Tag Archives: Time travel

Review – A Long, Long Time Ago

A Long, Long Time Ago

Background

A Long, Long Time Ago always had a great expectations quality to it. Since I enjoyed working on and fleshing out Richard Daniels, one of many canon Star Trek: Enterprise characters who didn’t even have a first name, I decided to give him some depth. I first brought him into my fanfiction in Temper, and I liked him so much that I decided he should really have his own series. Hence I named that series Times of the HG Wells, after his new time ship.

Origins and Originality

Richard Daniels
Canon Star Trek character Richard Daniels

And at the same time, though, I already had a time travel series in draft form. However, that set of stories actually revolved around a few disparate pieces.

Yet the thrust of it was that time travel had just started, and it was messy and it had, perhaps, destroyed the universe (it was all original although I admit some difficulty in staying away from technology and other items a little too close to Trek to be coincidental). All except for a small isolated place that was outside of time. In that set of stories, time travelers were grabbed from history itself, depending on not only their skill sets but also whether they could be plucked from wherever they were without destroying the timeline (the idea of plucking people out of thin air and just dropping them somewhere shows up in The Puzzle). These stories all had interwoven lyrics from songs about time (the first one was the Rolling StonesTime is on My Side).

Mining the Older Stories

The older set of stories contained some characters who end up in the HG Wells series. And the time travelers include hipster HD Avery (originally grabbed from 1966), and Sheilagh Bernstein (initially plucked from the present time; when I was writing those older stories, that was the late 1990s). I also included Marisol Castillo (she came from Moorish Spain and did not have a surname, so I added Castillo as she was from Castile) and Gregory Shaw (only mentioned briefly in the HG Wells series; he came from the 1840s). Furthermore, I added Thomas Grant (originally a Confederate soldier from the Battle of Shiloh) and Polly Porter (originally from our future). And finally, I added Alice Trent (only a few small mentions in the HG Wells series; from the 1700s) and Daniel Beauchaine (a soldier in the French and Indian War).

Background Personnel

Background people also came from the older series, including Kevin O’Connor (the Chief Engineer; in the original set of stories he was not part-alien but he did have a deceased wife, Josie, just as that character does in the HG Wells series) and Otra (the alien who could see temporal alternatives). I also added Crystal Sherwood (the Quartermaster was originally a historian) and Levi Cavendish (in the older set of stories, he was the project lead and dating Otra. In the HG Wells series, he became a brilliant but difficult engineer with ADHD and a bunch of other neurological issues).

Milena Chelenska was always a doctor; in the first series, she was also a time traveler. In the HG Wells series, she’s Richard’s love interest. However, in both instances, she’s a concentration camp survivor, from the year 1968. Helen Walker also existed, but she was Tom’s ex; it wasn’t until the HG Wells series that she became something else.

Other Characters

In addition, some people from that older series never made it to the HG Wells series but who ended up elsewhere in my fan fiction – Lakeisha Warren (she was a person who worked on plucking people from history; she actually shows up in the Wesley Crusher story, Imprecision as his love interest). Plus Leonora Digiorno (first called Leonora with no last name, originally a plague survivor plucked from the Dark Ages and given the surname of Wilson to honor her late Uncle William).

Older Storylines

Furthermore, I had ideas for various stories which then became books or parts of books. The concept of a failed Italian vacation in 1960, and the shooting at Kent State in 1970, already existed in draft form. And the mission to ensure Prague Spring’s end in 1968 also existed, as did a very, very rough idea of a mission to ensure the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986.

Because so much of the bones of the series already existed, I could easily chart out the main story arcs for the series. However, I had to get it going, and I already had this story in draft form, tentatively titling it The Day the Music Lived.

And so A Long, Long Time Ago was born.

Plot

The story opens with Richard and his girlfriend, Tina April (who he meets in Temper). Things are starting to go sour and the bloom is off the rose. Rick is too secretive, and Tina wants him to get closer to her. But he just can’t tell her too much. Making matters worse for her is the fact that he is so inured to pain that he is virtually incapable of loving her or anyone else. And he likes it that way.

He gets a call to head to the Temporal Integrity Commission, which is conducting group interviews for some new positions. Rick is not a part of the interviewing. Rather, he’s called in because there’s been a hiccup in time, and he must go fix it. And, as the job candidates are sent home, one of their shuttles crashes, and there’s a fatality. And we’re off to the races.

