Category Archives: Emergence series

Review – Some Assembly Required

Review – Some Assembly Required

Aw, Some Assembly Required is cute.

Background

There had been enough somber stories in the Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction Daranaean arc, so I wanted something a lot more lighthearted. After having written Temptation, I then added the Christmas story, Some Assembly Required, which takes place not too long afterwards.

Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Some Assembly Required
Some Assembly Required

It’s the holidays, and the Enterprise is exchanging gifts with the most prominent Daranaean family. For the little alien children, it’s three boxes of toys. Little Seppa, in particular, is excited to not only play with the new toys (particularly with her half-sister, Minna, who is nearly the same age as her), but also to thank Captain Archer and Commander Reed. Reed has selected the toys.

But things are off, and Seppa begins to cry. Why? The toys all seem to be broken. So she is afraid that the adults will get angry with her, and will blame her for that. As a third caste Daranaean female, whose mother is dead and father is in the prison, she knows she has very little status. Even at age four, she realizes that her comfortable existence is because of people who could just as easily throw her out on the streets. She knows how lucky she truly is.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Daranaean Writing | Some Assembly Required
Daranaean Writing

In the meantime, the Daranaeans have sent a large serving platter, and they all signed their names to it.

And they imparted a new saying, ‘We have a new saying on Daranaea: When human friends come, happiness is sure to follow.’

Although Seppa and the other children play together, and learn together, there is still some separation. The story ends on a wistful note, as Seppa gazes longingly at images of Earth, dreaming of visiting someday.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Starfleet Headquarters | Some Assembly Required
Starfleet Headquarters (the jigsaw puzzle)

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I liked the family feel of this one and, as always, language matters when it comes to the Daranaeans. When Trinning refers to Dratha respectfully, it’s a sign of huge progress. When they comfort and include Seppa, it’s another positive sign. Things are changing.

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Portrait of a Character – Rona Moran

Portrait of a Character – Rona Moran

Origins

The Dispatches from the Romulan War series covered this unseen Star Trek canon war through the eyes of news outlets. It had been going on for a few years and was winding down by the time I had an idea to contribute to it. And so I decided I wanted a gossip columnist with a heart of gold.

Portrayal

Rona Moran (excuse me, Verona Linda Moran Dodd Fisher D’Angelo Sherwood) is played by real-life gossip columnist Cindy Adams.

Personality

Larger than life and overly

Portrait of a Character – Rona Moran
Cindy Adams

dramatic, Rona is every bit the air-kissing celebrity watcher. She’s been married (and divorced) four times, and occasionally digs at her third ex, Maurizio. She has a British background.

She seems as if she’s very shallow. But the truth is, she isn’t.

In Soldiers’ Marriage Project, she reveals that she’s in charge of a charitable trust that provided all the trappings of a group wedding for 1,000 couples where both members were going off to war. The charity provided all sorts of things, including celebrity waitstaff like actress Alyssa McKenna and shortstop Lefty Robinson. Food and hotel rooms were donated, and rings were provided at cost.

As a reporter, Rona concentrates on one couple, as the huge ceremony is otherwise far too overwhelming. And the story she tells about them is sweet, full of hope for their new life together.

Because of her understanding, Jonathan Archer seeks her out during Flight of the Bluebird in order to dispel a rumor, and it’s revealed that Malcolm and Lili talked to her when the Cochrane was launched as they had had to explain their arrangement in a way that would be understood by the free and open press and would not tank Malcolm’s career.

Relationships

She’s got four ex-husbands, but only the third one, Maurizio D’Angelo, is ever mentioned in any detail (the others are, in order, Dodd, Fisher and Sherwood. Dodd and Fisher are two of Elizabeth Taylor‘s real-life husbands, and Sherwood is a shout-out to HG Wells character Crystal Sherwood). In Flight of the Bluebird, Rona is a lot kinder when mentioning him.

Quote

“I want you all to know, darlings, that there is nothing greater in the galaxy than love. The love in this family is self-evident. As for my exes, you all know, darlings; that I have spoken less than kindly of them in the past. But to all of them and, particularly, to my third ex-husband, Maurizio D’Angelo, I want to apologize. At the very least, in the name of the love that we once shared, I do hope that you can forgive me, Maurizio. And for my part, whether or not forgiveness is forthcoming, I swear to you I will not belittle you again.”

Upshot

I have been trying to find a way to give this rather unique character more air time. She’ll be back, darlings!

Recurrent Themes – Medical Personnel

Recurrent Themes – Medical Personnel

Medical Personnel are a must.

