Star Trek: Voyager #11 "The Garden" by Melissa Scott

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Damian, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. Damian

    Damian Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I just completed this novel, written in 1997 and I believe it takes place during the 2nd season of Voyager. Members of the crew start suffering from scurvy, and they learn it's because of food they harvested from a planet they stopped at. When it's cooked it causes a reaction that prevent nutrients from being absorbed into the body. Neelix tells them about a species, called the Kirse, though he gives them an ominous warning about their trading habits. But after a futile search for a class M planet in the area to satisfy their needs and with the crew getting sicker Captain Janeway decides they have no choice.

    They find the planet surrounded by field of defense satellites but they are able to beam down to the planet and slowly make their way to a building they refer to as the Citadel. They encounter strange creatures tending the planet who appear to scare easily but otherwise don't appear to be hostile. Once they reach the Citadel they find a room with a feast waiting. Paris and Kim are ready to dive in, but Janeway suspects something and she orders them to wait. Apparently a good call because it was a test to see if they were worthy of contact by the Kirse. Then they are offered a more modest, but satisfying meal by the Kirse as they have a sort of get to know you chat. The Kirse are periodically attacked by a species known as the Andirrim and they want Voyager's transporter technology in exchange for the food they need. After discussions with her senior staff Janeway offers them schematics and some raw materials to create a limited range transporter. They bring up concerns that area of the quadrant does not have transporter technology and they are concerned it could fall into the hands of other species, including the Kazon. But they decide it's a necessary risk and if they give them limited transporter technology it would be some time before it could potentially fall into the hands of the Kazon.

    While they are working towards the agreement the Kirse are attacked by the Andirrim under the guise of a trading agreement and Voyager and some of the crew ally with the Kirse. After the attack the crew learn some disturbing things about the Kirse and the creatures tending the fields (I won't give it away here ;) ).

    I found it to be an above average book. I found the aliens to be pretty unique and there is a shroud of mystery over everything. I always liked stories where things aren't quite what they seem. After they approach the Kirse planet, Neelix basically disappears from the story. And his concerns about the Kirse's trading habits don't end up being true. I thought that was a bit unusual because it had me waiting for some shoe to drop, for the Kirse to turn out to be some threat, but they really weren't.

    There was some interesting discussion about the Prime Directive in the novel. Chakotay, Torres and some of the crew, even Janeway, are a bit disturbed by how the Kirse treat their 'workers'. But Janeway reminds them that the PD applies. She makes a good argument about the PD and how part of the reason why they follow it is they can't really know the Kirse based on just their cursory contact with them thus far. They are ill equipped to make a judgment on what they are doing. And it's not their job to sit in judgment over the Kirse.

    I liked the early part of the story in particular as they arrive at the Kirse planet and slowly make their way to the citadel. They don't quite know what to make of everything. And the ending was a bit surprising, and I like surprises. I have to admit I wasn't expecting to end the way it did. And I liked that it was a different type of story. The main thing I didn't care for is I don't care for books with long chapters. It's 278 pages in length but only has 9 chapters so some chapters are 30+ pages long. It's a technicality and may sound a bit ridiculous, but I prefer shorter chapters. I guess it makes me feel I get more accomplished. I like to read a chapter, take a break and return, sometimes soon after, but I like the breaks.

    But otherwise a pretty good story I thought.
     
  2. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2011
    Yeah the Chapters were a real irritant to me when I first read the book 20 years ago. 50 pages per chapter was ridiculous. But I found it funny about 5 year’s later when I read Melissa Scott’s other Trek novel (DS9#9 Proud Helios) And she had normal chapters in a book with about 250 pages, so the chapters were like 10 pages.