Elim Garak

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Character
Name: Elim Garak ("Oh, it's just Garak. Plain, simple Garak.")
Occupation: tailor, (former) spy
Title/Rank:
Location: Deep Space 9, Cardassia Prime
Status: alive
Relationships: friendships with Bashir, Ziyal
Fandom: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Other:
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Elim Garak was a Cardassian tailor and Promenade shopkeeper of Garak's Clothiers who lived on station Deep Space 9.

Elim Garak on the cover of the print zine In Exile #1, artist unknown

Some Brief Canon Facts

  • He had been an operative of the Cardassian Obsidian Order but was exiled to Terok Nor.
  • He worked with Starfleet during the Dominion War, returning to Cardassia Prime just prior to the Battle of Cardassia.
  • He was known to be a witty conversationalist and a skilled tailor.
  • He was once a high-ranking member of the Cardassian intelligence agency, the Obsidian Order.
  • As an Obsidian Order operative, Garak volunteered to have a cranial implant installed in his skull which would help him resist torture. The implant caused his brain to release endorphins when activated, thus making the experience of torture tolerable.
  • He lies a lot. Another character commented about him: "Never tell the truth when a lie will do." Garak himself comments: "Truth is in the eye of the beholder, Doctor. I never tell the truth because I don't believe there is such a thing. That is why I prefer the straight line simplicity of cutting cloth."
  • He knows Klingonese.
  • For a while Garak and Bashir had weekly lunches together, but this was curtailed as, rumor has it, TPTB thought this was too gay.[1]

Fannish Reaction

Garak was a fan favorite. "Viewers love his mystery, his banter with Bashir, the gleam in his eyes as he goes about his sly business." [2] In a 1995 poll including all Trek characters, he came fourth of the DS9 characters, the highest ranked minor character, coming in at number eleven overall.[3]

Many fans are drawn to Garak's creative interpretation of truth. Regann writes: "Garak detaches meaning and gravity from honesty at every turn. His truth is something much more complex than the correct facts. ... Garak, unlike many of the black-and-white moralists that make up Starfleet, has long since separated moral implications from lies and truth. They are just facts of life." [4]

About Garak's Sexuality

Andrew Robinson, the actor who portrayed Garak, provided non-canon, and therefore fannish insight into his role when interviewed by Amazon.com, stating: "I started out playing Garak as someone who doesn't have a defined sexuality. He's not gay, he's not straight, it's a non-issue for him. Basically his sexuality is inclusive. But – it's Star Trek and there were a couple of things working against that. One is that Americans really are very nervous about sexual ambiguity. Also, this is a family show, they have to keep it on the 'straight and narrow', so then I backed off from it. Originally, in that very first episode, I loved the man's absolute fearlessness about presenting himself to an attractive human being. The fact that the attractive human being is a man (Bashir) doesn't make any difference to him, but that was a little too sophisticated I think. For the most part, the writers supported the character beautifully, but in that area they just made a choice they didn't want to go there, and if they don't want to go there I can't, because the writing doesn't support it." [5]

From a review of "A Stitch in Time," the pro novel by the Andrew Robinson: "Robinson's novel is structured as a letter from Garak to Dr. Julian Bashir - his best friend and longtime breakfast companion on Deep Space Nine. Much fan fiction about Garak speculates that his feelings for Bashir went beyond the platonic relationship depicted on television, a belief Robinson does not refute. Indeed, in A Stitch In Time, Garak has crushes on both men and women. "I loved that sexual ambiguity," Robinson states. "I wanted to get away from our sexual prejudices. I thought, this is an alien! Who knows what alien sexuality is, if indeed there is strict heterosexuality or homosexuality, those delineations? That's something that I kept in the book. Though that was more interesting to me in the playing of Garak than the writing of it; this book is for kids too, so I chose not to get more explicit sexually because of that." [6]

It is rumored that TPTB ordered the actors Alexander Siddig and Andrew Robinson to stop engaging in ribald speculation about their characters' true feelings for each other at fan conventions. [7]

Fanfiction

Garak/Bashir is by far the major pairing. There's also occasional Gul Dukat slash, and a little featuring original characters. In het, the most frequent partner is probably Tora Ziyal, but Garak occasionally gets paired with a variety of women including Keiko O'Brien and even Kai Opaka. More recently, Elim Garak/Kelas Parmak has gained in popularity following the publication of the spin-off novel series.

Gen stories often focus on his pre-exile life on Cardassia, particularly his childhood and his time in the Obsidian Order. His complex relationship with Enabran Tain is a popular topic, as is his history with Dukat. Crossovers in which Garak appears in other sf universes are fairly common.

Some Examples

Fanfiction Recommendations

Zines

Some Garak-Centric Vids

Some Garak-Centric Art

Fanclubs

References

  1. "I found your last letter interesting to read. I totally agree with you that this is a place for all of us to air our views on DS9 and Sid, whatever they may be. You did make one point that I feel obliged to respond to: "Why, I ask myself, is it okay to portray a subtly lesbian theme between Dax and her former wife, but it is not okay for Garak and Julian to engage in exchanges which only hint at sexual flirting?" You then went on to say how we no longer even see the 2 characters partaking of lunch together. Have you considered the possibility that maybe Garak and Bashir are no longer put together because of so many fans' bizarre wish to see more into this relationship than simple friendship. It is my guess that TPTB no longer write scenes for Garak and Bashir because they do not wish to see these characters go down that road, and quite frankly, neither do I!" -- from the December 1998 issue of Multi-Species Medicine, one fan responds to another's previous letter
  2. from Multi-Species Medicine #19
  3. Brenda S. Antrim 'Netchatter', in Multi-Species Medicine #18
  4. Liars Make the Best Lovers (Garak/Bashir, DS9) (accessed 24 May 2012)
  5. Wikpedia: LGBT Characters in the Star Trek Universe
  6. Andrew Robinson's Stitch In Time, Archived version
  7. mentioned in Vulcan Love Slave: Fan fiction on the Internet allows viewers to project their darkest fantasies onto their favorite shows (1998), perhaps other places?