Background

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Medical Personnel

Physicians, of course, are Star Trek canon and are absolutely necessary in space. After all, you can’t just grab the nearest ambulance and hotfoot it to a hospital. You have got to have a doctor on board.

I have created quite a few medical characters as I’ve been writing. I think my somewhat ambivalent feelings about medicine often come into play.

Medical Personnel Appearances

There are so many physicians; here they are listed by series.

In Between Days

Baden

Baden is a Calafan doctor seen in Reversal, and is a part of the conspiracy.

Blair Claymore

In Intolerance, Blair comes across as more sympathetic than any of the other visiting physicians who are in the midst of their Immunology rotation. By the time of Fortune, she has become Malcolm‘s CMO on the USS Bluebird. In the Mirror Universe, she is some sort of technician and is no doctor.

Pamela Hudson

Pamela makes her first appearance in Intolerance. By the time of Temper, Malcolm reveals to Lili that Pamela (in an alternate timeline) has become the doctor, if not the person, that she was always meant to be. Pamela has more air time in her eventual relationship with the Calafan Treve, in To Wish, To Want, To Desire and The Best Things Come in Pairs.

Bernardine Keating-Fong

Only seen in Intolerance, Bernie is never shown practicing. Instead, she is the lecturer for the Immunology class, and her name is meant to amp up some more of the early gender confusion in Intolerance.

Keleth

A Klingon doctor, Keleth is instrumental in fixing what’s wrong in Intolerance. Almost as importantly, he has, perhaps, the most normal and loving relationship in that entire book.

Miva

A Calafan, Miva is Lili‘s obstetrician in Together and Fortune. It is she who tells Lili that sex with Doug during pregnancy is not advisable, and it is Miva who performs the O’Day Reversal again after Lili gives birth to Declan.

Cyril Morgan

A kindly retired orthopedic surgeon, Morgan is Pamela’s uncle and is grandfather to Cindy Morgan. In Fortune, Cindy brings her friend, Jia Sulu, with her to Marie Patrice’s birthday party and therefore, at an extremely young age, Joss meets his future bride.

An Nguyen

Brittle and somewhat condescending, An could use some lessons in bedside manner. He backbites with Pamela but does offer her a place to sleep when Will and Blair commandeer her quarters. As a physician, he treats a Daranaean woman, Libba, in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease.

Will Owen

Will never actually gets to practice. In Together, Pamela reveals that he hanged himself a few days after he was expelled, following the events outlined in Intolerance.

Phlox

This Star Trek Enterprise canon physician is the first to prove that Doug is real, in Reversal. He finds the cure in Intolerance and treats Lili as an obstetrics patient in Together.

Mark Stone

As the last of the five classmates in the Intolerance Immunology rotation, Mark is a child of wealth and privilege, son of Emily Stone, the new envoy to the Xindi. About the only other thing revealed about him is that he is a gay man.

T’Par

A Vulcan doctor, she is instrumental in finding a cure for Doctor Keating-Fong during Intolerance.

Times of the HG Wells

Marisol Castillo

A femme fatale, Marisol gets few chances to practice medicine, although she does provide Sheilagh Bernstein with physical enhancements during Ohio.

Kingston (No First Name)

During You Mixed-Up Siciliano, he is baffled by Christopher Donnelly’s condition, not recognizing that the boy, in 1960, has been infected with what would later be identified as the Ebola virus.

Sanchez (No First Name)

He is Malcolm‘s doctor and is never actually seen. Malcolm refers to him in The Point is Probably Moot, as knowing of a traditional Calafan remedy for erectile dysfunction – tofflin root tea.

Boris Yarin

Paranoid, powerful and suspicious, Boris has reason to wonder about Marisol’s intentions. Much like her, he has few chances to practice, although he also works on Sheilagh. In Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain, his past is referenced, where he treated an injured Klingon rugby player, Kriz, which was how he met his wife, Darragh Stratton.

Yimiva

She is the doctor for the Calafan unit, and performs the autopsy on Anthony Parker. The presence of Ebola and stem cell growth accelerator in Parker’s blood reveals that he had been an operative for the Perfectionists.

Emergence

An Nguyen

By the time of The Cure is Worse Than the Disease, An has been hired as the CMO on Erika Hernandez’s ship, the USS Columbia (NX-02), which is where he loses his youthful enthusiasm. This theme is taken up some more in Take Back the Night, as An reveals that he would really rather avoid the Daranaeans.

