Why I Will No Longer Blog About Star Trek

Longevity. This is what online content creators look for when they work to update their platform. Many bloggers, myself included, want to put out content that will hook you, the reader, and keep you coming back for more. Longevity is also one of the many legacies the Star Trek franchise has managed to maintain since the first episode ever aired in 1969. I mention longevity because my posts on Star Trek have been some of my most popular, statistically, ever.

Longevity. I’ve been a fan of Star Trek for a very long time. For as long as I can remember, Wednesday nights (and sometimes Friday nights) were always, always reserved for Star Trek until the early 2000s. Growing up, I’d geek out when I recognized actors, or their voice acting, in other shows. Several years ago I met Jonathan Frakes and LeVar Burton (I cried. It was embarrassing). And, even more recently, I used to religiously listen to The Delta Flyers’ podcast with Voyager actors Garrett Wang and Robert Duncan McNeil.

When I was in college I wrote an entire speech about why Trek is still relevant in today’s world. To this day I wish I’d kept a copy of it but, alas, it is nowhere to be found. My family and I used to hurry home from Wednesday night events at church (band practice + youth group) just so we could have our Star Trek tradition. There was no such thing as a DVR when I was a kid.

Pair all of the above with a budding writer’s love for writing, and you’ve got a teenager who’d sit at her family’s computer writing Star Trek fan fiction before she even knew that was a thing (here’s my first ever, poorly written blog post on the matter). Fast forward to 2021. I am now 35 going on 36 and, I really hate saying this, but Star Trek has, within recent years, lost its magic with me. Not only that, but I can precisely pinpoint when it happened. Maybe not to the date, but definitely the reason to make me rethink my love for the franchise.

Reason One. When the first rumbles of Star Trek: Picard began, oh I was so excited to once again indulge in some Prime Time television! Yay! Perhaps it would be a little revival of my childhood. Having Trek back on the air, in a traditional sense, would’ve totally rekindled my interest in a network – any network, really – again. Sadly, that’s not the route CBS intended to go.

Star Trek: Picard premiered on what was once known as CBS All Access (now Paramount+), and you had to pay extra money just to watch it. To this day I am still salty its producers didn’t even give it a chance, initially, on the network itself. I think they finally showed the first episode “on air” after Picard’s original run. But at the time I didn’t have internet. And I know there are many older Trek fans who don’t have reliable access to the internet either.

Now before you judge me too harshly for that first reason, I do have a few more reasons for becoming disenchanted with said franchise. Reason Two: some controversial opinions from the actors themselves.

I get it – we’re all humans. We want to meet our favorite actors. We want to indulge an escape from the real world for a little bit. But sometimes “meeting” your, for lack of a better term, “idol” online in a way can really pull away that veil. Especially if they’re actually nothing like the character they portrayed in your favorite show.

Finally, it’s time for Reason Three: Star Trek was once akin to my own identity. It no longer defines who I am. How many hours of my teen years did I spend obsessing over characters or shows? How many times can one person watch every season before it becomes stale? How many times can one dream over the impossible “what if’s” of meeting an entire crew of actors at once? All those things combined made me rethink who I really was. Rather, who I really am.

Somewhere along the line, I lost interest in other things. I lost myself to fandom during the process of growing up. We humans have an innate tendency to latch onto whatever makes us happy. The thing is, Star Trek isn’t eternal. Kpop (another past interest) isn’t eternal. We are not eternal.

What are, what should be, my actual priorities? Faith. Family. Writing. Health. I found myself missing out on these aspects of life; I never taught myself how to properly balance many aspects of myself. Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, we all lost a little bit of ourselves last year. And I know I’m not the only one whose realized it’s time to grow up.

Is Star Trek a lifestyle? Perhaps it is for some. But who are you really if that’s what you live and breathe? How far can you become so wrapped up into a franchise that you no longer who you are? As I grow older, I’m finding that I really want more out of life. I need to do things in the here and now.

I’ve wasted so much time.
Not anymore.

What do I want? I still want to, someday, become a published author. I’m tired of being known for my procrastination. I’m tired of being disappointed in my own laziness when I’ve got only myself to take care of.

So while I feel I can no longer call myself a fan of Star Trek, I can still appreciate it for the joys and lessons it’s brought me over the years (heck I’m currently working on a science fantasy manuscript). Will I still throw on an episode or two in the future for background noise? Most likely. But I will no longer write on anything Trek.

TL;DR – It is perfectly normal and acceptable to be passionate about what you love. My own passions and loves have merely realigned.


Here’s Why “The Siege of AR-558” is the Finest Episode in All Star Trek.

There’s one life long decision I’ll never apologize for cultivating: my life long obsession with Star Trek. Many episodes from The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise I’ve watched thrice over. I never could get into The Original Series, but that’s just personal taste. I did, however, give an entire speech in college on how Star Trek influenced not only my life, but the lives of countless other individuals, inventions and events. I wish I’d kept that speech. Heck, I even visited the John C. Hodges Library on the University of Tennessee’s campus to search their stacks for resources. (I attended a smaller college some fifteen to twenty minutes away near Knoxville).

So when I claim that The Siege of AR-558 is the finest episode in all Star Trek, I’m basing this off my knowledge and viewership of the primary plot line (if you’re a dork like me who enjoys things like this, have a read of this Wiki page on the Timeline of Star Trek). I prefer to not include the 2009 reboot films, as they are just that: films instead of episodes.

The Siege of AR-558 takes place during Deep Space Nine’s sixth season (1997-98). The Next Gen film, Insurrection, is released a year after in 1998. I mention this to help give Trek fans a starting point for this post, and to help blog readers unfamiliar with the franchise to get some background knowledge before what’s to come.

Speaking of Next Gen, I know many fellow fans will argue that The Inner Light is the best episode, Mirror; Mirror from TOS, or Tuvix from Voyager, or even still Damage from Enterprise. All those are well and good, and must watch episodes for any new Star Trek fan. But here’s why I firmly believe that The Siege of AR-558 is the finest episode in all Star Trek. For none of those have resonated with me more than this. Spoilers ahead, one quarter impulse.

The Plot.

At story’s open we are met with a war-torn, well oiled crew, going on yet another resupply mission to an outpost wanted by both the Federation and the Dominion for the communications array there. As the USS Defiant waits for Sisko and his team to finish, they’re attacked by Dominion ships covering their own troop reinforcements to the same moon. When Sisko is faced with a decision to leave a regiment worse off or stay, he chooses to stay and command.

Morale on the Federation front lines is at an all time low, but they know their orders and hold fast to them; “When we landed here there were one hundred and fifty of us. We’re down to forty-three.”

We also have the unique perspective of this episode to see Quark’s perspective of the war and those fighting it. He keeps attempting to dissuade his nephew, as their race isn’t even a member of the Federation; “Take a look around you, Nog. This isn’t the Starfleet you know.” In Quark’s defense, he’s tried to dissuade Nog from joining Starfleet since season three’s episode Heart of Stone. While this may not be a turning point battle for The Dominion War, it does become just that for Captain Benjamin Sisko and Starfleet’s only serving Ferengi officer.



