Category Archives: Barnstorming

Review – The All-Stars

Review – The All-Stars

The All-Stars introduces the Barnstorming series.
The All-Stars

Background

First of all, the All-Stars was intended as the kickoff for the Barnstorming series. And that series would also hold Crackerjack and The Future Cat under its umbrella. Hence, I plotted it as a sprawling series. Except it suffered from an excess of plot and subplots and complications, even worse than the Times of the HG Wells series. And I should have known better! Seriously. Because the middle of the Wells series was hard for me to write, and some it drags a bit. Stories I had really thought about got short shrift. And the same ended up being true for Barnstorming.

Plot

It was a time for new beginnings, for a woman who had over half of her adult life stolen and for her cousin, a new job and new challenges. And this promised a new life for a young man with few plans and no real direction. Furthermore, it was a chance for three women to change their lives, and for fifty athletes to do something new. And there was a secret project by Section 31 that threatened to break a treaty and had the potential to open up a portal to another universe while someone out there – whose intentions were unknown – was trying to get in.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

While the story resolves itself pretty well and the characters make sense, the story leads to a series which ends up going nowhere. Although I did write the immediate sequel, Play, that story has never been posted anywhere (if I end up really scraping the bottom of the barrel at Wattpad, then maybe I will haul it out; the same might end up as true for Fanfiction.net). And then the following stories never really get off the ground at all. A pity; the concept is a decent one but I just ran out of gas there.

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Portrait of a Character – The Traveler

Portrait of a Character – The Traveler

The Traveler got me out of some time travel jams.

The Traveler
Eric Menyuk as The Traveler (with Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher). Image is provided for educational purposes only.

Origins

While the character exists in canon, the best part about him is he can be a kind of deus ex machina plot device. And unlike Q, the Traveler at least ends up being a fairly nice guy.

Portrayal

As in canon, The Traveler is played by actor Eric Menyuk.

Personality

Wildly intelligent, but a little stiff, the Traveler recognizes that Wesley Crusher has exceptional potential. However, as I write him, he and Wesley are friends and almost collegial. Furthermore, when the Traveler sees Wesley misses his fellow humans, Wesley isn’t forced to stay.

Relationships

The Traveler has no known relationships, and may not even be capable of one.

Mirror Universe

Because this particular character does not seem to be 100% from our universe, I suspect he flits between the two all the time. And he may even go to other universes, such as the 49 centimeter radiation band (home of the best pumpkin pie in the multiverse!).

Quote

“All three of you have learned something. And for that, I am only grateful that I was the catalyst. Your species has much to learn about pain and conflict. You must never forget its horrors. You must never escape into pretend horrors as if they were thrills for your own amusement.  [and] You must, sometimes, rise up from your comfortable lives and bring suffering to the forefront. You must remember it so that you do not commit it. [and] You must not forget its true costs.”

Upshot

Finally, this character proved useful for Day of the Dead and Imprecision. I can’t recall, but I may have been planning on adding him to the Barnstorming series as well.

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Review – Staying

Review – Staying

Staying came about because I wanted to showcase the Barnstorming series.

Staying

Background

First of all, Staying arose directly out of The All Stars and served as a prompt response. This happened in an effort to get readers interested in the longer story.

Plot

Because I never intended Staying as a stand alone story, the plot ends up being rather thin. Instead, it showcases Mack MacKenzie and Kent Hoberman in an intimate moment which perhaps never should have happened. Since I liked the idea of a traumatized woman crying after sex (I suppose I have a heart of stone; of course I just mean a character), I reused the idea in the wholly original novel, The Polymer Beat.

Furthermore, the intention pushed the narrative along so that Mack would not have trauma with her true love (still not written yet!), canon character Martin Madden.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

While the story could have served as a decent introduction to the series, the readers really did not pick up on it. Read counts stayed low. And it can be tough to try to maintain and reinvent and continue a series where few if any people bother to read it. Hence the series is on hold and there are stories never even posted anywhere. If I pick it up again, I will need to finish those stories and that seems highly unlikely, given my schedule, my interest, and my desire to save my creativity for wholly original pursuits.

A pity, as I like Mack, Hobie, and Martin and their cohorts. They just came into my universe at the wrong time. Hence they may stay, forever (ish) in limbo. Sorry, characters!

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Review – Eight

Review – Eight

Eight was a labor of love.

Background

So this is a mixed bag of stories intended to fill in a few small gaps and inconsistencies or untold stories. And the truth is, I was most likely the only person who ever noticed or gave a damn about these little untold moments or inconsistent bits. No problem. Because it is always important to keep writing. Hence I was able to do so with this small set of exercises. Furthermore, it may serve as an introduction to my work for some people.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Eight
Eight

As a gift for the Chanukah holiday (to myself), I decided to write eight little family-centric stories taking place within my various universes. The various characters would interact, or not, but the main idea was for each story to be related to family somehow.

