Boldly Reading

The Aftermath of an Interview

Interview Aftermath

Interview? Totally relatable, or at least it should be.

It’s time to blog as a character again, to write about what happens after an interview.

Deutsch: Logo der Science-Fiction Serie Star T...

Deutsch: Logo der Science-Fiction Serie Star Trek: Enterprise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To me, this meant it had to be a character from the Times of the HG Wells Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction series. I hadn’t written too much about HD Avery so here’s a chance to get to know him a little better.

This is Who I Am and Why I’m Here

Today is, uh, August 25th, 3109. My name is HD Avery. Well, uh, my full name is Henry Desmond Avery IV. So you know I call myself HD ‘cause the rest of it is completely lame-o.

Yeah, like, so this is me, HD Avery.

Yeah, like, so this is me, HD Avery.


So, anyway, I was contacted through these weird channels, and they brought me in, by shuttle, and we went through a bunch of way stations and I dunno what they all were but I’m thinking that was the idea. And we got to what was the headquarters of – get this – the Temporal Integrity Commission.

Now, I am used to playing it cool, of course, but it is apparently this is a group job interview.  And there are, like, twenty or so people. We’re all human or mostly, ’cause otherwise you can’t travel to Earth’s past ’cause that’s the kind of help they’re looking for.

So I meet this hot honey and she turns out to be the boss, get this, Admiral Carmen Calavicci. And she’s, you know, she’s telling me about the job and all that interview stuff, and all I can think of is that she is just this total MILF. Know what I mean? Are you hip to the 21st century lingo? ‘Cause not everyone is, yanno.

Total hot tamale. Er, pasta, or something. Ethic honeys of any sort are just, you know, they are nuclear.

Then she passes me off to this guy who’s, like, the size of a shuttle and he’s part-Gorn, I think. And he’s okay, but we don’t have much to talk about as he’s the Chief Engineer. Name’s O’Connor. Then they bring in some of the other candidates, and I don’t think any of them are in direct competition with me, but you never know, know what I’m sayin’?

We Had This Project to Do

And for this part of the interview, we’re made to pair off and try to work out a problem. We are given this holographic scene, everybody’s got their own suite, and it’s me and this totally prim and proper honey, she’s like Miss Priss and she’s named Alice Trent and she knows all about – can you believe this? – manners and protocols.

So anyway we have to figure out where we are, and what year it is.

And we are not allowed to just come out and ask. We have to blend in, as if it was real, okay? It’s all bright lights and big city and it is beyond glitzy.

But it’s older, yanno? So Alice, she says 21st century, and I am thinking maybe, maybe not ’cause it’s in real good shape and the people look healthy and there’s all these fancy cars and I think they’ve even got those old internal combustion engines.

And then, we’re walking along, see? And we gotta figure out the year and the place and there is this holographic honey wearing these – man oh man I know it ain’t real but the effect’s the same, okay? – these hot pants.  So I ask her if she’s a pro and she says yes and Miss Priss is just about ready to have a cow or something. Then I ask the holo-honey if it’s legal there and she says yes again and wham! I know it’s old Nevada.

Viva Las Vegas

There’s slot machines and wheels of fortune, if you go into even just the foyers of buildings, so it’s either Reno or Las Vegas. So I start singing the only song I know about Nevada, and that’s Viva Las Vegas.

Viva Las Vegas (song)

Viva Las Vegas (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, the holo-honey, she looks all sad and I ask her why the long face and she says it’s a pity that he died so young. And then the holo-honey tells me she won’t talk to me no more unless I pay her. But we ain’t got no money, so she, like, disappears back into the program.

By now, Miss Priss is totally mortified but I tell her to get Arctic ’cause I know we’re in either Vegas or Reno and it’s after, I think, about 1979 or so ’cause Elvis is dead. Then Miss Priss finally starts to look around and she’s picking up clues, too, and she says it’s before The Third World War ’cause the air is clean and all the holo-people don’t look sick. I’m all polite and stuff and I don’t tell her I already figured that part out. I mean, honestly. Duh.


Then we walked some more, and there was this place with karaoke and so we went in there, and I can tell Miss Priss hates it in there, so I am, you know, totally stoked.  And I start asking what’s the really new, cutting edge stuff they’ve got, and there’s a DJ there, and he punches up, it looks like it’s maybe one of those monster kinda rap-R & B-type hits that were really popular during those decades.

It takes me a little while to figure out the beat and by then Alice is asking one of the holo-people some stuff about the President of the United States, and somebody says – stupid holo-people – says that the President is not a citizen, so we know it’s truther nonsense about Obama and that is, I think, somewhere between 2000 and 2020 and that works with the music.

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now we’re cookin’ but we still aren’t at a year yet. I mean, a two-decade range, it’s just not good enough, am I right? So Alice and me, we set about trying to figure more of it out. And nobody’s reading a newspaper, so that’s no good, and they’ve all got little PADD-like phones but that doesn’t narrow it down much although I’m thinking it’s later in our two-decade window.

Then I Sang

So I go to sing the song and there are, I dunno, maybe sixteen or so holo-people in the room. I am used to performing in front of tons more, but that’s okay.  And I said, “This is for Elvis, Viva Las Vegas!” And they all cheered so I think that kinda helps to confirm that it’s Vegas and not Reno.

I sing the song, and Alice is looking everybody over, and somebody mentions that they think Miami won’t repeat as NBA Champions. And we look at each other and we both get it, ’cause Miami wasn’t champs after 2014.

And she said out loud that it was 2014 Las Vegas and the program stopped and they said we were right. Then we had to go home.

The Flight Home

This was tricky and bad as I went back with these honeys named Helen Walker and Marisol Castillo. There were other people, but that’s who I was noticing, okay? But the shuttle crashed on Berren One.  And we had a casualty – Walker didn’t make it. I know I should talk more about it, but I didn’t know her and it all feels just kinda weird. I dunno. You know?

So it’s been a really full day with the interview and I am beat and maybe I should be sadder because of Walker’s death but I just feel tired and strange. I guess they’ll contact me and tell me if I got the job. I dunno.

Thanks for listening, and here’s the song I sang in case you’re interested, okay?

Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, Fan fiction, Times of the HG Wells series, 4 comments



So starts matter as much as endings.

Boldly Reading asks us, now, about Beginnings.

First sentences, first kisses, first missions, etc. – what are some of your favorite ‘firsts’ on Ad Astra? What sorts of openings and firsts and premieres get you to keep reading?

I enjoy a good beginning as much as anyone else does, I suppose. Crafting the perfect opening line is a challenge, and some writers do a better job of it than others, just like anything else. Here’s a great one.

“I was sure I was going to die, but was so afraid I wouldn’t in time.”

Little Black Dog’s Aftermath cuts right in, immediately, and you realize that something awful has happened, and is being (maybe) recovered from.

Here’s another.

He spoke flawless Federation Standard, possessed perfect visual acuity and hearing abilities unmatched by human ears.

kes7’s Year One opens not necessarily with a bang, but it’s obvious that whoever this is, he’s physically superior to humans. Is he an Augment, perhaps?

DHA Molecule starts

DHA Molecule (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And here’s one more, if you’ll indulge me.

“I … I think …(that) I need to see a doctor.”

trekfan’s While You Were Unconscious pulls two people together, although the details are a little … tricky. Yeah, there’s a good word for it.

Bonus questions!

How do you convert blank pages and blank computer documents into works of art? How do you get first ideas? What gets you started, or re-started?

I find that, for me, getting a story started is difficult but of course it’s necessary. Otherwise, nothing is ever produced! But sometimes the ideal opening is elusive. When that happens, I try to write the middle, or even the end. And I will go over and over again, in my mind, when it comes to the opening line of a story. I want the reader to continue, of course, but what I also want is to set the tone.


Reversal‘s opening line was written on the fly (as was nearly all of that story). It is, simply, this –

It didn’t hurt.

