Category Archives: Interphases series

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans

Background

When I first started writing Reversal, I was beginning to come to grips with my own aging process. It’s inevitable – you begin to see yourself as not being so young anymore.

Enter the Calafans.

Lafa System

Described as being near both Klingon and Andorian space, the Lafa System is strategic to the nascent Federation. However, there’s more there than meets the eye, for the entire species is psionically gifted, and the region sits where the membrane between our universe and the mirror is at its thinnest.

The system is composed of four stars. In order from lightest to darkest, and largest to smallest, they are Lo, Abic, Fep and Ub. In the mirror, the largest star is red and is named Ub, whereas in our universe the largest star is white and is named Lo. Because both the largest (Lo in our universe, Ub in the mirror) and second-largest (Abic in our universe, Fep in the mirror) stars have planetary systems, and their orbits cross at various points, the numbering system cannot go from closest to a star to farthest away (by that logic, in our universe, Mercury would be Sol I and Earth would be Sol III, etc.). Instead, the planets are numbered in size order, from largest to smallest. There are twelve planets.

Lafa I

Lafa I is a gas giant close to the four stars and, much like our Jupiter, is very nearly a failed star. It is close to Lo and within the orbits of Abic, Fep and Ub. Therefore, the radiation levels are far too high to sustain life.

All of the other eleven planets are habitable.

Lafa II

The most important of the planets, Lafa II is the original home of the Calafan people. It is where Fep City and Point Abic are. This planet orbits outside of the four stars so, once they have all set, there is a true night. Elekai are native, and live on the southern hemisphere. Linfep are also native to this planet.

The Temporal Museum is eventually built here, and the Museum also owns land, which includes Doug and Lili‘s original home.

Lafa III

In Fortune, it’s revealed that there is an Unemployment Office here, staffed by Calafans.

Lafa IV

Olowa grows here. It is within the orbits of Fep and Ub so there is no true night on the planet.

Lafa V

There are factories here, and the people speak with an accent that resembles an Irish brogue (Fortune, Local Flavor). It is the most remote planet in the entire system.

Lafa VI

This is a smaller planet. Doug and Lili are trying to grow Mediterranean foods on it (olives, figs, etc.). There is a nude beach here.

Lafa VII

There are mining operations on this planet.

Lafa VIII

There is no information on this planet.

Lafa IX

Yimar takes Joss and Marie Patrice to a zoo here (Temper). In the alternate timeline, the initial home base of operations for the mirror universe to get a foothold in our universe happens here.

Lafa X

There is no information on this planet.

Lafa XI

There is no information on this planet.

Lafa XII

On this small planet in the Lafa System, Melissa and Doug hunt and bring down a perrazin (Temper). Linfep live here, but they were likely brought there from Lafa II.

Mythology

The Calafans feel that their four stars correspond to four gods. Lo and Ub are goddesses in both universes, whereas Abic and Fep are gods. According to the mythology of both universes, the passage between the universes started out as being free and clear, and Lo and Abic married, as did Fep and Ub, but the couples were all unfaithful. As a result, Lo bore Fep’s child and Ub bore Abic’s. For their second children, paternity was secured. Then the children intermarried, so that generation married its own half-siblings, making this mythology somewhat akin to ancient Greek or Egyptian texts.

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans
Silver scrollwork example

Furthermore, the species was beginning to experience a very real scientific event known as speciation. That is, there had been a mutation. For the Calafans, it showed up as differing skin color. The species was diverging. Hence the leaders (e. g. the four main persons) decided to erect a barrier between the two universes. Families were split apart. The feel should be very much like the Berlin Wall or the two Koreas. Silver Calafans stayed in our universe; copper ones went to the mirror.

Aging and Maturation Process

Calafan aging is the reverse of our own. Children of both genders are born completely bald, and stay that way until about their thirties, when they begin to sprout hair. In addition, their extremities are solid-colored. However, as they age, the color begins to break down, eventually to a complicated scrollwork pattern that is as individual as a fingerprint. When a Calafan is thoroughly devoid of extremity coloration (known as calloo), death is near.

Dreams and Psionic Abilities

Since everyone is gifted – and the dishes on Point Abic amplify the psionic waves – dreams are shared, not only between dreamers but crossing the universes. This is, of course, how Doug and Lili meet. For Calafans, it is common and, as a result, their relationships with persons from the other side are condoned. Their marriage vows even take it into account (A Kind of Blue).