Rechal

First seen during Take Back the Night, Rechal examines the fetus that the murdered Inta was carrying. Finding that it was a male, Rechal informs Arnis that an investigation must be conducted. In Flight of the Bluebird, it is revealed that he is in the Daranaean prison, but is still helping to try to find a cure for thylacine paramyxovirus.

Trinning

First seen as a teenaged boy in Take Back the Night, and then as a slightly older boy in Temptation, Trinning doesn’t start to practice medicine until Flight of the Bluebird, when he works as a medical researcher with his unofficial assistant, Trava.

Varelle

Another Daranaean doctor, Varelle is first seen as a doctor refusing to treat Libba in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease.

Interphases

Andrew Miller

Andy starts off as a science Ensign. However, in the E2 stories, it becomes obvious very quickly that Phlox will need help delivering babies. Andrew studies and, eventually, can be called Doctor Miller.

Pamela Reed-Hayes (Née Reed)

During the first kick back in time, Lili has three children. Pamela is her daughter with Malcolm, and she succeeds Phlox as the ship’s CMO.

The Mirror Universe

Baden

This Calafan doctor shows, in Reversal, that he mainly just follows orders, even if they are, ultimately, immoral. Unlike his Prime Universe counterpart, he actually ends up committing murder.

Miva

Seen only briefly in Reversal, the mirror Miva is really only known as the Prime Universe Baden’s nighttime lover. They met when they made psychic contact and she was, instead of meditating, trying to remember the bones of the hand as she was getting ready for her examinations. Seen again in Fortune, Miva helps by setting Lucy Stone‘s broken leg and offers Chip, Tripp and Beth various odd jobs so that they can pay her.

Cyril Morgan

Morgan is brought on as a replacement for the canon doctor, the Denobulan Phlox.

The Mirror Morgan is ruthless and probably barely competent. In Reversal, Doug reveals that there is a lot of complicated equipment on the Defiant, but Morgan doesn’t seem to know how to use any of it. It is unclear whether he or Phlox kills Ian Reed, and the ambiguity is carried through Paving Stones Made from Good Intentions and Coveted Commodity. It isn’t until Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses that it is revealed just how Morgan got onto the Defiant, and exactly who ordered, and who caused, Ian’s death.

Mark Stone

Some time after Morgan’s death, in The Point is Probably Moot, it is revealed that Mark is the Empress’s new CMO. For him, his homosexuality is something of a lifesaver, for it frees him from being tempted by her wiles. Even so, he spends some of his time fending off the overly aggressive sexual advances of the Empress Hoshi Sato.

Upshot

I seem to write a lot of monstrous physicians, but also a number of heroes. For every nasty Marisol Castillo, there is a romantic Keleth. For every paranoid Boris Yarin, there is  a sympathetic Blair Claymore. And for each prejudiced Varelle, there is an open-minded Trinning.

Inspiration – Names

Background

I take names seriously, and, truth be told, that’s actually Star Trek canon. A lot of the named characters, particularly the ones who do not have English-style names, have meaningful appellations.

Nyota Uhura
Nyota Uhura

Take Hoshi Sato, for example. The first name means “star”. The surname means “at home”. Hence, she is “at home in the stars”.

A similar situation exists with Nyota Uhura. Nyota means “star” and Uhura means “freedom”. Are communications officers required to be named Star?

Canon to Fanfiction

For my characters, names have meanings that draw from heritage, repeat in order to show familial relationships, and have meanings unto themselves.

In Between Days

Doug Beckett is so named because Douglas means “dark stranger”, which is exactly what he is – a stranger from the Mirror Universe, first experienced in pitch darkness.

Lili O’Day‘s full name – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day – evokes several themes. Her first name means “free woman” and her middle name is of course a flower (and Malcolm refers to her, in the prime timeline, as Lili-Flower). Her surname sets up the contrast to Doug, for she is quite literally “of the day”.

Malcolm Reed (alternate timeline)
Malcolm Reed (alternate timeline)

Because the name Malcolm means “a devotee of Saint Columba“, and that is the patron saint of poets and bookbinders, I make Malcolm a gifted poet. The reed (which of course is the lower, non-flowering part of a plant), is evoked as he and Lili, in Together, talk about the flower and the reed, and she assures him that the flower is pretty and all, but the flower can’t live without the reed.

For Melissa Madden, in part it’s a shout-out to future canon character Martin Madden.

Melissa means “honey bee” and she is a rather earthy individual. As for Leonora Digiorno, Leonora means “light” (Malcolm incorrectly refers to her as the Lioness) and Digiorno is the same as O’Day, “of the day”. Her relationships are purely in the day, hence she is solely a daylight character.

