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

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Old November 5 2012, 04:56 PM   #1
Deranged Nasat
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Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

It occurs to me that if I’m going to talk about the Trek novels' continuity and world-building, I should acknowledge Star Trek: New Frontier, the first book series to focus on original characters' ongoing adventures, and which essentially set the stage for the current novel ‘verse.

So this thread is for discussion of our most noble imperial masters, the Thallonians.

The Thallonians are integral to Star Trek: New Frontier – at least until the very latest books, which is something we’ll discuss in a moment. For those who haven’t read the series, the territory of the Thallonian Empire was an isolated but reasonably expansive region of space near Federation and Romulan territory, but distant from the core worlds. The empire collapsed in 2373, due in part to the gradual decline of the resources that gave the homeworld its power, which, when combined with the grievances held by much of the population against the royals (and very often each other), led to an uprising and then general anarchy. New Frontier’s hero ship, the Excalibur, is sent into Thallonian space to fly the Federation flag while on a general mission of fact-finding/stabilization/providing-aid-where-needed. It's a very broad and somewhat vague mission profile, but that's acknowledged and debated by the characters, so no foul.

Helping - or sometimes “helping” - the Excalibur crew is Lord Si Cwan, a survivor of the royal family and pretty much the only member of such to be genuinely well-liked by the common population. He’s hoping to reunite Thallonian space and bring order back to its worlds, and wrestles with the twin desires to have his great empire restored and to learn from the mistakes of the past and build something better, or at least something more stable in the long-term. He also has a sister, Kalinda, who is an important character in her own right. She sees dead people.

(Perhaps it's because Peter David also wrote the Legions of Fire novels for Babylon Five, as well as episodes of such, but I'm increasingly reminded of the Centauri from that universe - imperialist monarchists with male statesmen and female prophets.)

Anyway, in terms of physical appearance, there’s nothing fancy about Thallonians. They’re humanoids with red skin, a startling range of hair colours, and tattoos on their forehead. Then again, Thallonians aren’t intended to be interesting by virtue of being alien; they’re intended, one assumes, to be familiar. As said, they’re the imperialist, monarchist power who show up across fiction precisely because they show up across real world history (and associated mythology).

The Thallonians are martial but isolationist. They show an interesting dichotomy of careful restraint - their refusal to trade or import means waste is considered to be a great sin, and their policy towards other powers is one of static isolation rather than antagonism - and expansionist brutality (one of my favourite scenes in New Frontier is in book five, Martyr, in which Si Cwan explains how the Thallonians raised their flag over Zondar, bombarding one of the coastlines and killing millions to prove they meant business). In the earliest novels we’re told how the first Thallonians were exiles and criminals dumped on remote inhospitable worlds to - presumably - die off on their own timetable. However, due to unforeseen circumstances (namely, the Space Phoenix, or Great Bird of the Galaxy, nesting in the primary destination world), they actually delivered these criminals to a fertile planet with incredible energy reserves that allowed the Thallonians to become a power in the region. Later books explain how the dominant species in the area at the time, the Priatians, welcomed the Thallonians and were slowly but surely shoved aside and reduced in number while the Thallonians ascended. In other words, familiar colonial history to many earthlings. Eventually, the Thallonians were conquering other worlds as a matter of policy, but then they appear to have entered a stage of consolidation rather than expansion; we’re explicitly told they never antagonized neighbouring powers like the Federation. The whole story is an interesting one, and yet - presumably because Thallonian space is just the backdrop to New Frontier with the focus being on the characters and their idiosyncrasies - the full tale has never been explored.

One of the interesting things about New Frontier is the sense that the various races in Thallonian space have adopted the Thallonian culture, or at least its core values and attitudes, even as they resent the ruling family. As we see in the later New Frontier novels After the Fall and Missing in Action, a unified set of values that are clearly Thallonian in origin define the entire region.

In the very latest New Frontier books, though, the Thallonian situation appears to have become less important to the series. There's a habit of introducing new and threatening foes into New Frontier that perhaps overshadow the original mission. The first round of such, the Prometheans and the Redeemers, weren't too distracting for me because they worked as part of the context of Thallonian territory - as rival power structures in uneasy balance with the Thallonians and now taking advantage of their fall. Then there were the Beings, which had nothing to do with Thallonian space but were tied to a major character in the series, so, again, acceptable to me. Then we had the Teuthis and their rivals, who were tied to the pre-Thallonian history of the region and so were at least made relevant in a "retcon" sort of way. But now we've moved on to a foe with no apparent link to the Thallonians at all, and the story of Thallonian space seems to be over, or at least being brushed aside. That's just how I see it, though.

Outside of New Frontier, the final Double Helix book, The First Virtue, - which is also a Stargazer novel, featuring the characters introduced in Reunion - is one of the few non-Peter David stories to explore the Thallonians to any degree, while in the No Limits anthology we have a short Si Cwan story from Josepha Sherman. Other than that, we have references to New Frontier in many mainstream “novel ‘verse” books, but only a few of these actually reference the Thallonians directly. David Mack in particular seems to like acknowledging them as a part of the Trek lit universe, from confirming their position on the star charts in SCE: Small World to introducing a Thallonian Starfleet officer, Jang Si Naran, to fill a post in Ops on DS9.

I've written far too much again (so much for keeping my posts shorter in later "episodes" ), so I'll finish with one question I've been pondering:

Where are the original race, those who sent the first criminals who became Thallonians? Do they still exist, or (as the Priatian backstory could be read to indicate) did they slowly migrate over once Thallon started getting up and running, depleting the birth nation?
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Last edited by Deranged Nasat; November 5 2012 at 05:07 PM.
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Old November 5 2012, 06:50 PM   #2
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

Fascinating read!

