Category Archives: In Between Days series

Spotlight on Original Plant Species – Olowa

Spotlight on Original Plant Species – Olowa

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

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

History and Use in Plots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upshot

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

Portrait of a Character – Brian Delacroix

Portrait of a Character – Brian Delacroix

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

Background

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

Personality and Personal History

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

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

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

Actor Portrayal

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | David Faustino as Brian Delacroix (image is for educational purposes only)
David Faustino as Brian Delacroix (image is for educational purposes only)

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

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

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Brian Delacroix

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

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

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

Quote

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

Upshot

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

Review – The Light

Review – The Light

Light shines throughout the galaxy.

The Elevator Pitch

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

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Light
The Light

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

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

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

History of the Story

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

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

Spirituality

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

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

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

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

Bereavement

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

The Plot

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

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

Support

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

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

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

Celebration

Barking up the muse tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Dreidel | Chanukah | The Light
Dreidel

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

Story Postings

Review – The Light

 

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

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

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

Portrait of a Character – Pamela Hudson

Portrait of a Character – Pamela Hudson

Pamela was originally a plot device. I was told – get a crew member to loosen up. Really loosen up.

But Pamela had other plans.

Theme Music

Portrait of a Character – Pamela Hudson
Amy Winehouse performing in Berlin in 2007

I was out walking, thinking over Intolerance and how to write it, when Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good came on the iPod. And that was it.

I listened to the song, over and over again, and Doctor Pamela Hudson was born.

Personality and Personal History

Controlling but out of control, with a healer’s profession but a selfish streak, Pamela was meant to be a femme fatale from the very beginning. In Intolerance, she is first introduced when Travis has figured out that there are female medical students coming to the NX-01 for an Immunology rotation. The assumption is that the women are single, and so he and Tripp Tucker and Malcolm Reed decide to compete for the women. When Pamela walks by, she’s wearing a not-too-revealing outfit, but her lips and nails are painted dark purple, and her hair is back and threatening to tumble down. So she puts her left hand up, and they see that she’s got a leather bracelet on and no rings on that hand. Wordlessly, she has communicated to them – I’m available.

She’s also communicated to them – I might be more than you bargained for.

Pamela is a child of privilege, and brilliant to boot (she went to Harvard Medical School), but her family carries a dark secret – ever since she was five years old, her father sexually abused her, while her mother watched. Her sister, Lisa, was unaffected.

She’s also (in conversations with fellow student Blair Claymore) established as being quite sexually liberated, to the point of worrying Blair. Blair, in contrast, is shown as the good girl. Both are attractive, but it’s Pamela who really turns heads.

In Together, her feelings are hurt when she is rejected – a rather unfamiliar scenario for her. In Temper, her Mirror counterpart is seen. In Fortune, she finds a soulmate in an unexpected place. And in Remembrance, her grand-nephew presents her eulogy.

Mirror Universe Counterpart

The Mirror Pamela has things even tougher than the one in the Prime Universe. In Temper, she is little more than one of José Torres‘s playthings (as are Blair and Karin Bernstein) in one of the alternate timelines. In Fortune and in He Stays a Stranger, she’s shown as a pinup girl. It’s unclear, at least in Temper, whether she’s a lab assistant or a doctor, and in the other Mirror Universe stories, she may be little more than a prostitute, if that.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Pamela Hudson
Kaley Cuoco

I struggled a bit with figuring out who should “play” Pamela. I wanted someone who would be beautiful and sexy and smart, but also could evoke a certain amount of world-weary ennui. To my mind, Kaley Cuoco fit the bill rather well. Not only does she have serious geek cred, she also has some drama cred. I also felt she would be the kind of woman who Tripp would joke about as, “Please, you’re talking about the future Mrs. Tucker.”

Quote

“Never arrive to a party early or on time. No one should. It’s like the old Steady State theory of the universe. No beginning and no end. Or maybe it’s just turtles all the way down.”

