Conversations with Heroes was a lot like taking dictation.
As a part of the 2013 ficlet flashdance challenge, we were tasked with creating a posting every day of one week, with at least 1,000 words. I decided to tie the whole shebang together with a documentary filmmaker creating a work about the Xindi War.
It’s just after the war has ended, and independent filmmaker Carlos Castillo has an assignment to cover the Xindi War from the perspective of the people who fought it.
Sharp-eyed readers should spot that Carlos is a prime universe counterpart to one of the men killed by Doug Beckett, as is outlined in Fortune.
The prime universe Carlos comes to the NX-01, but he also tracks down crew members like Lili, who are off the ship (as is established in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere). He interviews the following crew members –
Jonathan Archer – he discusses the turning point for this character, a Star Trek: Enterprise canon act where he forced an Ossarian pirate into an airlock.
Maryam Haroun – Maryam mentions her Muslim faith. Also, she talks about the deaths of fellow crew members and feels that her failure to pray may have had a correlation with that.
Lili O’Day – Lili relives killing She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time, which was originally outlined in Reversal and The Mess.
The prompts to date have been of a more reflective nature. Asking you to pose questions of yourselves. Not an easy thing to do. However, I think this next prompt is a little harder to do. I want you to sell yourself. Sell your story. Sell your character.
This is a little opportunity to give yourself a little love. This is a chance to advertise a story of yours you have a soft great big proud spot for. To talk our arms off about a character or characters of yours that you positively gush over. Perhaps maybe you’ve a story that’s been missed over or a character not quite got by the readership. Well, here’s your opportunity to tell us about them in your words. Don’t worry about it being egotistical (cos I’m telling you to do it – so there’s no vanity of vanities going on). Don’t suggest another person’s story/character to write about (cos that will be a prompt down the line). Just write about a story/series/character of yours you want to shine a light on.
In this canon story line, the NX-01 is shot back in time to 2037, and the ship turns generational. In canon, Hoshi marries and has two children, Toru and Yoshiko. Phlox marries MACO Corporal Amanda Cole and they have nine children. Jonathan weds an Ikaaran woman named Esilia. Tripp and T’Pol wed and have a son, Lorian. Travis marries MACO J. McKenzie (I name her Julie). And Malcolm dies without offspring.
Fairly recently, I wrote a series which encompasses this time period. I wanted to add an extra layer to it all, so there are actually two kick backs in time. One is, in some ways, happier than the other. But they both have their purposes.
Four books in total were written. The first of these is Reflections Down a Corridor. The crew begins to come to grips with the fact that they are never, ever going home again. People, tentatively, begin to explore each other. And the ship starts to commit to surviving in the Delphic Expanse. They obtain two planets, Amity and Paradise, and begin to hunt procul. But watch out for the malostrea! And, in addition to Xindi, the Enterprise also has to deal with a species from my own fiction, the Imvari.
The second book is dedicated more to the many hookups and relationships, both positive and negative, that such a scenario generates. It also contains some rather disturbing scenes. It’s called Entanglements and is the shortest of the four pieces.
The third book, The Three of Us, continues the first kick back in time, as the uneven ratio between men and women begins to be better resolved. The Ikaarans are brought onto the ship, and I have expanded their culture and physiology beyond the scraps that were shown in canon. While there is one main triad that is the three people of the title, there are other groups of three that the reader should be looking for. And this is also where Lili’s dreaming starts to get interesting, and her subconscious fears are allayed by dreams of the not yet born Doug Beckett. Even more disturbing scenes pepper this story, and a reference in Multiverse II will be made a bit clearer here.
The fourth and final book, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, brings the first kick back in time to 2154, as the second kick back occurs, and then slips in more final pieces of the puzzle as the second kick back (as in canon) meets the people of the prime timeline. And, after Jay’s canon death, his will is read, and bequests are given. Because the beginning of Everybody Knows is quite rough on the characters, Lili is again comforted subconsciously. But this time her comforter is Malcolm’s counterpart, the as-yet unborn Ian Reed, a character seen in the story Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses. As in The Three of Us, disturbing sequences are placed within the story line, and readers of Multiverse II will recognize one character.