Times of the HG Wells

The Wells characters were less name-driven but there are some highlights. Sheilagh and Darragh are both Irish-type spellings, meant to impart a somewhat exotic flavor. HD Avery is really Henry Desmond, with the middle name being a shout-out to Dominic Keating‘s first real role, in a British sitcom called Desmond’s. Carmen means “garden”, an offhanded joke as the character is a sophisticated urbanite. The characters Tom and Kevin hearken back to the In Between Days series and are meant to show a relationship to that earlier series.

Otra, the half-Witannen character, has a name meaning a small animal, like a mouse. I also used Glyph as the name of a Ferengi, as short nouns are canon for Ferengi names (e. g. Quark and Nog). Von is another Ferengi name, but I grabbed that one from baseball – Von Hayes (yet another shout-out to Steven Culp).

Interphases

For this series, character names have to evoke a time period properly. Rosemary Parker’s name fits in with her birth in the 1920s, whereas Jacob, Benjamin and Dorcas all evoke the 1700s. Jim, the son of Benjamin and Dorcas, is a shout-out to Mark Twain’s Jim character in Huckleberry Finn.

Emergence and Mixing it Up

For both of these series, since there are several aliens, names had to be made up. Skrol is meant to sound a bit like Slar, the only known named Gorn. Etrina, Tr’Dorna and Sophra are all made-up names, meant to sound feminine. Bron is intended to evoke a feeling of brawn.

For Daranaeans, female names end with vowels whereas as male names often (but not always) end with an -s. Prime Wife females, being considered superior, are given names with a soft th- sound in them, such as Thessa, Dratha and Kathalia. This is the th- sound in thistle, rather than in the. The sound, anywhere in the word, is meant to mean “smell”, with a positive connotation. Secondaries get somewhat pretty names, often with m- sounds, like Morza and Mistra, but sometimes not, like Cria and Inta (in all fairness, the younger Inta, a secondary, is named after a last caste female). Third caste females tend to get shorter names, like Darri and Fyra and Cama. The men’s names are all over the place, from Elemus and Arnis to Craethe and Trinning.

Calafans

Calafans love names and meanings so much that it’s a standard greeting to a new person – “what is your name, and what does it mean?” The first time Lili hears this, in Local Flavor, she is a bit appalled as it is a part of a come-on.

Men often get the -wev ending, which means “master of”, whereas women often get the yi- prefix, meaning “student of”. But the differences are not intended to be sexist. With no middle names and no last names, a lot hinges on a name, and they cannot be repeated. Therefore, names are given out by the government, and parents often petition for a name for their baby while the child is still in utero. Names are then released upon death. Names without either prefix include Treve (messenger) and Miva (clay).

Upshot

For me, the naming of characters is a deeply person act. Alien names are a great deal of fun to come up with, as I put together sounds I like or that seem to harmonize, and then attach meanings to them. Sometimes a character doesn’t really “click” until he or she has been named. Then, suddenly, it can all fall into place.

Portrait of a Character – Malcolm Reed

Portrait of a Character – Malcolm Reed

Malcolm Reed is, by far, one of my all-time favorite Star Trek characters.

Origins

Portrait of a Character – Malcolm Reed
Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating)

This character is, of course, Star Trek: Enterprise canon. The actor, Dominic Keating, is British (he’s from Leicester), but the character is from Malaysia. Repressed, uptight and a lover of big guns and even bigger explosions, Reed was rumored to be the first regular gay character. However, according to Keating, the rumors were Internet hype more than anything else, and homosexuality was never intended to be a part of the portrayal. This has not stopped a lot of fan fiction writers from giving him a slash angle. I do not. Instead, since all of his relationships and possible relationships are straight, I write him as completely heterosexual.

Portrayal

As in canon, Reed is played by actor Dominic Keating.

Personality

Canon states that Reed is repressed and shy around women. He’s also very competent at his job, possibly the most competent person behind T’Pol. Self-sacrificing to a fault, Reed is uncomfortable fraternizing with his captain, and feels that the relationship should remain at arm’s-length. Furthermore, Malcolm is afraid of water and is the ship’s chess champion.

So much for canon.

As I have written him, he also has a fondness for Scrabble and various word games and puzzles, enjoying competition but also working to improve his mind. He’s an avid reader (some of that reading is canon), and is particularly fond of Jane Eyre. Whether he sees himself as Rochester is yet to be determined.