I really, really hope the reader’s question is – what didn’t hurt?

It is, possibly, the best opening I have ever written, and it colored the remainder of the story. Other stories have had good openings. I particularly like the ones for Paving Stones (“He’s too young.”) and for Brown (They were both pregnant at the same time.). Both of these opening lines defined the stories that followed, and shaped them.

The Week Never Starts Round Here

The Week Never Starts Round Here (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often a good opening line can get me going, and can really sustain me. However, sometimes I need to get a restart. This is especially after I’ve had to leave a story for a while, for some reason or another.

One thing I try to do is to keep writing (this includes blogging). More or less continually getting ideas onto paper or pixels means that it takes a while for all ideas to dry up. But sometimes that’s not feasible. When it isn’t, I also like to just reread my work, and not necessarily the work I’m trying to finish. I just need to, I feel, review past successes, at times, to remind myself that I can still do it.

Here’s to new beginnings for us all.

Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, Fan fiction, Meta, 0 comments

What’s Star Trek?

What is Star Trek?

Star Trek is what, exactly?
Boldly Reading‘s got another interesting set of questions for me!

Lucky prompt #13 asks –

To go along with this month’s AOS selection, here are some questions to chew on, since so many people feel that the JJ Abrams universe somehow is not Star Trek.

What does it mean to you when a story is described as being Star Trek? What are the characteristics? Is there a bright line between Trek and not-Trek?

What Does it Mean When We Call It Star Trek?

I think it’s mainly about Roddenberry’s general values. It isn’t ships, because people get off the ships (and who’s the say that they won’t stay off the ships for a while longer than just a quickie mission?). It isn’t just phasers and Vulcans and shuttles, because the time of Colonel Green could easily fit into Trek (hell, it’s canon!) and none of those things exist yet.

But maybe not … too much. After all, Roddenberry also, at times, had some ridiculous notions, such as that humanity would somehow be ‘advanced’ enough that mourning the dead wouldn’t happen, or at least not for long, and that trauma would be minimized.


So I think there are some limits there. I think repairing older and antiquated ideas, too –  I have no problem with doing that and still calling it Trek. For example, our current smartphones and tablets are far more sophisticated than they ever dreamed of in the 1960s. Why not have the technology reflect that? I have characters sending and receiving email, and performing what are essentially Google-style searches. I do not imagine those behaviors ending any time soon, and I do not believe that Star Trek loses anything by slipping those bits of reality into the mix. Hell, I think it makes the stories stronger.

Bonus questions!

What are some of your favorite explorations of AOS on Ad Astra? How do you think these stories would change if they took place in TOS or one of the other series?

I like Niobium‘s take on the AOS, and I also enjoyed ErinJean‘s take. I’d love for her to continue in her explorations.

I believe many of us also grab bits and pieces of AOS and dovetail them into ENT or TOS

Original Captain Pike star trek

Original Captain Pike (Photo credit: Dallas1200am)

writings. Captain Pike, certainly, got considerably more depth in the new films. Personally, I now see and hear Bruce Greenwood far more than Jeffrey Hunter in that role. I’ve tried to reconcile the two timelines, at least in part. Melissa and Doug‘s middle son, Tommy, dies in the service of his captain, George Kirk, on the Kelvin, a direct nod to Star Trek 2009.


I find questions of what is and isn’t Star Trek to sometimes be a bit disingenuous. People said that ENT wasn’t Trek. They said that DS9 wasn’t. I think a lot of them will come around to AOS being Trek. As for me, the distinction is fairly clear albeit not perfectly. I know, for a fact, that Jane Eyre is not Star Trek.

After that, though, sometimes, I’m not so sure.

Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, Fan fiction, Meta, 4 comments

Canon Species

Canon species are kind of why we are here in the first place. Hence Boldly Reading brings forth another interesting prompt!

Writing Canon Species

Some Questions

Do you use canon species in your writing? Do you select a species for any particular purpose? E. g. do you add a Klingon during the TOS time period because of the inherent conflict, or a Trill into a DS9-era story because of respect for the character of Dax? When putting together your cast of characters, is species diversity at issue?

For canon alien species that are not well-known, how have you given more detail to their back stories and characteristics? For those that are better-known,  how have you made them your own?

Is there a canon species that you have not added to your fan fiction, but you are considering adding? How will you do that?

Bonus Questions!

Whose canon alien species characters do you like the most? Do you think the character is true to the species? If the character differs from established species canon, is the difference reasonable? If the character is of a species with only a sketchy background, does the author’s vision work within the limited framework established by canon? Can the author’s changes and coloring within the lines fit with how the species was originally drawn? Would you have taken that mysterious though canon species in a different direction? If so, how?

Canon Favorites

I will use canon species when I feel they serve a particular purpose. Sometimes the purpose is to keep canon characters in canon-extension stories (e. g. the E2 stories). And so I include characters like T’Pol  or Soval. The number of canon species hitting the ENT era has limits. I do enjoy the Xindi in all of their forms but usually the image is fleeting, like that of the dead Insectoid, She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time.

One area that I truly enjoy is to bring together canon species in a manner that is different from usual, or to bring more minor canon species to the fore.

Suliban, Vulcans, and Enolians

Only seen in ENT, the Suliban have a somewhat stratified society.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Suliban


On the one side, you’ve got the cabal, which was a part of the less than successfully portrayed Temporal Cold War.

On the other, you’ve got prisoners, such as in the Detained episode. That episode, which was relatively similar to the following season’s Canamar episode, was some of the fodder for the Eriecho stories.

Eriecho would be a Vulcan, born on the way to Canamar, and the only other female in the entire prison would be a Suliban, H’Shema. H’Shema would be the only mother that Eriecho would ever know, And Eriecho would mourn her for a long time afterwards. Enough so that Eriecho would seek H’Shema’s family rather than her own Vulcan roots. H’Shema, a former addict and a thief, is only present in the haze of Eriecho and Saddik’s memories. But she was clearly loved, and she equally clearly rose up from her difficult and messy past to become a wonderful mother to a lonely, frightened and isolated child. Eriecho never forgets this.

And, because this is Canamar, the Commandant of the prison is an Enolian.

Ikaarans and Imvari

With nearly nothing to go on,  Ikaarans could be nearly anything. All that was in canon was the look and personality of Karyn Archer. However, she’s a hybrid with humans, and possibly with others. For the E2 stories, it was great fun to be able to give them something of a culture. They would have a click language. Their planet would be grossly overpopulated, but they wouldn’t believe in birth control.

Much like Carthaginian child sacrifices, their youth would be subject to selection. But instead of being chosen for a fire pit, they would be chosen to serve for a few years off the planet. Young Ikaarans would go out to mine or grow crops or otherwise contribute to obtaining resources for their overextended world. Their ships would be single-sex, so as to crudely prevent conception. They were able to fulfill tons of purposes within that set of stories.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Horned Alien | Dennis Ott | Imvari

Horned Alien (Dennis Ott
as an Imvari image is for educational purposes only)

The Imvari were never named, and were only shown once, in Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country.

All we know about this alien is that he’s huge and his genitalia are in the vicinity of his knees.

Being able to give the Imvari a background as a mercenary species, with an athlete in the upcoming Barnstorming series, gave them the opportunity to fill some niches and get some love. Hell, I even name them!

Cardassians, Gorn and Xindi Reptilians

Sometimes character species would come together in the context of a romance. For the Bron and Sophra romance, I liked the idea of giving a Gorn feelings and behaviors that no one would unexpect. The Gorn would love the Cardassian. But his friends, including Xindi Reptilian Tr’Dorna, would scorn his selection of a ‘warmie‘, and would instead push him to not date outside of a reptile-like species.

Andorians and Aenar

Turning the idea of a delicate Aenar to a different purpose, Jhasi Tantharis was always intended as a tragic figure. And before her, the infant Andorian Erell is another tragic figure, destined to never see the end of her first day, as an act of defiance and possibly a bit of perverse love by her enslaved parents.

