On Ad Astra, I began by answering a weekly prompt about making things worse (called “fanning the flames”). Except for Richard Daniels, I had not written too much about the back stories of the characters from Times of the HG Wells, so I decided to introduce Otra, with a small tale from her childhood, Desperation. Plus I answered a prompt about “sock drawers”, setting it in the Eriecho–Saddik JJ Abrams Universe. I named it The Mundane World. I answered a prompt about obstacles with The Play at the Plate, a Mirror Universe story taking place after Fortune. I answered a prompt about a finish line rather literally, with a tale about a 5K race called The Medal.
I added a number of stories to the IBD Collection so as to place them into context, namely: A Kind of Blue, Demotion, Party on Risa, Penicillin and The Mess. These are all Reversal prequels. I added Local Flavor, the direct Reversal sequel that had until then only been available on Trek BBS. I then placed Local Flavor into context. Pacing was added in context – it is a story that takes place between Intolerance and Together. The Facts and The Play at the Plate were also added in context. Those are both post-Fortune stories. At this point, the IBD Collection is mostly up to date.
On Star Trek Logs, they had a small “holiday”, Andorian Week. Therefore, I wrote an Andorian story, Half. As the holiday came to a close, I added a second story, about a wholly new character, an Andorian spy. That one was called Recruitment and takes place as a prequel to the HG Wells stories.
For the Trek BBS’s monthly challenge on first contacts, I submitted A Single Step, which takes place in the movies universe, more specifically, it’s a sequel to Star Trek: First Contact.
Work on the E2 stories continues, as I finished up the third and began the fourth, which should be the last in that grouping.
I created an HTML version of Spring Thaw. I created an HGW Collection draft as there are now some stories that would benefit from that sort of treatment.
This Month’s Productivity Killers
Looking for work really heated up at the end of May (I had a few in-person interviews, plus a paper was required for one opening), and the pace did not let up at the start of June. My parents visited from June 7th through the 10th, so I was busy seeing them and spending time with them.
In addition, I took on the task of updating and improving the design and workability of my father’s engineering consultancy website.
Lili has to, at some point, join the NX-01. She is essentially drafted during the Star Trek: Enteprise canon Xindi war, and is meant to replace steward Preston Jennings and an unnamed sous-chef and an equally unnamed pastry chef, as non-combat personnel really need to be whittled down.
I had already showed her being drafted in Voracious. Hence this would be a scene that would take place not too much later.
There were hints about this story, too, in He Stays a Stranger, where a far more mature Malcolm and Lili, in a shared dream, recall their first meeting –
[They] saw the day they had first met, a day near the start of the Xindi War, when Captain Jonathan Archer had brought a new sous-chef onto the NX-01 and introduced her to the senior staff as she served a Harvest Salad, her specialty from her old restaurant, Voracious. They shook hands and looked in each other’s eyes then, too, and Malcolm remembered he had thought that her eyes and hair were pretty and she had a lovely smile, and Lili remembered that she had thought he seemed very intelligent and well-mannered, not to mention a little cute.
The Set Up
For a new sous-chef on a starship, her first day had to involve making a meal.
I also made sure to
have the meal coincide with Major Jay Hayes‘s first day as well. That way, there could be the canon tension between him and Reed as an underlying part of the story. Furthermore, Tripp Tucker‘s very recent bereavement was also meant to be evoked in the tale. As Lili is a chef, I also wanted to give a canon shout out to Hoshi‘s canon experimentation with cooking in the Singularity episode.
The meal is a Harvest Salad, which is one of Lili’s specialties.
The captain and the senior staff are made to wait as the chef and the new sous-chef are a bit late. Hence the captain makes use of the time in order to introduce the new MACO CO, as it’s also his first day. As should be expected, there’s already a bit of tension between Hayes and Reed by the time Chef Slocum and Lili walk in.
Lili is nervous meeting new people and starting a new job. She fusses over the placement of the flatware and forgets she’s still holding a teacup when she comes over to be introduced. She drops it twice – once, when Phlox grins at her too widely. The second time is when she and Malcolm are chatting.
