Progress Report – February 2013

February 2013 Posted Works

February 2013 kept me going.

It was a busy month Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | February 2013 (as they always seem to be these days).

I started off adding several stories to the Times of the HG Wells context. These were: A Lesson, Candy, Souvenirs, Spring Thaw, Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain and The Point is Probably Moot.

Voice of the Common Man was added to the In Between Days context.

I continued the E2 Interphases stories with Entanglements. In response to a prompt about second chances, I tapped a very different cast of characters and entered the Voyager universe with Siberians.

On Archer’s Angels, for Valentine’s’ Day, I added A Kind of Blue.

Also, on Fanfiction.net, I added The ConspiracyVoice of the Common Man, and Temper.

In order to respond to both the Ad Astra paths not taken challenge and the Trek BBS independence challenge, I began writing a prime universe/mirror universe story about Leah Benson, called Bread. Also, in response to the death of a friend, I began writing On the Radio, which is a post-Fortune story.

Milestones

Temper continues its climb toward 9,000 overall reads, while Reversal is closing in on 20,000. In Between Days exceeded 100,000 overall reads on the 18th.

WIP Corner

I continued working on the second Adult Trek Anthology as I was able to. I made some progress on The All Stars and continued to edit the earlier E2 works. This was to better polish the prose. On the Radio is a bit of an emotional story for me. Hence it may take a while before I finish.

Prep Work

I gathered images for the Anthology’s cover, and worked on getting Together ready for publishing by Trek United on its Issuu page. I also spent time on the Anthology and prepared more works for it. TU Publishing now has a Facebook page, and I am working on content for it. I added a Timeline page in order to provide better context. Right now, I’m only adding works that have reviews on the blog.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

Life has gotten incredibly busy, as work has added more tasks. I enjoy these tasks, but they do take up time. However, it’s blogging that requires a great deal of research and I cannot rush it.

Recurrent Themes – Visual Artists

Background

Visual artists are not exactly canon.
Star Trek isn’t known Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Visual Artists. While there might be artwork on people’s walls, or on shelves, it’s more likely to be something almost functional – or at least unbreakable. After all, ships get tossed around an awful lot.

But I wanted readers to have people they could relate to. And I think visual artists are rather relatable, as their work is similar to what artists do now. Painting, as a technique, has in some ways not changed significantly since we were living in caves. It’s still pigments on some form of canvas. And pottery is even closer to what our remote ancestors were doing.

Appearances of Visual Artists

In Between Days

Marie Helêne Ducasse O’Day

Lili‘s mother, as she recounts in Fortune, is a potter. This is also true in the Mirror Universe, as is seen in The High Cost of Dissidence, where Marie Helêne is a fallen elite.

L’Kor

In Intolerance, Dr. Keleth dreams of home. This includes the paintings, wall hangings and sculptures created by his wife, L’Kor. Even though she is paralyzed from the waist down, she can still be a productive and highly creative artist.

Declan Reed

Lili and Malcolm‘s son is a gifted artist from a young age. In Temptation, Cria and Mistra look over a letter from Malcolm which includes one of Declan’s drawings. Dec is only a young child, but he is still pronounced “very good” by the two Daranaeans. Later, he attends school at Oxford, and is seen there during Flight of the Bluebird. And in Fortune, after Lili and Malcolm have passed on, Declan goes to Europe and, in part, it is to study Monet’s Water Lilies at Giverny.

Monet's Water Lilies at Giverny
Monet’s Water Lilies at Giverny

Times of the HG Wells

With little reason to have a visual artist on hand, it’s no surprise that there are no visual artist characters in this series yet, not even in the background.

Interphases

Colleen Romanov

For Azar Maryam's hand painted with an image of a proculand Maryam‘s wedding, the Muslim bride’s hands are painted with food coloring, as there is no henna. These include images of procul and malostrea. The artist is an amateur. She is a Navigational crewman who is otherwise not really seen much.

Daranaean Emergence

Inta II

It’s not until Hearts in Time that Inta reveals she is an artist, to Hank Harrison. He takes a look and tells her he thinks her work is very good. She wonders a bit if she could go to a big art school, perhaps with Declan, in order to not only further her education but also maybe meet a man (of pretty much any species) who would truly appreciate her. Later, in Confidence, she starts school, and a gift to Malcolm is her drawing of Declan.

