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The Consequence of Happiness by Ensign Lance Firestarter

From the opening line I was reminded of the themes explored in a Keats’ ode to Melancholy. The question of whether one would fully appreciate happiness and pleasure without having first experience melancholy and pain is an interesting notion and it was nice to see a writer apply the concept to this month’s writing challenge of “A poisoned Apple”. The First person narrative is an interesting technique, which is used well in this piece. We get a clear impression of someone looking back and recounting an event from their past. Although this inevitably leads the reader towards knowing the protagonist survives his ordeal, Firestarter executes an interesting narrative twist at the end of this story as we find out that the narrator is in fact not telling us his story but instead is in a coma recounting his own story over and over to himself.

Short but well written, this story is cleverly done. The concepts it explores are important and the writer succeeds in conveying the thoughts and feelings of his character and why he was melancholy to the point of needing a “wonder drug.” The “poisoned Apple effect” is clear in that the instances of “ecstasy” that this wonder-drug provides also serve to exemplify the moments of melancholy that follow the next morning. Perhaps familiar to some readers, these notions are cleverly described throughout this piece.

Responsible Poison by Ensign Cara Maria

Cara Maria’s piece is written with some beautiful narrative descriptions of the setting and a beautiful flowing style. There were, however, one or two minor instances where the sentences didn’t make grammatical sense. Despite this, the majority of the piece is well written and the intent was clear. I find the notion of a “wasteland” particularly rich and interesting in terms of setting and was glad to see this brought out in this piece. It was also interesting to see that the “poisoned apple effect” is the sun which looks like the golden apple given “to the fairest”. The sun has traditional connotations with warmth, the day and light that makes things grow, yet here in the desert with no water the sun’s presence is not so sweet. Then again… if “the shadows” prefer to move at night, and silently then surely the sun’s daylight would be welcome?

I found the concept of this race (the shadows) to be an interesting one and the story was certainly very gripping. How would these Starfleet officers cope having lost their CO and crewmates? How would they survive the desert heat and would the shadows catch up? Cara Maria’s descriptive writing style really hooks the reader and exemplifies the build up of intrigue. This was quite honestly unputdownable from start to finish.

In terms of Star Trek Canon I would have to question the statement that unjoined trills do not have spots? (I’m fairly certain they do) However, it was nice to see how Starfleet officers react in this story’s situation. I was also a little confused as to why “the Ensign” was in command of the group and why she was better suited to lead than the others? However, it was nice to see so many “poisoned Apples” littered in the storyline, particularly the notion of Command and being the CO being a poisoned Apple which looks great till you’re the one having to lead. On a side note, it was also nice to see how the doctor interacted with the crew throughout and I thought he made for an extremely good character. Very cleverly done and a nice exploration of various issues.

Apple Seeds, "Are Apples Poisonous?" by Lt.Cmdr. Julia Harden

This was a nicely written piece and managed to do a lot in a short space. The reader can easily picture the situation and the characters, feeling sympathy for Jonni Jett from the start. Whilst traumatic, I was left wondering why a Starfleet Admiral (and presumably Starfleet Guards) would treat a young girl in this manner? It did not seem very Starfleet like and I have to say at first I presumed it was a Non-Starfleet Admiral. Although these may have been corrupt officers, would they not have been punished following Jonni’s rescue? That said it’s certainly very worrying what people in positions of power and trust could potentially get away with.

A small note on Star Trek Canon –I think Yeomen is a non-commissioned officer rank like crewman and chief and therefore a Yeomen would not have attended Starfleet Academy (though that’s just my take.) In terms of the plot, it was certainly interesting to see the notion of Poisoned Apple being used in a literal sense, though I would have liked to see some explanation as to why Jonni chooses to poison the admiral in this way. Though the Vendetta was interesting, surely a Starfleet Officer would have learned of other ways to poison someone? It would certainly be interesting to see a squeal to find out how Jonni gets on and how she deals with the trauma of her childhood. Overall this piece is interestingly done, uses a different approach and is certainly very thought provoking and at times disturbing.