At the fifteen minute mark we see just how nerve-wrecked the troops are as Doctor Bashir tends to their wounds; “One minute he’s tying this on my arm, talking my head off. And the next, he’s flung back with a hole in his chest.” This is some brilliant acting by Raymond Cruz as Vargas; the producers for this episode couldn’t have cast a better group of people for this particular story.

Doctor Julian Bashir recognizes the precarious nature of the individuals guarding the post. They’ve been there since the war began and were supposed to have been replaced months earlier. When Sisko is asked what their new orders are now that he’s the highest ranking officer, he says, “There’s only one order, lieutenant. We hold.” Chills, I tell you. I got literal chills.

Now faced with fighting insurmountable odds with this war-torn regiment, they immediately ready for battle. All the while, their nerves are further frayed by subspace mines, dwindling numbers and the pending battle. When a grave injury takes down one of their own, everything changes. Quark takes up arms defending his nephew and comes to blows with Captain Sisko. Sisko: “Now you listen here, and you listen good. I care about Nog, and every soldier under my command! Understood?”

Final thoughts.

Star Trek has never been a show to back down from humor, parties and all those “good times” episodes. It’s also never backed down from taking stands on social issues, showing the rawness humanity has to offer, or what anyone’s capable of in certain situations. The Siege of AR-558 is absolutely no exception. Friends were made, friends were lost, and viewers will feel like they’re right there with them on that God-forsaken moon.

This episode shows what a crew, working together as long as they have, is capable of accomplishing. By this point in the show, these characters have fought directly on the front lines since The Dominion War began (since the inception of the Bajoran Wormhole). And the main crew of actors have worked together for years as well. This episode would not have worked early on in DS9s run. Its sheer perfection and placement in Season Seven is where it truly belongs.

This is an episode with amazing writing, excellent acting, and a harsh look at what war can do to individuals after a long period of time. The fact that this episode still evokes such strong emotions years after its original air date speaks volumes to the brilliancy of it all, and is why The Siege of AR-558 is the best episode in all Star Trek. No show will ever have character arcs or character camaraderie quite like the ones of Star Trek Deep Space Nine.


The Character Arcs in Star Trek Deep Space Nine

With all this new Star Trek coming out (Picard, Discovery, Lower Decks), I thought it high time to revive a blog series I’d forgotten about. Earlier this year, I analyzed the cast of Star Trek Voyager and assigned each member of the main crew their arc. Today, I’m going to take a look at the very large cast of Star Trek Deep Space Nine and give myself more work by analyzing not only their arcs, but which change best suits them, or if they’re round or flat characters.

Deep Space Nine had an absolutely huge recurring cast of secondary characters, so I’m sticking to a list of just twelve. I’m not even including anyone from the series’ Mirror Universe or the Dominion, as there just isn’t enough source material to work with. The twelve I’ll analyze in today’s post are the core characters the series’ used the most. If there is a cross next to an actor’s name, it means they have passed on into Paradise.

A Quick Review of Character Changes and Arcs

*In this section I refer to Meg LaTorre’s iWriterly blog post on the Types of Character Arcs in fiction, as well as several resources on KM Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors website.
If I use a different resource I’ll include a separate hyperlink.

01


Positive Change

Normally used for the heroes in the story. The characters with this change type often struggle more when faced with difficult choices or internal conflict. They want to become a better person.

02


Negative Change

While this type of change is often used for “villains,” other characters can have negative plot lines which will not land them on the truly evil side of things.

03


Flat Characters

No matter the choices these characters make, they basically stay where they started at the very beginning. Sometimes they’ll change. Usually not.

04


Round Characters

To directly quote Judy Blume’s Masterclass on the matter: “Round characters are fully realized characters that come into conflict with each other […] spurring character development.”

05


The Change Arc

Whether this character’s change is immediate or over the course of time (or both), protagonists usually have these arcs. To quote LaTorre, “This change is radical.”

06


The Growth Arc

Characters within the growth arc has more internal change than outward change. Change still happens, but not as radical as the aforementioned arc. They’ll grow as a person regardless of external circumstances.

07


The Shift Arc

According to LaTorre via Reedsy, ““The protagonist changes his perspective, learns different skills, or gains a different role. The end result is not ‘better’ or more than the starting point, just different.”

08


The Fall Arc

Fall arcs can apply to both protagonists and antagonists. This change often results in a decrepit state of mind, death, true villainy, etc. Or even a fall from grace.

Check out this post over on KM Weiland’s blog concerning large casts of characters.
There she explains how a balance of the above changes and arcs can greatly benefit a story.

Now that all that’s out of the way, here are


Linked character names will take you to Memory Alpha,
a website dedicated to fandoms and detailed pages about characters, shows, etc.
Linked actor names will take you to their IMDB pages,
should you wish to learn more about either!

Captain Benjamin Sisko
The Change Arc

Captain Benjamin Sisko was portrayed by Avery Brooks

From the very first episode, Benjamin Sisko and his son, Jake, are thrust into an intense period of change. It propels the entire series forward, and many aspects connect the Sisko family to the people of Bajor. You could say that Sisko’s path very much mimics that of the Bajorans.

The Bajoran home world has just come out of a fifty year occupation by the Cardassians. Sisko must not only bridge a broken peoples’ relationship with the rest of the galaxy, but somehow promise them there is hope for a brighter future.

Change follows Sisko all the way to the final episode. But I refuse to include any spoilers here. This series has one of the most emotional conclusions I’ve ever seen. Avery Brooks poured his entire heart and soul into Sisko, and it’s evident in his arc.

Jake: “…He insisted that she cut up his food for him.
He was treating her like she was some kind of slave.”
Sisko: “It sounds like he’s acting like a Ferengi to me.”

source

Constable Odo
The Shift Arc

Constable Odo was portrayed by Rene Auberjonois

Odo, the station’s constable. Odo, the enigma. Odo, the only one of his kind on Deep Space Nine.

For much of Odo’s arc, he’s searching for his origins but he’s sure of who he is as an individual. Then how, pray, does Odo end up in the negative change arc?

Sometimes what we seek isn’t what we’re meant to find. Or what we wanted to find. Odo’s story is one with many layers, but was it better at the beginning or at the end?

Odo: “Where’s the Changeling? I lost him in the conduits.”
O’Brien: “We haven’t seen him.”
(another Odo emerges from another access port)
Changeling/Odo: “Wait. It’s me, Odo.”
O’Brien(looks at both Odo’s) “You don’t say.”

source

Dr. Julian Bashir
The Growth Arc

Doctor Julian Bashir was portrayed by Alexander Siddig

Stay with me on this one. I’ll not deny that Dr. Bashir had some amazing character moments and difficult choices he had to make throughout the series, including defying orders on several occasions.

Due to some behind-the-scenes tension, Bashir wasn’t developed as well as Sisko or Dax. It’s a well known fact among long time Trek fans that Season Four is when Bashir really begins to shine.

