Tag Archives: Malcolm

Review – The Rite

Review – The Rite

A rite can be anything although it’s often religious in nature.

Background

In 2183, Lili, Malcolm and Declan attend Alia Shapiro’s Bat Mitzvah and there’s a little misbehaving going on.

Plot

For a Star Trek fan fiction prompt about misbehaving, I wanted to write about an older yet still frisky Malcolm Reed.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Later Days | The Rite
Later Days

It was also a great occasion to get Declan to meet Rebecca, an event that is foretold in Fortune and holds great significance in the family’s later history.

As the story begins, Malcolm Lili, and Declan are coming in, late, to Alia’s Bat Mitzvah service. They sit in the back and everyone is utterly lost.

Unable to follow what is going on, they whisper amongst themselves. But mostly this consists of Malcolm whispering to Lili about how he would prefer that she leave the service with him. In the meantime, poor Declan is embarrassed at his parents behaving this way. All along, a woman sitting in front of them keeps turning around and shushing them.

Eventually, Lili relents and they leave Declan there (he is over eighteen and can entertain himself). Keep in mind that Lili is over seventy in this story. I just adore the idea that they would still be active and would still be interested, and would behave just like newlyweds. But the truth is, they more or less are at this point in the timeline.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I really love this humorous little story. I particularly love the line that I gave to Malcolm, and I can just imagine actor Dominic Keating saying it in that plummy Leicester accent, “I want to go back to the hotel.

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Recurrent Themes – Jane Eyre

Recurrent Themes – Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre figures in a lot of my work.

Background

When I first began writing again, I had fairly recently read Jane Eyre in its entirety for the first time. Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Jane Eyre This triggered the addition of that story, at times, into my Star Trek fan fiction. Lili O’Day and Reversal, in particular, are in some ways a space version of at least parts of that story.

The idea of bringing together two people who are from rather different walks of life or at least professions, and giving them a future (but not giving them an immediate happy ending) was a challenge. For the heroine to not be a great beauty, but to still be independent and insist upon a relationship on her own terms was irresistible. These threads can be seen in any number of places in my work.

Appearances

Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions

In Paving Stones, a young Doug is taken away from his parents and sent to a rough, unpleasant boarding school by a Mr. Brocklehurst.

Reversal

Recurrent Themes – Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre (2006 miniseries) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Lili and Doug first get together, her situation is quite a bit like Jane’s. She’s a low-level crew member and is isolated, and is not very attractive.

As the quietly serving one who cleans up, Lili is supposed to be the sort of below decks person who fades into the background. And she often does. For the ship to send a search party out for her, and to nearly have an interstellar incident with the Calafans when she is abducted, is a big, big deal. This is a person who most of them underestimated, who turns out to be rather important indeed.

Fortune

At Norri‘s deathbed, she gives away her paper books, including Jane Eyre, which is given to Marie Patrice, because Empy is the “strong, independent heroine of her own life.”

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

When clearing out Malcolm‘s quarters, Lili comes across the book and takes it, vowing to read it.

Flight of the Bluebird

Seppa reveals that Lili and Malcolm sent books to the young Daranaean girls, including this one.

Wider Than the Sargasso Sea

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel |  Toby Stephens in Jane Eyre
Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Toby Stephens in Jane Eyre

Several years after the Breen attack, Gabrielle Nolan stars in this play, with Desh, a Breen, playing opposite her as Mr. Rochester.

But can Gabby act opposite a boy whose father fought in a devastating war, as her enemy? And what about the townspeople? The Breen are kept in a separate section, which Gabby’s mother, Gina, dismisses as a ghetto. Is this any way to normalize relations?

Advice From My Universes to Yours

When providing advice to Aurellan Markalis, Lili suggests reading a classic love story like Jane Eyre. Jay comments that he doesn’t read such things.

Upshot

I really loved weaving this story line into my own fiction, with little shout outs that are almost like literary Easter Eggs. Jane Eyre will return.