Because the salad contains varied fruits and nuts, it can symbolize some of the disparate elements that are coming together. Lili spends some of her getting acquainted time asking various senior staffers what some of their favorite foods are, and promises to give them portions with extras of their favorites. It is in this scene that Malcolm’s canon love of pineapple, and Tripp’s canon love of pecan pie, are both reiterated. Jay Hayes reveals a preference for blueberries, whereas Captain Archer’s preference for strawberries is not revealed until Protocols.
I like how it turned out; plus it was well-received. The idea of Lili giving the senior staff a little taste (quite literally) of home, and promising to provide a little bit of comfort right at the start of the canon Star Trek: Enterprise Xindi war was an irresistible premise. I like to think it was executed more than adequately.
Karin was brought in, for The Light, in order to be a part of a more substantial plot than just celebrating Chanukah.
Because the name Karin means pure, Karin was designed to be something of an unattainable character for someone like Ethan Shapiro. In fact, he defers to Andy Miller when Andrew comments that he’s going to ask her out. However, this is not Ethan’s true desire, as is noted in Waiting.
In the E2 stories I am currently writing, Karin’s behavior is even less pure, and she is much more of an aggressor, not only in her relationship but also in her career. She is put into the captain’s chair several times, suggesting that this pure maiden could potentially even lead people into battle.
For Karin, I had to have a Jewish actress. so I decided on Natalie Portman. Portman is lovely without being wholly unapproachable, for Karin has to be somewhat down to earth. But she also has to be pretty enough that Ethan is nervous around her and maybe even blows some of his chances with her.
She is, in many ways, the quintessential ‘nice Jewish girl’.
Kind and friendly, Karin is probably less career-driven than others although, in the E2 stories, she steps up a lot more. As a Tactical crewman, she works under Lieutenant Reed, and is responsible for working with, maintaining and learning targeting and strategy. Presumably, she is not placed into the Tactical Bridge station too often or without supervision. It’s not until the E2 stories that she is allowed to take the Bridge station and, eventually at times, the captain’s chair.
It depends on which story you’re reading, actually. In The Light, she is successfully romanced by Andy Miller; that relationship continues in Waiting. Lili even asks about it during Temper when she’s asking Malcolm about the gossip from the ship. Malcolm informs Lili that things have changed, and Karin is going out with Ethan Shapiro. The culmination of their relationship is shown in Fortune andThe Rite.
In the E2 stories, by way of contrast, both times she ends up with Josh Rosen, the third of the three male Jewish crew members showcased in The Light.
By the time of Temper, Karin is caught in a very bad situation. She, Blair Claymore and Pamela Hudson are no more than playthings for José Torres. By the end of Temper, she ends up with the mirror Josh Rosen. However, since that’s an alternate timeline, they are not together in He Stays a Stranger, and her whereabouts are unknown.
“Best girl? You mean there are others?”
As originally not much more than a plot device, Karin has evolved to become a much more three-dimensional character. I’m sure she’ll take me somewhere else at some later date.
Spotlight on Original Sport – Mirror Universe Baseball
Baseball in the Mirror Universe originally came out of the fact that I had established baseball in the Prime Universe (mainly because I wanted Lili O’Day to wear baseball caps instead of toques). I wanted something kind of opposite, kind of not. And so Mirror baseball was born.
The Spectator’s Perspective
In Reversal, Lili asks Doug if there’s baseball on his side of the pond. He replies, “Five bases, twelve guys on a team and a lotta fights.” For a spectator, Mirror baseball is barely controlled chaos. While there are positions, rules and strategy, those are often neglected in favor of the usual mayhem that occurs there. In Temper, a pitching change is effected by the reliever fatally knifing the starter.
The difference in the numbers of bases and players makes for differing rules as well. In Temper, Lili skims the rules and finds the following –
Teams have twelve members and there are five bases. Positions are: first base, second base, third base, fourth base, left-side catcher, right-side catcher, right field, center field, shortstop, left field, left-side pitcher and right-side pitcher. The bases are laid out in a pentagonal shape with the full field often being shaped like a hand-held fan although some variations are possible and are legal per the rules.
There are two pitchers’ mounds and two batters’ boxes.