Language

While I haven’t created a full-on language for the Calafans, I have created a lot of words, such as miva (clay), fep (small) and the yi- prefix, which means “student of”.

Names

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans
Copper Scrollwork example

Calafans do not have surnames; hence, the first names must be requested as they cannot repeat. Names are considered to be meaningful and parents are cautioned to choose wisely. However, there are names that are jokes. If parents name their son Fepwev, it means “master of the small”. This can mean teacher or microbiologist, but it can also be construed as being “master of very little”, e. g. mastery of a very small domain.

Many male names include the -wev suffix (master of) whereas female names often contain the yi- prefix. However, sexism is not the intention.

Sexuality

Because of their somewhat open marriages, Calafans can often appear to be on the make. Lili (Local Flavor) and Kevin (You Mixed-Up Siciliano, Spring Thaw) are both bothered by this.

Fanfiction Presence

Because I establish first contact as occurring in 2157 (although first contact between Calafans and Vulcans, Klingons and Ferengi – and possibly also Andorians – has occurred earlier), the Calafans aren’t officially present earlier than that. However, Jonathan spots a woman who turns out to be Calafan while on Risa (And the Livin’ is Easy). In the E2 stories, a Calafan runs a way station where Imvari bring slaves to the Orion market. But in both instances, the encounters are fleeting and the name of the species is not mentioned.

Upshot

For a species that was originally intended to be something of a villain, I ended up with more and better opportunities to showcase the Calafans and define their culture. There will be more written about them, I am sure, as I continue to get to know them.

Portrait of a Character – Susan Cheshire

Portrait of a Character – Susan Cheshire

Susan Cheshire got a bigger role as I wrote more.

Origins

Susan was originally just an ex-girlfriend of Doug‘s. She was meant to be mentioned quickly and then set aside. But she became even more interesting as I wrote more of Reversal.

Portrayal

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

Susan is played by former Miss Ghana, Yvonne Nelson. Beautiful, intelligent and a little naughty, I feel Ms. Nelson evokes that wonderfully well. She is someone who a lot of guys would lament as being “the one that got away”.

Personality

A school teacher, Susan is playful and even rather sexually liberated, according to Jay in the E2 stories and Doug in Together. But all is not right, for in both universes she depends upon synthbeer to get through her days. She has blackouts and, before meeting Lili, it is Doug’s greatest fear and challenge to deal with that. He ends up walking away. Jay, too, cannot take her alcoholism. His departure causes guilt that eats at him at the start of the E2 stories.

Relationships

Doug Beckett

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

With Doug, in the Mirror, Susan is a stabilizing influence, at least to start. They meet on Titania, and are together for a few months. But then she begins to experience blackouts. This causes Doug to panic, and he leaves.

But she remembers him, and refers to him as “Soldier Boy”, years later, during the first alternate timeline in Temper.

By the time of Fortune, Doug recognizes that she needed treatment and sympathy, and he feels badly for not doing that for her when he had the chance.

Jay Hayes

Portrait of a Character – Susan Cheshire
Susan when Jay knew her (Yvonne Nelson)

In our universe, a similar situation plays out with Jay. In the E2 stories, he reveals a sexually adventurous side of Susan that I never explore elsewhere.

But he, too, was blindsided by her alcoholism, and unable to cope. Just like Doug, he leaves abruptly. And just like Doug, he is consumed by guilt over that, but more so. Doug is able to get past it and be with Lili. But it takes a lot more for Jay to get past things and, in the prime time period (aligning with canon), he barely does so and, by then, it’s a bit too late.

Aidan MacKenzie

In both universes, Susan eventually ends up with, and marries, Aidan. For Susan, in our universe, she gets acceptance from someone who can handle her episodes and, perhaps, help her to heal.

In the mirror, Aidan protects her, and they team up well, to parent his son with Empress Hoshi, Kira. With Aidan, her life improves dramatically in both universes. With Aidan, it feels like she just might make it.

Mirror Universe

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

Susan exists in both universes, and is mainly defined by her relationships. In Temper, she is past her prime and the effects of years of alcoholism have taken their toll. But in later stories, such as He Stays a Stranger, she is in better control.

Quote

“I’m going to assume you don’t want me dead.”

