This was Templar Sora’s great blog prompt. He asked two questions.
What kind of crossing over do we do as writers?
What kind of crossing over do we want to see?
My Own Crossovers
I’ve done the crossover dance many times. A lot of it is in the context of interphases.
A Single Step
For A Single Step, a story about first contact with the Caitians, I pulled together elements from TAS, the Star Trek: First Contact film and even a smidgen of ENT, as an elderly Zefram Cochrane and his wife entertain the first Caitian that any humans ever meet.
Another Piece of the Action
For this collaboration with thebluesman, we crossed together a bit of ENT (the Daniels character) with TOS, as Kirk and company meet the Iotians again, in Another Piece of the Action.
This enormous Round Robin story, Multiverse II, is a crossover by definition, as canon and original characters mix genres and eras.
These Are the Destinations
This work in progress will cross between ENT and a very specific TOS episode, and a little bit with the JJ Abrams universe as well.
Crossovers I’d Like to See
I’m not sure. I think one kind of crossover that I don’t want to see is anything relying too heavily on deus ex machina. That generally means anything with supernatural elements like vampires, or comic books. I don’t mind characters making contact with spiritual-type elements (Lili does a lot of this, particularly in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, but it’s in the context of conversations and nothing really out there happens, like characters rising from the dead, for example), but flat-out characters being bitten by radioactive spiders and suddenly getting superpowers? I just don’t want to see it. I don’t want to have to cross stories that are pretty close to being realistic with those that are so far away from realism as all that. Maybe I’m just not adventurous enough.
Because I enjoy history very much, I think what I would really like to see is more of a stylistic crossover than an actual character and scene mashup. Has anyone ever written Star Trek in the style of Ernest Hemingway, or Miguel de Cervantes?
In the E2 Star Trek fanfiction stories, it becomes obvious very quickly that the Enterprise needs a planet.
Because, in Reflections Down a Corridor, they have gone back in time, to 2037, the Delphic Expanse is not like it was. They learn from a Xyrillian, Tre’ex, that there are a few unclaimed planets. One of them, known in the prime timeline alternate (the ENT episode, Twilight) as Ceti Alpha V, they claim and hold a contest to name it. The top vote-getter is José Torres‘s choice, Paradise.
In Star Trek canon, the planet is barely habitable, but that’s the prime timeline and an alternate. I like to think that, a good century before, things may have been better.
There is no reason why the NX-01 can’t have a beautiful planet. It does work out a lot of plot points, including how to get the crew and their descendants to survive for the ensuing century, and also how to get them to live, and live well, without being detected by either the people on Earth or the aliens of the Delphic Expanse and elsewhere.
The planet has to be habitable in case the ship becomes overcrowded. It has to be arable. And it must be the kind of place where a lot of different kinds of foods can be grown. But I didn’t want things to be too easy or perfect. Hence the Enterprise needs to claim a second planet, Amity. But Paradise works out well just the same.
Highlights of Living and Working on Paradise
Of course, crops are grown there. Malcolm gets his pineapples, and Shelby grows oranges, too, which Will wants. An elaborate tree-planting ceremony is conducted on August 29th of 2037, where holes are dug in the ground and an orange tree and a coconut palm are planted amidst slips of real paper on which the crew have written their anonymous wishes.
During Entanglements, T’Pol suggests that more permanent settlements might be desired on Paradise, as the male to female ratio remains uneven and it might alleviate some of the sniping.
The Three of Us opens with a baseball game on Paradise, and then, eventually, it becomes the location of the first phase of criminal punishments. In Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Paradise cannot be visited too often, as that would interfere with the NX-01 from the first kick back in time. But there is one secret mission there, all the same.
By the end of Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Paradise survives, but the evidence of civilization is lost. This protects the prime timeline rather neatly.
Return to Paradise
Because of the connection with the Augments, and the eventual damage done to the planet, there can be no return unless a lot of terraforming work is done. In the Times of the HG Wells, Admiral Carmen Calavicci and Rick Daniels do talk about Ceti Alpha V, so it’s not completely gone. Perhaps, by then, things are repaired and restored.
This image was taken last year and it’s more or less an accurate representation of the real-life jes.
I turned fifty last September (2012).
My Own Personal Fandom
Given my age, you’d think I’d be a big TOS fan. And, while I am a fan (and I recall seeing at least some of it in what was likely first run), my heart really belongs more to ENT. I love it for its closeness to us, its passion, its flawed characters who change and grow, and the fact that the tech is far from perfect.
I know the many, many flaws in ENT. I have had them pointed out to me numerous times (so many people seem to love doing that). Still and all, I enjoy it immensely.
TOS and TAS (I really put them together) are second for me. I like the drama and the writing, much of which was really terrific. The effects and animation are abysmal, and the costumes and makeup aren’t too good, either, so a lot of the tension comes about from the acting and the writing. I also enjoy the social commentary in a lot of the stories. And, much like in ENT, there are real senses of danger there. You do sometimes wonder if/how they’re going to make it.
I suppose TNG comes in at third for me, and more because of the trio of Wesley, Geordi and Data. I also like Beverly, and I like Miles and Keiko. Picard is … okay. I am not a rabid, screaming fan girl about Patrick Stewart although I certainly appreciate his talent. But I do feel that the ship was too huge and luxurious, and a lot of hazards were bred out of the experience. As Q says (and I like him, too), space is dangerous. And they (and we) should not forget that. As for Riker, the less said, the better.
