Date: 05 Dec 2009 09:36 Title: The Secret Life of Orchids--Transplants
Tolan’s no fool, and he understands that any mission sponsored by Tain is more than a request. Even so, it’s fortunate that their desires coincide where this trip ‘home’ is concerned. Hopefully, it will go off without a hitch… but knowing Tain’s luck and his enemies’ persistence, literally anything is possible.
Having traveled with small children, I had to laugh at your description of the flight with Sleg… yeah, been there. The emotional resonance of Tolan’s return to his homestead was more visceral than I’d expected, and I anticipate more in the coming chapters.
Nice touches here.
Author's Response: No, Tolan pretty much knows on what side of the toast his bread is buttered. It helps that the two have a mutual, if grudging, respect for one aother, and yes, it definitely helps that Lakat is somewhere Tolan wanted to go anyway. Smooth sailing? In THIS story? Hee!!
I can't say I've been on the parent end of it, but I've been on the hyper, bored kid end. Books and games you'd normally be happy to play with for hours hold no appeal when you KNOW they're a bribe to behave. Besides, there's the whole, "Are we there yet?" issue. It takes a while to learn to enjoy the journey instead of just the destination. Tolan will always love the land that spawned him. It's a soul deep connection I doubt he'll ever escape. I'm glad it resonated with you!
Date: 05 Dec 2009 08:23 Title: Uneasy Reunion
Things get even more complicated for Tain as this family connection to the attempt on his life comes to light. It seems that for Tain, this kind of intrigue and lethality may well be hereditary. Even his own mother can’t be counted on as an ally… very cold blooded, even for reptilians. ;-)
Author's Response: Someone like Tain has to be created, not born. We've just scratched the surface of the Tain family dynamics. His mother is...an interesting lady, to be sure. :) Thanks for the review!
Date: 02 Dec 2009 19:31 Title: The Secret Life of Orchids--Transplants
A really compelling chapter this. I find the relationship between Tain and Tolan to be a fascinating one. It strikes as an unequal relationship in terms of power - but actually in ways Tolan has Tain over a barrel regards the little pretnece they are playing out - not to mention the actual affection of Tain's son as his own. However, even Tolan recognises that Tain holds an influence over young Sleg. And deep down this lie has to trouble and perturb both men as both fret about the love and loyalty of young Sleg. I guess that can only be natural and it plays as a continuing subtext to everything that goes on between the two. Already we have recognised that Tolan has skills and other aspects to him. And it seems Tain is aware of certain hidden parts - but Tolan can only assume from the way Tain speaks as he never directly comments or divulges. The disparity in both men's approaches leads to this interesting take and both appear to be able to read the other quite well - despite their efforts to keep parts secret and hidden. So to repeat, I find their interaction fascinating, continually enthralling as they second guess each other and discern one another's motives. Tolan strikes one as very muc being a pragmatist foreseeing this day when Tain would ask a favour. Tain appreciates the directness of Tolan where I imagine he normally probably wouldn't. The ties - Mila and Sleg - are forceful bonds that give both men a common purpose and need to protect and act in defence. I loved reading how Tolan could believe Tain's motivation about family protection, the fragile nature of it and just how precarious Tain's line of work made matters. Tolan could easily appreciate and relate to those circumstances and it serves as anoter bond that links the two rather different men.
Tolan's trip is a glorious little journey, exploring little Garak who comes across as a very hyper and active child - they all do tend to be so on a train journey. The scene before hand with Mila and the kisses goodnight was incredibly sweet and it is nice to think that Garak had some happy memories and days as part of his childhood. Top notch stuff, PSGarak.
Author's Response: It was an interesting mental exercise throwing these two together in a scene, each feeling the other out, feinting and counter feinting. I honestly think one reason my pace of writing this particular story has been so slow (aside from offline distractions) is that it is forcing me to think very hard! Tain is such a formidable intellect, and Tolan is so practical and down to earth that both of them stretch me to the limits in different ways.
I'm also enjoying the situation of two men with little to nothing in common, either in background or temperament, who would normally never have had anything to do with one another or even occasion to meet, having to live together under the same roof, participate in an elaborate lie, and share two important people in their lives, Mila and Sleg. The background situation the DS9 writers set up with this was far too interesting for me not to want to explore and try to flesh out. There was some amazing writing on that show!! Then of course Andrew Robinson followed up with his book, and yeah. Yeah!