Upshot

This character seems to have all sorts of strikes against her. But she’s a survivor. And there is a reason why she was important to both Jay and Doug and, eventually, to Aidan.

Inspiration – Literature

Background

Literature and books, of course, are canon. Even paper books are a part of some sets.

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

But what are people really reading? In the canon Shuttlepod One episode, Malcolm reveals that he’s brought along a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses for diversion. But I’m with Tripp Tucker on that one – it’s just too dense for my tastes.

Jane Eyre

For my characters, one of the most important works of literature is Jane Eyre. It crops up in all sorts of places. In Together, the paper book is given as a belated wedding gift to Lili and Doug, by Hoshi and Chip. The book even has an inscription – “One good love story deserves another.” – Hoshi and Chandler. This is also the first time the reader sees Chip’s full name. Doug reveals that the work most likely does not exist in the mirror.

Jane Eyre (2006 miniseries) | Literature
Jane Eyre (2006 miniseries) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, in Temper, it is Malcolm and Lili who are reading the book together, and are discussing it. It’s probably not a terribly scholarly discussion, but it is more than just “I liked the book. Did you?

A Family Heirloom

In Fortune, the book passes as a cherished inheritance. First, Lili mentions it to Q, as evidence of being civilized. Then it passes from Malcolm to Neil when Malcolm passes. But that’s just the electronic version. When Leonora passes, the paper book is again transferred, and it is given to Marie Patrice, in recognition of Empy as being “… the strong, independent heroine of [her] own life.”

The book is also mentioned, along with its companion updating, Wide Sargasso Sea, in the Gina Nolan Hold Your Dominion universe story, Wider Than the Sargasso Sea. Gabrielle and Desh read it, but they are also acting in a staged version of it. The lines that they read are from the Toby Stephens-Ruth Wilson staging.

Shakespeare

Trek mentionings of Shakespeare are canon; the movies are littered with them.

Literature
Color pencil portrait of Julius Caesar

Mainly, I mention Julius Caesar and MacBeth.   Lili recalls to Q that she had to memorize Portia’s speech to Brutus from Julius Caesar, about the relationship between a true husband and a true wife. She uses this memory to bring Doug full circle and receive his confession.

References to MacBeth are more fleeting, except as regards to the meaning of Malcolm Reed’s first name. Names are important to Calafans and to the Empress Hoshi Sato, so Malcolm’s name’s meaning crops up from time to time. Since Malcolm is a character from “the Scottish play”, there’s the oblique reference. Furthermore, in The Mess, Lili briefly thinks of the line, “Out, out, damned spot!”

There is also the writing of original Shakespearean sonnets, written by both Malcolm (in Intolerance, Fortune and the E2 stories) and Bron (in The Reptile Speaks).

The Bible

KJV Bible | Literature
KJV Bible (Photo credit: knowhimonline)

Biblical references abound in the E2 stories in particular. Many of the wedding ceremonies involve short sermons with passages from various Bible stories. The stories of Solomon choosing not to slice an infant in half (to illustrate the choice that the Muslim bride Maryam Haroun made between two suitors, with the help of Doctor Phlox), Adam and Eve (used in Andrew and Shelby‘s wedding), and Ruth (to illustrate a point about the bride, Karin Bernstein, following the groom, Joshua Rosen) are all a part of various ceremonies.

Furthermore, when Jay and Lili wed, Jay refers to a biblical admonition to marry a dead brother’s widow, as this is right after Malcolm’s death.

In Concord, because Charlotte and Jacob are getting on in years and have not had any children, Jacob writes to her, expressing the hope that she could “be the Sarah to my Abraham“. That is, that she would have their first child far later than expected.

Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass

To be sure, the mirror universe is an obvious analog to Through the Looking Glass. In particular, in Reversal, when Doug passes from the mirror to our universe, he is passing through the looking glass and life is, in many ways, reversed for him.

Alice in Wonderland is evoked more by the HG Wells stories and, in The Point is Probably Moot, Richard Daniels even says to Alice Trent, “Down the rabbit hole.”

Furthermore, in the old Interphases story, The Puzzle, Travis Mayweather has an experience that involves a bottle with “Drink me” written on it and unchecked growth and a pool of water (although it is water, and not tears) around a table. When that adventure is over, he locates the book and sends electronic copies  to two people he has met, hoping they’ll enjoy the gifts.

