Progress Report – June 2013

June 2013 I was hopping!

June 2013 Posted Works

On Ad Astra, I continued adding Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | June 2013 Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.

In response to my own weekly free write about secrets, I posted Overture, a Wesley Crusher story which will serve as a prequel to the upcoming Barnstorming series. I posted The Sweetest Universe, which pulled in elements from the Multiverse II collaboration (see below) and the HG Wells universe. Plus I also added Consider the Lilies of the Field, an In Between Days story that takes place after Fortune. I also added a dream story taking place between Together and Temper, Equilibrium.

The collaboration story, Another Piece of the Action, was posted. This was written with the bluesman, who created a cover for it. It was the sole entry in the collaboration challenge so, by default, it was the winner (hey, we’ll take the win). We both decided to donate our winnings to Ad Astra.

I also contributed to the Multiverse II, which was great, great fun and allowed me to add some depth to HG Wells characters Branch Borodin, Levi Cavendish, and Otra D’Angelo. How will it end? I have no idea. It’s like the best game of D & D, bar none.

Drabbles

On The Delphic Expanse, their drabble game was revived and so I wrote an E2 tidbit about  Lili, Jay and Joss, called Marbles, an E2 story about Jay and Lili (a drabble version of Penicillin, actually) called Cough, and another E2 tale about Sekar Khan and Hoshi, called Quartermaster. I also added an HG Wells prequel, Briefing. The Drabble game and E2 are fine playgrounds, but they are keeping me from working on other things.

On Fanfiction.net, I finished spinning out Conversations with Heroes. The story received my best reception on Fanfiction.net so far, clocking in with 9 reviews and over 900 reads. While other stories had higher read counts, no others were reviewed as much or read as quickly as this one. I added To Wish, To Want, To Desire and We Meet Again.

Milestones

Individual Read Counts

For individual read counts, the following stories have 10,000 or more on one URL –

All of these were accomplished on Ad Astra.

The following stories have between 5,000 and 9,999 reads on one URL –

Again, these numbers are all coming from Ad Astra. More than a Will to Live is the closest to 10,000 of this group.

Combined Read Counts

The following had combined read counts of 10,000 or more, in addition to the three above which accomplished that feat on just one URL –

  • Fortune
  • Intolerance

More Accomplishments

Apart from the two others at over 5,000 reads for just one URL, the following combine to 5,000 – 9,999 reads when all postings’ URLs are taken into consideration –

WIP Corner

The bluesman and I completed our collaborative piece. I worked a bit on The All Stars but there is still quite a bit more to do. I did loads of work on Multiverse II.

Prep Work

Issuu changed their formatting and it is now considerably more difficult to search for materials which are M- and MA-rated – and that means not only Reversaand Intolerance, but also the Adult Anthology. Hence this creates a question as to whether it would be a good idea to post the second Anthology on Issuu at all. Issuu also seems to have eliminated most free metrics; hence I will need to do some work to determine where to post the second Anthology.

One possible landing site is Deviant Art. The first Anthology is already there, and M. D. Bruffy is happy to post the second Anthology there as well. I’d like to see if there are any other decent places to put that work. In particular, I am looking for where I can post it with a two-page flipping book type of interface, as Issuu has that and it looks very good.

I spent more time on the overall timeline, trying to make it a bit less daunting to read, and adding more visual interest.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

There were some family issues (I won’t go into them here), and they were rather distracting. I was also laid off from my freelancing job. Inspiration was sometimes difficult to come by.

Whither Trek? And whither me? AKA where am I going, and why am I in this handbasket?

Whither Trek? And whither me? AKA where am I going, and why am I in this handbasket?

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

Whither Trek? And whither me? AKA where am I going, and why am I in this handbasket?
Gaguin – Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
Gaguin – Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

When I set out to first write this little trilogy of blog posts about Star Trek fanfiction, I thought about this particular painting quite a bit. I have told you who I am, and where I (and, to some extent, Trek) come from. But where are we going?

The Cloudy Crystal Ball

Of course I have little to no idea of what’s going to happen next.

Whither Trek? And whither me? AKA where am I going, and why am I in this handbasket?
Cloudy crystal ball

And that has never, ever stopped me from speculating.

After all, Star Trek itself is dreams and visions of the future. Some, like communicators and desktop computers, have been scarily accurate.

Others, like tricorders and bio beds, are close to accurate, or are within reach.

And then others, like warp drive, the Third World War, the Augments, etc.?

Not so much.

What’s Next?

