Approximately once a week, new writers are given a chance to get acclimated to our fleet and learn our formatting and style through the fast-paced, week-long training class. These classes provide an introduction to UFOP: StarBase 118 to our new writers while allowing the rising officers in the fleet to gain experience in the Command Chair. In yet another installment in a series of articles on the Academy’s Trainers, we’re shining the spotlight on Lieutenant Commander David Whale, Assistant Chief of Security on the USS Constitution.
This Canadian writer with a double BA in history and social law is creative both in and outside of UFOP: StarBase 118. When he isn’t writing for the group, he enjoys drawing and writing and he is currently teaching himself to paint with watercolors. He also mentioned “I’m re-living my childhood by collecting Masters of the Universe action figures,” going on to say that he’s in the process of building a display for them. He credits seeing Star Trek: The Motion Picture at the age of six or seven with getting him truly interested in Star Trek, at which time he said that he “immediately built an Enterprise bridge out of styrofoam for my action figures,” turning some of his previous non-Trek action figures, such as Han Solo into Enterprise crew members. He does, however, question the title “fan” for himself. In a burst of honesty he revealed that he has a love-hate relationship with the show, watching it if it interests him, but refusing to watch something just because it is Star Trek.
While many members in the group take the opportunity to play a non-human in the form of an alien or hybrid, Commander Whale found when he joined that this wasn’t for him, instead choosing to write for a human. In part, he says that an alien or hybrid wasn’t compatible with the personality he intended for his character, stating “it really just worked best with a human.” He also mentioned that from the beginning he had complex character development arcs and sub-plots in mind for Whale, which he “didn’t want to get bogged down with any of Trek species ‘baggage.’”
When asked why he joined the trainers, he joked “I figured it would be very selfish of me to keep my awesomeness all to myself.” He then became more serious, mentioning that while he had found it relatively easy to get used to getting involved in the plot and the format of SIMming, secondary to his previous play-by-email (PBEM) experience, he recognized that this was not the case for everyone. “I thought I may as well see if I could help some of the new people in their efforts to join Starfleet.”
The cadets aren’t the only ones learning from the experience. He said that his participation in the academy was an adjustment, and that patience has been his own greatest lesson. This is something he must exercise often as he reminds himself that the new cadets are not the experienced members of the group that he is used to SIMming with. He is also learning that, unlike on one of the regular ships, when running a mission, there are fewer people (just the CO and FO of the Academy) to lean on to steer the plot or get a hesitant SIMmer involved. In his own words “that doesn’t make it harder, really, just a very different experience.” As varied as it can be from his regular ship, though, it comes with its rewards, the greatest of which he said was seeing his first cadet graduate. He mentioned, with the humor he displayed throughout the interview, that this provided “proof that I didn’t entirely screw up their training.”
Our interview wasn’t confined to his experiences in the Academy. We also discussed his plans for his character, something I’ll leave him to explain in his own words. “Well, Mister Whale is currently unconscious in the sickbay of the USS Constitution – an after effect of the injuries he suffered just prior to Operation Bright Star. But he’s hallucinating that he’s somewhere else, debating his place in the universe with the Guardian of Forever. My immediate plans for Whale’s future involve working on getting him fully recovered from his injuries as well as taking steps toward resolving the almost two year long sub-plot with Doctor Fiona Shelley. And ideally not getting injured again. Beyond that… who knows? I have a few long-term ideas, but I’m not writing anything in stone.”
If you would like to be one of our Academy Trainers, please head to the Training Operations Team website. There you can learn more about why you should become a trainer and what the prerequisites are, as well as find instructions for joining the team, something that Commander Whale highly endorses: “Everyone should get involved in training. It’s a fun way to help out as well as do some odd things with your character that won’t affect the “real” version serving on your ship.”