All posts by jespah

Shuttlepod pilot, fan fiction writer, sentient marsupial canid.

Review – Voracious

Review – Voracious

Voracious grew out of a Star Trek fanfiction idea to not only give Lili O’Day a little more backstory and fill in a blank in her life, but also as a response to a prompt about making a good impression.

Needs

Review – Voracious

Chef William Slocum has been charged by Captain Archer to replace three people – a sous-chef, a pastry chef and a saucier. Plus, for his own preferences, Will doesn’t want to be fetching and carrying. He’d rather not be cleaning off tables or serving food. His current steward, Preston Jennings (seen in More, More, More!) had been the replacement for Daniels and has been moved over to Navigation. Furthermore, Will can’t just ask Preston to drop everything and serve food all the time, as the Xindi war has just started.

Impressive

Will has a free evening on Earth and takes a cab to a new fusion place that had received a good review prior to the attack on Earth. Voracious is in San Mateo. The meal begins with Will asking the server what’s good. She recommends two of Lili’s specialties – the Harvest Salad and the Duck Burger. The Harvest Salad is mentioned in both Reversal and Fortune. The Duck Burger gets a shout-out in Together. Will decides to have both, plus a glass of the house Shiraz.

Review – Voracious

He ends up loving the salad and its orange vinaigrette dressing (a reference to the later importance of oranges in Reversal and Fortune) and asks to meet the chef. The server arranges it and Will heads to the kitchen.

A Whirling Dervish

Lili is tasked with not only cooking, chopping and making sauces, but also cleaning up. She barely notices him as he comes in, and has him put a carton of blueberries away (blueberries will become important in the E2 stories). And so already Will is able to check off two of his requirements – saucier and sous-chef, and probably also table-cleaner. When she offers him some of the New York-style cheesecake she’s made that day – and complains about having to also balance the books on top of everything else she’s had to do – he is sold. At the end of the story, all they have to work out are the details.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I like the way it turned out and I think it provides a decent introduction to In Between Days. For a while there, it was the first story in that series because it fully takes place in 2153, as opposed to Paving Stones, which has a flashback to 2109 but mainly takes place later. I also like how Lili, who is a major character in the series, is barely seen. She’s the ghost of later, seen through the eyes of Chef.

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden

Melissa arose out of an idea I had for Lili, actually. Since Lili was going to have a particular arrangement, there had to be what was essentially a counterpart arrangement. Enter Melissa.

Origins

In Intolerance, there are four crew members who are worse off than the others. One of them is Melissa. At the time, I was already thinking about Together and so I wanted the name to be out there, perhaps in the back of the minds of readers. Melissa was also intended as homage to canon character Martin Madden, who is Steven Culp‘s character in Star Trek: Nemesis. The character can only be seen in additional footage; the actual scene went to the cutting room floor.

Melissa was also intended as a direct expression of a day/night dichotomy. Hence, she is bisexual, and the day is devoted to a female lover, Leonora, whereas the night is devoted to a male lover, Doug. Switching up the dichotomy even more is the fact that, when introduced, she is working the night shift.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden
Catherine Bell

Due to the connection to Culp, I opted for actress Catherine Bell.  Bell was also chosen because she has a rather different look from both Lili and Leonora. I also wanted a physical portrayal of someone who would be believable as both a mother and an athlete. This would be someone with almost a fly-boy (fly-girl, I suppose) swagger, too, reflecting the character’s occupation as a pilot. At the same time, the character needed to be feminine but also not too terribly young.

Symbolism

Five of the six main characters (everyone but Pamela Hudson) is associated with an element. Melissa is the earth element, even though she’s a pilot. A part of this is her earthiness, another part is her hunting and back to nature behaviors. She’s a lot more comfortable out of doors than either Norri or Lili are. To me, she symbolizes solidity.

