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.
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.
The story is rated K.
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).
The character is, of course, Star Trek canon. In canon, Archer is the first captain of a Warp Five star ship, the NX-01 Enterprise. He gets the nod over his friend, A. G. Robinson (they are both test pilots).
He becomes, eventually, a Federation Representative and then President of the Federation. He also becomes an Admiral. Some of the order of these events is a bit unclear. And that’s canon.
Affable, intelligent and eager to get out there, Archer is in for a surprise when he meets any number of new species who are less than happy about meeting him, eating meat, smelling his dog, shaking his hand, eating in front of him, letting him walk on their grass or do any number of what we would consider to be easy and nonconfrontational acts. It’s not easy being first.
By the time of the Xindi War, Jonathan is obsessed with finding the Xindi ultimate weapon. He is as tense as anyone was in the United States a few months after 9/11. He’s been charged with a serious mission, and needs to see it through. And that means torture, piracy and other ruthless tactics. It’s not easy to lose one’s innocence, either.
When the serious concludes, he has been through a great deal, including the death of a close friend. Space has changed him but, ultimately, he has grown as a person.
As I write him, I add a second ship assignment, the USS Zefram Cochrane (DC-1500), in Fortune. The Cochrane is better-equipped than the Enterprise and can hold more people. It has more advanced weaponry but it isn’t any faster. Because Tripp is gone, and T’Pol has returned to Vulcan, Jonathan selects Malcolm to be his First Officer. Malcolm is on paternity leave when Archer asks him to come along. Therefore, Hoshi fills in temporarily. Travis continues as pilot. Phlox has also departed, returning to his home world. Hence the role of Chief Medical Officer is filled by Blair Claymore. The Science Officer position goes to Ensign Lucy Stone.
In Equinox, Malcolm reveals that Jonathan is elected as a Representative and the Cochrane instead falls to Malcolm. Jonathan’s tenure as a Representative is also shown in Flight of the Bluebird, and his later career and years are in Bread and A Hazy Shade. Being an eligible bachelor means the tabloid press is also very interested.
During the events of Together, Jonathan is paired up with Security Crewman Deb Haddon. The relationship is unequal, as he ranks so much higher than she does. Complicating matters is the fact that she has a crush on him.
Her crush is also revealed during the alternative timeline story, The Black Widow.
By the time of Fortune, he realizes that he misses, if not her (she is already married to Chip Masterson by that time), then he at least misses the idea of having someone in his life.
In Fortune, they meet. They initially cannot get married because she is wed to another. But that doesn’t stop a relationship from developing, for Miva has as open a marriage as all Calafans do. For Jonathan, though, things are more complicated and difficult. He feels he can be with her during dreams, but not in reality until she becomes available. They are still unwed as of the events depicted in Flight of the Bluebird. She is eventually widowed, and they wed about a year after that.
Their marriage is a long-term one, shown in A Hazy Shade. I currently have an even later portrait of their marriage on the drawing board. That story is tentatively entitled These Are the Destinations.
A I write the E2 stories, there are actually two kick backs in time. In the first one, Jonathan takes up with an Ikaaran woman named Ebrona. He loves her very deeply, but her life is cut short, due to a genetic disease that the Ikaarans call the decline. Together, they have a son, Henry. Jonathan’s feelings for Ebrona are depicted in If I Could Do it All Over Again.
While this is a canon E2 relationship, she is never seen, and neither are any full-blooded Ikaarans. Therefore, I have had to conjecture about her looks and their relationship. As with Ebrona, the feelings are very deep. However, by the time he weds Esilia, a treatment is found for the decline. Hence Jonathan is not widowed as early as before. In addition, during the second kick back in time, Jonathan learns that Ebrona kept some things from him. He doesn’t have those issues with Esilia.
Jonathan’s mirror universe counterpart is canon, and his death, at the hands of Hoshi, is also canon. I don’t mess with that. Hence, at the time of Reversal, the mirror universe Archer is long dead, and Doug and Tripp do not have to deal with him. Since he was poisoned by Hoshi, it’s entirely possible that that was via tricoulamine.
As of the writing of this blog post, I do not have many mirror universe Reversal prequels in mind. But that may change, as I may be writing more of a back story for Ian Reed. Hence Jonathan might get some air time.
“Smile just a tiny bit. It’s been a helluva day. I just want to see a little something good.”
Handsome and heroic, Jonathan is a quintessential leader. But he’s also torn and doubtful at times, and is far from perfect. I hope the way I write him dovetails sufficiently with canon.
