Review – Reversal

Reversal, a Fanfiction Revival

Reversal was named on a lark. I hadn’t written Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction in quite a while.

I was, in all honesty, spinning it out from nothing. I had nearly no plan for the story, no outline and at first I wasn’t even saving it to Word. And so, when I was saving the first post, the topic had to have a name. On an impulse, I named it Reversal.

And the title proved to be perfect.

Origins

Reversal
Reversal

I had a dream. No, not like Martin Luther King!

It was a rather earthy dream, truth be told. And it was about a character on Enterprise. And I woke up, thinking – there’s a story there.

From such beginnings, I developed an idea. The septum between the Prime Universe and the Mirror would be thinner at one particular point in the galaxy. This was in parallel to the reality of the Earth’s crust. It is not uniform. Hence I wanted the separation to not be of uniform thickness/difficulty in crossing.

Bare Bones Story Line

The idea was for it to be possible to cross the boundary between the Prime Universe and the mirror through the dream state. The concept was that, for a certain species, the connections would be normal. And then, as the NX-01 Enterprise on our side, and the ISS Defiant on the other, enter that same system, the psionically charged atmosphere would cause two people to simultaneously start to pick up on that same wavelength. But for them, it would be a romance.

It starts off with a bang. The first line is – It didn’t hurt. I love this opening line, as the reader should immediately be thinking – what? What didn’t hurt? Was it supposed to? And then the story moves along from there. The first dream is a coupling dream, where a fantasy is played out in what seems to be a normal Freudian fashion. People kiss, their clothes fly away and of course more happens. It’s pitch black. They remain silent, although they can hear each other breathing. But then the heroine – Lili O’Day – breaks the spell by incoherently calling out loud.

And so we’re off to the races, for the next two scenes shift from her and her roommate in our universe to her fellow and his roommate – a woman – in the mirror. We know Lili’s name, but not the guy’s. He’s just referred to – and rather pejoratively at that – as the old man. His name is kept out of the first few chapters as he is a counterpart to a canon character.

Clues are dropped and some come from the characters’ speaking whereas others come from Lili talking in her sleep or references from the twin surfaces. Something is going on, in both universes. There is more happening than just the dreams.

Symbolism

From the beginning, I wanted the story to have symbolic meanings. For the title, the first half of the word, rêve, is French for dream. This also works as the second half symbolizes waking life. Plus there is the word itself and its connotations of reinvention and retrograde changes.

Oranges
Oranges

Other symbols abound. After the first dream, Lili – who is the sous-chef on the Enterprise – is ordered to make every meal with oranges for one day. When she goes to sleep that night, she reeks of oranges, and it’s the first word that her fellow says to her. So, not only can he smell her, but there is also what oranges kind of mean. They are of course seen as being different from apples (and apples connote temptation and the fall from purity). Oranges, I felt would symbolize sunshine and happiness, and warmth and light.

Artist's impression of HD 98800.
Artist’s impression of HD 98800. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another symbol or rather symbols is the quadruple star system. The largest star is a white giant named Lo, which should make the reader think of the phrase lo and behold. The second-largest star is a yellow medium-sized star intended to be like the sun. It’s called Abic (Ay-bick) and is a bit like abba, the Hebrew word for father. The third star is a small orange star called Fep. The smallest one is a red dwarf (yes, it’s a shout out to that TV series) called Ub. Hoshi herself explains that there are value judgments behind the names – Lo is for goodness, Abic is secondary, Fep is small and Ub is sinister.

Subject Matter

The five main books in the In Between Days series are each about one of the five main characters (Pamela Hudson is essentially the sixth main character, but she isn’t connected with any book as well as she is with Intolerance). Reversal is, essentially, about Lili. From learning about the fire that killed her parents, to getting to know her as a chef, a lover and a friend, to even peeking at her finances, Lili is all over most of the pages, particularly in the dream sequences and the Prime Universe scenes. This is Lili’s tale.

Music

This story is less musically-driven than others but it does have a few melodic moments. Lili’s theme song is Roy Orbison’s Sweet Dreams Baby.  Her fellow’s song is Robbie Williams’s Feel.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated T/M although there is a K+/T version on Fanfiction.net.

Upshot

Reversal is not the best story I have ever written. It drags at the end, as I was reluctant to give it up. But it gets the series off splendidly and, truly, almost everything else springs from it in one way or another (albeit sometimes indirectly). I continually mine it for backstory tales of Lili and her fellow and their many supporting cast members, like Chip Masterson, Leonora Digiorno, Melissa Madden, Pamela Hudson, Andrew Miller, Brian Delacroix and Jun Daniels Sato and many others.

It’s just the gift that keeps on giving; it’s so incredibly dense with plot. I am grateful to have such a pond to fish in. Apparently readers have agreed; on various platforms, it has racked up over 500,000 reads.

Portrait of a Character – Jennifer Crossman

Portrait of a Character – Jennifer Crossman

Aside from canon characters, Jennifer was the first character specifically written for Star Trek fan fiction who I could truly visualize.

Origins

In Reversal, Lili needed a roommate for a few purposes. One of these was to bounce ideas off. The other was to be an ear-witness to Lili talking in her sleep. Plus roommates are canon in Star Trek: Enterprise for lower-level personnel. I wanted Jennifer and Lili to have little in common, too.

Symbolism

Jenny has any number of symbolic elements to her. Her name has two derivations. The full surname is actually the name of a street near where I grew up. But the Cross part was also to pay homage to Marcia Cross. Both have fiery red hair, too.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Jennifer Crossman
Bryce Dallas Howard

I immediately saw Bryce Dallas Howard when I first thought up Jennifer. There is a look of youth and vitality but also some mystery – I suppose it’s a bit of the overall mystique that some redheads seem to possess.

Jenny also needs to be believable in the Mirror Universe as a lot of the portrayal, in particular in Reversal, is on the other side of the pond as well. Unlike other characters who might just have a one-shot bit in the mirror, Jenn is shown there almost as much as she is shown here.

Personality

Jenny is the second-in-command engineer on both the USS Enterprise and the ISS Defiant when Reversal begins. In our universe, she is somewhat unaware or is perhaps in denial about her own obvious beauty. She doesn’t even know that the men refer to her as the Redheaded Bombshell until Travis tells her in Together.

Relationships

Frank Ramirez

In our universe, this long-distance relationship with a planetary geologist has been going on for a while during Reversal. She tells Travis that she and Frank met on a blind date, a fact that Travis barely believes. Why would someone so gorgeous need a blind date? Yet that was what happened. Frank proposes when, one morning, he sees Saturn’s rings in the sky (he’s on Enceladus) and realizes he wants to give her a ring, too. Their relationship (like other relationships) is put to the test in Together, where her theme is The Cult’s Fire Woman.

Aidan MacKenzie

In the E2 stories, Frank isn’t on board (and she has not yet met him), so she ends up going in a different direction, and marries Aidan during both kick backs in time.

Mirror Universe

Jenn is a darker figure in the mirror, as are most people. Spoiled and nasty, and rather sluttish, Jenn is more interested in a good time than in almost anything else – yet she is still intelligent and is still the second engineer.

Portrait of a Character – Jennifer Crossman

Her relationship with Doug is strained at best. For her, it’s a power move to be associated with the fourth in command. For him, she’s a hot girl who will live with him as he dislikes living alone. But neither of them are happy and, once Doug meets Lili, he’s done with Jennifer.

She ends up with Treve, a Calafan, and they remain together until his death. Their long-term relationship is shown in, among other stories, He Stays a Stranger.

Quote

“I know why you fell so hard, and so fast. It’s ’cause, you just know.”

Upshot

Initially intended to be dizzy, bratty and a foil for Lili, they become friends. This smart engineer is more than just a pretty face.

Inspiration – Sexism

It may seem like an odd thing to be inspired by, but I have been inspired – perhaps a better word is urged, or compelled – to write about my experiences of sexism in my life, and of them being taken to extremes.

Background

Sexism hates you
Sexism hates you (Photo credit: rrho)

As a child of the later sixties (I remember 1967, although very little about why it and 1968 and 1969 were truly important) and seventies, I well recall the flap about women being called Ms., or about whether it was appropriate for my female schoolteachers to wear slacks. Of course no one kept their maiden names then – what are you, nuts?

When I practiced law in the 1980s, I was repeatedly confused for the court reporter, despite wearing suits and carrying large briefcases. When I got married in 1992 (and hyphenated my surname), I was pulled aside by a male friend who asked me, “Are you sure your fiancé will allow that?”

Story-telling

I first addressed the ultimate price of sexism in a story called There’s Something About Hoshi.  While the execution was not very good (I was very new to Star Trek fan fiction writing then), and a lot of it was played for comedy, the essence of the story was, I think, abundantly clear – if you blame women for all of your problems, you might want to get rid of them all. And if you do, be careful what you wish for. I recently updated the story a bit

The symbolic slash, used to separate the two n...
The symbolic slash, used to separate the two names in a romantic pairing, from which slash fiction takes its name. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(mainly to accommodate some names that will show up in the E2 stories), and was struck by how telling I think it still is. It was also written, at the time, to address complaints I saw about slash fiction, where people (It was, I felt and still feel, thinly veiled homophobia) objected to it on its face, as opposed to reviewing and appreciating it on its merits. It’s one thing to object to characters being changed beyond recognition (or paired in ways that make no sense); it’s another thing to think that no one in the Trek Universe will ever, ever love someone of the same gender.

Of course they will. Hell, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, they already have.

The Daranaeans

The sexism angle for story-telling truly hit its stride with The Cure is Worse Than the Disease. In that story, it becomes clear that Daranaean women have few rights. Even the top caste (Prime Wives) are kept from too much meaningful education, and are appeased with trinkets.

Take Back the Nightamps up the sexism to the extreme, as a third caste female is killed for refusing to take part in sexual relations – a thing that, in The Cure, is illegal for her to do.

After a couple of more family-oriented Daranaean stories, I was ready to tackle sexism in that society again, and presented Debate. What’s the debate about? Whether Prime Wives will be granted the right to vote.

Finally, more Daranaean sexism comes full circle, and the reader can see a bit of why at least some of the women stay – in Flight of the Bluebird. In Bluebird, I also wanted to acknowledge that things are seldom fully one-sided, and that the men might be a part of the society finally reforming itself.

My plans are to eventually begin to cross over into other canon series. Hence the reader can expect to see the TOS Enterprise encountering Daranaeans in some fashion.

There is also the possibility of tackling sexism at some point in some other context, possibly under the guise of time travel.

Upshot

In the tradition of Trek stories begin about contemporary social issues, under the guise of science fiction, I like to comment on any number of societal problems. But it’s sexism that, I think, speaks to me the most.

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Portrait of a Character – An Nguyen

Portrait of a Character – An Nguyen

In order to bring Pamela Hudson on board, she had to have classmates. An Nguyen started off as one such classmate, but then the Daranaeans called and he became a lot more than that.

Origins

An started off as a means of furthering the gender confusion subplot that carries through the first fifth or so of Intolerance. The surname was homage to actor Dominic Keating, as that actor’s fiancée (at the time of the writing the piece; they have since broken up) is named Tam Nguyen. It’s a rather common Vietnamese surname, and is pronounced more or less like “In-win“.

Portrayal

It was important to me for this character to be “played” by someone who actually is Vietnamese.

Portrait of a Character – An Nguyen
Johnny Nguyen

I was pleased to find Johnny Nguyen. He’s acted in films in both Hollywood and Vietnam, and has also worked as a stuntman. I wanted someone with the ethnic look, good looks and also intelligence behind his eyes. He is, after all, a medical student, and is a doctor later.

