Tag Archives: Emergence

Review – Education

Review – Education

Education is the cornerstone of our lives. It was a sweet little piece to write. I enjoyed giving a little unexpected learning to someone who might not have necessarily gotten much if her life had gone the usual way. But life did not turn out that way, and so things were improved. Inta‘s dream starts to come true, but with a slight complication.

Background

For a prompt of the same name, I decided to revisit the Daranaeans. More specifically, I wanted to go back to Inta and to write a direct sequel to Confidence. In that story, she starts at Oxford. But what happens next? Surely something is going to happen to our favorite sentient marsupial canid artist.

Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Baby Inta | Education
Baby Inta, one of the Daranaeans (secondary female)

So on September 10, 2182, Inta’s Oxford education offers many new experiences.

With that as my idea, I decided to provide Inta with quite the memorable experience – she would have to sketch a nude man. For a girl who has led a rather sheltered life, and must, under the rules of her society, remain impeccably virginal until marriage (when she is bought and sold), the circumstances would be strange, exciting, educational, and maybe a little frightening.

I made sure to give her a far more eager classmate, too, who would speak up for Inta’s cultural sensitivities. However, that girl would also be a lot more interested in sketching ‘it’.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

In order to believably bring this visual artist to the fore, she needed to do a few things outside of her comfort zone. This absolutely was, but in the process, she makes a few new friends.

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Portrait of a Character – Mistra

Portrait of a Character – Mistra

Mistra works as a braver character than Libba, although there are similarities between the two secondary female Daranaean characters.

Origins

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Mistra
Mistra, one of the Daranaeans (secondary female)

After writing The Cure is Worse Than the Disease, I got a lot of requests to follow the story and see what else would happen to Daranaean women.

Hence the idea of a protest was irresistible, but the protesters needed something to, well, protest.

Enter the innocent, Mistra.

Portrayal

I generally don’t have anyone ‘playing’ Daranaean characters. Mistra is no exception. But if anyone has any ideas, feel free to put them into the comments section. These images are, of course, of German Shepherd dogs.

Personality

Meek and mild, like most Daranaean secondary wives, Mistra isn’t one for leading like Dratha. But she isn’t completely helpless, like Cama. Instead, she’s in the middle, the filling in the sandwich. And like most secondaries, her job is not only homeschooling the very young sons and most of the daughters (but not the third caste daughters, who are often kept illiterate), but also with the reproductive heavy lifting. It is a difficult and tiring life at best.

When she’s accused of murder, there’s all she can do to keep it together. Confused and frightened, she’s about ready to resign herself to an unfair, unjust, and cruel fate, when others step in.

Relationships

Mistra’s only known relationship is with her husband, Arnis.

Mirror Universe

I have never written Mirror Universe Daranaeans, but the idea is an interesting one.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | MU Mistra | German Shepherd Dog
MU Mistra (image of a German Shepherd Dog is for educational purposes only)

Would the women be in charge there? All I have on them is Empress Hoshi complaining that their planet always smells like wet dog, plus it’s the scene of the faking of Richard Daniels‘s death. Maybe something else could come out of that. I’m not sure.

Maybe Mistra’s intelligence would be celebrated. Maybe she’d even have some confidence.

Quote

“Arnis! Please! I am, am, I am innocent!”

Upshot

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Portrait of a Character – Vidam

Portrait of a Character – Vidam

Vidam rises to greatness in my fan fiction.

Origins

During the Star Trek fan fiction story Take Back the Night, I wanted for there to be a believable witness who would be able to refute Arnis’s accusations against Mistra. But this person would have to be a little afraid of Arnis although ultimately they would do the right thing. Yet given the sexist nature of Daranaean society, this person would have to be male. In order to put him into the right position, I made him the Prime Wife, Dratha‘s, eldest son. Enter Vidam.

Portrayal

As with nearly all Daranaeans, I do not have anyone in mind to play Vidam.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Vidam
Adult Vidam, one of the Daranaens and son of Prime Wife Dratha

This is an altered image of a Golden Retriever. As always, readers are encouraged to use their imaginations when thinking about the look and sound of most Daranaeans.

I actually envision him as being more fox-like in appearance, so the snout would be thinner and more pointed.

Personality

The name is Hungarian for “cheerful”, but Vidam is usually far from cheerful. Instead, much like the Calafan, Treve, he is an elder son with a great weight of responsibility on his shoulders. At the end of Take Back the Night, with Arnis taken away in the futuristic equivalent of handcuffs, the teenaged Vidam is suddenly responsible  for his family.  He insists that Dratha in particular help him, but it is he who makes the decision to allow Seppa to learn to read and write.

When he gets older, he becomes a politician, and is the standard bearer for the liberals in the Daranaean government, in his role as a Beta councilor.

