Torrent Sea Annotations

Over a Torrent SeaThis document explains the continuity references, allusions, in-jokes, and scientific concepts contained in Titan: Over a Torrent Sea (OaTS).   I assume that the reader is familiar with the basic characters and background of the Trek universe.  Readers seeking further information on references to past Trek episodes or movies are advised to consult the Memory Alpha Star Trek wiki.  Information about Star Trek novels can be found at the Memory Beta wiki.

Be aware that this document contains spoilers for the whole of Over a Torrent Sea and for numerous episodes, films, and novels from all Trek series, particularly Titan and the Destiny crossover trilogy by David Mack.  I would strongly recommend not reading it until one has completed the novel, since many of the notes contain spoilers for things not revealed until later scenes or chapters.

Episode and book titles are TNG unless otherwise indicated.  Episode and short-story titles are in quotes, while film and book titles are italicized.


ENT — Enterprise TOS — The Original Series TAS — The Animated Series
TNG — Next Generation DS9 — Deep Space Nine VGR — Voyager
TTN — Titan SCE — Starfleet Corps of Engineers
TW — Titan: Taking Wing TRK — Titan: The Red King OH — Titan: Orion’s Hounds
SoD — Titan: Sword of Damocles GTTS — TNG: Greater Than the Sum DES — Star Trek: Destiny