A cautious lover and a natural pessimist, Malcolm is a bit afraid of rejection and has a bit of dysfunction at times. He keeps to himself, which tends to make relationships problematic at best. But when he meets someone and he likes her, he latches on rather quickly. However, at the beginning of much of my fanfiction (and in keeping with canon), he tends to fall for women who are either thoroughly inappropriate for him or are utterly unattainable, a fact that he acknowledges in Concord and Together, in particular.

Relationships

As I write Malcolm, he has two major relationships which define him.

Portrait of a Character – Malcolm Reed

 

 

 

Pamela Hudson

With Pamela, Malcolm feels he may be falling in love, but she pulls him back and tells him, no, you’re mistaken. He finds it freeing when he realizes that she’s right.

But Pamela also stretches his limits, and loosens him up. A part of that is due to her prowess and her proclivities. He finds himself enjoying a bit of naughty bedroom play, and participates in some, but not all of it. At the end of Intolerance they part, assuring each other that they will become, essentially, Friends with Benefits.

Lili O’Day

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed
Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed

With Lili, the relationship is considerably stronger and more loving. Malcolm finds that he can be a lot freer with her than he has ever been with anyone before, even Pamela. He fulfills the destiny that was denied him in the original, canon E2 episode, and becomes a family man when Lili gives birth to Declan (Temper, Fortune). Initially, in Reversal, Lili is denied him, as she goes with Doug.

In later life, he and Lili marry, an event prepared for in Equinox and then shown in Fortune. Their later married life is briefly shown in The Rite.

Lili also pairs with him in the E2 stories I am currently writing. In one scenario, they have a daughter who they name Pamela Morgan. In another, in keeping with canon, they do not have children.

Charlotte Hayes

In Concord, Malcolm pines for Charlotte but never truly attempts to win her. Instead, seeing a picture of Lili after his encounter with Charlotte, Malcolm experiences an eerie sense of déja vu.

Theme Music

Malcolm’s behaviors work well with music. In Intolerance, his relationship with Pamela is covered by Love is Strange but also Be My Baby. In Together, his initial theme is The Style Council‘s Wanted, with its message of unattainable longing. The reader is told – Malcolm has been holding back, and there is someone he is pining for. When he and Lili hook up, the musical theme, shared by them, is A Flock of SeagullsWishing (If I Had a Photograph of You). His disastrous reunion with Pamela is evoked with Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. By the time the action shifts to Temper, the music changes, too, to Paul Young’s Every Time You Go Away. His final theme, in Fortune, is evocative of their wedding. It’s Bruce Springsteen’s Prove It All Night.

Poetry

In Intolerance, it’s revealed that Malcolm is a gifted poet, so long as he has motivation. And Pamela provides that in spades. Malcolm’s medium of choice is Shakespearean sonnets. I have written him three for her, two for Declan (in Fortune) and one for Lili in the E2 stories. Here is my favorite, the second sonnet for Pamela –

Portrait of a Character – Malcolm Reed
Reed the Knave (Dominic Keating)

 

A burning ember, burst to flame
as kindred souls entwine and merge
the knave, he could not be the same
falling, ever falling over precipice and verge

Portrait of a Character – Malcolm Reed
Reed, still the Knave (Dominic Keating)

Her face was fair, her mind was keen
her body offered untold pleasure
And yet her heart remained unseen —
could the knave unlock this treasure?

The Queen, she came down from above
She changed the knave, who did it all for love

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Malcolm Reed
Ian Reed (Dominic Keating)

Malcolm Reed has a canon counterpart, who I name Ian and kill off before Reversal. But Ian has a rather rich afterlife, particularly in Equinox and the E2 stories. I’ll cover him in a separate entry.

Quote

“It’s the stuff that makes up your life. You have allowed me to be a part of it. That’s almost as intimate as holding your body to mine, touching and kissing and looking at all of your, your secret places.”

Upshot

For a canon character with a comparatively sketchy background, I’ve been happy to fill in the blanks. And I hear his voice better than any of the other canon characters, except perhaps for Jay Hayes. I could tell a thousand stories about Malcolm Reed. I feel I have merely scratched the surface. 

Inspiration – Sexism

It may seem like an odd thing to be inspired by, but I have been inspired – perhaps a better word is urged, or compelled – to write about my experiences of sexism in my life, and of them being taken to extremes.