Personality

Beyond the day/night, two lovers situation, Melissa is a skilled pilot and devoted to her family. She becomes a mother three times (all boys) and imparts her love of Starfleet to Tommy and her split persona to Neil. Kevin, though, is tragic – she buries him when he is less than a month old. This changes her, making her more pensive in her later years. In her much later years, she develops the canon disease Irumodic Syndrome, which is an analogue to Alzheimer’s. In Fortune, the reader witnesses some of her decline.

Relationships

Catherine Bell as an older Melissa Madden
Catherine Bell as an older Melissa Madden

For Melissa, relationships follow the day and the night. She is a kind of split personality character.

Leonora Digiorno

They meet cute, when both are on vacation on Ceres. Melissa essentially crooks her finger, and Norri comes running. They originally settle on Ceres.

Doug Beckett

Melissa and Doug are paired up during Together, and she is a direct reason why Lili and Doug open up their marriage. It’s not just due to her pregnancy; it is also because they truly love each other.

Andrew Miller

In the Mirror Universe, Andy is the Empress Hoshi Sato‘s boy toy, and Melissa knows that. But she goes after him anyway.

Shelby Pike

This is never confirmed (I may write it at some point), but at minimum, Melissa and Shelby tease the hell out of the Mirror Travis.

Music

As might be expected, her initial music is the Allman Brothers’ Sweet Melissa. With Doug, her theme is the Cure’s Let’s Go to Bed. With Norri, the theme is k. d. lang’s Constant Craving. Her final theme is Joe Jackson’s Get That Girl.

Quote

“I never loved another man. Never wanted to.”

Mirror Universe

 

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden
Mirror Melissa

The Mirror Melissa’s life is defined by poor choices and tragedy. Her death is shown in Fortune, and is also remembered by her lover, Andrew, in Escape.

Upshot

Kind and sometimes a little silly, the perceptive peacemaker is a part of the glue holding the main characters in the In Between Days series together.

Inspiration – TV shows

Inspiration – TV shows

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. Because my first exposure to Star Trek was watching the original series in its first run, naturally some inspiration comes from the big flashing box in the living room.

Star Trek

Star Trek itself is, of course, an inspiration, and there are a lot of cross-references among the various series, plus the films. I’ll explore that in another blog entry.

Quantum Leap

Inspiration – TV shows

Between Captain Archer and Sam Beckett both being played by Scott Bakula, and Crewman Daniels the time traveler having to fix various temporal issues, and Colonel Grat and Al Calavicci both being played by Dean Stockwell, Quantum Leap was a logical place to turn for inspiration.

QL shows up in all sorts of places. Richard Daniels’s boss is the feminine version of Al – Admiral Carmen Calavicci. The premise of the Times of the HG Wells series is to put back what a faction has meddled with – in short, it’s the reverse of Quantum Leap. Reversal‘s reference to the Defiant‘s database as being so full of holes that it’s like Swiss cheese is a direct reference. Richard’s original girlfriend, Tina, is another reference, as is him being called “Future Man”, a play on the “Future Boy” episode. Even a calla lily worn in a groom’s lapel is a shout-out to the series.

Steven Culp

 

Inspiration – TV shows
Steven Culp

Culp played Major J. Hayes on Enterprise and so a lot of references swirl around him and various television roles he’s played. References to Desperate Housewives come from E2 characters Bree Tanner and Rex Ryan and Reversal characters Jennifer Crossman and Brian Delacroix are references to Marcia Cross,

the actress who played his wife on that show.

There are also some references to JAG, including character Aidan MacKenzie, a shout-out to character Sarah MacKenzie. Both are called “Mac”. In addition, character Melissa Madden is “played” by Catherine Bell, who of course played Sarah MacKenzie.

There’s even a throwaway reference to ER – Culp’s character was named Dave Spencer, which is also the name I’ve given to Tina April’s stepfather.

Dominic Keating

Keating, of course, played Malcolm Reed on Enterprise.

Inspiration – TV shows

Malcolm is a major character in the In Between Days series. Therefore, there are a lot of references around him as well. In Intolerance, the character names Blair, Claymore, Nguyen, Owen and Will all refer to something to do with Keating.