Barnstorming

Crita

For this new series, I want another Daranaean artist. This time, the female is from the third caste (Inta II is from the second caste). Crita is also ambidextrous, and is a bit of a novelty, as she can draw two different images with both hands, simultaneously. This is not an impossibility (at least not for humans, as President James Garfield apparently could write Greek with one hand, and Latin with the other, at the same time). Much like Inta II, she is also a bit lacking in confidence, but at least Crita is trying to make a living at art.

Upshot

I want my Star Trek fanfiction to have an artistic angle that it just doesn’t have in the series or the films. While characters (Data in particular) might paint, no one is really good at it. And rightly so, as they are, instead, engineers or doctors or the like. But in a sophisticated society, there will always be visual artists. I know I will add more as I can.

Review – Local Flavor

Background

Local Flavor solves a few problems for me.

First of all, the Trek BBS held a Star Trek fanfiction challenge called “Out of Uniform“. So the idea was to show people not in typical starship settings. I seized upon the opportunity to show Lili and Doug first moving to Lafa II. Hence this is the morning after the end of Reversal; Local Flavor is the very beginning of “happily ever after”.

Plot

Review – Local Flavor
Happily Ever After – Kinsale (Photo credit: Sonia Luna)

Travis flies Doug and Lili to the surface. Also, he makes a point of telling Lili that Captain Archer and Malcolm both expressed regrets at not being able to personally see her off. For the captain, it’s because he was busy with other duties. However for Malcolm, it’s because he’s beginning to realize that he cares for her. But he can’t say anything; she’s off to marry someone else. As he confides to her in Together, her life is just zooming along and away from him, and he can’t do anything to stop it.

Upon landing, they are picked up by Treve, who drives them to their new apartment, which is later seen in A Kind of Blue and The Gift. On the way, Doug asks about changing his surname. Treve reiterates that Calafans don’t have last names, so the only people on Lafa II who would care are him and Lili. Doug ends up simply declaring his new surname to be Beckett.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Local Flavor
Local Flavor

They see the apartment and then the action moves to an open-air market, where a number of Calafan delicacies are to be had, including linfep, tofflin and elekai. Even prako (procul) show up, but they are too expensive, as they have been brought to the market by Eska hunters, from Archer’s Planet (in my fan fiction, during the E2 stories, that world is called Amity). Plus the idea of the Calafans always being on the make comes out, as does Doug’s temper. Even some of the alien gesturing is explained, and the cake made at the end has a blueberry filling. Because that is a shoutout to my portrayal of Jay Hayes as loving blueberries.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

A lot happens in a short amount of time. Doug and Lili are exposed to Calafan society through a fire hose. And the reader, in some ways, gets that same sort of treatment. In some ways, this story is like another “elevator pitch” tale (like The Light). This is because it serves as an introduction to a lot of disparate aspects of my universe.


You can find me on .

Portrait of a Character – Maryam Haroun

Portrait of a Character – Maryam Haroun

Origins

With the writing of The Light, and for its immediate sequel, Waiting, I realized that Azar Hamidi needed a love interest. And of course she needed to be a Muslim woman.

Portrayal

I wanted very much for the actress to be Muslim or at least of Middle Eastern descent. Therefore, I chose American actress Noureen DeWulf. She is Muslim (albeit not a strict practitioner) and is of Indian descent.

Portrait of a Character – Maryam Haroun
Maryam Haroun (Noureen DeWulf)

To me, she is has the right look – beautiful and ethnic, and a believable match for Azar Hamidi (with a spirited challenge for her hand by Ramih Azar in the E2 stories).

Furthermore, Maryam has lived much of her life in Winnipeg, so she has embraced a few aspects of Western living, similar to Ms. DeWulf.

Personality

Shy and withdrawn, Maryam begins working in Stellar Cartography. But she’s gifted, and Hoshi needs help with Communications. Therefore, she and Chip handle the other shifts, during and after the Xindi War, and even during the E2 kick backs in time.