Background

Sexism hates you
Sexism hates you (Photo credit: rrho)

As a child of the later sixties (I remember 1967, although very little about why it and 1968 and 1969 were truly important) and seventies, I well recall the flap about women being called Ms., or about whether it was appropriate for my female schoolteachers to wear slacks. Of course no one kept their maiden names then – what are you, nuts?

When I practiced law in the 1980s, I was repeatedly confused for the court reporter, despite wearing suits and carrying large briefcases. When I got married in 1992 (and hyphenated my surname), I was pulled aside by a male friend who asked me, “Are you sure your fiancé will allow that?”

Story-telling

I first addressed the ultimate price of sexism in a story called There’s Something About Hoshi.  While the execution was not very good (I was very new to Star Trek fan fiction writing then), and a lot of it was played for comedy, the essence of the story was, I think, abundantly clear – if you blame women for all of your problems, you might want to get rid of them all. And if you do, be careful what you wish for. I recently updated the story a bit

The symbolic slash, used to separate the two n...
The symbolic slash, used to separate the two names in a romantic pairing, from which slash fiction takes its name. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(mainly to accommodate some names that will show up in the E2 stories), and was struck by how telling I think it still is. It was also written, at the time, to address complaints I saw about slash fiction, where people (It was, I felt and still feel, thinly veiled homophobia) objected to it on its face, as opposed to reviewing and appreciating it on its merits. It’s one thing to object to characters being changed beyond recognition (or paired in ways that make no sense); it’s another thing to think that no one in the Trek Universe will ever, ever love someone of the same gender.

Of course they will. Hell, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, they already have.

The Daranaeans

The sexism angle for story-telling truly hit its stride with The Cure is Worse Than the Disease. In that story, it becomes clear that Daranaean women have few rights. Even the top caste (Prime Wives) are kept from too much meaningful education, and are appeased with trinkets.

Take Back the Nightamps up the sexism to the extreme, as a third caste female is killed for refusing to take part in sexual relations – a thing that, in The Cure, is illegal for her to do.

After a couple of more family-oriented Daranaean stories, I was ready to tackle sexism in that society again, and presented Debate. What’s the debate about? Whether Prime Wives will be granted the right to vote.

Finally, more Daranaean sexism comes full circle, and the reader can see a bit of why at least some of the women stay – in Flight of the Bluebird. In Bluebird, I also wanted to acknowledge that things are seldom fully one-sided, and that the men might be a part of the society finally reforming itself.

My plans are to eventually begin to cross over into other canon series. Hence the reader can expect to see the TOS Enterprise encountering Daranaeans in some fashion.

There is also the possibility of tackling sexism at some point in some other context, possibly under the guise of time travel.

Upshot

In the tradition of Trek stories begin about contemporary social issues, under the guise of science fiction, I like to comment on any number of societal problems. But it’s sexism that, I think, speaks to me the most.

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Inspiration – Music

Inspiration – Music

Music is almost a constant in my writing. Characters might have individual or couple or group themes, or a story might have a theme, or even a series. Music can be used in order to evoke a particular mood or time period, and lyrics in particular might steer a plot.

In Between Days series

Inspiration – Music

For a major character like Lili O’Day, music evolves over time. She begins with the theme of Roy Orbison‘s Sweet Dream Baby, and then that evolves to Crowded House’s Something So Strong and then to Blind Melon’s Tones of Home until, finally Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams, as this is a character very much defined by her subconscious.

For Doug Beckett, his music, too, evolves, from Robbie Williams’s Feel to Snow Patrol’s Shut Your Eyes to Dog’s Eye View‘s Everything Falls Apart to, eventually, Billy Joel’s Honesty.

Other characters, like Pamela Hudson, only have one musical theme. When I heard Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good, Pamela suddenly sprang sharply into focus.

Times of the HG Wells series

For the Wells series, it’s all about time, so music is not only used to set moods, it’s also used to orient the reader as to time and place. Lyrics are displayed, at the beginning and end of each chapter, to continue to bring home the idea of a soundtrack to go along with the set pieces. In addition, character HD Avery is the “music guy” – he can sight-read music and can play piano, guitar and drums. He’s sent on all sorts of musical missions and even, at one point, refers to them as being like Rock ‘n Roll Heaven.

The first mission is about the day the music died, that is, it’s about the deaths of Holly, Valens and Richardson on February 3rd of 1959 in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Inspiration – Music

Because Avery has not yet been hired, Rick Daniels goes on the mission and, as a part of his preparatory work, he listens to music by all three of the musicians. From Buddy Holly, Daniels listens to Every Day and Rave On. From the Big Bopper (JP Richardson), he listens to Chantilly Lace and The Big Bopper’s Wedding. And from Ritchie Valens, Rick listens to La Bamba and Come On Let’s Go. Plus the name of that story, A Long, Long Time Ago, is the first line of Don MacLean’s song about that day, American Pie.

