On Trek BBS, I won the Independence challenge with Bread and posted my own challenge (I am not allowed to participate in it), Obsessions and Addictions.
Fortune made it to 10,000 combined read counts on the 22nd. Intolerance was the first story on Fanfiction.net to hit 1,000 overall reads. Concord and Reversal should follow soon.
The All-Stars has been neglected a bit, in favor of web development and improvement. A lot of its draft remains in paper format and needs to be typed.
I continued working on my website and fixing or eliminating links and lists. I created an Accolades page and cleaned up the Timeline page and adding more visual interest. I continued working on the Anthology and on fixing up the web site.
This Month’s Productivity Killers
The real issue was the bombing of the Boston Marathon, on April 15th. It seems trivial to talk about it here. But it was difficult, at times, to concentrate, plus there was a ton of stress all around.
There had been enough somber stories in the Star Trek: EnterprisefanfictionDaranaean arc, so I wanted something a lot more lighthearted. After having written Temptation, I then added the Christmas story, Some Assembly Required, which takes place not too long afterwards.
It’s the holidays, and the Enterprise has exchanged gifts with the most prominent Daranaean family. For the little alien children, it’s three boxes of toys. Little Seppa, in particular, is excited to not only play with the new toys (particularly with her half-sister, Minna, who is nearly the same age as her), but also to thank Captain Archer and CommanderReed. It’s Reed who selected the toys.
But things are off, and Seppa begins to cry. Why? The toys all seem to be broken, and she is afraid that the adults will get angry with her, and will blame her for that. As a third caste Daranaean female, whose mother is dead and father is in the prison, she knows she has very little status. Even at age four, she realizes that her comfortable existence is facilitated by people who could just as easily throw her out on the streets. She knows how lucky she truly is.
In the meantime, the Daranaeans have sent a large serving platter, and they all signed their names to it. And they imparted a new saying, ‘We have a new saying on Daranaea: When human friends come, happiness is sure to follow.’
Although Seppa and the other children play together, and learn together, there is still some separation. The story ends on a wistful note, as Seppa gazes longingly at images of Earth, dreaming of visiting someday.
I liked the family feel of this one and, as always, language matters when it comes to the Daranaeans. When Trinning refers to Dratha respectfully, it’s a sign of huge progress. When Seppa is comforted and included, it’s another positive sign. Things are changing.
I had been reading more than enough homophobic rants about how gay characters would be too effeminate for Starfleet. It annoyed me enough that I wanted to create a pair of gay characters, and one of them would be a MACO. And so, for There’s Something About Hoshi, I created Franklin Thomas Todd.
I wanted an impressively physically imposing actor. This guy would be no one’s idea of effeminate.
I also wanted a gay actor. I hope that this would be the kind of role that this actor could be proud of. Frank is no pushover and he is no stereotype.
Loyal, friendly and passionate, but also fiercely dedicated to his job, Frank is just the kind of guy you want defending the Enterprise and her crew. Jay and Julie trust him, and he has more than earned their trust. Eventually, he rises to the rank of Corporal although I can see him with a lot more responsibility.
Dave and Frank have began dating by the time of There’s Something About Hoshi. In Entanglements, they get together after Frank rather loudly comes out. However, by the time of Shell Shock, Frank is picked up at a gay bar in Provincetown. Hence maybe things did not work out as well as the men would have preferred.
I do not yet have a Mirror Universe version of Frank, but there’s no reason why there can’t be one.
I like the idea of him, perhaps, being less rough around the edges on the other side of the pond. Maybe I’ll write him some time.
“My name is Franklin Thomas Todd.
And while it is nobody’s goddamned business, except for the people I care about, and who care about me, I want you all to know that I am a gay man. I don’t hide. I am not ashamed. I am who I am, and being gay is as much a part of me as having a tattoo on my bicep, or brown eyes or being from Europa originally.”
I want more occasions to showcase this character who is far more than his sexuality. I’ll be looking for places for Frank. You haven’t seen the last of him.