Other references

The surname Sloane is a quick shout-out to Cheers – that was Diane Chambers’s boyfriend in the pilot. Chip Masterson‘s real first name, Chandler, is a reference to Friends. So is the throwaway reference to one of Melissa Madden’s sisters – Monica. Her sister Meghan is a reference to The Thorn Birds.

There are more references, and undoubtedly there will be more to come. Can you spot them all?

Portrait of a Character – Andrew Miller

Portrait of a Character – Andrew Miller

With Andy, who was originally introduced in The Light, I wanted a character who was half-Jewish and half-Christian (Presbyterian). Andy is also something of a foil and a romantic rival to Ethan Shapiro for Karin Bernstein‘s affections, and is seen in Waiting and, later, in Fortune, as the results of that rivalry are finally shown.

Portrayal

Adrien Brody
Adrien Brody

My vision for Andy was of a somewhat tall, dark-haired Jewish guy, and so I hit upon the idea of Adrien Brody. I also liked the idea of Brody, given the very ethnic nose he’s got. So Andrew, even though he’s half and half, shows his Jewish roots rather plainly in his looks. I also liked the idea of him having something of a hangdog, mournful look to him. Andy, while a generally fun guy and a good friend, is perhaps a bit saddened in his life.

Romance

While his actions in the The Light and Waiting show him as being the romantic partner of Karin Bernstein, things turn out somewhat differently for Andy. In Take Back the Night, he is shown with Lucy Stone, the new Science Officer after T’Pol‘s departure, and in Fortune, he is still shown with her – and she is more of a true match for him. In the E2 stories I am writing as of the posting of this blog entry, Lucy is not on the ship, so he instead ends up with Shelby Pike.

Quote

“You know we’ll stand with you, man.”

Mirror Universe Counterpart

Portrait of a Character – Andrew Miller
Mirror Andy

Andrew’s life in the mirror is far tougher. In Temper, in both the primary timeline and in one of the alternates, he is shown as ending up with the Empress Hoshi Sato, and not necessarily fully willfully. In Fortune, Escape and The Point is Probably Moot, the consequences of a different romantic choice are shown, where he fathered Melissa Madden‘s son. Andy’s life does not end well in the mirror, but at least it’s on his own terms.

Career

As a mid-level Science Crewman, who eventually becomes an Ensign, Andrew works in the Biology Lab, a position somewhat similar to canon character Ethan Novakovich. In the E2 stories, because there is a need for an additional doctor, Andy trains to be a medic, and his duties include delivering babies.

Upshot

Well-liked and upstanding, but a bit bratty at times, Andrew rises to the occasion when he must and, overall, does the right thing, in both universes.

Review – Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions

Review – Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions

Origins

Paving Stones was one of those stories that emerged nearly fully-formed in one quick session.

Titles

Review – Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions
In Between Days

One thing that didn’t go so smoothly was the choice of a title.  It evolved as follows – The first title was Paving Stones Made of Bad Intentions, as it is a Mirror Universe story. However, I didn’t like the idea of going with a straightforward opposite. Instead, I wanted for it to be a lot clearer that the centerpiece scene was an act of love, albeit somewhat misguided love.

The second iteration was Paving Stones Made of Good Intentions, which corrected the idiom and better evoked the undercurrent of it being the road to hell. But I didn’t love how it flowed.

The final title was Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions. This title brings together not only the fact that the centerpiece scene is happening because people mean well but also because this is the road to hell. Furthermore, I wanted the title to effectively denote that the road to hell is actually deliberately and actively fashioned from these good intentions, rather than somewhat more passively made of them. A subtle difference, to be sure, but the idea was that the intentions are in a somewhat more refined form. It is – there are good intentions but they are perverted and shaped into the paving stones, as opposed to just laid down in the roadbed.

Background

When I wrote Reversal, one of the things I had Doug describe was his early childhood and how he was sent off to boarding school. But I didn’t go into a lot of detail. Hence I wanted a little more about that. In addition, this is Doug’s first real meeting with Lili. So, while he doesn’t necessarily sugarcoat things, he doesn’t go into a lot of excruciating detail. Plus, for Doug at the time, his going away to school occurred over four and half decades previously. Hence some detail or another may have been forgotten.