Education and Career

Portrait of a Character – An Nguyen
English: Vietnamese-American actor Johnny Tri …

An is introduced in Intolerance as a classmate to Will, Blair, Mark, and Pamela. This is an extremely competitive medical school program, so it’s a given that he is wildly intelligent. In The Cure is Worse Than the Disease, it’s revealed that he graduated at the top of his class. His first assignment is as the Chief Medical Officer for Star Trek: Enterprise canon character Erika Hernandez, and he starts off as an idealistic young doctor but is quickly jaded by the treatment of Daranaean women. In Take Back the Night, he is shown even more jaded. His idealism is a victim as much as the Daranaean women are victims.

Relationships

I don’t have much about him except for some half-hearted attempts to court Hoshi during Intolerance.

Mirror Universe

I haven’t decided whether An exists in the mirror. Pamela, Blair and Mark do, so it’s possible that he does as well, but only Mark seems to be an actual doctor, whereas the mirror Pamela is a lab assistant/pinup girl and it’s hard to determine just what Blair does – she might also be some sort of Science crewman.

Quote

“Just because I don’t want to make your teeth rattle does not make me a gay man.”

Upshot

Smarter than just about anyone in the room, An is also a bit brittle. His compassion only really comes out when he’s faced with a Daranaean women’s awful dilemna. He’s a skilled physician, but his bedside manner could use some serious work.

Progress Report – May 2012

May 2012 was a month for experimenting.

May 2012 Posted Works

This month saw several additions on Star Trek Logs as I simultaneously pulled back from posting all but the essentials at Trek BBS. The Trek BBS has, to its credit, a lot of users, so there’s the potential for a greater audience there. But I’m just not getting a lot of comments. Hence it’s discouraging and, frankly, I’ve got better uses for my time right now. For me, it makes more sense to respond to challenges there and attempt to build more of a readership. Then I may go back to posting more of my backlog there. But not right now. I finished spooling out Together and that will be it for my backlog there, as of now.

Star Trek Logs

Postings on Star Trek Logs included Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | May 2012a diverse collection of mostly stories from the In Between Day series although there were a few different items tucked in there. From the In Between Days backlog, I posted Voracious, Harvest, First Born, Apple, A Kind of Blue, Brown and Friday Visit. New In Between Days stories were The Rite, Party on Risa, Penicillin, ProtocolsPacing and Cobbled Together.

An In Between Days offshoot story was a somewhat revamped version of There’s Something About Hoshi, which now dovetails a bit better into my E2 universe. I added a quickie story filling in a missing scene from the Two Days and Two Nights canon episode, called Party on Risa. The Gina Nolan/post-Dominion War universe (Hold Your Dominion) was advanced with Good-Bye.

And I followed up It Had to Be You with That’s Not My Name, which is a prequel to It Had to Be You. I also finished Reversal and began posting Intolerance. Because there have been so many stories posted there, I will finish Intolerance and then hold off for a while so that readers can catch up a bit.

Ad Astra

On Ad Astra, I cross-posted Cobbled Together, Protocols, The Mess and Good-Bye. I posted Harvest (which was cross-posted onto Star Trek Logs, see above). The Facts was also posted, as was the continuation of the Bron-Sophra romance, entitled Truth. In response to the monthly challenge, I posted Equinox, a story that made me a bit nervous but it was well-received so I’m pleased.

I also added And the Livin’ is Easy and First Born in context, and began to spool out You Mixed-Up Siciliano. My response to the monthly challenge (about former enemies working together) is in the Gina Nolan universe and is underway. It’s called Wider than the Sargasso Sea.

More Postings

Furthermore, on Fanfiction.net, I finished spooling out Intolerance and began to post Together. Once Together is finished, I’ll probably fill in some more of my K- and K+-rated backlog before tackling Temper.

In addition, on Trek United, I added Brown as a part of releasing more of my backlog there. Publishing there is more difficult because of the way their posting software is configured. This can create frustration, which is why I rarely post longer material there these days.

On TrekBBS, I decided to respond to their challenge about civilians with Local Flavor. The story is about Doug and Lili’s first day on Lafa II.

In addition, Kirok of L’Stok has a draft of Flight of the Bluebird and is planning to release it on Issuu with the remainder of the current Daranaean stories, except for Hearts in Time.