I'm glad you liked their trip and the interactions the night before. I know it got a little sweet and cutesy, but little kids are like that sometimes. :D Thanks for the great review!
Date: 02 Dec 2009 19:08 Title: Uneasy Reunion
Woah! Talk about complicated. This is quite an elaborate plot and it appears to be the case that therre may be a closer connection to Tain than may be believed. If that's the case, then his mother must be fairly use to her children returning from their suppposed graves. Flip! That is an interesting turn of events. And no matter how hard Enabrain works, the element of trust and complacency cannot be allowed for. What a horrible and cruel way to live your life - especially as it means he draws in those around - first by contacting his mother, having Mila hunt out information that could get her into trouble, and now by dragging Tolan and Sleg into matters under some pretence. I guess Garak is getting some early experience in the field of espionage. Looks like there is going to be some grave robbing ...
Author's Response: Such is the life of an operative, unfortunately. I can't imagine having to endure the sacrifices people in the line of espionage make just to be effective at their jobs. Tain loves what he does, but I think even he knows at a deep level that he has given up tremendously important things to do it well. Not to give too much away, but I will be delving much further into the Tain family dynamics. This is just a surface scratch. As for Tolan, we'll have to see if he's up to that task! Thank you for the review!
Date: 02 Dec 2009 15:45 Title: The Secret Life of Orchids--Transplants
Another great chapter. You nailed the family interactions so perfectly. The tired mom, the excitable young boy with ENDLESS and I do mean ENDLESS questions, the dad for whom it's easy to be patient and wonder why mom is so exhausted/harsh -- until he's actually forced to deal with the typical behavior for longer than normal, instead of the special "just for daddy" behavior that can only last a few hours, at best.
I also liked Enabran and Tolan's interaction. It's nice to see some mutual respect there. I don't know how that will develop, but right now, I think it's nice.
And once again, the little details sell it. The seasonal differences between Lakat and Cardassia City. The passengers annoyed with Sleg. The threat in the face of such peer pressure to keep him quiet, and the accompanying guilt when a parent realizes they've just broken their child's trust. And then, the easy forgiveness from the child ... this is just all so grounded in reality, and makes it easy to get lost in the story. Well done, as usual.
Author's Response: Thank you! I'm so glad to get that sort of feedback from a parent. Not being one, I always wonder and worry a bit when I have to write family interactions with small children.
I had almost decided to skip over the scene between Tolan and Tain, instead starting after he had been asked, but then I realized that I had never actually put the two of them together for any length of time. The most significant interactions before that scene had been between Tolan and the Tain double. I had a broad, general idea of what their relationship might be like, but I had never seen it in action. Tain does respect Tolan and vice versa. Their living arrangement almost demands such. Otherwise, I think it would be completely intolerable for both men. It's just fortunate that both have enough strength of character that such respect arises naturally and doesn't have to be forced.
I've been one of those annoyed passengers. hehe I'm glad the details rang true. Thanks for the great review!
Date: 01 Dec 2009 14:44 Title: Uneasy Reunion
Oh, no! I knew you'd have to ruin Tolan's and Elim's peaceful happy life sometime, but it doesn't make me dread this any less. "It's time for him to learn," that sent chills down my spine. Poor little Sleg.
Interesting to see Tain's mother here. I guess he's from a long line of liars and manipulators. Loved the housekeeper. We've all met guilt-trippping old biddies like that.
I wonder what he has planned for Utan? Fascinating stuff, as always!
Author's Response: Yeah, unfortunately, this isn't exactly a story of domestic bliss. Everyone in the Tain household is expected to do his or her part, including little Sleg.
As for his mother, I've only scratched the surface of the Tain family dynamic. He didn't get to be the way he is by himself, for certain. And Utan? Well, no one gets off easy in a game of stones. :D
Date: 29 Nov 2009 09:43 Title: A Power Piece in Play
Tain's incredibly fortunate to have as trusted an competant a person as Mila assisting him. In his present circumstances, he's unable to do much for himself, and when he's at his most vulnerable, too.
Nice to see that Mila made the most of her little undercover assignment.
Author's Response: Mila is a real treasure. The actress who portrayed her on DS9 put so much strength and character into her that it was pretty easy to see her being tough as nails and smart as a whip even at a younger age. I'm glad you liked the chapter! Thank you!
Date: 26 Nov 2009 11:50 Title: Counter Play
Having to work within an organization where your peers are every bit as dangerous as the enemies of the state must be exhausting. Getting anything substantive done in such an atmosphere must be terribly difficult, not to mention potentially lethal.
