This month, we’re reviving our monthly interview with a newer member of our community. The title of this column is “Lower Decks,” hearkening back to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled “Lower Decks,” in which junior officers aboard the Enterprise-D speculate on the reasons for recent unusual actions taken by the command crew near the Cardassian border.
This month’s interview is with the writer behind Ens. Savan, a Vulcan male assigned to our Duronis II Embassy.
WOLF: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from?
Savan: In real life, I was born and raised in Honolulu, but I later went to college in New York and worked in the city afterward. After returning to the islands for a few years, I decided last year it was time for something new. Fast-forward, I am now based in Puerto Rico but I’ll be hopping through Latin and South America over the next few years. (That should add some interesting inspiration to my simming!) Professionally, I work as a freelance writer and editor. Online, I go by Alex, which has become a nickname of mine.
Were you a Star Trek fan before joining UFOP: StarBase 118? If so, what were your favorite shows and/or movies?
Yes! I fell in love with Star Trek when I was a kid back in the ‘80s. I remember it all started with The Original Series and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. And like anyone in high school in the 90s, I watched TNG and DS9. After I went off to college and then started working in New York, my interest fell away for several years. But when I went to graduate school almost 10 years ago, I discovered Enterprise in reruns and my interest kicked off again. I loved seeing the TOS species again–in particular, Vulcans and Andorians–and not to mention, the chance to see Vulcan on screen.
Is this your first simming experience, or have you done other forms of role-playing before?
This is entirely my first time simming. I studied literature in grad school, and I’ve since worked as an writer and editor–albeit non-fiction. So coming from that background, I find simming entirely fascinating. It’s collaborative fiction and almost a kind of performance art.
How’d you find out about our community?
It was rather round about actually. I played Star Trek Online maybe five years ago for a little under a year perhaps. I just enjoyed being able to create a character of my choosing, as well as creating my own away team. In particular, I loved that I could create a very tall, swarthy Vulcan with long hair. I ended up creating a backstory for him and writing a profile. Unfortunately, in that MMORPG, there is very little in real character development so my interest waned. But this character always stayed in the back of my head. Around the beginning of this year, I started thinking about him more and wrote more about him. I even gave him a name, Savan, and gave him a personal history: a Vulcan exposed to Trellium D as a child, along with his parents. As a consequence of that, he was rendered permanently unable to develop the abilities to completely repress his emotions. I found this really engaging as it forced me to contemplate who a Vulcan would be when, by forces beyond his control, he cannot be what Vulcan society of the 24th century demands–logical, unemotional, unswayed by passions. And the more I thought about it, an inherently emotional Vulcan would not necessarily be like a human. I think that’s a usual assumption by many characters in the Star Trek series, that emotional Vulcans would just be like humans. But Vulcan emotions are of a whole other magnitude.
Eventually, I didn’t want to keep this character Savan just in my head and in documents on my laptop, so I started to look for some kind of forum for him. Around the same time, I remembered seeing some article on the Starbase 118 Wiki on Magna Romans. (A Magna Roman ties into Savan’s story.) Eventually, I found it again and then learned it was actually created for and by this whole community. I read up on the site and signed up shortly thereafter.
What duty post are you playing, and how’d you choose it?
Savan is currently assigned on his first Starfleet assignment–as a security/tactical officer at the Embassy on Duronis II and on the USS Thunder-A. Because of my character’s personal history–in particular, his love of more open spaces–I knew he’d prefer either the Embassy or Starbase 118. Also, Savan has a strong knowledge of Romulan language and culture–so the Embassy seemed like it’d be a good fit with all the Romulan involvement in the past.
As for the security position, that ties into Savan’s background. He was adopted by a part-Vulcan/part-human cousin in California on Earth after his Vulcan uncle–an officer in the High Command–was unable to deal with him and his often violent emotions. Once Savan was on Earth, his adopted father found that martial arts was a great way for Savan to channel all this intense emotional energy and develop mental discipline outside of the Vulcan tradition. That experience finally gave Savan balance and inner peace gradually. He later went to the University of California in environmental sciences–he wanted to become a 24th century-style park ranger–but he continues his martial arts training. Eventually, he met a retired Starfleet marine, who inspires him to apply to the Academy. While Savan considered becoming a marine, Savan realized he’d prefer the negotiation and diplomatic aspects of a security career and hence he decided to go in that direction
When Savan was assigned to the Embassy, there was a lack of tactical officers on the Thunder-A, so he was also assigned to serve as a tactical officer when on ship. While Savan prefers the honesty and directness of hand-to-hand combat, he also likes the challenge of learning something new and also being able to protect his shipmates.
What’s been your favorite part of being with the community so far?
I’ve appreciated the receptivity to creativity and new ideas. Savan come on board the Thunder at the end of a hard mission, right before the crew went on shore leave. Obviously, with the main action done, I wanted to give him something to do. So I started creating a subplot involving a rescued slave from the Zone. From there I had more ideas and tying that into a more long-term story. I ran them past Admiral Toni Turner, and she was very enthusiastic about it. So Savan is going to have an interesting subplot running during the upcoming mission. That’s exciting.
I also enjoy how some players are really serious about their characters and have created a whole world for them. That’s real creativity.
Thanks for your time and welcome to our community, Ens. Savan!