Two batters hit at the same time so, for practical reasons, a lefty pitcher is always paired with a righty hitter and vice versa. Hence, standing in the batters’ boxes and viewed from the perspective of the home plate umpires, there is a lefty hitter on the left (who is being pitched to by a right-handed pitcher) and a righty hitter on the right (who is being pitched to by a left-handed pitcher). Pitches need not be simultaneous although it is better defensive strategy for the pitchers to toss at the same time so as to minimize all of the running around in the outfield if both hitters connect. Anyone can field the two balls in play, and anyone can make an out, even if the righty hitter is tagged out with the ball hit by the lefty hitter.
There are five outs per side per inning.
As of the time that Lili checks the rules (2178, although it’s an alternate timeline), records are denoted as follows –
The most recent championship teams are the South American Pistoleros (2175), and the Ganymede Hunters (2176 and 2177).
The record for the most home runs is held by retired Pistolero catcher Ty Janeway. The record for the most steals is held by retired player (played on several teams) shortstop Lefty Robinson. The record for the most wins by a pitcher is held by retired Hunters left-handed pitcher Amanda Cole. Currently, the wins record is being challenged by Hunter right-handed pitcher Alan Foster.
In Reversal, Robinson and Ty Janeway are shown at bat, being pitched to by Amanda Cole (the counterpart to the canon MACO character) and Aditya Balakrishnan. As stated in the above rules, the pitchers hurl at the same time.
In Temper, the Empress‘s team (the Conquistadors) plays the Hunters. Lefty Robinson has become the Hunters’ coach. Foster is still playing, and the reliever who murders him is Trent “Miracle Worker” McCoy. Presumably, Cole, Balakrishnan and Janeway (he and Robinson are also players in our universe) are retired or dead by the time that Temper takes place. However, given that the game in Temper takes place during an alternate timeline, it’s entirely possible that Cole, Janeway and Balakrishnan are still playing, or are in the game somehow, perhaps as coaches.
In Reversal, Ty Janeway is shown endorsing Picard synthbeer. The slick advertisement includes a model who essentially simulates a sexual act (it’s a lot less explicit in the PG-13 version of Reversal, of course). The ad is intended to evoke the old-style Billy Dee Williams Colt Malt Liquor ads. And, of course, Picard as a brewing family – instead of being winemakers, as in our universe – that part is anything but accidental.
Wagering in the Mirror Universe is Star Trek canon. In the first MU episode, Doctor McCoy comments on two nurses betting whether an injured man would live.
Furthermore, Movie Night is of course canon in our universe.
Hence I combined the two, and came up with Game Night. Game Night is not only when a good chunk of the ISS Defiant‘s crew sits in the Mess Hall, drinking synthbeer and watching the game, it’s also when wagers are laid.
In Reversal, the betting is taken and supervised, and the point spread is covered, by Chip Masterson, who at that point in time is a Tactical Ensign. By the time Temper‘s time frame rolls around, Chip is running Game Night with the help of his son, Takeo. But it’s Arashi, who has a head for business, who does the books, with collections done by Takeo and Travis‘s son, Izo. Takara (the Empress’s daughter by Chip), Kira (her son by Aidan) and Jun do not involve themselves with Game Night or subsequent collections. But much like a company store, controlling Game Night means funneling salary funds back into the Empress’s coffers. It’s a reliable source of, if not income, then at least of monies that don’t leave the Empress’s control for very long.
Arashi also takes care of the point spreads, and truly understands them (Blalock and Trinneer have him explain the concept to the viewer audience). However, even a loss, or not making the spread, does not matter. Arashi always finds a way to get people to pay.
Lili realizes, in Temper, that she needs to provide refreshments. As a creative chef, but with very little to work with, she either fries vegetable tube paste squeezings in linfep fat and passes it off as chips, or fries elekai meat, again in linfep fat, but this time with hot spices, and calls it mock Buffalo chicken wings.
For the denizens of the mirror, they don’t have much in the way of entertainment that doesn’t involve either mayhem or sex, so Game Night offers a way to pass the hours. For gentler mirror persons, baseball may even offer a means of living and succeeding that doesn’t involve assassinations (although Trent McCoy acts differently). Another symptom of a society out of control, Mirror baseball takes sport to an extreme.
A lot about this character is, truly, Reversal spoilers. Avert your eyes if you haven’t read Reversal and want to maintain the mystery of the first couple of chapters.
