Briar Patches

While perusing Memory Alpha lately, I was struck by something odd.

In Insurrection, the action mostly takes place in an area called "The Briar Patch". But in "The Augments"[ENT4], Arik Soong (played by Data's own Spiner) uses the term to refer to Klach D'Kel Brakt, a Klingon region. Although the event was just the writers being cutesy more likely than not, the fact that the two places were being treated as the same one was just completely weird to me. And so I wrote my thoughts in the discussion area of the page, repeated and slightly revised here:

Although I'm sure the writers intended for us to make the connection (you can almost sense the undelivered wink and smile by Spiner), in any realistic sense it is profoundly unlikely that the Briar Patch from Insurrection and Soong's Briar Patch are one and the same. For starters, (1) the Insurrection Briar Patch is a system-size phenomenon ... vessels at impulse can traverse it within a day or two, whereas the Soong Briar Patch is a vast region with gas and radiation from supernova remnants ... implying a multi-system size measured in the light-years.

Further, (2) Soong indicates that the region shows indication of two habitable planets. He also says the Klingons haven't mapped it. This implies that remote sensing was employed, meaning they had to be able to get some readings of the planets from outside the region. The Insurrection Briar Patch prevented such methods. Worse yet, the idea of a second habitable world within the Insurrection Briar Patch deflates some of the plot of Insurrection, which focused exclusively on one planet and the dreadful effects thereon. Much of the dispute within the Federation could've been averted if the other world in the Briar Patch could be used as a health and healing resort.

Perhaps most damningly, (3) Soong says that his Briar Patch has to be reached by going through Klingon space ... they were in/near Earth territory, later part of Federation space ... at the start of the trip. That's inconsistent with the Insurrection Briar Patch in undisputed Federation control. It also (4) seems improbable that an area controlled by the Klingons for over a century, fought for in glorious battle by Kor himself, would end up in Federation hands a century later. And, (5) it stretches credibility that the Son'a could've emerged from the Briar Patch and built a nearby nation on the backs of two subjugated species in an area that had been so contested by those two major powers, especially considering the later Son'a relationship with the Dominion.

It's also worth noting that (6) a reviled criminal like Soong, who just happened to be the only survivor who would've known the name "Briar Patch" for the Klingon region, would've been an unlikely source for official nomenclature. Last but not least, (7) place-naming is an organic process. Many duplicate place-names exist just on this planet, and even just in the United States. ''Made in America'' by Bill Bryson, for instance, devotes a few pages to such issues, noting the frequent repetition of certain names by the settlers of the west. A well-known literary name like "Briar Patch" would apply both for a hiding place and for an impenetrable/dangerous spot, both of which could very well end up used repeatedly by spacefaring human travellers. (One can readily imagine the Badlands being called "Briar Patch" by the Maquis, for example.)

However, instead of just running with the above and unilaterally changing the page, I wanted to seek some community input first.

The wink-and-nod from the writers may not necessarily have been meant to suggest that the two Briar Patches were the same one, incidentally. Other possibilities of the nature of this probable in-joke exist, though simply suggesting that the two are one is the easiest idea.

In any case, as at Memory Alpha, comments are more than welcome on this matter.


Anonymous said...

Well... the two are different, true, but like the guy said, they are supposed to be the same.

Which is what can be said about Enterprise in general :/

Author said...

Settlers on the opposite side of the planet would've been okay on a temporary basis, but given the Federation avoidance of cultural contamination I'd imagine such a thing is considered too close for comfort.

Ah, wait . . . in perusing the script I found mention of the planet's rings that I'd forgotten. And I'm reminded of the Admiral saying the concentration in the rings is what makes something work. Better just go watch the frickin' movie to make sure I didn't miss anything else. Will report back with any changes.

Of course, to my mind the fact that there were only 600 people on the planet is odd. Given their longevity and the usual population doubling times of humanoids, I'm wondering how long they'd been on the planet to start with. But that's neither here nor there.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they just used their time perception altering ability to let them "escape" during the heat of the moment. Maybe they came up with a social way to prevent unwanted pregnancy that's taught to children.

Anonymous said...

There are: Moscow, many Londons, many Dovers etc in USA. There can also be many Briar Patches. The difference between Demilitarized Zone and Neutral Zone is also marginal, and if one disappears, the other may very well get the name.

Anonymous said...

Read this, folks...
Name are doubling, too!!


Anonymous said...

Which is a proof that there are Star Wars fans in Star Trek galaxy :D

Author said...

Well, after a couple of hostile responses to my points appeared at Memory Alpha and I replied, after no response for a week I made the appropriate changes.

But, they're to be revised out. One of the users put the question to Sussman, who said that he felt the two were one but implied that it led to yet another Trek astronomical goof.

I noted elsewhere that author intent is, per the MA rules, something that only fits in the "background info" section of pages, and so I put that there. However, Sussman found and took offense to my very gentle quote of his term "goof" and the note in the background section that the two ended up demonstrably different in the final products. So, the MA community is going to ignore the facts and ignore their own laws about how facts are determined (author intent is of restricted validity) and artificially keep the two as one entity.

So it goes. I don't mind disagreement . . . I just prefer that it be proper. But once you get a community bound and determined to believe a certain idea . . . say, "The Insurrection Briar Patch is Klach D'Kel Brakt" or "Star Wars kicks Star Trek's ass in every technological way" or "such-and-such is canon/not-canon no matter what the higher-ups say!", you always get the same kind of BS thought processes and BS attitudes.

Anonymous said...

That's human nature for you, Darkstar. You can't really do much about it other than just cope with it. Humans have been and always will be stubborn. Oftentimes, it proves a positive rather than a negative quality. I just wish we could remember that more easily in the times when it is not so useful.

Author said...

Hehe . . . turns out this topic was old hat: