Category Archives: Review

Review – Penicillin

Background

I wanted a bit of a dovetail story, where characters would behave in a manner that would prefigure the future. Furthermore, I wanted to give Jay Hayes a bit more personality. I actually had a bit of a cold and so I seized upon that idea, and wrote about what he’d be like if he had a small cold.

For Jay, who feels he needs to be in top condition all the time, a cold is a cause for secrecy. But he’s found out. A cough, and the problem is betrayed to the only other person in the hall. Fortunately for Jay, that person is Lili O’Day.

Lili promises a little Jewish penicillin to cure what ails Jay. But she extracts a promise out of him – in exchange for making chicken soup and keeping quiet about things, Jay must do one thing for her. He’s got to smile more.

The story is recalled by them at the end of the E2 stories, and, in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Lili remembers the event after Jay has passed.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

It’s a compact little tale, but I think it packs a bit of a punch.

Lili’s Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls Recipe

Lili's Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls
Lili’s Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls

Unless she’s baking, Lili doesn’t use regular measurements, so these are more like judgment calls.

Chicken Soup

In a slow cooker, add the following –

  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (if substituting water, make sure to add a dash of kosher salt)
  • 2 pounds of chicken meat, boneless. Breast meat has less fat; thigh meat has more flavor. Roughly cut the meat; it doesn’t have to be perfect cubes.
  • A half a pound of carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • A half a pound of celery, roughly chopped
  • A half a pound of onions, roughly chopped (Vidalias are best; white onions are fine)
  • If the slow cooker isn’t full to about an inch from the top, add plain water until it is. If you don’t have room, reduce the proportions of meat and vegetables

Cook on low slow cooker setting for a minimum of four hours.

Matzoh Balls

Combine the following in a bowl –

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 cup of salt-free matzoh meal
  • 2 eggs or one cup of room temperature egg beaters or the equivalent
  • 1 Tablespoon of water

If the mixture is too crumbly and dry, add more oil and water, in more or less even proportions. If it seems too loose, add a little more matzoh meal. Mix together well. Cover and place into a refrigerator for 15 minutes.

While the mixture is cooling, heat up a small pot of salted water. Bring it to a boil and then allow to simmer. When the mixture’s time in the refrigerator is up, wet your hands and grab a handful of the mixture. A ping pong ball size is good. Shape into a ball and drop into the salted water. Bring the water back up to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Combining the Ingredients

Once the slow cooker is done, combine a serving (2 of the ping pong ball-sized matzoh balls and a cup of the soup) and heat them together in a microwave for 2 minutes on high. Make sure to store the matzoh balls and the soup separately, as otherwise the matzoh balls will absorb all of the liquid.

Garnish with parsely, or even curry, if you like. Serve with bread!

Review – Together

The Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Together
Together

Together begins with Doug and Lili happy. It’s a direct sequel to Reversal, and they are living their dream. The first chapter makes it abundantly clear that they are where they need to be. There are little bumps in the road, but that’s life. So far, so good.

By the time we get to the second chapter, we learn that Jenny‘s wedding will be soon. Malcolm can bring a date, so he sends a note to Pamela, inviting her. Therefore, the astute reader should also understand that this is also a direct sequel to Intolerance.

Since there are no stories without conflict, and since a relationship such as Lili and Doug’s should undergo testing, the events are set into motion. And the main event is a massive kidnapping of humans.

Coupling

The kidnapping is a chance to introduce two new original species, the Imvari and the Witannen. Furthermore, a third original species, the Zetal, get a mention but they are not seen.

Melissa & Doug
Melissa & Doug (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ten humans are removed from the NX-01 (Lili and Doug are aboard as they are hitching a ride to Jenny and Frank‘s wedding). Because the Witannen want them to interbreed, the group consists of five men and five women, and there is a separation into couples, namely –

  • Lili and Malcolm – the idea is to play off Malcolm’s earlier attraction to Lili and also counterpoint her issues with Doug.
  • Doug and Melissa – here, Doug’s frustrations with Lili are balanced with Melissa’s bisexuality, e. g. this is an area where Leonora cannot fulfill what her partner needs.
  • Jonathan and Deborah – for him, it’s a chance to have someone to protect. For her, it’s the fulfillment of a long-term crush.
  • Tripp and Hoshi – this combination plays off their friendship and also is an answer to endless Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction about Tucker and T’Pol.
  • Jennifer and Travis – for her, it’s appalling as she is about to be married. For him, he’s with the hottest woman on the ship. But she is so horribly damaged that it’s no fun for them at all.

This is not to mention the other couples in the story, from before, during and after the captivity. Plus, what happens with Pamela? Stay tuned.

Music Together

Music drives the story as characters come together and break apart throughout. Every major character has his or her own song, and couples share songs, too.

The story isn’t a musical, per se, but there is so much pertinent music that it practically could be.

Themes

Hence the story, in some ways, ended up an exploration of not only relationships but also of our mores as a society. What do we accept from people? Also, what do we expect them to do when the chips are down? People in the story make good decisions, and they make some terrible ones as well. Fallout does not stop just because you wish it all away, and the fights are harsh because it’s the people who love you – and know you better than anyone – who can truly hurt you if they really want to.

Story Postings

Rating

I put the rating at T, with the racier version on Ad Astra at M.

Upshot

The story goes in a bunch of different directions, and it was to tie up loose ends up and then create any number of others in order to generate more plot ideas, including the idea for Temper, a story that really doesn’t work without Together as its foundation. Furthermore, any number of other overall plot elements don’t work, or can’t work as well without it.

In many ways, it is a centerpiece story, and many other tales hang off it, either as sequels or as prequels or in conjunction with it. Aside from Reversal, people read this story more than the others, and for good reason. This is because it helps the reader to understand so much more of my overall story line. Plus, I think it’s just a good, complex tale.

I’m very proud of this one.

Review – Local Flavor

Background

Local Flavor solves a few problems for me.

First of all, the Trek BBS held a Star Trek fanfiction challenge called “Out of Uniform“. So the idea was to show people not in typical starship settings. I seized upon the opportunity to show Lili and Doug first moving to Lafa II. Hence this is the morning after the end of Reversal; Local Flavor is the very beginning of “happily ever after”.

Plot

Review – Local Flavor
Happily Ever After – Kinsale (Photo credit: Sonia Luna)

Travis flies Doug and Lili to the surface. Also, he makes a point of telling Lili that Captain Archer and Malcolm both expressed regrets at not being able to personally see her off. For the captain, it’s because he was busy with other duties. However for Malcolm, it’s because he’s beginning to realize that he cares for her. But he can’t say anything; she’s off to marry someone else. As he confides to her in Together, her life is just zooming along and away from him, and he can’t do anything to stop it.

Upon landing, they are picked up by Treve, who drives them to their new apartment, which is later seen in A Kind of Blue and The Gift. On the way, Doug asks about changing his surname. Treve reiterates that Calafans don’t have last names, so the only people on Lafa II who would care are him and Lili. Doug ends up simply declaring his new surname to be Beckett.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Local Flavor
Local Flavor

They see the apartment and then the action moves to an open-air market, where a number of Calafan delicacies are to be had, including linfep, tofflin and elekai. Even prako (procul) show up, but they are too expensive, as they have been brought to the market by Eska hunters, from Archer’s Planet (in my fan fiction, during the E2 stories, that world is called Amity). Plus the idea of the Calafans always being on the make comes out, as does Doug’s temper. Even some of the alien gesturing is explained, and the cake made at the end has a blueberry filling. Because that is a shoutout to my portrayal of Jay Hayes as loving blueberries.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

A lot happens in a short amount of time. Doug and Lili are exposed to Calafan society through a fire hose. And the reader, in some ways, gets that same sort of treatment. In some ways, this story is like another “elevator pitch” tale (like The Light). This is because it serves as an introduction to a lot of disparate aspects of my universe.


You can find me on .

Review – Detroit Rock City

Review – Detroit Rock City

Background

Loomis
Loomis

For the first fan fiction challenge on Archer’s Angels, I decided on a theme called “A Thousand Words”. A few images were gathered up and, because a picture is worth a thousand words, people were asked to write up to a thousand words about a particular image. For Star Trek: Enterprise, this is the image that was chosen. This is the character Loomis from the canon Carpenter Street episode.

I decided he needed an ending to his story.

Plot

At the end of the canon episode, Loomis is hauled away in handcuffs, screaming about “lizard people” and a “chick with a ray gun”. At that point, the murders of various people from the Blood Bank are being tied to him. It looks like he’ll be going to jail.

Review – Detroit Rock City

In my story, he is never found competent enough to stand trial in the first place. Hence, instead, he is sent to a psychiatric treatment facility intended to evoke the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It is not a pleasant place to be.

While there, he stands in the medication line with a small cast of characters, including Lakeisha (meant to evoke Lakeisha Warren Crusher, from Crackerjack), Ogden (a lot like Big Chief in Cuckoo’s Nest) and Phyllis.

At one point, a new doctor, Morgan (meant as an ancestor to both Dr. Cyril Morgan and Dr. Pamela Hudson), begins to speak with him, as he protests that he is, indeed, sane. Morgan reminds Loomis that it might be boring at the facility, but if he’s found competent, he’ll be heading to the State Penitentiary, where things are even worse. Loomis accepts this, and takes his medication without incident.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

This twitchy character needed, I felt, a little closure. In some ways, I’d like to revisit him, although I’m unsure how to accomplish that without repeating myself. As of the writing of this blog post, this is the first chronological story in the In Between Days series. Concord and Crackerjack have scenes that take place earlier, and Richard Daniels goes to earlier times as well, but this is the first in-history story where all of the action occurs so early. The day it takes place, in fact, is the day that I originally posted the story.

Will I go back to this era? Possibly, but I’ll have to think of how to do that, as the HG Wells series was all about time travel and I’d rather not have yet more time travel in a future series. However, there’s no reason to not add some fill-in stories for Daniels, Crystal Sherwood and others, plus Eleanor can also talk about our time period.

Review – A Single Step

Review – A Single Step

Background

In 2012, Trek BBS held a monthly fan fiction challenge called “Meet the Neighbors”. The idea was to show a first contact.

I decided to pull in a few elements and bring them together, from canon and fanfiction, films and television.

In the Star Trek First Contact TNG film,Zefram Cochrane it’s established that the Borg almost assimilated us before we ever got the first Warp One ship in the air (the Phoenix). Furthermore, it shows, at the end, Zefram Cochrane and Lily Sloane joining hands. In the Original Series, Zefram Cochrane is later found on Gamma Canaris. He’s single, and he is older, but is being kept young by a mysterious companion. In the Animated Series, there is a species called Caitians, but their First Contact is not in canon. Furthermore, I have a non-sentient original species called the Derellian bat. This bat has been in all sorts of places – in ReversalTemperThrowing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses and Intolerance, just to name a few.

Plot

The story begins with Lily and Zefram, an aged couple living their final years on the Alpha Centauri Colony. But all is not right, as Lily coughs a lot, and is tired. She’s dying of lung cancer.

Review – A Single Step
Lily Sloane Cochrane (Alfre Woodard)

There is a light in the sky, and a crash. They go to investigate, and it turns out that an alien ship has arrived. The hatch is opened by a most curious creature. M’Roan looks like a cat, but he’s wearing clothing and he’s about the same size as Lily and Zef. He’s also bipedal. He’s got a small cut, and the Derellian bat shows off a little minor empathic healing qualities and closes up the wound.

M’Roan sees too deeply into Zef’s life, but that is the basis of a friendship. And, in the end, he and Zef take the bat and take off, for “the second nebula on the right and parts unknown“.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

Review – A Single Step
M’Roan, a Caitian

I enjoyed putting this one together, and I liked the portrayal of an older couple very much. This is also, currently, one of the few death scenes I’ve written where the dying character does not see a transition, or at least does not describe it.

I also think the wrapping together of the film, the three series, one film and fanfiction all works together. Jonathan Archer is also shouted out to, making this story, in reality, a quintuple crossover. I’m very pleased with it.

Review – Demotion

Review – Demotion

Background

I wanted a story that would nicely bridge between Star Trek: Enterprise canon and the beginning of both E2 kick backs in time. There was a prompt about going AWOL, so the opportunity presented itself, and I decided to dovetail with the canon Hatchery episode.

Heroes and Villains

Review – Demotion
Corporal‘s insignia

There have been so many slash stories written about Major Hayes, it’s not funny. But I have never seen him as gay, so I wanted to riff on that a bit, and see what it would be like for Hayes to be mistakenly confronted with homosexuality. Furthermore, I wanted the person doing the confronting to be nasty about it. It wouldn’t be a little question, gently asked. Instead, it would be accusatory. It would be like an inquisition. In short, I wanted it to be like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Review – Demotion

The story opens with Corporal Daniel Chang combing his hair and otherwise getting ready for an assignation with Sandra Sloane. He’s guarded T’Pol, and he’s fine with that, but then he’s asked to guard her again and he decides he’s had enough. Ignoring Hayes’s orders, he instead goes to Sandra’s quarters, and is close to the door but hasn’t hit the chime or knocked yet.

Review – Demotion
Private’s Insignia

Hayes, nearby, calls him by name and tells him to report to the galley for KP duty as a punishment. Lili and Jennifer are walking by, and they see what’s happening, so they turn to go a different way. They come back quickly, though, when they hear the sound of fabric being torn.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

It’s a quick story, with fewer than 800 words, but I feel it nicely conveys what I wanted. I had to establish Chang and Sloane as problem children before either kick back in time, and I think Demotion does that.