In Reversal, Doug also briefly mentions that he received his promotion to run Tactical in a manner where he did not have to murder his superior officer. It was important to me, given the way that the overall story arc was to go, that he not be the killer of Ian Reed, Malcolm‘s mirror counterpart. And so Doug had to be put in charge of Tactical on the Defiant, somehow.

Furthermore, the story was written as a response to Ad Astra’s January 2012 Pathways challenge, wherein the writers were challenged to come up with stories about formative stages or scenes in an older character’s life. I had originally considered writing about Lili O’Day and the house fire that had killed her parents, but I was thinking about that and suddenly one word hit me, and it wouldn’t let go. And that word was indoctrination. Once the word grabbed me, writing the story was a lot like taking dictation. Very few changes, apart from minor cosmetic ones, were made after the first draft was written.

The Five Signs of Weakness

I wanted a kind of distorted version of the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule. Over time, I had already written several mirror universe stories, so there was already a framework. And in Reversal, Doug acknowledges that there are signs of weakness and that he cannot show them, for that’s a confession of vulnerability that could cost him his life. The signs, at that point in the progress of my writing, were somewhat underdeveloped but they did include not acknowledging an injury and not admitting to love. Doug himself sees the development of his nascent conscience as probably being what the mirror would think of as the ultimate sign of weakness. After all, in the mirror, how can you act if you’re tripped up by guilt?

In order to convert these somewhat incoherent ideas into lessons digestible for a child, I created a maxim of five signs of weakness for all mirror children to learn, and have to repeat back to their elders.

  1. I will never show physical weakness.
  2. I will never show weakness in trade.
  3. I will not show mental weakness.
  4. I will not show weakness in my dealings with others.
  5. I will never show weakness when it comes to justice.

During the course of the story, Doug and his parents explain what each of the signs really entails. For example, mental weakness not only involves not knowing how to do something, but also not keeping apprised of rumors and intelligence. Doug is told to keep his eyes and ears open, and not wait for people to impart lessons. He is encouraged to have intellectual curiosity, but it’s not about books or mathematics. Rather, it’s about the various whisperings around an encampment or a barracks or a starship. In many ways, Doug is being told to eavesdrop, as not knowing certain things could harm his career or even cost him his life.

 Influences

Review – Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions
Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is a favorite book and it was a definite influence. I liked the idea of a school where children would be intimidated (Lord of the Flies and Tom Brown’s School Days also came to mind). Jane’s Lowood School and the school in Tom Brown’s School Days served as models for the Triton Day School, where Doug would be, essentially, indoctrinated into the ways of the mirror. The softness of his mother, Lena, was to be forgotten or, if it was recalled at all, to be ridiculed and dismissed with a sneer. I even had Doug taken to school by a Mister Brocklehurst – a direct reference to Jane Eyre. The school was also portrayed as a place where Doug’s beloved stuffed toy would be taken from him and used to harm him. In Fortune, Doug confirms that gentler children were bullied and harassed and that, in order to survive, he had to become hardened.

The toy

Review – Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions
Stuffed Velociraptor

Originally a giraffe, the stuffed velociraptor represents childhood innocence, but with a cruel twist. The toy is shown at the beginning and is Doug’s sole comfort as he listens to his parents argue about his fate. The toy’s banishment from the breakfast table, and Lena’s inability to find it signify that Doug’s innocence is already, irretrievably, lost. Finally, the choice of a velociraptor is not only to show menace behind the plush, but it also foreshadows his predecessor at Tactical’s fate – death after being mauled by a Gorn, who resembles a velociraptor rather closely.

Tactical

For Doug, running Tactical is a useful promotion, but not one that he had originally sought. If Ian Reed had lived (in canon, there’s an even shot as to whether Malcolm’s mirror counterpart would survive a Gorn attack), Doug would have remained as CO of the MACOs on the Defiant. Instead, Doug is placed into direct competition with Aidan MacKenzie and Chip Masterson. As is true in my fanfiction, the Defiant is a confusing mess, and Doug must figure things out quickly. Hence the flashback to his being sent off to school, where he clearly also had to do a lot of fancy footwork in order to get up to speed in a hurry.