Portrait of a Character – Maryam Haroun
Maryam in her hijab

She also wears a hijab, which is a head scarf. Because she prays to Mecca five times per day, her needs must be accommodated. She, Chip and Hoshi decide that Hoshi will handle the first shift, Chip will take nights and Maryam will take second shift. As a result, most of Maryam’s praying occurs when she is not on duty. For any instances where it does, Hoshi will handle anything earlier in the days, whereas Chip will handle any later scheduling conflicts. The team works together well and it is not an issue.

Relationships

Maryam’s sole relationship is with Azar Hamidi.

As a somewhat devout Muslim woman, she wants her marriage to be arranged, but of course her father is not aboard the NX-01, and she cannot consult him during the first E2 kick back in time. Therefore, she turns to Phlox, who does his best but admits that he doesn’t always make it his foremost priority.

However, Hamidi is chosen, in part because he is more of a risk-taker, but also because Phlox offers he and Ramih Azar a somewhat Solomonic choice, asking what will you do if you are not chosen to be Maryam’s husband? Ramih Azar says he will woo one of the other single women. But Azar Hamidi says he would withdraw, as it would be too painful to bear. And so Maryam chooses him.

Mirror Universe

Maryam is not specifically dead in the Mirror, and there are no impediments to her existing there.

Portrait of a Character – Maryam Haroun

Maybe she does.

I suspect she’d be a lot less religious. Jews aren’t outright persecuted in the Mirror Universe as I write it, but they keep their faith secret so as not to attract the attention of an overly jealous tyrant Empress. I suspect Muslims would feel similarly.

Hence a Mirror Maryam would likely go without a hijab, for starters.

Quote

“My mother told me, when I was a little girl, and I questioned our marriage traditions, she said that I would fall in love on my wedding night. I did not believe her then, and I scoffed. But she was absolutely right.”

Upshot

Like any number of characters (Pamela Hudson and Eleanor Daniels come to mind immediately), Maryam was originally a plot device and not much more. I hope that the E2 stories give her the justice she deserves.

Spotlight on an Original Technology – Pulse Shot

Spotlight on an Original Technology – Pulse Shot

Theory

In order to make some of my Star Trek fanfiction work, I needed a means of stepping from our universe to the Mirror, and vice versa. In Reversal, this is accomplished via shared dreaming, and a crossover is performed by the Calafans by using power from the NX-01, the ISS Defiant, the amplifier dishes on Point Abic, Calafan group meditation and the sodium vapor flares emanating between the two smallest stars in the Lafa System, Fep and Ub. All of this, acting together, brings Doug from there to here, over the course of several hours. The Mirror High Priestess, Yimar (a teenaged girl) decides to leave the doors open in perpetuity. This has the effect of allowing Calafans to pass back and forth between both universes although other species still cannot.

However, the sodium vapor flares in particular were meant to be somewhat uncommon occurrences. Plus I wanted a technological solution.

Having read about dark matter, the truth is that it’s exotic and there’s an awful lot of it. It is ripe for fan fiction treatment, as it’s abundant and mysterious. Hence I decided that it would be used for the purposes of heading from here to the other side of the pond, or back again.

Practice

In Temper, the Empress Hoshi Sato has her Science Ensign Lucy Stone, with the help of Vulcan slaves T’Pau and Kefris, devise a means of moving from one universe to the other. In canon, she (Hoshi) is well aware that the Defiant is from another universe. It is an advanced design, with superior firepower, defenses and accommodations. It makes sense that she would be looking for a spare or two or two hundred. And, as a person who wants to be known as a conqueror, she may have realized that it could very well be easier to subjugate our universe, as opposed to going out to hidden corners of the Mirror.

Therefore, in Temper, in 2161 the Defiant‘s main phaser is calibrated to twenty-one centimeters and is initially just fired into seemingly empty space. Because this works, Richard Daniels is summoned to the Temporal Integrity Commission, as he and Eleanor notice the time change immediately (an ornate sword she was lecturing about, Ironblaze, vanishes). This causes the first alternate timeline, and time becomes incoherent.

Spotlight on an Original Technology – Pulse Shot
The Defiant

Due to temporal incoherence, a few years later, in 2166, a second passageway is opened up with another pulse shot, but this time it’s fired near the amplifier dishes. This shot opens things up more widely and it’s not just Calafans who can pass back and forth. Now humans and all other species can as well. At this stage, four people pass from our universe to the Mirror. This act changes history enough, and that triggers Daniels sensing the change but not the specifics.