Review – Letters from Home

Review – Letters from Home

Origins

Review – Letters from Home
Mail Call at Stalag 17

One of my all-time favorite films is Stalag 17. There is a scene where a fellow named Harry Shapiro receives a bunch of letters – far more than anyone else. And they ask him how that’s possible.

He strongly implies that the letters are from girls, and refers to himself as “Sugar Lips” Shapiro.

But then his friend, Stanislaus (“Animal”) Kuzawa, grabs one of the letters and begins reading it. It turns out, the letters are all from a finance company. Shapiro’s Plymouth is being repossessed.

The Tie to Star Trek

Review – Letters from Home

Star Trek: Enterprise establishes, in canon, that commerce and trade are still conducted, and money is still used. Furthermore, there are still automobiles (Tripp Tucker refers to driving an old girlfriend to Chatkin Point). Hence I knew I wanted Tucker for this story, which was in response to a prompt about letters from home. The letters, I decided, would be reflective of Harry Shapiro’s own travails with a finance company.

For Tripp, the finance company contacts him after the Xindi attack. Of course, he’s more than a little put out by this. And the exasperating correspondence thereby begins ….

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I like how this one turned out. It’s got a bit of comedy as things go more and more over the top. I also think I ended it at the right point. Any more and the reader might’ve started to feel sorry for the finance company.


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Review – Concord

Review – Concord

Concord is a favorite.

Origins

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Concord
Concord

The prompt was about “a page from the past”. I had long thought about dropping a Star Trek: Enterprise character into the extreme past, and had even done this with a pair of TNG characters, in Crackerjack.

But I wanted to go back even further, so I hit upon the start of the American Revolution and a local pair of battles – Lexington and Concord.

And what better person to toss into that pressure cooker than someone who would be in trouble the minute he opened his mouth?

Enter Malcolm Reed.

Plot Points

The Premise

Reed is unceremoniously dumped right into the middle of the Battle of Lexington, and that’s only the start of his troubles.

An Injury

Because he’s wholly unprepared for this form of warfare, he becomes injured, but not horribly so. However, in 1775, infected injuries could easily result in a loss of limb or life. I deliberately made it so that the surgeon in the regiment had already died, and the village doctor had joined the militia. These absences meant that Malcolm would have to be treated in some other fashion.

At the same time, the man next to him, Robert Lennox, is a lot worse off, and may die.

A Place to Go

Review – Concord

The quartering of troops is very real to history, and so I had Malcolm’s commanding officer push for a farmhouse to accept the two injured men. Malcolm is apologetic at the same time that his commander – the true to history Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith – is rude and blustery. The mistress of the farmhouse accepts the two wounded men as she has very little choice in the matter. She is a colonial and is sympathetic to the revolutionary cause. Her husband has even gone to fight for it. But she is alone and is not about to let Malcolm or Robert die on her doorstep.

Some Soon to be Familiar Names

The mistress of the house introduces herself as Charlotte Hayes, wife to Jacob Hayes. She and her servant, Benjamin Warren, keep the home and assist the two wounded men.

Because the Concord story begins right before Voracious, the names O’Day and Hayes are not yet familiar to the characters. Furthermore, the name Warren also figures in my stories. In Crackerjack, Wesley’s wife’s maiden name is Warren. And in the E2 stories, there is a Science crewman with the name of Nyota Warren, who ends up with canon character Billy Dane. Benjamin is an ancestor of them just like Charlotte and Jacob are ancestors to Lili and Jay (thereby making Jay and Lili distant cousins).

How Did He Get There? And How Does He Get Back?

Without giving away too many spoilers, suffice it to say that Malcolm’s presence in 1775 is due to a defective temporal experiment.  His return can only happen if the experimenters figuring out the problem, and solve it.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I love how the historical aspects worked out. I did a great deal of research in order to understand how the farm would run, what things would cost and any number of other details. The story was extremely satisfying to put together. And it is easily one of my absolute favorites.

Review – There’s Something About Hoshi

Review – There’s Something About Hoshi

Background

Back in 2005, I wrote an initial five Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction stories. They were all intended to be centered around the five senses. More, More, More was about hearing. The Puzzle (which was a more complex and ambitious tale) was about sight. The Adventures of Porthos took on smell. And If You Can’t Stand the Heat was about taste.

Hence There’s Something About Hoshi was about touch and, by extension, feelings.