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Portrait of a Character – Bernardine (Bernie) Keating-Fong

Portrait of a Character – Bernardine (Bernie) Keating-Fong

Origins

During Intolerance, I needed someone who would be a kind of chaperone to Pamela, Blair, Will, Mark, and An.  Her name had to be gender-neutral. Her surname, like a lot of the other names in that story, evokes Dominic Keating’s earlier career. The Fong portion is a nod to another original character of mine, pop star Kurt Fong. I like to think that she is his sister-in-law.

Portrayal

Bernie is played by actress Michelle Yeoh.

Portrait of a Character – Bernardine (Bernie) Keating-Fong
English: Michelle Yeoh at the Toronto International Film Festival 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wanted an older yet attractive Asian actress. She would also be the kind of person who, during the shenanigans at the beginning of Intolerance, Malcolm might consider as a romantic prospect.

Personality

Extremely intelligent and knowledgeable, Phlox refers to her as a specialist in ancient diseases, a statement that she does not dispute. Until it was time to write others’ universes, I did not really have a role for her beyond Intolerance. However, I had occasion to write a crossover work called Bomb(e) and made her the physician on the NX-04 Ariane. In that story, which is played a lot more for laughs, Dr. Keating-Fong ends up treating a patient who may or may not have planted a bomb on board in order to scare off Romulans who have boarded that ship.

Relationships

Bernie has no known relationships in either universe.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Bernardine (Bernie) Keating-Fong
Mirror Bernie

There are no impediments to Bernie existing in the Mirror Universe.

Because medical care is so devalued over there, as are women, I like to think that she would be tougher. She would have to be, particularly as she aged.

 

Quote

“Naurr, listen to me very carefully. You’re the chef on the Ariane. We’re at war with the Romulans. And I hardly think you were making bombs.”

Upshot

Now that I’ve put her on the Ariane, I suppose she can have some other adventures. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even show her with Kurt.

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Recurrent Themes – The Art of War

Recurrent Themes – The Art of War

War books have a place in my work. The Sun-Tzu work seems to be everywhere.

Background

As a bit of background for Jay Hayes and Empress Hoshi, Sun-Tzu’s classic text proved to be the perfect manual for Star Trek fan fiction (not to be confused with Keith R. A. DeCandido‘s great book, The Klingon Art of War).

Appearances

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | The Art of War

This book has been everywhere, or at least it sure seems that way. I particularly like it as warrior shorthand, that the people who are reading it are looking to go into battle. But the battle might just be The Battle of the Sexes.

Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses

This story is loaded with quotations from two separate books, this one and The Prince by Machiavelli. Empress Hoshi’s moves are calculated, everything from killing off Ian and Phlox, to overpowering T’Pol while at her weakest, to turning the loyalties of Emperor Phillip‘s men, including Andrew, José, and Brian. The book is presented as more or less a user’s manual for overthrowing a regime and installing one’s own brand of tyranny.

Advice from My Universes to Yours

In Advice, the book is mentioned briefly in passing when trying to convince a socially awkward person that perhaps they could read romantic fiction in order to understand people better. The book is mentioned and, of course, rejected immediately.

The Three of Us

In The Three of Us, Jay is shown reading and rereading this book, and he’s even reading it when Lili visits him in his quarters for the first time.

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

In Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Jay provides two bequests. The lucky nickel goes to Lili, while this book goes to Malcolm.

In Memory of Kelsey Haber

During In Memory of Kelsey Haber, Malcolm refers to this book, and tells Hoshi that it was a bequest from Jay. Malcolm further notes that he had vowed, at that time, to get to know the people under his command, but he fell down on the job with Kelsey and never did.

Upshot

This little book gets around as much as Jane Eyre! It’ll be back.

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Portrait of a Character – Rebecca Shapiro

Portrait of a Character – Rebecca Shapiro

Origins

Because I had wanted to contradict canon and give Malcolm Reed a family and long-term descendants, Malcolm’s son, Declan, would need a wife or at least a girlfriend or even a baby mama.