Upshot

Portrait of a Character – Pamela Hudson

For a character who was originally supposed to be a one-off, Pamela graduated to In Between Days main character status. However, as something of an outsider, she doesn’t fit the profile of the other In Between Days main characters like Lili O’Day or Doug Beckett.

Pure id, but with a heart underneath all that leather and langor, Pamela is, ultimately, a femme fatale motivated by good.

Portrait of a Character – Jun Daniels Sato

Portrait of a Character – Jun Daniels Sato

When I wrote Reversal, one of the things I wanted was for Empress Hoshi to have a child. This was a somewhat quick decision but, the more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea for Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction. The intention was, essentially, that Empress Hoshi, like Livia from Suetonius, would be a viper of a mother, breeding as much as possible (and with as many different men as possible) so as to assure the succession. For Hoshi, it’s also a matter of personal survival.

The Plan

Hoshi knows that the way that anyone moves up in the Mirror Universe is via assassination. She’s got an enormous target painted on her back. So she needs protection.

At the same time, she’s one hot little number. And, in my fanfiction, about three-quarters of all of the children born in the MU are male, which is reflected in things like starship crew manifests. Hence it’s a combination of lots of men plus a sexy young Empress looking for protection. So she hits on a plan.

The plan is to have as many kids as possible, but all by different fathers – the members of her senior staff. She knows that there’s been a genetic mutation which not only skews the number of offspring in favor of males, it also skews male behavior in favor of good fatherhood. Therefore, in order to assure the survival of their offspring, these men won’t go after Hoshi (at least not while the kids are small). And then, when the kids are bigger, it’s a lot harder to just kill them off.

But this all comes later. Before the plan is the seduction.

The Seduction

In First Born, we see the aftermath of the first birth. Whether Daniels seduces Hoshi, or it’s the other way around, is tough to say (as of this posting, I haven’t written it yet). In that story, I establish Daniels as already being a womanizer. As for Hoshi, her round heels are canon. So who goes after whom?

Does it really matter?

The product of that first seduction is Jun (pronounced JOON). The problem is, much like John Connor in The Terminator, he’s temporally paradoxical. Because Daniels works for the Temporal Integrity Commission, a lot of fancy footwork must be performed in order for Jun to be able to live. The first requirement is that he not be able to father a child.

Another piece of allowing Jun to live is the condition that Daniels never see his son. By the time of Reversal, Daniels’s death has been faked, and Hoshi is looking for a spare heir – a little brother for Jun. She ends up having a total of five more children. All but one of these are male.

Personality and Personal History

Jun is, like most Mirror persons, a ruthless killer. In First Born, before all of the changes wrought by the Temporal Integrity Commission, it’s revealed that he kills off all of his male siblings in order to consolidate his power. This ends up being another detail that has to be changed in order to assure his survival.

Furthermore, Jun has a bratty and violent streak that all of his half-siblings have. In Coveted Commodity, he’s seen throwing a little knife against a wall – a gift from the Empress that’s referenced in both First Born and Reversal. In Reversal, he won’t come when he’s called and instead is put through conditioning training at an extremely young age.

In Temper (this is an alternate future of 2178), he plays third base on the Empress’s baseball team and battles his next in line brother, Kira, in a sword fight. This fight is over a girl because, in this alternate timeline, Empress Hoshi has skewed the male to female ratio even more. In part this is to oppress women, in part it’s to assure her own survival, and in part it’s to shore up her fading looks.

In The Point is Probably Moot, Jun (in the correct future) is acting as the new Communications Officer, following in his mother’s footsteps in 2192. In Shake Your Body, and then in He Stays a Stranger, Jun is temporarily wiped from existence.

The only person who Jun can, truly, call his “father” is Aidan MacKenzie, the babysitter (Kira’s father), who is not a biological relation at all.

Prime Universe Analogue

While Jun does not have a Prime Universe counterpart, he does have an analogue, in the sense that there is a character who is not a mirror image but is, rather, a similar personality. That person is Joss Beckett, as both of them are the first born children of their respective parents and both have a heightened sense of duty. The pressure is on both of them to take care of things, although Jun is considerably more likely to ignore that duty than Joss is.