Upshot

Intelligent characters enjoy reading just about as much as real people do. I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic as my characters crack open and read more books.

Portrait of a Character – Malcolm Reed

Portrait of a Character – Malcolm Reed

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

Origins

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

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

Portrayal

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

Personality

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

So much for canon.

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

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

Relationships

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

Portrait of a Character – Malcolm Reed

 

 

 

Pamela Hudson

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

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

Lili O’Day

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

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

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

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

Charlotte Hayes

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

Theme Music

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

Poetry

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Mirror Universe

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

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

Quote

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

Upshot

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

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

Charlotte Lilienne O’Day is a fantastic creation.

Every author needs a character surrogate. I have a few – Sheilagh Bernstein, Eriecho, Gina Nolan, Ethan Shapiro, Seppa, and HD Avery come to mind. But none are as attuned to me, or as similar to me, as Charlotte Lilienne O’Day. Lili.

Origins

I was thinking about writing Reversal for a while before I started, and I needed a name for my heroine.  So I decided on her full name for a few reasons. First, the name flows and is pretty. But – bringing her down to earth – her initials are CLO’D. Did her parents really mean to refer to her as a clod? Perhaps, but not in a negative manner. Lili reveals, in Fortune, that her mother was a potter, so perhaps the backhanded reference to clod refers to a moldable clod of earth.

I also liked the short name, Lili, as it’s casual yet feminine, but also feels more youthful than Lili really is. Lili started off, in Reversal, as being 48 years old, just like I was at the time.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

It took me several months to come up with a real face for Lili, who I describe as having eyes that are the lightest blue – nearly white in appearance, although she is not blind – and hair that is straight and platinum blonde. Her body is a little chunky although not too much, with a decent albeit not a knockout figure. Her lower teeth are a little crooked. She is self-conscious about her belly.

A Face

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

After kicking around and, ultimately, rejecting the idea of the actress Jessica Tuck, I went with actress Naomi Watts.

Watts is lovely, to be sure, but is also fighting some signs of aging like parentheses lines around her mouth, much like Lili is. Her eyes aren’t light enough; contact lenses would have to fix that. But she also, to my mind, carries some emotional heft. I like it that she’s not an Angelina Jolie.

Personality and Background

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Young Lili O'Day with her mother, Marie Helêne Ducasse O'Day
Young Lili O’Day with her mother, Marie Helêne Ducasse O’Day (image is for educational and references purposes only)

Smart yet not overly so, Lili’s talent is in cooking. But she never would have known that if not for some seemingly unrelated events, plus sheer determination. At age nine, her parents die in a house fire at their home on Titan, in New France. Lili, at the time, was visiting her mother’s parents, the Ducasses.

This photograph is from a few weeks before. Lili describes it as one of her best and most enduring memories of her mother. Ironically, this picture first shows up in the Mirror Universe. Lili remembers the events leading up to the fire in her dreams, in the E2 stories, and then her subconscious supplies additional, unseen information, such as her father, Peter, shoving her mother to the floor and laying on top of her, one last act of protection.

Master of Fire

Initially afraid of fire, her maternal grandmother, Lilienne, makes her cook. Lili explains to Malcolm, in Together, that she was a difficult teenager, getting into minor trouble such as joyriding. She loses her virginity to her High School boyfriend, Paul Mayer – that act is also recalled in a dream. She is close to leading a dull life when she gets a chance to cook for the head of the Mars Culinary Institute. Lili makes lobster en croute, which is a kind of strained bisque in puff pastry. On the strength of that dish, she is admitted to the MCI and graduates. Her first job out of school is at the Tethys Tavern, where she not only cooks, but also tends bar on occasion.

Voracious

Eventually, Lili becomes skilled enough, and is in enough demand, that she opens her own restaurant, Voracious, in San Mateo. She describes the restaurant during Reversal (again, this is a memory seen through the prism of dreaming). It also shows up in Voracious, where the NX-01‘s Chef, William Slocum, goes to dinner. He enjoys her Harvest Salad so much that he talks to her about joining up. The Xindi war is raging, and Lili remembers the attack.

The city is still in aftershock mode. Slocum brings in Archer (I have not written that part yet) and Lili sells Voracious and comes aboard the NX-01. Her first day is chronicled in Harvest. She has been hired to act as sous-chef, pastry chef and saucier. Her duties include making desserts and birthday cakes, such as is shown in Protocols, plus she cleans up quite a bit. It isn’t until the E2 stories that she gets any help.