Relationships

Like all wealthy Daranaean men, Vidam takes three wives, one from each caste.

Ethara

Unlike other Prime Wives, Ethara is more of an equal partner to Vidam. Like many human political spouses, she attends functions with him and is otherwise a part of a charm offensive.

Morza

The jokester secondary, as is seen in Temptation, is one of the daughters of the war hero (and eventual Alpha), Acreon. Morza is also a close friend to Vidam’s half-sister, Cria.

Kela

The least known of Vidam’s wives, Kela is a member of the third caste (and is named for one of my great-grandmothers, actually).

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Vidam
Mirror Vidam

The Daranaeans exist in the Mirror (Empress Hoshi refers to their planet as “always smelling like wet dog”).

I see them as more like wolves than dogs, and being rather vicious indeed. I doubt that Vidam would be so cultured and congenial in the Mirror Universe.

Quote

“Thylacine Paramyxovirus has devastated our population, yet we devastate it even more with compulsory euthanasia. Doctors, I know, are working around the clock to try to cure that horrible malady. My brother, the doctor, Trinning – he says that they are close to a true breakthrough. What will we do when they have finally cured it? Will we, then, decide to make a law to euthanize our secondaries? Where does it end? I say it ends now. It ends here! Third caste females who are menopausal can do all manner of things. They can still cook and keep house. They can still care for children. {and} They could, I dare say, do more if we gave them the opportunity. A vote for, for me, that is a vote against the euthanasia law. I say we end it now!”

Upshot

It was very important to me for the Daranaean men to not necessarily be bad guys. At least not all the time. Vidam is one of the first  male Daranaean heroes that I wrote. I will bring him back at some point.

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Review – Confidence

Review – Confidence

Confidence is not a trait I normally link to Daranaean females.

Background

As a means of bringing some positivity to the Emergence series, I added this Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction about a Daranaean, the younger Inta, as she realizes her dreams of studying art at the collegiate level.

Plot

For Inta, prior to the events in Take Back the Night, her future isn’t looking too terribly rosy. And this is obvious even though baby Inta is just a pouchling.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Baby Inta | Confidence
Baby Inta, one of the Daranaeans (secondary female)

Her mother, Mistra, is one of the Alpha of Daranaea’s (Arnis) three wives. However, Arnis is cruel, and is abusing the secondary wife (Mistra) and the third caste wife, who is also has the name Inta.

When the elder Inta is killed, the younger Inta – who was originally going to be named Bayla – experiences a profound life change. And so does everyone else in the family. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of the elder Inta’s life and that of her (the elder Inta’s) unborn male child. But for the rest of the family, with one glaring exception, life improves.

As the younger Inta grows up, it becomes clear that she is (a) headstrong and against the idea of marriage and (b) artistically talented. I haven’t decided whether she is a lesbian. She might be. Gay Daranaeans would be in the closet by definition, as that society is utterly committed to marriage and reproduction.

Review – Confidence

But it doesn’t really matter for the purposes of our story.

In Confidence, Inta realizes her dreams and begins school at Oxford. And on her first day, she surreptitiously sketches her classmate, Declan Reed. She sends the sketch to Malcolm, as it is his birthday, and the families have remained close for years.

Some reviewers have said that Inta is showing, with the drawing, that she has a  crush on Declan. I’m not so sure.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I like this relatively simple story. The younger Inta is a favorite character, but she’s only a small child in Temptation. In Hearts in Time, the ending is a bit bittersweet. Here, she gets a far happier ending, although the possibility exists that she will never find love.


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Recurrent Themes – Politicians

Recurrent Themes – Politicians

Politicians seem to be everywhere.

Background

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Politicians

Star Trek canon is loaded with politicians and political leaders. Here are the ones that I’ve gone to the most in my fanfiction.

I decided to not include monarchs in this group. Instead, these people have been elected to office.

Currently, they are all male, although that was not my intention, to only have elected male rulers. A lot of this skew is due to the fact that most of the politicians showcased herein are Daranaeans.

Appearances

Acreon

The war hero of Daranaea is in power at the start of Flight of the Bluebird.

Jonathan Archer

Johnatan Archer

In canon, Jonathan is eventually elected to the presidency of the United Federation of Planets. I have not shown that, but I have shown him as a representative in Flight of the Bluebird, and as a retired former president in both Bread and A Hazy Shade.

Arnis

Arnis, the Alpha of Daranaea, is disgraced and sent to prison for murder at the end of Take Back the Night, proving that even he is not above the law.

Boestus

One of the pieces of the plot of Flight of the Bluebird is the elections for Alpha, as Acreon is retiring. Boestus is the conservatives’ standard bearer.