Chapter Annotations

1-2 The excerpt is from Federation President Nan Bacco’s speech at the end of Destiny: Lost Souls.
2 The first scene occurs on or about February 22, 2381.
Admiral Masc and his Dominion War service at Betazed were first referenced in Tales of the Dominion War: “The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned” by Keith R.A. DeCandido.  He only briefly and indirectly appeared in the story and his species was not established; I decided here to make him Denobulan.  I felt that Starfleet’s Admiralty is far too human-dominated, and it made sense that the leader of the Luna-class project, with its emphasis on multispecies crews, would be nonhuman.
3 The destruction described here occurred throughout the DES trilogy, particularly Lost Souls.
“ten other Luna-class ships”: A dozen ships of the class were built, but Charon was lost in SoD.  Luna herself is believed by some fans to have been destroyed, but it was merely damaged (as described in Taking Wing).  Rhea was attacked by the Borg in Greater Than the Sum, but was rescued and repaired; it would have returned to service shortly before DES.
The Romulan diplomatic mission was in TW.
4 The Aventine and her prototype quantum slipstream drive were introduced in DES.
5 Orion’s Hounds established that Titan and Ganymede were surveying the Gum Nebula.  SoD then established that Charon was near enough to Titan for the latter ship to respond to its distress call.  To me, the best explanation was that Charon had taken over Ganymede‘s survey zone.
6 The Pa’haquel and Vomnin were contacted in OH.  “Gam-Pu Star Command” is a joke reference to the ’70s Filmation series Space Academy (starring Jonathan Harris as Commander Gampu) and its spinoff Jason of Star Command.
In OH, I set up the Gum Nebula as a region vast enough to be usable in subsequent books for years to come.  My editor and fellow authors had other ideas.
7 For more on the Carina Arm, see GTTS notes p. 113-14.
8 The Vulcan scene is set over a month later, on roughly March 29, 2381.
Tuvok’s difficulties with control were established in TW & OH, as an extrapolation from his many neurological injuries in VGR.  Elieth’s fate is from DES.
10 Hachesa and Norellis are from TW & TRK, Lonam-Arja from OH.  The others are bit players referenced in all four previous TTN books.  Noah Powell is Nurse Ogawa’s son, introduced in TW.  Totyarguil Bolaji is an infant born in the same book, now over a year old.
13 We now jump ahead to the end of April, 2381.  It is about two weeks before the conclusions of the other three post-DES novels, A Singular Destiny, TNG: Losing the Peace, and VGR: Full Circle.
14 The Caeliar were an advanced race featured in DES; they played a key role in resolving the Borg invasion therein, with prompting from Titan‘s crew.  It occurs to me I failed to clearly link the discussion of the end of the war in the first scene with the discussion of the Caeliar here.
16 Ellec Krotine was a character I created for SCE: Aftermath, based on an old friend from college who also had cherry-red hair (though Ellec comes by hers naturally).  Nothing much was ever done with her in SCE, so I decided to reclaim the character for TTN, much as I’d done with my other Aftermath creation Rennan Konya, who joined the Enterprise crew in GTTS.
17 Adhara and Muliphen are respectively Epsilon and Gamma Canis Majoris, both B-type giant stars approximately 400 light-years from Earth.  The latter is more properly Muliphein, but here I used the spelling from Star Trek Star Charts.  That book puts them at the far end of Klingon territory, so I figured the region beyond them might correspond to the Kavrot Sector from Keith DeCandido’s IKS Gorkon novels.
Chapter One
19 We’ve now jumped two months ahead to the beginning of July.  From this point on, we are farther in the future than any other Trek novel in the main book continuity to date (excluding time travel or flashforwards).  The reason for the jump is that Marco wanted this book to depict the birth of the Riker-Troi baby.
“UFC” probably stands for “United Federation Catalog.”  Star notations of this sort were seen on graphics in Insurrection.  I considered using the prefix “FGC,” also found in canonical Trek, but that notation was used for clusters and nebulae more than for individual stars.
20 As explained in the book’s acknowledgments, Alain Léger is the scientist who coined the term “Ocean Planet” in 2003.  Star Charts uses “Class O” to refer to a pelagic planet.  SC’s conjectural planetary classification scheme contains many problems, but I had no objection to Class O encompassing ocean planets as long as there were subclasses involved.  “Subclass L1” implicitly means a world that conforms to Léger’s basic model for an ocean planet with a liquid-water surface.  Theoretically, there are other types of ocean planets, including colder ones with icy crusts over watery mantles, and hotter ones where ocean and atmosphere blend together into a continuous mass of supercritical steam.  These could be subclasses L2 and L3.
The Typhon Pact is introduced in A Singular Destiny.
Oxygen gas (O2) is usually a strong indicator of life; it’s reactive, not staying in the atmosphere long, so if you find a lot of it, something must be replenishing it, and life is the main thing that produces it.  However, according to Léger’s seminal paper on ocean planets, “the presence of O2 is not a reliable biosignature on Ocean-Planets because it can be the result of abiotic processes,” specifically the photolysis (breakup when exposed to light) of carbon dioxide or water vapor, both of which are abundant in ocean planet atmospheres.  Léger goes on to explain that either of these would result in a weak ozone signature; in the former case, the CO2 would mask the ozone signature in infrared, while the latter would produce hydrogenous radicals that would prevent ozone from forming.  Thus, Léger advises, the simultaneous detection of ozone, CO2, and water vapor is a better biosignature for ocean planets than O2 alone.
21 The sensor and transporter interference in Droplet’s system were a way of letting me reuse plot elements from the original Daughter of Earth and Water spec novel by depriving the crew of Treknology and limiting them to the more realistic methods used by Daughter‘s explorers.
Melora’s holopresence system was featured in DES.  The bulky antigrav suit was referenced in TW, though it had been replaced by the motor-assist armature by TRK.
22 My model for Droplet was based on Christophe Sotin’s Icarus paper mentioned in the acknowledgments.  Here are its statistics:
  • Mass: 1.6 x 1025 kg (2.69 Earth masses)
  • Radius: 10780 km (1.69 Earth radii)
  • Surface gravity: 9.2 m/s2 (0.94 g)
  • Average density: c. 3000 kg/m3 (0.55 Earth density)
  • Mean orbital radius: 222 million km (1.484 AU)
  • Average surface temperature: 305 K (32 C / 89 F)
  • Orbital period: 2 years, 3 days, 7.5 hours
  • Equatorial rotation period: 0.78 days (18 hr 47 min)