Even with all the writers’ issues with the Bashir character arc, Siddig did an amazing job portraying one of my first television crushes.

Kai Winn: “There is more at stake than one man’s life.”
Bashir: “One man’s life is all I’m concerned with at the moment.”

source

Chief Miles Edward O’Brien
The Shift Arc

Colm Meany reprised the role from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Colm Meany wasn’t sure about reprising O’Brien on another series, but I’m sure glad he did! Because of this O’Brien became an integral character on DS9. Grandfathered in, if you will.

We saw some of his development on Next Gen, but he was more of a secondary character there. Watching the Chief’s growth from Next Gen to the end of DS9 was, and still is, such a joy.

One of the most serious episodes in all of Trek involves O’Brien. If you’re already a fan, you know precisely the one I speak of. It only affirms Trek’s relevancy to what 2020’s brought us. And it O’Brien’s arc shows us that humans in the 24th century will struggle with and overcome the same things we do today.

“It’s not you I hate, Cardassian. I hate what I became, because of you.”
– O’Brien to Glinn Daro

source

Major Kira Nerys
The Growth Arc

Major Kira Nerys was played by Nana Visitor

Major Kira Nerys, very set in her ways when it comes to what she believes, is still willing to accept into her life new relationships, new thoughts and takes on whatever the universe throws at her with strength and grace.

The Round character type suits Kira the most. As she’s Bajoran, she’s just as passionate about her faith and her politics as Cardassians are about order and conquest. Kira’s passion is what draws people of all races to her, and thus needs to change and grow in order to survive.

“If you want to change the government, Minister Jaro, you vote to change it.
You don’t sneak up from behind it with a dagger.”
– Kira to Jaro

source

Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax
The Change Arc

The Dax Symbiont’s eighth host was played by Terry Farrell

Confession: I had a hard time pinpointing Dax’s character arc. And even now I’m still unsure if I made the right choice. Dax, the symbiont within its host of Jadzia (read up on Trill physiology here), has already given Jadzia eight life times’ worth of experiences by the time her character’s introduced in Episode One.

As such, I do believe her character was thought out long before they cast Farrell into the roll. Round in that she knows firmly who she is even with the memories of so many lifetimes inside her.

Even so, Dax still manages to experience much change. Her change isn’t as integral to DS9s timeline as Sisko’s, but their arcs compliment one another well.

Dax: “The Korvat colony. First day of negotiations, I walked out on you, right in the middle of that long-winded speech of yours. You should have seen the look on your face. Nobody had ever had the kajunpak’t to show their back to the great Kang before Curzon did.”
Kang: “I almost killed Curzon that day.”

source

Lt. Commander Worf
The Shift Arc

Michael Dorn also reprised his role from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Because he previously appeared on Next Gen with Chief O’Brien, Worf is quite the Round character. Much of his character’s already developed, so if you really want to get the full Worf experience in, watch all of that series first.

That’s why Worf has the Shift Arc in DS9. We see him learning new skills, learning how to deal with different situations, and how he’s able to hold fast to his heritage in a place he’s never felt quite comfortable in.

If you thought Worf already had quite the role in TNG, just you wait!

Worf: “Our gods are dead. Ancient Klingon warriors slew them a millennia ago. They were more trouble than they were worth.”
Kira: “I don’t think I’ll ever understand Klingons.”
O’Brien: “Don’t worry about it, Major. Nobody Does. It’s the way they like it.”

source

Quark
The Shift Arc

Quark was portrayed by Armin Shimerman

Whether you want to believe a Ferengi can change or not, Quark falls under the Shift Arc category. Two of my absolute favorite DS9 episodes are completely Ferengi-centric: “Little Green Men” and “The Magnificent Ferengi.”

Even with those two fantastic episodes, and other times Quark shines in episodes like “Business As Usual” and “Profit and Lace,” Quark ends up exactly where he began.

As a Ferengi, Quark was raised with an intense need to earn profit. The entire population within the Ferengi alliance, after all, knows the Rules of Acquisition by heart.

For Quark, even with all his aspirations and more deals gone wrong over those gone right, his character ends with some negative changes.

Quark: “You practically begged me to stay,
which was against my better judgement, but I did!”
Sisko: “I didn’t beg you, I blackmailed you.”

source

Rom
The Shift Arc

Max Grodenchik portrayed Rom

Max Grodenchik has said that Rom was supposed to be just a guest on DS9. While it’s true he’s not in the opening credits, both he and Nog really should’ve been.

Rom is not your typical Ferengi. He’s often criticized by members of his own race, or mocked by others, for being too influenced by “hoomans.”

Rom’s arc connects him to several story threads, and he takes it all on in, well, in Rom’s own way. And Rom’s own way is exactly what’s so endearing about him.

Even when he’s plotting against Quark – because he is, after all, still a Ferengi. A Ferengi with a finish you’ll never see coming.

Rom: “I’m going back to Quark! At least then I’ll be cheated by family!”

source

Nog
The Shift Arc

Nog was portrayed by Aron Eisenberg

Nog, influenced by his friendship with the Sisko family, begins to desire something more than what his society expects of him. There’s so much backstory with Nog and the man who portrays him that it could be its own separate blog post.

Because of those desires, he’s met with some tough resistance from those who can’t believe a Ferengi would want something more than profit. He wants to join Starfleet.

Nog’s journey from childhood to trusted member of the crew is a great reason families should watch DS9. For a secondary character, that’s not too shabby if you ask me.

Jake: “I- I- I made other plans!”
Nog: “What could be more important than dom-jot?”
Jake: “I have a date.”
Nog: “Ohhh. We-ell. That’s different.”

source

Gul Dukat
The Fall Arc

Gul Dukat was played by Mark Alaimo

What can I say about Gul Dukat that won’t spoil anything for you? For the character that he is, he’s one of the most developed I’ve ever seen in a Star Trek series. Next would have to be Commander Worf.

Dukat’s journey is one filled with challenge after challenge. He falls from grace, reclaims his place and falls again. Does this give him some form of Cardassian inferiority complex?

Let’s just say that Dukat is the polar opposite of DS9s resident Cardassian, Garak. While their race, as a whole, is ambitious, confident and efficient, this combination of traits feed both Dukat’s ego and his downfall.

Kira: “Why is it when you smile I want to leave the room?”
Dukat: “I suppose it’s because of my overwhelming charm.”

source

Kai Winn Adami
The Fall Arc

Kai Winn was played by Louise Fletcher

Speaking of ego, Winn Adami likes to begin many of her statements with the “I.” I’ll not hide my feelings about this particular character: Adami is a snake, and I’m sure she’ll not appreciate my use of her given name here.

Adami not only qualify for the Fall Arc, she’s a rather flat character as well. Her wants are singular. And, irony of ironies, she’s openly bitter about her circumstances.

Is that bitterness warranted? Is it self-imposed or was it fed by the Bajoran thirst for freedom from the Cardassian Occupation? I guess you’ll just have to watch and decide for yourself.