Interphases and Other Series

For the Interphases story Crackerjack, one of the first indications to Geordi and Wesley that there’s a problem is that they hear Take the A Train on the radio.

Inspiration – Music

In the Dispatches from the Romulan War Soldiers’ Marriage Project, the music provided for the many couples’ first dance is a duet by soprano Rosamund Taylor and pop singer Kurt Fong, singing an oldie that works for couples who are about to be separated by wartime and distance – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

For Take Back the Night, not only the title should be a tip-off that the Daranaean women are a bit sick of how they’ve been treated, as the first chapter opens with a quote and a link to the Beatles’ Revolution.

Coda

For written fiction online, a link to YouTube can provide a missing soundtrack, and a major or minor key cue to the reader about mood.

Inspiration – Music

Funny thing is, I can’t write while listening to music; I end up paying too much attention to it!

I hope I’ve gotten an appealing and appropriate soundtrack into your head as you’ve read. But if anything seems like it might be better, feel free to suggest it.

Spotlight on Original Species – Daranaeans

Spotlight on Original Species – Daranaeans

Daranaeans are a wholly original sentient marsupial canid species. Pronounced: Da-ra-NAY-un.

What’s a Daranaean?

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Mistra | Daranaeans
Mistra, one of the Daranaeans (secondary female)

Daraneans are residents of Daranaea, a Minshara-class planet located near Klingon space, hence it has a tactical advantage.

As for the Daranaeans themselves, they are sentient marsupials with foxlike triangular faces and fur on most of their bodies. They are very canid in a lot of ways, including packlike behaviors for their social lives, but also their battle plans and even their ship designs.

I tend to use pointy-faced dogs, foxes or bats for pictures. Naturally, the reader will need to use his or her imagination a bit.

Castes

Females divide into three separate castes, depending upon the intensity of their smells. Prime Wives have the most privileges and the most education. Secondaries tend to do most of the reproductive heavy lifting. They also act as primary educators. Third caste females are generally relegated to manual labor, and may be illiterate. All females are sold into marriage, but Prime Wife marriages are generally from private arrangements without the need for a public auction. Wealthy Daranaean males, including members of the Beta Council and most higher-ranking military men, have a wife from each caste.

Pregnancy and Pouches

For Daranaean females, pregnancy has two parts, versus our three trimester configuration. There are about six months of a conventional-type pregnancy, and then another six with the infant in the mother’s abdominal pouch. Much like marsupials on Earth, the infant (called a pouchling at birth) is born very small and helpless. Unlike Earth’s marsupials, a Daranaean mother places the baby right inside the pouch, as opposed to requiring that it crawl there on its own.

Pouchlings nurse and sleep most of the time, and it’s important for the mother to keep the top of the pouch clear of obstructions. Therefore the tops that the women wear can be tied. This allows for air passage. The mother also sleeps on her back or her side while pouch feeding. When the pouchling is a good five months old or so, the mother can lift the top of the pouch to peer at the infant, if she wishes. However, the infant can get cold while doing so. This shouldn’t be done too frequently.

During this time, the mother sleeps with a soft baby blanket in order to pass her scent onto it.

Pouch Emergence

After about six months in the pouch, the pouchling is ready to emerge. First, a hand comes up and holds the top of the pouch. Then, the pouchling generally pushes down so as to get leverage, and may even use the front tied piece of its mother’s top in order to pull up and out.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Baby Inta | Daranaeans
Baby Inta, one of the Daranaeans (secondary female)

Once out, the mother cleans the infant and swaddles it, and wraps it in the blanket. Newly-emerged pouchlings can be called infants. They don’t hear or see very well, as a parallel to what newborn puppies are like.

After a few weeks, the infant attempts crawling, and soon will begin cruising and walking, much like a human infant. The baby still nurses, but solid foods can be introduced at a young age, as slightly pointed teeth erupt not too long after emergence. Because Daranaean women have four breasts (two inside the pouch, and two where we would normally see them), the emerged infant can still nurse for a while.