Acid Green, A Captain's Table by Captain T'Pen

The beginning of this story allows a good opportunity (often missed in sims and in the Star Trek TV show) to explore how characters feel after a mission is over and they wind down. The feeling “we could have done more” perhaps being a a familiar and appropriate one, it was nice to see a story start with Primary characters in the UFoP and I felt the writer showed their relationships and interaction well.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the Pocket Books “Captain’s Table” series you might like to read the following review: http://www.starbase118.net/members/?action...mments=1&id=110

Essentially the Captain’s Table series of books (though harshly criticised by some) works on the idea that there is a bar known as the “Captain's Table” that only Captains come across. A place "where those who have commanded mighty vessels of every shape and era can meet, relax, and share a friendly drink or two with others of their calling." The catch is that the bar exists outside the normal confines of the space time continuum and thus any Captain who enters the Bar joins a clientele from a variety of different Eras. As such Captain Picard of the Enterprise-D can step into the same bar as Captain Pike of the Enterprise-1701; a Captain from 18th Century Earth or the captain of the Titantic could find themselves sitting in the bar exchanging stories with Captains of Klingon vessels and of course our very own Captain T’Pen.

I was glad to see T’Pen attempt this and think it might be nice if all our Captains could do something similar. As many captains before her, T’Pen takes up a seat in the bar and is asked to recount a story. The books manage this by using some clever narrative techniques. T’Pen does okay with this, however, it would have been nice to see her make a fuller use of this narrative structure and play with some narrative jumps back to the bar more often. This is a difficult narrative technique for a writer to do successfully but would have allowed the Captain character to recount her experiences to an audience as a First person narrator whilst the writer describes those listening. Had the writer succeeded with this difficult style then we would have see more descriptions of how the other drinkers in the bar were reacting to her story. Presumably prevented from achieving such a narrative effect by the word limit, T’Pen nonetheless manages to shares an interesting story about her days as an Ensign and it was a real pleasure to see the writer dive back into her characters past. In so doing, I found her description of the Hec-Torat to be (like the Shadows in Cara Maria’s story) an interesting and well thought up idea for a race of Trek Aliens. Again, as with Julia Harden’s story the notion of a poison apple was taken literally with an apple seed nearly poisoning an Hec-Torat. The story is perhaps a little narcissistic, in the sense that Ensign T’Pen is the sole hero to save the day rather than describing a set of Starfleet officers working together, however, I guess a little is excusable in a setting where a character is asked to tell a story about oneself.

Overall this entry was a nice story that was well written, however, I feel more could have been done within the “Captain’s Table” format and the stylistic opportunities it offers. It was also a little unfaithful to some of the key concepts to do “Captains Table” Bar –for example how did a Romulan Centurion (not a Captain) get in? And I’m sure those familiar with the “Captains Table books” would also have found it nice if a gecko had been referred to at some point in the story.

The Diary of a Mad Man by Ensign Pedro Sanchez Ramirez

An interesting start. Reminded me of the story of the whaleship Essex, a terrifying real-life story from the mid-19th century and the origin of Moby [...]. The story was all set to be a real ripper of a yarn, but then it came undone, as the story turned into the ravings of a madman, reminiscent of a few episodes of DS9.

However, unlike Sisko, we have no sympathy for the central character because we don't know him. The dialogue wasn't really believable for me. I do like the concept that the central character has stories to tell, and is being prevented from doing so. The main stinger, however, that a story is all someone's dream, is something a bit hackneyed.

A Poignant Memory... by Lieutenant J.G. Salak

Ahh, yes, I've seen this before. Several times since I've been judging this competition, people have attempted to rewrite plotlines from the ships they're on in reminiscence format. And I've never seen it work satisfactorily. The trouble with reminiscence is that there's usually a distinct lack of dialogue, which I think is pretty important for this genre. All description can make a story hard going. What is here is pretty well written, but I've seen Salak write better.

The Last Entry, Archive access granted by Lt.Jg. Aresee Ventu

Wow. This was spot on. A good plotline, tight writing, the right blend of dialogue (as it was a captain's log) and description. Throw in an unusual format and you've got a winner. It's difficult to see how this could be improved upon. But, being a judge, I have to try. I did find the codebreaking a little unbelievable. A simple substitution code in the 24th century? I mean c'mon Ventuu, that was a little careless. It'd have been great if you could have read up a bit on modern cryptology to make it realistic. But apart from that, a top-notch effort. Well done.

Perfection, by Nemitor Atimen

An excellent concept, Lieutenant Atimen. The origin of the Borg is a topic never discussed on Trek. Your story is believable and original. My quarrel with this one is that it's very short. While that's not necessarily a problem, I found myself wanting to know the backstory. I'd have liked to know a little more about the leader, the experimenters, the original Borg themselves. It left me unsatisfied as a narrative. It's really a vinaigrette told at one point only: the time the Borg first exit the experimental chamber and presumably assimilate the planet. But a narrative it is not.

