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.
We’re here with another interview with a newer member of our community: the writer behind Ensign Alieth, who is playing a Vulcan female medical officer assigned to the USS Thor.
SHAYNE: Tell us a little bit about the writer behind the character- where in the world do you hail from?
ALIETH: Hi, Shayne! I greet you from a small town in the Spanish mountains! My name is Andrea and I’m a little more expressive than my character (laughs). In real life I’m a freelancer and I work mostly in design and illustration.
You play a medical officer- a role I’ve always found a bit tricky! What drew you to that profession?
In fact, when I applied to join the 118, I tried to assume the role of science officer. However, there was another colleague at the Academy who was applying for the same position, so I was re-assigned as a doctor. Actually, I had a lot of fun with that, since the combination of Vulcan stoicism and a doctor’s concern for her patients is such a wonderful balance to portray.
So, once I graduated from the Academy, I was encouraged to adopt the medical career and I was happy to accept it.
I must also admit that I’ve always loved medical shows and that the EMH and McCoy are two of my favourite characters on Star Trek, so it’s certainly a position I’ve embraced with enthusiasm.
Who doesn’t want the chance to say “I’m a doctor, not a…” from time to time?
What would you say are the most challenging and rewarding parts of playing a medical officer?
In my personal case, writing a Doctor and a Vulcan at the same time, the challenges are double.
On the one hand, maintaining convenient bedside manners with the blunt Vulcan honesty is a real challenge. Vulcans are tough characters to interact with, as they can easily be read as unfriendly and not very cooperative. Couple that with someone who really WANTS to help (as a doctor) and you have an interesting but tricky mix.
However, I’ve always liked challenges, so that’s something that makes the character and the narrative more appealing for me.
On the other hand, as I said, I am not a doctor, and although I have relatives that are doctors and an interest in fiction on the subject, many times I find myself researching things I have little idea about, such as internal anatomy, chemistry, surgical techniques, etc. This increases the time it usually takes me to write a SIM. Couple that with the fact that I write in a language that is different from my native one, and the increase in time per SIM can be exponential! However, this also allows me to learn many different subjects which gives an added value to the whole experience.
Many of our members have certain goals in the group; some even aim for the captaincy some day! Do you have any goals you’re looking to achieve?
Who doesn’t ever dream of being the captain of their own ship? (laughs)
However, it is something I still see quite far away and my main goal consists in telling stories with my fellow writers and helping others to tell theirs in this utopian future we all share. If that leads me to the captaincy… it will be quite welcomed! Nevertheless, I haven’t set any real goals for the moment, just have fun.
On the other hand, Starbase 118 offers me the opportunity to be creative on a visual level in different ways than I am in my job, which is always a plus for me. I would like to continue exploring this facet with all the colleagues of the Image Collective
Is this your first collaborative writing experience?
Not at all! I have been in several collaborative writing environments, mainly in Spanish and closer to role-playing. I think this has given me several useful skills that I am using in the 118. Especially an interest in moving the plot as a group, not as an individual.
Lastly, you’ve been with the group for a few months now- if you could give advice to yourself when you were just starting out, what would it be?
My main recommendation is that they should not be shy, that they engage in the community with enthusiasm, that they would not be afraid to ask questions, that they would interact with their mentors, with their senior officers and with older members of the group. The best thing I have found so far is the tightly knitted community and being involved in it and meeting all its members, newcomers or veterans alike and learning from them makes the experience incredible.
Eventually we are people from all over the world connecting behind our screens with each other and it is wonderful that this allows us to get closer to very different worlds thanks to a common interest.
Thank you for your time, Ensign!
You can find more about Ensign Alieth on the wiki.