Droplet Table

The temperature at the bottom of the ocean is not from Sotin, but from a water phase diagram, the temperature at which liquid water becomes Ice VII under 18 GPa (180,000 atm) pressure.  The ice mantle consists of Ice VII down to c. 50 GPa (c. 2000 km depth — c. 8600 km radius from planet center).  Below that it becomes Ice X (ice-ten).  The mass percentages for the mantle and core are estimated (I lack the math skills to compute them precisely), though the table is based on the assumption that the planet is 50% water and ice by mass (analogously with Ganymede, Callisto, and Titan in Sol system).
23 “Oraco” is another Space Academy in-joke.  It was their equivalent of “Aye-aye” or “Roger,” standing for “Orders received and carried out.”
24 The concept of Titan carrying multipurpose, convertible shuttles is original to OaTS.  I was somewhat inspired by the modular shuttles Andrew Probert designed for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which I used in Mere Anarchy: The Darkness Drops Again).
25 Droplet’s star is a twin to Tau Ceti because Daughter of Earth and Water was set at Tau Ceti and I wanted to save myself the trouble of recalculating for a different stellar mass and luminosity.  Kaferia has been identified with Tau Ceti in various print references, including Star Charts.
26 New Kaferia’s normal habitable zone would be around 0.6 to 0.9 AU.
29 Aquashuttles were introduced in TAS: “The Ambergris Element.”
30 Torvig normally looks like this:Torvig
Chapter Two
42 For discussion of the “wait an hour after eating” myth, see
47 If it isn’t self-evident, “scyphomedusan” is a technical term for “jellyfish.”
Chapter Three
51 Jaza Najem was lost in SoD.
52 Yurium, celebium, and rodinium are fictional elements from ST.  Timonium is a neighborhood near the Baltimore hotel where the annual Shore Leave convention is held.  Portions of this book were written or revised during Shore Leave.
Superterrestrial planets, or “super-Earths,” are rocky Earthlike planets that are up to ten times more massive than Earth.  Recent findings suggest they may be common in the galaxy, and may in fact be the most likely places to find life.  A planet needs tectonic activity to maintain steady atmospheric CO2 levels and thus steady temperatures, and Earth is near the lower mass limit for planets capable of long-term tectonic activity.
Superjovians are gas giant planets more massive than Jupiter, but smaller than a brown dwarf.  They would actually be no larger than Jupiter in size, since the crushing pressures in their cores would collapse them into hyperdense degenerate matter, cancelling out any size increase.
54 The 33rd Rule of Acquisition is “It never hurts to suck up to the boss.”
59 The raid on the Borg probe was in DES: Lost Souls.
Chapter Four
68 I’m trying to rationalize a previous mistake here.  In OH, I had Aili musing about how complicated and strenuous it was to have sex with an air-breather in her water-filled quarters.  When I thought about it, though, I realized there should be an air space up top, so it wouldn’t be that complicated.  So I’m backpedaling a bit while trying to be consistent.
73 The attack by rogue Fethetrit has not been depicted, and probably came sometime between OH and SoD.  There have been several major leaps forward in the chronicles of Titan‘s missions: two and a half months between OH and SoD, nearly eight months between SoD and DES, two months between the Prologue and Ch. 1 of this book.  So I wanted to drop a few hints about what the crew might have been doing in those periods.
Chapter Five
80 Many of my descriptions of sea life herein, including the “bait ball” here and the first full paragraph of p. 104, are inspired by the BBC documentary The Blue Planet.
92 The Mintaka incident occurred in TNG: “Who Watches the Watchers.”
Chapter Six
99 Huilan was alleged to be hyperdense in SoD.  I believe this was in reference to a certain cartoon character that Huilan resembles; however, it isn’t biologically feasible for the reasons explained in the text.
100 The term “scouter gig” was used in TAS: “The Ambergris Element” for a small open boat.  “Skiff” would be a better word, but that term was already in use for the captain’s skiff La Rocca aboard Titan.
103 I like to think the cover image represents this moment in the novel, as she’s starting to swim upward prior to her leap.
Aili’s actions here are based on the behavior of dolphins.  While it may seem their leaps are just for fun, they also serve the practical purpose described here.