The Fruit Born of a Poisoned Tree

By Ensign David Cody

What does it mean to partake in something so innocent, but with

cruel intentions? Is it to fall in `love' so quickly, upon the

sight of someone who would be your savior? The chemicals and

hormones that are associated with love are set off during the heroic

acts of chivalry, or what would be an act as such. There is

something underlying, some secret to Orola's captivity.

The metaphor can be taken in several accounts in this passionate

piece of writing. Living with being a clone, Orola paid a Ferengi

to take her captive into what might be called an exotic dancer and

slave. The treatment she endures can be the fruit of her choices

and the poison of their consequences. In the time of watching Trek,

this reviewer has never seen or heard any mention about cloning

Orion Slave Girls and not being able to have children… then again,

this could be true or just a creative throw by the author of this

story. It's an interesting touch to an intriguing tale.

Another, as it was clearly pointed out, the `savior' named Cody felt

intoxicated by the fruit the Orion female offered him but would

later find the poisons of her past. Were Cody's attraction clearly

his own or another fruit that would turn to poison as cast by Orola…

as we know how Orion females can manipulate men.

Mr. Cody does a good job in his passionate writing of emotions.

They are descriptive in both accounts, as he switches back and forth

between Orola's and Cody's point of view. This is an delightful

part of the writing, to be treated between perspectives. However,

this reviewer was left thinking, "Did she plead her love to him to

escape from an impossible situation?" The emotion she was feeling to

the Starfleet officer seemed to be a little forced and strong, but,

then again, love works differently in every individual… and species,

I should say, too.

So, did the characters partake into something so innocent, but with

very cruel intentions? Were Orola's movements in the direction of

something innocent? Were Cody's? Perhaps… then again…

A Viper's Bite By Lieutenant Toni Turner

This piece is incredibly written, treating the reader to a variety

of beautiful comparisons. Who could expect any less from this

writer?

The story centers around two characters: Lieutenant Lori Striker

with a voice that held a certain drawl and charm. Her voice could

entrap and mesmerize any listener, negating any notion that she was

a not a strong-willed woman. Then there was the Romulan Lieutenant,

Tal Zeetra, who skills were in deception and the manipulation of

others with his words.

Then the two face off in a battle of wits in what is

called `deliberations', leaving the reader thinking… until it is

announced the winners of the debate, these two, are becoming husband

and wife! While this is a beautifully written story, the reviewer

is left a bit confused on the actual `poisoned apple' metaphor. Is

it the underlying personalities of these characters to their

outwardly appearance to the world? Is it the trick at the end?

This story is based mainly on narrative and descriptions of the

characters and their charisma which is done nicely, taking an

interesting turn. However, while this metaphor is left open for

interpretation, the clear meaning in which the writer may have

intended is a little lost in the descriptions.

Bitter Fruit

By Lieutenant Ben Walker

The efforts to surpass their opponents in an unnamed war, it is

clear at the end of this `Twilight Zone' type story that the war has

just gotten worse in the evolution of tactics. The will to survive

had bitter consequences.

The story begins with a man, locked behind a door in a room where he

writes a cryptic message and awaits his inevitable demise. A

flashback then allows us to see to story unveil… of warring factions

with extreme tactics to ensure the win. But when the opponent brings

in something new the situation becomes even more daring. Jamming

sequences… implanting devices into their armies physical bodies.

And, the injection that tamed the will of `man' himself. In the

effort to surpass the new technology of their foes, this locked man

creates technology that unifies the brains of their soldiers… which

is called "Trust", which would later evolve into something cryptic

as the Borg.

Certainly, this is an interesting take on the creation of the Borg.

The reviewer is not so sure if innocence was a factor more so than

being naïve. Without thinking ahead to the `fruits' of their

creation, the man who locked himself has created an otherwise bleak

future where no one can evolve on their own… but by the assimilation

of others.

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I guess there's been a misunderstanding... My story (Diary of a madman) is not someone's dream. The character telling the story is Lt Wilks... I figured someone who read the story carefully would've understood the "tongue sticking out" reference... Wilks is basically telling the story of that event, thus him being the "poison apple"... Maybe I made it too complicated...

Edited by Nerreht
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I'll agree with that comment on mine... I wasn't exactly happy with it myself.

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*roflmao* Guess the interputation between "poison" and "poisoned" did leave the reader lost, especially if they were looking to be poisoned, rather than finding the poison between the characters, which was found in every description of their words. I can live with that.

Thanks for the nice write up. :)

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Yes! I was wondering how many poisoned apple references you would get, I loved littering it with them... notice how the monster's bait got the monster too as well as being drugged.

as Sisko said, "Too much fun," :D I think I agree with that one.

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