Progress Report – April 2015

Progress Report – April 2015

April 2015 was good although not so much for Star Trek fan fiction writing. Because I simply did not have enough hours in a day. Yet then again, who does?

Posted Works

First of all, I kept the postings down as I was busy with school.

In addition, on Wattpad, I continued to post Together.

Furthermore, on the G & T Show Forums, I posted Education. I then followed the same format I had followed on Wattpad, and began to spin out Before Days with Detroit Rock City, A Single Step, The High Cost of Dissidence, Flip, Atlas, And the Livin’ is Easy and Party on Risa.

Because I’d been neglecting it for a while, I updated The All-Stars on Ad Astra. Hence Mack and Marty got some more live.

And finally, on Fanfiction.net, I continued to post Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. Hence that site saw a lot more of the epic story.Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | April 2015

Milestones

See the Stats page for individual read and review counts.

WIP Corner

So I continued to edit and polish the wholly original story, The Badge of Humanity.

Prep Work

In addition, I worked some more on the Barnstorming series as I had been out of writing long fan fiction for quite a while. I was able to get a lot of the mystery resolved, which will make writing the remainder of that series much easier.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

I spent a lot of time on schoolwork, as the semester was winding down. Hence this meant my focus had to be on something far from Star Trek fan fiction, alas. Therefore, as my grades always come first, that meant some neglect of the universe. So to my characters, I say – I’m so sorry!

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Portrait of a Character – Sollastek

Portrait of a Character – Sollastek

Origins

I wanted Eriecho to eventually have a love  interest, so that she could have a silver lining from the horrible tragedy that is the destruction of Vulcan in the new timeline.  This man would be markedly younger than her, and not too terribly well-educated. Enter Sollastek.

Portrayal

Sollastek is a purely romantic character so I have him played by Justin Timberlake.

Portrait of a Character – Sollastek
Justin Timberlake as Sollastek

I think Timberlake (who is a better actor than a lot of people seem to give him credit for) would make a pretty interesting Vulcan.

I like the idea of him being a bit guilt-ridden, partly with survivor guilt, but also because he is a witness to a canon event, when Amanda Grayson, Spock’s mother, is killed.

Personality

A bit troubled but trying very hard, Sollastek is attempting to make the best of a bad situation. But the truth is, if Eriecho and Saddik had not arrived at the Martian Sanctuary, it’s likely that he would have been the subject of the matrons’ none too subtle shunning. He is working class and barely on their side of logical and meditative. After all, even on Vulcan, someone has to be a day laborer.

Relationships

Eriecho

Sollastek’s sole known relationship is with Eriecho. In Across the Universe, she learns that he made a deal with Colonel Shaw to change his space in the community garden so that he could be closer to her. He is a calming influence on Eriecho, and grounds her. He’s patient with her when she runs off to Earth with Sybok, too.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Sollastek
Justin Timberlake as Mirror Sollastek

There are no impediments to Sollastek existing in the Mirror Universe.

I do not feel that he would be any brighter, but he would probably have more confidence. As for survivor guilt, much like a lot of denizens of the Mirror, he just wouldn’t care all that much.

Quote

“Many of us have seen truly horrible things. I was there when our home world was destroyed, as was Valeris. It was a day I will never forget. Many of the others, I am certain, have suffered their own personal traumas.”

Upshot

As Eriecho goes, so goes Sollastek. He will return.

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Review – Gremlins

Review – Gremlins

Gremlins is another dual meaning title and piece.

Background

The prompt was about breaking down.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Later Days | Gremlins
Later Days

I decided to go a bit silly but also capture a moment in the later lives of Lili, Doug, and Malcolm. I had already established, in Fortune, that Lili suffers from some mild hearing loss near the end of her life. Hence the idea was to explore the origins of that issue, but to do so in a more or less humorous fashion.

Plot

On August 28, 2164, Malcolm and Doug investigate a mysterious pinging sound. The story opens with the two of them underneath Lili’s car, working on it. In canon, Malcolm is established as not being an engineer, of course, but he is still able to take some minor things apart and perform some repairs. I wanted Doug, who in some ways is the consummate ‘man’s man’ to have a bit of an ability to tinker with things.

