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Lower Decks Interview: Ensign Talas Beck, StarBase 118 Ops

We’re here with another 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 Ensign Talas Beck playing a Bajoran male Helm Officer assigned to StarBase 118 Ops.

Galven: Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?

Talas:  Happy  to be here! Umm, what to say, well I’m 25, from the UK. In the day I develop and manage apps for a charity here in England. During the evening I love to eat pizza, chill out with my partner and my cats! I also play various games, just invested in a VR headset which has been fun! I like to do a lot of writing, currently have two books on the go, a sequel to my first book and a new idea that i’m experimenting with. The books are moving quite slowly at the moment as i’ve just started the second year of my degree in Social Sciences and Politics.

What has been your favorite moment writing with UFOP:StarBase 118?

Hiding a shuttle under the nacelle of a Borg infested ship.


Poll of the Week: Best Double Act of the Series

For all Star Trek is a science fiction series, one reason it draws such a diverse range of fans is the episodes centre on the characters and the relationships cultivated on the journey the characters take throughout the run. viewers go on this journey with the characters and see how their natural chemistry works on screen, how they form strong bonds with one another, and over time, have become as iconic as the starships they live on. 

From The Original Series through to Enterprise, we saw these relationships develop. From on-screen tension, you could cut with a bat’leth, to emotional connection forged in the fires, to mentors who impart their wisdom and learn something new about themselves. We wouldn’t be anywhere in the Star Trek world without the double of Spock and Bones — so iconic in its inception that it’s replicated to full effect in later series, giving us such delights as Bashir and Garak, Neelix and Tuvok, and Data and Geordi.

This week, we’d like to know which of these pairings brought you back every week for a new episode? Who’s one-liner and well-delivered zingers left you roaring? 

Which was the most iconic duo of our Star Trek universe?

Click here to head to the forums now and vote in this week’s poll. Be sure to leave a comment in the thread!


Duty Post Award winner – Samira Neathler, USS Gorkon (Natasha Yar Pin)

Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of Duty Post awards from our recent 2020 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters.

This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Lieutenant Commander Samira Neathler  playing a human female Chief Security and Tactical Officer assigned to the USS Gorkon. She won the Natasha Yar Pin: “Named after the Chief of Security of the USS Enterprise-D, killed in the line of duty, this award is given to those Security officers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in protecting and preserving the lives of their crewmates, even at risk to their own.

Tierney: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from?

Neathler: Thank you for the interview. I’m born and raised in Belgium, one of the smaller countries on the European Mainland. After taking a break from simming, I stumbled on Starbase 118 about two years ago. It’s one of the most enthused and vibrant communities I’ve found so far and wished I had found the place a lot sooner.

In her presentation, Rear Admiral Reynolds notes that your writing  allows you to expertly include Neathler in sims while allowing fellow writers to contribute creatively. How do you walk that line between driving the story while allowing for collaborative writing?

Well, you mentioned it yourself, simming is all about collaborative writing. So as a writer keep that in mind and think of ways how your character can interact with others. A lot depends on the situation my character is in.


Poll of the Week: Most Interesting Villain Award

Star Trek is full of men and women of principle and moral character. It is this focus on the good people crewing our favourite ships and installations that make the universe such an appealing place. But many of the storylines found in our favourite episodes reveal villains that give the good guys something to fight. It’s this conflict that makes Star Trek such great entertainment.

Who makes the best villain across the franchise? Is it the cunning and deadly intellect displayed by Khan in Space Seed(TOS), Star Trek II and Star Trek: Into Darkness? He’s human and yet more than that. The ruthless way in which he goes after his enemies would give anyone pause. Do you feel that the familiar yet completely opposite counterparts from the mirror universe send chills down your spine? We see familiar faces that act in ways we wouldn’t expect or condone.

They are our favourite characters — and yet not. Perhaps the soulless, ever-advancing Borg with their declaration “resistance is futile” make the best enemy. How do you even reason with them? Q is another example of a recurring villain that causes havoc for our heroes. Pairing nigh-unlimited power with arrogance creates a deadly mixture which may be why Q has shown up repeatedly since his introduction in TNG.