Childhood

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Seppa | Daranaeans
Seppa, one of the Daranaeans, a third caste female, as a child

Very young Daranaean children are kept at home and cared for by the older females. For a very young child, life at home is filled with basic learning such as getting along with others. The family may visit other families or go on trips, which can be educational or just for recreation. Seppa, at right, is only four years old in this picture. A somewhat typical day for Seppa is a part of Some Assembly Required.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Cria | Daranaeans
Cria, a tween secondary female Daranaean

Young Daranaean children are home schooled. After several years, the males are sent to a big school, as are the Prime Wife females. This is for more advanced learning, such as is necessary for space travel. The other female children remain at home and can continue to be home schooled.

A Daranaean tween or teenager becomes interested in marriage and all that it entails, but marriages generally don’t occur until about ages eighteen to twenty or so. A young Daranean tween girl such as Cria, right, continues her home schooling and helps with chores and the care of her younger siblings, but also has time for some fun and for learning the household skills she will need as a wife. A fairly typical day for Cria is a part of Temptation.

Young Adulthood

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Seppa | Daranaeans
A Young Adult, Seppa

Young married Daranaeans are much like young marrieds in any culture or species, enjoying their new lives and working toward the future.

For young Daranaean wives, this means pregnancy or preparing for pregnancy, as the species suffers from Thylacine Paramixovirus and, as a result, big familes are needed in order to replenish the population. A young wife such as Seppa, aged eighteen here, might become pregnant very quickly, and be expected to begin raising a household full of children.

Daranean women of wealth do not work outside the home, as the care of children is paramount.

Daranaean men hold jobs, and there is still a monetary system in place. Doctors include Varelle and Trinning, reporters include Craethe, and Beta Councilors include Boestus and Elemus.

Later Adult Life

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Dratha | Daranaeans
Dratha, one of the Daranaeans (legendary Prime Wife)

For Daranaeans, later life changes, depending upon caste. Prime Wives, such as Dratha, pictured here, can live fairly long lives. For wealthy families, the Prime Wife is treated like a queen and is not expected to help with child care, although she can if she wishes.

Secondaries, such as Mistra and Cria, above, have children on a regular basis until menopause. The expectation is they will continue helping the young adult children prepare for life in their own households.

Third caste females, like Seppa, above, have children until menopause, when they are either euthanised or are donated or sold for medical experiments.

Daranaean men live out their lives and have the longest life expectancy of all.

Politics, Government and Justice

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

Daranaens have a government composed of an elected Alpha who is advised by an elected Beta Council, which meets regularly and is very open to the press. None of the women can vote, not even Prime Wives.

As a member of the Beta Council, Vidam (right) is expected to present bills, debate on them and vote. Voting in the Council Chamber is open and is accomplished by all of the representatives standing. Then the opponents of a bill sit. Anyone left standing is then counted as supporting the bill in question. A simple majority rules, but the Alpha can break ties. Abstentions are rare – much like dogs on Earth, Daranaeans mainly see their issues in black and white. A debate about granting Prime Wives the right to vote is part of Debate.

Trials are public, and the trial of a wealthy Daranaean, even a Secondary, is fodder for the press. There are no juries, rather, an accused is judged by a judicial panel. A trial is part of Take Back the Night.

Medicine

Aside from the generally fatal Thylacine Paramixovirus, most Daranaeans are usually in good health. Prenatal care is available for Prime Wives only. The other two castes are expected to care for each other. Their infants are delivered at home. Prime Wives deliver in hospitals.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Young Trinning | Daranaeans
Trinning, one of the Daranaeans, as a child (son of a secondary)

Researchers, such as Trinning, at about age six here, work diligently to try to find a cure for the virus. Research is limited by budgets, training and time. The virus is somewhat similar to canine distemper and Newcastle Disease on Earth.

Daranaean Third Caste wives who are menopausal are sometimes sold for medical experiments,  as doctors need them to test vaccines.

First Contact, Friendships and Relationship with The Federation

First Contact was between the NX-02 Columbia and a pleasure craft owned by a wealthy Daranaean man, Elemus. It occurred in February of 2160, and did not go too well. First contact is a part of The Cure is Worse than the Disease.

Second contact went considerably better, and is a part of Take Back the Night. This generated some friendships between Daranaeans and humans, including Jonathan Archer and Seppa, and Malcolm Reed and Mistra.

In 2191, a young Inta went on a blind date with a human, Hank Harrison. While things did not work out romantically, the two became friends. Their date is a part of Hearts in Time.

Daranaeans became allies with the Federation, and called upon them later, and made themselves available as well.

Daranaean Future

Such a sexist society will need to change in order to continue to grow. Stay tuned. Big things are in store for the galaxy’s only sentient marsupials. I will post more insights!