For Star Trek, there is likely to be a third film in the JJ Abrams universe, and it will likely come on or around 2016 as that is the 50th anniversary of the TV series. Abrams will not be directing it. It will be interesting to see who gets it. For me, the JJ Abrams universe means more Eriecho.

As for a new series, I imagine there will be one, and it will likely be in the post-Nemesis future, but closer to the JJ Abrams style. It will depend on budgets and audience tastes. Enterprise was given a fairly large budget, but it was still difficult to get across everything that needs to be done and shown within financial restrictions.  At the time, their ratings were not considered to be good. Now, they would be perfectly acceptable.

Any future television series will likely have an even bigger budget than ENT did, and will likely depend more upon green screen technology in order to cut some special effects corners. What is troubling about that is that large budgets mean that ever larger audiences are needed in order for a show to make money. But television audiences are becoming more and more splintered all the time.

Unless this speculative future show has a lot of network brass (and money) backing it, it could very well be set up for failure, much as ENT seems to have been. Science fiction on TV these days is generally not big, beautiful ships. Even Firefly (which is a decade old, by the way) had a lot of set pieces that took place on the ground. It saves money.

So I would expect to see, and would actually hope to see, a series more character-driven and more plot-driven. A series where makeup and costumes and sets matter. A series where acting and writing are top-notch, not only because they are beloved and respected and say something meaningful and win awards but also because, for real, they save network money. A series where the effects exist but don’t overpower the story line and are not the engines that drive character and plot arc decisions.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

What is it Now?

 What the hell? What is it now?

Now, as a sequel to Where Did it All Begin?, I’d like to give a little information on where I am now, and where Star Trek is, from my own perspective.

Me, Now

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | What is it Now
Me, 2017

This image was taken in 2017 and it’s more or less an accurate representation of the real-life jes.

I turn fifty-five in September of 2017.

My Own Personal Fandom

Given my age, you’d think I’d be a big TOS fan. And, while I am a fan (and I recall seeing at least some of it in what was likely first run), my heart really belongs more to ENT. I love it for its closeness to us, its passion, its flawed characters who change and grow, and the fact that the tech is far from perfect.

Plus I know the many, many flaws in ENT. I have had them pointed out to me numerous times (so many people seem to love doing that). Still and all, I enjoy it immensely.

Beyond ENT

TOS and TAS (I really put them together) are second for me. I like the drama and the writing, much of which was really terrific. The effects and animation are abysmal, and the costumes and makeup aren’t too good, either, so a lot of the tension comes about from the acting and the writing. I also enjoy the social commentary in a lot of the stories. And, much like in ENT, there are real senses of danger there. You do sometimes wonder if/how they’re going to make it.

I suppose TNG comes in at third for me, and more because of the trio of Wesley, Geordi and Data. I also like Beverly, and I like Miles and Keiko. Picard is … okay. I am not a rabid, screaming fan girl about Patrick Stewart although I certainly appreciate his talent. But I do feel that the ship was too huge and luxurious, and a lot of hazards were bred out of the experience. As Q says (and I like him, too), space is dangerous. And they (and we) should not forget that. As for Riker, the less said, the better.

If I had to select a fourth, it would probably be, really, VOY. I like the generalized idea of it. Travel stories have been around since the Odyssey andThe Canterbury Tales, and probably before then, too. But I tend to like only isolated bits, and they are usually the parts that other people don’t care for at all.

Eh

Then, it’s a tie between the films and DS9. The films are okay and I have not seen all of them – I haven’t even seen more than bits of The Wrath of Khan. Some moments in various films stand out – the trial on Kronos and imprisonment on Rura Penthe, T’Saavik emotionlessly reporting David Marcus’s death, saving the whales, Zefram Cochrane doing his thing, and even Kirk’s death (I love how it was small and non-heroic, because the end of life is far more likely to be like that). But then there’s tons that’s just meh to me, from the overly-loving closeups of the Enterprise in the first film, to the Sybok wackiness of the fifth film.

I don’t hate the 2009 film and I do believe it’s Trek (and I find it weird sour grapes for people to declare that it isn’t Star Trek because they don’t like it. Tough, it’s Trek, get over it now). But it’s not a fave. It’s … okay. I am not a fan of pure action flicks and it was pretty close to that. Also, I have not yet seen Into Darkness. I loved Star Trek Beyond.

As for Deep Space Nine, I’ve always had trouble getting into it. I like Louise Fletcher as Kai Winn, and I like Dr. Bashir. Plus I like the idea of the Trill. After that, I get a meh vibe. Sorry to those who love it.