Kai Winn: “I was chosen by the Prophets to lead our people into a new era. I know that! But I was not meant to be in a room with a Cardassian, debating legalisms and diplomatic nuances.”

source

“But Leigh! You left out Ezri Dax. Jake Sisko. Garak. Weyoun. Keiko and Molly and Kirayoshi O’Brien. Not to mention Liquidator Brunt, Quark’s cousin Gala, Moogie, the Grand Nagus, Damar, Leeta-“

Slow down, slow down, slow down. Deep Space Nine has one of, if not the largest pools of secondary characters I’ve ever seen in a series. And, whether you like my analysis or not, those folks are secondary characters.

While Jake Sisko did indeed grow up on the show (figuratively and literally), there really aren’t enough Jake-centered episodes fully round out his character. I should hope that even Jake Sisko himself, the captain’s son turned author, would agree with that conclusion. In conclusion: his is a flat character arc.

As for the others, some I’d love to see come back if Deep Space Nine were ever revived. But without Odo or Nog (rest in Paradise, Rene and Aron), as well as certain characters written off the show, I don’t foresee that happening any time soon.

For now, don’t let my analysis of these characters dissuade you from watching Deep Space Nine. Sandwiched between The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager, the writers for DS9 were able to explore a different kind of frontier.


What I Watch When I’m Not Writing.

The answer: very little, in fact. Way back in April, at the very beginning of all things pandemic and everyone else was binging their entire Netflix list, I conducted a month long experiment and unplugged my television. For science. Five months later it’s still unplugged, and I haven’t seen a single political ad this whole year. The result: a much happier existence. I really do suggest you give it a try.

However, every once in a while I crave some mindless entertainment. While I’ve read down my TBR book pile and bought even more than I can handle in a year, I needed to add back in a healthy mix of other kinds of media. As such, here’s what I watch when I’m not writing. Or trying to write. Or practicing deep procrastination from writing!

YouTube

For a long while I unsubscribed from all the channels I was watching the past two years. Some of them no longer posted content, and others no longer piqued my interest. Last night I whittled down the my current list from over fifteen to six. Here they are.

Kittisaurus

Kittisaurus and her ten (yes, ten) cats brings me so much joy. A YouTuber out of South Korea, Claire, Lulu, Momo, TT, DD, LaLa, CoCo, ChuChu, Nana, Toto and DoDo will most certainly brighten up your day. However, Claire recently got back ownership of her original channel, CreamHeroes. While I’m really happy she was able to accomplish that, I’m still nervous to resub. (If you know anything about YouTube politics, you get what I mean). So here’s a couple videos from her Kittisaurus channel for you to enjoy.

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Korean! She’s got such a large, international fan base that she’s been working on her English skills.

Royalty Soaps

I love Katie’s soaps. Having watched her channel grow over the past several years, it’s now incredibly difficult placing orders on her soap release days. But that’s a fantastic problem to have – for Katie! She’s a small business based out of Texas and basically her whole family’s involved in the process. (Process. Cold processed soap. See what I did there? hehe). While I prefer low-top soaps over the ones with high piles of “soap frosting,” I bought a high top grapefruit soap earlier this year and was sad when it was gone. If you prefer using bars of soap over liquid, consider supporting Katie’s Royalty Soaps. If you can’t seem to get your hands on her bars, look into Ophelia’s Soapery.

Binging With Babish

I found this channel a month ago. I don’t even know why I started watching it. All I know is I’ll never make a good 95% of the recipes he recreates from television shows and film. Of the five percent left, I *may* actually attempt an alcohol free version of the cheese fondue video below. I bought one of those electric fondue pots last year, and I own several old school fondue cookbooks from the 1970s. Oooh – I may just have to for my birthday coming up next month!

Kimono Mom

Kimono Mom’s the most recent channel I’ve subscribed to within the last few weeks. Moe cooks Japanese cuisine with her adorable daughter, Sutan. I’ve always wanted to try making more types of food, and I love this channel’s simplicity. In fact, I’m going to try making tonkatsu later this week. The closest Asian market that I know of here in Pittsburgh is about twenty minutes away on a good driving day. I don’t know if they’re currently open for business, but I’m going to try looking for ingredients to make dashi, and that coveted Japanese mayo!

Tonkatsu reminds me of the German dish schnitzle, which is also a breaded cutlet.

Jessica Braun

I’ve watched Jessica Braun for years. And I do mean years. From the floor of her bedroom to her wedding to the birth of her adorable Gigi, it’s been a privilege to watch her little family grow. If you like all things Disney, her husband’s a travel agent and they often vlog their trips (when there’s not a pandemic going on, of course). If you like a more down-to-earth YouTube channel experience, give Jessica Braun’s channel a try.

Alexandria Ryan

Alex’s channel is one of those channels I unsub from only to come back a month later. I don’t know why I just don’t let the link sit in my subs list. To quote Alex, “Anywho…” This channel’s specialty lies in subscription box unboxings. If you ever think about getting one, she may have a review of it already. Boxes aren’t as big as they once were, but I could be wrong. The only box I purchase is FabFitFun. That’s mostly because of their options and quality, add-on specials, and ease of cancellation.

Netflix

I have a rule of thumb with Netflix – never have more than five shows in your Watch Later list. Right before I unplugged my TV, I pushed my way through a list twenty titles deep. By the end, instead of entertained, I was disappointed in myself for some of the choices I make in life. Okay, let’s not get philosophical here. Here’s what’s currently on my Watch Later list:

Star Trek

Some people binge watch FRIENDS. Others The Office, and still others Seinfeld. Then there’s the generation that adores shows like Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and the newest version of Sabrina. Whatever your favorite genre may be, mine will always, always be Star Trek.

This month’s series is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I’ve yet to dip my toes into Discovery or Picard, as its the classics I love. One of these days I really should see what all the talk’s about.

It takes me about a month to get through a Star Trek series, and I can’t watch them out of order. The only one I also can’t get into is The Original Series. I do, of course, understand its significance and place in pop culture history.

If you doubt my love for Trek, just read these blog posts of mine:

The Character Arcs in Star Trek Voyager
The Dream That Star Trek Gave Me
Five Disease Filled Star Trek Voyager Episodes
Five Favorite Childhood Books

Black

Another Netflix habit I have is rewatching old Korean dramas I absolutely adore. I normally don’t go for dramas with older cast members, as I prefer more light-hearted series. But Black’s dark nature rekindled my love for its genre (think Japan’s Ghost Hunt anime, Supernatural, and S. Korea’s Bring It On, Ghost [oml Taecyeon’s my weakness).

Last month I watched Oh My Ghost again. I really want to rewatch the Taiwanese and Japanese versions once more, but that’s a lot of TV. For now, I’ll stick with the Korean mystical thriller, Black.