Klingons and Breen

For both of these rather hostile species, I was looking to have them play against type. Hence the most stable relationship in Intolerance is a Klingon marriage. And teenage Breen actor, Desh, is a sensitive leading man – forget that you can’t see his face. This is a Phantom of the Opera if you must.

Xyrillians, Tellarites and Trill

Often seen in passing, all three species get a little extra exposure, including the sight of a female Tellarite, Cympia Triff.


In addition to Reptilians, above, Xindi hit most of my series. And they get some extra detail. This includes the Insectoids being referred to in a genderless fashion until they breed, and then being referred to as female (e. g. The One Who Fires a Weapon Very Fast versus She Who Listens Well). The sloth (primates) get a matronymic naming convention. Hence Aranda Chara is daughter to her mother, Chara Sika.

The humanoids get certain jobs and highlights, including working in Food Service in the Mirror Universe. There’s even an Aquatic, working for Section 31, in Day of the Dead.

The Kitchen Sink

Denobulans mainly show up in the context of Phlox. Caitians, on the other hand, show up as a part of the ramping up of the Federation.

Ferengi and Betazoids currently only show up in the deep future, as a part of HG Wells. Q, Tau Alphans and Orions are pretty much only in cameos, but an Orion-Betazoid hybrid will show up in the Barnstorming series.

Who to Add?

I don’t honestly know. I’ve added most of the main species that I know of, and to add others would be either for the sake of novelty or to branch out into another area entirely, e. g. Voyager.  Adding Ocampan characters is all well and good, but if I don’t really know how the character should behave, it’s difficult to draw a convincing portrait. And this is so even when the individual is apparently playing against type.

Others’ Canon Species Work

I particularly like how Jean-Luc Picard handles Vorta. From their devotion to the Founders, to their loyalty to the Dominion, to their sometimes wondering if things are as rosy as the Founders say, Eris and Liska pursue and promote Vorta ideals. But it’s in their personal lives that these characters shine, particularly as they often play against type.


One of the ways you know it’s Star Trek is in the presence of canon species. Even an OC-rich environment like the HG Wells stories is loaded with canon species and hybrid canon species.

Otherwise, it’s just another time travel montage. But with Ferengi and the like, it becomes Star Trek.

Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, Fan fiction, Meta, 21 comments

Alternate Universes

Alternate Universes are neat.

Hence Boldly Reading asks –

To AU, or not to AU?

To AU or not to AU, that is the question!

Do you like writing alternate universes? Branching your characters off and seeing where a different path goes? Where do you start, and how do you go about it?

New Universes

When I got back to writing, after a hiatus of a few years, I found that the strictures of canon made it hard to get some of my points across. I also had a time travel series that had stalled but was, I thought, salvageable. But I had to make changes to it.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Persistence of Memory | Alternate Universes

The Persistence of Memory

I hit upon the idea of using Daniels as a kind of anchor character, to give people something to hang onto, when reading the stories.

While I had already written some alternate or expanded types of universes, including Gina Nolan‘s world, things came together a lot better and with a lot more detail and finesse when I began to construct the HG Wells universe.

Origins of Alternate Universes

Beyond the old time travel series, things also began with Temper. After some of the initial reintroduction of the arrangement and the five people in it, the action quickly shifted to 3109. Daniels would be witnessing something that could easily and undoubtedly show that time had been changed. I hit upon the idea of making his sister, Eleanor, the docent at a museum. She holds in her hands a sword, Ironblaze, and explains that it belonged to the Empress Hoshi Sato. Eleanor also performs a few more expository tasks and then the sword begins to disintegrate.

Once that story ended, I felt there was unfinished business there with the deep future characters, and so I wanted to do more with them. Since I also wanted to incorporate a goodly amount of the old time travel series into the mix, I needed a bigger supporting cast for Daniels. He already had an engineer, Kevin O’Connor, and a boss, Carmen Calavicci. But he needed some more of a supporting cast. I already had the character of Otra D’Angelo, so she got some play, along with a Quartermaster, Crystal Sherwood, and others.


These days, I get an idea for a story or a series and put it into a file called, not so imaginatively, Writing Ideas. I update it as I think of new things. Sometimes, the idea is a rather small one indeed, such as smart kangaroos. That was the germ of an idea for the Daranaean Emergence series. For the Barnstorming series, the idea was sports in space, but it’s evolving. Hence it also includes the idea of trying to tie together a lot of what’s come before. Therefore successor characters for In Between Days and Emergence come together, and prefigure characters in HG Wells. If I can get Eriecho and Gina Nolan and the Mixing it Up alien hybrids in there, then it’ll be so meta I might as well call it a day.

Let it Sit

Once the first idea is out there, I generally let it sit for a while. Often, I’m working on something else, or life has gotten busy or whatever. In the meantime, usually, my subconscious starts to work on things. I might dream about a series, or something like it. I also tend to think about such things while exercising.

As I go along, I start gathering together what I want to do and what I want to comment on in my story/stories. For a series, I usually don’t confine myself to just plot. Often, there is something I want to say, some sort of philosophy I might wish to impart. Hence I’ll also think about what that is (e. g. for HG Wells, it was about how fate is quickly changed by little changes in time, and that you can’t necessarily trust your memory. For Emergence, it was about a quest for equality. Barnstorming is turning into knowing your heritage and embracing your past, warts and all).


Getting an AU together involves getting organized. I keep a large overall timeline. Currently, it’s on this blog, in two pieces, prehistory to 2099, and 2100 to the end. It will likely be divided into a third and maybe a fourth piece, as the pages are getting rather unwieldy. The virtue of having a timeline is understanding birth and death dates more than anything else. If I know that Lili was born in 2109 and died in 2202, then having her meet Gina Nolan, who is from the 2300s, is impossible unless there’s time travel involved, on either or both ends.

I also create a large Word document, which I refer to as a Wiki but, strictly speaking, isn’t, as I don’t make it available for anyone else to contribute to. These Wikis contain the timeline. And they also contain the names of the characters, both main and bit, and even characters I reference. I even locations. Hence, there are listings (such as in the HG Wells Wiki), like this one –


World War III starts here, in 2026 (Ohio).

I’ve got the name and the information and the reference. There is also an overall Excel spreadsheet of characters, with names, genders, species (for hybrids, I just list them once, usually by their predominant species or whatever isn’t human. Kevin O’Connor has a listing as Gorn even though he’s part-Gorn and part-human). This is also where I list who “plays” a character, as that helps me to better understand people, if I can visualize them.

As one might imagine, a lot of this information ends up in blog entries.


I love creating original, alternate universes. If I could not, I imagine I would not find Star Trek fan fiction writing anywhere near as compelling.

Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, Fan fiction, Meta, 2 comments

Character Sexuality/Relationship Mixes

Boldly Reading’s Blog Prompt #10 asks about character sexuality in Star Trek Fanfiction. And character sexuality can be a bit of a minefield. Here’s what it asks –

Your Questions, Should You Choose to Accept Them

  • There has been a dearth of even minor characters with, shall we say, less mainstream sexual preferences and relationships. Often, a character would behave in this fashion if in the Mirror universe, or under some sort of duress. How would you change that?
  • What would happen to canon characters if their preferences or their relationships were changed? Beyond the obvious choice of bed partners, how would known characters change?
  • Are there circumstances under which characters would behave differently but still within the fullest context of canon?
  • Have you created any original characters who follow less mainstream preference/relationship models? How do you get across their inner workings without continually announcing in every other paragraph something like, I’m gay! Now, let’s get a pizza. ?
  • Television programs and films naturally cater to worldwide audiences and have investors for which they need to show profits. That can hamper all forms of creativity, including the creation of less mainstream characters of any sort, and not just in the sexual arena (e. g. minorities, obese persons, persons with disabilities, etc.). Throw away the budget! How would you rewrite a canon episode or film to showcase a character (main or not) with a less-mainstream preference?