Relationships

Depending upon the story or the series, Lili experiences deep and abiding love, in a way that most of us can only dream of. While she has had boyfriends and lovers, at least twelve before the start of Reversal, she doesn’t really begin to have love until then.

Doug Beckett

Charlotte Lilienne meets Doug as a part of shared dreaming with the Mirror Universe, as is shown in Reversal. Her relationship with Doug is earthy and very physical, but she essentially tames him. When it comes time to exchange I love yous, they are both indirect. He tells her, “It would be really stupid if we were to fall in love.” And she replies, “It’s too late.”

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Lili| Naomi Watts | pregnant
Lili (image of a pregnant Naomi Watts is for educational purposes only)

With Doug, her life settles into a domestic routine quickly. In A Kind of Blue, she finds out she’s pregnant, and they quickly wed. Then in Pacing, andThe Gift, she receives a truly meaningful gift from Doug, meant to sustain her for their life together. In Local Flavor and Friday Visit, their relationships with friends are shown.

Then in Together, their relationship is challenged, and it finally comes to an understanding in Temper and then in Fortune. Doug and Lili have two children, Jeremiah Logan (known as Joss) and Marie Patrice (often called Empy).

Doug’s death is outlined in Equinox.

Malcolm Reed

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Lili| Naomi Watts | pregnant
Lili (image of a pregnant Naomi Watts is for educational purposes only)

With Malcolm, Charlotte Lilienne is different. Their relationship is somewhat freer, but that’s at least partly because, not until much later in life, they don’t live together.

Their meeting in Harvest is meant to be a foreshadowing of things to come, as they shake hands for too long, he looks her squarely in the eye and she drops a teacup. Because they are not together (Malcolm is her other fellow in her open marriage with Doug; Melissa Madden is Doug’s side girl in that same arrangement), there are a lot of good-byes and hellos.

So the homecoming in Temper is meant to be particularly sweet, and their time together at a hotel for a few days after that is meant to almost feel like a honeymoon, as is a shared dream during Fortune. With Malcolm, who is also a factor in the E2 stories, she can trade intellectual quips and insights. They read and talk about Jane Eyre. They play Scrabble and chess together. There is more highbrow business going on than with Doug, who often has trouble expressing himself.

Jay Hayes

Jay is only a factor in the E2 stories, but the events of Harvest, Penicillin and Demotion foreshadow some of that.

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

In Harvest, she notices Jay’s eyes when they are introduced, and he tells her that he likes blueberries when she asks about a favorite.

Then in Penicillin, he is coughing and so she makes him (and the rest of the crew) a little Jewish Penicillin, chicken soup with matzoh balls. In Demotion, Hayes disciplines Daniel Chang in front of Lili and her roommate, Jennifer Crossman. He looks and nods at them but doesn’t address them, a prelude to the E2 stories.

In the E2 stories, Jay and Lili circle each other warily (she also circles Malcolm) and do not get together for a few years. He needs to get over Susan Cheshire, she needs to see him as a potential mate. Things are good between them. He is a bit better at expressing himself than Doug, and develops a meaningful pet name for her – Sparrow. In Equinox, after his death, he accidentally refers to her that way, which alarms her. This is because, in Equinox, she doesn’t know about the first iteration in the E2 stories. She only knows about the second E2 iteration.

José Torres

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

In Together, Lili reveals to Malcolm that, when they met an NX-01 manned by their descendants, she learned that she had married José Torres. Malcolm reveals that he had not had anyone. His revelation is canon, so this, the second E2 iteration, is the one currently being written so as to dovetail with Star Trek: Enterprise canon.

As an Engineering crewman, José is far from being a romantic guy, which is what Lili craves. But he’s practical, and he cares for her a great deal. Her feelings about him are a lot more mixed, and there is less of the deep and abiding love as is seen with the others. Lili is settling, and she and the reader know it, but there is no one else.

Ian Reed

Ian is Malcolm’s Mirror Universe counterpart.

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

They never actually meet in life. But, as he explains in a dream in Equinox, counterpart to counterpart, he cannot help but be taken by her. In the third of the E2 stories, he meets her on the last night of her life, in a dream, and they dance. And in the fourth, Ian reveals that he has been tasked with guiding her and keeping her company, comforting her in her darkest hours.