Eventually, the guys figure out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Lili’s car. At dinner that evening, she is the only one to hear a pinging sound. Unspoken, this is not Lili hearing things as if she were insane. Rather, she is beginning to suffer from tinnitus.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I like the little domestic drama (I tend to write a lot of small domestic dramas for this family), but because I never really spell out what is going on with Lili, the story is somewhat unclear. It would be better to, in some fashion, clarify that the sound is not a sign of mental illness, but instead is a sign of a creeping auditory problem.

But the family is still, on the whole, happy. It’s a problem, yes, but not a major one.

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Recurrent Themes – Jane Eyre

Recurrent Themes – Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre figures in a lot of my work.

Background

When I first began writing again, I had fairly recently read Jane Eyre in its entirety for the first time. Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Jane Eyre This triggered the addition of that story, at times, into my Star Trek fan fiction. Lili O’Day and Reversal, in particular, are in some ways a space version of at least parts of that story.

The idea of bringing together two people who are from rather different walks of life or at least professions, and giving them a future (but not giving them an immediate happy ending) was a challenge. For the heroine to not be a great beauty, but to still be independent and insist upon a relationship on her own terms was irresistible. These threads can be seen in any number of places in my work.

Appearances

Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions

In Paving Stones, a young Doug is taken away from his parents and sent to a rough, unpleasant boarding school by a Mr. Brocklehurst.

Reversal

Recurrent Themes – Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre (2006 miniseries) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Lili and Doug first get together, her situation is quite a bit like Jane’s. She’s a low-level crew member and is isolated, and is not very attractive.

As the quietly serving one who cleans up, Lili is supposed to be the sort of below decks person who fades into the background. And she often does. For the ship to send a search party out for her, and to nearly have an interstellar incident with the Calafans when she is abducted, is a big, big deal. This is a person who most of them underestimated, who turns out to be rather important indeed.

Fortune

At Norri‘s deathbed, she gives away her paper books, including Jane Eyre, which is given to Marie Patrice, because Empy is the “strong, independent heroine of her own life.”

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

When clearing out Malcolm‘s quarters, Lili comes across the book and takes it, vowing to read it.

Flight of the Bluebird

Seppa reveals that Lili and Malcolm sent books to the young Daranaean girls, including this one.

Wider Than the Sargasso Sea

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel |  Toby Stephens in Jane Eyre
Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Toby Stephens in Jane Eyre

Several years after the Breen attack, Gabrielle Nolan stars in this play, with Desh, a Breen, playing opposite her as Mr. Rochester.

But can Gabby act opposite a boy whose father fought in a devastating war, as her enemy? And what about the townspeople? The Breen are kept in a separate section, which Gabby’s mother, Gina, dismisses as a ghetto. Is this any way to normalize relations?

Advice From My Universes to Yours

When providing advice to Aurellan Markalis, Lili suggests reading a classic love story like Jane Eyre. Jay comments that he doesn’t read such things.

Upshot

I really loved weaving this story line into my own fiction, with little shout outs that are almost like literary Easter Eggs. Jane Eyre will return.

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Portrait of a Character – Bernardine (Bernie) Keating-Fong

Portrait of a Character – Bernardine (Bernie) Keating-Fong

Origins

During Intolerance, I needed someone who would be a kind of chaperone to Pamela, Blair, Will, Mark, and An.  Her name had to be gender-neutral. Her surname, like a lot of the other names in that story, evokes Dominic Keating’s earlier career. The Fong portion is a nod to another original character of mine, pop star Kurt Fong. I like to think that she is his sister-in-law.

Portrayal

Bernie is played by actress Michelle Yeoh.

Portrait of a Character – Bernardine (Bernie) Keating-Fong
English: Michelle Yeoh at the Toronto International Film Festival 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wanted an older yet attractive Asian actress. She would also be the kind of person who, during the shenanigans at the beginning of Intolerance, Malcolm might consider as a romantic prospect.