If I had to select a fourth, it would probably be, really, VOY. I like the generalized idea of it. Travel stories have been around since the Odyssey andThe Canterbury Tales, and probably before then, too. But I tend to like only isolated bits, and they are usually the parts that other people don’t care for at all.
Then, it’s a tie between the films and DS9. The films are okay and I have not seen all of them – I haven’t even seen more than bits of The Wrath of Khan. Some moments in various films stand out – the trial on Kronos and imprisonment on Rura Penthe, T’Saavik emotionlessly reporting David Marcus’s death, saving the whales, Zefram Cochrane doing his thing, and even Kirk’s death (I love how it was small and non-heroic, because the end of life is far more likely to be like that). But then there’s tons that’s just meh to me, from the overly-loving closeups of the Enterprise in the first film, to the Sybok wackiness of the fifth film. I don’t hate the 2009 film and I do believe it’s Trek (and I find it weird sour grapes for people to declare that it isn’t Star Trek because they don’t like it. Tough, it’s Trek, get over it). But it’s not a fave. It’s … okay. I am not a fan of pure action flicks and it was pretty close to that. I have not yet seen Into Darkness.
As for Deep Space Nine, I’ve always had trouble getting into it. I like Louise Fletcher as Kai Winn, and I like Dr. Bashir. Plus I like the idea of the Trill. After that, I get a meh vibe. Sorry to those who love it.
I got into writing Star Trek fanfiction in 2005 and then promptly gave it up for five years. During that time period, my attitude changed considerably, and then suddenly it was October of 2010 and I was spinning Reversal out of whole cloth. And it became a monster that launched two big series and tons of stories, and, no lie, hundreds of thousands of words.
Including, of course, this blog and its accompanying website.
I am writing, or I am thinking about writing nearly every single day.
I generally enjoy reading others’ works although time doesn’t always permit that I really look super-closely. I try to give a story a chance, at least for a while. For a 60+ chapter story, that might be five to eight chapters. For a 20,000 word story, it might be only one or two chapters. For a less than 10,000 word story, it will probably be the entire thing.
I make an effort to go out of my comfort zone and read stories that take place in eras or on ships that I do not know. That often means Deep Space Nine although it can also mean various expanded universes. There are so many missing pieces in canon that it is very possible to set an entire universe within the missing bits, and that’s even how In Between Days was originally going to be.
I also make an effort to constructively critique so, yeah, that can sometimes mean that my reviews are less than perfectly positive. If I feel a canon character isn’t being accurately portrayed, I try to alert the writer. I have had that pointed out to me before, and I usually use it as a means of reverse-engineering some sort of an explanation. After all, there are times when people behave out of character, and it’s not always mold spores or radiation or the like. Sometimes it’s grief, or loneliness, or drugs or just a desire to shake things up. For More, More, More! I was told that Malcolm likely would not be helping to arrange the party. But I decided, no, he would be, as he would prefer an organized means of fraternizing with his shipmates and the NX-02, as opposed to the chance element inherent in more casual contact. I reverse-engineered in the explanation in the sequel story, On the Radio. This not only fixed what wasn’t necessarily that big a problem, it also added a little more depth to the subsequent tale.
As for original characters, a lot of people, when they are inexperienced, tend to either stick just with a kind of canon alternative (which is what Doug Beckett was originally) or they are golden children of canon (more or less a type of canon alternate – Jia Sulu was a little like that) or they are out and out Mary Sues (Lili can be borderline at times, but her overall arc isn’t, and I work hard to keep her out of that zone). A few thoughts on that, if I may.
Consider the following characteristics – beauty, intelligence, social ease, heroism and physical prowess of any sort.How many of these characteristics does your character have? Lili, for example, has intelligence and social ease. Pamela has beauty and intelligence. Doug has intelligence and physical prowess, and eventually has heroism. Malcolm and Jay both have intelligence and physical prowess, usually mixed with heroism. Blair has beauty, intelligence and social ease. But nobody’s got all of these characteristics.
And that’s the idea. Characters, like people, should not be perfect in every way. This goes for villains as well as heroes (so substitute the term villainy for heroism, above). For those five main traits, one or two are fine, and three are okay but may be pushing it. Four is really starting to push it. All five strains credulity to the breaking point. I see far too many original characters who can do no wrong and are in the five zone.
I also try to get a sense from an author (and if I can ask him or her, all the better) about an elevator pitch-style story. I pay attention not only to what they suggest, but also to elements like the story’s length. After all, if you feel that I won’t understand your universe without reading 100,000 words, you aren’t necessarily showing a lot of respect for my time and interest level. I have time to read fan fiction, yes. I concede the point. And it doesn’t have to be a drabble and we’re done. I do have a longer attention span than that. But my time is not infinite. I wish it was but, alas, it is not. If I read your 100,000 words, sight unseen, that will take up a pretty significant chunk of my time. You are telling me that we cannot date, and the only way I will know you is to get married. For a decade.
Hence I try to keep the idea of an elevator pitch in mind, and can easily single out three stories of mine that fit that bill – The Light, The Cure is Worse than the Disease, and Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions. All three are fairly short and are completely self-contained. The reader does not need to know the remainder of my mythos in order to understand them but, if the reader does go back and read that, he or she will get another dimension on each of these stories. I don’t present this idea as a perfect one, but I do hope that other authors will at least consider something like that. It’s just easier for the reader.
Fandom has allowed me to step into a number of fascinating and beautiful worlds. I can only hope that what I have created is one-tenth as entertaining for my own readers. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations – words to live by.