Forgiveness

One thing that Doug learns from Lili is forgiveness, and so, off-screen, he does eventually forgive his parents. By the time of A Kind of Blue, they are already naming their first-born son after Jeremiah (Doug’s father) and Lena.

Review – Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions
Roots VS paving stones (Photo credit: Théo La Photo)

And by the time of Together, that son, Jeremiah Logan Beckett – who they call Joss – is carrying around a stuffed dinosaur of his own. But in Joss’s case, it’s a much gentler stegosaurus.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K although it’s possibly closer to K+, given its disturbing themes.

Upshot

I love how this story turned out, and I am very proud of it. It won the January 2012 Pathways challenge at Ad Astra.

Progress Report – April 2012

Posted Works

I continued spinning out Reversal on Star Trek Logs. Quill

I added Broken Seal to Trek United, as I hadn’t put anything out there in a while. I updated There’s Something About Hoshi and posted it to Star Trek Logs. I also started spinning out Together on Trek BBS and Ohio on Ad Astra. I also created The Facts on Ad Astra and The Rite on Star Trek Logs as a response to its first-ever prompt (I am running the prompts there, at least for now). Both of the latter two were ficlets brought about in order to flesh out some of the scenes in Fortune.

WIP Corner

The E2 stories continue to be written. I continue to find points to stress or loose ends to tie up and some of those will end up in the fourth book, rather than the third one in that series. I think this will make it a better and more balanced series overall.

I also worked a lot on a Daranaean story called Flight of the Bluebird. I didn’t have as coherent a plan for it as I would have liked, but Kirok of L’Stok was interested in putting the Daranaean stories onto Issuu. Hence I had to get cracking, so the E2 stories were set aside in favor of finishing up Bluebird.

At this point, I also have my response to the Ad Astra prompt about sacrifices. The title is Equinox. It covers several scenes left out of Fortune.

Prep Work

I spent a lot of time making the website a lot more coherent and getting more of the In Between Days stories into correct chronological order.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

Looking for work continues to cramp my writing style, which I suppose is amusing but is also a tad serious – it can be difficult to get inspired if you’re worried about continuing income.

Ad Astra’s forums were also down for a bit – that’s generally better for productivity for me, but I do miss the interactions, not to mention the prompts.

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Portrait of a Character – Eriecho

Portrait of a Character – Eriecho

Origin

I originally didn’t want to write Vulcans. I had had a lot of trouble making T’Pol more than a cardboard character who commented about logic or fascination. Vulcans were, to me, a difficult species to flesh out.

But then the gauntlet was thrown down – write about the JJ Abrams Universe. But all you need to care about are three things:

  1. Vulcan has been destroyed.
  2. The USS Kelvin is gone.
  3. Romulus has been destroyed.

After that, it didn’t matter. And so I chose the first piece as the focus for my story. And so Eriecho – a name I had originally thought I would use for a Klingon woman – began to take shape.

Personality

Portrait of a Character – Eriecho

Born on a transport to Cannamar Prison, Eriecho starts out, in Release, as a person who has never known freedom.  I wanted her to be tough, too, as she would have to have been. There is nothing soft about Cannamar, a location that is canon but never actually seen. My descriptions of Cannamar are similar to those of a Tandaran prison.

As a tough prison broad, Eriecho has survived by her wits. But the only Vulcan she has ever known, Saddik, who isn’t even related to her, has not taught her emotional suppression. Hence she was an emotional Vulcan, and I found her a lot easier to write. The sole mother figure in her life is the only other female in Cannamar, the Suliban, H’Shema. When Release begins, H’Shema is already dead. And Saddik and Eriecho are being released from Cannamar, but they’re on their way to Mars.