My Writing

I got into writing Star Trek fanfiction in 2005 and then promptly gave it up for five years. During that time period, my attitude changed considerably, and then suddenly it was October of 2010 and I was spinning Reversal out of whole cloth. And it became a monster that launched two big series and tons of stories, and, no lie, hundreds of thousands of words.

Including, of course, this blog and its accompanying website.

I am writing, or I am thinking about writing nearly every single day.

Others’ Fan Fiction

I generally enjoy reading others’ works although time doesn’t always permit that I really look super-closely. I try to give a story a chance, at least for a while. For a 60+ chapter story, that might be five to eight chapters. And for a 20,000 word story, it might be only one or two chapters. For a less than 10,000 word story, it will probably be the entire thing.

I make an effort to go out of my comfort zone and read stories that take place in eras or on ships that I do not know. That often means Deep Space Nine although it can also mean various expanded universes. There are so many missing pieces in canon that it is very possible to set an entire universe within the missing bits, and that’s even how In Between Days was originally going to be.

Constructive critiques

I also make an effort to constructively critique so, yeah, that can sometimes mean that my reviews are less than perfectly positive. If I feel isn’t an accurately portrayal of a canon character, I try to alert the writer. I have had that pointed out to me before, and I usually use it as a means of reverse-engineering some sort of an explanation. After all, there are times when people behave out of character, and it’s not always mold spores or radiation or the like. Sometimes it’s grief, or loneliness, or drugs or just a desire to shake things up.

For More, More, More! one critique was that Malcolm likely would not be helping to arrange the party. But I decided, no, he would be, as he would prefer an organized means of fraternizing with his shipmates and the NX-02, as opposed to the chance element inherent in more casual contact. I reverse-engineered in the explanation in the sequel story, On the Radio. This not only fixed what wasn’t necessarily that big a problem, it also added a little more depth to the subsequent tale.

As for original characters, a lot of people, when they are inexperienced, tend to either stick just with a kind of canon alternative (which is what Doug Beckett was originally) or they are golden children of canon (more or less a type of canon alternate – Jia Sulu was a little like that) or they are out and out Mary Sues (Lili can be borderline at times, but her overall arc isn’t, and I work hard to keep her out of that zone). A few thoughts on that, if I may.

Mary Sue, How Do You Do?

Consider the following characteristics – beauty, intelligence, social ease, heroism and physical prowess of any sort. How many of these characteristics does your character have? Lili, for example, has intelligence and social ease. Pamela has beauty and intelligence. Doug has intelligence and physical prowess, and eventually has heroism. Malcolm and Jay both have intelligence and physical prowess, usually mixed with heroism. Blair has beauty, intelligence and social ease. But nobody’s got all of these characteristics.

And that’s the idea. Characters, like people, should not be perfect in every way. This goes for villains as well as heroes (so substitute the term villainy for heroism, above). For those five main traits, one or two are fine, and three are okay but may be pushing it. Four is really starting to push it. All five strains credulity to the breaking point. I see far too many original characters who can do no wrong and are in the five zone.

Elevator Pitch

I also try to get a sense from an author (and if I can ask him or her, all the better) about an elevator pitch-style story. I pay attention not only to what they suggest, but also to elements like the story’s length. After all, if you feel that I won’t understand your universe without reading 100,000 words, you aren’t necessarily showing a lot of respect for my time and interest level.

I have time to read fan fiction, yes. I concede the point. And it doesn’t have to be a drabble and we’re done. I do have a longer attention span than that. But my time is not infinite. I wish it was but, alas, it is not. If I read your 100,000 words, sight unseen, that will take up a pretty significant chunk of my time. You are telling me that we cannot date, and the only way I will know you is to get married. For a decade.

Hence I now try to keep the idea of an elevator pitch in mind, and can easily single out three stories of mine that fit that bill – The Light, The Cure is Worse than the Disease, and Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions. All three are fairly short and are completely self-contained. The reader does not need to know the remainder of my mythos in order to understand them but, if the reader does go back and read that, he or she will get another dimension on each of these stories. I don’t present this idea as a perfect one, but I do hope that other authors will at least consider something like that. It’s just easier for the reader.

