Balance Of NatureBy Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at May 24, 2003 - 7:12 AM GMT
Title: Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers #27, Balance of Nature
Author: Heather Jarman
Release Date: April 2003
Balance of Nature is further proof that it is possible to tell a very complete story in a shorter format. Thus far the landmark Starfleet Corps of Engineers series has managed to demonstrate that with almost every outing. In her debut story for this eBook series author Heather Jarman drives the point home in this wonderful and beguiling tale.
The story takes place on the homeworld of P8 Blue, otherwise known as Pattie, a Nasat engineer who serves as a structural systems specialist on the S.C.E. team assigned to the USS da Vinci. (Although this insectoid race was first seen in the animated series episode "Jihad", they did not receive a name until the debut of this novel series.) Strange and unexplained events are threatening the Nasat way of life and Pattie soon begins to suspect that the answers they seek may be buried deep in the past. But will the stigma she bears in her own society prevent her from helping to solve the mystery?
Balance of Nature wastes no time getting right to the point as you are immediately drawn into the rich and descriptive setting. As a regular reader of this series I have found Pattie to be a complex and interesting character but have always wondered why she would choose to make her home among species so utterly different from her own. So I welcomed the opportunity to not only get to know Pattie a bit better in this 'spotlight' story but to also to gain insight into her history and the culture that produced her. This book manages to do all that and more.
Heather Jarman has painted a portrait of a fascinating species with remarkable ease. This multi-world community comes alive through her words. The relationship between Pattie and her Betazoid mentor, Zoeannah (Zoë), is especially touching and the highlight of the book for me. Without being preachy, Jarman illuminates important and poignant themes in Balance of Nature as the tension-filled plot builds continuously to its climax.
The most obvious theme of the story is that our past is an integral part of our future and a society that forgets that places itself at risk. But the more subtle underlying theme that is gently reiterated in the epilogue is the one that is the most effective given Pattie's history; every individual, even someone with a perceived disability, has something to contribute to society.
Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.