For me, Doug was, in part, every guy who’s ever been romantic around me. This includes my husband. But he’s also a typical resident of the Mirror Universe. So that means that there’s violence in his past, and ambitions and twisted behaviors. But I wanted him to be a person who could, eventually and with help, rise above it.
Doug’s name was a particularly serendipitous find. Douglas means dark stranger, and that is precisely what he is. For Lili, who meets him in a pitch-black dream, he is the ultimate stranger. But he’s also what she needs. He shakes up her world.
His surname is changed when he comes to our side of the pond. Much like an immigrant, he wants to leave his old life behind him, and become the man that Lili wants and needs – the man she can see is lurking under the surface. The surname Beckett is a shoutout to Quantum Leap.
Doug is also, in many ways, meant to be the opposite side of her coin. She’s somewhat distant with people. He is, too, but it’s not because he truly wants to be. It’s more that the Mirror has made him that way (see his origins story, Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions), due to its insistence that weakness be rooted out and punished or excised or, at least, well-hidden.
Because (eek, spoilers!) Doug is Major Jay Hayes‘s Mirror Universe counterpart, he is of course portrayed by Steven Culp. Culp is a consummate actor, perfect for the role. I have read a number of interviews with him, and he has said that he treated Hayes as almost a David Mamet character. That is, he was more action than talk. Notice, too, that in the series, Jay Hayes rarely smiles. Instead, he is all business.
The name Jay is not canon. Culp has said he thought the character was named Jay or Jeremiah. There are also trading cards showing the name as being Joss. I have used all three names, giving Jeremiah as the name of both Doug’s father and his first-born son (nicknamed Joss), with Jay as being the name of the canon character and Doug’s own middle name. Jay worked out perfectly in this way, as it works as both a first and a middle name in a way that Jeremiah would not have.
Much like canon character Jay Hayes, Doug is not much of a talker. In Reversal, he has few ways of complimenting Lili, mainly calling her beautiful rather than use synonyms that he is either uncomfortable with or, perhaps, doesn’t even know. That book is also loaded with hesitation speech. Doug is nervous in the mirror, in particular around the Empress, although that’s to be expected. With Lili, he’s also nervous, because he’s a bit tongue-tied and he wants, desperately, for her to like him. He often doesn’t know what to say, but he always seems to know what to do.
Once they are together in our universe, Doug’s demeanor softens considerably. He tries very hard to please Lili and make their life together as good as it can possibly be. Their early life together is documented in A Kind of Blue, Friday Visit, Pacing and The Gift.
When his relationship with Lili is tested in Together, Doug has few communications strategies at his disposal. When they argue, he very quickly hits below the belt. This, I feel, makes some sense, as Doug hasn’t really been taught to be sensitive to others’ feelings. He knows that he loves her, and he wants for everything to work itself out, but he can’t really see the pathway to that.
In Temper, he even refers to himself as “the action guy”. Hence he is the one chosen for the mission by Daniels (also because of his twenty centimeter radiation band), for he will get things done. Malcolm has to stay behind because his place is to step in and lead.
By the time Fortune has come around, Doug has been hiding his past rather effectively. Lili knows some of it. She is well aware that he has committed some monstrous deeds in the Mirror Universe, but she wants to believe that he’s done with that. She’s in some denial herself, in that she’d rather not hear about things. It isn’t until she is pushed to ask about his crimes does Doug finally come clean. Furthermore, for Doug, who is inarticulate at best, having him handle a hostage situation by talking instead of shooting was, to me, a fitting full circle behavior. Life here is, after all, very different from the mirror.
Their later life together is documented in The Facts and his death and its aftermath is shown in Equinox.
Since Doug is a counterpart character, his life begins in the Mirror. He is the only child of Jeremiah and Lena Hayes, and lives with them on Ganymede. Because of a late birth date (December third, same as Steven Culp’s), he is forced into schooling at too young an age. Doug’s education is such that he is pushed to become a bully and a fighter.
After his eventual graduation, he goes to Cambodia for basic training, and then to freighter defense and other small assignments, essentially acting as a mercenary. He spends time on Andoria, the Klingon home world and other locales, fighting and working as a soldier, molding himself from an untrained, arrogant lummox until, eventually, a disciplined fighting man.