Upshot

My own fandom experience has changed over time. In particular, as now I have read others’ original stories, characters, ships and eras, or their original takes on canon characters, ships, eras and situations, I have changed my appreciation of overall canon. Beverly Crusher, for me, is a bit of an empty nester, but also a smart amateur detective. Montgomery Scott is damaged and withdrawn, but fiercely loyal, and a badass in the Mirror Universe. The relationship between Kirk and Spock transcends traditional bonds of fellowship, but not as slash. TOS era situations come to life and are expanded upon, to great effect.

Utter Originality

And now completely original series have expanded my mind. A crew gets a shot at bringing everything back and re-gluing shattered pieces. Cadets from before the ENT era come through the  other side of the Third World War and its aftermath. The aftermath of the Dominion War ripples throughout the Alpha Quadrant, the Vorta and their allies, the Cardassians, and the Tal’Shiar; and a human and a Cardassian fall in loveVoyager‘s journey is enhanced by a look at peripheral characters who really should have been more in the forefront.

Deep Space Nine and its environs see changes over time as characters age and  become renewed. A completely non-canon ship and crew stay barely on this side of the law as their collective bacon is placed into the fire again and again. A young officer begins her career lurching among assignments. A cliffhanger serial has a new installment nearly every week. And the Border Patrol has a far more interesting life than you might think.

Fandom has allowed me to step into a number of fascinating and beautiful worlds. I can only hope that what I have created is one-tenth as entertaining for my own readers. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations – now those are words to live by.

Portrait of a Character – Takeo Masterson Sato

Portrait of a Character – Takeo Masterson Sato

Origins

When dreaming up Empress Hoshi‘s children, I wanted her to have fraternal twins, a boy and the only girl. Takeo is the younger of the two. All of the Empress’s children have meaningful names; Takeo means warrior. Takeo is a child of the Empress and Chip Masterson.

Portrayal

Takeo is played by Rick Yune.

Portrait of a Character – Takeo Masterson Sato
Rick Yune as Takeo Sato

This former Wall Street trader and model turned actor is of Korean descent.

I feel that he is just the right guy to be an Empress’s child, but also, in an alternate timeline, a violent collector of bad gambling debts.

Personality

Portrait of a Character – Takeo Masterson Sato

Called Lefty by his peers, Takeo doesn’t really have a brash personality that stands out. Takara is bratty turned sympathetic, Jun is secretive but with a heightened sense of duty, Kira is almost romantic and is something of an outsider, Arashi is businesslike and greedy and Izo is nasty and impulsive. But Takeo? There just isn’t a lot there, and I blame myself for not giving him more to do.

During the first alternate timeline in Temper, Marie Patrice takes a passing interest as she is trying to get both Jun and Kira jealous. But apart from being a bit of eye candy for her, there isn’t a lot to recommend Takeo.

Relationships

Ubvelwev

At the end of Temper, Rick Daniels notes for posterity that, in the correct timeline, Takeo had a male Calafan lover, but the man’s name is not known to history. In Who Shall Wear the Robe and Crown? he is revealed to be Ubvelwev. Since this Calafan is silver, he comes from our universe – and was the winner of the 2159 election for First Minister in Voice of the Common Man. But this is a lot later (2245), so it’s unknown whether he and Takeo were together at that time (as a Calafan, Ubvelwev can shuttle between the universes but, since Takeo is a human, he cannot).

Theme Music

Takeo’s theme is Cracker’s Get Off This.

Prime Universe

Takeo does not have a Prime Universe counterpart (that’s impossible), but he does have an analogue – Kevin Madden Beckett, as they both have unknown potential. As I have written him, he is almost as much of a cypher as Kevin.

Quote

He’s hopelessly ugly.”

Upshot

I’m not sure if I will ever have a chance to really develop Takeo. All mysteries about him are my own doing, for not putting enough out there about him.

Where Did it all Begin?

Meta

A Google search for “meta Star Trek” turns up all sorts of weird stuff, so I’m just going to put this image of various incarnations of the Enterprise up instead.

A bunch of Enterprises
A bunch of Enterprises

Just like no one is born knowing a language, I don’t suppose you’re born a Trekker. Trekkie. Something like that.

I think we’re made. Fandom is a product of the time and your environment. So let me let you, dear reader, of my environment and my time and I suppose you can then judge for yourself.

The ’60s

I could lie and tell you I was engaging in free love, protesting the Vietnam War and marching in Selma.

Or I could tell you the truth, that I was born in late 1962 and don’t really have a clear memory of any current events until about 1967 or 1968 or so as I rather vividly recall hearing on a radio that a heart transplant had been successfully performed. I also remember the Moon landing. We had horrible reception, so it was fuzzy and strange, and that made it all the more mysterious.