The game is afoot!
Author's Response: Indeed it is, and may the best Cardassian win!
Date: 26 Nov 2009 11:28 Title: The Secret Life of Orchids--Fertile Ground
Some wonderful moments between Tolan and Elim, as 'father' tries to pass his skills and knowledge to his 'son.'
Author's Response: Thank you. It was a fun chapter to write, a little bit of brightness in an otherwise dark environment.
Date: 26 Nov 2009 10:09 Title: Opening Move
I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the narrative of these Tain-centric stories. The man’s observations about the world around him, and the murky world of interstellar espionage that he inhabits never cease to entertain.
As for the ending… ow… it appears someone wants Tain incapacitated for some reason.
Author's Response: They may have wanted a little more than incapacitated. hehe Fortunately for him, he's TOUGHtm. :D
Date: 30 Oct 2009 00:11 Title: A Power Piece in Play
Crikey. Mila continues to impress and to oncreasingly and impressively impress. She has guts that's for sure. Terrrific stuff and neat espionage trciks employed.
Author's Response: Mila is a lioness. So far she has been fairly lucky in addition to using her skills. Let's just hope luck doesn't run out. Whoever is playing this game with Tain is playing for keeps. :D
Date: 30 Oct 2009 00:06 Title: Counter Play
Wheels within wheels seems par the course for Cardassians. I love how Tain can sweep into action so quickly after the explosion. And of course, no surprise, when it comes to trusting people he calls on Mila. But it seems he is going to be blocked in his path to discovery. Very interesting. Again, like the Cardassian novels, I think it might be best to assume everyone is guilty, of what though remains to be seen. Hee hee.
Author's Response: That may not be a bad assumption to make. LOL This isn't an enigma tale, but there's no shortage of culprits, some seen, some still unseen. I'm having too much fun with this, and it's gratifying to know you're enjoying it. Thanks for the review!
Date: 22 Oct 2009 05:39 Title: A Power Piece in Play
"Just" a housekeeper, my you-know-what.
Mila, super spy!
This was a cool chapter, interesting to see Mila taking on the role of an operative and handling things for Enabran.
Tolan is a good and patient man.
Eagerly awaiting more!
Author's Response: Well, technically she's being honest. That counts for something, right? She found all of this somewhat nerve-wracking, but living with Tain, one can't help but to pick up certain skills. It helps when he takes an active role in training.
Tolan has quickly become one of my favorite characters of the series. He's far from perfect, but he's a nice dose of normality in an otherwise very odd arrangement. I feel like I'm slowly getting a handle on carving out a writing schedule around the rest of my more active life. There's just no way it will ever be at the pace it was when I had no other distractions and was trying to keep from going stir crazy.
Thanks for the review and for keeping up with the Cardassians. :D
Date: 17 Oct 2009 09:42 Title: The Secret Life of Orchids--Fertile Ground
What a marvellous and beautiful glimpse of Tolan as a father and his place of work - a labour of love. Wonderfully evoked and described. You really can picture the idealic little place amid the cityscape of the capital and this memorial park. Almost seems like it is a hushed secret not to be enjoyed by the masses.
Now not only is Tolan being a loving father figure to Sleg one can see the little influences he is trying to impart on Garak. The talk of freedom and liberation is telling and one imagines very easily that Tolan is up to more than one knows. Keeping secret food growth for Orchids is perhaps the least of his secrets. Rivetting to follow the path he may or may not be taking.
However, the skills of cultivating the palnts and listening are actually skills Garak will use in his future to great effect. And yet a very ominious warning as Tolan thinks about the future influence Tain will have on Garak.
Author's Response: Thank you so much. I greatly enjoyed writing this chapter for a variety of reasons. Tolan and Sleg are a couple of bright points in an otherwise dark situation, and you could very well be onto something about Tolan's efforts being more subversive than they seem on the surface. Time will tell. :)
Considering we already know much of Tain's affect on Garak, I found it appropriate that Tolan also knows the score. He lives with the man, after all. I'm so glad you enjoyed this chapter, as it evoked very pleasant memories for me in the process of writing it.
Date: 14 Oct 2009 00:45 Title: Counter Play
Oh, my goodness. Cardassian intrigue gives me a headache every time, and you write it so well. What is it you said? Wheels within wheels? I wouldn't dare sleep if I were any of them. You never know when, from where, or from whom your final end is coming!