Spotlight on an Original Sentient Species – Arisians
When I first started writing Star Trek fanfiction, I was big on one-offs and “Alien of the Week” kinds of plots. At the same time, I was also learning how to plot, so I used the five senses as inspiration. For touch (and, by extension, feelings), I decided to write a lighthearted romance about Hoshi and a below-decks crewman who couldn’t quite hit his marks.
Further, I wanted to begin to explore sexism as an inspiration. Therefore, I decided I wanted a society that had scapegoated women so thoroughly that there were no more women anywhere in their species. As a bonus, I had been seeing some rather nasty homophobic rants and people would not so subtly joke about gay characters being too sissified to ever make it to Starfleet. The story that grew out of these ideas was There’s Something About Hoshi.
As standard humanoid aliens, the only physical description of the Arisians is that they have a beautifully detailed pattern on their foreheads. This is somewhat akin to what later evolved into the Calafans.
As the aliens themselves explain, women were blamed for all sorts of issues. And, much like in ancient Rome, they were prevented from leaving their homes without an escort, a fact that also figures in with Daranaean third caste females in Take Back the Night. Arisian scientists took it to an extreme, though, and began to research how to reduce pregnancy terms. Once the term could be reduced down to nothing, they genetically engineered only male children and, while they didn’t out and out kill the remaining women, they didn’t replace them.
Reproduction was accomplished via cloning and the use of artificial wombs, much like an incubator or a bassinet, but amped up considerably. The groups of genetically identical males are referred to as Accordancies. As an Accordant explains, the relationship among the members of an Accordancy is fraternal, even though often the age difference can be very great.
But things are changing on Aris, and its inhabitants have learned that the absence of women did not prevent wars or other disasters or hard feelings. As a result, their ruling council decides to obtain female hormones. And, as Sandra Sloane annoyedly points out (thereby prefiguring her sharp tongue and short temper in Reflections Down a Corridor), they did not ask for help and simply took whatever they wanted, without permission.
In addition (and in exchange), they inject Hoshi and her MACO escort, Frank Todd, with a certain kind of chemical stimulant. The Arisians think Frank and Hoshi are a couple. But they aren’t. Frank is the toughest guy in the room, and he is gay (as are, presumably, all of the Arisians).
For Frank, perhaps, Aris would almost be a kind of paradise. But he’s got a boyfriend, and he’s loyal. There’s no hookup for Frank on the planet.
As for Hoshi, the chemical has a far different effect on her and the straight men on the Enterprise. She’s become irresistible. And that’s kind of scary.
In the sequel, There’s Something Else About Hoshi, the Arisians are finding that women – although, perhaps, exasperating – turn their society around. But maybe later they’ll just go back to treating women like doormats again. I don’t know.
On Ad Astra, there was a weekly prompt about crying. Now, I am not a fan of making my characters cry. It’s not that I don’t – God knows they weep up a storm at times. But for whatever reason, I don’t love writing the specifics of that in fanfiction. I tend to use more euphemistic expressions, such as wet face or red face. I wanted to answer the prompt, but I wanted a kind of back-handed reason for crying that wouldn’t be quite so readily apparent. And of course it came to me – chopping onions. And who better to do that than sous-chef extraordinaire Lili O’Day?
And of course her eyes are tearing and her arms are killing her.
But then Will puts his foot in his mouth, big time. She hasn’t been working with him for that long, and he decides to make conversation. He asks her what her family normally made for Christmas dinner. She mutters something about coquilles St. Jacques grilled or baked, served in their shells with a cream sauce. But she doesn’t tell him anything else.
And Will, like a fool, persists and pushes her. And she has to blurt out that holidays are hurtful, because of the deaths of her parents.
I wanted to honor Lili’s parents and, at the same time, get across that holidays, for a lot of people, are just plain godawful. Plus I wanted a reason for her to be crying. The onions set her off, but it’s the memory – and the Will’s misguided persistence – that really ice it for her.