This story was originally written as a response to a prompt about the seasons. I had already written a story about winter, called A Hazy Shade. That one was somewhat depressing. I wanted something cheerier, so I thought of the summertime, and so And the Livin’ is Easy was born.
There are two women in his sights. They are chatting together, but are not on Risa together on vacation. Rather, it’s more like they met there and got along so they are doing a little quick touring together.
In the canon Star Trek: Enterprise episode, Archer refers to a boat ride where fish are caught and cooked for you right there. Since that boat ride is never seen, I seized the opportunity to show it. He is on a bench and the two women are nearby, chatting. One is a Trill, but not named. This is not meant to be a first contact or canon-busting story at all. The other is a Calafan, recognizable from my Star Trek fanfiction as she has silvery scrollwork on her arms and speaks with an Irish brogue.
Jonathan speaks with them and asks them to show him around, but unfortunately they tell him they are leaving the following 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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. InLocal Flavor andFriday 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).
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 is only a factor in the E2 stories, but the events of Harvest, Penicillin and Demotion foreshadow some of that.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
A lot about Doug Beckett is, truly, Reversal spoilers. Avert your eyes if you haven’t read Reversal and want to maintain the mystery of the first couple of chapters.
For me, Doug was, in part, every guy who’s ever been romantic around me. This includes my husband. But he’s also a typical resident of the Mirror Universe. So that means that there’s violence in his past, and ambitions and twisted behaviors. But I wanted him to be a person who could, eventually and with help, rise above it.
Doug’s name was a particularly serendipitous find. Douglas means dark stranger, and that is precisely what he is. For Lili, who meets him in a pitch-black dream, he is the ultimate stranger. But he’s also what she needs. He shakes up her world.
His surname is changed when he comes to our side of the pond. Much like an immigrant, he wants to leave his old life behind him, and become the man that Lili wants and needs – the man she can see is lurking under the surface. The surname Beckett is a shout out to Quantum Leap.
Doug is also, in many ways, the opposite side of her coin. She’s somewhat distant with people. He is, too, but it’s not because he truly wants to be. It’s more that the Mirror has made him that way (see his origins story, Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions), due to its insistence that weakness be rooted out and punished or excised or, at least, well-hidden.
Because (eek, spoilers!) Doug is Major Jay Hayes‘s Mirror Universe counterpart, he is of course portrayed by Steven Culp. Culp is a consummate actor, perfect for the role. I have read a number of interviews with him, and he has said that he treated Hayes as almost a David Mamet character. That is, he was more action than talk. Notice, too, that in the series, Jay Hayes rarely smiles. Instead, he is all business.
The name Jay is not canon. Culp has said he thought the character was named Jay or Jeremiah. There are also trading cards showing the name as being Joss. I have used all three names, giving Jeremiah as the name of both Doug’s father and his first-born son (nicknamed Joss), with Jay as being the name of the canon character and Doug’s own middle name. Jay worked out perfectly in this way, as it works as both a first and a middle name in a way that Jeremiah would not have.
Much like canon character Jay Hayes, Doug is not much of a talker. In Reversal, he has few ways of complimenting Lili, mainly calling her beautiful rather than use synonyms that he is either uncomfortable with or, perhaps, doesn’t even know. That book has a ton of hesitation speech. Doug is nervous in the mirror, in particular around the Empress, although that’s to be expected. With Lili, he’s also nervous, because he’s a bit tongue-tied. And he wants, desperately, for her to like him. He often doesn’t know what to say, but he always seems to know what to do.
Once they are together in our universe, Doug’s demeanor softens considerably. He tries very hard to please Lili and make their life together as good as it can possibly be. Their early life together is in A Kind of Blue, Friday Visit, Pacing and The Gift.
When his relationship with Lili is tested in Together, Doug has few communications strategies at his disposal. When they argue, he very quickly hits below the belt. This, I feel, makes some sense, as Doug hasn’t really learned to be sensitive to others’ feelings. He knows that he loves her, and he wants for everything to work itself out, but he can’t really see the pathway to that.
Action and Maturity
In Temper, he even refers to himself as “the action guy”. Hence he is the one chosen for the mission by Daniels (also because of his twenty centimeter radiation band), for he will get things done. Malcolm has to stay behind because his place is to step in and lead.
