A Voice in Rama
|Title:||A Voice in Rama|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
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It was published in the print zine Singing in the Wilderness.
""Silence is not an option here." Kirk had an uncanny habit of catching up stray thoughts. "You just shoved me away as though I were a - rapist. Why?" Jim was angry now, not so much because of the sex but the silence and more angry than he should be. Something was happening."
Reactions and Reviews
A Voice in Rama is an enjoyable reading experience on several different levels. Foremost is that the story introduces a new race of beings, examines the Federation’s attitude towards them, past and present, and then we get to see how Kirk and Spock react not only to the situation but also to each other. This set-up allows the reader to take a step back from the intense examination of our heroes that so many K/S stories favor, and see them within context, with perspective. I wish more stories were written in this way.
Although the zine’s introduction says that the story follows directly from Last Movement in Heroes in the Wilderness, this story can be read independently. The beings in the story are the Ramal, an insectoid race that resemble Earth’s wasps although on a much larger scale. They want to withdraw from the Federation, with which they have had minimal interaction anyway, and Kirk and Spock are sent to discover why. That’s the core of the story. I liked the different kind of beings, really enjoyed the descriptions of the planet and the mating dance, the “nursery.” Here’s just one sentence: “He forced himself to inspect the landscape, which, although arid, was very beautiful with its deep valley hemmed by sheer cliffs and rocks striped in broad horizontal bands of umber, sienna and terra cotta.” The terrain comes vividly alive. The inadequacy of the report from the initial contact group fifty years ago allows Kirk to show the reader “how it’s done,” with two anthropologists, ruminations on how “contact training taught that staring was offensive in many cultures,” and how newly discovered sentient species should never be compared to Earth species. This all adds a wonderful air of professionalism to the story, providing examples of how Post Captain and Captain are consummate professionals before they are lovers. For example, this section from when they are alone on the ship in the evening is enchanting: Kirk gave him a look of total ambivalence from under his eyelashes. Spock debated abandoning his interim report and pursuing Jim’s lure. Regrettably there was no choice. He sighed and looked differently at his captain. “Real problems?” Even after all these years, Spock was still astonished at how quickly Jim could change modes. Nevertheless, this story does have an air of K/S intimacy throughout. Sometimes plot-heavy stories that concentrate on events lack what we’re really reading K/S for, but not A Voice in Rama. There’s a mystery at the center of the story that affects the fellows sexually, a nice device that keeps the K/S to the forefront. The inclusion of the perspective of a continuing minor character from Eva’s series, Lt. Asla Arnscom, enriches the story without overwhelming it, echoing some of what Kirk and Spock encounter on the planet. I do think the story would have benefited from being longer. While the plot is beautifully set up by description of both setting and characters, once everyone is in place the action moves too swiftly. In particular, I found that Kirk’s reaction to Spock’s refusal of him one night was excessive, even when the reasons are understood. More than one reaction of this sort, or a variation of it, would have given the reader more reason to be concerned about the relationship, and that tension could have been pulled throughout the rest of the story instead of being virtually dropped until the next to last scene. Slightly distracting was a tendency not to start a new paragraph when a different character speaks in dialogue.This is a thoughtful K/S story by a thoughtful author, beautifully presented. One of Eva’s recent best. I recommend it. 
Kirk and Spock go on a mission to a planet— Ramal—to find out why they want to quit the Federation.
The beings that inhabit this planet are described as an “incest descended race” and there’s a wonderful scene where Kirk attempts to communicate with them. They’re like giant wasps and the cultural differences and their environment are very well portrayed. I was really caught up in all that was described about where they lived and what they looked like. I also enjoyed Kirk’s attitude and manner with these aliens—he’s so insightful and tries to understand them without prejudice.
Excellent detail such as Kirk knowing that a nod of his head would most likely be misinterpreted, so instead he must make a point of saying yes to be translated into their language.
There’s very good set-up for some mysterious things about Spock feeling too hot and distracted.
