Leah Benson

Review – Bread

Review – Bread

Bread is yet another story where the title has multiple meanings.


In February and March of 2013, a challenge came from the Trek BBS – write about independence.

And while I suppose I could have written about a planet or a nation or a people gaining their independence, or of a young person striking out on their own, I decided to zig where others might zag. Hence I wrote about elderly people losing theirs.

The concept and its execution were appreciated well enough that I won that month’s challenge.


Following both the prime universe and the Mirror Universe, these are two parallel but not quite parallel stories about Leah Benson and Diana Jones.

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


In the mirror, Leah furtively looks around as she begins a meal. It’s made clear, very quickly (and hearkens back to the same conditions in Reveral and Temper in particular), that MU food is bad. So the fact that there is bread is a minor miracle. Quietly, and to herself, she says the Hebrew blessing over the bread, confirming something Josh Rosen mentions in Temper, that faith abides in the mirror, or at least some form of Judaism does. The way I write the Mirror Universe, the practicing of any faith, and not just Judaism, is done mainly in secret, much like the crypto-Jews and conversos of Spain during the Inquisition.

Prime Universe

In our universe, Leah is the official Starfleet Rabbi. So the story begins with her attending a banquet and weeklong set of official meetings regarding admitting three new worlds to the new United Federation of Planets. These are the Caitian home world, Denobula and the Xyrillian home world. This is the culmination of earlier contacts with Caitians, in A Single Step and The Further Adventures of Porthos – The Stilton Fulfillment. Furthermore, it is a natural progression for that species (in canon, there is no first contact date for Caitians, whereas first contact for Xyrillians occurs during ENT and first contact for Denobulans takes place before ENT’s pilot episode) and the two others.

The idea behind the banquet and set of meetings is not only to welcome the new member worlds but to also demonstrate to other worlds that the Federation is tolerant of differences. Religious and spiritual leaders, including Leah, say a few words about religious tolerance and intolerance on Earth throughout history. In addition, all admit they have been on both the giving and the receiving ends of persecution and bigotry. The Daranaeans, in particular, pay attention.

Back to the MU

Back in the mirror, Leah is looking to leave the ISS Defiant. Izo Sato decides he is going to seduce her. And never mind that’s she’s over seventy and a lesbian, to boot. Josh offers a small measure of protection and he, Shelby and Frank start to hatch a plan to get Leah away. For Frank and Shelby, this is a dress rehearsal for what they hope will be their own endgame. The plan is to fake a shuttle crash, and strand Leah on Andoria.

Back to Our Side of the Pond

In our universe, Leah is married to Diana, but things are not right, and Diana’s memory is failing. It’s an early sign of Irumodic Syndrome, the canon malady suffered by Captain Picard at the end of the running of TNG. Diana’s caregiver is an Andorian, and Diana is beginning to not recognize even her.

Leah makes up her mind; she needs to be at home and become Diana’s primary caregiver. She confides this to Jonathan Archer, and he commiserates, telling her a bit about his father’s own battle with Clarke’s Disease. He offers her a part-time solution, and encourages her to try to be able to work at least a little bit, because otherwise she will lose herself in Diana’s incurable illness.

Review – Bread

As the denizens of the mirror plot and plan, Leah remembers there is one person on Andoria who she knows. And it turns out to be the mirror version of Diana. Leah also remembers her own part in the death of Leonora Digiorno, from Fortune. And so that further connects the two halves of the story.

Will the mirror Leah get out? Will either version of Diana remember? Do faith, love and family abide, no matter what they look like, and no matter what the conditions and odds? Find out by reading the story.

Story Postings


The story is Rated T.


I really love this one, as it continues the Reversal not-quite parallelism and the meditations on aging. I also feel it helps to fulfill the promise of femme-slash. E. g. same-sex relationships (and marriages) exist in the future, of course. However, I feel that writing them just as sex and angst isn’t enough. All relationships, particularly longer-term ones, have chambers that aren’t bedrooms. Leah and Diana are dealing with the very real problem of aging and losing independence, and no longer being who you were. This story, I feel, gets across that idea well, and I love how it turned out.

Posted by jespah in Hall of Mirrors, In Between Days series, Review, 16 comments

Review – The Light

Review – The Light

Light shines throughout the galaxy.

The Elevator Pitch

I have been working in the corporate world, in some capacity or another since 1986. Frankly, it was even before that, as I would temp as a college and Law School student in order to make some summer spending money.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Light

The Light

One of the things I have perfected over the years is what’s called an Elevator Pitch. The gist of an elevator pitch is that you have the time of an elevator ride (e. g. thirty seconds to two minutes, tops) to make your pitch to a prospect employer who you, presumably, meet serendipitously in an elevator.

This means  that you need to strip your resumé and work history down to bare bones. A doctor, for example, can’t go into the details of some operation she performed last year. Instead, she says something like, “I’m an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. The Boston Celtics call on me when their medical staff is stumped.” In a very short amount of time, you get a very good idea of what this woman can do, and how trusted she is in the medical establishment.

