Progress Report – December 2014

Progress Report – December 2014

December 2014 was the holidays and more.

Posted Works

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | December 2014

So I was rather busy. Hence it was a good month to add stories to context. And that was just as well.

Hence I added the following stories to In Between Days context: Linfep Linfep Linfep, About Nine Months, Faith and Who Shall Wear the Robe and Crown?

In addition, I added the following stories to The Times of the HG Wells context: Where O Where; and Dishing it Out.

Plus I added the following stories to Hall of Mirrors context: The Conspiracy, Gilded Cage, That’s Not My Name, It Had to Be You, Who Shall Wear the Robe and Crown?

To respond to a prompt about family and provide a little holiday story, I wrote Eight.

Finally, on the G & T Show website, I added Smash Your Dominion and Wider Than the Sargasso Sea. In the Gentle Slash topic, I added Red and A Perfect Note.

Milestones

So on the 12th of December, Untrustworthy was published!!! It’s been quite a wild ride.Untrustworthy

Ten stories have over 4,000 reads and over 50 reviews. So see the Stats page for individual read and review counts.

WIP Corner

I worked on The Badge of Humanity, the third and (presumably) final story in the wholly original Obolonk trilogy.

Prep Work

I worked on the jespah site, modernizing it. And I am really happy with it now. I also spent a lot of time on promoting Untrustworthy, requesting reviews, etc. I was even interviewed!

This Month’s Productivity Killers

I was published! If course this was a fantastic reason to not be writing fan fiction. I also worked on wholly original work so that kept me away from fan fiction writing.

Work! I started working as an SEO Specialist, too.

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Review – Gossip Gossip

Review – Gossip Gossip

Gossip is universal.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Cindy Adams as Rona Moran (image is for educational purposes only) | Gossip
Cindy Adams as Rona Moran (image is for educational purposes only)

Background

I like the idea of a futuristic fluff columnist and reporter who pries a bit into our heroes’ lives, just like the real life ones do now. In addition, I was also looking to prepare a bit of a prequel story in Star Trek fan fiction, where some of the estrangement that Malcolm has from his parents is not explained, but it is certainly felt. Hence the story provides that background as well.

Plot

While the NX-01 Enterprise is in the Delphic Expanse (thereby pinning the time at being during the third season of the show’s run), fluff maven Rona Moran reports that a senior officer is dating an alien on board the ship. She provides no additional information.

Watching at home are Malcolm’s elderly parents, Stuart and Mary. They jump to a conclusion, knowing that there is a Vulcan on the ship. They assume that it is Malcolm who is dating T’Pol, not realizing that it’s Tripp. There is also not thought whatsoever (like I have often seen with ‘shippers) that it could even be the Denobulan, Phlox. Hey, why not?

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I liked the little misunderstanding and what it might say about not only Stuart and Mary as people, but also about what readers might be like. Furthermore, as I state above, I felt it was a wry testament about their not having regular (or, really, any) communications with Malcolm. Their son remains utterly and heartbreakingly closed-off, even from them, a fact that really bites him during the E2 timeline in particular.

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Portrait of a Character – Kevin Madden-Beckett

Portrait of a Character – Kevin Madden-Beckett

Portrait of a Character – Kevin Madden-Beckett
Children with Cri du Chat Syndrome; image is from the Cri du Chat Support Group of Australia, http://www.criduchat.asn.au/

I wanted for there to be a tragic figure, a child who would not survive a month. This would, in many ways, be a direct statement about Doug and his origins in the Mirror Universe, where he was forced to memorize the Five Signs of Weakness, as shown in Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions. This child, symbolically, would be a complete and utter rejection of that twisted philosophy.

Origins

As I was writing Fortune, I hit upon the idea of a sixth child. Portrait of a Character – Kevin Madden-Beckett I had had Kevin O’Connor in mind for a while, so to have a consanguineous ancestor he was named after was an idea I wanted to explore.  A baby entering the family’s lives at this time is quite the disruption. Had Kevin lived – and even if he did not have genetic issues – it would have still caused a great deal of upheaval. After all, at the time of Kevin’s conception, Neil is nearly fifteen.

Kevin’s tiny, difficult life was not shown until About Nine Months, although he acts as a spirit guide to Tommy in Seven Women.

In Fortune, Doug, Lili, Malcolm, and Norri all see Kevin as a child in the afterworld, and he is always depicted as holding a seedling in his hands.  There is loss, yes, but the seedling is symbolic of growth, and of hope.