Why I’m Touting It
It’s not just because it’s a labor of love, dense with characters and plot. I also like the message of it, the overall arcs, too. Depression gallops among the crew. People do bad things. And they also do very good ones, and I like to think that the characters are believable. The below decks world is visited over and over again, and not just from Lili’s perspective. Time passes, and when you’re not exploring, that time is sometimes passed in odd ways. People say things about each other (or write them in log entries) that are cruel, or are kind, or are incomprehensible. Behavior is not always justified or understood. And that’s what real life is like.
I have seen other fan fiction about this time period, and it is often extremely ‘shippy. I will admit that Entanglements in particular is pretty darned relationship-centric. But in some ways it has to be. Time is ticking and people have got to get their ducks lined up. And they do so in strange ways, some of which are more romantic than others. And they sometimes have Buyer’s Remorse as well.
I also wanted to give it some action that occurs outside of bedrooms. A few battles are fought, and some nasty crimes are committed, which have consequences and aftershocks. Not everyone comes off well. Sometimes silly things happen, too. Through it all, the message, that real love is forever, and it crosses every plane we can think of, and a lot that we haven’t, is presented, hopefully loud and clear but not too heavy-handedly.
A great deal of work was put into working out the plotting and giving the characters their due. It’s a bit of a cast of thousands or at least dozens, and personalities don’t always shine through as well as maybe they should. But I like to think that most of the characters are knowable, even if they aren’t sympathetic.
There is a time commitment in reading this series, to be sure. But I hope that the reader feels rewarded at the end. And I hope that others will take a chance on it.
I wanted to follow up on The Light, and continue to follow the original characters who had been introduced in that work. Hence, Waiting was born. It was also a response to a prompt of the same name.
At the end of The Light, Ethan Shapiro has just seen his friend, Andrew Miller, get the girl – Karin Bernstein. By all accounts, Ethan approves of the match and, certainly, has taken no steps to prevent it and has raised no objections. But all is not as it seems.
In addition, their friend Azar Hamidi has watched the exchange, a kind of little dance among the participants.
Together with Shelby Pike, they wait on the chow line as Lili O’Day serves dinner. Shelby notices Andy and Karin acting strange and, perhaps, overly anxiously. She sits down with Hoshi Sato and Maryam Haroun. Shelby comments knowingly that it’s likely Karin and Andrew’s third date. Hoshi agrees. Maryam doesn’t know what that means, so one of her friends whispers to her. Maryam, a little shocked, mentions that she won’t do that until she’s married. That is, this is going to be the date where Andrew and Karin go all the way.
When they have departed, Azar and Ethan commiserate. Azar notices that Ethan is bothered by this, but vows to keep the secret, so long as Ethan keeps his (Azar’s) own secret about harboring a bit of a crush on Maryam. For Azar, it would not be proper to go on dates until he was introduced to her family.
As Shiite Muslims, Azar Hamidi and Maryam Haroun are of one sect. Another Muslim character, Ramih Azar, is Sunni (he is not in this story). But Maryam and Azar are the more religious two of the three Muslim crew members. The question of which sect is more observant is a complicated one, and I don’t pretend to answer it. All I go with is that Maryam has lived in a Western city (Winnipeg) whereas Azar is from Iran. Ramih, on the other hand, is Indonesian. I settle the matter by making it so that Maryam wears a hijab and is very strict about who to marry and how far to go before marriage. In the E2 stories, it’s revealed that she was only kissed twice before marriage, whereas Azar has had some sexual relationships. But for Azar during Waiting, all he wants to do is get closer. He may be thinking of other things, but is not prepared to push them at that moment in time.
As for Ethan, he is finding that he is very interested in Karin and, having allowed Andrew to get there first, he’s kicking himself. He’ll have to wait for everything to play out over time.
I think the story came out pretty well. I didn’t want to make it too clichéd in terms of who retains their virginity, who is shocked, who is aggressive, etc. However, I also wanted to handle the diverse religious elements respectfully.