I think the story came out well, and packs a lot into only 560 words.
This character is technically Star Trek: Enterprise canon but is never seen on screen. She does not have a first name, or a first initial and, instead, the sole reference to an Ensign Socorro refers to her smell after exercising.
Some introduction, eh?
I wanted an actress who would be decent-looking but not a breathless knockout.
Therefore, I chose British actress Carey Mulligan. Mulligan has some sci-fi cred, having been in an episode of Doctor Who.
Brittle and withdrawn, Patti is as luckless as Lili O’Day when the Enterprise is thrown back in time the first time, during the E2 stories (Reflections Down a Corridor). I write her as a Crewman (in canon, she’s an Ensign) and so, when Lili and Patti are the only two unclaimed women left, they are referred to by Chang and the others as the Ensign and the Crewman. No one has to be told who the Ensign and the Crewman are.
Because she is more vulnerable than Lili, Patti is targeted, and Chang, Hodgkins, Brown, Curtis and Kemper attack, with Haynem helping but not taking part in the actual attack. This incident colors life on the NX-01,and Sandra Sloane is also implicated as a helper.
In the second kick back in time, Patti stays safe as the situation does not get anywhere near as out of control. For a while, she and Lili room together.
Because the herd has thinned quite a bit, Will feels that he can approach her. He makes his move before the attack, but is there afterwards to try to help her heal a bit. He’s somewhat inept, however, and eventually they divorce during the first kick back in time.
In the second kick back in time, Derek (a canon character who does not have a canon first name) and Patti wed. This time, she is not the penultimate woman chosen.
Patti doesn’t have a Mirror Universe counterpart yet.
I think a Mirror Patti would have to be considerably more assertive. She’d probably also have to be competent – but not necessarily overly so – in order to be on the Defiant. After all, Empress Hoshi doesn’t like a lot of female competition.
“I don’t, well, no one, has the time for me to hang around and recover from this. Those guys have to be caught.”
This Navigational Crewman has been really put through the ringer by me. Maybe a Mirror version will fare better.
I enjoy cooking, and so it was easy for me to center my first big story and big series around a chef. The story is Reversal, the series is In Between Days, and the chef is Lili O’Day.
Furthermore, I needed to have characters who readers could more readily relate to. When you watch Star Trek, or you read about it, some of the characters and their jobs and scenarios are just, well, alien. How many of us are Science Officers? Who pilots, if not a star ship, then at least an airplane? Who is a linguist? These jobs – and jobs like them – do exist, but cooking is close to being universal. Everybody’s got to eat.
Before Chef was revealed to be Jonathan Frakes, I had thought of what it would be like to have someone like Emeril Lagasse in the role. I still think he would have made a better Chef character. Plus maybe it would finally get the bitter taste of the series finale out of my mouth.
Naah. Nothing will.
Lili is not just a chef.
She’s a lot of things, too – a wife (twice in the prime timeline and twice in the E2 alternate), a mother, an operative for Richard Daniels, an informal good will ambassador to the Calafan people, an officer (in the prime timeline, she retires as an Ensign. In the E2 alternate, she has a different outcome) and a friend to people such as Jenny Crossman and, eventually, Pamela Hudson.
Lili also works out well as an expository character. She doesn’t always know what’s going on (after all, she spends most of her time below decks), so she asks the questions that the audience needs to ask.
However, the man had neither a first nor a last name so I have provided him with both. I just liked how the name William Slocum sounded, plus it pays homage to the actor’s much better canon character, Will Riker.
Further to that, he needed a bit of a backstory, so he got an Italian mother and, as a result, an affinity for Italian cooking (his chicken marsala is canon). He also engages in a lot of bluster and his relationships do not work out well at all.
Brian starts out in Security, but moves into Food Service by the end of Reversal.
By the time of Together, he’s working full-time as a sous-chef. And by the time of Fortune, he has become the chef for Malcolm Reed‘s ship, the USS Bluebird. He’s even seen in Equinox; Malcolm confides in him a bit.