Portrait of a Character – Rebecca Shapiro
Actress, Rachel Weisz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Portrayal

Rebecca is played by actress Rachel Weisz. I wanted a Jewish actress for this role, as Rebecca is somewhat traditional and is Karin and Ethan‘s younger daughter. Furthermore, I wanted Declan’s decision to convert to her faith to be believable. I also like this actress; I think she’s smart, and her choices are interesting ones.

Personality

Caring and up for anything, Rebecca is the true companion that Declan has been waiting for his entire life. His first marriage was horrific, as he explains in Faith. Rebecca is the person who heals him. In gratitude, although she never asks him to, he embraces her faith and converts to Judaism.

Relationships

Declan Reed

Rebecca’s only relationship is with Declan, who is about twelve years her senior. They meet at her elder sister, Alia’s, Bat Mitzvah, which is partly shown in The Rite and referred to in Fortune. At that point, he is a young man; it’s before he marries his first wife, Louise Schiller.

After the last death in the preceding generation (Norri), Declan goes to Europe, partly to return to Oxford, where he is an artist in residence. He takes a side trip to Giverny to look at and paint Monet‘s water lilies. While there, he sees Rebecca and they become reacquainted.

Mirror Universe

It’s impossible for Rebecca to exist in the Mirror Universe, as Ethan does not.

Quote

“There is a saying in Judaism, let’s see if I can get it right. It, um, it’s that when Moses brought down the law from Mount Sinai, all of the Jews were there. Even the dead. Even the unborn. Even the completely unknown and unfathomable, like Vulcan converts, and Jews from the Mirror Universe, all stretching, in a chain, through all of time. And you know something? I saw you there.”

Upshot

I really liked the idea of redeeming Declan in the same way that Lili redeems Malcolm, albeit sooner. I particularly enjoyed creating yet another reason why our universe and the Mirror are different – with no Ethan Shapiro on the other side of the pond, there is no Rebecca and, as a result, their deep future descendants don’t exist, including Eleanor and Richard Daniels. Rebecca is the linchpin of all of that.

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Review – The Three of Us

Review – The Three of Us

The Three of Us is one of my best fan fiction efforts.

Background

As the third piece of the E2 series, I wanted to pursue a Star Trek fan fiction story that I had had in mind for quite a while.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Three of Us
The Three of Us

This was an idea about a love triangle/threesome among Lili, Jay, and Malcolm. Of all four stories set during that time period, this one was the most fully realized, and the easiest to write. I had tons of it in my head even before pen went to paper (and then I transcribed it to pixels). I wish all storytelling was like this!

Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Sparrow and the Blue Jay
The Sparrow and the Blue Jay

The story begins with Malcolm providing a little news and ship’s gossip to the still-injured Ethan Shapiro.

Malcolm speaks a little about the remaining single women on board the Enterprise, but he mainly discusses an upcoming baseball game between the MACOs and Starfleet. The action shifts as Lili tries out for the Starfleet team and then Shelby and Andrew talk about why she won’t be playing. The first chapter ends with Judy Kelly Rostov going into labor, the mark of the second child to be born on the generational ship (Valleri Rostov, so-named because Davy Jones of the Monkees had recently died when I was writing that part of the story).

As the book continues, more and more of the single women are snapped up, until only two are left ….

Music

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated M.

Upshot

As stated above, I had a lot of this storyline in my head as I was writing and even beforehand. From the weddings to the aliens to the spirituality to the triumphs and tragedies, the love and the nastiness, this is one of my absolute favorites of my works.

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Portrait of a Character – Mary Reed

Portrait of a Character – Mary Reed

Origins

The character, of course, is canon, and is Malcolm‘s mother.

Portrait of a Character – Mary Reed
Jane Carr as Mary Reed

I give her the maiden name of Dunphy, which comes from a gravestone I saw in Newton, Massachusetts, where a Wilbur Reed (mentioned in Concord) is buried, for real, near a stone that just says Dunphy.

Portrayal

As in canon, Mary is portrayed by actress Jane Carr.