And also, really effective use of POV through a female landing party member’s eyes. We see some of the Ramal society like the huge dung heap and the strange hatchery. These scenes were very well done. The woman, Asla, is bothered by the same mysterious something just as Spock. The description of the cloying heat and surroundings is excellent.
What an imaginative scene it is where thousands of Ramal fly over a valley in a mating dance. Asla discovers the secret to the mystery, but this part s not too successful because it’s too cursory and when she thinks “Perhaps there were some questions that simply had no answer”, I was hoping for at least part of an answer.But I must say that I found this story wonderfully creative and an involving read. 
I’ve wanted our group to review an Eva Stuart story for a long time now, but maybe we’ve been afraid that we wouldn’t do it justice. Ms Stuart is wonderful, subtle writer, we all feel: her complex, mature stories have both plot and character. They portray a three dimensional Kirk and Spock who grow, change and develop, but who never waver in their commitment and devotion to each other. We love the rock solid certainty between them, which is not to say that the author shies away from misunderstandings and disagreements. Oh no. Interestingly, before we could begin to talk about our chosen one, we first needed to talk about our favourite ‘Eva’ stories, how well we recalled them all, at what stage in our K/S lives we discovered her zines, how these are stories that really do benefit from rereading and totally realising that we now wanted desperately to look them all up again, and soon! We’d all heard, too, that some K/S fen felt that her stories lack sex, but we know that this is a fallacy: the lovemaking described is usually delicately understated, but satisfying every time in the context of each story. I especially love how she effortlessly flavours each sex scene with what’s happening in the story, and therefore Jim and Spock’s lives. This is so-o true-to-life, isn’t it? Anyway, in this particular tale (no, I’ve not forgotten it) the sex is quite-well-raunchy, but, in true Eva tradition, for a very good reason!
The author sets her scene very quickly and skilfully and we decided that this is typical of her writing: within a couple of pages, we are aware of the relationship between our heroes, what has happened before and thus where this story ‘fits’ in the writer’s own universe. (Not that her stories need to be read in order: turned out we’d all discovered them at different times, become hooked, and then searched out everything else available!) We also learn something of the adventure they are about to have; often, as here, Kirk is given a special mission, with the Federation asking a great deal of him. As we have no problem appreciating the Command Team of the Enterprise’s special talents, we all enjoyed stories which open in this way! We loved how the planet Rama’s inhabitants are extremely alien indeed, resembling nothing so much as giant insects, specifically, bees. What little information the crew have was logged fifty years ago. It’s weak and sparse, for as yet unknown reasons... Ramal society, of course, reflects the life cycle of the locals, and the author doesn’t pull her punches: when the landing party encounter the smell of, well, excrement, I’d swear we almost smelt it too! This is where we really benefit from seeing things through the eyes of Asla, the crew member accompanying Captain and First officer, and someone we’ve met in other Eva Stuart stories. Her reactions and struggle to maintain composure are easy to identify with... I don’t want to give too much away, as we want everyone to read Ms Stuart, but there are pheromones present, and they act on the landing party members in different ways: Spock, characteristically, is aware almost at once.... then, his sexual dream (fantasy?) is vivid, almost a perversion and shown through his loss of control and the actual language used. Indeed, the use of the word ‘rummage’ provoked extensive debate. It’s a graphic and somewhat strange image, Spock’s penis rummaging inside Kirk. And if this both repels and fascinates you, that’s good!In amongst all the strange sensations, the plot remains strong and the climax of the story is very moving. They succeed, Kirk succeeds, in an unexpected way, and the aliens become a little less so. There’s a satisfying end, a last scene on the bridge, a sense of a mission well completed, some good sex and the feeling that his relationship with Spock helps Jim’s even keel. The story, and the author’s choice of language in some scenes, kept us talking for a hours. A wonderful way to spend time with like minded friends! 
- from The K/S Press #37
- from The K/S Press #41
- from The K/S Press #179