He and Lili also help to prepare a special meal for the Federation’s founding species. The Vulcans prepare the soup course (plomeek broth), the Tellarites prepare a main dish and the Andorians provide the dessert. Brian and Lili prepare her Harvest Salad, which she made for Will during the events of Voracious and for Jonathan, Hoshi, T’Pol, Travis, Malcolm, Tripp, Jay, and Dr. Phlox in Harvest.
While this Daranaean is an amateur, she is known as a good cook. In Temptation, she’s the one who suggests making cookies (the Daranaeans refer to them as “little cakes”), and in Flight of the Bluebird, her husband, Trinning, singles her out and compliments her as being “the best cook”.
Harvest Salad Recipe
The Harvest Salad doesn’t really have a set list of ingredients. It’s more like a refrigerator salad, e. g. you make it with whatever you’ve got on hand. But the main ideas are as follows:
It should be colorful. In Fortune, the lettuces are several different colors, and the entire spectrum of the rainbow is evoked.
It should contain fruits and nuts. These can be anything that goes together. Because, in canon, Malcolm loves pineapple, that fruit is always included.
It should be vegan. For Malcolm, who has lactose intolerance, and T’Pol, who is a vegan, this is a must. However, the dressings need not be vegan although a vegan option should be provided.
It can contain a cooked item. In Fortune, the salad contains beets.
For hungry travelers, chefs do more than nourish the body. They are important when it comes to crew morale. In Reflections Down a Corridor, in particular, because morale is slipping, having good food is a must. But chefs are more than purveyors of food. They nourish the spirit.
A Long, Long Time Ago always had a great expectations quality to it. Since I enjoyed working on and fleshing out Richard Daniels, one of many canon Star Trek: Enterprise characters who didn’t even have a first name, I decided to give him some depth. I first brought him into my fanfiction in Temper, and I liked him so much that I decided he should really have his own series. Hence I named that series Times of the HG Wells, after his new time ship.
Origins and Originality
And at the same time, though, I already had a time travel series in draft form. However, that set of stories actually revolved around a few disparate pieces.
Yet the thrust of it was that time travel had just started, and it was messy and it had, perhaps, destroyed the universe (it was all original although I admit some difficulty in staying away from technology and other items a little too close to Trek to be coincidental). All except for a small isolated place that was outside of time. In that set of stories, time travelers were grabbed from history itself, depending on not only their skill sets but also whether they could be plucked from wherever they were without destroying the timeline (the idea of plucking people out of thin air and just dropping them somewhere shows up in The Puzzle). These stories all had interwoven lyrics from songs about time (the first one was the Rolling Stones‘ Time is on My Side).
Mining the Older Stories
The older set of stories contained some characters who end up in the HG Wells series. And the time travelers include hipster HD Avery (originally grabbed from 1966), and Sheilagh Bernstein (initially plucked from the present time; when I was writing those older stories, that was the late 1990s). I also included Marisol Castillo (she came from Moorish Spain and did not have a surname, so I added Castillo as she was from Castile) and Gregory Shaw (only mentioned briefly in the HG Wells series; he came from the 1840s). Furthermore, I added Thomas Grant (originally a Confederate soldier from the Battle of Shiloh) and Polly Porter (originally from our future). And finally, I added Alice Trent (only a few small mentions in the HG Wells series; from the 1700s) and Daniel Beauchaine (a soldier in the French and Indian War).
Background people also came from the older series, including Kevin O’Connor (the Chief Engineer; in the original set of stories he was not part-alien but he did have a deceased wife, Josie, just as that character does in the HG Wells series) and Otra (the alien who could see temporal alternatives). I also added Crystal Sherwood (the Quartermaster was originally a historian) and Levi Cavendish (in the older set of stories, he was the project lead and dating Otra. In the HG Wells series, he became a brilliant but difficult engineer with ADHD and a bunch of other neurological issues).