Cast:
1. Song Seung-heon
2. Go Ara
3. El Lee
4. Jo Jae-yoon
5. Kim Dong-jun
6. Kim Won-hae
7. Choi Myung-bin
8. Lee Hyo-Je
9. Kim Hyeong-min
10. Kim Jae-young

Cursed

Cursed is one of those shows with such mixed reviews I hesitate to watch.

I’ve also been so busy as of late that I really need to set aside time to sit down and pay attention to something brand new. I think that’s why I enjoy having old shows on in the background, so I can still work without having to stop and watch.

Yes, this includes Korean dramas like Black.

I’m drawn to anything with swords. Think Lord of the Rings, Legend of the Seeker and that one episode of Firefly where Mal is challenged to a duel. Okay, looks like I’m giving Cursed a chance.

NiNoKuni

Every so often I’ll hop on the anime train. I can only handle it in small chunks. As a kid I loved Sailor Moon and watched Inuyasha during Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming. I also absolutely love Sword Art Online, Clannad, Mary and the Witch’s Flower and A Silent Voice.

This past week I finished A Whisker Away, Ouran High School Host Club (again), and Toradora. That’s a lot of television for someone who’s unplugged her actual tv!

NiNoKuni‘s a film along the same line as A.I.C.O. Incarnate, another post-apocalyptic Netflix original. The similar concept drew me to add it to my list, and I can’t wait to dive in.

I do appreciate how one kid in the poster kinda reminds me of Haku from Spirited Away:


So how’s that for an impromptu blog post? I suppose the other reason I wanted to share these titles is to remind you that you don’t always need to be writing. It’s perfectly okay, normal, natural to take a break. In fact, breaks are necessary for your mental health. Don’t be afraid to indulge in a favorite YouTube video or Netflix flick. They’re a great stress reliever and frees up those neurons so they can plan out your next great scene. Give yourself a break and do something freeing today.


Music That Drives My Writing | The Michael Giacchino Edition

It’s no secret that music breathes life into my writing sessions. I am very much driven in my craft by a song’s flow. For those who know me, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, and this method has yet to steer me wrong. In today’s musically charged post, I’m sharing my favorite Michael Giacchino scores. I hope you’ll also check out other posts in the “Music That Drives My Writing” blog series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3: the Kpop Edition, Part 4: The Film Score Edition, Part 5: The 1940s Edition, Part 6: The SyFy Edition, Part 7: The James Horner Edition, Part 8: The Hans Zimmer Edition, and Part 9: The John Williams Edition.
This is Part 10: The Michael Giacchino Edition. Perhaps you’ll find some new music to love!

1. “Main Theme” from Star Trek: Into Darkness

This was the first score I ever heard – or the first one which caused me to look him up – of Giacchino’s. Love or hate this version of Star Trek, its score is certainly one of my favorites.

2. “Life & Death” from Lost

Lost is another one of those shows you either love to death or love to hate. I stopped watching it because college in 2005 > television. But I remember loving its score.

3. “Night on the Yorktown” from Star Trek: Beyond

Fight me if you will, but I firmly believe this to be one of the most gorgeous themes in all Star Trek.

4. “If You Don’t Make It, It’s Your Own Damn Fault” from Land of the Lost

This film came out in 2009, but this score gives me early 1990s vibes.

5. “Commitment” from Jupiter Ascending

If you want to indulge in a really weird, confusing film with bad sound editing, watch Jupiter Ascending. The budget was all in the film score and CGI. Certainly not writing a coherent script… But I like the music, so it has that going for it, I suppose.

6. “As the Jurassic World Turns” from Jurassic World

How can you not love this epic piece of art?

7. “Peter’s Lament” from The Book of Henry

I’ve never seen this film, but the beginning of this lament sounds similar to Night on the Yorktown and I love it.

8. “Declaration of Indo-Pendence” from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Looking for something to write a great action sequence to? Look no further than the scores for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom!


Music That Drives My Writing | Film Score Edition

It’s no secret that music breathes life into my writing sessions. I know many fellow authors who do better in silence. I, for one, am very much driven in my craft by a song’s flow. This method has yet to steer me wrong.

For those who know me, this list shouldn’t come as a surprise, as my five favorite composers are: Hans Zimmer, Michael Giacchino, Joe Hisaishi, John Williams and James Horner. Okay, so not all of these songs are instrumentals, but their flow together in my Spotify really gets my creative juices flowing.

For today’s musically charged post, I’m sharing eight instrumental songs that drive my writing. I hope you’ll also check out other posts I have for this “Music That Drives My Writing” blog series – Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, the Kpop Edition. This is Part 4, unsurprisingly heavy on the Hans Zimmer.

1. “Cornfield Chase” by Hans Zimmer

2. “Star Trek Into Darkness Main Theme” by Michael Giacchino

3. “Cap’s Promise” by Henry Jackman

4. “Why Do We Fall” by Hans Zimmer

5. “Code of Conduct” by Hans Zimmer

6. “The Healing” by James Newton Howard

7. “Halo 2 Theme, Gungnir Mix” by Paul Lipson, Lennie Moore, Tom Salta, Brian Trifon, Brian Lee White, Steve Vai

8. “Jake’s First Flight” by James Horner


Why Writing Fan Fiction Soothes the Soul and How it Teaches the Art of Writing

When I took my first dive into the online writing community, I discovered two grains of thought – those who love to write fan fiction (stories based on popular films, television shows or books), and those who look down on those who wrote them. I wrote fan fiction before I even knew that’s what it’s called. To be more specific, I wrote Star Trek shorts and scripts. When I started college in 2005, Supernatural became the object of my imagination. Cue swooning over Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins. Writing make believe fell to the wayside, replaced with term papers and studying for final exams.

Writing fan fiction never left my mind. I used to post stories on several sites (their domain names no longer live in my brain), and I even joined the online Twitter fandom for Supernatural. Unfortunately, as with any fandom, things fell apart and people began to chastise one another for how they supported the show.

So I left. And, for a long time after that, I wrote hardly a thing. For four or five years after I graduated college, I didn’t want to. A story was never finished, a character never fully developed, and even reading lost its charm. The flame reignited in 2016, when my original idea for Project Firedamp hit me like a ton of bricks. I still don’t have a finished story or a fully developed character, but I’ve fallen back in love with reading. Why? Because, even though I’d lost faith in a fandom I’d invested so much time in, I realized that my love for writing as a child was still within me. And all those stories I wrote taught me lessons I didn’t figure out till just now.

Now. It’s time to share them.

Why Fan Fiction Soothes the Soul

Ever come across a show with an ending that didn’t satisfy you? Not in the least? One that comes to mind is Firefly. Granted, Firefly got its movie, Serenity. But if you’re a fan of that little ditty, I know you feel just as cheated as I do about it. If you’re a Star Trek fan, then what about all those loose ends in Star Trek Voyager? What happened to the crew after seven seasons? The Maquis? Those from the Equinox who were decommissioned into crewmen? Or-?

Writing fan fiction can help fill in those holes. It provides an outlet to let out frustrations over incomplete stories. Not only that, the characters are already there, and all you have to do is let your imagination run rampant.