Personality

Reserved and sometimes a little cowed by Stuart, Mary quietly holds her own, but only when she needs to. I wanted to make her a little more than the knitting grandmother I made her in Fortune, so I added a war effort-style job in Gainful and The Tribe, and the need for her to begin caring for Stuart (and sometimes telling him the occasional little white lie) in Saturn Rise. When Malcolm is in serious legal trouble in Shell Shock, she asks if they should call the family lawyer, and tells him to be strong.

Her personality comes out best in Gainful/The Tribe and Saturn Rise, where she gets more lines and a bit of assertiveness about her desire to work outside the home and, later, her desire to accept at least Lili‘s other children and have them call her Nan. It’s a bit unclear as to whether she accepts Melissa‘s sons as her grandsons. That’s an area I might explore in the future.

Relationships

Stuart Reed

Mary’s only known relationship is with Malcolm’s father, Stuart. They have two children; I write their daughter, Madeleine, as being younger than Malcolm although that’s not confirmed in canon.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Mary Reed
Mirror Mary

Mary has to exist in the Mirror Universe, because Malcolm’s counterpart, Ian, does.

I like the idea of her being much more of a career woman, and not the homebody that she seems to be in canon. She’s not necessarily an overly sexed-up Mirror Universe woman, but I do see her as at least attempting to be much more independent.

Quote

“Long ago, when humans were barely even human, the birth of a child was an occasion. The men would leave on a hunt, or some such. … Perhaps there were a few exceptions. And the women, they all gathered ‘round. It was the entire tribe. They came together, in order to celebrate such a grand occasion and welcome the new tribe member.”

Upshot

This character was barely mentioned in canon, although that dovetails rather neatly with the canon situation that Malcolm was in. He quite simply kept out of his own family’s way, and they didn’t pursue him, either. For Malcolm, it was likely a rather lonely existence. I’ve tried to keep Mary like that. A decent mother, but a better grandmother, and kind of not too sure of what to do with Malcolm half the time.

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Portrait of a Character – Kevin Madden-Beckett

Portrait of a Character – Kevin Madden-Beckett

Portrait of a Character – Kevin Madden-Beckett
Children with Cri du Chat Syndrome; image is from the Cri du Chat Support Group of Australia, http://www.criduchat.asn.au/

I wanted for there to be a tragic figure, a child who would not survive a month. This would, in many ways, be a direct statement about Doug and his origins in the Mirror Universe, where he was forced to memorize the Five Signs of Weakness, as shown in Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions. This child, symbolically, would be a complete and utter rejection of that twisted philosophy.

Origins

As I was writing Fortune, I hit upon the idea of a sixth child. Portrait of a Character – Kevin Madden-Beckett I had had Kevin O’Connor in mind for a while, so to have a consanguineous ancestor he was named after was an idea I wanted to explore.  A baby entering the family’s lives at this time is quite the disruption. Had Kevin lived – and even if he did not have genetic issues – it would have still caused a great deal of upheaval. After all, at the time of Kevin’s conception, Neil is nearly fifteen.

Kevin’s tiny, difficult life was not shown until About Nine Months, although he acts as a spirit guide to Tommy in Seven Women.

In Fortune, Doug, Lili, Malcolm, and Norri all see Kevin as a child in the afterworld, and he is always depicted as holding a seedling in his hands.  There is loss, yes, but the seedling is symbolic of growth, and of hope.

Portrayal

There is no actor to portray an infant who dies so young (none of the above images are intended to be of him). There are no relationships, there is no truly known personality, and there is no theme music. There are no quotes.

Mirror Universe

Kevin’s existence in the Mirror is impossible, but he has an analogue, Takeo Masterson Sato, as they both symbolize hidden potential.

Upshot

I wanted very much for the Beckett-MaddenDigiornoO’DayReed family to not be utterly perfect. Cri du chat is a very real issue and in some ways Kevin is a sign to fellow writers to lay off the perfection and wish fulfillment. Kevin’s life is tragic, but he teaches the people around him about love and acceptance and, after his death, he even assists them in the afterworld, comforting and guiding Tommy at his end, and being a signpost for Leonora and a bit of proof to Lili that there really is something there, beyond the end.