WIP Corner

My works in progress include the E2 stories. I am close to being finished with the third of four books. Plus there’s various amounts of tweaking that go on in the earlier books, in order to make them work better.

Prep Work

I’ve worked on my website and on cleaning up stories for publication on sites like Trek BBS and Fanfiction.net. However, I am a little worried about Fortune as it contains quotations from the earlier books and some of those may have changed.

I formatted You Mixed-Up Siciliano for HTML. I also created a PG version of Temper.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

The search for work, as is to be expected, continues to cut productivity time. In addition, the blogs were down for a while. Hence I was unable to draft blog entries as far in advance as I like to. I have the time (and inclination to) now, though. Furthermore, my husband and I went to Cape Cod for our 20th wedding anniversary. So we spent time offline, plus there was only one computer between us (my laptop).

Portrait of a Character – Deborah Haddon

Portrait of a Character – Deborah Haddon

Deborah Haddon started off as 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 as needed. Hence Deb was born.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Deborah Haddon
Katee Sackhoff

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

Portrait of a Character – Deborah Haddon
This beautiful manip was done by unusualsuspex –
http://stpma.net/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=844
Please check him out. He does wonderful work. My thanks go out to him.

Deborah spends much of her time standing guard, so her mind wanders. In our universe, this means her thoughts are directed, 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 is longing to be a part of things.

Romance

Portrait of a Character – Deborah Haddon
Katee Sackhoff (dressed up)

Once her wrong-headed pairing in Together is finished, Deb is approached by someone she might not have expected to be interested, Chip Masterson. This relationship continues through to Fortune, where it is revealed that 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, Deb can defeat most opponents with guile or strength or both. Call her Debbie at your peril.

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers

Two universes, two radiation bands. If you need to know who belongs where, you’d better do some testing.

Origins

In Reversal, and then in Temper, the concept of two universes and crosses between them, comes to the fore. There has to be some means of checking a person’s universe of origin.

Radiation Bands

The concept comes from two TNG episodes. In Galaxy’s Child, a spaceborn life form known as “Junior” is threatening the Enterprise and is absorbing its energy.

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers

In order to “sour the milk”, the energy signatures are changed to a different background radiation band. It is revealed that the band for our prime universe is twenty-one centimeters. This comes from a very real concept known as the Hydrogen Line.

In Parallels, Worf steps through several quantum realities (e. g. several universes), but eventually a quantum signature is matched and he can be returned to his correct universe. I have taken the ideas and combined them.

Here, There and Everywhere

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers

If we are a twenty-one centimeter background radiation band universe, then surely there must be a twenty, a twenty-two, and so on. For my fanfiction, the twenty centimeter band universe is the mirror. The twenty-two, as is revealed by Eleanor Daniels in Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain, is a place where, on Earth, the dinosaurs never died out. Hence a mirror-type situation could not develop there.

Heritage

Radiation bands are inherited, and a cross-bred child will split the difference.

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers

Hence the children of Doug and Lili and Doug and Melissa have a twenty and one-half centimeter band, reflecting his twenty and the women’s twenty-one centimeter bands. Per Eleanor, until crossovers became more common, a radiation band of anything below twenty-one was a sure sign that someone was one of Doug’s descendants.

Calafans, who can easily shuttle back and forth, and who have origins that are readily determined by the color of their skin (silver for here, copper for the mirror), are not tested, as there is no need.

Testers

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers
Tabletop wand scanner

Testing is accomplished in a few ways. During Temper, on the mirror side of things, the testers are table-top devices with wands. Eleanor is in possession of one (she is a docent at the Temporal Museum, with a specialty in the Terran Empire) and she demonstrates its use during Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plain. The image shown is actually a bar code scanner. Imagine it plugged into some sort of a tabletop device, possibly something appearing to be a lot like a personal computer or the like.

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers
Pendant scanner

For our side of the pond, the scanner is a pendant worn around the neck, but devoid of any charm or decoration. The pendant is worn and then placed against a person, much like the mirror universe’s wand, so that a determination can be made as to which universe is the origination point for a particular person. The image at right is actually a UV tester. Imagine it attached to a longer cord and worn around the neck, although with the shorter cord it could conceivably be worn around the wrist.