Portrayal

For Eriecho, I wanted a tough woman who was not unattractive. I hit upon Mariel Hemingway in Personal Best. Hemingway just struck me as being a good mix of tough but vulnerable, and also pretty, e. g. someon

Portrait of a Character – Eriecho

e who was redeemable, despite her background, and lovable, despite her history. The idea of Personal Best (which is a film about a lesbian athlete) should not be taken as a statement about Eriecho’s sexuality.

Quote

I have never had free time, unrestricted and unfettered before. I am afraid I will not know what to do with myself.”

Life After Prison

Release is, of course, about their release from prison. But after getting out, what happens? This is partly explored at the end of Release but also in the sequel, Double Helix. For Eriecho, who is a Vulcan without actually being too Vulcanesque, the answer lies with the Suliban.

Upshot

At the end of Star Trek XI (Star Trek 2009), the lives of Vulcans have been diminished considerably. But for Eriecho, her life has been expanded and enriched in ways she could not have dreamed.

Spotlight on Original Plant Species – Olowa

Spotlight on Original Plant Species – Olowa

Aliens have to eat, and they don’t just eat meat, at least, not my aliens.

The Calafans needed something to chow down on. But what?

History and Use in Plots

I first put olowa – and it didn’t have a name yet – into a dining table scene of Calafans, in Reversal. The idea was not to showcase the food (it was just referred to as a large purple vegetable) but, rather, to showcase that the Calafans were familiar with knives and forks. This is to counter an earlier scene, where Treve and Chawev are asked to dinner on the NX-01. In an earlier scene, Treve expresses an unfamiliarity with forks, so Lili shows him how to use one. Yet in the later scene, his younger sister, Yimar, is shown using a knife and fork to cut up the aforementioned vegetable for her younger brother, Chelben.

It isn’t until Together that olowa is actually tasted by humans and referred to by name. Olowa (pronounced: OH-luh-wah or OH-luh-wuh) grows in the Lafa System. Lili describes it as follows –

Spotlight on Original Plant Species – Olowa
This slightly underripe eggplant is how I envision a spicy-tasting olowa would look

That is an olowa. Or, rather, it’s bits of a bunch of them. It’s a vegetable that grows on Lafa IV. Now, the interesting thing about olowa is, as it matures, it petrifies and turns to stone. It also lightens from deep purple to, eventually, kind of an ash grey. You can’t eat it then; you’ll break a tooth. So what you’ve got here is a salad made from olowa at different stages of maturity. If anything feels too hard, all I can say is, don’t eat it. I won’t be offended.”

The olowa goes through various flavors as it changes in color, from a sweet pear-like flavor, to a spicy flavor, then eventually to a fatty texture and flavor somewhat like peanuts.

In Temper, it’s revealed that perrazin will eat olowa and, while hunting, Melissa climbs an olowa tree in order to escape a herd of charging perrazin. To distract them from going after Doug, she plucks an olowa and throws it as far away from him as possible, and a few of the animals run that way.

Olowa is even served in the Mirror Universe, to the Empress Hoshi Sato and her family.

In another scene, a very young child, beginning to be introduced to solid foods, gets a little sweet immature olowa mixed in with other soft foods.

In Fortune, olowa are mentioned in a lot of off-handed ways. Olowa paste is sent aboard Malcolm‘s ship as a treat, to be used by the Chef in pies. Declan also paints and draws olowa as a part of still life studies for his art classes. At Lili and Doug’s home, there is a spreading olowa tree, and it’s comfortable to sit under there and nap during a warm afternoon.

Olowa even crossed over to my first story taking place in the JJ Abrams universe. In Release, Eriecho and Saddik are tempted by the Commandant with pieces of olowa, but Saddik notices that it’s been artificially ripened. Still, it’s better than what they’ve been given for years, so he practically swallows his portion whole. Their olowa is going spicy in flavor.

Upshot

Someday, when we have made friends with other species, we’ll find ourselves eating their local foods. Plants will probably be a lot easier for us to take than meats. A vegetable like olowa would be particularly pleasant – so long as it wasn’t petrified.