Plot

So even in the future, and regardless of species, it is all about family. Home and hearth abide, even in space.

Hence the stories cover In Between Days, the E2 timeline, the Daranaean Emergence series, the Eriecho series, The Times of the HG Wells, Hold Your Dominion, and there is also a second HG Wells story which focuses on Levi Cavendish and Otra D’Angelo. Hence this story brought together a number of somewhat disparate timelines and casts in order to give a reader some perspective on what I write.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Unfortunately, I am not so sure if anyone can relate to this series of stories as well as I can. Hence maybe they’re more like inside jokes? I don’t know.

These stories. And these worlds. Plus these timelines. And the same number of universes. And in all of them, home and hearth abide.

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Spotlight on Chi Band Radiation

Spotlight on Chi Band Radiation

Chi Band Radiation Background

Chi Band Radiation can do anything.

Chi Band Radiation
Image of background radiation

I needed a garden variety phenomenon. Chi Band Radiation  would have to be able to stand in for a lot of almost magical properties. It had to be a kind of technobabble thing. Hence I needed for it to sound just mysterious enough.

The idea would cover all sorts of issues. This would include crossing people over from one universe to another. Or it would be the kinds of temporal switches and shenanigans shown in Concord and Crackerjack. However, for both of those stories there were other explanations for their issues.

Chi Band Radiation particularly comes to fore in the Barnstorming series. I used it to show how and why the Mirror Universe was attempting to cross over and potentially invade our own. The Emperor would have been deposed and fallen on hard times. The radiation would be, to him, a  godsend, a means of regaining his past glories. Therefore, he would be itching to use it.

Instead of living the high life, he’s living in a shack. He depends upon the kind charity of the native Calafan people. This would be quite the harsh reality for a proud man.

The radiation would also be a means of almost communicating. It would be a way of knocking on the door of another universe, as it were. This would attract the attention of weird ADHD-addled temporal engineer Levi Cavendish. Giving Levi a means of investigating all possible universes was a fun idea. The way to fulfill his mission to find the ultimate pumpkin pie (spoiler alert: it’s in the universe with a 49 centimeter radiation band on the hydrogen line) proved irresistible.

Upshot

This Swiss Army knife has stood me in good stead. I am sure I will be using it again in the future.

Chi Band Radiation
Chi Band Radiation

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Review – Overture

Review – Overture

Background

Overture came about from a Star Trek fanfiction prompt about new beginnings.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Overture
Overture

I could not get the idea out of my head about the start of a classical concert. So that led me to Lakeisha Warren. Then the story and the prompt gave me the prequel (more or less) to Crackerjack. It also serves as a prequel to The All-Stars. So this little story wears a lot of metaphorical hats.

Young love is often a good idea for a story, and this was no exception. I had already shown (in Imprecision) how they had met. At this point in time, I wanted to show them beginning their commitment. Lakeisha and Wes would get really serious, really quickly. But that’s okay. Because sometimes, you just know.

Plot

Therefore, I sent Wesley Crusher out to visit Lakeisha, not too long after they had first met. As a direct sequel to Imprecision, and as a prequel to The All-Stars, Wesley would be very interested in this amusing musically gifted girl. And all he would want to do is show it.

A classical concert, for her, could easily encompass music from The Who’s Tommy rock opera.

As Lakeisha practices, Wesley listens in a little, and then he proceeds to knock on her door. He tells her that he does not believe in holding back. He wants her to know she already means something to him. She already matters.

Music

The story’s music is The Who’s Overture.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Just like a regular overture, the story hints at great things to come. I hope it whets readers’ appetites for more Wes and Lakeisha. They certainly deserve an exploration!

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Portrait of a Character – Martin Madden

Portrait of a Character – Martin Madden

Martin Madden should be canon, dammit!

Origins

The character is technically canon although the scene of his introduction ended up on the cutting room floor. In the ‘lost’ footage, William Riker plays a nasty, passive-aggressive prank and Madden is the butt of the joke. I disliked the scene so much that I felt Madden needed a measure of justice. He is the reason that Melissa has her last name, as she is his forebear, via her middle son, Neil.

Because Marty is also Doug‘s descendant, his radiation band is slightly less than it should be, betraying a partial origin in the Mirror Universe. As the Barnstorming series unfolds, the family’s importance increases. Doug’s descendants hold a key in their DNA that could alter the fate of both universes.

Portrayal

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Martin Madden
Martin Madden

As in canon, Madden is played by actor Steven Culp. I like this actor a great deal. He was also exceptionally gracious when I wrote to him, asking for an autographed photograph and the answer to a few questions as I was writing The Three of Us and looking to add some verisimilitude to my details about Jay Hayes.