Historical Figures

Real people exist within in the story. Of course, the three doomed musicians loom large. I wrote all of the dialog, plus JP the horndog represents my own interpretation. The other real people include Waylon Jennings, who played guitar on the tour, and Bob Hale, a local disc jockey who reportedly drove the three musicians to the small airfield in Clear Lake. Of course there’s no evidence of anyone going along on the ride – that part’s all me. Everyone comes across pretty well, except for JP being a bit of a lecher.

Music

Review – A Long, Long Time Ago
A Long, Long Time Ago

In order to start the series off with a bang, I needed to set the scene. The idea of using music is not a new one (I did it with Crackerjack, for starters). And the music evoked not only the time and place but also a lot about the people involved. The first mission is about music; it’s to February third of 1959, known as the day the music died. E. g. it’s the date that the plane carrying the Big Bopper (JP Richardson), Ritchie Valens (Ricky Ricardo Valenzuela) and Buddy Holly (Charles Holley) crashed in a field in Clear Lake, Iowa.

  • Don McLean’s American Pie – the song not only fits the scenario perfectly, it also helps to kick off the series. From its first words (which are the title of this story and also evoke the significant differential in time between the event and Richard’s life in the deep future) to its lyrics about the sixties and its turmoil, there was no other way to start this series.

    Review – A Long, Long Time Ago
    Buddy Holly
  • Frankie Ford’s Sea Cruise  I liked the song not only for the time period but also because it would be a very real concern for artists. The song (for real) was originally recorded by Huey “Piano” Smith. However, Ford dubbed it over, as he had a more energetic vocal. Plus he was white. Valens learns, during the story, to be sure to get credit and to watch the moneymen, to assure that he doesn’t lose his rights.

The Music of the Dead

  • Ritchie Valens’ Donna  Whenever I spin out these stories, I also place a link to an era-appropriate song. And all three of the performers have multiple songs listed (e. g. Holly’s Rave On!  and the Bopper’s Big Bopper’s Wedding also made the cut), but only Valens has his lyrics interwoven with the story line.
Review – A Long, Long Time Ago
Ritchie Valens
  • Patsy Cline’s Walkin’ After Midnight  This song is not only date-appropriate but it can also impart a country air. Furthermore, it is the kind of music that Waylon Jennings might want to play and sing along with. Cline was better known for Crazy, but I love this one, plus it’s got a good guitar accompaniment.
  • Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife  This song a little less poppy and a little more mature-sounding. Mack the Knife seems a pretty odd song anyway, and it speaks of death – the same pall that hangs over the story.
    Review – A Long, Long Time Ago
    The Big Bopper

    Furthermore, the tastes of the time varied. So you could conceivably hear all of these songs (except for McLean’s) played on AM Radio during the same hour.

  • The Skyliners’ Since I Don’t Have You  for the ending, I wanted a bittersweet love song. This would represent the kind of song that people play when they’re lonely.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K+.

Upshot

So for a series opener in particular, I think the story works well. And I like how it kicks things off. Because this series differs from In Between Days, not everything can be mined for more stories like that one. Still, the beginning feels auspicious to me.

Portrait of a Character – Richard Daniels

Portrait of a Character – Richard Daniels

Origins

Portrait of a Character – Richard Daniels
Agent Richard Daniels (Matt Winston)

This character is, of course, Star Trek: Enterprise canon, but he does not have a given name in canon, or even a first initial. Nothing is known of his inner life or personality. In the series, he’s just a time traveler and does not seem to have emotional reactions to much of what happens, except when his own time period is threatened.

Portrayal

As in canon, Richard is played by actor Matt Winston.

Personality

Portrait of a Character – Richard Daniels
Richard Daniels (Matt Winston)

Smarter than anyone else in the room, Rick is a natural for time travel. But he’s also a bit bored, and is jaded by constantly putting things back. This includes allowing people to die who seem to be innocents. In order to comfort himself, and to keep himself occupied, he begins bedding women in time.

All goes along fine until one of the women ends up pregnant. This would not matter so much to history (although it matters to Richard), except that the pregnant woman is the Empress Hoshi Sato.

He has a good relationship with his sister, Eleanor. For a long time, she is the only person he confides in.