Portrayal

There is no actor to portray an infant who dies so young (none of the above images are intended to be of him). There are no relationships, there is no truly known personality, and there is no theme music. There are no quotes.

Mirror Universe

Kevin’s existence in the Mirror is impossible, but he has an analogue, Takeo Masterson Sato, as they both symbolize hidden potential.

Upshot

I wanted very much for the Beckett-MaddenDigiornoO’DayReed family to not be utterly perfect. Cri du chat is a very real issue and in some ways Kevin is a sign to fellow writers to lay off the perfection and wish fulfillment. Kevin’s life is tragic, but he teaches the people around him about love and acceptance and, after his death, he even assists them in the afterworld, comforting and guiding Tommy at his end, and being a signpost for Leonora and a bit of proof to Lili that there really is something there, beyond the end.

Please give generously to Cri du chat charities and support those who are directly affected. The Cri du Chat Support Group of Australia is a great place to start.

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Review – He Stays a Stranger

Review – He Stays a Stranger

He stays a stranger works as a bookend to The Stranger, because Rick never really gets to know anyone until Milena.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | He Stays a Stranger
He Stays a Stranger

Background

Back when I was originally putting together a wholly original time travel fantasy series, I came up with the story lines for A Long, Long Time Ago; Spring Thaw; and this one.  The idea of Goodman, Schwerner, and Cheney being saved, only to be lost again, was a sadly compelling one.

Further, I needed a way to complete the time travel series. The title was perfect.

Plot

As the previous book, Shake Your Body, ends, Rick Daniels has been wiped from existence. The imperfect state of the Master Time File means that he, personally, stays and survives, but no one knows who he is. Rick is almost stateless. Hence it’s as if he is thoroughly cut off from everyone else.  The most painful moment for Rick is when his own mother doesn’t know him, and his sister, Eleanor, screams for Security.

How it all works out, and what happens to Milena Chelenska, and the rest of the gang at the Temporal Integrity Commission, can be learned by reading the book, of course. However, I’ll admit I am not thrilled with the ending for Carmen Calavicci and a few others, like Polly Porter. I essentially just ran out of space.

Music

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

I like the overall feel of it, particularly as it disperses the darkness of the series and brings it back to light. In particular, with the incredible longevity of Branch Borodin, it feels like my characters, in a way, will never die. Because I often have troubling letting go of characters, that ‘fact’ made it a lot easier to end this series. Although there are sequels because I can’t keep my hands off stuff!

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Untrustworthy Has Been Published!

Untrustworthy Has Been Published!

On the twelfth of December, my original novel, Untrustworthy, was published by Riverdale Avenue Books.

To say that I am excited about this development in my life is one hell of an understatement.

Untrustworthy has been published!
Untrustworthy by JR Gershen-Siegel

The novel is a wholly originally work of fiction, on a planet created by me, with a species developed by me.

This book was written during the 2013 NaNoWriMo event.

Here’s what the publisher had to say about my work:

Winner of the first Annual Riverdale Avenue NaNoWriMo contest, JR Gershen-Siegel’s first published novel Untrustworthy is a ground-breaking science fiction novel of Dystopian politics in an oddly familiar alien culture that pits gender “norm” against  gender-bend in an age-old battle.

Untrustworthy is old-school political dystopia in the vein of Brave New World: brilliant, gripping, frightening. JR Gershen-Siegel tackles gender politics and gender oppression with an unflinching eye. Untrustworthy is panned NaNoWriMo gold.”

Cecilia Tan, Publisher of Circlet Press, award-winning author of The Struck by Lightning series

Tathrelle is the only liberal in the Cabossian government. She represents the will of the people and is responsible for communicating with them about how the war with the Cavirii is going. She has a pregnant wife, and all seems well. The future seems promising, until she meets her new assistant. Something is off with the man.

When Tathrelle wakes up the morning after she first met him, she notices that subtle changes seem to have taken place overnight. She shrugs them off. 

But it happens again and again. Someone, somehow, is changing everything she knows, as Tathrelle begins to wonder if her memories are faulty or if her mind is going. Can she trust the face she sees in the mirror? Is Caboss winning the war or losing it? Why is she suddenly the one who is pregnant?

Only her dreams provide a clue, a small vestige of what came before.

Trust your dreams, not your memory.

Yeah, it’s like that.

I even have an Amazon Author page!

