[Star Trek: Cobalt Blue]

The Andorian Ushaan
The "One-Word Canon" Post by S. John Ross

The following isn't any sort of article or anything, just the 3/28/05 entry I wrote for the Blue Desk. I've pasted it here to make it directly linkable and findable by/to any LUGTrek fans curious about the relationship between Among the Clans and the Enterprise TV series. There is, as it happens, one such (very small) relationship, and this post describes how I found out about it. Fun stuff, worth a grin.

*A few days ago, I got an email from a Star Trek gamer seeking general chat on the nature of Trek GMing (suits me fine; GMing is a favorite topic of mine, Trek or otherwise) and he also asked me, as kind of an aside, if I felt “burned” by having my Andorian book, Among the Clans, referenced in a recent episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.

It was the first I'd heard of any such thing, but I assumed that, whatever it was, it was just a happy coincidence. Paramount aren't in the habit of tipping the hat to licensed Trek material; non-canon stuff tends to stay that way. The similarity this correspondent cited, in particular (ritual duels) seemed especially like coincidence, since ritual duels are old news in adventure sci-fi, and for that matter old news on Star Trek, ever since a certain Vulcan got in the mood.

Ever since Enterprise started airing and hauling the Andorians from obscurity, I've had a trickle of fan-speculation on Among the Clans influencing the show, but it's been pretty plain that the AtC Andorians and the new canon Andorians don't much resemble one another. I've been very happy just seeing how many fans (fanfic writers, MUSHers and the like) have adopted Among the Clans as their “bible” for things Andorian. Like John M. Ford's version of the Klingons, they're a favorite alternative to what Paramount eventually decided, and that's excellent company to be in.

But ... The correspondent's claim had a little more meat on it than most, complete with a rumor-mill anecdote about the Paramount folks snagging the book on eBay, of all places. So, curious to see what the rumor-mill was milling (and expecting no more than the very special art-form that is “fan speculation”) I Googled it.

It took only two passes in Google to find the whole story, from fan-chatter to references on the official Star Trek website. The episode in question, part of a three-part Andorian/Babel arc that aired just last month, didn't just have a duel, it had a duel called the Ushaan -which is a term from the Andorian language I designed for AtC. What's more, the weapon of choice was reminiscent in appearance and usage to the dueling weapon pictured in Among the Clans. Clearly, this wasn't coincidence, but a genuine tip of the hat. A tip of the hat involving Jeffrey Combs, no less (Lovecraftian Psi-Corps Andorian extraordinaire).

I'd like to say, for the record, that I didn't feel at all “burned.” I grinned rather a lot.

Curious, I did one more pass with Google, this time adding “eBay” as an extra keyword to see if I could find a concrete example of that particular rumor. I didn't find rumors this time. Instead, I found a public post by Enterprise series producer Mike Sussman:

For what it's worth, I let Manny a copy of “Among the Clans” which I picked up on eBay recently. He was already at work on an Andorian duel ritual when I pointed out there was something similar in the book, so he went ahead and used the term. I believe both of us were taken by the striking cover image of an ice-covered Andoria -- consequently, Manny went with that interpretation as well.

I thought Last Unicorn did a dynamite job with those books. The “Way of Kohlinar” was also terrific. I dropped in a couple of references from their Vulcan book in “Home.” Not sure anybody noticed, though. :)

So much for rumor-milling. It's really nice, too, because they're using their own Andorian culture and stuff ... what I mean is, there's no reason for them to use AtC's term, except as a friendly nod to having enjoyed the book. So that makes the nod even friendlier.

The only thing that puzzles me about the whole affair is why the Enterprise series producer had to go shopping on eBay for licensed Trek material. I always figured there was a whole library of the stuff somewhere kept by Paramount's licensing department, a dusty room full of metal shelving and filing cabinets, perhaps with a bored-looking archivist in an original-series T-shirt. I guess Paramount doesn't bother (or perhaps they do, and corporate bureaucracies being what they are, only the licensing department has any kind of access to the collection). Dunno.

So does that mean AtC is canon, now? Good lord, no. But one word of it is, and that's fun, too. It means I'm one step closer to true contribution to Star Trek, which I define as “having something you've created wind up in erotic Trek fan-fiction.”

I'm kidding, on some levels.

This leaves me with a single, urgent problem: I've never actually tuned in an episode of Enterprise. I caught a taped Season One episode back when it started, but it didn't catch my interest much and I'm terrible at keeping up with a TV series without missing episodes, anyway. But, obviously, I'd like to watch this three-episode arc thingy (episodes 12, 13 and 14 of Season Four) both to grin inanely when someone says Ushaan and to see what kind of prequel they've come up with for Journey to Babel. If anyone's got a good tape or whatever of all three episodes, I've got an extra copy of Among the Clans I'd be happy to swap (or other items of potential amusement, if you've already got an AtC). Drop me a line and let me know.

[Addendum: Watched 'em, liked 'em, really need to one day catch up on lost time with Enterprise and give the whole series a try ... sorry it had to go.]

And if any Mike Sussmans or Manny Cotos or Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevenses happen to wander upon this one day while Googling for their own reasons: Hello, and thanks for the grins (which I can share with gamers everywhere, but especially with the many other folks who helped make AtC well worth tipping a hat to, especially Steve Long, Kenneth Hite, Doug Shuler, and uncredited-but-not-forgotten Lou Prosperi).

... Return to Cobalt Blue

"May You Never Rot ..."

*The stuff above is the entire original post, but Among the Clans continues to have a trickle of impact on the "apocryphal" side of Trek, and continues to be referred to as an "Andorian Bible" by Star Trek gamers both online and off, even though doing so requires some creative backflips (or outright hammer-strokes) to merge it with the newer canon material. Some examples I know of (and, as usual, I'm always learning of these things way late, so drop me a line if you can confirm some others):

  • The Star Trek Online "geekipedia" - a fan-made reference popular with STO players for character background and such - make heavy and repeated references to AtC in the Andorian and Andoria pages (and related articles like Andorian Word List) which in turn spill over into character writeups across the Web. The map given in the Andoria entry is a scan right from the book (sweet)!
  • The Enterprise novel The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing picks up and furthers the book's notion that the despot Krotus (part of "Lord" Garth's rant in Whom Gods Destroy) was the "Ka'Thelan Conquerer" of Andorian history by naming a wrecked starship the Ka'Thelan Krotus. The author (Michael A. Martin) also kindly includes AtC in his Acknowledgements.
  • While there are multiple "official" (licensed but non-canon) Andorian languages some of them might be bleeding together a little in the form of hidden references. One example that might be so (I haven't confirmed it) is the term shelthreth, coined by author S.D. Perry for the Deep Space Nine novel Avatar (and in used in several other works since). The shelthreth is the Andorian ritual of mating/betrothal, so can it be coincidence that the prefix SHEL- would, according to AtC, mean either "the essence of love" or "the essence of sex?" Okay, it could be coincidence, yeah. But mayyybe ...

... And of course, the term ushaan now appears in numerous licensed comics, novels, games and so forth (even naughty fanfic! ultimate victory! And STO has an Ushaan-class escort) which just goes to show ... something or other, some kind of cool thing.

... Return to Cobalt Blue

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