Tag Archives: Starfleet

Review – The Decision

Review – The Decision

A decision changes Norri, Neil, and Declan’s lives the most.

Background

In May of 2206, the family gathers on Lafa II to make an important decision about Norri and Melissa‘s future.

Plot

"Barking

There’s been an accident. An elderly Leonora Digiorno has fallen, and broken her hip. Her lover, Melissa Madden, has her own issues with Irumodic Syndrome. It’s becoming obvious that Norri can no longer care for Melissa on her own. What to do?

The story opens with a crack, as Marie Patrice Beckett slaps an Andorian model across the face and then fires the blue woman. Why does this happen? It’s because the model has the nerve to point out (and this is a fact, by the way) that, “It’s not like either of them are related to you.”

For Empy, who is an often selfish and flighty character, the slap is a confirmation that, when the chips are down, she will do right and will stand with her family.

The family gathers, from various postings, including Tommy, who is with Starfleet. In order to dovetail with Fortune, Declan Reed assumes the burden of caring for the two aging lesbians. He does so voluntarily, even before anyone else can suggest it. This story takes place before he meets Rebecca Shapiro again, and so he is free and has little else going on in his life. He’s divorced from Louise Schiller and is an artist in residence at Oxford University. But this is the future. He doesn’t have to physically be present in England in order for them to call him an artist in residence.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

Much like Empy’s slap, Declan volunteering evokes the ironclad bond that the family has. Everyone steps up. Everyone agrees to do something. No one is left out, and no one wants to be. At the same time, no one tries to weasel out of their responsibilities, either. May we all be cared for that way in the future.

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Recurrent Themes – Soldiers

Recurrent Themes –Soldiers

Background

For Reversal in particular to work, there had a to be a number of people ready and able to go to war.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | SoldiersIn particular, as the Mirror Universe is so different from the prime universe, a lot of people would be soldiers there who wouldn’t be so here. Or they would be more violent and less disciplined than in our universe. As it is explained to Lili, the percentage of military personnel is deliberately kept very high over there.

There are more MACOs in particular than the group listed here, but these people are seen the most.

Appearances of Soldiers

Aliwev

This Calafan recruit drills directly under Doug and, in the Mirror, in one of the alternate timelines, assassinates the Empress Hoshi Sato during Temper.

Douglas Jay Hayes Beckett

Doug, a trained killer, spends much of Reversal trying to leave the practice of making war. When he can’t find anything else to do with himself in Together, he eventually becomes the captain of a defense unit on Lafa II, and instructs recruits.

Daniel Chang

Chang, a canon character, defends the Enterprise but, in the E2 timeline, commits crimes.

Tristan Curtis

Curtis is another E2 timeline criminal. In the Temper alternate timelines, he’s named Craig.

Brian Delacroix

In the prime universe, Delacroix is a security guard who becomes a chef. In the Mirror, he nearly kills Doug.

Tommy Digiorno-Madden

Unlike the other five kids, Tommy joins Starfleet and goes into Tactical.

Thomas Grant

In the deep future, Tom is assigned to the Breen homeworld before he joins the Temporal Integrity Commission.

Deborah Hadden

Deb works in Security in both universes. In the Mirror, she kills Brian before he has a chance to off Doug. But her victory is short-lived, and she perishes when he leaves that universe.

Jay Hayes

The consummate soldier, Major J. Hayes is so committed to defending the ship that he has nearly no time for people.

Gary Hodgkins

Yet another E2 criminal, Hodgkins often pairs with Curtis, particularly in the Mirror.

Chandler Masterson

Chip is wasted in Security and moves over to Communications. This isn’t possible in the Mirror, so he stays in  Tactical. In the prime timeline, he escapes the Empress, but in one of the alternates, he rises to become captain of the Defiant.

Travis Mayweather

Travis is a soldier in the Mirror Universe only. He’s a poor soldier, though, and an even worse leader. In the alternate timelines, and in the prime timeline, he is fragged by his own troops.

Andrew Miller

Like Travis, Andy is only a soldier in the Mirror. When the Empress taps him for somewhat earthy duties, he manages to get himself reassigned to Science.

Malcolm Reed

The other consummate canon career soldier, Malcolm is more ambitious and tries for a command as soon as he can get one.

José Torres

José is another person who is only a soldier in the Mirror. He is not cut out for command at all and, in an alternate timeline, destroys his ship, the Luna, and everyone on board is killed.

Upshot

Star Trek fanfiction will always have a place for men and women (and other genders) in uniform.

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Review – We Meet Again

Review – We Meet Again

We Meet Again Background

So We Meet Again – Just after the NX-01 is decommissioned in 2162, Travis heads to Philadelphia to mourn Tripp Tucker and think about his next career move.