By the time Fortune has come around, Doug has been hiding his past rather effectively. Lili knows some of it. She is well aware that he has committed some monstrous deeds in the Mirror Universe. But she wants to believe that he will never do such things again. She’s in some denial herself, in that she’d rather not hear about things. It isn’t until she pushes and asks about his crimes does Doug finally come clean. Furthermore, for Doug, who is inarticulate at best, having him handle a hostage situation by talking instead of shooting was, to me, a fitting full circle behavior. Life here is, after all, very different from the mirror.
Their later life together is documented in The Facts and his death and its aftermath is shown in Equinox.
Doug Beckett in the Mirror Universe
Since Doug is a counterpart character, his life begins in the Mirror. He is the only child of Jeremiah and Lena Hayes, and lives with them on Ganymede. Because of a late birth date (December third, same as Steven Culp’s), his parents force him into schooling at too young an age. Doug’s education is such that anyone in authority pushes him to become a bully and a fighter.
After his eventual graduation, he goes to Cambodia for basic training, and then to freighter defense and other small assignments, essentially acting as a mercenary. He spends time on Andoria, the Klingon home world and other locales, fighting and working as a soldier, molding himself from an untrained, arrogant lummox until, eventually, a disciplined fighting man.
He gets onto the ISS Enterprise by knifing Geming Sulu. His elevation to Lieutenant Commander, to replace the deceased Mirror Universe Malcolm Reed (called Ian Reed in my fanfiction), is part of Paving Stones. While on the Defiant, he meets Lili.
His times with Lili and Melissa are the most important for him. However, prior to the crossing over, he did have some relationships. His first main girlfriend (if you can call her that) in the Mirror was Darareaksmey Preap. She was a Cambodian bar girl who he plied with gifts and false “I love yous” until he was able to lose his virginity to her.
Another Mirror relationship – if you could say that – was with Christine Chalmers. The name is a shout out to canon character Christine Chapel. Chalmers is a cheap girl who he, at the time, thought was very hot. One of the crimes that Doug commits was to be with her, and his guilt about that consumes him.
Getting More Serious
His first true relationship is with alcoholic schoolteacher Susan Cheshire. Susan is an important person to him, although he insists to Lili that he didn’t love her. But he’s certainly memorable to her – she recognizes him during Temper.
Doug also has an on-again, off-again thing with Shelby Pike who, in the Mirror, is a pilot who used to be a hooker. Once he knew Shelby, he would cheat on other girlfriends with her.
Doug’s final relationship in the Mirror, which ends after he’s known Lili for less than a week, is with Jennifer Crossman. Jenn is a poor choice for a girlfriend, mainly there for her looks rather than any sort of compatibility. While they’re breaking up, she claims that he can’t live alone. Doug refuses to admit it, but she’s right about that.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Another aspect of the story is framing it as a tale told by an elder. The elder is Wesley, who you never otherwise see as an extreme elder. I wanted it to be his perspective and his long-term hindsight that would shape the narrative. Also, as Wesley learns about racism, I wanted him to be teaching his grandchildren the same lessons, that there are some people who don’t get along with others, and sometimes that’s for the most unfair reasons.
Memory is also key to this story, as it is about Wesley’s memories. But 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.
The music was great fun to put together.
The story opens with Duke Ellington’s Take the A Train, which is not only used to set the scene but also to evoke motion, travel and distance. In this case, the traveling is temporal as well as spatial.
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.
But what I am talking about is my own fanfiction. So I’ve got a different take on him.
Tripp/Trip – What?
First off, I spell it as Tripp, with two P’s. Why? I knew a guy who was a third, and he spelled it that way. To me, one P just looks off. And I am well aware that readers may see the two P’s as being off. So be it. I recognize that this is me being quirky and stubborn, and certainly breaching canon. That cannot be any more than the people who, let’s see, make Tucker gay, make him bi or make him essentially a superhero. Not to mention the folks who insist that he didn’t die in These Are the Voyages.
The writers did a lot to Tripp throughout the course of the show’s four seasons. He got pregnant, he had a relationship with First Officer T’Pol (a Vulcan), he was cloned, he rescued a princess, he lost his sister in the Xindi attack and he met his end, too. In all honesty, I had seen so much of him on screen that I was a bit sick of him when writing my own fiction. He was a major character on the show, but television shows are of a finite size. Therefore, the more screen time for him, the less for other characters.
For me, obliquely referencing him and his exploits often did the trick. In The Reptile Speaks, he’s mentioned in a teenager’s film about sex, as an example of unconventional relations. For the two teenagers talking about him, he’s a source of some amusement.
In Razor, he’s barely referenced, although his identity should be clear to the reader.