Bonus questions!

  • Have you read others’ non-mainstream characters? Which are your favorites? And which relationships are the most believable? Which scenarios, outside of relationships, are most believable for these characters?
  • Again, throwing away the budget, what would you do if you could make your own new Star Trek series from scratch, where at least one or two characters would be out of the mainstream? How would you handle showing the differences for HBO, or PBS, or ABC Family, if any of those networks deigned to carry your show?
  • Do you read slash (male-male relationships) or femme slash (female-female relationships), either on Ad Astra or elsewhere? Aside from PWP, how did the authors bring home ideas about their characters’ sexuality? Was it clichéd? Did it succeed? Was it hit or miss?

Bringing True IDIC to Canon

What happens when we alter canon characters?

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Nurse Chapel and a female crew member | Character Sexuality

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Nurse Chapel and a female crew member

Is it as simple as having, say, Nurse Chapel from The Original Series mooning over Uhura or another female crew member, rather than Spock?

Does the character lose anything? Does the storyline?

Do we, as the members of the audience (or the readers, as the case may be) lose sympathy for her if her object of affection is of the same sex as she?

Chapel and Spock

Chapel and Spock

And this scene, from Plato’s Stepchildren, would have a far different subtext.

Or flip it again. What if, in that episode, Parmen had the two kissing couples (Kirk and Uhura are the others, in what was one of the first interracial kisses broadcast on American television) switch partners in a few different ways?

When Chapel and Uhura are forced to kiss, or Kirk and Spock, how do we react as an audience? Do we cheer? Or does it repulse us? Do we shrug as if we’ve seen it all before? Do we react cynically, figuring this type of character sexuality is just a ploy to bring in more ratings?

I hope this sort of change would not elicit revulsion. And I certainly hope it would intelligently amp up the drama. Truthfully, if the episode were being aired today, it would likely be far more than kissing. Or at least such that would be the implication. It would be Platonian porn. And that porn would not have to be male-female.

IDIC Original Characters – Character Sexuality Matters

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Luke MacFarlane as Frank Todd (image is for educational purposes only) | Character Sexuality

Luke MacFarlane as Frank Todd (image is for educational purposes only)

I’ve enjoyed adding different character sexuality.

Diana Jones, Preece Ti, Leonora Digiorno and Leah Benson are all lesbians. Melissa Madden is bi. Preston Jennings, Dave Constantine, and Luke Donnelly are all gay men.

And then there’s Frank Todd.

Frank started off as a protest against various homophobic slurs I was seeing on Trek United several years ago. I wanted a tough but kind character, and so I wrote him into There’s Something About Hoshi and gave him a prominent role. He is so friendly to Hoshi, and so protective of her, that the Arisians even think they are a couple.

Boy, are they ever wrong.


Truth be told, Frank and Dave’s relationship in that story was far more stable and assured than Hoshi and Ted’s. Ted Stone comes across as kind of wimpy, and certainly shy and anything but an Alpha Male, worshiping Hoshi, more or less from afar.

Frank and Dave, in contrast, have an easygoing affection. Understated, yes, but they look at each other lovingly and there is a great deal of feeling behind Frank saying, “I’ll see you later.” The subtext should be – I can’t wait to see you later.

It was particularly satisfying to add more depth to them, in the E2 stories and also in Detached Curiosity and Idle Speculation and its sequel, The Way to a Man’s Heart. The latter is in the context of a celebration of Turing/Stonewall Week, meant to be a week in June devoted to gay rights and accomplishments.

I love this character so much that I am hunting around for more places to feature him. After all, Frank does more than date.

Favorite IDIC Characters from Others’ Works

Give it up for Andy in SLWalker’s One Minute!

What I like about Andy is that he’s a fully realized character. He has body parts that aren’t genitalia. He has a storyline that isn’t wholly about sex.

For Andy, who wants to reach the shadow, it only starts off as being about sex. It very quickly becomes more about human contact. Why is the shadow shunning it? What could possibly hurt that much? Is there any way for the shadow to be healed?

Throwing out the Budget: A New Show with IDIC

If I had full control over a Star Trek series, I would love to be able to add at least one or two IDIC characters, and not necessarily in the context of being a couple. Surely there is room for a character like Jake Sisko, or Chakotay or Chapel, who has a same-sex preference?

Or let’s go for broke.

Maybe that person is the captain.


For a channel which showed naked men before and more frequently than most others, this possible series can show a lot more flesh. I think the trick would be to keep it from being almost a bodice-ripper.

Excuse me, codpiece-ripper.

It might even be a struggle with the network suits to show exploration, and get the characters out of their bedrooms. I can see it working as almost a modern-day version of Hill Street Blues, a show that had rather gritty police realism but then, at the end, it was often an image of Furillo and Davenport in bed together. It was network television and it was the 1980s and so they were talking with a kiss or two and not much else. But they were still there.

Archer and Daniels in the deep future

Archer and Daniels in the deep future

I can see the time period for this series as possibly being in the deep future, much like Times of the HG Wells.

The extreme future could also allow for showing more interspecies relationships, including bedroom scenes and all sorts of character sexuality.


With this more factually-based network, I can see storylines becoming more documentary-like in look and feel. Because I love the earlier years of Trek, I can see it in a pre-ENT time period.

Lily Sloane and Zefram Cochrane in 2063

Lily Sloane and Zefram Cochrane in 2063

For a grittier time, maybe even pre-First Contact (e. g. before April of 2063), the Earth would be a post-nuclear horror. Bedroom time would be more urgent and a lot tougher to come by. People would be scratching out their survival. Hence a shaky camera-type realistic story line could work. And what could be more real than a team or a family or a crew or a group or a movement that wasn’t a monolith?

There is also no reason why some of the people involved in building the first warp ship couldn’t be gay, lesbian or intergender. Or trans.

ABC Family

With a far more restrictive network, it used to be that intimations of less-mainstream sexuality had to be a lot more metaphoric. And the same was more or less true of heterosexuality. While a kiss between a man and a woman could be perfectly acceptable, having them wake up in bed together in anything other than pajamas after a good night’s sleep was just plain not going to fly. For a gay or lesbian couple, even a kiss could have been going too far. Would so much as hand-holding be a problem?

Actually, no.

Setting the Pace

During the 2010 – 2011 season, GLAAD cited ABC Family as being one of the more inclusive networks, with the lesbian character, Emily, in Pretty Little Liars. Their praise for ABC Family continued into the 2012 season, in GLAAD’s Network Responsibility Index report. Even for a network with the word ‘family’ in its very name, times have changed. Hence all sorts of character sexuality are embraced and welcomed, and aren’t just cast as victims, self-loathing suicides or criminals.

Scheduled fun for students on Voyager

Scheduled fun for students on Voyager

For ABC Family, I feel that a Starfleet Academy scenario could work the best. This would provide storylines surrounding coming of age, and that can mean discovering and communicating to others about character sexuality.

This might work best in a post-Nemesis time period, where the technology could be bigger and brighter but not wholly unfamiliar and, if not set too deeply into the future, guest characters could believably interact with the new series’s characters.


Perhaps the hardest sell for a lot of people is slash, and the problem is that it is often misunderstood as to what slash truly is. In its original form, it was TOS-based, and it showed a sexual relationship between Kirk and Spock, essentially pulling their friendship to the extreme.

Slash takes tons of forms, e. g. m/m (two men), f/f (two women), chanslash (underage children), original slash (both characters are original ones), etc. It also does not, necessarily, contain overt sexual situations or behaviors (reverse slash). Then there’s also PWP (porn without plot; or plot, what plot?), which is pretty overt porn with little to recommend it beyond basic titillation.