Plot

In canon, there is virtually nothing shown about anyone’s recovery from Tucker’s untimely demise.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | In Between Days | We Meet Again
In Between Days

It is as if it never mattered in the first place.

In response to a Star Trek fan fiction prompt about entertainment, I made the decision to go dark and most decidedly not fluffy.

The story begins with Travis feeling a little lost. Very briefly, I mention that the final movie night has been held on the NX-01 prior to its decommissioning, and that the film Chip chose was the first James Bond movie, Dr. No.

He has little to do or think about, and his family is on the freighter, anyway. With no one to visit and just a little bit doubtful as to whether Captain Archer wants him back for the DC-1500 USS Zefram Cochrane, Travis goes to a nearby station and visits a ticket agent. He gives her an undisclosed amount of cash and just asks, “Where can this take me?” She gives him a few options and he chooses Philadelphia.

Review – We Meet Again
8th and Market Street, showing the Strawbridge and Clothier department store, 1910s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did not choose Philly for any particular reason. I just like the city (I lived outside it for a few years as a child) and it is a readily recognizable place which would still exist during that time period.

However, Travis has no ties to it whatsoever. For him, it’s just a means of getting away from it all.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I could probably have spent more time on this short story, particularly with what Travis does in the City of Brotherly Love.

Review – We Meet Again
Cover of Dr. No (Two-Disc Ultimate Edition)

Otherwise, the experience feels somewhat rushed. But when he returns to Starfleet, the phrase, of course, is: We Meet Again, Mister Bond.

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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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Recurrent Themes – 42753

Recurrent Themes – 42753

42753?

Background

What is it about this particular number?

I have no idea why this number became my go-to number. I just like it. Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | 42753 It’s easy to type on a keypad, as the 4 and the 2 are typed diagonally from left to right, and then the 7, 5, and 3 are typed diagonally in the same way, but from one row higher.

It’s a zip code in central Kentucky and really has no significance in my life whatsoever.

Yet it creeps into my Star Trek fan fiction all the same.

Appearances

The Puzzle, A Tale Told in Pieces

When Travis is kidnapped for an alien experiment, he meets several people, including a ‘defective’ (not overwhelmingly alluring) Orion slave girl who has no name, and is only known as a number. And that number is 42753.

The Three of Us

In The Three of Us, Jay Hayes reveals that 42753 is his serial number.

Hayes dogtags
Hayes dogtag

In particular, he only gives out this number while the Imvari are torturing him.

The Continuing Adventures of Porthos – The Future Cat

This story includes a scene of reading Porthos’s microchip. The number is 2149-42753.

The Tribe

In The Tribe, when Mary Reed is trapped in a transport that isn’t working, the number of the car she’s in is 42753.

Multiverse II

In Multiverse II, 42753 is the panel number for where Branch Borodin has to place the pulse shot collector.

Level 2 multiverse
Level 2 multiverse

Later, the number also refers to the last message Levi sends to Maren O’Connor before his PADD dies.

Untrustworthy (Original Fiction)

One rather long designation includes this particular string of numbers.

Things to come

Play contains 42753 in two places. First, it’s the number of a secure channel Admiral Alynna Nechayev uses. The second time, it’s at the end of a string of numbers denoting Dana MacKenzie’s radiation band, which proves that she has some Mirror Universe ancestry.

Upshot

This quirky number will be back. I guarantee it. Like this post? Tweet it!

Review – Shell Shock

Shell Shock is a story with strong themes.

NOTE: If rape is a trigger for you, you may want to stop reading right now.

Shell Shock Background

In response to a prompt about crimes, I decided to forego murder and instead concentrate on the equally nasty crime of rape.

Plot

Hence, at the conclusion of the Earth-Romulan War, Star Trek: Enterprise canon character Malcolm and the remainder of the crew of the NX-01 are back on Earth. While seeking to forget a horrible incident with a dying crewman, Reed seeks solace by going to the 602 Club. While there, he sees the waitress-turned-proprietress, Ruby Brannagh.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Brigid Brannagh as Ruby Brannagh | Shell Shock
Brigid Brannagh as Ruby Brannagh

Malcolm leaves early, but not before he sees some fellow crew members, plus an unfamiliar military fellow (this turns out to be Jay Hayes‘s replacement, Bud Dawson) and some protesters from Earth.

However, the next day, he is woken up by a knock on the door of his temporary quarters at Starfleet Headquarters. There’s been a crime committed. And he and other men are to report to the mess hall.

Slowly, suspects are ruled out, as male crew members from the Enterprise and the Columbia present adequate alibis. Or the forensic evidence rules them out.