Upshot

While the eventual future of these testers is as a curio, their history is far from pleasant for, during the war between the universes in Temper, anyone with the wrong band, on either side of the pond, is often shot on sight, with no questions asked. This shameful heritage is meant to drive home more of the horror of the Mirror Universe.

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.

Review – Voracious

Review – Voracious

Voracious grew out of a Star Trek fanfiction idea to not only give Lili O’Day a little more backstory and fill in a blank in her life, but also as a response to a prompt about making a good impression.

Needs

Review – Voracious

Chef William Slocum has been charged by Captain Archer to replace three people – a sous-chef, a pastry chef and a saucier. Plus, for his own preferences, Will doesn’t want to be fetching and carrying. He’d rather not be cleaning off tables or serving food. His current steward, Preston Jennings (seen in More, More, More!) had been the replacement for Daniels and has been moved over to Navigation. Furthermore, Will can’t just ask Preston to drop everything and serve food all the time, as the Xindi war has just started.

Impressive

Will has a free evening on Earth and takes a cab to a new fusion place that had received a good review prior to the attack on Earth. Voracious is in San Mateo. The meal begins with Will asking the server what’s good. She recommends two of Lili’s specialties – the Harvest Salad and the Duck Burger. The Harvest Salad is mentioned in both Reversal and Fortune. The Duck Burger gets a shout-out in Together. Will decides to have both, plus a glass of the house Shiraz.

Review – Voracious

He ends up loving the salad and its orange vinaigrette dressing (a reference to the later importance of oranges in Reversal and Fortune) and asks to meet the chef. The server arranges it and Will heads to the kitchen.

A Whirling Dervish

Lili is tasked with not only cooking, chopping and making sauces, but also cleaning up. She barely notices him as he comes in, and has him put a carton of blueberries away (blueberries will become important in the E2 stories). And so already Will is able to check off two of his requirements – saucier and sous-chef, and probably also table-cleaner. When she offers him some of the New York-style cheesecake she’s made that day – and complains about having to also balance the books on top of everything else she’s had to do – he is sold. At the end of the story, all they have to work out are the details.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I like the way it turned out and I think it provides a decent introduction to In Between Days. For a while there, it was the first story in that series because it fully takes place in 2153, as opposed to Paving Stones, which has a flashback to 2109 but mainly takes place later. I also like how Lili, who is a major character in the series, is barely seen. She’s the ghost of later, seen through the eyes of Chef.

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden

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

Origins

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

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

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden
Catherine Bell

Due to the connection to Culp, I opted for actress Catherine Bell.  Bell was also chosen because she has a rather different look from both Lili and Leonora. I also wanted a physical portrayal of someone who would be believable as both a mother and an athlete. This would be someone with almost a fly-boy (fly-girl, I suppose) swagger, too, reflecting the character’s occupation as a pilot. At the same time, the character needed to be feminine but also not too terribly young.

Symbolism

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

Personality

Beyond the day/night, two lovers situation, Melissa is a skilled pilot and devoted to her family. She becomes a mother three times (all boys) and imparts her love of Starfleet to Tommy and her split persona to Neil. Kevin, though, is tragic – she buries him when he is less than a month old. This changes her, making her more pensive in her later years. In her much later years, she develops the canon disease Irumodic Syndrome, which is an analogue to Alzheimer’s. In Fortune, the reader witnesses some of her decline.

Relationships

Catherine Bell as an older Melissa Madden
Catherine Bell as an older Melissa Madden

For Melissa, relationships follow the day and the night. She is a kind of split personality character.

Leonora Digiorno

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

Doug Beckett

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

Andrew Miller

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

Shelby Pike

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

Music

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

Quote

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

Mirror Universe

 

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden
Mirror Melissa

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

Upshot

Kind and sometimes a little silly, the perceptive peacemaker is a part of the glue holding the main characters in the In Between Days series together.

Jespah's Ad Astra Journal Community Site and Star Trek fan fiction site

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