Portrait of a Character – Brian Delacroix

Portrait of a Character – Brian Delacroix

Brian was born as a foil for Doug, but also to be a friend to Lili.

Background

For most wars, there are often underaged volunteers who somehow sneak in and break the rules. This was the kind of person who I wanted Brian to be. And then, I found, I wanted him to be a bit more than that.

Personality and Personal History

Brian doesn’t have too much of a history as I’ve written him. He doesn’t have a planet or country of origin or anything like that. He’s just an underage Security crewman.

Because he’s young and short and babyfaced, he’s got a lot to prove, particularly as a member of Security, so he can be somewhat Napoleonic in his behaviors.

When he gets a chance, in Reversal, to do something else, he rises to the occasion and shows that he has some talent. This eventually becomes his new profession, and he leaves Security. In Together, he helps Yimar and gets a sweet reward for his efforts. In Fortune, the culmination of his education is shown, and we see his granddaughter, Susan, who we learn is attending a High School for the Gifted.

Actor Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Brian Delacroix
David Faustino

I hit upon the idea of David Faustino as he’s a short guy who has been acting since a rather early age. He also is relatively muscular, which would be a requirement for someone so small to be even considered for Security work.

Within Brian, there is a bit of a loose cannon underneath. You should be just a little bit worried that something might happen if this guy snaps. He goes down a different path, and it ends up being the best thing for him, but the reader should consider that things could have worked out far differently for him.

Mirror Universe Counterpart

Portrait of a Character – Brian Delacroix

Things go differently – that is to say, horribly wrong – for Brian’s counterpart. In the Mirror, of course, you only move up when you assassinate your superior officer(s). In Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses, he is seen guarding the Emperor and then, after the Emperor is assassinated, about to lose his virginity to Empress Hoshi.

In Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions, the first time we see Brian, he is just itching to throw Chip Masterson and Aidan MacKenzie into the agony booth. For him, getting rid of those two means that not only can he move up, but he also has, perhaps, a bit of a shot with some of the women.

However, by the time we get to Reversal, Brian has become little more than a mindless drone of a soldier. His gambit to move up goes horribly wrong.

Quote

“Well, whose morality applies to us? I mean, aren’t there species that still have child brides? Do we go by their rules, or ours?”

Upshot

For every underaged soldier, a hope for a better future or a highly developed sense of patriotism can cause them to leave home early, lie to their Recruitment Office and hurl themselves at enemy fire. Brian is one such soldier but, at least on our side of the pond, he makes it through to the other side and gets more out of life than just learning how to wield a weapon.

Review – The Light

Review – The Light

The Elevator Pitch

I have been working in the corporate world, in some capacity or another since 1986. Frankly, it was even before that, as I would temp as a college and Law School student in order to make some summer spending money.

Review – The Light
The Light

One of the things I have perfected over the years is what’s called an Elevator Pitch. The gist of an elevator pitch is that you have the time of an elevator ride (e. g. thirty seconds to two minutes, tops) to make your pitch to a prospect employer who you, presumably, meet serendipitously in an elevator.

This means  that you need to strip your resumé and work history down to bare bones. A doctor, for example, can’t go into the details of some operation she performed last year. Instead, she says something like, “I’m an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. The Boston Celtics call on me when their medical staff is stumped.” In a very short amount of time, you get a very good idea of what this woman can do, and how trusted she is in the medical establishment.

For Star Trek fanfiction writing, I think there is a need for what is essentially the equivalent of an elevator pitch. That is, it should be a short piece which accurately gives the reader a taste of your universe, your ideas and what you can do. The Light is one such story.

History of the Story

This Star Trek:Enterprise fanfiction story did not set out to be that way. Instead, I was in the middle of spinning out Reversal (pretty close to the end) when in late 2010 I was asked to provide a story for a project called the Trek Twelve Days of Christmas. The only catch was that the story had to be fairly short – that is, it could not be a full-fledged book like Reversal.

I hit upon an idea. There would be some characters from Reversal, but really only minor ones, and the story would revolve around them. It ended up being just one of the minor characters from that story. And, the kicker, because you can find scads of Star Trek holiday stories about Christmas, this one would, instead, be about Chanukah.