104 For more on the deep sound (or SOFAR) channel and the behavior of sound waves therein, see
Chapter Seven
113 The Chandir, here named for the first time, are the “Tailhead” species often glimpsed in the background on DS9 and occasionally on TNG.  The name “Tailhead” reminded me of the philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, so I anagrammed “Chardin” to get “Chandir.”  Welcome to the way my mind works.
114 The purpose of the Chandir’s head-trunks is inspired by the theoretical purpose of the head crests in certain hadrosaurid dinosaurs including Parasaurolophus, as well as the subsonic communications of elephants.
116 The Dropletians are lucky.  On Earth, the tsunamis caused by a major impact in the ocean would be devastating to cities on every surrounding coastline, since tsunamis become more intense in shallow waters.  It would actually be more destructive to human life, at least in the short term, than a major impact on land.
118 The Clashing Rocks or Symplegades, cliffs that moved and crushed ships between them, were a hazard faced by Jason and the Argonauts in Greek myth.  In fact, while they were mentioned in The Odyssey, Odysseus chose to avoid them.  The holoprograms Vale showed probably rewrote the myth somewhat (or else I got confused).
122 Ledrah’s death was depicted in TW.
126 Aili isn’t exaggerating about the devastation that noise pollution causes in Earth’s oceans today.  For more information, visit
Chapter Eight
132 “A kilometer-scale asteroid”: I’m being deliberately vague on the asteroid’s size.  I estimated its impact based on a diameter of c. 400 meters, but belatedly realized that Titan could easily deflect a body that size.  It was too late to rework the story, so I just tried to avoid specifics.
135 “Endgame program”: See GTTS p. 47 note.
143 DS9: “Past Prologue” introduced bilitrium and said that when combined with an antimatter converter, it could be an immensely powerful source of energy.  But matter/antimatter reaction is 100 percent conversion of matter to energy, so how do you add to that?  I figured that bilitrium didn’t increase the energy of the reaction, which would violate conservation law, so much as concentrate it.
Chapter Nine
156 Bralik’s gravity sensor is most likely based on a mass-and-spring or pendulum system.
164 I’m guessing about the timing of the shock wave vs. the wind and tsunami.
167 Much of Chapters 9-10 was written during my trip to Shore Leave 2008.  Most of the scene beginning on this page was written, appropriately enough, out in front of the National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
168 The Catullan “neck pinch” maneuver described here was used by Tongo Rad in TOS: “The Way to Eden.”  In retrospect, I wish I’d decided to explain it as an injection of a sedative venom rather than a “psionic shock.”  But by the time I thought of that, the book was already typeset.
170 The Horne is named for Lena Horne, one of my father’s favorite singers.
Chapter Ten
179 Rule of Acquisition #63 is a new coinage, the third one I’ve invented (after Rule #270 in “…Loved I Not Honor More” and Rule #43 in The Buried Age).
180 Voltairium is another in-joke transuranic element, the basis of “Nova bombs” in Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda.
181 Germu is named in honor of my cat Tasha, nicknamed “Tigermuffin.”
Chapter Eleven
202 “when we were prisoners of the Hreekh”: Another adventure yet to be chronicled.
211 The saltwater dynamo effect, wherein the convection of a conductive saltwater ocean modulates the magnetic field of a planet or moon, is the means by which astronomers have deduced the presence of subsurface oceans on Ganymede and other Jovian moons.
215 Syr’s surface air pressure is about twice that of Venus (93 atmospheres).  This suggests it’s a high-gravity world.
216 For an explanation of “dislocation loops” in a crystal structure, see the Schneider article mentioned in the acknowledgments.  It’s avialable at, but you have to register.  Basically, a dislocation is a linear imperfection in a crystal lattice. These line dislocations often combine into loops or networks, and can “glide” through a crystal under pressure.  (That is, the asymmetry in a lattice of molecules can propagate through the lattice.  Imagine every molecule is bonded to six others but one is only bonded to five, creating an imperfection. Under pressure, that molecule may form a bond with a sixth partner, but then some adjacent molecule must lose its bond to that partner and be left with only five bonds, so the imperfection has moved even though the molecules haven’t.)  Some dislocations, however, can be “pinned” by impurities in the crystal, and a moving line dislocation anchored at certain points can distort and grow into a complex pattern such as a loop.  These loops can intertwine into chains that are stable but capable of transmitting dislocational patterns through the crystal — essentially they can store information permanently in themselves but also communicate copies of it to other parts of the crystal, much as DNA can store genetic information that can be copied and transmitted by RNA, enzymes, etc.