Recurrent Themes – Computer Technicians

Recurrent Themes – Computer Technicians

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Sheilagh Bernstein's file photo at the Temporal Integrity Commission | Computer Technicians
Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Sheilagh Bernstein’s file photo at the Temporal Integrity Commission

In time travel in particular, someone will have to be able to deal with computers. They are such a pervasive part of our lives that I cannot imagine sending a time travel contingent to any time past about 1985 or so without giving them the ability to work with computer systems.

Further, Star Trek has always had a somewhat ambivalent relationships with computers and, truly, all forms of technology. The Original Series (TOS) in particular often showcases a dichotomy between over reliance on computers versus good old fashioned human know-how. In The Next Generation (TNG), Data is so human-like that there is a question about whether he should have the same rights as a member of a naturally evolving sentient species would.

Background

Amusingly enough (and highly reflective of the mores of the time), Original Series actors are shown really only using computers for work. Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Computer Technicians The same seems to be true for the Next Generation, except when it comes to the use of the fantasy-fulfilling holodeck. Then, it’s no holds-barred.

You need to get to Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT) before you start to see people using computers for leisure pursuits. In the Catwalk episode, a crewman does a crossword puzzle on hers. Jonathan Archer even seems to use his for reading (although Malcolm Reed appears to prefer paper books).

Appearances

Hoshi Sato

As in canon, Hoshi (with the help of T’Pol) is often tasked with not only handling the ship’s database, but also in interpreting aliens’ databases.

Charlotte Reed-Hayes Archer

In Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, it is Charlotte, a descendant of Jonathan, Lili, Ebrona, Jay, Malcolm, and others, who sends the first kick-back’s full database to Hoshi. This changes the second kick back in time’s experience rather dramatically, as people already know who they ended up with.  When the second kick back in time meets the prime timeline version, there isn’t enough time to load the entire database, and so the prime timeline is left with only knowing what we learned in canon, and never knowing that there were two involuntary trips back in time.

Sheilagh Bernstein

The specialist in ancient computers is a mid-level Temporal Agent working with Richard Daniels. In Another Piece of the Action, she ends up inadvertently insulting Spock a little, when she refers to his beloved computer system as being primitive.

Upshot

As we move closer to real-life Star Trek types of experiences, I fully believe we will use computers more and more. They will converge, probably, and smart phones and tablets will likely become more or less the same devices. Through it all, someone will need to handle them. I will undoubtedly write about more people just like this.

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Review – Debate

Review – Debate

Debate fills a small plot hole.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Vidam | Debate
Adult Vidam, one of the Daranaens and son of Prime Wife Dratha

Background

As a prelude to Flight of the Bluebird, I wanted Vidam to try, but fail, at convincing his fellow Beta Council members that it’s time to allow at least Prime Wives to vote in Daranaean elections.

Plot

Review – Debate

Vidam, a newly-elected Beta Council member, introduces his first bill into the chamber. And it’s a doozy, for Vidam is hoping to convince his fellow councilors to allow voting for Prime Wives. As a foreshadowing of his eventual campaign for Alpha, Vidam’s chief rival is Boestus. When Boestus speaks, he jokes that Prime Wives would vote for frivolous things, such as more shopping holidays. His speech is intended to be somewhat reminiscent of many male politicians before human women got the right to vote here in the United States.

Voting on Daranaea

It was also an opportunity to introduce the traditional in-person method of Daranaean voting. I wanted something weird and alien, so I went with an idea about chairs. The Council would vote by having everyone stand. And everyone in favor would remain standing (as a play on the idea of “stand and be counted”) whereas anyone in opposition would sit.

This idea in part is taken from my experiences in I believe it was fourth grade, where we would stand and recite the times tables, going up and doing each row. E. g. one student would say, “Five times four is twenty.” The next would would say, “Five times five is twenty-five.” These would go on under twelve squared. However, if you messed up, you would sit down. Eventually only a few people would be left standing and we would duke it out until the last person messed up or time ran out or the teacher just decided that she’d seen enough. For the Daranaeans, the image of just Vidam and one of his fathers in law, the war hero (and current Alpha), Acreon, being the only ones standing is a fairly powerful one. It shows the utter lack of support for this – to the Daranaeans – rather radical idea.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I think the message gets across well, that times are changing, but it’s just not happening fast enough, on the planet of sexist sentient marsupial canids.

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Portrait of a Character – Sybok

Portrait of a Character – Sybok

Sybok is a great character to toss into the Kelvin timeline.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Laurence Luckinbill (Sybok) (image is for educational purposes only)
Laurence Luckinbill (Sybok) (image is for educational purposes only)

Origins

Portrait of a Character – Sybok

The new Kelvin timeline, as depicted by the JJ Abrams films like Star Trek Into Darkness, has a lot of things, but it does not seem to have Spock’s canon half-brother.