Spirituality

Review – The Light
Position in which a Jewish kohen places his ha…

I am, as they say, a nice Jewish gal. And people like William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, but also Armin Shimerman, are connected to Star Trek and are Jewish. Plus there are things like the Vulcan salute, and various space episodes centering around World War II, such as TOS’s Patterns of Force. Judaism is a part of Star Trek. But how to add it in, particularly without being overly preachy?

I hit upon the idea of Jews who are somewhat religious but not so much that they cannot function on a starship. That is, they had to, for example, be able to travel on the Sabbath. This meant that Orthodox Jews were out of the question. But Conservative Jews (which is how I was brought up; this references a sect and not a political affiliation) would work just fine for my purposes.

Chanukah was a natural introduction as a lot of people are familiar with it. The celebration, a festival of lights, also includes foods made with oil, such as potato latkes (pancakes), spinning a top called a dreidel and exchanging presents. The candelabra is called a menorah.

In order to add a little emotional heft to the story, and to explain why Captain Archer and the senior staff would be interested in the Jewish contingent on the ship, the story begins with a death. This link to the past also links us, the people of the present day, to the people on the NX-01.

The Plot

The story begins with an Admiral telling Captain Archer than Crewman Ethan Shapiro‘s great-aunt, Rachel Orenstein, has died. Jonathan wonders why the crewman’s family wouldn’t just tell him and is informed – they won’t communicate during the Sabbath. Jonathan presses the matter, still not convinced that he’s the best man for the job when he is told that he must act quickly, as this is a major news story. Why? Because Rachel lived for one hundred and twenty-seven years (which places her birth in 2029). She broke all previous records and, therefore, the press is interested in her family.

As Jonathan informs Ethan of the death, Ethan asks for leave for the unveiling of the head stone, explaining that the funeral will be too quick for him to ever get back to Earth in time. He also asks to be connected to the Starfleet Rabbi, Leah Benson.

He returns to his quarters and waits for his friends. Lieutenant Reed comes by briefly, in order to offer his condolences as he is Ethan’s boss. The other three Jewish crew members arrive – Josh Rosen, who is in Engineering; Karin Bernstein, who works with Ethan in the Tactical Department; and Andrew Miller, who works in the Biology Lab and is half-Jewish. Andy is perhaps a year older than the others.

When they speak with the Rabbi, they ask how they are ever going to get a minyan together. In order to say Kaddish (the prayer over the dead), ten Jews must be present. Karin’s presence counts (that wasn’t the case when I was a child), but then what? There are only four Jews on the ship. The Rabbi tells them that they can temporarily deputize some non-Jewish friends.

When the time comes for mourning, Captain Archer brings along some friends to help. These include Hoshi who, when asked if she can read Hebrew jokes, “I’ll muddle through”, Malcolm, Phlox, T’Pol and a Security Crewman, Azar Hamidi. Azar notes that Hebrew can’t be too far off from Arabic. The prayers are said.

Review – The Light
Dreidel

Ethan’s mother – who tells him to talk to that nice girl Karin a bit – has insisted that he celebrate Chanukah, so he invites all of the attendees at the service to a little party, to be held on the next night. The party is held in the Observation Lounge. Like all good parties, there’s a little dancing, a gift is given, good food is eaten and there’s a little bit of romance.

Story Postings

Review – The Light

 

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

For the most part, I like how it turned out. There is a bit of shtick, though, particularly when Ethan and his mother talk. I could have probably trimmed that a bit, as Linda Shapiro comes across as a bit of a stereotype. But I do like using this story – which only contains a little over 3200 words – as one possible elevator pitch when people ask me how they can get an inkling of how I write. For a positive, K-rated peek at my world, read The Light.

And what happens to Ethan, Karin, Andy, Josh and Azar? To find out about them, and even about their Mirror Universe counterparts, there’s more in the In Between Days series, and even a little bit in the Times of the HG Wells series.