Quote

“Someone’s got to be the court jester.”

Portrayal

When I think of Jun,  I think of a part-Asian, part-Caucasian man with a bit of a nasty streak. I hit upon the idea of Survivor winner Yul Kwon.

Portrait of a Character – Jun Daniels Sato
Yul Kwon

Kwon works, partly because of his overall look as a bit of a toughened guy, but also the beard evokes the classic Mirror Universe image.

I’m also thrilled with the fact that he is Korean (as is the actress playing Hoshi, Linda Park, even though that character is actually Japanese) and is an intelligent guy, a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, even.

Theme Music

Jun’s theme is from an alternate timeline. It’s Edwyn Collins‘s A Girl Like You. I wanted to not only evoke a part of the plot of Temper, but I also feel that the distortion in the song evokes the distortion in the Mirror Universe.

Upshot

Because Hoshi is a former linguist, all of her children’s names are meaningful. Jun means truthful – an absurdity, considering all of the lies that need to be told in order to ensure his survival.

Angry, evil genius Jun only exists because of a choice that isn’t really much of a choice, and a mistake and a bunch of Temporal Integrity Commission thumbs on the scale of history. But he makes the most of his life, passing on his ideas and his passions if not his genes. In every scenario, he and Kira succeed Hoshi and rule the Terran Empire. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t supposed to exist in the first place.

Spotlight on Original Nonsentient Species – Linfep

Spotlight on Original Nonsentient Species – Linfep

People have to eat, and not everyone is a vegan. Therefore, some alien food animals had to be devised. Hence, linfep were created by me. They are a wholly original species.

Linfep are essentially hares with tusks or fangs. They are native to Lafa XII and live and scamper in undergrowth. They are one of the chief foods for another nonsentient species, perrazin, but are also hunted or raised for food for the sentient Calafans.

Since they are very rabbit-like, children are somewhat fond of them. In Fortune, a little Calafan girl has a stuffed linfep doll. In Friday Visit, Chelben, who is about four or five years old, shows Doug a picture he has drawn of a linfep.

Spotlight on Original Nonsentient Species – Linfep
Kevin, the Lost Bunny of the Apocalypse

Admittedly, I was thinking a little bit of the comic strip Prickly City and its character of Kevin, the Lost Bunny of the Apocalypse, when I came up with linfep. Essentially I envision – like I do for much of the Lafa System – a place similar to Australia, where interesting or seemingly harmless animals can pack quite a punch.

Hunting

Linfep (the plural does not have an S) are vegetarians, and are the subjects of a hunt with phase bows in Temper. Melissa and Doug – the hunters – have to be quiet when approaching these shy creatures. A rustling in the undergrowth reveals one, which is dispatched with one shot.

Etymology

Like much of the Calafan language I have created, the name of this species is a compound word. Fep is also the name of the second-smallest star in that system, and the word means small. Lin means mouthful, so a linfep is a small mouthful, and a grown human or Calafan will want to eat more than one in order to be satisfied.

Portrait of a Character – Chandler (Chip) Masterson

Portrait of a Character – Chandler (Chip) Masterson
Actor Jason Bateman

Chip Masterson’s name was, perhaps, the easiest part of him to come up with. He’s homage to Star Trek Deep Space Nine actress Chase Masterson.

It wasn’t until Together that I established that he real first name is Chandler and, yes, that’s a connection to the show Friends.

However, I didn’t see Matthew Perry in the role. Instead, I see Jason Bateman, mainly because of his work on Arrested Development, where he is the level-headed person amidst all the crazies.

Chip, in my fanfiction, is sometimes level-headed, but also willingly joins in with the silliness, often as a partner in crime with Aidan MacKenzie. Chip definitely has a silly side and, in Together, he even dreams of doing stand-up in a little club on Risa.

On the NX-01

Chip starts off in Tactical, which is where he gets to know Aidan. However, by the time of Together, he has transferred over to Communications, acknowledging that he is a natural gabber and better suited at connecting people as opposed to blowing stuff up. Like Aidan, he’s an Ensign.