Chawev

At the end of Reversal, Chawev is hauled off to jail (I seem to incarcerate my leaders a lot), for the crime of poisoning Yipran with potassium.

Elemis

This Beta Council representative is elected in a special election after Arnis is disgraced at the end of Take Back the Night.

Todd Stratton

Boris Yarin‘s brother-in-law is an official, high up in the deep future government. He is the only politician I have written, so far, for the HG Wells series.

Ubvelwev

In Voice of the Common Man, on Election Day, Lili votes for him to become the First Minister of the Lafa System, whereas Doug remains undecided by the end of the day.

Vidam

In the elections for Alpha in Flight of the Bluebird, Vidam represents the liberals on Daranaea, and is known to the electorate as the man who, during Debate, first brought to a vote the issue of granting the vote to Prime Wives (he lost, by an overwhelming amount).

Upshot

I need to write some female (and nongendered) politicians and political leaders, I think!


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Portrait of a Character – Dratha

Portrait of a Character – Dratha

Dratha is a force of nature.

Origins

As Take Back the Night unfolded, I wanted a character who would be an assertive woman.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Dratha
Dratha, one of the Daranaeans (legendary Prime Wife)

So many of the Daranaean women I had been writing were utterly passive, accepting of their fates and not questioning. But Dratha wasn’t going to be like that at all.

She would be glamorous and sassy, the Daranaean version of a legendary beauty.

Portrayal

As with all Daranaean characters, there is no actress chosen to play Dratha.

Portrait of a Character – Dratha

Instead, I suggest her as looking quite a bit like a greyhound, although I do see her as darker than this image. But she is regal and beautiful, a model of sleek perfection.

Personality

Tough and assertive, Dratha is the most expensive Daranaean woman – ever – at the time of her life. When she’s questioned under oath, she’s asked what her price was. After evading the question, and insisting on revealing her name before her purchase price, she finally reveals the shockingly high figure. Arnis, the Alpha of Daranaea, clearly desires her, as do all Daranaean men.

But she’s also kind. In Some Assembly Required, she comforts and cares for Seppa, even though the little girl is not her own. By the time of Flight of the Bluebird, she’s elderly and is slowing down.

Relationships

Arnis

The Alpha of Daranaea, like all of the men of their world, has the hots for Dratha. But she’s a Prime Wife, so she can (and often does) refuse relations. They have at least one son together, Vidam, so she has fulfilled her marital obligations to him. After the arrest of Arnis, it is unclear whether Dratha takes up with anyone else, but she probably doesn’t. She may be a trendsetter, but she’s not a revolutionary, like Mistra quietly is.

Mirror Universe

The existence of Daranaeans in the mirror seems a certainty.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Dratha, the Daranaean Diva
Dratha, the Daranaean Diva

Such a beautiful female would still be quite the object of desire but, like a human woman, she might suffer even more oppression. I see her as vainer, as someone who enjoys her luxuries because she’s got nothing else. In the mirror, even more so than in our universe, I see the Daranaean women as being without rights, almost stateless.

Quote

“You couldn’t afford me, anyway. I was purchased for four thousand, eight hundred and twenty-three Stonds.”

Upshot

This tough old gal has a lot of life left in her. She’ll be back.

Review – The Cure is Worse Than the Disease

Review – The Cure is Worse Than the Disease

The Cure is Worse Than the Disease was the kick off for a series.

Background

In response to a prompt about diseases and their cures, the title, as a phrase, lodged itself into my head and would not get out.

Review – The Cure is Worse Than the Disease

At the same time, I read an article about the marsupial wolf (this extinct creature was also called the Tasmanian tiger). A scrap of paper held the tiniest of plot bunnies – smart kangaroos.

Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Cria | The Cure is Worse Than the Disease
Cria, a tween secondary female Daranaean

At the conclusion of Intolerance, Pamela Hudson is poised to leave the Nereid Medical Academy. Will Owen is distraught and is about to be kicked out, but Blair Claymore, Mark Stone, and An Nguyen are still going to be there. What happens to those newly minted doctors once they graduate?

I decided that An would graduate at the top of his class. And he would get a job with Erika Hernandez and become the Chief Medical Officer on her canon ship, the USS Columbia (the NX-02).

While on a routine voyage, they come across a pleasure craft which is emanating a distress call, a medical emergency. When they answer it, they come upon a most curious species, the Daranaeans.

It seems that there’s already a physician on board, Doctor Rechal. So, why isn’t he treating the sick individual? Because she’s a second-caste female, and he doesn’t treat their kind. As An, Erika and the remainder of the Columbia‘s crew learn, there is institutional sexism in this species. Everyone seems to be in on it. The men look down on the women. The Prime Wife looks down at the secondary. The secondary looks down on the third-caste female. And the women are kept barefoot and pregnant.

