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Review – Saturn Rise

Review – Saturn Rise

Saturn Rise – this was, I feel, a necessary story to write.

Saturn Rise Background

"Barking

For my own Star Trek fanfiction prompt about forgiveness, I went with a story about Malcolm, Lili, Joss, Marie Patrice, Declan, and Malcolm’s parents. This one dovetailed with a far more serious story about Pamela, Treve, and her family. It is all about offenses, hurts, slights, and pain. Some is fairly small. Some of it is devastating.

Plot

Two stories run through the piece.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Saturn System
Saturn System

In the first, Pamela and Treve are getting serious, and she agrees to see her sister, Lisa, who she hasn’t seen in years. She takes Treve along, in order to introduce him. It’s a major commitment for her. She wants it to be right.

In the second, Lili and Malcolm are going to see his parents. She will meet them for the first time, and they will see Declan, too, for the first time.

Undercurrents

Both scenarios sound promising. But there’s more going on there. Lisa, thinking it will be a pleasant surprise, brings her family along, and her and Pamela’s mother. Lisa is innocent and thinks it’ll be fun. What she learns is that their family was rather different from what she believed. And that Pamela, as a child, suffered abuse by their father. With a mother who seemingly didn’t do anything about it, Pamela unleashes her fury on their mother, as their father is long dead.

Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded (1742). Mr B reads...
Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded (1742). Mr B reads…

On Malcolm and Lili’s side of things, Stuart and Mary Reed express their concerns that the commitment between Lili and Malcolm is an illusory one, as Lili is married and her relationship with Malcolm is a part of her open marriage with Doug.

In addition, while they love Declan immediately, it takes them longer to warm up to the other two children, who they single out. Even though Mary had already given Marie Patrice a gift of handmade yellow knitted gloves (as was seen in Fortune), the two elder Reeds still hold back. An important part of the piece is Malcolm standing up to his parents, informing them that Joss and Marie Patrice are “our children”, meaning his, Lili’s, Doug’s and, by extension, also Melissa and Norri‘s.

As I often do, I twisted the conclusion a bit. Not everyone is forgiven, and maybe not everyone should be.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

I was happy to showcase more of Pamela and Treve’s relationship, and not in the context of their first sexual encounter. These characters love each other, and I hadn’t really shown that before. As for Lili and Malcolm, their love was already in several stories. However, to be able to extend that to his love for her other children, the chance to do that in story form was irresistible. I think the story turned out well, and particularly like how Malcolm stood up to his parents and Pamela stood up to her mother.

Portrait of a Character – Yipran I

Portrait of a Character – Yipran I

Yipran I now has a fate which differs from my original idea.

Origins

As I wrote Reversal, I needed a character who would, in our universe, be someone who the natives would mimic with Lili. In the Mirror Universe, she would be mimicked by Jennifer. She would be mother to Treve, Yimar, and Chelben. Enter Yipran.

Portrayal

I like Susan Sarandon for Yipran.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Susan Sarandon as Yipran I (image is for educational purposes only)
Susan Sarandon as Yipran I (image is for educational purposes only)

The actress is tough and smart, and is an Oscar winner.

She can play all manner of characters. Hence I feel she would easily be able to show a Yipran who is not yet healed. Yet she would also be one who is, in dreams, the spiritual leader of her people.

Personality

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Susan Sarandon as Yipran I (image is for educational purposes only)
Susan Sarandon as Yipran I (image is for educational purposes only)

Intelligent but damaged, High Priestess Yipran never fully recovers from what Chawev, Baden, and Polloria do to her. Essentially, by poisoning her with an excessive amount of potassium, they have cut off her dreams and eventually she becomes comatose.

In Bribery, Yimar and Treve express the desire to visit her in the main hospital, but are thwarted, as Chawev wants to bring in Polloria as their new stepmother – despite the fact that Yipran is far from dead.

By the time of Friday Visit, Yipran is slowly recovering, but her damage remains. In Fortune, she can speak clearly in dreams, but not during waking life.

Relationships

Chawev

In both universes, Yipran is the victim of her husband. He attempts to do her in, in order to pave the way for the ambitious vixen, Polloria. Treve, their eldest son, reveals in Together that Chawev and Yipran really can’t divorce, as no one wants to believe that the First Minister and the High Priestess would ever not have a perfect marriage.

Mirror Universe

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Susan Sarandon as MU Yipran I (image is for educational purposes)
Susan Sarandon as MU Yipran I (image is for educational purposes)

Just as in the prime universe, Yipran is the High Priestess of the Calafan people. As such, she is their spiritual leader, although her husband is their political leader.