Movie Night

As the person with probably the best appreciation of the arts on the Enterprise, Chip picks the movies. He has eclectic taste, serving up everything from Stalag 17 to Dirty Dancing. In Broken Seal, he and Aidan, who acts as the projectionist, are even blamed for the problems with The Seventh Seal.

He also conducts a little discussion afterwards. Attendance is spotty at best.  In Intolerance, for Dirty Dancing, he talks about the soundtrack, which is a mix of 1960s and 1980s music, and has the attendees try to guess which decade a particular song came from.

Relationships

Chip and Aidan are not only friends, they are also roommates. Chip also appreciates Hoshi Sato as his boss. In the E2 stories I am currently writing, he also helps to train and accommodate the newest member of the Communications team, Crewman Maryam Haroun. Because Maryam is a Muslim and needs to pray several times per day, Chip’s night shift sometimes starts early or can end late, so that he can cover when Maryam is praying.

In Together, he helps Deborah Haddon pick up the pieces and they begin dating. By the time of Temper, she’s proposed to him, and they are married by the time of Fortune. During the initial celebration of the first child born to a crew member becoming a parent, he begins to thank the captain who corrects him and instead tells him that the celebration is for Malcolm.

Quote

“So this Klingon, an Andorian and a Vulcan walk into a bar. And the Klingon’s a male, super-tall. And he’s completely buck naked, except for a strategically placed piece of string to which there’s attached this note. So the bartender gets curious and he reads the note, which says …”

I’ve never finished the joke. Have at it in the Comments section if you’d like to write a punch line for Chip’s joke.

Mirror Universe

Chip in the MU has a lot more on his mind, and has no time for antics. He never switches over to Communications, and instead is promoted to run Tactical at the end of Reversal (his start in Tactical is shown in Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions). He also runs Game Night, intended to be the counterpart to Movie Night. He takes bets like a bookie (betting in the MU is canon) and collects like a loan shark.

Because Deborah is taken away from him, he ends up, eventually, as one of the Empress’s conquests, fathering her twins, Takara (the only girl) and Takeo. All of the Empress’s children have meaningful names. Takara means treasure while Takeo means warrior. These are her fourth and fifth eldest of the six total children, and are being raised to be as bratty as the others, as is shown in Coveted Commodity. In Temper, with its three separate alternative timelines, Chip’s fate differs. The only constants are Science Officer Lucy Stone, and his two children with the Empress. Fortune follows Chip to his later life, and He Stays a Stranger to a much later time in his life. As one of the only halfway decent people in the Mirror Universe, Chip represents a bit of hope in that wasted landscape.

Upshot

Portrait of a Character – Chandler (Chip) Masterson
Jason Bateman (mirror Chip)

Traveling the stars is serious business, and the Xindi and Romulan Wars were no laughing matter, but the crew always needed a release from unrelenting problems.  Without someone like Chip, life on the NX-01 would be so much tougher. Even the crew of the Enterprise needs a little whimsy in their lives, and for that, Chip’s your man.

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!

Portrait of a Character – Charles Tucker III

Portrait of a Character – Charles Tucker III

Portrait of a Character – Charles Tucker III

Why the heck would I want to talk about a Star Trek: Enterprise canon character? After all, doesn’t Memory Alpha do a better job? For canon, yes. No argument here.

But what I am talking about is my own fanfiction. So I’ve got a different take on him.

Portrait of a Character – Charles Tucker III
Tripp Tucker (Conner Trinneer)

Tripp/Trip – What?

First off, I spell it as Tripp, with two P’s. Why? I knew a guy who was a third, and he spelled it that way. To me, one P just looks off. And I am well aware that readers may see the two P’s as being off. So be it. I recognize that this is me being quirky and stubborn, and certainly breaching canon. That cannot be any more than the people who, let’s see, make Tucker gay, make him bi or make him essentially a superhero. Not to mention the folks who insist that he didn’t die in These Are the Voyages.

It’s just a letter, folks.

