Rogue Jawa is fairly new to the blogging community. I like his attitude and his direct way of confronting the oddities that we often find in the Star Trek fandom. It may be a big tent, but there’s always going to be some sort of odd squabbling. He takes it on, head on.
When SL Watson gets cooking, her blog can get very active. I know she’s been writing in the Supernatural fandom; I’d love to see her back blogging and back writing Trek but I know that blogs are the kinds of writing that are often set aside for a while. Plus sometimes, you just get into a fandom and it kinda swallows you. No sweat. It’ll still be here.
FalseBill keeps up with blogging well, and his content is often tongue in cheek but never stale. Much like at Full Speed Ahead, the blog is pretty to look at, and covers a wide spectrum of writing, including original content only found on the blog.
Truth is, Trekiverse is a different animal, as it is the home of more than one blogger and is intended to support the Trekiverse site. That site is an archive of much older Star Trek fanfiction, coming from the newsgroups alt.startrek.creative, alt.startrek.creative.all-ages, and alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated, and/or directly submitted. Great to see a new home for these old favorites!
Another new blogger, zeusfluff has jumped in without fear. This blogger is doing a great job with cross-promotions, which is (shh, don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret!) one of the points behind these blogs.
JayLR’s blog is mainly about Star Trek: Swiftfire, but he’s taken to answering some of our older blog prompts. It’s neat to see a new take on an older prompt. And that reminds me: I need to come up with some fresh prompts!
MF’s blog is another visual stunner, just lovely and filled with great images. What I also like about his blog is how he gets into his posts. They aren’t quickies; they’re well thought-out. He’s also a thoughtful reviewer, and that shows in his blogging.
Every other week, I write a blog roundup post, to cover all of the above bloggers. Furthermore, I’ve been promoting the 2014 version of the Twelve Trials of Triskelion. Fortunately, finding up to date content has been pretty easy this summer.
Whither Our Other Blogs?
There are a number of blogs that have gathered a bit of dust. And so I exhort you, fellow bloggers! Blow that dust off! You have nothing to lose but your chains!
Or, something like that.
I love blogging, and I love reading others’ blogs. ‘Nuff said.
To go along with this month’s AOS selection, here are some questions to chew on, since so many people feel that the JJ Abrams universe somehow is not Star Trek.
What does it mean to you when a story is described as being Star Trek? What are the characteristics? Is there a bright line between Trek and not-Trek?
What Does it Mean When We Call It Star Trek?
I think it’s mainly about Roddenberry’s general values. It isn’t ships, because people get off the ships (and who’s the say that they won’t stay off the ships for a while longer than just a quickie mission?). It isn’t just phasers and Vulcans and shuttles, because the time of Colonel Green could easily fit into Trek (hell, it’s canon!) and none of those things exist yet.
But maybe not … too much. After all, Roddenberry also, at times, had some ridiculous notions, such as that humanity would somehow be ‘advanced’ enough that mourning the dead wouldn’t happen, or at least not for long, and that trauma would be minimized.
So I think there are some limits there. I think repairing older and antiquated ideas, too – I have no problem with doing that and still calling it Trek. For example, our current smartphones and tablets are far more sophisticated than they ever dreamed of in the 1960s. Why not have the technology reflect that? I have characters sending and receiving email, and performing what are essentially Google-style searches. I do not imagine those behaviors ending any time soon, and I do not believe that Star Trek loses anything by slipping those bits of reality into the mix. Hell, I think it makes the stories stronger.
What are some of your favorite explorations of AOS on Ad Astra? How do you think these stories would change if they took place in TOS or one of the other series?
I like Niobium‘s take on the AOS, and I also enjoyed ErinJean‘s take. I’d love for her to continue in her explorations.
I believe many of us also grab bits and pieces of AOS and dovetail them into ENT or TOS
I find questions of what is and isn’t Star Trek to sometimes be a bit disingenuous. People said that ENT wasn’t Trek. They said that DS9 wasn’t. I think a lot of them will come around to AOS being Trek. As for me, the distinction is fairly clear albeit not perfectly. I know, for a fact, that Jane Eyre is not Star Trek. After that, though, sometimes, I’m not so sure.
Gaguin – Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
When I set out to first write this little trilogy of blog posts about Star Trek fanfiction, I thought about this particular painting quite a bit. I have told you who I am, and where I (and, to some extent, Trek) come from. But where are we going?
The Cloudy Crystal Ball
Of course I have little to no idea of what’s going to happen next.
And that has never, ever stopped me from speculating.
After all, Star Trek itself is dreams and visions of the future. Some, like communicators and desktop computers, have been scarily accurate.
Others, like tricorders and bio beds, are close to accurate, or are within reach.
For Star Trek, there is likely to be a third film in the JJ Abrams universe, and it will likely come on or around 2016 as that is the 50th anniversary of the TV series. Abrams will not be directing it. It will be interesting to see who gets it. For me, the JJ Abrams universe means more Eriecho.
As for a new series, I imagine there will be one, and it will likely be in the post-Nemesis future, but closer to the JJ Abrams style. It will depend on budgets and audience tastes. Enterprise was given a fairly large budget, but it was still difficult to get across everything that needs to be done and shown within financial restrictions. At the time, their ratings were not considered to be good. Now, they would be perfectly acceptable.
Any future television series will likely have an even bigger budget than ENT did, and will likely depend more upon green screen technology in order to cut some special effects corners. What is troubling about that is that large budgets mean that ever larger audiences are needed in order for a show to make money. But television audiences are becoming more and more splintered all the time.
Unless this speculative future show has a lot of network brass (and money) backing it, it could very well be set up for failure, much as ENT seems to have been. Science fiction on TV these days is generally not big, beautiful ships. Even Firefly (which is a decade old, by the way) had a lot of set pieces that took place on the ground. It saves money.
So I would expect to see, and would actually hope to see, a series more character-driven and more plot-driven. A series where makeup and costumes and sets matter. A series where acting and writing are top-notch, not only because they are beloved and respected and say something meaningful and win awards but also because, for real, they save network money. A series where the effects exist but don’t overpower the story line and are not the engines that drive character and plot arc decisions.
Now, as a sequel to Where Did it All Begin?, I’d like to give a little information on where I am now, and where Star Trek is, from my own perspective.
This image was taken in 2017 and it’s more or less an accurate representation of the real-life jes.
I turn fifty-five in September of 2017.
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.
Plus 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 now). 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. Also, I have not yet seen Into Darkness. I loved Star Trek Beyond.
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.
Others’ Fan Fiction
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. And 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 isn’t an accurately portrayal of a canon character, 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! one critique was 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.
Mary Sue, How Do You Do?
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 now 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 – now those are words to live by.