Category Archives: Interphases series

Portrait of a Character – Ethan Shapiro

Portrait of a Character – Ethan Shapiro

Ethan grew out of, in part, a desire to show Jewish crew members on the NX-01, but along the way, he became a lot more. I really like this Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction character.

Origins

For The Light, I wanted a character who was facing a circumstance where he would need a minyan. That is, a quorum of Jews for the express purpose of prayers. Having to say Kaddish, due to a death in the family, was the ideal scenario. Ethan was created to be the bereaved crew member.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Ethan Shapiro
Jesse Eisenberg

As is true with a lot of the more ethnically obvious characters, I wanted an actor who would also be a member of that ethnic group. Therefore, I chose Jesse Eisenberg. Ethan isn’t meant to be the greatest-looking guy ever. He isn’t meant to be nebbishy either. This is not Woody Allen on the NX-01. Rather, the idea was to have someone who is not only convincingly Jewish but also is someone who, to be loved, maybe the girl needs to go beyond looks and see what’s really inside.

Personality

A little self-effacing, but extremely loyal to his friends, Ethan even defers to Andy Miller when, during The Light, Andrew comments that he’s going to ask out the only Jewish woman on the ship, Karin Bernstein. However, in Waiting, it’s revealed that Ethan is kicking himself for having done that, for he wants Karin.

In the E2 stories I am writing as of the posting of this blog entry, Ethan is even more lovesick and upset.

Mirror Universe

Ethan doesn’t, truly, have a mirror universe counterpart. In Fortune, it’s revealed that his parents’ counterparts delayed relations for a night, and, instead, Erin Shapiro was conceived. However, there is an earlier Ethan, an older relative, who is likely the person who Erin was named for. Doug reveals to Lili, in Reversal, that that is the name of the second man he’s killed. Furthermore, it is our universe’s Ethan who brings forth this confession from Doug.

Relationships

Ethan’s relationship with Karin drives some of his behind the scenes activities in Reversal and then in Fortune. In the E2 stories, things go differently for Ethan, and he attempts suicide when he cannot have Karin. When he recovers, in the first kick back, he weds an Ikaaran woman named Bithara; in the second kick back, his Ikaaran bride is named Timinka.

Quote

“My Great-Aunt Rachel saw a lot in her long life. She went from an Earth where people could barely get it together to seeing us go out here into the unknown. She used to tell me it was a little like wandering in the desert for forty years. You know, you’re not sure where you’re going, but you trust that wherever you get is going to be good. And I think it’s been good. And I’m glad she got a chance to see that. She was like a link to the past. And now it’s time to, to say good-bye and look to the new.”

Upshot

As Azar Hamidi says in Waiting, things might have to run their course. But then you might just see that Ethan, he just might be the one.

Inspiration – TV shows

Inspiration – 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

Inspiration – 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 – in short, it’s 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, as is him being called “Future Man”, a play on the “Future Boy” episode. Even a calla lily worn in a groom’s lapel is a shout-out to the series.

Steven Culp

 

Inspiration – TV shows
Steven Culp

Culp played Major J. Hayes on Enterprise and so a lot of references swirl around him and various television roles he’s played. 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 refer to 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?

Review – Crackerjack

Story Origins

Crackerjack was originally written as a gift for a younger fan who wasn’t really old enough to be reading my racier material. This fan likes Star Trek:The Next Generation, so I decided to set the story in that universe, but I didn’t want to be on the Enterprise, and I didn’t want to be dealing with too many of the characters.

As a story written for a young person, I wanted a young character, so I hit upon the idea of grabbing Wesley Crusher. He has often – completely legitimately – been criticized as being a “Mary Sue” type of character. This is a character who is impossibly good, impossibly smart, impossibly lucky, etc. It’s a parody of a true character. I wanted Wes to be a bit different.

I also wanted Geordi, as the story was to be about prejudging. Partly that was due to racism, and partly due to his obvious infirmity, blindness. As a pair, I felt they could work together, too, and would believably want to help each other. The title refers, not only to the treat served at ballgames, but also to “an exceptionally good person or thing”. The reader is left to determine just who really is crackerjack.

Ted Williams hits a home run!
Ted Williams hits a home run!