Culp wrote back, said my questions were interesting (I asked things like what is his favorite story to read to a child) but whatever I came up with would be fine. He also wished me luck with my writing. His framed picture is hanging in the room where I do my writing and it helps provide some inspiration.

Personality

Lonely, brilliant, and bored, Marty is near the top of his profession but wants something more. He is only close to one person, and that is not only hurting him in his career, it’s also, in general, making him miserable. Furthermore, the incident with Riker got him off on the wrong foot with Captain Picard. A bit of a perfectionist, Martin is appalled by what happened and scrambling to make it right.

Relationships

Tamsin Porter

With one disastrous date, this is really not a relationship. Tamsin likes him, but he can’t stand her; he had only asked her out in order to get his mind off Dana. Tamsin takes it the wrong way and tries to get him to sleep with her.

When he refuses, she stretches the truth to its breaking point, and files a sexual harassment charge against him. The charge is groundless and is quickly dropped. But it gets worse, as she is distantly related to him. As a part of the family (through Joss), Tamsin is not so close to Martin Madden to prevent a relationship, plus she’s somewhat aggressive. It’s a complete turnoff to him, but she is family and so, in some ways, he’s stuck with her. But he doesn’t have to date her.

Dana MacKenzie

With a language all their own, Martin Douglas Madden and Misty Dana MacKenzie – the MDM Twins – are made for each other. There’s just one small problem. She’s his second cousin.

That would not seem like much of an issue, but I write an unjust Second Cousin Marriage law, forbidding such marriages where the parties share at least one great-grandparent. The purpose behind the law is to prevent too much Daranaean inbreeding and the introduction of younger and younger child brides. But the law fails miserably as it is mainly just a bad political compromise.

When Dana is imprisoned at Canamar, it is only Marty who continues writing to her after her parents die. With the letters kept from her as a part of her unjust punishment, her reading of those letters is one of her first acts after getting out.

His love for her is one of the few things that sustains him. It is one of the underlying themes of the series, along with the concept that the Digiorno-Madden-Hayes-Beckett-O’DayReed family endures forever. There is power in this love, and it cannot be denied.

Mirror Universe

I’m not so sure that Marty can exist in the Mirror Universe.

As a descendant of Doug, who left the Mirror and had never fathered a child on that side before he did, then Marty’s existence in the Mirror is technically impossible. However, I write a Mirror Tamsin (called Jennifer), explaining that the analogue is imperfect but very close. After all, if most other forebears fall into place, or close relatives such as siblings or first or even second cousins take the place of the originals, after a time span of a few centuries, the differences become negligible. This isn’t a bad theory for why there are so many MU counterparts, and I might explore it at some time.

But if the same incident occurs, he wouldn’t just be miffed at Riker and embarrassed by him – Marty would have knifed the man.

Quote

“I can’t exactly get away when everyone else can. Understand something, all right? Whatever Riker did, whatever he could do, whatever he tried or got away with and however he acted, that was him, all right? He probably got himself here for lunch somewhere between 1200 and 1330 hours nearly every day, am I right? … But that’s not me. But, uh, I get the feeling there’s one more item on your list of Things Keeping Martin Madden from Making Friends on the Enterprise-E. Am I right? Care to share it with me if I am?”

Upshot

I am really enjoying writing this character, a kind of combination of Jay’s discipline and Doug’s zest for life, with a bit of Malcolm’s pre-Lili tortured loneliness. The Barnstorming series is not done yet, and Martin Madden is a huge part of it.

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Review – Loss

Review – Loss

Loss happens to all of us eventually. So my idea was about how someone who does not really have emotions would react to it. And for Commander Data, his study of emotions has not exactly been good preparation for this.

Background

Yet again, the prompt and the story have the same name.

Plot

Barking up the muse tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Loss
How does Data handle the inevitable loss of Spot?

Geordi and his friends help Data deal with a significant loss.

As a result, this little story is for anyone who has ever had to bury a beloved pet. I have, several times. And that feeling never really leaves you. In addition, for many people, it can feel as awful as the death of a child.

So I originally wrote it as more or less on a lark. In addition, I am more of a dog person than a cat person and so the death of the orange tabby had about as much of an effect on me about as much as it did Data in the beginning of the story.

But later, after having written The Continuing Adventures of Porthos, I decided I kind of like Spot after all. As a result, I truly hope this little story gives her her due. Most noteworthy and surprising to me is how people like this little story. In addition, people have had deeper emotional reactions than I had originally thought would happen. To cry, over this short tale? However, if we are to believe readers’ stated reactions, that has happened, and more than once.