She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time

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

This is not only the name of the Xindi Insectoid that Lili kills during an episode of Fortune and feels the aftermath of in The Mess. It is also, in a way, what you could call Lili herself. But she has a total of (as of the time of this writing) seven children, depending upon which stories and series you read.

Joss Beckett and Joss Reed-Hayes

These sons are meant to be nearly identical, with Beckett as the son of the Mirror Universe husband and Reed-Hayes the son of the Prime Universe E2 first iteration husband. Joss is the one she depends upon to keep things together.

Marie Patrice Beckett and Madeline Reed-Hayes

Much like the two versions of Joss, these daughters are, respectively, children of the Mirror or the Prime Universe. However, their personalities diverge more. Marie Patrice is a bit of a materialistic person whereas Madeline grows up to become a Tactical Officer.

Declan Reed and Pamela Reed-Hayes

Both the children of Malcolm Reed, they are in the Prime Universe timeline and the E2 first iteration timeline, respectively. These children diverge the most. Declan is one of my visual artist characters whereas Pamela becomes a doctor, much like Pamela Hudson, who she is meant to evoke but not be named after, as the E2 denizens could not possibly have known about Dr. Hudson.

Maria Elena Torres

As Lili’s only child during the E2 second iteration, Maria Elena (named for Marie Helêne) is a bit of a wild card. As of the writing of this post, I have not yet determined how I want her to be. But the second iteration is more somber. Maria Elena will be one of the  few bright spots in that version of Lili’s life.

Dreams

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Dreamy Lili

Lili is more defined by her subconscious than any of my characters, even the Calafans.

When I first wrote her, that first moment, she is in the middle of a dream, and it turns out to be a dream she shares with Doug, in Reversal. Her ability to share dreams gets enhancements from being in Calafan space. Eventually, she gets dream amplifier alloy to put on her person, in the form of her wedding ring from Doug (A Kind of Blue) and the key charm from Malcolm (Temper). In addition, the Calafans paint her with calloo-like tattoos made from the same material, callidium (Reversal). She is a dream collector and a dream projector in a lot of ways. Lili interacts in her dreams and utterly believes them.

In the E2 stories, she has no such amplifications. But Ian explains to her that she has some psionic abilities. She’s just not able to really focus them well. Hence, when he is with her in her dreams, she can hear him, and can feel him to hold her while they dance, but she generally can’t see him.

Elements

The main characters in In Between Days, except for Pamela Hudson, are all related to some sort of ancient element. Doug is air, Malcolm is water, Melissa is the earth, and Leonora is communication. Lili, because of how her parents died, and because of her skills at cooking, is fire. Doug and Malcolm both refer to her, at various times, as “the white-hot flame”. Jay even mentions that, while on his deathbed.

Theme Music

In Reversal, Lili (Charlotte Lilienne) begins with Roy Orbison’s Sweet Dreams Baby and then segues into Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes with Doug. Her next music is in Together, starting with O Pato by Emilie-Claire Barlow, to showcase her love for her family – the duck (Joss), the goose (Doug) and the swan (her). Then she is represented by Crowded House’s Something So Strong and then, with Malcolm, Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) by A Flock of Seagulls. That story continues with her and Doug’s Joe Jackson’s Breaking Us In Two but is ended on a much more positive note with her, Malcolm and Doug’s The Cure’s Love Song.

In Temper, she’s represented by Blind Melon’s Tones of Home. In Fortune, she is represented by Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams and then all of them are covered by Sister Hazel’s All For You.

Mirror Universe

The Mirror Lili (called Charlotte) is at home during the house fire at the O’Day home on June 12th, 2118. She and her younger brother, Declan, die along with their parents. Jay does refer to seeing her in the afterlife during a dream in Equinox, just after Doug’s death. He reports one of the pleasant things about heaven is you can be any age you like, even ones you never were in life. It comforts the grieving Lili to know her counterpart can be old enough for real love, and can experience it. Since Ian says the counterparts are also taken with each other, he could very well be a part of the love that Charlotte might be finally experiencing.