Milena Chelenska was always a doctor; in the first series, she was also a time traveler. In the HG Wells series, she’s Richard’s love interest. However, in both instances, she’s a concentration camp survivor, from the year 1968. Helen Walker also existed, but she was Tom’s ex; it wasn’t until the HG Wells series that she became something else.
In addition, some people from that older series never made it to the HG Wells series but who ended up elsewhere in my fan fiction – Lakeisha Warren (she was a person who worked on plucking people from history; she actually shows up in the Wesley Crusher story, Imprecision as his love interest) and Leonora Digiorno (first called Leonora with no last name, she was a plague survivor plucked from the Dark Ages and given the surname of Wilson to honor her late Uncle William).
Furthermore, I had ideas for various stories which were then made into books. The concept of a failed Italian vacation in 1960, and the shooting at Kent State in 1970, already existed in draft form. And the mission to ensure Prague Spring’s end in 1968 also existed, as did a very, very rough idea of a mission to ensure the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986.
Because so much of the bones of the series already existed, I could easily chart out the main story arcs for the series. However, I had to get it going, and I already had this story in draft form, tentatively titling it The Day the Music Lived.
And so A Long, Long Time Ago was born.
The story opens with Richard and his girlfriend, Tina April (who he meets in Temper). Things are starting to go sour and the bloom is off the rose. Rick is too secretive, and Tina wants him to get closer to her. But he just can’t tell her too much. Making matters worse for her is the fact that he is so inured to pain that he is virtually incapable of loving her or anyone else. And he likes it that way.
He gets a call to head to the Temporal Integrity Commission, which is conducting group interviews for some new positions. Rick is not a part of the interviewing. Rather, he’s called in because there’s been a hiccup in time, and he’s got to go fix it. And, as the job candidates are sent home, one of their shuttles crashes, and there’s a fatality. And we’re off to the races.
There are real people in the story. Of course, the three doomed musicians loom large. All dialogue is created by me, as is JP being a horndog. The other real people are Waylon Jennings, who played guitar on the tour, and Bob Hale, a local disc jockey who reportedly drove the three musicians to the small airfield in Clear Lake. Of course there’s no evidence of anyone going along on the ride – that part’s all me. Everyone comes across pretty well, except for JP being a bit of a lecher.
In order to get the series off with a bang, I needed to set the scene. The idea of using music is not a new one (I did it with Crackerjack, for starters). And the music evoked not only the time and place but also a lot about the people involved. The first mission is about music; it’s to February third of 1959, known as the day the music died. E. g. it’s the date that the plane carrying the Big Bopper (JP Richardson), Ritchie Valens (Ricky Ricardo Valenzuela) and Buddy Holly (Charles Holley) crashed in a field in Clear Lake, Iowa.
Don McLean’s American Pie – the song not only fits the scenario perfectly, it also helps to kick off the series. From its first words (which are the title of this story and also evoke the significant differential in time between the event and Richard’s life in the deep future) to its lyrics about the sixties and its turmoil, there was no other way to start this series.
Frankie Ford’s Sea Cruise– I liked the song not only for the time period but also because it would be a very real concern for artists. The song (for real) was originally recorded by Huey “Piano” Smith but was dubbed over by Ford, who had a more energetic vocal. Valens is told, during the story, to be sure to get credit and to watch the moneymen, to assure that he doesn’t lose his rights.
The Music of the Dead
Ritchie Valens’ Donna– Whenever I spin out these stories, I also place a link to an era-appropriate song. And all three of the performers have multiple songs listed (e. g. Holly’s Rave On! and the Bopper’s Big Bopper’s Wedding also made the cut), but only Valens gets his lyrics interwoven with the story line.
Patsy Cline’s Walkin’ After Midnight– This song is not only date-appropriate but it can also impart a country air. Furthermore, it is the kind of music that Waylon Jennings might want to play and sing along with. Cline was better known for Crazy, but I love this one, plus it’s got a good guitar accompaniment.
Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife– This song a little less poppy and a little more mature-sounding. Mack the Knife is a pretty odd song anyway, and it speaks of death – the same pall that hangs over the story.
Furthermore, the tastes of the time varied, and you could conceivably hear all of these songs (except for McLean’s, of course) played on AM Radio during the same hour.
The Skyliners’ Since I Don’t Have You– for the ending, I wanted a bittersweet love song, the kind of song that people play when they’re lonely.
So for a series opener in particular, I think the story works well. And I like how it kicks things off. Because this is a rather different series from In Between Days, and so not everything can be mined for more stories like that one. Still, the beginning feels auspicious to me.
I wanted a character who would be paranoid, itchy and dangerous. And I wanted him to be a healer, too, a paradox. I further decided that he would be a combination of human, Klingon and Xindi sloth. The sloth part would make him paranoid. The Klingon part would make him physically powerful. And the human part would make him all-too emotionally vulnerable.
I stumbled across his surname quite by accident (and nearly literally), as I used to walk in an area where a Toyota Yaris always seemed to be parked.
It was not due to any great affection I had for this vehicle. Rather, I just liked the combination of letters. As I sometimes do for foreign or alien names, I did a bit of brainstorming/free associating with sounds. Yarin, apparently, is Turkish for tomorrow, a fitting surname for a character who lives and dies in the thirty-first and thirty-second centuries.
And so Boris Fyodorovich Yarin was born.
For a man who was almost constantly jumping out of his skin, who would be better than Henry Rollins?
I had initially seen Boris as being somewhat slight, like a Klingon with menace but no muscle behind it. But the more I thought about Rollins, the more I liked the idea. Rollins always seems to be on fire just underneath his skin. Boris, too, is often barely this side of exploding.
In addition, Boris’s intelligence is masked by a severe lack of confidence. He doesn’t think he can do the work, so he gets his job through his wife‘s connections. And then he decides he wants to retain his post, so it’s even more imperative that he tread a fine line with his wife. If he’s out of the marriage, he reasons, he’ll also be out of a job.
Paranoid and angry, yet wildly intelligent, Boris is problematic from the start. He marries for prestige and position, and not for love. As a result, he’s vulnerable when Marisol Castillo seduces him. And then he’s considerably more vulnerable when she begins blackmailing him. For him, what started as hanky-panky has turned into something more, and he is not only desperate to keep his marriage together and retain his job, he’s also genuinely hurt because he actually loves Marisol.
Boris’s wife is mentioned in passing but she is not seen until Ohio when, in an alternate timeline, she isn’t his wife at all. They have a marriage of convenience for the most part. Whether Darragh loves Boris is debatable. Whether Boris loves Darragh is obvious – he doesn’t.
For this femme fatale, Boris is an easy conquest. At first, it’s sexual (and in A Long, Long Time Ago, that’s one of the first times they’re seen together – in flagrante delicto). After a while, though, Boris realizes he has feelings for her, calling her his “angel” (which he also calls Darragh). By the time he figures out that he’s been betrayed, in Shake Your Body, there is but one endgame for him and Marisol.
Boris does not yet have a Mirror Universe counterpart.
But that would be pretty scary, eh?
I have always wanted Henry Rollins to portray a Klingon, and I wonder why he never has.
“My name is Boris Fyodorovich Yarin. I am forty-six years of age, and of sound mind. This letter will be farewell, confession, warning and will all in one.
First, to my wife, Darragh Stratton Yarin, I leave everything I own, with no exceptions, to do with as she wishes. It is all I can offer, for apologies are worthless. I have acted completely without honor. I owe you many things, and cannot repay that debt. All I can hope is for you to live your life without any thought of me – no sorrow, no mourning, no regret, no compassion and not even memory. If I could erase our time together, and spare you, I would.”
I hope Boris conveys as much menace as I’ve envisioned. I think more of his backstory could be explored, and a Mirror Boris would be, perhaps, even a revolutionary.