For Star Trek fanfiction writing, I think there is a need for what is essentially the equivalent of an elevator pitch. That is, it should be a short piece which accurately gives the reader a taste of your universe, your ideas and what you can do. The Light is one such story.

History of the Story

This Star Trek:Enterprise fanfiction story did not set out to be that way. Instead, I was in the middle of spinning out Reversal (pretty close to the end) when in late 2010 I was asked to provide a story for a project called the Trek Twelve Days of Christmas. The only catch was that the story had to be fairly short – that is, it could not be a full-fledged book like Reversal.

I hit upon an idea. There would be some characters from Reversal, but really only minor ones, and the story would revolve around them. It ended up being just one of the minor characters from that story. And, the kicker, because you can find scads of Star Trek holiday stories about Christmas, this one would, instead, be about Chanukah.


Review – The Light

Position in which a Jewish kohen places his ha…

I am, as they say, a nice Jewish gal. And people like William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, but also Armin Shimerman, connect to Star Trek and are Jewish. Plus there are things like the Vulcan salute, and various space episodes centering around World War II, such as TOS’s Patterns of Force. Judaism is a part of Star Trek. But how to add it in, particularly without being overly preachy?

I hit upon the idea of Jews who are somewhat religious but not so much that they cannot function on a starship. That is, they have to, for example, be able to travel on the Sabbath. This means Orthodox Jews are out of the question. But Conservative Jews (which is my background; this references a sect and not a political affiliation) would work just fine for my purposes.

Chanukah was a natural introduction as a lot of people are familiar with it. The celebration, a festival of lights, also includes foods made with oil, such as potato latkes (pancakes), spinning a top called a dreidel and exchanging presents. The candelabra is called a menorah.


In order to add a little emotional heft to the story, and to explain why Captain Archer and the senior staff would be interested in the Jewish contingent on the ship, the story begins with a death. This link to the past also links us, the people of the present day, to the people on the NX-01.

The Plot

The story begins with an Admiral telling Captain Archer than Crewman Ethan Shapiro‘s great-aunt, Rachel Orenstein, has died. Jonathan wonders why the crewman’s family wouldn’t just tell him and the Admiral says they won’t communicate during the Sabbath. Jonathan presses the matter, still not convinced that he’s the best man for the job when the Admiral tells him to act quickly, as this is a major news story. Why? Because Rachel lived for one hundred and twenty-seven years (which places her birth in 2029). She broke all previous records and, therefore, the press has an interest in her family.

As Jonathan informs Ethan of the death, Ethan asks for leave for the unveiling of the head stone, explaining that the funeral will be too quick for him to ever get back to Earth in time. He also asks to be connected to the Starfleet Rabbi, Leah Benson.


He returns to his quarters and waits for his friends. Lieutenant Reed comes by briefly, in order to offer his condolences as he is Ethan’s boss. The other three Jewish crew members arrive – Josh Rosen, who is in Engineering; Karin Bernstein, who works with Ethan in the Tactical Department; and Andrew Miller, who works in the Biology Lab and is half-Jewish. Andy is perhaps a year older than the others.

When they speak with the Rabbi, they ask how they are ever going to get a minyan together. In order to say Kaddish (the prayer over the dead), ten Jews must be present. Karin’s presence counts (that wasn’t the case when I was a child), but then what? There are only four Jews on the ship. The Rabbi tells them that they can temporarily deputize some non-Jewish friends.

When the time comes for mourning, Captain Archer brings along some friends to help. These include Hoshi who, when asked if she can read Hebrew jokes, “I’ll muddle through”, Malcolm, Phlox, T’Pol and a Security Crewman, Azar Hamidi. Azar notes that Hebrew can’t be too far off from Arabic. They say the prayers.


Barking up the muse tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Dreidel | Chanukah | The Light


Ethan’s mother – who tells him to talk to that nice girl Karin a bit – insists that he celebrate Chanukah. So he invites all of the attendees at the service to a little party  on the next night. The party is in the Observation Lounge. Like all good parties, there’s a little dancing, a gift, good food to eat, and there’s a little bit of romance.

Story Postings

Review – The Light



The story is rated K.


For the most part, I like it. There is a bit of shtick, though, particularly when Ethan and his mother talk. I could have probably trimmed that a bit, as Linda Shapiro comes across as a bit of a stereotype. But I do like using this story – which only contains a little over 3200 words – as one possible elevator pitch when people ask me how they can get an inkling of how I write. For a positive, K-rated peek at my world, read The Light.

And what happens to Ethan, Karin, Andy, Josh and Azar? To find out about them, and even about their Mirror Universe counterparts, there’s more in the In Between Days series, and even a little bit in the Times of the HG Wells series.

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, In Between Days series, Review, 19 comments