I’m probably fudging things by applying Schneider’s model to a creature like Cethente, since it depends on mechanical stresses such as those generated by seismic activity.  I think Schneider was talking about some kind of hypothetical “rock creatures” existing within a planetary crust, or perhaps an intelligence existing within a geological matrix.  (In fact, this would’ve been a good explanation for the cluster entity in GTTS if I’d been aware of it at the time.)  But given how I’ve described Syrath anatomy, I suppose that the jostling of the crystal cells within their liquid silicate solvent could produce the necessary mechanical stresses.
Chapter Twelve
226 The planet Lumbu is called that because I wrote this part of the outline in a Columbus, Ohio bus station en route to the New York Comic-Con 2008.  However, all other Lumbuan proper names and vocabulary are homages to Theodore Sturgeon’s short story “The Hurkle is a Happy Beast,” which I read during the writing of the manuscript later that year.
227 The debate on proper form vs. meaningful substance is inspired by the exams of the Chinese Civil Service during the Ming Dynasty.  What started out as a well-organized, efficient bureaucracy became increasingly decadent over the centuries, as the testing process became more an end in itself than the means to an end.  In order to pass, you had to compose an essay in the proper “eight-legged” form, exactly 8 paragraphs containing exactly 700 words.  And instead of being tested on the knowledge and skills necessary to do a job, you were tested on your memorization of the Confucian classics, required to expound on their themes in an essay consisting solely of quotes from the classics with no new words of your own.  Grading was on the details of form and the elegance of one’s calligraphy, with ideas or practical ability being irrelevant.  Creativity and competence were thus suppressed in favor of rigid loyalty to hierarchy and convention.  This was part of why the dynasty fell.  Worryingly, a similar process is at work in the United States with the rise of standardized testing in schools, with curriculums that are more about how to pass the test than about imparting the knowledge, reasoning, and cognitive skills that tests are merely supposed to measure.
232 Ithenites, a race mentioned in ENT, were meant to be the species of the diminutive gold-skinned ambassadors glimpsed in “Journey to Babel,” though this link is apocryphal.  Vidra Tabyr was a character I intended to introduce in SCE: Aftermath, but ultimately she had no place in the story.
Chapter Thirteen
242 If you’re wondering, no, I didn’t set up the Syrath’s biology solely to generate the punch line at the top of this page.  As I was writing this paragraph, the line suddenly came to me and I realized I’d set myself up for it perfectly, a spontaneous feghoot.  The only sentence of this paragraph written as deliberate setup for the punch line is the one just before it.
And no, I don’t think the pun is out of place.  What’s written here is merely an English translation of Cethente’s alien thoughts.  The underlying concept makes perfect sense in context.  Only my word choice as the “translator” makes it a pun.
245 Nothing in my research into ocean planets suggested a separation of convective layers between a hypersaline layer and the ocean above.  But it seemed a reasonable extrapolation to me, based on the different layers of Earth’s atmosphere.  If nothing else, it serves the story.
Barophiles are more commonly known as piezophiles; both mean “pressure lovers.”  I went with “barophile” for aesthetic reasons.
246 The barophile biochemistry here is my own creation, original to this book.  I don’t know how plausible the whole thing is, but each individual aspect is based on something real.