MTV on the Moon
MTV on the Moon

Seriously, I first saw a clear image of the Moon landing when MTV initially started broadcasting.

I also remember seeing the Vietnam War on TV, often during dinner. I don’t remember the specifics of it so much, and maybe I was shielded from them and certainly the worst of it wasn’t broadcast, anyway. But I do remember it, out there, naked, for all to see, and wonder about.

Star Trek in the ’60s

I remember watching TOS. Some of it was first-run, and some was in what were likely the first rounds of reruns. I was also watching Lost in Space at the time, and The Outer Limits (I recall having nightmares about one episode). I don’t think The Twilight Zone was in reruns at the time, in southeastern Pennsylvania, which is where my family lived then.

One rather big difference I noticed between Lost in Space and TOS was that the women on Lost in Space did laundry and cooked. There seemed to be an unending supply of space laundry. Will Robinson got to do cool stuff and have adventures (and get into trouble), and Penny did, too. But, in the end, Will got to tinker on the ship or talk to the robot. Penny did the dishes.

Things were not like that on the NCC-1701. And while Uhuru was, in many ways, a glorified receptionist, and Rand was a glorified secretary (and Chapel the RN was in another traditionally female role), at least they did things. I’m still not so sure how their space laundry was done, but none of them seemed to be in a hot hurry to take care of it at the end of a day. And they generally did not cook for, or serve, the captain or Mr. Spock, etc.

I was surprised to see Uhuru working under a console and fiddling with wires that sparked. She was doing repair work, and Spock even said she was the best person for the job! What the hell?

The times, as they say, they were a-changin’.

The ’70s

This was the era of the rerun. We moved to New York at the start of the decade, and TOS competed for my attention with such offerings as an afternoon movie. The Planet of the Apes films would be shown, one after another, all week during a typical week. They were cut to fit a two-hour window and I would watch from 4 to 6 PM, folding laundry or starting dinner or otherwise helping with chores during the commercials. My brother and I were latchkey kids, so someone had to do the rather down to earth wash.

Our mother, of course, wasn’t the only woman in the workforce. I had more and more friends whose mothers worked, at least part-time. I had friends whose parents were divorced. And I was in the last class year in my junior high where the girls were required to take Home Economics while the boys were required to take Shop.

At the end of the decade, I took Advanced Placement English and the teacher required a creative writing assignment that she would read to the rest of the class. I did it, and was pleasantly shocked that I did not actually die from embarrassment.

Star Trek in the ’70s

I got to know this old friend even better.  When I attended a wilderness summer camp, a fellow camper brought a cassette tape recording of an episode – it might have been The Trouble With Tribbles. I’m not sure. I recall being struck by the use of so many sound effects. I suppose I was beginning to understand, a little bit, about how the whole thing worked as a production.

The ’80s

My life changed quite a bit during this decade. I spent the first few years in college and then Law School, and the mid part was devoted to finishing Law School, with the end to practicing law, which I hated. However, during Law School, a boyfriend suggested to me – I bet you could write something if you put your mind to it.

And so I did.

The stories (there were a few) were not great. They were murder mysteries taking place in Boston. My Miss Marple-type character was a Midwestern Philosophy student at my alma mater. While she was not a Mary Sue type of character, I can honestly say now that she was mainly not too terribly believable. But I did come up with two character names that I have grabbed for my fan fiction – Thomas Grant and Shelby Pike.

At the end of the decade, I met my husband, who has always been there for me, for writing and everything else.

Star Trek in the ’80s

I recall, in 1991, going with my family and then-fiancé to see Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It was not planned, and I cannot remember what we were supposed to be watching instead; perhaps the competing film was sold out. I do remember liking it very much and just thinking, yeah, I like this stuff.

But when The Next Generation began to be aired, I didn’t watch it, and it all kind of fell off my radar. Some of this was due to the show not starting off too well, some was due to so many changes happening in my life.

The ’90s

In 1990, I up and quit practicing law. I had been miserable for far too long. But it was hard to find other work, so I instead concentrated on planning the wedding. In 1994, we moved to Providence, and then in 1995 we moved to Boston, and into our house in the middle of that year. I took a job auditing and traveled around the country, and was away for a good 200 – 250 days every year. I had little time for anything, let alone Star Trek. The center obviously could not hold, and I was transferred to different work and finally left that role at the end of the decade, for more lucrative pastures as a data analyst.