And Why Fan Fiction Teaches the Art of Writing

Learning is subjective. Everyone discovers life in different ways. That’s why there’s really not a true curriculum out there on writing itself. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of “how to write” books, workbooks, and even semester college courses out there that explore different methods. Eventually, each writer has to find for themselves what works best. Here are three things writing fan fiction has taught me about the art of writing itself.

1. Start small, and have at least one or two main characters to help ground the plot.
Especially if you’re just dipping your toes into novel writing, you don’t need a cast as large as, say, Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or The Hunger Games. Some can jump right in and see plot lines way into the future. For others, it takes time to masterfully weave everything together. It’s better to slowly reveal everything than get it all out at once with long sections of backstory or full character descriptions. I suggest starting out with KM Weiland’s “character interviews” to get a feel for your story’s voice and tone. The great thing about this list is you can tailor it to fit the narrative.

Starting small keeps you thirsty for more. Remember that writing is a learning process. Which leads us into point two:

2. Take your time. You don’t need to crank out a novel in a month, especially if it’s your first time.
“But there’s that contest!” you interject. “I absolutely have to be query ready in TWO WEEKS!” Stop. Tap the breaks, because that’s a warning sign right there. Please, for your mental health, don’t think you have to enter every writing contest offered up on Twitter, or query every agent because they’ll not be accepting inquiries for two months.

Take the time to build your characters up even more. Did you remember a detail you forgot to add three weeks ago? Add, adjust, and revisit places where that detail might make or break the story.

They say it can take ten or more years to write your first book. Don’t let that scare you! It just means that, for first time attempts, there’s a lot to learn. Don’t let someone else’s writing journey grow a little green monster of jealousy inside you. Take your time. Go back to a fan fiction to free your mind for a while from a work in progress, or read. Don’t forget to read and hone your craft.

3. Have a plan. Or, if the opposite is true, write without one.
Why did I never finish a story in the past? I didn’t have a plan. As it turns out, I needed to learn about outlining, structure, and plot arcs once I got started. This circles back to the last statement from Tip 2: “Don’t forget to read and hone your craft.” I’ll admit that I was lost for a while. In 2018, even though I was writing every day, I didn’t understand how to connect scenes. Or how to subtly introduce a character that may have a huge impact in the climax. Or how to outline beforehand (or tweak the outline during).

Are you a visual learner? Many of my fellow writers have shared their processes online. Beware the research rabbit hole; don’t let that distract you from your goals (this comes from a historical adventure writer. Unfortunately, research rabbit holes create much ire, especially when all I wanted was a tidbit of info about a historical figure). But I digress.

Find a plan that works for you and stick with it. Write a little each day, and you’ll surely finish.

Or get an idea for yet another story.

Whichever comes first.


Remember. Everyone starts somewhere. And, if you’ve no publishing aspirations and just love writing fan fiction, these tips can help you, too. Because even fan fiction needs help once in a while.



The Character Arcs in Star Trek Voyager

Why is there all this focus on Star Trek on my website? The answer is simple – it’s my absolute favorite franchise. Every time it’s on, it’s like I’ve come home to a friend, or rediscovered a favorite comfort food from ages past. Not only that, but if you can look past the sometimes-hokey story lines and bad episodes (there isn’t a single franchise that can claim immunity from a badly written episode), you’ll grow to love the characters themselves.

Star Trek Voyager‘s original run began in January 1995 with “Caretaker,” and wrapped in 2001 with “Endgame.” Throughout its seven seasons the writers introduced and said goodbye to many secondary characters, and some primary ones too.

In writing, a character’s arc, or their development, is an important piece to the story’s overall puzzle. When written well, a character can incite excitement or take a viewer or reader into the depths of despair. The downside to any Star Trek series is there will always be a character(s) who’ll get more screen time than others.

As with any story, each character has a purpose. Some are clearly main characters, others decidedly supporting, and still others make but a brief appearance. As I learn more about these character arcs, I started comparing them to the crew of the USS Voyager. We’ll observe them by rank, and figure out which arc they fall under. But first, let’s take a quick look at the types of character arcs.

These examples all come from KM Weiland’s “Helping Writers Become Authors,” because her resources are awesome.

Please be sure to stop by her blog, because she goes more in depth with each of these. This is just quick reference for this post. Also, each arc is linked to Weiland’s website so you can dive even more deeply.

Positive Change Arc
To paraphrase: Also known as one of the heroic arcs, characters with this arc uses a known or newly learned truth to try implementing positive change.

The Disillusionment Arc
Characters with the disillusionment arc will either join with the positive resolutions of the story or return to their original world, even while knowing the new “truths.” This is a.k.a a “negative change arc.”

The Corruption Arc
Characters with the corruption arc rarely want to positively change. Instead, they use their original lies to continue on in the “new world”

The Flat Arc
[Also a heroic arc] “These characters experience little to no change over the course of the story. […] Sometimes these characters are catalysts for change in the story world around them.”

The Fall Arc
Another negative change arc. The simplest definition of a Fall Arc is the character must face the consequences + aftermath of their choices. No matter what they try to positively change, if they try, it’s met with resistance and futility.

Now let’s see which senior officer exemplifies which arc.
Do any turn to Corruption?

Note: Spoilers and episode recommendations to follow

Captain Kathryn Janeway
Kate Mulgrew
Arc: The Flat Arc

Hear me out here. As the first female captain portrayed by the Star Trek franchise (we can only assume that other female captains preceded her within this universe), Captain Janeway had a lot to live up to. Let’s face it. She followed the likes of James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard. A scientist a heart, Janeway often took it upon herself to study the mysteries of the Delta Quadrant along with her underlings. Episodes like “Year of Hell,” “Scorpion” and “Macrocosm” successfully exhibit her tactical resilience. However, she does have a stubborn streak. One where both Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Tuvok oft have to act as checks and balances, and remind her she isn’t alone in her command-making decisions. Throughout all seven seasons, Captain Janeway remains one of the most constant characters of them all, and clearly the most developed even before the show begins. For this reason, I’ve labeled her as a Flat Arc character. While she wrestles with her truths throughout the entire series, she rarely falters. What influenced my choice –> How to Write a Flat Character by KM Weiland.

Commander Chakotay
Robert Beltran
Arc: The Positive Change Arc

Commander Chakotay, ex-terrorist under the Maquis (if you followed the Deep Space Nine series you’ll know more on what this means), and once a cadet at Starfleet Academy, Commander Chakotay is a perfect example example of the positive change arc. We see a LOT of change within Chakotay’s character (and many fans today wished he’d “hooked up” with Janeway, especially after “Resolutions“). Even after Chakotay’s own fall from Starfleet, and even after his commanding position as a Maquis, I think Chakotay became a father figure to the ship’s crew. Both Starfleet and Maquis alike. While his arc eventually flattened out in later seasons, he was uniquely (purposefully) placed to step in as commander in “Caretaker, Parts 1&2.” From his initial introduction to “Endgame,” you know you’d want Commander Chakotay defending your honor. (ie “Basics 1&2“).

