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

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Old August 19 2008, 02:33 AM   #1
rfmcdpei
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Those pesky Rihannsu

I was reading DeCandido's alternate history novella A Gutted World in the Myriad Universes: Echoes and Refractions collection when my eye caught sight of something I hadn't expected to come across in the novels but a mention of Empress Ael, ruling the Romulan Star Empire at the time of the Khitomer Accords. It's an alternate history, but since everything else in that history seems to be the same apart from Spock and Thelin ...

I take it that this most happy news, on top of Mangels' and Martin's Enterprise-era novels, is confirmation that as much of Duane's Rihannsu setting as can possibly be accomodated in the new novelistic canon as possible?

If so, yay! and yay! again.

And no, I don't think that Ael lost in the end. She managed to unseat a corrupt government that was quite willing Sol--and who knows what other star--hyperflare, establish a stable government that at one point seems to have been a Federation ally (how else could Ambassador Nanclus sit in on that confidential briefing in The Undiscovered Country), and then depart however from the scene, leaving an imperial dynasty related to her, her sister's-daughter Charvanek returned to her place, and a relatively moderate, if isolationistic and scheming, political culture afterwards. Yes, the Romulans did try to destroy Earth again, but a military faction had to kill everyone in the Senate to do so.

Who knows? Maybe Donatra's following Ael's model with the Imperial Romulan State?
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Old August 19 2008, 02:58 AM   #2
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

^ Uhm -- there's no mention of Ael in A Gutted World.
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Old August 19 2008, 03:37 AM   #3
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

*Cues Theme from The Twilight Zone...
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Old August 19 2008, 03:42 AM   #4
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

KRAD wrote: View Post
^ Uhm -- there's no mention of Ael in A Gutted World.
Um. My confusion.

I'm thinking of the middle story in the second anthology of alternate Trek universes, the one from the animated series where Spock dies as an infant and an Andorian is Kirk's second.
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Old August 19 2008, 03:52 AM   #5
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
KRAD wrote: View Post
^ Uhm -- there's no mention of Ael in A Gutted World.
Um. My confusion.

I'm thinking of the middle story in the second anthology of alternate Trek universes, the one from the animated series where Spock dies as an infant and an Andorian is Kirk's second.
Yeah, you meant "The Chimes at Midnight".
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Old August 19 2008, 04:05 AM   #6
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
KRAD wrote: View Post
^ Uhm -- there's no mention of Ael in A Gutted World.
Um. My confusion.

I'm thinking of the middle story in the second anthology of alternate Trek universes, the one from the animated series where Spock dies as an infant and an Andorian is Kirk's second.
And what's the story that comes before that one????
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Old August 19 2008, 10:36 PM   #7
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

KRAD wrote: View Post
^ Uhm -- there's no mention of Ael in A Gutted World.
An alternate you wrote that in an alternate universe. Duh.
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Old August 20 2008, 01:53 AM   #8
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

Anyhoo, now that we've established that The Chimes at Midnight is the first story in the book...

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
I take it that this most happy news, on top of Mangels' and Martin's Enterprise-era novels, is confirmation that as much of Duane's Rihannsu setting as can possibly be accomodated in the new novelistic canon as possible?
It's always possible.

There's truly no such thing as a "novelistic canon." Star Trek writers are beholden to on-screen canon (which is the only meaningful definition of "canon" in the Trek genre), but a particular writer may use any material established by another author, or ignore same, as the needs of the story require.

In the case of the TOS movie era, we never really learned anything about the Romulan government during the period (other than the fact that enough of a diplomatic relationship existed to settle Nimbus III and to send Ambassador Nanclus to the Federation), so the idea of Empress Ael opening a peaceful dialogue is perfectly reasonable. Being a fan of the Rihannsu stories, I opted to use it, and neither my editor nor CBS licensing had any problem with it.