He gets onto the ISS Enterprise by knifing Geming Sulu. His elevation to Lieutenant Commander, as a replacement for the deceased Mirror Universe Malcolm Reed (called Ian Reed in my fanfiction), is documented in Paving Stones. While on the Defiant, he meets Lili.
His times with Lili and Melissa are the most important for him. However, prior to the crossing over, he did have some relationships. His first main girlfriend (if she could be called that) in the Mirror was Darareaksmey Preap. She was a Cambodian bar girl who he plied with gifts and false “I love yous” until he was able to lose his virginity to her.
Another Mirror relationship – if it could be referred to as that – was with Christine Chalmers. The name is a shoutout to canon character Christine Chapel. Chalmers is meant to be a cheap girl who he, at the time, thought was very hot. One of the crimes that Doug commits was to be with her, and his guilt about that consumes him.
His first true relationship is with alcoholic schoolteacher Susan Cheshire. Susan is an important person to him, although he insists to Lili that he didn’t love her. But he’s certainly memorable to her – she recognizes him during Temper.
Doug also has an on-again, off-again thing with Shelby Pike who, in the Mirror, is a pilot who used to be a hooker. Once he knew Shelby, he would cheat on other girlfriends with her.
Doug’s final relationship in the Mirror, which ends after he’s known Lili for less than a week, is with Jennifer Crossman. Jenn is a poor choice for a girlfriend, mainly selected for her looks rather than any sort of compatibility. While they’re breaking up, she claims that he can’t live alone. Doug refuses to admit it, but she’s right about that.
I was, in all honesty, spinning it out from nothing. I had nearly no plan for the story, no outline and at first I wasn’t even saving it to Word. And so, when I was saving the first post, the topic had to have a name. On an impulse, I named it Reversal.
It was a rather earthy dream, truth be told. And it was about a character on Enterprise. And I woke up, thinking – there’s a story there.
From such beginnings, I developed an idea. The septum between the Prime Universe and the Mirror would be thinner at one particular point in the galaxy. This was in parallel to the reality of the Earth’s crust. It is not uniform. Hence I wanted the separation to not be of uniform thickness/difficulty in crossing.
Bare Bones Story Line
The idea was for it to be possible to cross the boundary between the Prime Universe and the mirror through the dream state. The concept was that, for a certain species, the connections would be normal. And then, as the NX-01 Enterprise on our side, and the ISS Defiant on the other, enter that same system, the psionically charged atmosphere would cause two people to simultaneously start to pick up on that same wavelength. But for them, it would be a romance.
It starts off with a bang. The first line is – It didn’t hurt. I love this opening line, as the reader should immediately be thinking – what? What didn’t hurt? Was it supposed to? And then the story moves along from there. The first dream is a coupling dream, where a fantasy is played out in what seems to be a normal Freudian fashion. People kiss, their clothes fly away and of course more happens. It’s pitch black. They remain silent, although they can hear each other breathing. But then the heroine – Lili O’Day – breaks the spell by incoherently calling out loud.
And so we’re off to the races, for the next two scenes shift from her and her roommate in our universe to her fellow and his roommate – a woman – in the mirror. We know Lili’s name, but not the guy’s. He’s just referred to – and rather pejoratively at that – as the old man. His name is kept out of the first few chapters as he is a counterpart to a canon character.
Clues are dropped and some come from the characters’ speaking whereas others come from Lili talking in her sleep or references from the twin surfaces. Something is going on, in both universes. There is more happening than just the dreams.
From the beginning, I wanted the story to have symbolic meanings. For the title, the first half of the word, rêve, is French for dream. This also works as the second half symbolizes waking life. Plus there is the word itself and its connotations of reinvention and retrograde changes.
Other symbols abound. After the first dream, Lili – who is the sous-chef on the Enterprise – is ordered to make every meal with oranges for one day. When she goes to sleep that night, she reeks of oranges, and it’s the first word that her fellow says to her. So, not only can he smell her, but there is also what oranges kind of mean. They are of course seen as being different from apples (and apples connote temptation and the fall from purity). Oranges, I felt would symbolize sunshine and happiness, and warmth and light.