While I have read slash, and I enjoy excitement as much as the next person, I’ve found straightforward PWP to get unintentionally amusing after a while. Hence I personally tend to stay away from it, but that’s for all forms of character sexuality that it may showcase. I kinda like plot with my sexy stories. But hey, that might just be me.

Plot and Ponn Farr

Contamination by Odon is a femmeslash story about Hoshi and T’Pol that brings together Pon Farr and bi-curiosity in a way that is safe for teens (the story is, to my mind properly, rated T) but gets across the characters’ sexuality immediately. Could this even work on a more conservative network?

Hoshi and T'Pol

Hoshi and T’Pol

I don’t see any reason why not. Hell, it’s actually a bit less sexy than what the UPN network was really showing when ENT was in first-run.


Character sexuality is as much a part of a person as their eye color or their height, and it’s just as mutable, particularly after maturation. To create a ship or a series with absolutely no one with an alternative view is downright unrealistic. The percentage of out-and-out 100% homosexual persons is rather small, but the percentage of people who are bi, bi-curious and/or sympathetic to gay rights is considerably higher.

There is a lot of room under the umbrella called Star Trek, and fan fiction proves that anyway, by bringing poetry, different pairings, horror stories, alternative timelines, expanded universes, original characters, and extremely long story arcs which can work side by side with what happened on screen and in the officially sanctioned books.

To keep non-mainstream sexuality out of Star Trek is a misplaced notion.

IDIC for the win!

Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, Fan fiction, Meta, 4 comments

Original Characters and Settings

Original Characters and Settings

Original characters are a lot of fun.

So Boldly Reading asked, in Blog Prompt #9, about original characters and original settings.

  • What’s the best setting for an original character? Is it as a lone figure, thrust into a canon ship or situation? In a group of original characters but still in a canon ship, situation or series? Or as a stand-alone crew, group, political party or other agglomeration of individuals?
  • When do original characters and scenarios tip the scale from new spins on familiar works to out and out non-Trek? Is there a bright line between Star Trek and not-Star Trek?
  • How can original character love interests be integrated into a more canon scenario? What about original character leaders?


  • For canon characters who have very little back story or screen (or authorized book) time, what’s the tipping point between when canon converts into what is, for all intents and purposes, an original character?
  • Also, for representations of canon characters in fan fiction that are not well-portrayed (e. g. the author misses the mark and does not accurately represent the canon character’s language, ideals, vision, etc.), can the situation be salvaged by rewriting the story with an original character?
  • For original settings, what makes them unique? Can an original setting be so extraordinary that it, in a way, almost becomes a nonliving type of Mary Sue?

Bonus questions!

  • Who are some of your favorite original characters that you have created? Do you feel they fulfill their purposes?
  • What happens when you take a Mary Sue test?
  • What are some of your favorite original settings that you have created? Did they work?
  • Who else’s original characters do you enjoy reading the most, and why?
  • Are there others’ original settings that you like reading the most? What makes those original settings your favorites?

A Cast of Hundreds

When I last checked, I had created over 300 original characters to encompass various scenarios. These included figures from as far back as 1775 (including Benjamin Warren)

The Lone Original Character

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Yvonne Nelson as Susan Cheshire (image is for educational purposes only)

Yvonne Nelson as Susan Cheshire (image is for educational purposes only)

I’ve found that I rarely do this, as I love making original characters so much that I just can’t resist tossing in several as points and then counterpoints and then even more.

A Hazy Shade is one example of, truly, there only being one original character. In that story, the sole original character is Jonathan Archer‘s wife, a Calafan named Miva. Other single-OC stories include Atlas, with its very brief glimpse of Susan Cheshire, and Penicillin, which is an interplay between canon character Jay Hayes and Lili O’Day. For all of those stories, they are short and the OC (except for in Atlas) acts as a sounding board and a counter to the canon character.

A Small Bouquet of Original Characters

Perhaps the best example of this is in The Light, where Jewish crew members get together to remember a lost life and to celebrate Chanukah. Because none of the canon ENT characters are known to be Jewish, the story would have rung hollow if I had tried to shoehorn someone in, such as deciding that Hoshi Sato is suddenly Jewish. While that is not an impossible situation, it was unlikely. Further, I wanted the Jewish characters to be young people, more or less fresh out of school. Hoshi would not fit into that fairly limited scenario.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Seth Green as Josh Rosen (image is for educational purposes only) | Original Characters

Seth Green as Josh Rosen (image is for educational purposes only)

Therefore, The Light centers around Ethan Shapiro, Karin Bernstein, Andrew Miller and Josh Rosen, with a quick appearance by Muslim crew member Azar Hamidi. The seven main canon characters all make appearances, though.

A Larger Bevy of Original Characters

In order to best accommodate the E2 scenario, I needed to fill the NX-01 with people. This meant making sure that all of the women were accounted for, along with a lot of the men. People would flit in and out as the story line is somewhat episodic and the chapters can often read like vignettes.

I could use several characters I had already created, such as Deborah Haddon.  And that not only saved me ramp-up time but also dovetailed rather nicely into my preexisting fanfiction. After all, if I said that Deborah was on the ship in 2157, in Reversal, then it made sense for her to have also been on the ship in 2154, when the ship was kicked back in time, in Reflections Down a Corridor and Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.

Message Characters

I also made characters to make specific points, such as Mara Brodsky and Robert Slater, as I wanted someone to be cuckolded. When Slater was cuckolded by a canon character, Walter Woods, that worked well with marrying canon and original characters – and eventually quite literally marrying them. Original characters were also created in order to fulfill certain roles on the ship, as Communications would have to be handled on second shift and night shift. Maryam Haroun and Chip Masterson, respectively, fulfilled those roles.

Lone or Few Canon Characters

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Henry Rollins as Boris Yarin, MD (image is for educational purposes only)

Henry Rollins as Boris Yarin, MD (image is for educational purposes only)

The best example of this is in the HG Wells stories. As Temper makes clear, the sole canon character is Richard Daniels. Richard needs a support team, which includes people like Boris Yarin and Crystal Sherwood. By giving Rick occasional missions to the NX-01 or elsewhere in canon, and having him eventually need to confer with ancestor Malcolm Reed, I was able to provide more canon credibility to these stories.

In the upcoming Barnstorming series, the few main canon characters are Martin Madden and Wesley Crusher, but the crew of the Enterprise-E is seen, as Madden lives and works there. Keeping a few canon characters on hand, I feel, can make a story a lot more Trek.

Canon Characters Begone!

Barking up the muse tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The truth about Bron | Original Characters

The truth about Bron

The Eriecho series is 100% fanfiction characters, and it will likely stay that way, as are Gina Nolan‘s universe and the Bron-Sophra-Skrol-Tr’Dorna group. Even without canon characters, the situations or the history or the species can bring back the Trek part.

For example, Eriecho’s story arises from the events in the JJ Abrams timeline. Whereas Gina’s world comes from the Dominion War. Bron and Skrol are Gorn, Tr’Dorna is a Xindi Reptilian and Sophra is a Cardassian. These three canon species bring that story line squarely into Trek, I feel.

Full Originality

Will I ever write a story with 100% original characters, 100% original species and completely outside of any sort of canon scenarios? At that point, I feel it starts to tip perilously close to not-Trek. But there are a ton of canon scenarios, and those can include very non-canon people being off their ships. After all, characters are born, have relationships and possibly marriages, have families, have jobs and retirements, and they also die. Just because a kiss between a Gorn and a Cardassian has not been shown on screen – or between two completely original species, such as a Calafan and a Daranaean – does not mean it’s wholly not-Trek.

But I do recognize that it can be a far harder sell to the reader. For such a scenario, the reader, I feel, should read earlier work in preparation. That can bring these original species into the Trek-like fold.

Adding Original Details to Canon Characters

In many ways, this is the very purpose of fan fiction. It is to fill in the blanks where canon left off. Or a show was subject to cancellation too soon, etc. The three canon characters I have done this the most with have been Malcolm Reed, Jay Hayes and Richard Daniels. Have I done well by them? I like to think so, but it’s hard to say (and it is particularly difficult as all come from ENT).