So my use of the material doesn't signify any change in "official" policy. It was just a choice. But that doesn't necessarily mean that a future author won't want to take things in a different direction.
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Old August 20 2008, 07:59 AM   #9
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

Certainly it would make sense if the new Romulan government brought about by Ael's coup had initial warm relations with the Feds. Klingons would then be cornered, and Starfleet would suddenly start to feel that they can "clean a few chronometers" with the help of their newfound allies...

What would be interesting to learn is whether Ael was still in power during ST6:TUC and perhaps in approval of the Romulan plot there (she always was one for the enlightened self-interest approach...), or already ousted, with the Star Empire quickly shifting to a different policy.

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Old August 20 2008, 08:47 PM   #10
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

Or perhaps Ael herself would have been the next target of the conspiracy had the assassination of the Federation president not been averted.

*snips about four paragraphs, realizing that I'm getting too specific with story ideas about this concept. I just hope that even the above paragraph isn't too specific.*

We do know that Ael was out of power by 2311 and the Tomed Incident, 15ish years after ST6, as the Preator in that book is described as a "he".
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Old August 21 2008, 06:36 AM   #11
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

To be sure, not even Ael's coup necessarily establishes that the Star Empire would suddenly start to make do with just a single Praetor. Duane follows the old Roman model where numerous Praetors vie for power, often through sponsoring outrageous military enterprises; all references to "the" Praetor might go with an unvoiced "Which one, you ask? Of course the one relevant to this particular crisis!".

On the same vein, the Praetor that MW Bonnano kills off in "Probe" is said to be "third in rank" although factually the most powerful man in the RSE. By the time of DS9 "Inter Arma", it may be that this de facto arrangement has gained a de jure basis, as Neral's position as Praetor is equated with "the top post". OTOH, there may of course be more than one "the top post", despite the definite article - and all the conspiratory talk between Ross and Bashir in that episode may be de facto rather than de jure.

Personally, I feel the RSE could have a male Praetor or eight even if Empress Ael remained in power. Then again, I wouldn't bet fortunes on anybody staying in power in the RSE for long.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old August 23 2008, 12:52 PM   #12
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

My apologies for the misattributions. I was excited to see the reference in print. All this comes before I read Kobayashi Maru. After that, well.
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Old August 23 2008, 01:26 PM   #13
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Re: Those pesky Rihannsu

Timo wrote: View Post
Personally, I feel the RSE could have a male Praetor or eight even if Empress Ael remained in power. Then again, I wouldn't bet fortunes on anybody staying in power in the RSE for long.
If you include Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire as more-or-less direct successor states, Rome never managed to develop a stable system of dynastic succession in two millennia. Ael's problem may have been that she tried to shift a political culture based on ruthless charisma to something more rational and bureaucratic using ruthless charisma. Apparently even the shock of the Second Romulan War/Romulan Civil War wasn't enough to change the Empire's politics.

Then again, Ael's family remained powerful to the end of the novelistic continuity. Charvanek, Ael's niece, not only returned to Romulan society but stayed there and became a very powerful figure by the time of the TNG movies, while elsewhere the emperor killed off in Shwartz and Sherman's contribution to a Dominion War anthology is established as being her uncle. (In between Ael and said uncle, christie Golden's Dark Matters books establishes as empress an annoying young woman so taken by an affair with a mysterious alien that she's willing to commit the Empire to a sneak attack on the Federation, likely explaining why she didn't last too long afterwards.)

If the office of empress/emperor remained after Ael and in the hands of Ael's family, this could suggest that there has in fact been a certain continuity, the initial revolutionary movement becoming more pragmatic reforms. They may be working. In the Rihannsu novels, the most powerful people in the Empire's government were quite willing to invest time to make Sol pull a Kappa Ceti. In Nemesis, the Empire only moved reluctantly to flash-vapourize every living thing on Earth after a faction of the military decapitated the Romulan government, and the post-Nemesis novels establish that there is a reunification movement of note as per Ael's hopes.
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