New Frontier is currently (re-)published in Germany. The latest book was Double or Nothing (so we're still flying around in the Ambassador-class Excalibur). In short, this is of current relevant to me.

In another German science fiction novel series (that is younger than NF), there were the red-skinned, tattooed J'ebeem ('sons of Ebeem'), who commanded an old, decadent empire that came apart at the fringes. Successive revolutions changed the political system from triumvirate monarchy to constitutional monarchy with some elected members. The point is the superficial similarity that prompts me to compare the J'ebeem and Thallonians. Hm, could be stuff for a scientific paper.

So, when will the Thallonians and their Protectorate join the Federation? Did they have any trouble with the Borg invasion of '81? Is the Typhon Pact interested in this buffer region?
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Old November 5 2012, 11:02 PM   #3
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

I really liked the appearance of the Thallonians in The First Virtue; it added some depth to see a different writer handling them. Wasn't Picard sparring with a Thallonian for control of some sector, as I recall?

I used to run a PBEM RPG where one of my players was a Thallonian, and I typed up a set of notes based on all the Thallonian novels up to that point (this was 2002 or so). I should see if I still have those somewhere.
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Old November 6 2012, 12:27 AM   #4
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

Markonian wrote: View Post
So, when will the Thallonians and their Protectorate join the Federation?
The last New Frontier novel makes it sound like they already have joined the Federation.
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Old November 6 2012, 02:57 PM   #5
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

Hartzilla2007 wrote: View Post
The last New Frontier novel makes it sound like they already have joined the Federation.
Awesome news! It's about time some of the former evil empires begin joining the UFP. Cardassians next?
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Old November 6 2012, 11:07 PM   #6
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

Always found this species fascinating, Cwan was fun. Would love to see them or some other faction from New Frontier show up in the Typhon Pact stories. I would have loved to see Mac have a go with the Romulans.

Keep these coming, I missed the last one but love reading your alien reports.
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Old November 8 2012, 10:43 PM   #7
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

Do we know where in the Orion Arm PAD intended them to be in relation to the other established powers?
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Old November 8 2012, 11:17 PM   #8
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

I don't know what he intended, but on the Star Charts model, I've always placed them coreward of the Federation, near the Typhon Expanse since that's where Deep Space 5 is. See the top of the map here: http://www.startrekgrissom.net/resou...k_universe.jpg

With Sector 221-G being the one that contains Epsilon Librae, and Sector 221-H (Danter and Xenex) rimward of it.
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Old November 9 2012, 08:43 AM   #9
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

Of course, New Frontier predates the Star Charts book, but as Steve Mollmann says, we know from the first NF story that Deep Space Five is the closest Federation starbase to Sector 221-G, so that helps us place it on the Star Charts map. And, happily, what the charts give us seems to fit quite well, with Federation and Romulan space both reasonably nearby. In terms of the wider Trek lit universe, the SCE tale "Small World" pretty much confirms the placement, as Mu Arae, the Typhon Expanse, etc, are all featured or mentioned in that story, and Thallonian territory is also mentoned as being in the general region. In fact, the Koas ship that heads to Mu Arae is said to have traveled through former Thallonian space to get there. The Danteri are mentioned in the same story as one of the nations, alongside the Romulans and Breen, that the Koas could have attempted to contact but didn't, again conforming that the New Frontier region is coreward of Earth and around where Steve Mollmann placed it.
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Old November 9 2012, 10:19 AM   #10
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

I really want to get into New Frontier but i am not sure if i would be able to finish it.
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Old November 10 2012, 01:52 PM   #11
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

Drago-Kazov wrote: View Post
I really want to get into New Frontier but I am not sure if I would be able to finish it.
What's the problem? It is a series with a meta-storyling but aside from that, the adventures can be read independently. My first NF book was Treason and I had no problem getting into the midst of everything.

So, it's no problem to start and not finish. It is your entertainment, your pleasure.

Btw, here is the depiction of a male Thallonian, from the German publisher:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...type=3&theater
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Old November 11 2012, 10:20 PM   #12
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

I've only gotten halfway through the series. I really like PAD and it felt like he was having a ball writing the series. Fwiw I enjoyed his treatment of Shelby ; at least as far as I got.

I found I didn't love the Thallonians but found them fascinating enough. Thanks for the ticket to memory lane DN!
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Old January 3 2013, 09:59 PM   #13
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Re: Aliens of Trek Lit, Chapter Four: Thallonians!

Markonian wrote: View Post
Drago-Kazov wrote: View Post
I really want to get into New Frontier but I am not sure if I would be able to finish it.
What's the problem? It is a series with a meta-storyling but aside from that, the adventures can be read independently.
I'm afraid I'd have to dispute this a little bit. I skipped over the New Frontier installment of the Pathways series and when I picked up the next NF book, found myself confused by a few new developments I'd missed out on. Suddenly, M'ress and Arex are living in the 24th century, for example. Also, there's a new alien crewmember named Gleau who I could not visualize because there was no description of his appearance.

Though I really enjoy Peter David's work, my one small gripe is that he doesn't seem to do a great job getting new readers caught up to speed or refreshing the memories of old readers. Perhaps he has too much confidence in the ability of all his readers to retain information book to book. At least a couple times, when a character and/or alien species has reoccurred, I've been forced to go back through previous books in order to track down a description of them.

That's why I found this thread on Thallonians useful- I'd forgotten the part about them having a range of hair colors, and because Si Cwan was bald, I've been trying to figure out if all Thallonians are bald. I wasn't helped by the fact that the book "The Quiet Place" describes his sister Kalinda as wearing a wig.
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