Shell Shock
Franz Kafka’s The Trial

Frank Todd presents proof that he was at a gay bar.  And others are eventually eliminated. However, one of the last persons to stand accused is Malcolm, although Dan Chang is also in the final list. And so is a Columbia crewman, Josef Kastle. Kastle is a direct reference to the author Franz Kafka, who wrote The Trial.

Malcolm’s lawyer, Dash Nolan, works hard to get him off the suspect list. And Malcolm is humiliated and forced to dredge up embarrassing personal details, including about his relationship with Pamela Hudson. The story also sets up Saturn Rise as a way for him to heal from not only this experience, but also the experience of seeing a crewman suffer and die during the war.

But of course it’s the gravely injured Ruby who’s got it far worse.

Music

While there isn’t really a theme song for this story, I thought of New Orders’s Shell Shock quite a bit as I was writing it.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T/M.

Upshot

So beyond covering Malcolm and Ruby’s very different species of distress, the story also serves to convey the horrors of an accusation of rape. And even the innocent don’t come out of the experience unscathed.

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!

What Do I Like to Read?

As a part of The Twelve Trials of Triskelion, the program is coming to an end, but we on Ad Astra are looking to keep it up. As a result, we’re looking to expand blogging. And now there’s a new book club, called Boldly Reading, with its own blog!

So – the first prompt is – what do you like to read? what fanfic story type/era/character and heck even name an author here you gush over do you like to read?

And so I’ve gotten to thinking.

Challenges

I’ve realized that while I love the Star Trek Enterprise and The Original Series eras, that doesn’t necessarily define what I seek out. More often, I go looking for a good story, and then whether it fits into my own personal era preference doesn’t truly factor into it. Good stories are good stories.

I also have great respect for people who put themselves out there for the challenges, in particular, the monthly challenges. For newer authors in particular, it has got to be daunting. It presents the old what if they don’t like me? fear that I suspect all authors have inside us.

Once I’ve read a challenger (even if they don’t win, and even if I didn’t love their story), I try to look at more of their works. Sometimes people are just off, and one story didn’t hit its marks but that doesn’t mean that others won’t. But if I’m disappointed enough times (and I can’t honestly say exactly when that moment occurs, but I know it when I see it), I’m done, unless it’s for a monthly challenge. Then I’ll read all of the entries because I don’t think I can vote in good conscience without reading all of that month’s entries. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to love the author who has disappointed me. Unfairly or not, that person now has more of a hurdle to climb over in order to get my love. But it’s not an impossible hurdle.

Characterizations

For authors not involved in monthly challenges, I am looking for good characters. I love action sequences, but the truth is, they’re hard to write. Sometimes what you’re thinking of just does not translate well to pixels. But characters can. Someone who is not a Mary Sue. Someone who isn’t just described in some huge data dump as if the author were picking the character out from a police lineup. Someone who I can hate or love or be repulsed by or laugh with or at or want to hug or kick. Someone who stays with me.

Give it up for Templar Sora!

One author whose works I have loved pretty much from the beginning has been Templar Sora.

Star Trek Online
Star Trek Online (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two of his characters I have particularly enjoyed are Jessica St. Peter and Seymour Sonia. Jess is an unlikely leader, a person thrust into the role when everyone around her falls down on the job or is too scared or damaged or inexperienced to step in. And, as a young leader, she deals with something that a lot of young leaders in fan fiction never seem to have to deal with – insubordination by people who think she should not have her place.

Enter Seymour Sonia, the consummate jerk. Everything from hitting on Jess (before she gets a command) to openly being hostile to her, he’s a fun character to despise. The beauty of this character is his passive-aggressive nature. I have found that often jerk characters are written as utterly one-dimensionally, as authors might feel they have to stack their decks. After all, who could possibly hate a Starfleeter?

Try me.

Upshot

I love a lot of what I’m reading. But to really hit the stratosphere, give me a character where all I want to do when I see him in a scene is yell, “Bite me!”

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Recurrent Themes – Religious/Spiritual Leaders

Recurrent Themes – Religious/Spiritual Leaders

Spiritual leaders exist in my fiction.

Background

Religion is Star Trek canon, Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Spiritual Leaders and of course it is also a very real and very personal human experience.

While much of Star Trek is rather atheist-friendly, I don’t believe that faith will ever, truly, completely leave us. In particular, the Enterprise era is bound to have characters who still practice religion. Hence spiritual leaders would be a nature offshoot of that.

In Between Days Spiritual Leaders

Leah Benson

First seen in The Light, Rabbi Benson is the official Starfleet Rabbi. She assists Ethan Shapiro in putting together a short service to commemorate the life of his great-aunt, Rachel Orenstein.