Please give generously to Cri du chat charities and support those who are directly affected. The Cri du Chat Support Group of Australia is a great place to start.

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Review – Gainful

Review – Gainful

Gainful comes from a prompt about first jobs.

Background

I wanted to show someone who wasn’t so young entering the workforce for the same time.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Before Days | Gainful
Before Days

I particularly wanted to pay tribute to my maternal grandmother. She had only worked outside of the home for a few years, and that was all during the Second World War, as a part of the war effort.

Yes, my grandmother was a kind of Rosie the Riveter type (she worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard).

Enter Mary Reed.

Plot

Review – Gainful
We Can Do It poster for Westinghouse, closely associated with Rosie the Riveter, although not a depiction of the cultural icon itself. Pictured Geraldine Doyle (1924-2010), at age 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I figured Mary would be as driven to help out during the Earth-Romulan War as my own grandmother had been during World War II.

But Mary seemed to not be as strong as my part-Polish grandmother, so it would be more of an intellectual pursuit. Furthermore, this is the future of Star Trek, and so brute force or assembly lines would not be in the cards.

I recalled a character I had created while writing two pieces for Dispatches from the Romulan War – pop singer Kurt Fong. I hit upon the idea of Fong needing a new person to help open his mail and respond to it, and so I was able to attach Mary and her diplomatic skills to this project. It would be a fun job for her, but also a challenge. She would be reminded, as others wrote to Fong, that Malcolm could be injured or killed at any time, too. Her boss, Ehigha Ejiogu, would be a Nigerian man young enough to be her son. Her coworker, the Tellarite Cympia Triff, would have an impressive beard.

Sharp-eyed readers will recall that Ejiogu and Fong are, in the Mirror Universe, two of Doug‘s kills.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I really like how this one turned out, and was  pleased to write a sequel, The Tribe. As for whether I’ll revisit Mary at work, the question remains up in the air.

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Portrait of a Character – Major Strong Bear Dawson

Portrait of a Character – Major Strong Bear Dawson

Origins

When I first wrote There’s Something About Hoshi, I needed to have a replacement for Major Jay Hayes, as he had died in canon. Enter Dawson, who was originally a WASP. But then I learned that there is a canon  Star Trek TAS character, Dawson Running Bear. Hence Dawson got his name and a bit of his origins.

Portrayal

Strong Bear (Bud) is played by actor David Midthunder.

Portrait of a Character – Major Strong Bear Dawson
David Midthunder as Strong Bear Dawson

As is often the case with ethnic characters, it was very important for me to ‘cast’ an actor who is of that ethnicity.

Dawson is proud and powerful, and Midthunder seems to be both of those things and also supremely confident. This makes for, I feel, a dynamite combination.

Personality

The strong and silent type, Bud is devoted to duty. However, in There’s Something About Hoshi, he is nearly as affected as the other straight men are.  In Shell Shock, he is initially one of the accused, and he and Malcolm meet during the experience. By the time of On the Radio, he is a valued member of the crew and even T’Pol can figuratively let her hair down a bit in front of him. But he’s still pretty far removed. That would be the case for nearly anyone, though, who comes into a work situation much later than the initial stage of building the team.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Major Strong Bear Dawson
David Midthunder as Mirror Universe Strong Bear Dawson

There is no reason for Strong Bear Dawson to not exist in the Mirror Universe. I imagine him as  a person living off the grid and more or less thoroughly embracing his roots.

I do not believe he would be called Bud, either.

Quote

“HQ wanted more experience after the war. They would’ve assigned me earlier but I was getting off assignment with freighter defense and then the Rommie War broke out and they didn’t want to change horses in the middle of the stream. Helluva way for me to meet my new troops, eh?”

Upshot

I like this character well enough, and he is a kind of utility player. I suspect I could place him into other scenarios and he would do fine. I will have to find places for him to shine.

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