Personality

Extremely intelligent and knowledgeable, Phlox refers to her as a specialist in ancient diseases, a statement that she does not dispute. Until it was time to write others’ universes, I did not really have a role for her beyond Intolerance. However, I had occasion to write a crossover work called Bomb(e) and made her the physician on the NX-04 Ariane. In that story, which is played a lot more for laughs, Dr. Keating-Fong ends up treating a patient who may or may not have planted a bomb on board in order to scare off Romulans who have boarded that ship.

Relationships

Bernie has no known relationships in either universe.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Bernardine (Bernie) Keating-Fong
Mirror Bernie

There are no impediments to Bernie existing in the Mirror Universe.

Because medical care is so devalued over there, as are women, I like to think that she would be tougher. She would have to be, particularly as she aged.

 

Quote

“Naurr, listen to me very carefully. You’re the chef on the Ariane. We’re at war with the Romulans. And I hardly think you were making bombs.”

Upshot

Now that I’ve put her on the Ariane, I suppose she can have some other adventures. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even show her with Kurt.

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Review – Imprecision

Review – Imprecision

Imprecision addresses an imperfectly formed memory.

Background

So for a Star Trek fan fiction challenge about nightmares, I went with a dream that evoked a memory that was imperfectly realized.

Plot

Wesley Crusher has been, at the start of the story, spending time in the company of the The Traveler.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Imprecision
Wesley Crusher with the Traveler

And this is a canon situation. However, also in canon, Wesley eventually leaves The Traveler. Hence in order to dovetail with Crackerjack, this event precipitates Wesley taking his leave.

At the start of the story,  Wes wakes up from a nightmare. He remembers his parents fighting, and his mother throwing something. It’s awful; he recalls being a small child at the time, making it even more heart-wrenching.  Speaking with The Traveler afterwards, it is determined by them that Wes actually wants to return to a regular life. This is a marker, an indicator that there is unfinished business out there for him. Furthermore, he wants to find out about that memory, which he realizes is something that he suppressed.

Returning to Regular Life

Review – Imprecision
Beverly Crusher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wesley is essentially beamed to his mother’s quarters. He has been gone longer than the regular passage of time would indicate, an idea I had because his time with The Traveler has to be odd and unique and special. For Beverly Crusher, this is sort of a dream, and sort of not. She tells him that it’s a few hours before Will Riker and Deanna Troi’s wedding (another canon event).

Wesley is hurriedly given a uniform, and it does not necessarily show his correct rank (that is canon, in the film, Nemesis). A little bored with the proceedings, his eyes alight on a young girl playing the French horn for the Starfleet Academy band, which is providing the music for the event. With some confidence mustered up, he talks to her, and realizes that this is why he left The Traveler. It is to meet Lakeisha Warren and begin a new phase of his life.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K+.

Upshot

I truly enjoyed being able to bring Wesley’s character in line and bring the canon of the Nemesis film together with fan fiction in the form of Crackerjack and the Barnstorming series.

Review – Imprecision
Horn (instrument) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being able to write the first-ever meeting of Wes and Lakeisha was a treat, too.

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Portrait of a Character – Vidam

Portrait of a Character – Vidam

Vidam rises to greatness in my fan fiction.

Origins

During the Star Trek fan fiction story Take Back the Night, I wanted for there to be a believable witness who would be able to refute Arnis’s accusations against Mistra. But this person would have to be a little afraid of Arnis although ultimately they would do the right thing. Yet given the sexist nature of Daranaean society, this person would have to be male. In order to put him into the right position, I made him the Prime Wife, Dratha‘s, eldest son. Enter Vidam.

Portrayal

As with nearly all Daranaeans, I do not have anyone in mind to play Vidam.

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

This is an altered image of a Golden Retriever. As always, readers are encouraged to use their imaginations when thinking about the look and sound of most Daranaeans.

I actually envision him as being more fox-like in appearance, so the snout would be thinner and more pointed.