Another symbol or rather symbols is the quadruple star system. The largest star is a white giant named Lo, which should make the reader think of the phrase lo and behold. The second-largest star is a yellow medium-sized star intended to be like the sun. It’s called Abic (Ay-bick) and is a bit like abba, the Hebrew word for father. The third star is a small orange star called Fep. The smallest one is a red dwarf (yes, it’s a shout out to that TV series) called Ub. Hoshi herself explains that there are value judgments behind the names – Lo is for goodness, Abic is secondary, Fep is small and Ub is sinister.
The five main books in the In Between Days series are each about one of the five main characters (Pamela Hudson is essentially the sixth main character, but she isn’t connected with any book as well as she is with Intolerance). Reversal is, essentially, about Lili. From learning about the fire that killed her parents, to getting to know her as a chef, a lover and a friend, to even peeking at her finances, Lili is all over most of the pages, particularly in the dream sequences and the Prime Universe scenes. This is Lili’s tale.
It’s just the gift that keeps on giving; it’s so incredibly dense with plot. I am grateful to have such a pond to fish in. Apparently readers have agreed; on various platforms, it has racked up over 500,000 reads.
Aside from canon characters, Jennifer was the first character specifically written for Star Trek fan fiction who I could truly visualize.
In Reversal, Lili needed a roommate for a few purposes. One of these was to bounce ideas off. The other was to be an ear-witness to Lili talking in her sleep. Plus roommates are canon in Star Trek: Enterprise for lower-level personnel. I wanted Jennifer and Lili to have little in common, too.
Jenny has any number of symbolic elements to her. Her name has two derivations. The full surname is actually the name of a street near where I grew up. But the Cross part was also to pay homage to Marcia Cross. Both have fiery red hair, too.
I immediately saw Bryce Dallas Howard when I first thought up Jennifer. There is a look of youth and vitality but also some mystery – I suppose it’s a bit of the overall mystique that some redheads seem to possess.
Jenny also needs to be believable in the Mirror Universe as a lot of the portrayal, in particular in Reversal, is on the other side of the pond as well. Unlike other characters who might just have a one-shot bit in the mirror, Jenn is shown there almost as much as she is shown here.
Jenny is the second-in-command engineer on both the USS Enterpriseand theISS Defiant when Reversal begins. In our universe, she is somewhat unaware or is perhaps in denial about her own obvious beauty. She doesn’t even know that the men refer to her as the Redheaded Bombshell until Travis tells her in Together.
In our universe, this long-distance relationship with a planetary geologist has been going on for a while during Reversal. She tells Travis that she and Frank met on a blind date, a fact that Travis barely believes. Why would someone so gorgeous need a blind date? Yet that was what happened. Frank proposes when, one morning, he sees Saturn’s rings in the sky (he’s on Enceladus) and realizes he wants to give her a ring, too. Their relationship (like other relationships) is put to the test in Together, where her theme is The Cult’s Fire Woman.
In the E2 stories, Frank isn’t on board (and she has not yet met him), so she ends up going in a different direction, and marries Aidan during both kick backs in time.
Jenn is a darker figure in the mirror, as are most people. Spoiled and nasty, and rather sluttish, Jenn is more interested in a good time than in almost anything else – yet she is still intelligent and is still the second engineer.
Her relationship with Doug is strained at best. For her, it’s a power move to be associated with the fourth in command. For him, she’s a hot girl who will live with him as he dislikes living alone. But neither of them are happy and, once Doug meets Lili, he’s done with Jennifer.
She ends up with Treve, a Calafan, and they remain together until his death. Their long-term relationship is shown in, among other stories, He Stays a Stranger.
“I know why you fell so hard, and so fast. It’s ’cause, you just know.”
Initially intended to be dizzy, bratty and a foil for Lili, they become friends. This smart engineer is more than just a pretty face.
It may seem like an odd thing to be inspired by, but I have been inspired – perhaps a better word is urged, or compelled – to write about my experiences of sexism in my life, and of them being taken to extremes.
As a child of the later sixties (I remember 1967, although very little about why it and 1968 and 1969 were truly important) and seventies, I well recall the flap about women being called Ms., or about whether it was appropriate for my female schoolteachers to wear slacks. Of course no one kept their maiden names then – what are you, nuts?