Doctor Nguyen loses a lot of his innocence then, as he learns that even a species that could be an ally can have some rather nasty personal practices.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K+.

Upshot

The story was so well-received that fellow authors demanded a sequel. I wrote a few, and created a series for the Daranaeans, called Emergence. And it all sprang from this one story.

Review – Some Assembly Required

Review – Some Assembly Required

Aw, Some Assembly Required is cute.

Background

There had been enough somber stories in the Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction Daranaean arc, so I wanted something a lot more lighthearted. After having written Temptation, I then added the Christmas story, Some Assembly Required, which takes place not too long afterwards.

Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Some Assembly Required
Some Assembly Required

It’s the holidays, and the Enterprise is exchanging gifts with the most prominent Daranaean family. For the little alien children, it’s three boxes of toys. Little Seppa, in particular, is excited to not only play with the new toys (particularly with her half-sister, Minna, who is nearly the same age as her), but also to thank Captain Archer and Commander Reed. Reed has selected the toys.

But things are off, and Seppa begins to cry. Why? The toys all seem to be broken. So she is afraid that the adults will get angry with her, and will blame her for that. As a third caste Daranaean female, whose mother is dead and father is in the prison, she knows she has very little status. Even at age four, she realizes that her comfortable existence is because of people who could just as easily throw her out on the streets. She knows how lucky she truly is.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Daranaean Writing | Some Assembly Required
Daranaean Writing

In the meantime, the Daranaeans have sent a large serving platter, and they all signed their names to it.

And they imparted a new saying, ‘We have a new saying on Daranaea: When human friends come, happiness is sure to follow.’

Although Seppa and the other children play together, and learn together, there is still some separation. The story ends on a wistful note, as Seppa gazes longingly at images of Earth, dreaming of visiting someday.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Starfleet Headquarters | Some Assembly Required
Starfleet Headquarters (the jigsaw puzzle)

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I liked the family feel of this one and, as always, language matters when it comes to the Daranaeans. When Trinning refers to Dratha respectfully, it’s a sign of huge progress. When they comfort and include Seppa, it’s another positive sign. Things are changing.

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Portrait of a Character – Rona Moran

Portrait of a Character – Rona Moran

Origins

The Dispatches from the Romulan War series covered this unseen Star Trek canon war through the eyes of news outlets. It had been going on for a few years and was winding down by the time I had an idea to contribute to it. And so I decided I wanted a gossip columnist with a heart of gold.

Portrayal

Rona Moran (excuse me, Verona Linda Moran Dodd Fisher D’Angelo Sherwood) is played by real-life gossip columnist Cindy Adams.

Personality

Larger than life and overly

Portrait of a Character – Rona Moran
Cindy Adams

dramatic, Rona is every bit the air-kissing celebrity watcher. She’s been married (and divorced) four times, and occasionally digs at her third ex, Maurizio. She has a British background.

She seems as if she’s very shallow. But the truth is, she isn’t.

In Soldiers’ Marriage Project, she reveals that she’s in charge of a charitable trust that provided all the trappings of a group wedding for 1,000 couples where both members were going off to war. The charity provided all sorts of things, including celebrity waitstaff like actress Alyssa McKenna and shortstop Lefty Robinson. Food and hotel rooms were donated, and rings were provided at cost.

As a reporter, Rona concentrates on one couple, as the huge ceremony is otherwise far too overwhelming. And the story she tells about them is sweet, full of hope for their new life together.

Because of her understanding, Jonathan Archer seeks her out during Flight of the Bluebird in order to dispel a rumor, and it’s revealed that Malcolm and Lili talked to her when the Cochrane was launched as they had had to explain their arrangement in a way that would be understood by the free and open press and would not tank Malcolm’s career.

Relationships

She’s got four ex-husbands, but only the third one, Maurizio D’Angelo, is ever mentioned in any detail (the others are, in order, Dodd, Fisher and Sherwood. Dodd and Fisher are two of Elizabeth Taylor‘s real-life husbands, and Sherwood is a shout-out to HG Wells character Crystal Sherwood). In Flight of the Bluebird, Rona is a lot kinder when mentioning him.

Quote

“I want you all to know, darlings, that there is nothing greater in the galaxy than love. The love in this family is self-evident. As for my exes, you all know, darlings; that I have spoken less than kindly of them in the past. But to all of them and, particularly, to my third ex-husband, Maurizio D’Angelo, I want to apologize. At the very least, in the name of the love that we once shared, I do hope that you can forgive me, Maurizio. And for my part, whether or not forgiveness is forthcoming, I swear to you I will not belittle you again.”

Upshot

I have been trying to find a way to give this rather unique character more air time. She’ll be back, darlings!

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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