No matter who you choose, we can all agree that without the bad, the good would not stand in such stark relief. Here’s to the good guys! But raise a glass to the baddies too!

Who makes the best villain in the Star Trek universe?

Click here to head to the forums now and vote in this week’s poll. Be sure to leave a comment in the thread!


Witty Wordsmith: Eavesdropping For Better Character Development

In the real world, it’s a forgone conclusion that no person knows everything.  It’s a day to day frustration that every person carries for their entire life.  This is why it is, in writing, a tempting trap to use the information you are reading in other sims to guide your character’s actions.  If writing is your fun escape from reality, what’s so wrong with having a character who is always right all the time?

This is a problem that is common between all role-playing games for the exact same reason.  It feels good to be right and we feel good portraying our characters so we want to use all the information at our disposal to make the best decisions, even if our characters wouldn’t know that information in their situation.  This could be called metagaming, power-simming or god-modding depending on your role-playing platform.  But whatever you choose to call it, using information that you know as a writer but your character would not know in the story is a habit we can all work to break ourselves out of.

We have in previous articles discussed why metagaming or power-simming damages the narrative and hurts your collaboration with fellow players.  But in this episode of writer’s workshop we’re going to explore why doing the opposite – purposely having your character overhear something and interpreting it wrong can be a fantastic source of entertainment and drama, as well as a stepping stone to breaking the habit of metagaming and enjoying using your characters in-scene knowledge more consistently.


Poll of Week: Inspirational Trek to the Stars

Gene Roddenberry cut to the bone for science fiction fans across the world when he created a small starship show about a “Wagon Train to the stars” and, arguably, helped to usher in a new attitude for the modern times. Inspiration took hold in many hearts when they heard those opening lines of the first Star Trek episode, explaining to viewers his vision for the future we could have, stretching ever forward, and Trek has continued to deliver hard-hitting moments of wisdom and wonder to motivate and inspire ever since.

Star Trek has inspired multiple generations; from the cast and crew attending the rollout of the Space Shuttle Enterprise with NASA, Nichelle Nichols inspiring recruitment for the space program encouraging a new wave of talent into the industry and a young Whoopi Goldberg to begin acting, DeForest Kelley inspiring young people to start medical school, and countless astronauts who cite Trek as their motivation to reach for the stars — including Terry Virts, who had the auspicious honour of delivering the Vulcan salute to Earth from the International Space Station on the day of Leonard Nimoy’s death.

There are plenty of inspirational quotes throughout The Original Series to list here. Under the direction of Roddenberry, every episode delivered a moral tale to the viewer, to show how humanity has infinite potential to move past contemporary cultural realities of human rights, commerce, religion, sexism, war, and instead strive for peace, equality, abundance, and pursuing technological and scientific advancement. This has spread across the vast catalogue of Star Trek, giving us a space adventure that explores strange new worlds and new civilisations, boldly going where no one has gone before.

What’s your favourite inspirational quote from these Star Trek legends?

Click here to head to the forums now and vote in this week’s poll. Be sure to leave a comment in the thread!


Duty Post Award winner – Addison MacKenzie (Prantares Ribbon)

Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of Duty Post awards from our recent 2020 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters.

This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Lieutenant Commander Addison MacKenzie playing a Human female Chief Medical Officer assigned to the USS Thor. She  won the Prantares Ribbon: “Awarded to those Medical officers who has moved beyond competence to display a true gift for the healing arts in the context of space medicine. The officers given this award should display the ability to keep a steady hand in the often hazardous conditions in which they must practice, as well as the willingness to risk their own life to save the lives of others.

MOON: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from?

MACKENZIE: Sure! Born, raised, and living in Cleveland, Ohio, right on Lake Erie in the U.S. I’m a former professor, but now a full-time musician and conductor when COVID isn’t a thing. I love reading and hanging out with my orange Maine Coon, Fritado.

Captain Aron Kells specifically called out your character’s “mature, professional but wryly funny” attributes. As a CMO character personal connections are important. What advice can you give others who want to create a nuanced bedside manner?

Well, I think that’s something that’s totally dependent on the character. Addison cares deeply about the welfare of her patients, as I think all good doctors do, but she also isn’t afraid to throw shade when someone deserves it. There were a number of people on the Thor who recently had physicals that resulted in some serious sass from their CMO… I think that’s just part of who she is, though. If she were a Vulcan, for example, she’d be a lot different. Probably still funny, but the humor would be very different.