Star Trek in the ’90s

For me, it was nearly nonexistent. While others were watching TNG, and then Deep Space Nine and Voyager, I was, well, working. A lot. One show we watched, pretty religiously, was Quantum Leap. And we did see Star Trek: First Contact in a theater. And then in ’97, we got a computer with Internet access.

The ’00s

We were settled in a happy home life when 9/11 happened and the bottom dropped out of, well, everything. The financial services market collapsed, and took with it my job. My parents had a neighbor who died in the Twin Towers. It was personal, and it was scary.

A ray of hope was knowing that there was going to be new Star Trek. My husband and I vowed to watch it.

Star Trek in the ’00s

From the first scene of a young Jonathan Archer playing with a model starship, to the three starships signing off at the end of the series finale, we were hooked. It was must-see television, so far as we were concerned, and I even joined the campaign to save Enterprise.

And then, on February 26th, 2005, I wrote and posted my first fan fiction – More, More, More!, also called the disco Trek story.

I had a few bursts of creativity that year and then shelved everything for five years, returning to it on October 21st, 2010, with Reversal, a story that I spun out as I was posting it, with no plans whatsoever.

What about now?

That, gentle reader, is for the next meta blog installment. Stay tuned.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Recurrent Themes – Religious/Spiritual Leaders

Recurrent Themes – Religious/Spiritual Leaders

Spiritual leaders exist in my fiction.

Background

Religion is Star Trek canon, Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Spiritual Leaders and of course it is also a very real and very personal human experience.

While much of Star Trek is rather atheist-friendly, I don’t believe that faith will ever, truly, completely leave us. In particular, the Enterprise era is bound to have characters who still practice religion. Hence spiritual leaders would be a nature offshoot of that.

In Between Days Spiritual Leaders

Leah Benson

First seen in The Light, Rabbi Benson is the official Starfleet Rabbi. She assists Ethan Shapiro in putting together a short service to commemorate the life of his great-aunt, Rachel Orenstein.

In Bread, she is a part of an official Starfleet set of meetings and banquets where all of the Starfleet chaplains have been brought together as a part of welcoming three new worlds to the nascent Federation – the Caitian home world, Denobula and the Xyrillian home world. Leah is cordial with the Imam, a Buddhist monk and others. Religion is very much alive, and she is a big part of it. While reminiscing with Jonathan Archer, she reports that Ethan would often ask her advice about Karin Bernstein, and she is delighted that they wed.

Yimar

In the alternate timeline in Temper, she is the spiritual leader of her people on both sides of the pond. When the timeline is restored, she is only the High Priestess on the Mirror side.

The role of High Priestess is not too well-defined, but Yimar has the power to summon her fellow Calafans, no matter where they are, and can even telepathically communicate with those in the Mirror Universe, a useful talent for a spiritual leader who, in an alternate timeline, leads her government in exile, too.

Yipran

In Reversal, she seems to be dying, but Yipran, the High Priestess of the Calafan people, is not going down without a fight. In Fortune, she reveals that she understands far more of the universe and its origins (and its eventual fate) than pretty much anyone.

Times of the HG Wells

Kaiwev

In Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain, a Calafan temporal agent, Chellewev, has died in the line of duty. It’s up to Kaiwev, the leader of the Calafan unit, to lead prayers at the dedication of Chellewev’s spot on the Temporal Integrity Commission‘s monument to the fallen. Kaiwev is really just pressed into service and is not meant to be a priest.

Milton Walker and Members of the Eligian Order

About half of this order is composed of upstanding men who commit charitable deeds and are true believers. The other half is a front for the Perfectionists, including Walker himself. The legitimate monks are unaware of what is going on under their noses.

Interphases

Jonathan Archer

Because there are no religious or spiritual leaders on board, Captain Archer must perform those tasks. This includes everything from officiating at weddings

Recurrent Themes – Religious/Spiritual Leaders
Not just any old wedding

to eventually giving funerary orations.

It’s not much of a stretch to assume that he also presided over christenings and Bar and Bat Mitzvot.

He presides over Malcolm‘s and Jay‘s funerals in The Three of Us and both of theirs, Tripp‘s and Lili‘s in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. About the only religious occasion he does not preside over is Nanette Myers’s conversion to Islam, which is performed by Ramih Azar, in the presence of Azar Hamidi and Maryam Haroun Hamidi as witnesses.

It is unclear who fills in when Jonathan finally dies, but it is not a stretch to assume that the successor captain would do so. In The Three of Us, that’s Charles Tucker IV; in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, that’s canon character Lorian Cyrus Tucker.