In the mirror, Yipran’s life ends near the end of Reversal, as Polloria and Polloria’s cronies kill her. Hence her daughter, Yimar, succeeds her.

Quote

“Yes, and my time will be up soon anyway. But you will continue on, as planets form and die and break apart and become new things, you will watch. And as lives begin and end, you will bear witness. {And} when the last atom has been blown apart in the remnants of the Big Bang, as the last of the energy converts to dark matter, and the universe hits absolute zero, you will be there. And you will watch it, and go with it, as it turns onto itself, and again renews, in an endless cycle. For when it is all dark matter, and it has all recompressed, as it passes through another septum, one that does not yet exist, and it goes to another place, crossing another pond, there will be another Big Bang. As there have been countless ones before, there will be countless ones after.”

Upshot

Yipran spends a lot of time as a victim. However, that’s one of the main drivers of the plot in Reversal. At some point, I might write more of an origin story for her. Yet right now that is very much on the back burner.

Recurrent Themes – Oranges

Background

I like oranges and they figure fairly prominently in a lot of my Star Trek fan fiction. Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Oranges Much of this was by the accident of the time when I was posting Reversal. The story, and its initial posting dates, both occurred near Halloween.

On the day right after Lili and Doug first make contact, Chef Slocum insists on a day’s menu with every single food item including oranges. There are oranges in every single thing made, from the French toast batter in Captain Archer‘s breakfast with Malcolm, to the main dishes at dinner and everything in between.

Ambersweet oranges, a new cold-resistant orang... And through it all, Lili chops oranges, all day. When night time comes, she reeks of them. When she makes contact with Doug that night, he buries his nose into her shoulder and inhales, and breaks their silence for the very first time, by asking, “Oranges?” Laughing, she just replies with one word: yes.

Appearances

Reversal

As noted above, the appearance of oranges in Reversal sparks a deeper relationship between Lili and Doug.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Orange Sky
Orange Sky

Her rather strong aroma helps to convince him that she’s real, and so he feels confident enough to speak with her, and that breaking the silence won’t also break the spell.

Her chopping of oranges becomes a source of some pain when she cuts her hand with a French knife. This gets her to Sick Bay, where she converses with Phlox about her experiences, and he conducts a physical examination that alerts everyone that what is happening to Lili is very, very real.

Apple and Oranges

Orange peel
Orange peel (Photo credit: AJC1)

In this short story, which occurs the day after the day of all-orange food, Shelby offers Travis an apple.

In the chow line, Tripp Tucker complains about the overabundance of oranges, and asks for fruit that is anything but an orange.

Together

Near the conclusion of Together, Joss

Fortnum & Mason
Fortnum & Mason (Photo credit: hchalkley)

 

receives a gift for his birthday of various kinds of nut butters and jams, including one lone jar of orange marmalade, from Fortnum & Mason.

Temper

On vacation in Fep City at the start of Temper, Malcolm and Lili talk about earlier days, and he hearkens back to that same day during Reversal, when she smelled of oranges.

English: oranges
English: oranges

He equates that to “sunshine and happiness”, and remarks that that was when he first noticed her, and realized that he wanted more out of life than just duty and work.

This is why, when he sends nut butters and jams, he makes sure to include a special gift of orange marmalade from Fortnum & Mason, which is a signal to Lili and is a gift to her, rather than Joss and Marie Patrice or anyone else.

Later in the story, when she finds an empty jar of Fortnum & Mason orange marmalade on Empress Hoshi‘s ship, the Defiant, Lili knows that her house has been ransacked by agents of the Terran Empire.

The Three of Us

Because Reversal is not a part of this timeline (and neither is Doug), the reference is different. This time, it’s a harvesting party on Amity, where an orange tree has died.

Jay asks Shelby if the wood is strong and can support a lot of weight. She suggests an Osage orange tree instead, as the fruit doesn’t taste very good and it was just a fallback, which is no longer needed, as regular oranges are growing just fine. Plus the Osage orange wood is a lot stronger than regular orange wood. He accepts her recommendation, and makes a cane for the permanently injured Ethan Shapiro.

Upshot

Easter Eggs (WIP)

Like a little orange Easter egg, oranges pop up in my fiction from time to time. They even make it into my original fiction.

Have some!

Portrait of a Character – HD (Henry Desmond IV) Avery

Portrait of a Character – HD (Henry Desmond IV) Avery

Origins

Portrait of a Character – HD (Henry Desmond IV) Avery

This character originated in the old time travel series that I wrote several years ago.