Quote

“I figured I didn’t deserve to have survived, like I wasn’t good enough and I hadn’t done anything to be allowed to be the sole repository of my family’s memories and their love and their talents and everything else. [and] I got into trouble and I didn’t face it much. I know now what a difficult child I must have been. It wasn’t until I became a master of fire that I began to process it. I began to have a handle on what had destroyed my family, and I could turn it to something that was almost good. And I began to slowly realize that my hopelessly old-fashioned, ancient and unhip grandparents were doing the very best they could for me, and that I should try and, and make it so that things wouldn’t be so hard for them.”

Upshot

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Lili Upshot

I love this character. I cannot describe quite how much I do. But that makes sense, as so much of me is in her. Of course I know where the lines are. I have no children; I have a conventional marriage.

And I am not a professional chef; my parents (as of the writing of this post) are alive and well. But there is something about Lili. From her vulnerability to her superficial fretting about her less than perfect stomach to her sass to her whacking the hell out of She Who Almost Didn’t Breed In Time to how she sings to Joss to how she brings Jay out of his shell and gets Malcolm to loosen up and feel that even he can cry sometimes. All of this, and more, make her, to me, an utterly irresistible character who I cannot stop writing about. I am all characters, and all characters are me, but Charlotte Lilienne hits the most marks.

Portrait of a Character – Jay Douglas Hayes

Portrait of a Character – Jay Douglas Hayes

Many – although not all – roads lead to Jay Douglas Hayes.

Origins

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Jay Hayes's Service Record | Steven Culp | Jay Douglas Hayes
Jay Hayes’s Service Record | Steven Culp

This character is, of course, Star Trek: Enterprise canon. He is a Major in the MACOs and loses his life during the ENT Countdown episode.

In canon, he only has a first initial, and not even a middle initial. I have gone with Jay (a suggestion by the actor who played him) and Douglas in order to dovetail with Doug Beckett. Hence, Jay Douglas Hayes.

The main origination point for me was that I enjoyed the character very much, and wish he had been shown more. A rather earthy dream about him was the basis and initial kernel of an idea for Reversal, a story where he is referred to, and is seen in this photograph. However, by the time of Reversal (2157), Jay is already long dead.

Portrayal

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

As in canon, Jay is portrayed by veteran actor Steven Culp. Culp has said about the character that he is essentially a David Mamet character, in that he is more action than talk much of the time. In canon, he rarely smiles. In fact, I think one of the few times he even comes close to smiling is in this image.

Personality

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Steven Culp as Major Jay Douglas Hayes with Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed
Steven Culp as Major Hayes with Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed

All business, Jay is surprised and genuinely hurt that Malcolm Reed would think that he was attempting to undermine the Tactical Officer’s authority. For Jay, it’s about getting the job done. However, he does so with few niceties. For Malcolm, this is unacceptable, and there is a need for communications and for protocols to be followed. In canon, Jay eventually admits that blindly following the chain of command isn’t as easy as it may seem, nor is it always the right thing to do. For him, the excuse of “I was only following orders” could have rung true, until that moment.

E2

In the E2 stories I am currently writing, Jay is in a state of melancholy, but so are many of the other people, as clinical depression runs rampant, at least at the beginning of those stories. For Jay, it takes the form of regrets about an old relationship with a woman he identifies as his most important ex-girlfriend, Susan Cheshire, and he even writes her a letter that he knows she will never read. But Jay is also unexpectedly kind, such as when he carves a walking stick for an injured crewman but doesn’t make it public knowledge.

His conflict with Malcolm is shown in any number of stories. In Harvest and in Protocols, which both take place during the Xindi war, he and Malcolm bicker a bit. It’s pretty much just about their ideas about dealing with the Xindi threat. It isn’t until the E2 stories that their arguments become about something else entirely, their rivalry over a woman.

Relationships

In canon, he has no known relationships. I follow on that and, in Together, when Lili and Doug meet with his sister, the attorney Laura Hayes, she confides that he had no one, not even a girlfriend and was “not the marrying kind”.

In my fanfiction, he has three important earlier relationships which eventually lead up to his great love, in the E2 stories. The first of these is with Darareaksmey Preap, a Cambodian bar girl that he knew when he was young and in Basic Training, near Phnom Penh. Much like Doug, he lies to Darareaksmey and tells her he loves her, and buys her gifts, in order to be able to lose his virginity to her.

The second is Christine Chalmers, possibly known during an assignment. He considers telling her that he loves her until he learns that she’s been cheating on him. The third is the aforementioned Susan Cheshire, who tells him she loves him nearly constantly. But he can’t bring himself to say it in return, and he doesn’t quite understand why until later.

