Category Archives: In Between Days series

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden

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

Origins

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

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

Portrayal

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Catherine Bell as Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)
Catherine Bell as Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)

Due to the connection to Culp, I opted for actress Catherine Bell.  I also chose Bell because she has a rather different look from both Lili and Leonora. I also wanted a physical portrayal of someone who would be believable as both a mother and an athlete.

This would be someone with almost a fly-boy (fly-girl, I suppose) swagger, too, reflecting the character’s occupation as a pilot. At the same time, the character needed to be feminine but also not too terribly young. Even though she is a lot younger than Doug, I show enough of her later life that it’s almost more than of her younger years. In fact, I have no writings of her childhood or young adulthood, like I do for the Norri, Lili,  and Doug.

Symbolism

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

Personality

Beyond the day/night, two lovers situation, Melissa is a skilled pilot and devoted to her family. She becomes a mother three times (all boys) and imparts her love of Starfleet to Tommy and her split persona to Neil.

Kevin, though, is tragic – she buries him when he is less than a month old. This changes her, making her more pensive in her later years. In her much later years, she develops the canon disease Irumodic Syndrome, which is an analogue to Alzheimer’s. In Fortune, the reader witnesses some of her decline. I follow up on this snippet with The Decision.

Relationships

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Catherine Bell as Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)
Catherine Bell as Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)

For Melissa, relationships follow the day and the night. She is a kind of split personality character. Her whole romantic persona has two sides to it.

Leonora Digiorno

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

Doug Beckett

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

Andrew Miller

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

Shelby Pike

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

Music

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

Quote

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

Mirror Universe

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Catherine Bell as MU Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)
Catherine Bell as MU Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)

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

Upshot

Kind and sometimes a little silly, the perceptive peacemaker is a part of the glue holding the main characters in the In Between Days series together. And as a foundational member of the family, her descendants are just as important as Lili’s are.

Inspiration – TV shows

Inspiration – TV shows

TV Shows?

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

Star Trek

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

Quantum Leap

Quantum Leap | TV Shows

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

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

Steven Culp

 

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Steven Culp as Douglas Jay Hayes/Doug Beckett (image is for educational purposes only)
Steven Culp as Douglas Jay Hayes/Doug Beckett (image is for educational purposes only)

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

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

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

Dominic Keating

Keating, of course, played Malcolm Reed on Enterprise.

Inspiration – TV shows

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

Other references

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

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

Portrait of a Character – Andrew Miller

Portrait of a Character – Andrew Miller

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

Portrayal

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Adrien Brodie as Andrew Miller (image is for educational purposes only)
Adrien Brodie as Andrew Miller (image is for educational purposes only)

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

Romance

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

Quote

“You know we’ll stand with you, man.”

Mirror Universe

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Adrien Brodie as MU Andrew Miller (image is for educational purposes only)
MU Andrew Miller (image is for educational purposes only)

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

Career

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

Upshot

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

Review – Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions

Review – Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions

Origins

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

Titles

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions
Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions

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

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

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

Background

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

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

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

The Five Signs of Weakness

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

A Child’s Memory Device

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

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

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

 Influences

Review – Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions
Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is a favorite book and it was a definite influence. I liked the idea of a school where children would be intimidated (Lord of the Flies and Tom Brown’s School Days also came to mind).

Jane’s Lowood School and the school in Tom Brown’s School Days serve as models for the Triton Day School. This is where Doug would be, essentially, indoctrinated into the ways of the mirror. He was to forget he softness of his mother, Lena,. Or, if he remembered at all, that would be ridiculed and dismissed with a sneer. I even had a Mister Brocklehurst take Doug to school – a direct reference to Jane Eyre. The school was also portrayed as a place where Doug’s beloved stuffed toy would be taken from him and used to harm him. In Fortune, Doug confirms that gentler children were bullied and harassed. And so in order to survive, he had to become hardened.

The toy

Barking up the muse tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Stuffed Velociraptor Toy | Paving Stones
Stuffed Velociraptor Toy

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

Tactical

For Doug, running Tactical is a useful promotion. However, he did not originally seek it. If Ian Reed had lived (in canon, there’s an even shot whether Malcolm’s mirror counterpart would survive a Gorn attack), Doug would have remained as CO of the MACOs on the Defiant. Instead, Doug is in direct competition with Aidan MacKenzie and Chip Masterson.

As is true in my fanfiction, the Defiant is a confusing mess, and Doug must figure things out quickly. Hence the flashback to his his parents sending him off to school. That’s because this is where he clearly also had to do a lot of fancy footwork  to get up to speed in a hurry.

Forgiveness

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

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

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

Story Postings

Rating

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

Upshot

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

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.