However, he was originally a hipster who had missed the 1960s, having attempted suicide in 1960 by jumping off the Coit Tower in San Francisco.

Portrayal

I see HD as being played by Scott Bairstow.

Portrait of a Character – HD (Henry Desmond IV) Avery
Scott Bairstow as HD Avery

This actor has been in a number of productions, and is best known for being the lead in the television series, Lonesome Dove.

He is also a troubled individual in real life.

Personality

Supremely talented musically, HD hides his natural shyness behind bravado. As he explains to Sheilagh, he is fine when singing to a large group, as he knows what to say and does not have to look anyone in the eye and address them directly. But when things get more personal, it’s a lot harder for him.

Portrait of a Character – HD (Henry Desmond IV) Avery
Treble Clef. Hearing Music in Color. Mosaic …

He has an ear for music and can play almost anything, any instrument and any tune, within a single hearing. He also spins music in clubs, as a kind of futuristic DJ. He understands music theory, and music history as well.

He is a sensitive genius, misunderstood by his staunch, straitlaced farmer parents. In particular, they cannot understand why he wants to be called HD. His great-grandfather is Hal; his grandfather is Harry; and his father is Hank. He is referred to as ‘Little Hank’ (his father is ‘Big Hank’), and hates that, feeling that the appellation is childish.

Relationships

Sheilagh Bernstein

As far back as You Mixed-Up Siciliano, HD openly has a thing for Sheilagh.  However, he goes after Crystal Sherwood first. Not because he’s interested in her; it’s more that he wants to have some experience for when he can, eventually, end up with the true object of his affections.

Sheilagh and HD don’t get together until Shake Your Body, when they are both feeling low and are seeking solace in each other. The only later windows into their relationship occur in Happy Stuff 3111, when they spend the holidays together, and at the end of He Stays a Stranger, when the colony entity, Branch Borodin, reveals, a millennium later, that they wed.

Theme Music

HD is associated with any number of songs, and even sings the title tune from the musical, Oklahoma! and Big D from The Most Happy Fella. But the song I most associate with him is probably Queen’s Need Your Loving Tonight.

Mirror Universe

There are no impediments to HD existing in the mirror.

Portrait of a Character – HD (Henry Desmond IV) Avery
Mirror HD (Scott Bairstow)

He would probably be just as talented, but would have to play and sing for the well to do in order to get by.

He might even be an entertainer for the Mirror Government.

Quote

“I saw her killed, and, and it was Marisol who confirmed it. Dammit, it was Marisol who confirmed it! It wasn’t real. They, they’ve been sending me on all sorts of wild goose chases. Every time there’s a main mission, there’s always a diversion, and most of them are musical. They’ve been peeling me off. And it was because I’m a witness. I saw what happened. And I hadn’t put it together. They didn’t want me to say, and to figure it out, I bet. And Beauchaine was there, he was with me.”

Upshot

The HG Wells series is filled with music, as tunes are used to set the stage and HD himself is diverted, over and over again, to musical missions to, often, assure that musicians such as Freddie Mercury and John Lennon die, or albums like Dark Side of the Moon, become successful.

HD is necessary for a lot of the red herrings in the overall plot arc to work. He is a truly indispensable character.

Review – An Announcement

Review – An Announcement

An announcement to the family – a big one.

Background

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Norri| Red | An Announcement
Norri (Red)

This was a Star Trek fanfiction prompt about family. Rather than have Leonora come out, I decided to instead have her announce that she had met someone special. That person is Melissa Madden. Leonora is, of course, happy.

Plot

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Catherine Bell as Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only) | An Announcement
Catherine Bell as Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)

In Fortune, I had rather vaguely established how the two women had met (and then more detail is offered in Red, which was written much later), but not the aftermath.

This was a good chance to show that scene, particularly since I already had a bit of background of Norri’s father disapproving to some extent. While Dino isn’t necessarily homophobic (albeit some people read him that way), the way I see him is that he’s a bit huffy that his little girl is growing up perhaps a bit too fast. After all, her brothers, Alex and Phil, have not yet declared their love for anyone. So this statement of hers changes everything and upends his world a bit.

Hence I feel it is more that Dino is a bit blindsided by the declaration. Belinda, his wife, sets him straight, and the story ends with a promise to have Melissa over, and soon, so that she can meet the family. There is even a brief reference to her brother Phil’s violin playing, another shout out to Fortune.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

In particular, to get Norri in front of more readers, I think the little story works pretty well. At some point, I’ll write their first dinner together, I imagine.