Lieutenant Tuvok
Tim Russ
Arc: The Flat Arc

Commander Tuvok, the steadfast Vulcan of Voyager’s bridge staff, as well as proficient tactical officer, rarely had episodes dedicated just to his character development. Out of VOY’s entire run, only “The Raven,” “Author, Author,” “Gravity,” “Repression” and “Innocence” showcase Tuvok’s loyalty and tenacity as he works to solve problems or even a murder. His keen investigation skills are sharpened by his interactions with the rest of Voyager’s crew, whether he’s willing to admit that or not. Tuvok’s arc was hard to place, but his is the same as Janeways: The Flat Arc. Before you “poo poo” my conclusion, think of this way. Before VOY aired, you can tell Tuvok’s character already had purpose. He’s placed as Janeway’s confidant and valued friend. And, as the oldest member (being a Vulcan), he’s already had a long-standing Starfleet career (“Flashback“). As such, it only makes sense Tuvok would have a somewhat flat arc.

Lieutenant Tom Paris
Robert Duncan McNeil
Arc(s): Positive Change with a lot of Fall

In the series’ opening, we already know Tom Paris, son of a Starfleet Admiral, fell from grace due to bad decision making and then lying about his mistakes. In Starfleet, rank and relations won’t protect anyone from their own undoing. But Janeway gave him an opportunity to redeem himself (“Caretaker”) and his flyboy nature couldn’t keep him from negotiating a deal. We see his arc grow until season five’s episode “Thirty Days.” Up until that time, he’d worked to earn the field commission he’d been given in an emergency situation. From there he had to work again to regain his crew’s – no – his family’s confidence in him. Notable Tom Paris episodes include “Alice,” “Vis a Vis,” “Lineage,” and “Investigations.”

Lieutenant B’Ellana Torres
Roxann Dawson
Arc: The Positive Growth Arc

B’Ellana Torres was especially hard to nail down, but she’s definitely got a positive growth arc. When we first meet her in “Caretaker,” her Klingon half rules over her human one, and she often gave into it during Voyager’s early seasons. One of her major turning points took place in season four’s episode, “Day of Honor,” when she finally (spoiler) admits her true feelings to Tom Paris. Her development does taper off a bit as with any show, but we get to the core of who she is by season four’s end. Notable episodes: “Extreme Risk,” “Lineage,” “Faces” and “Dreadnought.”

Ensign Harry Kim
Garrett Wang
Arc: The Positive Growth Arc

Garrett Wang himself has portrayed Harry as “Voyager’s whipping boy.” With everything the writers threw at him – multiple near death experiences, actual death experiences, individual time travel – Harry could’ve easily gone by way of the Corruption Arc. However, Wang’s character managed to keep his optimism, curious mind and scientific know-how. Ensign Harry Kim, I think, drew a lot of his strength from others around him, most profoundly Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Tom Paris (even though Paris disappoints him from time to time). Even though Kim was, in my opinion, under-developed, he still had some positive growth, if not a little flatter than most. Notable Harry Kim episodes include “Caretaker,” “Favorite Son,” “Demon,” “The Disease,” “Course: Oblivion,” and “Ashes to Ashes.”

The Doctor
Robert Picardo
Arc: The Positive Change Arc

My original feelings about The Doctor aside (I found him quite annoying, along with the rest of the crew), The Doctor does possess a positive change arc. This emergency medical hologram (or EMH), probably had the most lines on the show. One such example of his arc is that it took him years – literally years – to choose a name for himself. From his first scenes to very last. There’s also the added logistical nightmare behind his technological “genes,” somewhat solved with the addition of his mobile emitter in “Future’s End.” After season three he calms down, but has a tendency to throw himself into each new hobby he picks up (opera, a holo-family, social lessons with Seven of Nine, just to name a few). Notable episodes include “Darkling,” “Revulsion,” “Flesh and Blood,” and “Projections.”

I’m a doctor, not a battery.

“Gravity”

Neelix
Ethan Phillips
Arc(s): Disillusionment to Growth to Flat

As you can see, Neelix is a complex fellow, and that complexion is perfectly portrayed by Ethan Phillips. Phillips had previously played several characters in the franchise, including a Ferengi on Next Generation and a different Ferengi on Enterprise. Neelix begins his Voyager journey in disillusionment. While his girlfriend, Kes, settled into life on Voyager quite easily, Neelix was tempted to run on several occasions (as in “The Cloud“). At some point in season two, he and Kes are no longer a couple, and he begins to finally grow as an individual, spreading his own wings and expressing a willingness to try new things (“Fair Trade“). By Season Five, with his character established, his arc flattens. Notable episodes include “Jetrel,” “Once Upon A Time,” “Rise,” and “Investigations.”

Kes
Jennifer Lien
Arc(s): Positive Change –> The Corruption Arc

Wait? Seriously? The original ying to Neelix’s yang? Unfortunately, Kes is one of those characters viewers either loved, or loved to hate. Kes, a Delta Quadrant native, willingly joined Voyager‘s crew because of her intense desire to explore the galaxy and leave her Ocampan homeworld behind. Due to her species’ strong telepathic and mental capabilities, Kes eventually had to leave the ship in season four’s “The Gift.” This is where her corruption arc comes into play. Spoiler ahead! Kes returns briefly in season six’s “Fury,” as an incredibly angry individual, believing the crew abandoned her. Something corrupted her in the new years since “The Gift.” But does she stay corrupted? You’ll just have to watch to find out! Notable Kes episodes include “Caretaker,” “Before and After,” “Cold Fire,” and “Persistence of Vision.”

Seven of Nine
Jeri Ryan
Arc: The Positive Growth Arc

Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine joined the cast at the end of season two, effectively replacing Kes. The Voyager writing room ramped up her arc, using Janeway as her guide as they did with Kes. (Do you see now why Janeway needed to be the most established character in the beginning?) However, Seven grew so much that she was able to call out Janeway as they disagreed on procedure and life in general. Her story continues with Star Trek’s newest addition to its lineup, Star Trek Picard. Notable Seven of Nine episodes include “Imperfection,” “Scorpion,” “The Raven,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” and “Bliss.”


If you’re a Star Trek fan, did I get this wrong? Or did I correctly analyze these ten characters from a writer’s viewpoint? Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments below.

Conclusion: the more you learn the art of writing, the more you’ll analyze your favorite forms of entertainment.

For I dipt into the future, far as the human eye could see; Saw the Vision of the World, and all the wonder that it would be…

Alfred Tennyson, from the bridge plaque on the USS Voyager

Writing Prompt:
Pick one of your favorite television and try figuring out their character arcs. Perhaps you’ll discover why you love them or love to hate them.


Five Disease Filled Star Trek Voyager Episodes You Should Watch This Weekend

The COVID19 pandemic is no laughing matter. If you’re reading this blog post, I don’t want you to think that I’m ignoring its widespread and global impact. The purpose of this post is to provide a short break from the monotony of #StayHome mandates, and bring a little Trek joy into your life. One of Star Trek’s overall messages is that of hope. Hope for a better future. There is still hope, and I’ll hold onto that with every ounce of my being.