256 “shielded from wave action by the surrounding lattice”: Though the lattice maze is a concept from my original spec novel, this particular property was one I added after reading the article Tsunami invisibility cloak could make structures ‘disappear’, posted on the Science Daily website on Sept. 29, 2008.
Chapter Fourteen
265 “Bathyplankton” just means “deep plankton.”
272 For more on the logical fallacies under discussion, see  Note that the appeal to authority is not automatically a fallacy (although it would probably be in this case, since the guard’s wife is unlikely to be a qualified authority), but the appeal to force is.  So the guard isn’t quite recognizing the flaws in his own argument.
I’m glad that I got to revisit Titan and write Tuvok in a manner that made use of his dry wit, perhaps his most appealing attribute on VGR and one that I feel I mostly failed to capture in OH.
277 “Counselor Haaj had elicited a similar confession from her”: In DES: Lost Souls.
Chapter Fifteen
In developing Aili’s backstory for OH, I assumed she had left Pacifica after entering her fully aquatic phase.  But then in “Empathy” I decided to show Mirror Aili in her amphibious phase in 2376, which would be after the main universe’s Aili entered the Academy.  So I had to rework my plans so Aili left before changing phase.
292 The word sepkinalorian appears in TRK p. 102, described as a mind-numbing job performed by all of Aili’s siblings.  This was written before I established the free, hedonistic nature of aquatic-phase Selkie life, and admittedly I overlooked it when doing so.  Behold my mental convolutions in reconciling the two.
293 No, I’m not going to tell you what a clarfel is.  Some things are better left unexplained.  (Plus I don’t know what it is.)
297 By the same token, I could’ve explained how Tuvok’s team destroyed the evidence of their presence, but the Lumbu part of the story is over at this point, so it’s basically irrelevant.  Just assume something like Kirk and Sulu’s infiltration of the Air Force base in “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” but more successful.
Chapter Sixteen
311 “Catenation” is just a fancy word for “link.”  I generally try to avoid this kind of empty technobabble, but here it served the humor.
312 The discussion about the risks of using phaser stun from orbit is meant to explain why Kirk’s maneuver in TOS: “A Piece of the Action,” stunning a whole city block from space, has never been used again.  I assume Kirk got lucky and didn’t kill anyone, perhaps because Scotty was enough of a genius to pull it off safely, but other captains who used the maneuver might have caused civilian casualties, leading Starfleet to discourage its use.
Feedback sensors in phasers are the only explanation I can think of for why a phaser on stun is reliably nonlethal.  In real reduced-lethality weapons, a charge sufficient to incapacitate an average person may be insufficient to incapacitate a large person or fatal to a small or weak person.  The ability to tailor the beam to its target would be essential for consistency.
325 Somehow, when I wrote the exchange between Vale and Ra-Havreii on this page and the top of the next, I seem to have been channeling John Shepherd and Rodney McKay from Stargate Atlantis.
Chapter Seventeen
344 The Denobulans’ non-turbulent history with genetic engineering was established in ENT: “Borderland” and “Cold Station 12.”  The Choblik have cybernetic rather than genetic enhancements, but the principle is the same.
347 In-story, “Natasha” is a tribute to Tasha Yar, and for me it’s a tribute to my cat Tasha (who was actually named by her original owners after Natasha Fatale from Rocky & Bullwinkle).  “Miana” is partly a tribute to Mia, a cat I lived with from childhood through early college, but it’s also a partial anagram of “Marina,” as in actress Marina Sirtis and as in the Latin word for “sea.”

If anyone’s interested, the parts of the novel that are most directly adapted from the original Daughter of Earth and Water are:
Most of Ch. 2; pp. 69-72 (with a very different ending); tendril organism description on p. 74; pp. 79-90; p. 103, first two paragraphs; pp. 119-123 (just the ideas, not the presentation); pp. 178-9 (“Somewhere on Droplet”); pp. 186-8; pp. 195-8; pp. 205-6; pp. 220-2; pp. 251-60; pp. 300-1; pp. 338-42; p. 347

Alien Crew: Dr. Cethente

Here is my sketch of Dr. Se’al Cethente Qas, based on a sketch drawn by Marco Palmieri, editor of the Titan novels through Over a Torrent Sea:

Dr. Se'al Cethente Qas

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