The story begins with an old man asking his grandchildren if they ever heard of the time he watched Ted Williams hit a home run. They clamor for a story and he obliges. His tale begins with the two friends returning from a ceremony on the Kreetassan home world, when they suddenly run into a strange cosmic phenomenon. The phenomenon throws them back in time, to Earth. Because the shuttle they are in is damaged, they are forced to make an emergency landing. Duke Ellington is playing on the radio, and there’s a reference to fighting in the Middle East, and to British residents needing to go to bomb shelters.

They need supplies in order to get back, so they will need to head into civilization.

Ted Williams - Boston - 1941 Home

They change their clothes so as to mimic period garb, but the visor sticks out like a sore thumb. A decision is made to outfit Geordi with sunglasses and carry the visor along in a duffle, if needed. They replicate some money and follow a river toward what they figure is the nearest town.

While in town, they sleep out in the open. In the morning, they realize they’ve been sleeping in a familiar place, at the foot of the statue of Lincoln, at the Lincoln Memorial. They’re in Washington, DC.

As Geordi waits, Wesley runs out to look for a place to get breakfast. It rains a bit, but then the rain stops. When Geordi puts his palm up to check if the rain has really stopped, someone presses coins into his hand, thinking he’s a panhandler. Wesley finds a lunch counter and leads Geordi there. When they enter, the proprietor refuses them service and they are directed to a sign on the wall that says, Whites Only.

A newspaper then reveals the date – September 1st, 1941.

How do they get to the ballgame? How do they get back? All can be revealed by reading, of course.

Racism

Star Trek often covers socially difficult subjects such as racism, so I wanted to confront it head-on. The time period, I feel, is a great one, as it is pre-war and pre-Jackie Robinson, but attitudes are starting, slowly, to change. Plus the presence of a Whites Only sign was very logical for the time and place in question.

Geordi, of course, was a logical subject for racism, in particular because his infirmity makes it impossible for him to actually see why people are prejudging him. Wesley works, not only as Geordi’s companion, but also as a wide-eyed observer who doesn’t understand why the people of the time are acting like they are – and why some are kind or even overly protective. The people of the time aren’t just one big mass. Some care, some act but are inept (such as an anonymous person giving Geordi charity), while others are pettily cruel.

Time and Place

One of the ways I set the scenes was with music of the time. Take the A Train is played, but so are The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B, Stardust and Frenesi. Each chapter begins with a link to a YouTube video. The music is mostly horn-driven and tends to be from big bands.

The chapters also each begin with a picture. There’s Ted Williams, another is of a streetcar, another is of a row of brownstones, etc. The pictures are all in black and white, not only to evoke the sense of an old black and white film, but also to bring home the idea of racists seeing the world in terms of only black and white.

Furthermore, I wanted to evoke a bit of the old TOS episode, The City on the Edge of Forever, although that one takes place in 1930. One of the backdrops to the story is the prospect of imminent war, where bullets aren’t going to care one whit about the race of the person they strike. In Crackerjack, the bullets are going to be flying at Americans in only a little over three months’ time.

Interphasing

An interphase is a canon construction, and refers to a kind of temporal, spatial or somatic displacement, often without intention. While I handle interphases in other stories, I wanted this one to be more of an engineering problem, rather than a philosophical musing. For Wesley and Geordi, it’s a problem to be solved, rather than a reason to question existence.

Framing

Another aspect of the story is framing it as a tale told by an elder. The elder is Wesley, who you never otherwise see as an extreme elder. I wanted it to be his perspective and his long-term hindsight that would shape the narrative. Also, as Wesley learns about racism, I wanted him to be teaching his grandchildren the same lessons, that there are some people who don’t get along with others, and sometimes that’s for the most unfair reasons.

Memory is also key to this story, as it is about Wesley’s memories, but also the memories of the people they meet, and the memory of the reader about that time, or about what they’ve learned of that time, or what they, personally, have experienced of racism, and also of human decency.

But don’t worry about forgetting. Your memory has enough film in it.

Music

The music was great fun to put together.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I was pleased with how this one turned out, but the problems are solved rather neatly and easily. If I were writing for an adult, I probably would have thrown in more obstacles, and I might have made the racism harsher than it was, but I like that it’s not quite as hard-edged. I don’t think I needed to really hit people over the head with it.

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Inspiration – Music

Inspiration – Music

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

In Between Days series

Inspiration – Music

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

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

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

Times of the HG Wells series

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

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

Inspiration – Music

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

Interphases and Other Series

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

Inspiration – Music

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

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

Coda

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

Inspiration – Music

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

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

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.