In Bread, she is a part of an official Starfleet set of meetings and banquets where all of the Starfleet chaplains have been brought together as a part of welcoming three new worlds to the nascent Federation – the Caitian home world, Denobula and the Xyrillian home world. Leah is cordial with the Imam, a Buddhist monk and others. Religion is very much alive, and she is a big part of it. While reminiscing with Jonathan Archer, she reports that Ethan would often ask her advice about Karin Bernstein, and she is delighted that they wed.

Yimar

In the alternate timeline in Temper, she is the spiritual leader of her people on both sides of the pond. When the timeline is restored, she is only the High Priestess on the Mirror side.

The role of High Priestess is not too well-defined, but Yimar has the power to summon her fellow Calafans, no matter where they are, and can even telepathically communicate with those in the Mirror Universe, a useful talent for a spiritual leader who, in an alternate timeline, leads her government in exile, too.

Yipran

In Reversal, she seems to be dying, but Yipran, the High Priestess of the Calafan people, is not going down without a fight. In Fortune, she reveals that she understands far more of the universe and its origins (and its eventual fate) than pretty much anyone.

Times of the HG Wells

Kaiwev

In Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain, a Calafan temporal agent, Chellewev, has died in the line of duty. It’s up to Kaiwev, the leader of the Calafan unit, to lead prayers at the dedication of Chellewev’s spot on the Temporal Integrity Commission‘s monument to the fallen. Kaiwev is really just pressed into service and is not meant to be a priest.

Milton Walker and Members of the Eligian Order

About half of this order is composed of upstanding men who commit charitable deeds and are true believers. The other half is a front for the Perfectionists, including Walker himself. The legitimate monks are unaware of what is going on under their noses.

Interphases

Jonathan Archer

Because there are no religious or spiritual leaders on board, Captain Archer must perform those tasks. This includes everything from officiating at weddings

Recurrent Themes – Religious/Spiritual Leaders
Not just any old wedding

to eventually giving funerary orations.

It’s not much of a stretch to assume that he also presided over christenings and Bar and Bat Mitzvot.

He presides over Malcolm‘s and Jay‘s funerals in The Three of Us and both of theirs, Tripp‘s and Lili‘s in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. About the only religious occasion he does not preside over is Nanette Myers’s conversion to Islam, which is performed by Ramih Azar, in the presence of Azar Hamidi and Maryam Haroun Hamidi as witnesses.

It is unclear who fills in when Jonathan finally dies, but it is not a stretch to assume that the successor captain would do so. In The Three of Us, that’s Charles Tucker IV; in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, that’s canon character Lorian Cyrus Tucker.

Upshot

Faith abides and, in Bread, for the Mirror Universe and the prime, it’s one of the few things that survives. I believe there is a place for religion in Star Trek, even in the later series, and I am not afraid to show it. Faith of the heart, to me, means all hearts and, by definition, all faiths as well.

Portrait of a Character – Frank Todd

Portrait of a Character – Frank Todd

Origins

I had been reading more than enough homophobic rants about how gay characters would be too effeminate for Starfleet. It annoyed me enough that I wanted to create a pair of gay characters, and one of them would be a MACO. And so, for There’s Something About Hoshi, I created Franklin Thomas Todd.

Portrayal

Frank is played by Luke MacFarlane.

Portrait of a Character – Frank Todd
Luke MacFarlane as Frank Todd

I wanted an impressively physically imposing actor. This guy would be no one’s idea of effeminate.

I also wanted a gay actor. I hope that this would be the kind of role that this actor could be proud of. Frank is no pushover and he is no stereotype.

Personality

Loyal, friendly and passionate, but also fiercely dedicated to his job, Frank is just the kind of guy you want defending the Enterprise and her crew. Jay and Julie trust him, and he has more than earned their trust. Eventually, he rises to the rank of Corporal although I can see him with a lot more responsibility.

Relationships

David Constantine

Dave and Frank have began dating by the time of There’s Something About Hoshi. In Entanglements, they get together after Frank rather loudly comes out. However, by the time of Shell Shock, Frank is picked up at a gay bar in Provincetown. Hence maybe things did not work out as well as the men would have preferred.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Frank Todd
Mirror Universe Frank (Luke MacFarlane)

I do not yet have a Mirror Universe version of Frank, but there’s no reason why there can’t be one.

I like the idea of him, perhaps, being less rough around the edges on the other side of the pond. Maybe I’ll write him some time.

Quote

“My name is Franklin Thomas Todd.

Portrait of a Character – Frank Todd

And while it is nobody’s goddamned business, except for the people I care about, and who care about me, I want you all to know that I am a gay man. I don’t hide. I am not ashamed. I am who I am, and being gay is as much a part of me as having a tattoo on my bicep, or brown eyes or being from Europa originally.”

Upshot

I want more occasions to showcase this character who is far more than his sexuality. I’ll be looking for places for Frank. You haven’t seen the last of him.