Plot

The story begins with Hoshi Sato being courted by Ted Stone. But he’s a somewhat inept suitor, and keeps missing his marks. He tries to be romantic but can’t quite get it right. Hoshi fears she is settling, and references the canon E2 episode where she settled for “old what’s his name” (Sekar Khan, the Quartermaster).

The Enterprise is contacted by an unknown species, the Arisians. They notice her on the Bridge and their communications are inept enough that one of them is heard mentioning his astonishment that there is a woman. A pretext is created for Hoshi to come to the surface. She agrees even though everyone that the Enterprise sees on Aris seems to be male.

Review – There’s Something About Hoshi
Hoshi dressed for the evening (Linda Park)

A pair of MACOs accompany Hoshi, and it becomes clear that they are a gay couple. Friends of hers, they compliment her on her choice of attire for the evening. It’s confirmed that Frank Todd will be one of the MACOs going to the surface (Frank also shows up in Shell Shock and in the E2 stories), as will his boss, Major Dawson (Dawson is also a part of Shell Shock and is the replacement for Jay Hayes).

A visit to the planet confirms that everyone is male. Milit, an Arisian, tells the landing party (in addition to Hoshi, Corporal Todd and Major Dawson, Travis Mayweather, Jonathan Archer and Malcolm Reed are present) that, long ago, the men of his species researched how to decrease gestation until eventually they could accomplish all of it without women. Once that was accomplished, they allowed all of the women to die out and only cloned males. Hoshi realizes, uncomfortably, that she is the only woman on the entire planet.

Review – There’s Something About Hoshi
Hieroglyphics at mesa pintada

She asks to see hieroglyphics, which were the pretext for getting her to the surface. Todd and an Arisian, Lio, accompany her to where the hieroglyphics are supposed to be. Todd and Hoshi are overcome and her hormones are extracted via syringe. However, Lio and his cohorts also inject her and Corporal Todd with something else.

By the time Hoshi returns to the ship, she is suddenly irresistible to all of the men on board (and a few women as well), but not Corporal Todd as his preference doesn’t go that way. Harassed and scared, even the captain gets in on bothering her, leering at her on the Bridge as various other male crew members make all sorts of passes at her until the Arisians can make things right again.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I played the story for humor. While it’s still funny, seven years of hindsight give me another perspective. In a lot of ways, it’s kind of creepy, the way that everyone is throwing themselves at her. The character was in very real danger of being sexually assaulted. If I were writing the story today, I would probably amp up the fear more, and downplay more of the humor.

Review – A Kind of Blue

Review – A Kind of Blue

Blue does not have to mean sadness.

Background

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

In Reversal, I establish that Lili O’Day‘s favorite color is blue. Reversal also, happily, ends up with Doug and Lili more or less riding off into the sunset.

At least, that was the original idea.

But then came the fanfiction prequels and the sequels.

Bridge Stories and Prequels

Reversal is a prequel to A Kind of Blue, but so is Local Flavor, which begins Doug and Lili’s life on Lafa II and begins to establish some of the background. That is, they are new on Lafa II, their only friends are Treve and his family, and they barely have two nickels to rub together. All of this is played out against the backdrop of being the only humans in the entire Lafa System. Plus the Calafans all seem to be on the make.

Plot

Review – A Kind of Blue
Positive Pregnancy Test

This story came about in response to a challenge to write a happy story. So I went with the color as an indicator of sadness but, also, of far different things. For Lili, the first indicator is this one. And it works with the stories. This is because one of the bits of information from Reversal is that Doug is powerful enough that he’s probably going to be able to get by her birth control.

What is also established is that she’d need to have surgery, and have the operation known as The O’Day Reversal put back in order to be able to successfully carry a fetus to term. With Lili pregnant (and experiencing wicked morning sickness), the first stop is Doctor Miva‘s office, but before they can go anywhere, Doug drops the stick on the floor of their apartment. He suddenly realizes he’s on bended knee, so he proposes.

The remainder of the story is the surgery and then their wedding, which includes Calafan wedding vows and surprise rings purchased by Doug.

Rating

The story is rated K.

Sequels

Review – A Kind of Blue
Pregnant Naomi Watts as Lili

With a wedding and a baby come other responsibilities. But there’s still time to visit friends in Friday Visit, and Pacing and The Gift both advance the Becketts’ lives together even more.

In addition, the new restaurant, Reversal, opens up. Lili and Doug can barely look up, and there is no time to do renovations and put in a bigger and more modern stove until the couple depart for a vacation to Oberon for Jenny and Frank‘s wedding, which Lili will cater (Together).

Story Postings

Upshot

The color blue does not have to mean sadness. And in this case, that’s the last thing from anyone’s mind.