Marrying Canon to Fanfiction

The writers did a lot to Tripp throughout the course of the show’s four seasons. He got pregnant, he had a relationship with First Officer T’Pol (a Vulcan), he was cloned, he rescued a princess, he lost his sister in the Xindi attack and he met his end, too. In all honesty, I had seen so much of him on screen that I was a bit sick of him when writing my own fiction. He was a major character on the show, but television shows are of a finite size. Therefore, the more screen time for him, the less for other characters.

For me, obliquely referencing him and his exploits often did the trick. In The Reptile Speaks, he’s mentioned in a teenager’s film about sex, as an example of unconventional relations. For the two teenagers talking about him, he’s a source of some amusement.

In Razor, he’s barely referenced, although his identity should be clear to the reader.

A Regular Guy

For me, one of the fun things about writing him is playing on his being, essentially, a regular Joe. In Letters from Home, a riff on the mail distribution scene in the film Stalag 17, he gets a lot of correspondence, but it’s not necessarily of the welcome kind.

In Waiting, he stands in the chow line with below decks characters Shelby Pike, Karin Bernstein, and Andy Miller, among others.

A Romantic Guy

Well, maybe not always heroically romantic. In Intolerance, he eagerly participates in the competition to woo the female medical students, and comments quite a bit on the woman he’s originally assigned to, Pamela Hudson.

In Together, he’s paired with Hoshi who, in the end, realizes that she doesn’t feel about him the way he feels about her.

As of this writing, I am working on a set of E2 stories, and his relationship with T’Pol is covered, including the cultural differences between them. For example, what Tripp sees as a symbol of commitment, T’Pol sees as a religious article – and not of her faith.

A Working Stiff

In Reversal, it is he who does most of the heavy calculations necessary, and he ends up risking his life in order to perform a rescue.

In Temper, he gives his all in service to the Federation, in what feels very much like a lost cause.

Theme Music

Not every character has a theme, but Tripp does, in Together.  The song is Matthew Sweet’s Sick of Myself. I particularly wanted this song for the line, “When I look at you, something is beautiful and true.” That story also has couples’ songs. His (with his partner) is Joe Jackson’s Kinda Kute. I wanted that one for its opening lyric, “You make a guy feel humble.”

The Mirror Universe

At the end of the second canon MU ENT episode, Tripp is about the only one of the main characters who is likely to survive to see another day. Severely scarred, bitter and angry, he epitomizes the skewed life led there.

Portrait of a Character – Charles Tucker III
Mirror Tripp (Conner Trinneer)

Apparently the makeup was intended to evoke the images of Christopher Pike in The Menagerie.

I have written the MU Tripp as being just as angry, but it’s later, so he’s sicker, and realizes he’s dying. He becomes gentler than he normally would be, and seeks solace with an old girlfriend,  Beth Cutler, who accepts him for who he is. In Reversal, the MU Tripp has a lot at stake, and plays off people against each other in an effort to save himself. It is, ultimately, his wish to save others that redeems him, in a way.

In Temper, the MU Tripp again shows a small degree of selflessness, and by doing so he helps to undo the lost cause which threatens the Prime Universe. As I write the MU, everyone is keenly aware of what they owe others, and Tripp is no exception. Since he owes Doug something, he recognizes the debt, and repays it.

In Fortune, the MU Tripp has come full circle but is still a bit wary about strangers. A dynasty is foretold, which shows a major divergence between his fate and that of the Prime Universe Tripp.

Demise

In the Prime Universe, his death is canon, so I don’t mess with that. He is mourned and remembered, and there’s even a charitable foundation named for him, mentioned in Fortune.

Quote

But we’re here to explore and to, to take risks. And I don’t think this is a foolish one.”

Upshot

I enjoy the character but, as I’ve mentioned, I think he was overused, often to the detriment of other characters. But he’s more than just engineering, an accent and a romance. In many ways, his observations are our observations, as an audience and, I hope, as readers.

Tucker is, as in canon, portrayed by actor Connor Trinneer.