Malcolm Reed

During ENT, this character was the tantalizing fourth or fifth of seven. He was sometimes the sixth, but rarely in the top three and virtually never first. This is when it came to storyline development, writer affection or plot twists. Even when the storyline centered around Malcolm, he never seemed to get his due.

Fan fiction has allowed me to give him a wife and a child, and it has allowed me to give him quirks like lactose intolerance and personal interests like crossword puzzles. Stay tuned, as there is a lot more Malcolm to come!

Jay Hayes

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Steven Culp as Major Hayes

Steven Culp as Major Hayes

For a character seen in five episodes and who only had a first initial, I have given him ex-girlfriends, an earlier posting on Titania, and an alternate timeline wife and two children. Along the way, Jay also got a love of blueberries and was also not too adventurous in his diet, never having tried either figs or parsnips until prompted to do so.

Will there be more Jay? I adore this character and so I’ll find a way, but right now I don’t have anything specific planned.

Richard Daniels

For a character with no first name, he’s gotten a reputation as a ladies’ man, a pair of somewhat more serious ex-girlfriends, and a great love. His off-hand canon statement of being mostly human led to not only working out how he was put together, but it also led to a thought experiment about unlikely hybrids, resulting in characters like Boris Yarin and Kevin O’Connor.

Richard flits in and out of my fiction and he may or may not turn up again. Because of Multiverse II, I’ve seen more interest in the HG Wells universe, so it’s very possible that he and his group will get new adventures, much like Another Piece of the Action.

Original Settings

From the start of In Between Days, I decided humans would have, even by 2151, colonized all available surfaces within the Solar System. This means the planet Mars but also a ton of moons, such as Titan, Titania and Ganymede. To give these locations some spice, I decided on some set characteristics. For example Titaniais a Southerner’s paradise. Plus Martian cities are all named after metals.

The E2 stories allowed for more original settings, including writing Phnom Penh during the Third World War and three new planets, Paradise, Amity and Speakeasy. In order to give the latter three believability, they got certain problems. Paradise is often too hot, and there are no natural pollinators. Amity has poisonous malostrea. And Speakeasy isn’t supposed to exist at all, and is only dimly lit.

Favorites and Mary Sues

Of course I love Lili O’Day, and I strive to keep her out of Mary Sue territory. She burns things. And she often avoids people. She gets jumpy and nervous and it is not necessarily endearing.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Naomi Watts as Lili O'Day (image is for educational purposes)

Naomi Watts as Lili O’Day (image is for educational purposes)

In Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, she is particularly unfair to José Torres. She does, at times, fail the Mary Sue test, I admit. But I believe that her overall arc comes down rather favorably on the believable end of things. She does have a lot of adventures. Plus I do spend a lot of time on her. But that’s also because I love the character so much.

The Raw Deal Characters

Pamela Hudson, another favorite, more or less stays out of Mary Sue territory due to her often sour disposition and her many screw-ups in life. Things turn out for the best for her, but she has a tougher row to hoe than Lili does.

Eriecho stays out of the world of Mary Sue due to her poor upbringing and her violent past. I’ve barely scratched her surface; time in Canamar is not fun. As I unwrap more layers of this character, I think she will leave Mary Sue far, far behind.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Edward Norton as Levi Cavendish (image is for educational purposes only) | Original Characters

Edward Norton as Levi Cavendish (image is for educational purposes only)

Levi Cavendish stays well away from Mary Sue, even though he’s a genius, because he’s so damned messed up.

Otra D’Angelo has her own weaknesses, even though she has what is essentially a psionic-style gift for seeing temporal alternatives. But it gets her a pretty raw deal with the enemy.

People often call canon character Wesley Crusher a Mary Sue. A lot of people love to hate this character. I’ve done my best to try to rehabilitate him, particularly in Crackerjack.

Love for Others’ Babies

Captain Sarine‘s Kalara is perhaps the best-realized female Klingon I have either seen or read. I’ve also enjoyed the interplay of thebluesman‘s Captain Dylan and Dr. West. Miranda Fave‘s wacky Tabatha (don’t call me Tabby!) Chase and her crew get things done with few stuffy conventions and a lot of flair. And Mistral‘s Shand feels very much like a real alien person. Enough like us to be someone we could work with, but enough unlike to keep us a bit … unsettled.

In the scenery department, kes7‘s Tesseract universe puts together a crazy-advanced ship with the right kinds of off-kilter people who can make it run. And trekfan‘s overall Hank and Bethany mythos brings those two original characters from home to the Pearl to marriage and domesticity, and eventually to Hank’s end.


I cannot imagine fan fiction without original characters. Plus I confess it often dismays me when people do not try to write them. Even poorly realized Mary Sue are, at least to me, an attempt to go outside oneself. They mean people are stretching those creative muscles. For me, original characters and scenes, I feel, take it all to the next level.

Damn, I’m gonna go out and make myself some more characters!

‘Cause 300+ just aren’t enough.

Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, Meta, 3 comments

Branching to other fandoms

Cheating on Star Trek???


In response to Blog Prompt #8,  my main participation in other fandoms is in reading or in viewing. I know of fan fiction works in any number of other fandoms (they’re all over, but I don’t find myself participating in them. Rather, I step back and mostly leave it to the professionals.


But not completely, as I’ve recently done some informal beta reading of some Bilbo/Thorin slash in the Hobbit universe.

Thorin meets Bilbo branching

Thorin meets Bilbo

In all honesty, I’m not so sure how I feel about it. I like my friend’s work, and I think it’s respectful and true to the characters. The voices seem authentic, even if the actions seem less so. Slash doesn’t make me squeamish, but I think this may bug me a tad as these are characters I read about when I was very young (as in, if memory serves, eight years old). Also knowing enough of Tolkein’s motivations – he had wanted to write a boy’s adventure story and he’s not much for female characters. Hence there are a lot of guys.

Slash branching?

It makes me wonder if the times had been different, if we wouldn’t see slash arising from classic war pictures. E. g. Stalag 17 or The Great Escape or The Longest Day. Some of this may be why I’m so drawn to developing and realizing historical crossovers, e. g. Concord and Day of the Dead.

Does it inspire me? I’ve been checking out Game of Thrones a bit recently, and that, coupled with listening to Jane Austen’s Emma on podcast, is starting to creep into the language and speech patterns I use for some characters, particularly for Vulcans. I often have major issues with writing Vulcans unless I logically impair them somehow. But giving them Regency speech patterns seems to be assisting with that. I don’t know if that’s inspiration for me. Perhaps a more descriptive term would be a paradigm shift. So maybe I’ll finally get better at writing standard-form Vulcans, and will give them more dialogue than just saying that something is logical or fascinating.

Why Haven’t I Leaped?

The only other fandom where I was actually inspired to write anything (but never finished it, alas), is Quantum Leap. So, a little branching.

Beyond enjoying the show, I did start to write a story, about a stockbroker at the time of the 1987 crash. I recall the guy was African-American and his name was Jordan something or other (like Gordon Gekko, huh) and was called Jordo. He was going to find his happy ending by quitting and taking up with the woman who worked at the local coffee shop, if I am remembering it all correctly.

I was never inspired to finish it, although I did create the HG Wells stories as a kind of anti-Quantum Leap. The idea is to be where people (almost like Sam and Al) try to improve the future by ‘fixing’ the past.

I decided that the idea is, ultimately, an arrogant one. What if the fixing screws everything else up, making it even worse?

But as for the actual fandom story, no, it died a long, long time ago and I never revived it. I’m not even so sure why I selected the main A story for it. But I know I was keeping with their canon, which puts Beckett’s leaps into about 1953 to 2010 or so. But truly, the 1987 crash was not that compelling a news flash, at least not for this sort of drama.