Upshot

Faith abides and, in Bread, for the Mirror Universe and the prime, it’s one of the few things that survives. I believe there is a place for religion in Star Trek, even in the later series, and I am not afraid to show it. Faith of the heart, to me, means all hearts and, by definition, all faiths as well.

Review – The Adventures of Porthos

Review – The Adventures of Porthos

Porthos has such fun adventures!

Background

When I was first starting to write Star Trek fanfiction,

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Adventures of Porthos
The Adventures of Porthos

I seized upon an idea to write about the five senses. More, More, More is about hearing; There’s Something About Hoshi is about touch; If You Can’t Stand the Heat is about taste; The Puzzle is about vision; and The Adventures of Porthos, as would befit a story where a dog is the star, is all about smell.

Plot

The story starts off with Porthos narrating the action. Because he is a dog, he’s not too communicative in terms of language. Instead, the world divides into good smells and bad ones.

Review – The Adventures of Porthos

Most of the Enterprise is on the side of what Porthos refers to as good smells, everything from Sick Bay to the remnants of a cheeseburger that Hoshi ate for dinner. He listens to Captain Archer (Alpha) make plans about meeting a species called Azezans. Being Porthos, he doesn’t pay attention to every single syllable. He has acute hearing but, let’s face it, like many dogs, he sometimes only listens to what he really wants to hear.

The same scene is then repeatedly normally, and the story goes on that way throughout.

Porthos sees action when Archer learns that the Azezans are the victims of oppression. Captain Archer finds their predicament uncomfortably familiar, but he is initially unsure as to exactly why that is so. This ends up as one of my first links to Jewish characters and the Holocaust, as the reference is painfully close to the Judenrat.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I love dogs and I believe that they truly think quite a bit like this, paying somewhat selective attention and continually being distracted by the various aromas around them. They apparently understand some 200 – 350 or so words, so it would follow that a lot of what Porthos hears is just so much semi-random noise to him.

Furthermore, the emphasis on scents prefigures the Daranaeans, and the switching between the scenes was altered to great effect in Reversal. I like the story but don’t love it; the Alien of the Week plot could have been stronger, I feel. But the story had an unexpected, award-winning sequel, The Further Adventures of Porthos – The Stilton Fulfillment. And, as I have explained, it showcases some concepts and techniques that I have improved over time. I think it’s a decent older story.

Portrait of a Character – Ruby Brannagh

Portrait of a Character – Ruby Brannagh

Ruby Brannagh is an extension of canon.

Origins

This character is Star Trek: Enterprise canon, and is part of the episode, First Flight. Since she did not have a canon surname, I used the actress’s real name.

Portrayal

As in canon, Ruby is played by Brigid Brannagh.

Portrait of a Character – Ruby Brannagh
Ruby Brannagh (Brigid Brannagh)

About all that is really known about her in canon is that she owns the 602 Club, and had romances with both Tripp Tucker and Malcolm Reed (Reed writes her a fairly generic good-bye letter in the canon Shuttlepod One episode, thereby revealing that their relationship wasn’t terribly meaningful for him).

In Intolerance, I reveal that she also had a fling with Travis, which is a plausible supposition.

In Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before, she makes eyes at Jonathan Archer but there’s no evidence that anything happens.

Personality

Portrait of a Character – Ruby Brannagh
My grandmother’s shotgun says I can. (Brigid Brannagh)

Feisty and sexy, Ruby might not necessarily have the greatest judgment.

As I write her, she defends her bar but not her person, and ends up in a heap of trouble in Shell Shock, where she nearly dies.

Relationships

Aside from flings, Ruby doesn’t seem to have anyone. And one of those hookups almost gets her killed.

Mirror Universe

It is unknown whether she has a Mirror Universe counterpart, although there are no impediments to her existing there.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Brigid Brannagh as MU Ruby
Brigid Brannagh as MU Ruby (image is for educational purposes only)

Maybe she does. And she might even be on the Defiant. However, given the large number of lower class Mirror Universe women who are little more than hookers (in my fanfiction), it’s a bit more likely that a woman like her would earn her money and dubious privileges by engaging in more earthy pursuits.

Quote

“We split a tablet of methylqualone, and began drinking from a bottle. At least, I thought he had had a half of the methylqualone, but maybe he didn’t.”

Upshot

So characters aren’t necessarily wise and they don’t always make the right decisions. Ruby is one of those people.