In the E2 stories, he learns to let go of Susan’s memory and embrace the woman who will be his great love, the woman he calls Sparrow. This is evoked in Equinox as well when, even after his death, he communicates with her and accidentally calls her Sparrow.

Theme Music

Jay Douglas Hayes doesn’t have official theme music, but the Beatles’ Blue Jay Way works rather nicely.

Mirror Universe

Jay’s Mirror Universe counterpart is Doug Beckett. Any discussion of Jay/Doug in the Mirror can be found in that post.

Quote

“I was a big kid. {and} I was probably gonna be fat if I didn’t do something. I was an ox, a lummox, my dad would call me. My father, he ordered me to ride my bike every day…. He was military, too. And, well, so I did it. ‘Cause you didn’t argue with Jeremiah Hayes. So I used to ride around the reservoir area. It was nice, and there were birds. They would all chatter away, like they were having arguments or telling each other the news or something like that…. Anyway, it was a good place to go, and it was a bit cooler than most places, so I went every day. And then one day, I saw the Ganymede Police there. They had a skiff boat and there were divers. And they were, well … they were dredging for a body.”

Upshot

Beyond being, perhaps, a bit of a jarhead, Jay Douglas Hayes has a heart and a soul. You just need to be quiet and listen for them.

Portrait of a Character – Deborah Haddon

Portrait of a Character – Deborah Haddon

Deborah Haddon was first something of a Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction red shirt character. But she grew on me, so she became more.

Origins

While writing Reversal, I needed a female Security crewman who could handle both erotic scenes and provide muscle. Hence Deb was born.

Portrayal

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Katee Sackoff as Deborah Haddon (image is for educational purposes only)
Katee Sackoff as Deborah Haddon (image is for educational purposes only)

Deborah is tough and tough-minded, but has a softer side. So Katee Sackhoff was a logical choice. I particularly like her no-nonsense look, plus of course she has serious sci-fi cred, having been in Battlestar Galactica.

She also needed to be someone who could clean up well and, at times, appear very vulnerable and feminine.

The look is, to me, believable.

Personality

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Katee Sackoff as Deborah Haddon (image is for educational purposes only)
Katee Sackoff as Deborah Haddon (image is for educational purposes only) This beautiful manip is by unusualsuspex – http://stpma.net/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=844 him.

Deborah spends much of her time standing guard, so her mind wanders. In our universe, this means her thoughts direct, more and more often to Captain Archer, on whom she develops a raging crush, described in both Together and in the alternate timeline story, The Black Widow.

This brings out some of her vulnerability and longing. As a person who mainly stands in the back and watches the rest of the crew working, she longs to be a part of things.

Romance

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Katee Sackoff as Deborah Haddon (image is for educational purposes only)
Katee Sackoff as Deborah Haddon (image is for educational purposes only)

Once her wrong-headed pairing in Together ends, Deb is approached by someone she might not have expected to show an interest, Chip Masterson. This relationship continues through to Fortune. I reveal it has resulted in a marriage and a child, Kenneth. Her descendants eventually include Richard and Eleanor Daniels and their mother, Chloe Masterson Daniels.

She ends up with Chip during the E2 stories as well.

Mirror Universe

Deb dies like a redshirt in the mirror universe, succumbing during Reversal, after a  short fling with Aidan MacKenzie.

Quote

“Security. I’m wily like a cat.”

Upshot

Smart and tough, Deborah Haddon can defeat most opponents with guile or strength or both. Call her Debbie at your peril.

Portrait of a Character – Ethan Shapiro

Portrait of a Character – Ethan Shapiro

Ethan Shapiro 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 Ethan Shapiro (image is for educational purposes)

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

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?

Review – Crackerjack

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 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.

The Plot

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Ted Williams Hits a Home Run | Crackerjack
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 homerun. 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.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Brownstones | Crackerjack
Brownstones

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.

Charity and Loathing

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 shows up, but so do 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.

Barking up the muse tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Camera | Crackerjack
Camera

Memory is also key to this story, as it is about Wesley’s memories. But it also covers the memories of the people they meet. Plus there’s the memory of the reader about that time, or about what they’ve learned of that time. Or it’s 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 like this one, but the problems go away 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.