Since the genre’s conception, Star Trek has offered up a myriad of themes throughout its fifty year history. With over 770 episodes within thirty-five series across the board, I won’t bore you with a Borg style analysis of them all. I’ll just focus on one of my favorite incarnations, Star Trek Voyager.

Voyager, which originally aired from January 1995 (I was ten) to May 2001, is the third series of the franchise established by Gene Roddenberry. As a fan for all my thirty-five years (just realized that number correlates with how many series there are), I can attest that it took Voyager a bit longer than most to stand on its own two feet. Unfortunately, many fellow Trek fans call it “a soap opera in space.” But I think they underestimate its potential. However, to this day I still cringe at one of its opening scenes between Captain Janeway and fallen-from-grace problem child, Tom Paris.

What were we talking about?
Oh yes.
Themes.

Now I’m not sure if this is a theme or a constantly rehashed plot device, but Voyager’s writers certainly loved throwing whatever disease they could at the crew. Let’s take a look at just five of them, and I’ll recommend episodes you can watch this weekend (all available on Netflix or CBS All Access – neither are sponsoring this post).

1. The Vidiian Phage
From their first encounter with the Delta Quadrant aliens, the Vidiians, in season one’s episode Phage to their last in Good Shepherd, Captain Janeway and the crew swing between wanting to help and wanting – no, needing – to escape a people whose pandemic reached the height of their bell curve long before Voyager entered the system. The classic struggle of keeping their humanity and values in check got the crew into trouble than they bargained for, as the Phage is one of the few, true pandemics in the Trek franchise. While the topic of pandemic is a sensitive one for today’s time, the lessons woven throughout these episodes are worth their weight in gold.

Episode Recommendations: Phage, Faces, Lifesigns, Deadlock, Coda, Resolutions

2. Janeway’s and Commander Chakotay’s Virus in “Resolutions
And here we are with Voyager’s Season Three, Episode 25 titled Resolutions. Janeway and Chakotay are bitten by some alien insect (I’ve always thought of it akin to a mosquito) on an away mission. For weeks The Doctor tried to find a cure, but eventually they had to return to the planet of origin to leave their commanding officers behind. It’s a great “what if” episode showing human resilience and determination. Plus, a little “love story” doesn’t hurt either. I highly recommend you watch this.

3. The Caretaker’s Unnamed Disease
The first time we meet Lieutenant B’Ellana Torres’ Klingon temper is on the Ocampan home world, where she and Ensign Harry Kim are sent to be cared for by Kes’ people after contracting a mysterious disease brought on by The Caretaker’s medical tests. Every crew has to start somewhere. So as corny as you may feel some parts of this first episode is, you’re going to love the friendship between Kim and Torres. They’re very much so the definition of ying and yang, and both fierce in their own ways.

The Caretaker, as he’s called by the Ocampa and Kazon, brought ships from across the galaxy in order to find a mate. When certain humanoids proved highly incompatible, they contracted the disease. To this day I find the character immensely selfish. Let’s not be like the Caretaker, okay?

4. Favorite Son‘s Transformation Virus
The first two seasons of Voyager are riddled with awkward scenarios, and Favorite Son isn’t an exception. Okay, it was only awkward to a ten year old who harbored an immense crush on Harry Kim. There. I’ve admitted it. Imagine my dismay seeing my favorite character surrounded by women one Wednesday night.

Every man’s dream, right? (I’m not a man).

This scenario isn’t unique to Voyager. The Original Series and Next Gen writers loved using this particular plot device. But was Harry’s “disease” or “transformation” real or truly manufactured? You’ll just have to watch to find out!

5. Macrocosm‘s Giant “Insects”
Decidedly one of the creepier episodes for my past self, I HATED hearing the droning noise the SFX folks gave to the macrovirus’ invading the ship. If I’d been onboard, terror would’ve rendered me incapable of doing my duty. Early Trek writers loved including that “creep factor.” That aside, it was a great Janeway development episode, and showcased her resolve to get her whole crew home that she had throughout the entire series.

Just as Janeway reached a tipping point in this episode, humanity’s reached one as well. Everyone’s been affected by COVID19 in one way or another. What really counts is how we choose to handle ourselves. However, I don’t recommend suiting up like Captain Janeway and going after macro mutations.


Honorable Mentions
1. Admiral Janeway’s Borg Virus in Endgame: Parts 1&2.
2. Ensign Lindsay Ballard’s Kobali transformation post mortem in Ashes to Ashes.
3. Lieutenant Tom Paris’ Warp Ten barrier transformation in Threshold.
4. Ensign Harry Kim’s, ahem, STD, via a crewmember of The Varro ship in The Disease.
5. The “computer virus” that kept Ensign Kim and Lt. Torres from leaving stasis pods in The Thaw.
6. Kes’ early elogium in Elogium.
7. Lieutenant Tuvok’s degenerative neurological disease in Endgame: Parts 1&2.


As you can see, my original thesis statement is correct – the Voyager writing room loved giving the crew travelling across the Delta Quadrant towards home a run for their money. Sometimes the story lines made sense. Sometimes they didn’t. But I can say for certain it made great Wednesday night viewing (then Friday nights when the show moved to UPN).

After I finished my homework, of course.

Here’s a little Voyager tour to brighten your day!


Music That Drives My Writing – Part 2

You’d think my music choices would be reflected in what I write. There’s lots of sci-fi, fantasy and epic battle music involved. However, I write historical adventure fiction, so I suppose it works for the adventure part? This post is a rehash of one I did earlier in 2019, but things have changed. National Treasure’s and Dragonheart’s themes are still high on the list, but here’s an updated collection of music that drives my writing.

Title: One Million Voices
Artist: Thomas Bergersen
Genre: Epic

Title: Believer
Artist: Imagine Dragons
Genre: Pop Rock

Title: Thunder
Artist: Imagine Dragons
Genre: Pop Rock

Title: Breath of Life
Artist: Florence + The Machine
Genre: Indie Rock

Title: Victory
Artist: Two Steps From Hell
Genre: Film music

Title: To the Faeries They Draw Near
Artist: Loreena McKennitt
Genre: Celtic, New Age

Title: Forgive Me Friend
Artist: Smith & Thell
Genre: Pop/Folk

Title: Federkleid
Artist: Faun
Genre: Neo-Medieval, German folk

Title: Heart of Courage
Artist: Thomas Bergersen
Genre: Epic

I thought I’d end with an oldie but a goody – STAR TREK!

Title: Star Trek Mega Suite: 50th Anniversary Tribute
Artist: Various
Genre: TREK (of course!)

All right. I admit, ten songs is a lot. The problem is I’ve got such an eclectic taste in music I couldn’t showcase just one or two genres. Did you find some new loves or discover some old favorites? What music drives your writing?