Story Postings

Rating

This story is rated K.

Upshot

Finally, the story is pretty well received wherever it goes, although that may  be at least partly due to the inclusion of Data, who a lot of people feel is a beloved character.

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Portrait of a Character – Geordi LaForge

Portrait of a Character – Geordi LaForge

Origins

The character is, of course, canon. In canon, he has a lot of trouble with women and never seems to really find anyone. His  blindness is established and is basically respected, although eventually, in the films, he gets implants. It probably made for easier storytelling.

Portrayal

Geordi La Forge
Geordi La Forge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As in canon, Geordi is played by actor Levar Burton.

This intelligent actor could have usually used better scripts.  I would have liked to have seen him confronting prejudice, for one thing. It’s one of the reasons I wrote Crackerjack in the first place.

Personality

Very smart and responsible, and uber-nerdy, Geordi is an affable guy who always seems to be in the friendzone.

Relationships

Geordi has canon relationships but I won’t enumerate them here.

Rosemary Parker

During the events depicted in Crackerjack, Geordi and Rosemary share a brief romance. He pays enough attention to her life to look her up, and he learns that she was arrested with Martin Luther King, Jr. after she married a man with the surname of Warren (which rather neatly makes her an ancestor of the woman I write as becoming Wesley Crusher‘s wife, Lakeisha Warren).

Theme Music

Crackerjack has a ton of period music, but nothing really speaks to me as a theme for Geordi.

Mirror Universe

It’s hard to say whether a Mirror Universe Geordi could exist at all.

Portrait of a Character – Geordi LaForge
Portrait of a Character – Geordi LaForge

He would be extra-smart, to be sure, but I write the MU as being leery of physical weaknesses and imperfections – and blindness would be right up there as a not so small problem.

If he could easily and seamlessly be fitted with ocular implants, perhaps as an infant, then he could survive and maybe even thrive on the other side of the pond.

Quote

“No, that’s all right. But the young lady who is with us, maybe she would like to do that. I can’t figure these people out. Some of them wouldn’t be caught dead being anywhere near me, while others are going out of their way to be kind or even charitable in their own way.”

Upshot

One great bit of fun I had was, in the Barnstorming series, to find a place for Geordi in the HayesBeckettO’DayReedMaddenDigiorno family. His place is as secure as Richard Daniels‘s. He’ll be back (he has to; he’s canon).

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Portrait of a Character – Yi’imspi

Portrait of a Character – Yi’imspi

Origins

When I first began to write Yi’imspi (spoiler alert!!!), I did not picture her as being the villain of the piece. She was just another Calafan, although she was a part of the Barnstorming series. The idea was to give this beloved original species a future. But then things took a turn.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Yi’imspi
Portrait of a Character – Yi’imspi

Yi’imspi is played by actress Tilda Swinton.  I really love this actress’s exotic look, which I feel shows off the Calafans well. I also feel she could convincingly be both an athlete and a model.

And a double-crossing spy.

Personality

Secretive, intelligent, and seductive, Yi’imspi is out for only one thing – to promote and improve the life of Yi’imspi. But for Section 31 and other factions trying to use her, she cares little. It doesn’t matter to her who wins this political tug of war.

Relationships

Tag Shaw

A quick hookup and nothing more, Yi’imspi and her fellow team member meet unintentionally while the team is on break and he is taking a spiritual pilgrimage to see the Great Plume of Agasoria.

But Tag (Darren) has been hitting on other female team members, including the Caitian, M’Belle. He isn’t looking for anything, and neither is she.

The third sex team member, the Imvari named Grosk, is interested, but they are sexually incompatible. She is kind to him, though. I had not conceived of her as the villain yet, so she’s pleasant there.

By the time the alternate timeline is created by her own actions, the Emperor of the Terran Empire takes a shine. Then again, he is in dire straits at the time. She only wants one thing from him, and that’s information. She doesn’t want to sleep with him.

Mirror Universe

There are no impediments to Yi’imspi existing in the Mirror.

Tilda Swinton, arrival for press conference of...
Tilda Swinton, arrival for press conference of “Derek” at the Hyatt Hotel, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I write Mirror Universe women as being as ruthless as the men, but often needing protection. After all, the percentage of women is smaller than that of men. But that’s really only true for Terrans. Is it true for Calafans?

Not necessarily.

As a double-crossing spy, she is already a lot like a Mirror Universe denizen. There might not be too much of a difference.

Quote

“I thought I saw you hitting on M’Belle. I believe I have also seen you hitting on Cilla and maybe also Adeel.”

Upshot

Villain characters are always fun to write, but this series was not well thought out when it was started. Hence her behavior has to change, almost in the middle of things. I am sure there are better ways I could have handled this character.

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