I’m a fan of any number of works. I’ll watch James Bond films on a rainy day, or the Planet of the Apes movies, or Star Wars. I don’t run to turn off Doctor Who or Red Dwarf. I still love everything I’ve seen of Peter Jackson’s take on the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, even though I’ve watched much of it multiple times.

But none of them move me to write, or at least to finish. And none of them have inspired me to such creativity as Trek does.

I guess this is just the universe that speaks to me the most, and the best, and the clearest. This is the one that tells me to write. So I don’t really do a lot of branching.

Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, Fan fiction, Meta, 14 comments

Music, Star Trek and Fan Fiction

Boldly Reading’s prompt #7, Music and Writing, asks the following musical questions –

Music, for many of us, is a part of the writing process. It might inspire us. We might need it to get started, or motivated, or to finish. We might give characters their own theme songs or might follow along with the lyrics as they pull us into a different direction. We might even write songfics.

Your blogging mission is therefore to answer questions like this –

Does music inspire you in your writing? Do any characters have a song that just clicks for you? Do any character relationships have songs (e. g. they’re playing our song)? Do lyrics inspire you? Do rhythm, beats and instruments inspire? Is one genre preferred to another? Do any of your characters sing or play instruments? Do any of your stories or characters have play lists?

Bonus questions!

Have you ever used music to set a scene or a mood? Do you feel it was successful? Have you read others’ musical connections to fan fiction? Did the music help in your enjoyment of the piece(s), or did it detract?

Second Verse, Same as the First

I’ve tackled this before, the whole idea of music and trek and writing, but it’s time to update what I wrote.

Many of my characters have theme songs, or they share them in couples. In addition, the HG Wells stories are heavily musical, partly as a mood creator but also to evoke certain years. It would be a lot to repeat all of that. Hence, rather than doing that, I’d like to talk about a few times when I think music really was a part of telling the story.

Day of the Dead

For Day of the Dead, I wanted to evoke the mood of Halloween, spookiness and horror. In particular, I wanted to move the mood from jokey, unreal, fictional horrors, such as are seen on a movie screen, to the very real and memorable and gut-wrenching horrors of a concentration camp. Further, I wanted to end, not so much on a happy note as on one of a set of lessons having been learned. And so the music, which starts off with tunes like Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett’s Monster Mash, segues into eventually the Manhattan Transfer’s Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone to Golden Earring’s Twilight Zone to, finally, Ministry’s Everyday is Halloween.

The mood should absolutely darken, leaving the reader, when it’s all over, with a sense that Tripp Tucker‘s final days are pretty dark ones. The idea was, not only to tell the story, but also to give a bit of life to the explanation in the canon episode, These Are the Voyages, that he and T’Pol had broken up years earlier and had never reconciled.


While it doesn’t have music actually in the fan fiction itself, Crackerjack has always been posted with links to period music. Although Joe DiMaggio isn’t in the story, I’ve always posted Les Brown’s Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, as it’s accurate to the time period and is of course about baseball. I tend to use Artie Shaw’s Frenesi as the love theme for Geordi LaForge and Rosemary Parker. I also like ending with Frank Sinatra’s Oh, Look at Me Now as it’s an optimistic song with an eye toward a happy future.

Multiverse II

This story has gone through a number of twists, and the soundtrack is somewhat complicated, but the song I particularly liked adding was Cream’s Swlabr, which absolutely, to my mind, captured Seymour Sonia’s drug trip.


I know I have sometimes allowed lyrics to dictate my writing a little too much. I will be the first to admit that. And I’ve also added music sometimes where, maybe, it didn’t need to be. On the Radio had a ton of music listed, and it followed Donna Summer’s lyrics a bit, but I also wanted to use it as a direct sequel to More, More, More! which is a disco party. Further, I wanted to evoke a dance, not so much tripping the light fantastic but, rather, the dance of two people and their attraction. One step forward, two steps back, as it were. But I know it didn’t quite work out as well as I wanted it to.


For every song, and every lyric, the results are, I think, mixed. Do they add to the mood? Sometimes. But they can sometimes threaten to overwhelm it, and I know I can sometimes use them as too much of a crutch. I like using music in my writing, but the effects aren’t always as I intend them to be.

Then again, Otra D’Angelo got this song. And, at least to me, it feels just right.

Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, Fan fiction, 0 comments

Complex Evil Characters

Complex Evil Characters

Complex evil characters make stories pop.
On Boldly Reading, it was recently asked, how do you write complex evil characters?

More specifically – how do you write evil characters who are not mere caricatures? Do you find ways to garner sympathy, even for the wicked (or the devil, perhaps?)? Do you surprise your readers by turning a character from good to evil, or evil to good? How grey is the shading?

Bonus questions!

  1. Which evil characters have you enjoyed writing the most?
  2. (also) Which evil character, created by another author, have you enjoyed reading the most?
  3. Which canon evil character do you enjoy watching or reading the most?


Like the creation of any other Star Trek fanfiction original characters, the bad guys spring up as needed. Some get more backstory than others as I make them. While others receive detail as needed, possibly stretched out over time. I get to know characters, as they begin to move me. And then I feel more comfortable giving them some specifics. They need motivations, and they usually need brakes of some sort. A lot of people may be good for the sake of being good. However, I believe that most people aren’t, truly, evil simply for the sake of being evil (perhaps I’m a little optimistic that way).

Hence I’ll answer this is by listing some of my favorite own evil creatures – I mean, creations, and will comment.

In Between Days/Interphases

Leah Benson (Mirror)

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Mayim Bialik as MU Leah Benson | Complex Evil Characters

Mayim Bialik as MU Leah Benson (image is for educational purposes only)

The prime universe’s official Starfleet rabbi is an alcoholic in the mirror, and kills her lover, Leonora Digiorno, in an alcoholic fit, one of the more meaningless deaths in any of my stories (Fortune).

Christine Chalmers (mirror)

One of Doug‘s old girlfriends, Christine taunts him until he kills Ehigha Ejoigu, thereby committing his fifth murder (Fortune).

Tristan Curtis

This character is one of Patti Socorro‘s rapists (The Three of Us). He is sentenced to banishment on Amity, and then escapes custody.

Douglas Jay Hayes (Beckett)

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Steven Culp as Doug Hayes Beckett/Jay Hayes (image is for educational purposes | Complex Evil Characters

Steven Culp as Doug Hayes Beckett/Jay Hayes (image is for educational purposes

It takes a supreme effort of will for this killer to come clean and turn his life around. But until Doug does, he has personally killed fourteen men, is responsible for the death of one woman and has pulled the trigger for countless phaser bank deaths, including being a part of committing genocide on the Xindi people.

Once he comes to the prime universe, he has to rein in his temper, but he never kills again.

Jeremiah Hayes (mirror)

Committed to getting Doug into a good school and nipping any possibility in the bud of his only child becoming a mama’s boy, Jeremiah may or may not be abusing his wife, Lena, as Doug is thrown to the wolves at a young age (Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions).

Gary Hodgkins

Another one of Patti Socorro’s rapists, at least Gary confesses his misdeeds, before his death, thereby cracking that case wide open.

Edward Hudson

Never seen, but definitely felt, Edward raped and abused Pamela Hudson from age five until she escaped the family home (Intolerance).

Linda Morgan Hudson

As her husband abused and raped their younger daughter, Pamela, Linda did nothing to stop things and, eventually, lets her daughters know that she, too, was abused by Edward Hudson (Saturn Rise).

Randall McCoy

While liberating the Dachau concentration camp in 1945, Sergeant McCoy participants in firing squads which execute Nazi guards without the benefit of trial, thereby committing a war crime (Day of the Dead). Later, he bears witness against Holocaust deniers.