A Regular Guy
For me, one of the fun things about writing him is playing on his being, essentially, a regular Joe. In Letters from Home, a riff on the mail distribution scene in the film Stalag 17, he gets a lot of correspondence, but it’s not necessarily of the welcome kind.
Well, maybe not always heroically romantic. In Intolerance, he eagerly participates in the competition to woo the female medical students, and comments quite a bit on the woman he’s originally assigned to, Pamela Hudson.
In Together, he’s paired with Hoshi who, in the end, realizes that she doesn’t feel about him the way he feels about her.
As of this writing, I am working on a set of E2 stories, and his relationship with T’Pol is covered, including the cultural differences between them. For example, what Tripp sees as a symbol of commitment, T’Pol sees as a religious article – and not of her faith.
A Working Stiff
In Reversal, it is he who does most of the heavy calculations necessary, and he ends up risking his life in order to perform a rescue.
In Temper, he gives his all in service to the Federation, in what feels very much like a lost cause.
Not every character has a theme, but Tripp does, in Together. The song is Matthew Sweet’s Sick of Myself. I particularly wanted this song for the line, “When I look at you, something is beautiful and true.” That story also has couples’ songs. His (with his partner) is Joe Jackson’s Kinda Kute. I wanted that one for its opening lyric, “You make a guy feel humble.”
At the end of the second canon MU ENT episode, Tripp is about the only one of the main characters who is likely to survive to see another day. Severely scarred, bitter and angry, he epitomizes the skewed life led there.
I have written the MU Tripp as being just as angry, but it’s later, so he’s sicker, and realizes he’s dying. He becomes gentler than he normally would be, and seeks solace with an old girlfriend, Beth Cutler, who accepts him for who he is. In Reversal, the MU Tripp has a lot at stake, and plays off people against each other in an effort to save himself. It is, ultimately, his wish to save others that redeems him, in a way.
In Temper, the MU Tripp again shows a small degree of selflessness, and by doing so he helps to undo the lost cause which threatens the Prime Universe. As I write the MU, everyone is keenly aware of what they owe others, and Tripp is no exception. Since he owes Doug something, he recognizes the debt, and repays it.
In Fortune, the MU Tripp has come full circle but is still a bit wary about strangers. A dynasty is foretold, which shows a major divergence between his fate and that of the Prime Universe Tripp.
In the Prime Universe, his death is canon, so I don’t mess with that. He is mourned and remembered, and there’s even a charitable foundation named for him, mentioned in Fortune.
“But we’re here to explore and to, to take risks. And I don’t think this is a foolish one.”
I enjoy the character but, as I’ve mentioned, I think he was overused, often to the detriment of other characters. But he’s more than just engineering, an accent and a romance. In many ways, his observations are our observations, as an audience and, I hope, as readers.
In my Star Trek fanfiction, Tricoulamine started off as a kind of garden-variety nerve toxin. It’s, in some ways, what a criminal would get as a lethal injection. Or it’s like the cyanide pills that you see in spy movies.
As I progressed with writing fan fiction, I found it was useful for a few other purposes. First of all, it comes in several forms. For humans, it’s either in tablet or injectable form. For Klingons – and it’s not fatal to them; it just knocks them out – it’s a sand-color gas. For Calafans, it occurs naturally in their environment, and is meant to be akin to a form of cyanide being found in peach pits.
It first shows up in Reversal (injectible form), then in Intolerance (gas), then in Temper (naturally occurring), then in Fortune (tablet), then in Escape and The Point is Probably Moot (both times, it’s a tablet. Escape contains a missing scene from The Point). In Fortune and The Point, it comes out that it is particularly difficult to get if you’re not a physician. However, since it occurs naturally in the environment of the Lafa System, if humans settle there, then there is the potential for people to get it without a prescription.
The name is, in part, reflects the poison grain from The Trouble With Tribbles episode for TOS, quadrotriticale.
For Klingons, it just knocks them out, and is not harmful. It’s unclear how long the unconscious state lasts. In Intolerance, the Klingons are out for a few days or so,. However, they are already in a weakened state. So it’s unclear.
For humans, it hits your digestive tract or bloodstream and you’re a goner. Fortunately, it’s fast enough that there is little to no pain. In Temper, a human victim of tricoulamine poisoning appeared to be sleeping.
It is unknown how it affects other species, and since it occurs naturally in their environment, it’s possible that it doesn’t affect Calafans at all.
You can pronounce it as either tri-coo-la-meen or tri-coh-la-meen.