Personality

The name is Hungarian for “cheerful”, but Vidam is usually far from cheerful. Instead, much like the Calafan, Treve, he is an elder son with a great weight of responsibility on his shoulders. At the end of Take Back the Night, with Arnis taken away in the futuristic equivalent of handcuffs, the teenaged Vidam is suddenly responsible  for his family.  He insists that Dratha in particular help him, but it is he who makes the decision to allow Seppa to learn to read and write.

When he gets older, he becomes a politician, and is the standard bearer for the liberals in the Daranaean government, in his role as a Beta councilor.

Relationships

Like all wealthy Daranaean men, Vidam takes three wives, one from each caste.

Ethara

Unlike other Prime Wives, Ethara is more of an equal partner to Vidam. Like many human political spouses, she attends functions with him and is otherwise a part of a charm offensive.

Morza

The jokester secondary, as is seen in Temptation, is one of the daughters of the war hero (and eventual Alpha), Acreon. Morza is also a close friend to Vidam’s half-sister, Cria.

Kela

The least known of Vidam’s wives, Kela is a member of the third caste (and is named for one of my great-grandmothers, actually).

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Vidam
Mirror Vidam

The Daranaeans exist in the Mirror (Empress Hoshi refers to their planet as “always smelling like wet dog”).

I see them as more like wolves than dogs, and being rather vicious indeed. I doubt that Vidam would be so cultured and congenial in the Mirror Universe.

Quote

“Thylacine Paramyxovirus has devastated our population, yet we devastate it even more with compulsory euthanasia. Doctors, I know, are working around the clock to try to cure that horrible malady. My brother, the doctor, Trinning – he says that they are close to a true breakthrough. What will we do when they have finally cured it? Will we, then, decide to make a law to euthanize our secondaries? Where does it end? I say it ends now. It ends here! Third caste females who are menopausal can do all manner of things. They can still cook and keep house. They can still care for children. {and} They could, I dare say, do more if we gave them the opportunity. A vote for, for me, that is a vote against the euthanasia law. I say we end it now!”

Upshot

It was very important to me for the Daranaean men to not necessarily be bad guys. At least not all the time. Vidam is one of the first  male Daranaean heroes that I wrote. I will bring him back at some point.

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Review – Gilded Cage

Review – Gilded Cage

Gilded Cage came about because I needed to bridge a gap between Together and Temper on the other side of the pond. For a prompt about being trapped, I decided to write about a Mirror Universe trap.

Background

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Hall of Mirrors | Gilded Cage
Hall of Mirrors

The most likely candidate for being trapped, who would also (in some ways) be a sympathetic character, was Aidan MacKenzie.

 

Plot

On January 7, 2161, in the Mirror Universe, the Empress confines Aidan to quarters. So it’s just before Temper, and the Empress Hoshi Sato is looking to get her act in gear and start pushing to get more advanced ships like the ISS Defiant. And she can tell that the star ship will not last forever. As she contemplates her next move, Aidan has had enough. Furthermore, five children already exist. And Hoshi is pregnant with Izo, the last one. And so Aidan then complains that he can’t keep up with it all, and makes the mistake of referring to Hoshi by her first name. However, this simply will not do. The Empress will not stand for it. Angrily, she demands that she only be referred to by her title by him, the Royal Babysitter.

So in a move toward independence, Aidan picks up Kira (who he refers to as Kirin) and threatens to leave, telling her that he’s quitting. As the Ready Room door opens, Shelby Pike, Chip Masterson, and Lucy Stone give him quick sympathetic glances; however, Travis Mayweather and Gary Hodgkins do not. And then Hoshi orders Josh Rosen and Tristan Curtis up, to move the bassinets into her quarters, as Aidan and the royal children will be confined there.

Yet Aidan goes willingly, as he has no choice in order to assure that his toddler son will not be harmed.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

So the menace of the Mirror is back (because it never really left), and I like how it foreshadows Aidan’s resentment and in particular Chip and Lucy’s urge to leave as soon as possible.

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