Rick’s Conquests

Rick is a womanizer at the start of A Long, Long Time Ago. Here are his known conquests, in the order of the conquests (his perspective in time):

His Time Her Name Her Time
3101 Lucretia Crossman 1699
After 3101 Betty Tyler 1929
After 3101 Phillipa Green March, 2763
After 3101 Empress Hoshi Sato (mirror) January 30, 2156
After 3101 Dana MacKenzie 2380
After 3101 Irene of Castile 1417
May 5, 3104 Carmen Calavicci May 5, 3104
March 27 – August 25, 3109 Tina April March 27, 3109 – August 25, 3109
September 7, 3109 Annette (Windy) Bradley May 3 – 4, 1970
3109 – 3110 Sheilagh Bernstein September, 3109 – March 3110
March 3110 Milena Chelenska July – August, 1968

Relationships

Tina April

Unlike his temporal conquests, Tina is a real-live girlfriend for Richard. They check each other out in A Lesson and then are introduced at the start of Temper. But at the end of A Long, Long Time Ago, he ends it, although he contacts her a few times, during both Ohio and The Point is Probably Moot.

Milena Chelenska

They meet during the events of Spring Thaw. They enjoy each other’s company and are intellectual equals. They’re also both suffering from some melancholy. Hers is more significant than his, as she is a Holocaust survivor. Perhaps in part because he isn’t supposed to have her, Richard finds himself falling for her. It isn’t until He Stays a Stranger that he does anything about it.

Missions

Richard goes on several missions for the Temporal Integrity Commission. He isn’t just fooling around. Here are his only known missions (so far) –

His Time Mission Locale Mission Time
3096 NX-01 2152
After 3096 NX-01 July 10, 2154
Between 3096 & 3101 American Colonies 1757
Between 3096 & 3101 Pompeii AD 79
Between 3096 & 3101 Rome 44 BC
Between 3096 & 3101 Rome 450 BC
3101 Pennsylvania 1699
After 3101 New Jersey/New York 1929
After 3101 Unknown, somewhere on Earth March, 2763
After 3101 ISS Defiant January 30, 2156
After 3101 USS Enterprise-E 2380
3104 Mirror Universe, Dawitan November 3, 2012
March 27, 3109 Lafa II 2161/2166/2178
August, 3109 Clear Lake, Iowa 1959
September 7, 3109 Kent State, Ohio May 3 – 4, 1970
3109 Rome, Pompeii and Naples May, 1960
3109 Prague July – August, 1968
3109 Oklahoma City April, 1995
3109 Egypt October, 1981
3109 Florida January, 1986
3110 Mirror Universe/Earth orbit and Rura Penthe/Prague May 20 – 25, 2192/June 21, 1964/July 19 – 20,1969

Personal Reactions

As is explained in the HG Wells series, a lot of temporal alterations are minor (otric), and don’t affect the overall timeline. In the E2 stories, Richard’s cabin is opened up more than once, as the displaced NX-01 attempts to reach him so that they can be restored to their correct time period. While it’s difficult for him, Rick ends up having to ignore them as the Enterprise, in two separate iterations, is meant to be in the 2030s and beyond.

Theme Music

In Temper, his music is The Records’ Your Starry Eyes. But in the HG Wells stories, his themes are Andrew Gold’s Lonely Boy and then, finally, Secret Agent Man by Johnny Rivers, which was the original inspirational music for the series itself.

Mirror Universe

Rick does not have a Mirror Universe counterpart, and explains the reason for that to Sheilagh Bernstein during Ohio. In First Born, because Rick has fathered a temporally incompatible child, he and his boss, Carmen Calavicci, have to negotiate in order to allow Rick’s son, Jun, to live. One of the conditions of Jun being allowed to survive is that Rick is not permitted to return to the Mirror Universe during the Empress’s lifetime. However, he can go to the Mirror during other time periods and, when he does, in a kind of salute to her, he calls himself Ritchie as she called him that (the nickname is a reference to Ritchie Valens, and A Long, Long Time Ago). An earlier Mirror Universe mission is shown in Pat the Bunny.

Quote

“I’m sorry, but no, though I have never forgotten you, either of you. And I love my, my child, but I know that I have never been a father to you. I wish I had been.”

Upshot

For a guy who doesn’t even have a first name in canon, I think I’ve given him a pretty wild life. Hopefully, readers find him as fascinating as I have.