated, and which are comfortable in the position they're placed in. Basically, it's far too easy a game. When dealing with aliens, the combination of this expectation - that people will slot in where you've steered them - and general xenophobia seems to blind the Tzenkethi to the idea that everyone won't just fall into place as and when the Tzenkethi plot.

The Tzenkethi, it seems to me, are almost a little Venetan themselves; not quite grasping how everyone else works and assuming their ways are applicable everywhere. I think that this might prove the Coalition's undoing if it doesn't back down, because it's going to overextend its reach.
__________________
We are all the sum of our tears. Too little and the ground is not fertile and nothing can grow there; too much, the best of us is washed away.

Last edited by Deranged Nasat; October 22 2012 at 01:41 AM.
Deranged Nasat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 22 2012, 01:43 PM   #8
lvsxy808
Rear Admiral
 
lvsxy808's Avatar
 
Location: London
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

I loved the bit in Plagues of Night where the Tzenkethi Autarch takes us through his mental process of manipulating absolutely everything and everyone around him to his own wishes. He predicts and plans and manipulates them to get them to stage preemptive attacks against Federation colonies, and the best part is when he admits to himself that he basically does this purely for fun and to fill the time. He has no greater purpose in doing this than to screw with them, because he knows he can. And it works. I guess that's why he's the Autarch.

And that ties into what you were saying about predicting behaviour, Nasat. This kind of manipulation works well among the Tzenkethi themselves, because it is simply inherent in their culture. The Autarch does the manipulating because that's what the Autarch does, and the Tzelnira get manipulated because that's what the Tzelnira are there for. But as you said, it seems that when they try to apply those same techniques outside of the Coalition, it doesn't work quite as smoothly.

.
__________________
DS9-R fans! Want to know what happened after The Soul Key?

Read Deep Space Nine, Season 10
All 22 eps available to read on-screen or download and keep!
lvsxy808 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 25 2012, 02:02 PM   #9
lvsxy808
Rear Admiral
 
lvsxy808's Avatar
 
Location: London
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

I'm just in the process of reading Brinkmanship now, and I agree that the Tzenkethi have quietly become the most interesting part of the Typhon Pact - both the books and the fictional entity. The insight we've got into the Breen, Gorn and Kinshaya has been great, sure, (Romulans we already knew and were never very interesting in the first place, Tholians got their attention in the VAN books), but between the three authors who have developed them, the Tzenkethi have emerged as the most intriguing new culture, worming their way into every part of the astro-political situation. They have total unquestioned control over their own culture, and now that they're part of an alliance, they're more than willing to do their best to extend that control to the entire alliance.

I've occasionally had a bit of trouble nailing down the difference between the second and third parts of their names, though. The second particle is basically a caste, is that right? A level of society in which they exist, like a more rigid version of calling ourselves upper class or middle class, or the Bajoran d'jarra system. The third particle is their job within that caste, like having "Bob the working class labourer" as one's full name. Given that Tzenkethi are designed and tested and controlled to serve their one function in society for basically their whole lives with no deviation, it makes a certain amount of sense that their occupation would be written right into their name.

.
__________________
DS9-R fans! Want to know what happened after The Soul Key?

Read Deep Space Nine, Season 10
All 22 eps available to read on-screen or download and keep!
lvsxy808 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 25 2012, 03:01 PM   #10
King Daniel Into Darkness
Admiral
 
King Daniel Into Darkness's Avatar
 
Location: England again
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

8of5 wrote: View Post
Gul Spook wrote: View Post
I find the Tzenkethi very interesting but I have a hard time imagining what they look like. The descriptions are so unclear to me (or describe something so alien) that I can't just see them in my mind's eye. I wish someone drew them.
I tend to think of them looking a bit like a "wacky waving arm inflatable tube man", but more elegant, and glowing...
I see them when at full-power colour mode, like a more solid, dressed and colourful versions of the "angel aliens" at the end of Knowing. With faces more like Christopher's pic.
__________________
Star Trek Imponderables, fun mashups of Trek's biggest continuity errors! Ep1, Ep2 and Ep3
King Daniel Into Darkness is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 27 2012, 03:28 AM   #11
Solarbaby
Fleet Captain
 
Solarbaby's Avatar
 
Location: solarbaby
View Solarbaby's Twitter Profile
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

This thread has whet my appetite for the Tzenkethi story. Can someone tell me what order of the novels I should read them please?
__________________
Voice actors needed for Star Trek: Absolution animated series coming 2013

[URL="https://www.facebook.com/pages/STAR-TREK-Absolution/386331754783277?fref=ts[/URL]
Solarbaby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 27 2012, 10:33 AM   #12
lvsxy808
Rear Admiral
 
lvsxy808's Avatar
 
Location: London
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

If I've got it right, it goes:

Rough Beasts of Empire
The Struggle Within
Plagues of Night
Raise the Dawn
Brinkmanship

.
__________________
DS9-R fans! Want to know what happened after The Soul Key?

Read Deep Space Nine, Season 10
All 22 eps available to read on-screen or download and keep!
lvsxy808 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28 2012, 01:19 AM   #13
Bob Karo
Captain
 
Bob Karo's Avatar
 
Location: South Louisiana
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

So, am I the only one who thinks of them as appearing like a more "realistic" version Amphibiosans? Specifically, the Bulboid period of their life cycle.

They are supported by a series of fluid filled bladders. They have the ability to change their skin colors. We even see one Amphibiosan use the ceiling because it's a more efficient use of space.
Bob Karo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28 2012, 10:25 AM   #14
Solarbaby
Fleet Captain
 
Solarbaby's Avatar
 
Location: solarbaby
View Solarbaby's Twitter Profile
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

lvsxy808 wrote: View Post
If I've got it right, it goes:

Rough Beasts of Empire
The Struggle Within
Plagues of Night
Raise the Dawn
Brinkmanship

.

Thanks
__________________
Voice actors needed for Star Trek: Absolution animated series coming 2013

[URL="https://www.facebook.com/pages/STAR-TREK-Absolution/386331754783277?fref=ts[/URL]
Solarbaby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28 2012, 11:36 AM   #15
Deranged Nasat
Vice Admiral
 
Deranged Nasat's Avatar
 
Location: I am here. You are here too. Yes.
Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Two: Tzenkethi!

The next thread will be up this afternoon (well, from my perspective).

I'm glad this seems to be working; several posters in both existing "chapters" have shown interest in the stories each race features in, so as a potential introduction to parts of Trek lit some readers haven't covered yet, it seems to be successful.

Thanks for reading, all.
__________________
We are all the sum of our tears. Too little and the ground is not fertile and nothing can grow there; too much, the best of us is washed away.
Deranged Nasat is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 10:15 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.