Then a third instance occurs in 2178, but it’s not a new shot at all. Rather, it’s vestiges of incoherent time. It’s from this time period that the first repairs to the timeline need to be accomplished. This instance is well-known to Richard as it coincides with a major, independently verified historical event in that alternate timeline. After 2178 is repaired, 2166 is fixed and, once that is all done, Richard himself repairs 2161.

Aftereffects

Beyond the temporal incoherence, the other effect happens later. Some of the pulse shot is, simply, “lost”. But energy can be neither created nor can it be destroyed, according to the Law of Conservation of Energy (Thermodynamics). So where does it go?

The correct question isn’t where it goes. It’s when it goes. And when does it land? 2366, and it hits Wesley and Geordi‘s shuttle, thereby causing the toss back in time in Crackerjack.

Further aftereffects are yet to be written. I might use this plot device again.

Review – Detroit Rock City

Review – Detroit Rock City

Background

Loomis
Loomis

For the first fan fiction challenge on Archer’s Angels, I decided on a theme called “A Thousand Words”. A few images were gathered up and, because a picture is worth a thousand words, people were asked to write up to a thousand words about a particular image. For Star Trek: Enterprise, this is the image that was chosen. This is the character Loomis from the canon Carpenter Street episode.

I decided he needed an ending to his story.

Plot

At the end of the canon episode, Loomis is hauled away in handcuffs, screaming about “lizard people” and a “chick with a ray gun”. At that point, the murders of various people from the Blood Bank are being tied to him. It looks like he’ll be going to jail.

Review – Detroit Rock City

In my story, he is never found competent enough to stand trial in the first place. Hence, instead, he is sent to a psychiatric treatment facility intended to evoke the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It is not a pleasant place to be.

While there, he stands in the medication line with a small cast of characters, including Lakeisha (meant to evoke Lakeisha Warren Crusher, from Crackerjack), Ogden (a lot like Big Chief in Cuckoo’s Nest) and Phyllis.

At one point, a new doctor, Morgan (meant as an ancestor to both Dr. Cyril Morgan and Dr. Pamela Hudson), begins to speak with him, as he protests that he is, indeed, sane. Morgan reminds Loomis that it might be boring at the facility, but if he’s found competent, he’ll be heading to the State Penitentiary, where things are even worse. Loomis accepts this, and takes his medication without incident.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

This twitchy character needed, I felt, a little closure. In some ways, I’d like to revisit him, although I’m unsure how to accomplish that without repeating myself. As of the writing of this blog post, this is the first chronological story in the In Between Days series. Concord and Crackerjack have scenes that take place earlier, and Richard Daniels goes to earlier times as well, but this is the first in-history story where all of the action occurs so early. The day it takes place, in fact, is the day that I originally posted the story.

Will I go back to this era? Possibly, but I’ll have to think of how to do that, as the HG Wells series was all about time travel and I’d rather not have yet more time travel in a future series. However, there’s no reason to not add some fill-in stories for Daniels, Crystal Sherwood and others, plus Eleanor can also talk about our time period.

Portrait of a Character – Arashi Sato

Portrait of a Character – Arashi Sato

Origins

My initial premise for the Empress Hoshi Sato was that she would be a bit like Livia from Suetonius (and from history). That is, this would be a viper of a mother. But she needed to have children in order to assure the succession. Therefore, I hit on a plan – Hoshi would have numerous children, all from different fathers. The fathers would be selected from her senior staff; this was to create some security for her. Arashi is the third of her six children. All of the children’s first names have some meaning – Arashi means storm.

Portrayal

I wanted someone who would be, perhaps, wiser than his years. Even though the age does not work out, I like John Lone.

Personality

Not everyone can be a warrior, so Arashi is the money man. Ruthlessly efficient and greedy, he doesn’t want to pay for anything, and wants a cut of everything. In Temper, even as a toddler, he is fascinated by PADDs.

Portrait of a Character – Arashi Sato
Arashi (John Lone)

In the first alternate timeline, he keeps the books for Chip‘s Game Night wagers. His youngest brother, Izo, does the strong arm collecting, but Arashi does not sully his hands with such pedestrian matters.