When I practiced law in the 1980s, I was repeatedly confused for the court reporter, despite wearing suits and carrying large briefcases. When I got married in 1992 (and hyphenated my surname), I was pulled aside by a male friend who asked me, “Are you sure your fiancé will allow that?”
I first addressed the ultimate price of sexism in a story called There’s Something About Hoshi. While the execution was not very good (I was very new to Star Trek fan fiction writing then), and a lot of it was played for comedy, the essence of the story was, I think, abundantly clear – if you blame women for all of your problems, you might want to get rid of them all. And if you do, be careful what you wish for. I recently updated the story a bit
(mainly to accommodate some names that will show up in the E2 stories), and was struck by how telling I think it still is. It was also written, at the time, to address complaints I saw about slash fiction, where people (It was, I felt and still feel, thinly veiled homophobia) objected to it on its face, as opposed to reviewing and appreciating it on its merits. It’s one thing to object to characters being changed beyond recognition (or paired in ways that make no sense); it’s another thing to think that no one in the Trek Universe will ever, ever love someone of the same gender.
Of course they will. Hell, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, they already have.
The sexism angle for story-telling truly hit its stride with The Cure is Worse Than the Disease. In that story, it becomes clear that Daranaean women have few rights. Even the top caste (Prime Wives) are kept from too much meaningful education, and are appeased with trinkets.
Take Back the Nightamps up the sexism to the extreme, as a third caste female is killed for refusing to take part in sexual relations – a thing that, in The Cure, is illegal for her to do.
After a couple of more family-oriented Daranaean stories, I was ready to tackle sexism in that society again, and presented Debate. What’s the debate about? Whether Prime Wives will be granted the right to vote.
Finally, more Daranaean sexism comes full circle, and the reader can see a bit of why at least some of the women stay – in Flight of the Bluebird. In Bluebird, I also wanted to acknowledge that things are seldom fully one-sided, and that the men might be a part of the society finally reforming itself.
My plans are to eventually begin to cross over into other canon series. Hence the reader can expect to see the TOS Enterprise encountering Daranaeans in some fashion.
There is also the possibility of tackling sexism at some point in some other context, possibly under the guise of time travel.
In the tradition of Trek stories begin about contemporary social issues, under the guise of science fiction, I like to comment on any number of societal problems. But it’s sexism that, I think, speaks to me the most.
In order to bring Pamela Hudson on board, she had to have classmates. An Nguyen started off as one such classmate, but then the Daranaeans called and he became a lot more than that.
An started off as a means of furthering the gender confusion subplot that carries through the first fifth or so of Intolerance. The surname was homage to actor Dominic Keating, as that actor’s fiancée (at the time of the writing the piece; they have since broken up) is named Tam Nguyen. It’s a rather common Vietnamese surname, and is pronounced more or less like “In-win“.
It was important to me for this character to be “played” by someone who actually is Vietnamese.
I was pleased to find Johnny Nguyen. He’s acted in films in both Hollywood and Vietnam, and has also worked as a stuntman. I wanted someone with the ethnic look, good looks and also intelligence behind his eyes. He is, after all, a medical student, and is a doctor later.
Education and Career
An is introduced in Intolerance as a classmate to Will, Blair, Mark, and Pamela. This is an extremely competitive medical school program, so it’s a given that he is wildly intelligent. In The Cure is Worse Than the Disease, it’s revealed that he graduated at the top of his class. His first assignment is as the Chief Medical Officer for Star Trek: Enterprise canon character Erika Hernandez, and he starts off as an idealistic young doctor but is quickly jaded by the treatment of Daranaean women. In Take Back the Night, he is shown even more jaded. His idealism is a victim as much as the Daranaean women are victims.
I don’t have much about him except for some half-hearted attempts to court Hoshi during Intolerance.
I haven’t decided whether An exists in the mirror. Pamela, Blair and Mark do, so it’s possible that he does as well, but only Mark seems to be an actual doctor, whereas the mirror Pamela is a lab assistant/pinup girl and it’s hard to determine just what Blair does – she might also be some sort of Science crewman.
“Just because I don’t want to make your teeth rattle does not make me a gay man.”
Smarter than just about anyone in the room, An is also a bit brittle. His compassion only really comes out when he’s faced with a Daranaean women’s awful dilemna. He’s a skilled physician, but his bedside manner could use some serious work.