Review – The Way to a Man’s Heart

Review – The Way to a Man’s Heart

The Way to a Man’s Heart turns an old trope on its head.

Background

Review – The Way to a Man’s Heart

As a sequel to Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation, I wanted to follow Frank and Dave a bit in their relationship.

While the story was written considerably later than There’s Something About Hoshi, this story takes place earlier than that one.

Plot

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Way to a Man's Heart
The Way to a Man’s Heart

The premise was a ship-wide (and, most likely, Starfleet-wide) celebration of diversity.

This included all sorts of nods to non-mainstream expressions of sexuality. Several films are mentioned, including Personal Best, the film that inspired me to cast Mariel Hemingway as Eriecho. Because of the mentionings of films, Chip shows up. Hoshi also announces the revival of the book club, a feature of the E2 stories.

In order to do something nice for his new beloved, Frank Todd asks Lili to make a special dessert for Dave Constantine. When Lili realizes that Dave likes blueberries, and recalls that the recently-deceased Jay Hayes did, too, it sets off a fit of crying.

Frank performs an act of kindness when he sees how much Dave loves the blueberry pie that Lili has baked. Remembering that Major Hayes was always the last one on the chow line – likely because he had wanted to share some short conversations with her – he vows that, from then on, he’ll always be last in line.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I love this relationship, and I particularly think my treatment of it has improved over the years. Instead of being the slightly campy lovesick guys of There’s Something About Hoshi, the two men are here, instead, more like true partners, even though their relationship is still very new. They will be followed along as I think up new adventures for them, both large and small.

Review – Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation

Review – Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation

Background

The prompt was about IDIC, infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

Review – Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation
Luke Macfarlane as Frank Todd

That is, the urging was to write something featuring a pairing that was not traditional male-female.

I had my two favorite gay men on the NX-01 already created – Frank and Dave, who had been introduced in There’s Something About Hoshi and expanded upon in The Three of Us.

There are two other gay men on board, Preston Jennings and Lucas Donnelly, plus Christian Harris is asexual and Kelsey Haber is possibly bi (main character Melissa Madden definitely is) and is definitely a cross-dresser (I’m still kind of on the fence about Kelsey these days). Plus Diana Jones is a lesbian, as are the Starfleet Rabbi, Leah Benson and main character Leonora Digiorno.

But it was Dave and Frank’s relationship that I wanted to show at its absolute beginning, in the prime timeline.

Plot

Review – Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation
Jason Patric as Dave Constantine

The premise is that E2 has just concluded in the prime timeline.

Of course, people are talking about what happened, who was chosen, etc. Dave and Frank realize that they were together. But they only know about the second of two kicks back in time, so they just think it was some sort of a mutual decision. However, the reality of the first kick back is that Dave approached Frank after Frank rather loudly and angrily came out.

Be that as it may, things are a little different. The ship is not generational and they are not desperate. But that’s all right. There is still an attraction there.

Review – Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation

And, as the title says, there was some mental meandering that went on, on both sides, as to who was available and who was interested. For a minority sexuality, not only are there questions of attraction and availability, there are also questions of wiring and preference. After all, even if Dave had the biggest-ever crush on Frank, if Frank was only interested in women, it would not have happened. Hence, the moves are cautious and a little tentative.

But they happen all the same.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

I have read slash online, and I have to say that so much of it is either out and out PWP (porn without plot) or angst-filled hurt/comfort or unfulfilled adolescent-style longing that it makes me wonder about genuine romance between either two men or two women.

Who writes gentle slash? I suppose I do. I love this story, love how it came out (wordplay intended) and am very pleased that it’s in my own personal fanfiction, and it’s even got a sequel. Viva Dave and Frank!

Review – November 13th

November 13th Background

November 13th works as a bridge story. It connects In Between Days to Times of the HG Wells.

For a Weekly Free Write called ‘berth of a career’, I got the idea of a messy bunk in my head, and could not get it out.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | In Between Days | November 13th
In Between Days

Adding to this idea was the Star Trek: Enterprise canon tidbit that Daniels had roomed with a slob. In order to anchor between In Between Days and Times of the HG Wells, it made sense to have a younger character.

That younger character would be connected to Daniels, hence bridging the gap between In Between Days and the deep future of The Times of the HG Wells.

Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Clockworks | November 13th
Clockworks

Craig Willets, now an older man, would be dictating his memoirs, when he’d remember something quirky from his past.

The date is what triggers it for Craig. He remembers a very specific, yet puzzling, event.