Cyril Morgan (mirror)

A kindly grandfather in the prime universe, the mirror Cyril commits medical malpractice regularly and participates in the torture deaths of Phlox and Ian (Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses). Later, he attempts to persuade Travis to allow him to let Hoshi die on an operating table, thereby ending her reign of terror (Coveted Commodity) but also killing the unborn Izo.

Jefferson Davis Paxton

Paxton furthers his own political agenda and vengeance by raping Ruby Brannagh and leaving her for dead (Shell Shock).

Arashi Sato


Empress Hoshi’s third-born is a whiz at numbers and collects the taxes in the Terran Empire. Arashi is probably the most feared, and is most likely to become a 1984-style tyrant (fortunately, he never comes to power) (Temper).

Izo Sato

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Hiru from Exile as Izo Sato (image is for educational purposes only) | Complex Evil Characters

Hiru from Exile as Izo Sato (image is for educational purposes only)

Empress Hoshi’s youngest, Izo enforces the collections of both taxes and gambling debts from Game Night, and tries unsuccessfully to force Leah Benson to service him (Bread). In an alternate timeline, he bullies Pamela Hudson, but she turns the tables on him (Temper).

Sandra Sloane

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Leighton Meester | Sandra Sloane | Complex Evil Characters

Sandra Sloane (image of Leighton Meester is for educational purposes only)

This character is something of a village gossip, spouting off homophobic slurs and generally making everyone uncomfortable (Reflections Down a Corridor, Entanglements). Her tongue is so sharp, and her remarks are so cutting, that Ethan Shapiro becomes distraught, and attempts suicide, in part due to her nastiness.

José Torres (mirror)

José, a sweet and gentle giant in the prime universe, is rewarded for a massacre of innocents by being given three women as playthings – Pamela Hudson, Blair Claymore and Karin Bernstein, who he regularly abuses (Temper).

Times of the HG Wells/Multiverse II

Daniel Beauchaine

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Jason Alexander as Daniel Beauchaine (image is for educational purposes only) | Complex Evil Characters

Jason Alexander as Daniel Beauchaine (image is for educational purposes only)

This Section 31 operative and Temporal Integrity Commission employee (Dan is a survivalist specialist) alters time for the counter group known as the Perfectionists (Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain). This eventually all catches up with him, and he commits suicide (Shake Your Body).

Marisol Castillo

A psychopath, Marisol keeps it together for a while, but eventually throws off her assignment to seduce Boris Yarin and begins to blackmail him, threatening to tell his wife everything (Shake Your Body).

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Vanessa Marcil as Marisol Castillo (image is for educational purposes) | Complex Evil Characters

Vanessa Marcil as Marisol Castillo (image is for educational purposes)

She also kills Perfectionists operative Anthony Parker to keep him quiet (You Mixed-Up Siciliano). Also, she attempts to kill Richard Daniels and Sheilagh Bernstein.

Otra D’Angelo

Only evil in Multiverse II, Otra is a Witannen, with symbiotic chavecoi on her head. When they are possessed by evil Chilo, she is pushed to commit bad acts. However, she eventually throws off control, and makes an effort to redeem herself.

Liesl Green

Colonel Green’s wife is the power behind the throne. She is one of the few constants as the Colonel is replaced over and over again. This happens to appease the Eastern Coalition. It is also to make it appear as if everything is just peachy in North America (Multiverse II).

Jared Riley

Mostly a puppet of Liesl Green and the Chilo, Jared has no qualms ratting out the heroes of Multiverse II.

Helen Walker

After her death is faked in a shuttle crash on Berren One, Helen performs various missions for the Perfectionists (although she never sullies her hands with murder, like Marisol does), eventually taking over when her father, Milton, goes into hiding in the mirror universe (The Point is Probably Moot).

Milton Walker

A misguided philanthropist, Milton thinks he’s doing good by altering history and, allegedly, improving it. But when Parker is killed under his direction, and Otra is kidnapped by his people (Spring Thaw), the Rubicon is crossed. He begins to realize that he is not much better than a mobster (He Stays a Stranger).

Boris Yarin

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Henry Rollins as Boris Yarin, MD (image is for educational purposes only) | Complex Evil Characters

Henry Rollins as Boris Yarin, MD (image is for educational purposes only)

The doctor in the Human Unit is cheating on his wife, Darragh Stratton (Ohio), with Marisol Castillo. When she begins to blackmail him, he ends up murdering her.



When his third-caste wife, Inta, refuses to have sexual relations with him, this Daranaean beats her so hard that she dies (Take Back the Night).


This physician helps to cover up Arnis’s crime, in exchange for research funding. After their trials, he goes to prison. He secures an early release by assisting Dr. Trinning with finding a cure for the killer disease, thylacine paramyxovirus (Flight of the Bluebird).

Other Star Trek Fan Fiction Stories


In a fit of rage, precipitated by bullying, this hybrid human-Xindi Reptilian blinds a classmate (D’Storlin).

desc Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Human-Xindi Reptilian hybrid D'Storlin | Complex Evil Characters

Human-Xindi Reptilian hybrid D’Storlin

Canon Characters

Victor Brown

Victor is another one of Patti Socorro’s rapists. However, he does his best to redeem himself, for the sake of his marriage.

Daniel Chang

Dan is another one of Patti Socorro’s rapists, and is the ringleader in the group. He is also particularly nasty, rating the women on their looks and presumed sexual prowess, during both kick backs in time (Reflections Down a Corridor, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere).

Colonel Green

This tyrant is responsible for the deaths of some 37 million individuals. In Multiverse II, we learn there have been fourteen separate versions. Their elevations are all to fool the masses and the Eastern Coalition.

Brooks Haynem


While Brooks aids and abets Patti Socorro’s rapists, he does not commit the deed himself.

Neil Kemper

Neil is another one of Patti Socorro’s rapists. Much like Victor Brown, in order to save his marriage, he works hard to make up for his crime.

Leland Loomis

Sent to a mental institution because he’s seen lizard people and a chick with a ray gun, Loomis pleads his case for sanity, until he’s reminded that a finding of sanity would result in him being put on trial and likely found guilty of battery and murder (Detroit Rock City).

Travis Mayweather (mirror)

A petty thug raised to dizzying heights by Empress Hoshi, Travis commits his own petty and not so petty cruelties, including killing Brian Delacroix and trying to get Deborah Haddon to service him immediately afterwards (Reversal).

Marlena Moreau (Mirror)

After killing the Captain’s Woman, Janice Rand, Marlena moves right in, just after seducing James T. Kirk (That’s Not My Name, It Had to be You).

Hoshi Sato (mirror)

Probably my favorite of all canon evil characters, because there is so much potential there, Hoshi is the mouse that roared, turned the slut who took over.

From throwing her favors around in order to liven up the gene pool (First Born, Reversal, Temper, Fortune), to demanding that educated people act as exterminators (Brown), to deliberately erasing and rewriting a lover’s suicide note in order to make herself look better (Escape, The Point is Probably Moot), to systematically killing off any threats (Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses), to pushing people into promotions they’re not ready for, and bullying those who fail to meet her standards (Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions), to controlling all aspects of her crew’s personal lives (Temper, The Play at the Plate, The Pivot Point) to, finally, hectoring and bullying and insulting her children while on her death bed (Who Shall Wear the Robe and Crown?), Hoshi has been a delight to write and tease out her rocky future.

Others’ Evil Characters

Give it up for trekfan’s Maria!

I don’t know her as well as I’d like to. After all, there is a great deal of backstory. But between Chronicles and Multiverse II, Maria is … scary. She’s manipulative, she’s a temptress and she seems to embody everything that hero Hank Harrison wants. But he realizes she would rip him asunder.

And who doesn’t like that in a villain?


Looking over this post, it feels, a little, as if all I write are killers, rapists, abusers, blackmailers and tyrants. And then I remember, I’ve created over 300 original characters. This list just nicks the surface.

But I hope these people, like their benevolent brethren, have a depth and a meaning to the reader. I hope that they feel real.

Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, 4 comments