Poll of the Week: Wondrous with Treasures to Satiate

As was said by Q (TNG: Q Who?), the galaxy is wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. From the discovery of space lifeforms in the very first episode of TNG to a brilliant scientist igniting a star that had burned out, to the beauty of stellar phenomena, the galaxy is full of wonder.

No less wondrous, and part of Trek, is the exploration of human potential, and the things that can be achieved when people of disparate ethics and believes work together. In many ways, from Kirk and Spock working out how to act, and encountering the strange on the frontier of the history of Trek, to Deep Space Nine, where the crew focused on defending the ideals of the Federation, to where Burnham fought to preserve the integrity of the Federation in a time of near-certain defeat, to crews discovering new scientific mysteries across the franchise, and exploring new ways to think of life as we know it, Jim.

Trek is both the exploration of the galaxy, and the exploration of potential and evolution, and across its 54 years, 9 series, 13 episodes, and 780 episodes have shown us many wonders and challenges.

What do you think the most wondrous part of the Trek franchise is?

Click here to head to the forums now and vote in this week’s poll. Be sure to leave a comment in the thread!


Captain’s Corner – Randal Shayne, USS Arrow

Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles.

This month, we’re interviewing the Commanding Officer of the starship USS Arrow,  Commander Randal Shayne. 

GALVEN:  Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?

SHAYNE: Sure thing! My name is Quinn, and I’m a resident of Chicago, Illinois. I joined the group in 2015, and I haven’t looked back since. 

When did you become interested in Star Trek and where do you get your inspiration from in terms of books/movies/TV shows?

I was raised with Star Trek- indeed, I couldn’t get away from it. Much of the time, I watched through squinted eyes because the contents of the screen, even with 1960’s special effects, were terrifying to me. But I quickly grew to love it, and as time passed, I began looking toward it as a place of strength and a spiritual aspiration of sorts. To say that Star Trek inspires me doesn’t quite do it justice. That said, I am the product of an insatiable desire for books during my scholarly years as well.  They were my escape, and I devoured the exploits of Horatio Hornblower, and whatever Trek crew was contained within the mutilated rags of the secondhand novel I’d been able to scrounge that week, with gusto. 


Poll of the Week: In Case of Mirror Universe, Break Glass

Star Trek throws the viewer into a universe of boundless hope and optimism for the future, striving for patience, compassion, exploration, forsaking bloodshed and violence for logic and knowledge. A universe in which humanity is learning from mistakes and endeavouring to be better. Way back in those heady days of the 1960s, the writers of Star Trek: The Original Series threw this concept and theme into the ether as the familiar faces and beloved crew of the Enterprise headed into realms unknown — into a mirror universe, where bodies were scantly clad, facial hair was proliferous, and hedonism reigned supreme, all with a tasty agony booth to top off the experience.

Barring Voyager and TNG, each series indulged in a little MU of their own, giving the viewer a glimpse into the universe where the Terran Empire reigns with a golden sword of glory; a theme later explored to a further extent in Star Trek: Discovery. While some episodes utilised the trope to explore different themes and reflect on the alternate personalities of the characters and situations, like Archer’s paranoid determination to take control of the Empire in “In a Mirror, Darkly”, others took a comical view of it, playing for the advantage of the one-off “special”. Who can forget the incredibly confused Rom in DS9’s “The Emperor’s New Cloak”?

Taking the theme a step further after the completion of the series, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager both got to indulge in their inner mirror, each with a comic book miniseries. Picard heads out to battle against the Klingon-Cardassian alliance, while Janeway becomes the Pirate Queen of the Quadrant.

This week, we’d like to know about the Mirror Universe you enjoyed the most. Did you take to Intendant Kira like a duck to water? Or revel in Kirk’s impassioned speech to Spock to let them return to their own universe. Do you long for the days of uninhibited goatee growth and unregulated agony booth access?

Which of the Mirror Universe episodes was your favourite?

Click here to head to the forums now and vote in this week’s poll. Be sure to leave a comment in the thread!


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