Author's Response: Yeah, this story is giving my brain a real work out. I don't often outline much, but I'm having to for this one, just trying to keep up with who is who and who is doing what. It hasn't even really gotten going yet. There are more players and more games. Fun stuff! Glad you liked it!
Date: 13 Oct 2009 21:36 Title: Opening Move
A really warm and fantastic opening to this tale. Somewhat in stark contrast to where the chapter goes, as Tain undertakes his commute to work we begin to descend [almost literally] into a darker more secretive world from the one of domestic 'almost bliss'. A great conceit and style to use evoking the characters and different sides adopted by Tain in his life. Even the way you describe his commute - initially projecting a powerful and awesome presence, intimidating to passer bys and almsot sizing uo to others; then becoming anonomous and introspective. Really an amazing piece of storytelling in the simplicity of it and yet in the detail and descriptive language.
After from all of that, I'm loving the little introduction to Sleg and his playful nature and the fondness with which Tain treats Sleg but also the remove and game that is played in regard to it all.
I also liked seeing just how the assassination attempt has changed Tain - from adapting a different mode of travel each day to the security measures invoked at HQ and especially the physical changes rendered to Tain - the bulk he cannot lose and the sweating and change of his metabolism. It shows that their were significant ramifications from Tain's night of long knives at the end of book 1.
Of course, then there's what is a possibly spectacular ending to this blinder of an opener and the fact that there may now be pay back for that night of long knives. Really PSGarak, just all sorts of awesome.
Author's Response: Thank you! I'm starting to get a firmer picture of setting with all of this. It's fleshing out in my head. Tain's avoidance of routine is a natural progression of the care he needs to take as he rises in the ranks of the Order.
Sleg is a lot of fun, but every time I write about him, it feels a little sad. Knowing what he eventually becomes makes seeing the innocent portion of his childhood bittersweet. Still, nobody starts out life like Elim Garak, thank goodness!
I always had a hard time accepting that somebody like Tain would allow himself to get really overweight, even in his advanced age. He seemed too disciplined and attentive to detail, but there are lots of reasons people struggle with weight. I decided making it a medical reason and a side effect of a past exploit made a lot of sense.
Few deeds such as that purge go unanswered on Cardassia. The game has just begun. :D Thanks for the thorough review!
Date: 05 Oct 2009 05:07 Title: The Secret Life of Orchids--Fertile Ground
You must have a love of gardening, because you've really captured Tolan's love for it here in such a realistic way, and that's been the case in every chapter where you've described the gardens. It's like being there.
Sleg is such a sweet kid here, it's so bittersweet knowing what we all know about his future. Tolan's awareness of Tain's "ownership" of the boy and his conscious decision to give him interior gifts in an attempt to give him something the Obsidian Order can't get to is touching.
I have a question -- what is a Cardassian three year old's human equivalent? Sleg seems a little old beyond his years, but I'm thinking in human years. I'm not sure what the conversion is between human and Cardassian.
Author's Response: I do love gardening. It's something my whole family did together when I was growing up. We were always outside working the beds, or raking, or something. To this day I can have the worst day ever, but if I can get my hands in the dirt afterward, it all falls away.
Sleg is a good boy. We see glimpses of the goodness even in fully developed Elim Garak. That had to come from somewhere, and we can be fairly certain it didn't come from Tain, so it had to be Tolan's and Mila's influence, perhaps Tolan even more since Mila's sympathies and inclinations are closer to Tain's.
Because I've read that the Cardassians begin stringently schooling their children from the age of four onward, training them to have eidetic memories, independent hand, foot, and eye coordination for complex fighting, and mental discipline that can withstand Vulcan mind melds, I decided that they must develop faster mentally than human children and also perhaps be more naturally intelligent and complex overall. I can't imagine any four year olds here on Earth who'd be ready for such schooling. I also thought of their roots as not quite mammalian in the sense that we are, and it made sense to me to have them develop faster. It's the same reason I had infant Sleg able to focus his gaze at a distance in just a few hours and be generally calmer and less apt to cry than most human infants. Sleg is smart even for a Cardassian, though.
Thanks for the review!
Date: 01 Oct 2009 17:28 Title: Opening Move
Uh oh. That doesn't sound good for Tain.
Nice opening chapter, very descriptive and evocative. Can't wait to find out exactly what just happened.
Author's Response: He wakes up to find out it was only a dream. Kidding! Kidding!!