Because he is so interested in books and record-keeping, and because he is ruthless and willing to cheat, the mirror Polloria reveals that he is the one of the Empress’s children who scares her the most, saying, “If he gets control after her death, I am sure he will take every means necessary to assure that he is looking in on every single aspect of everyone’s lives. He’ll be searching for oddities, rebellions, conspiracies, anomalies and anything else that tickles his fancy. Of all of them, I hate her the most, and I wish her dead. But it’s Arashi who truly scares me. Anyone with a brain in their head should, if they take her out, take him out as well.”

His father is technically unknown, with the prime candidates being Frank Ramirez and José Torres. However, since neither he nor Torres has the Y Chromosome Skew, it’s far more likely that José can claim paternity.

By the time of He Stays a Stranger, Arashi is continuing to handle the books. But – and this is the prime timeline for the Mirror Universe – he is far less interested in rule than in money. Ruling will go to his elder brothers, Jun (son of Richard Daniels) and Kira (son of Aidan MacKenzie). Izo will handle the secret police.

Portrait of a Character – Arashi Sato
Arashi (John Lone)

Hoshi is satisfied with Arashi’s choice, noting that empires need funds and treasuries.

Relationships

He has none whatsoever, except with a pocketbook! Even in the prime timeline in the Mirror Universe, he never marries, and any other specifics are not yet known.

Theme Music

As would likely be expected, his theme music is Pink Floyd’s Money.

Prime Universe

Like all of Empress’s Hoshi’s children, he cannot have a Prime Universe counterpart. However, he has an analogue in Doug and Melissa‘s part of the big arrangement – Neil Digiorno-Madden, who also has a head for business. But the differences are apparent, as Neil has two loving relationships, fathers two children and in a lot of ways is more like Lili than Lili’s daughter, Marie Patrice Beckett.

Quote

“I dreamt about collections.”

Upshot

As I wrote the Empress’s children, I needed a way for each of them to stand out. As the money man, Arashi stands out easily. I can see writing more about him in the future.

Review – A Single Step

Review – A Single Step

Background

In 2012, Trek BBS held a monthly fan fiction challenge called “Meet the Neighbors”. The idea was to show a first contact.

I decided to pull in a few elements and bring them together, from canon and fanfiction, films and television.

In the Star Trek First Contact TNG film,Zefram Cochrane it’s established that the Borg almost assimilated us before we ever got the first Warp One ship in the air (the Phoenix). Furthermore, it shows, at the end, Zefram Cochrane and Lily Sloane joining hands. In the Original Series, Zefram Cochrane is later found on Gamma Canaris. He’s single, and he is older, but is being kept young by a mysterious companion. In the Animated Series, there is a species called Caitians, but their First Contact is not in canon. Furthermore, I have a non-sentient original species called the Derellian bat. This bat has been in all sorts of places – in ReversalTemperThrowing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses and Intolerance, just to name a few.

Plot

The story begins with Lily and Zefram, an aged couple living their final years on the Alpha Centauri Colony. But all is not right, as Lily coughs a lot, and is tired. She’s dying of lung cancer.

Review – A Single Step
Lily Sloane Cochrane (Alfre Woodard)

There is a light in the sky, and a crash. They go to investigate, and it turns out that an alien ship has arrived. The hatch is opened by a most curious creature. M’Roan looks like a cat, but he’s wearing clothing and he’s about the same size as Lily and Zef. He’s also bipedal. He’s got a small cut, and the Derellian bat shows off a little minor empathic healing qualities and closes up the wound.

M’Roan sees too deeply into Zef’s life, but that is the basis of a friendship. And, in the end, he and Zef take the bat and take off, for “the second nebula on the right and parts unknown“.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

Review – A Single Step
M’Roan, a Caitian

I enjoyed putting this one together, and I liked the portrayal of an older couple very much. This is also, currently, one of the few death scenes I’ve written where the dying character does not see a transition, or at least does not describe it.

I also think the wrapping together of the film, the three series, one film and fanfiction all works together. Jonathan Archer is also shouted out to, making this story, in reality, a quintuple crossover. I’m very pleased with it.