On that day, back in 2151, he was just minding his own business, but was remembering his old roommate, who had left in a hurry. It had been explained to Craig that Daniels had been a time traveler. Craig wasn’t sure how he felt about that. As a slob, he has no idea, but a pair of his boots are missing.

Forward into the Past

The action then shifts to 1699, where Daniels is preparing to bed Jennifer Crossman‘s ancestor, the widow Lucretia Crossman, in Penn’s Woods. This is to be Rick’s first temporal conquest. He’s eager to get going, and then realizes that he forgot something back in 2151.

Penn's Woods at Bowman's Hill
Penn’s Woods at Bowman’s Hill (Photo credit: tgpotterfield)

He excuses himself and goes to the only private place – the outhouse. While in there, he taps out a quick message to Craig and has the boots sent to November 13th, 2151. Why that date? That’s what date it is in 1699. But it does not match the date when Daniels departed from the NX-01. Craig realizes, much later, that his old roommate made a mistake with the date.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I like the slight silliness of the story, that something so mild and minor could bring the two series together.


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Review – Atlas

Atlas Background

Atlas gives Jay a backstory.

In response to a weekly prompt about painting a scene, I submitted Atlas. As far back as Reversal, I had described Titania as a kind of Southerners’ paradise. This story gave me an opportunity to showcase that.

Plot

In late April of 2133, Jay is a sergeant and is under a Major Ian Landry. Savvy fanfiction readers will recognize Landry as being one of Doug‘s kills, in the Mirror Universe, as described in Fortune.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | In Between Days | Atlas
In Between Days

The MACO unit has just gotten an assignment to Titania.

While Jay is an NCO, the military presence is new. Hence not all of the barracks buildings are up. Therefore, even though he isn’t supposed to, he must bunk with the enlisted personnel.

Jay meticulously sets up his area, following every regulation down to the minutest detail. His neighbor, Mercer, is a lot less careful. Plus the remainder of the enlisted men only imperfectly execute the unpack order. Only Jay gets everything right.

English: False color image of Titania.
English: False color image of Titania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a result, he gets Cinderella Liberty, and takes his time off to go to the Bar District of New Natchez. He has some small adventures, and even sees a woman who will eventually turn out to be Susan Cheshire, although he does not approach her.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I like the little look into Jay’s background. At the time, I was writing The Three of Us, and it struck me that I had very little on Jay’s background, and that needed to be rectified. There are a lot more stories I could tell about Jay; I have barely scratched the surface there.

Review – Local Flavor

Background

Local Flavor solves a few problems for me.

First of all, the Trek BBS held a Star Trek fanfiction challenge called “Out of Uniform“. So the idea was to show people not in typical starship settings. I seized upon the opportunity to show Lili and Doug first moving to Lafa II. Hence this is the morning after the end of Reversal; Local Flavor is the very beginning of “happily ever after”.

Plot

Review – Local Flavor
Happily Ever After – Kinsale (Photo credit: Sonia Luna)

Travis flies Doug and Lili to the surface. Also, he makes a point of telling Lili that Captain Archer and Malcolm both expressed regrets at not being able to personally see her off. For the captain, it’s because he was busy with other duties. However for Malcolm, it’s because he’s beginning to realize that he cares for her. But he can’t say anything; she’s off to marry someone else. As he confides to her in Together, her life is just zooming along and away from him, and he can’t do anything to stop it.

Upon landing, they are picked up by Treve, who drives them to their new apartment, which is later seen in A Kind of Blue and The Gift. On the way, Doug asks about changing his surname. Treve reiterates that Calafans don’t have last names, so the only people on Lafa II who would care are him and Lili. Doug ends up simply declaring his new surname to be Beckett.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Local Flavor
Local Flavor

They see the apartment and then the action moves to an open-air market, where a number of Calafan delicacies are to be had, including linfep, tofflin and elekai. Even prako (procul) show up, but they are too expensive, as they have been brought to the market by Eska hunters, from Archer’s Planet (in my fan fiction, during the E2 stories, that world is called Amity). Plus the idea of the Calafans always being on the make comes out, as does Doug’s temper. Even some of the alien gesturing is explained, and the cake made at the end has a blueberry filling. Because that is a shoutout to my portrayal of Jay Hayes as loving blueberries.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

A lot happens in a short amount of time. Doug and Lili are exposed to Calafan society through a fire hose. And the reader, in some ways, gets that same sort of treatment. In some ways, this story is like another “elevator pitch” tale (like The Light). This is because it serves as an introduction to a lot of disparate aspects of my universe.


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