Spotlight on an Original Non-Sentient Species – Procul/Prako

Spotlight on an Original Non-Sentient Species – Procul/Prako

Background

When I wrote the E2 Star Trek fanfiction stories, I decided that the Amity planet would have plenty of wildlife, but that none of it would have developed a backbone. Enter the procul (pronounced PRO-kull; the word is Latin for distant).

Characteristics

Huge, lumbering, and dumber than a box of rocks, procul (also called prako, which is pronounced prah-KO) are essentially giant ambulatory amphibious squid.

Spotlight on an Original Non-Sentient Species – Procul/Prako
Mega Squid (Procul/Prako)

When I dreamt them up, I was thinking about the Animal Planet speculative futurism show, The Future is Wild, and the mega squid.

The image is pretty close to what I’m shooting for, but procul are graced with a total of fourteen legs, and their eye spots (much like are found in flatworms – planaria – here on Earth) are on the underside of the animal. This makes them blind on land but surprisingly graceful underwater as they swim in a manner that we would perceive as being backwards.

Appearances

First seen in the E2 first timeline in Entanglements, no one really knows what to make of them. It isn’t even known whether they are sentient, and communication is even attempted. When it’s determined that they are no smarter than maybe an herbivorous fish, one is shot by Jay Hayes and brought back to the ship for study. Once the study is complete, he brings some pieces to the galley, and Lili cooks them, although she tries it raw first. When she shoves a piece of uncooked procul into Jay’s unsuspecting mouth, he has a rather visceral reaction to what is, essentially, a come-on.

In the prime timeline, prako are offered at a large open-air Calafan market in Local Flavor. Lili inquires about their cost but determines that they are too expensive for her current limited budget. The reader learns that the carcasses have been brought in by Eska hunters. In The Three of Us, it is revealed that Amity is called Archer’s Planet in the prime timeline.

Natural Enemies

Procul only have one known predator (other than sentient hunters) – malostrea, which the Eska call hard devils.

Behaviors

Nothing is known about their behavior in water. However, on land, they herd together, much like cattle. In Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, they are herded by dogs.

Since they are all hermaphrodites, the natural leader is the largest animal, as opposed to, perhaps, a male which would have been analogous to a bull or a stallion. The leader, at times, rears up on its back legs and rubs two forelimbs together. This produces a high-pitched sound, not unlike that of a penny whistle.

They also have chromatophores, and are observed changing colors, from rust to celadon to milky white. They have open circulatory systems, much like is found in mollusks here on Earth.

Upshot

Chameleon-like in coloration, circulation like in a clam, legs like an elephant, call like a cheap wind instrument and dumber than a box of rocks, procul are a bit of a mess, but I like them.

Review – First Born

Background

First Born has an irresistible background, I feel.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | First Born
First Born (Jun Daniels Sato)

In response to prompts about disciplining and decisions, I wrote First Born, a story about Richard Daniels, the Empress Hoshi Sato and their son, Jun Daniels Sato.

The story works as a bridge between In Between Days and Times of the HG Wells. Other such bridges include November 13th and More, More, More!

First Born Plot

In Reversal, I established that the Empress had given birth to Daniels’s child, but she thought him (the elder Daniels) to be dead. But Daniels isn’t dead.

Therefore, there had to be another side to the story.

This story explores the fallout at the Temporal Integrity Commission, and in time itself. Eleanor Daniels, Rick’s sister, is a docent at the Temporal Museum on Lafa II. She begins by lecturing about Empress Hoshi’s five children, but suddenly she shakes very, very slightly and ends her sentence talking about Hoshi’s six children.

Uh, oh.

Fallout

Variant logo based on the Terran Empire symbol...

Rick is hauled into his boss, Carmen Calavicci‘s, office. She is, understandably, livid. Carmen has been looking the other way for a while as he’s been bedding women in time. She has been figuring that it’s a way for him to cope with the fact that there are often deaths, or he has to restore deaths. So she has been kind or, at least, indifferent. But this is something else entirely, as the Mirror government is breathing down her neck. They demand that Jun Sato‘s existence be wiped out, thereby restoring Aidan MacKenzie‘s son, Kira, to his rightful position as first born heir.

Rick and Carmen meet with a Mirror government representative and begin to sort everything out. Rick wants Jun to live, but how much of a pound of flesh with the other side of the pond extract in order to make that happen?

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K+.

Upshot

I like the interplay among Carmen, Rick, and the Mirror representative (Ray Jiminez), as they essentially wheel and deal the past. It makes you wonder if that might eventually really happen.