Sybok’s canon appearance is rather problematic, as Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is a pretty bad flick. I am, though, trying not to blame the actor. I’m not so sure that it’s his fault. It’s just an odd premise, that Spock would suddenly have a half-sibling, the guy would essentially be nuts, and that he would be searching for a mythological heaven-type of place but, alas, would instead be the victim of a malevolent alien. About the best thing about the film is Shatner’s line, “What does God need with a starship?

It rather neatly sums up nearly every instance, in Star Trek and in other types of fiction, where there is an entity that is supposed  to be omnipotent yet that entity, when it’s convenient for the plot, suddenly isn’t.

Are you listening, Q?

Portrayal

As in canon, Sybok is played by actor Laurence Luckinbill. Like I said, I don’t blame him for it being a bad film. I get the feeling that Luckinbill did what he could with the material he was given. He has been interviewed, and he revealed that Nimoy had wanted the role to be one of twins. Nimoy had wanted to play both characters, an act that I feel would have been far more of an exercise in ego-stroking than in nearly anything else. At least someone had the foresight to nix that idea.

Personality

Just like in the canon film, I make him a somewhat larger than life character. He is what is called, in canon, V’tosh ka’tur. That is, he does not suppress his emotions. Eriecho doesn’t because she was never taught to, and Saddik generally doesn’t because he was in Canamar Prison for so long that he decided it didn’t matter quite so much anymore.

However, I give him a reason for his behaviors. I give him the canon affliction, Pa’Nar Syndrome, which is something that T’Pol suffers from during the run of Star Trek: Enterprise. Hers was cured by a correctly-performed mind meld, and so I have Spock Prime perform one on Sybok.  This rather neatly ties the two timelines together and it reserves a place for Sybok, who I will probably find a place to use again.

Relationships

I have written no relationships for him, although he leers at the women, young and old, at the Martian Sanctuary. If Saddik isn’t careful, he’ll make a pass at Valeris, and not just to request her professional assistance as a Pon Farr comforter.

Theme Music

The Across the Universe story is full of Beatles songs. Sybok’s is I Am the Walrus, although Nowhere Man would work, too.

Mirror Universe

There are no known impediments to Sybok existing on the other side of the pond.

Portrait of a Character – Sybok
Mirror Sybok

I can see him either as being wholly free of Pa’Nar and therefore much more similar to Mirror Spock in outlook and behavior. Or maybe he’s got it, and it’s far worse. He could be not just a demigod but a rather nasty individual. Perhaps he’s in the Emperor’s inner circle as a henchman. It’s an intriguing idea that I might explore in the future.

Quote

“If I’m going to my tenth, then we should write this day down in history, less than a day – a new record!”

Upshot

For a character who was not treated well in the prime timeline, I like to think I gave him some measure of redemption. Plus at some point Eriecho and Sollastek have to get married! Sybok will have a front-row seat. I guarantee it.

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Review – Biases

Review – Biases

Biases gave me a chance to create a new character. Bridie Kelly came out of whole cloth and, unlike nearly everyone else I’ve created for Star Trek fan fiction, she does not connect up to the Reed-Madden-Digiorno-Beckett-Hayes-O’Day family.

Barking Up the Must Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Biases
Biases

Background

So I wrote this short story in response to a prompt of the same name. Being here in Boston, you can hear the Irish brogue on most days. Hence I kept hearing the phrase, ‘No Irish Need Apply‘ as I thought of what would become this story.

Plot

For Bridie Kelly, it’s the chance to get a new, decent job. She is a highly skilled nurse’s assistant and caregiver. But she’s tired of seeing sick and dying children (her earlier posting was at a children’s hospital). For Soval, he’s getting up there in years, even for a Vulcan. His aides don’t quite know what to do with him, as he needs care. Plus he’s lost his logical focus and, instead, is impatient. He might also have a bit of the Vulcan equivalent of Alzheimer’s (which is not canon although I think it should be).

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Much like Flip; Confidence; A Long, Long Time Ago; Gainful; and Voracious, this is a job interview story. I like the interactions, in particular how Bridie conducts herself and pushes past her doubts. I’ve had people ask for a sequel, or there are even people who ‘ship her and Soval! I think that’s nuts. This is a job interview and nothing more. People can certainly get along without romance becoming a part of it. Not every story merits an extension, or should end with a kiss in front of a sunset backdrop.

Sometimes, a story is just a story.

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