Star Trek: Constellations

The Annotations

I had discussions with the authors of the 40th-anniversary anthology. They were urged to push the envelope while still striving for a classic feel. It was a tall order and a fine line to walk, but all the authors rose to the occasion admirably. Constellations is intended to be accessible, as if the stories are part of an unearthed fourth season of Star Trek: The Original Series. The anthology's title relates to Star Trek's elevation in the last four decades to a kind of living pop-culture mythology. Constellations, after all, represent classic tales in the night sky — mythic stories strewn across the galaxy. What more appropriate name for a new collection of original Trek fiction?

Constellations editor Marco Palmieri, quoted in Star Trek Magazine, Sept/Oct 2006.

A Quick Introduction

Annotations for Star Trek novels? Been done before. Annotations for Star Trek short stories? Can't think of a precedent. Then why write annotations for short stories that, in the words of anthology editor Marco Palmieri, are "intended to be accessible"? Why not?


Naturally, these annotations contain spoilers — in some cases massive spoilers — for the stories in Constellations. Reading these annotations should not be a substitute for reading the anthology. But for readers curious about the writing process, curious about taking a peak behind the curtain, there are treasures here to be found.


In general, citations to other works will be as follows:

Television episodes are listed in quotation marks, followed by an abbreviation of the TV show in question:

TOS=the live-action Star Trek (1966-1969)

TAS=the animated Star Trek (1973-1975)

TNG=Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)

DS9=Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999)

VOY=Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)

ENT=Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005)


Movie titles are listed in bold.

Novel and eBook titles are listed in italics, followed by the author of the novel or eBook, with abbreviations indicating series:

ST=Star Trek (general)

TOS=Star Trek (the original series)

TNG=The Next Generation

DS9=Deep Space Nine



NF=New Frontier

SCE=S.C.E. (Starfleet Corps of Engineers)

Any comments, questions, or mistakes, please let Allyn Gibson know. And now, without further ado, on to the annotations!

First, Do No Harm

Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore

Page 5

NGC 667

The numerical designation for this planet is taken from Dayton Ward's birth month and year. Says Dayton, "Boring, I know, but it was the first thing that came to mind. Sue me."

Page 8


This medication designed to treat humanoids for radiation exposure was first referenced in the original series episode "The Deadly Years." It would later be referenced in various episodes of the 24th century-era Star Trek series.

Page 10

The shuttlecraft Columbus

First referenced in the original series episode "The Galileo Seven."

Page 13

"A7 computer specialist's rating"

Spock tells Dr. Richard Daystrom that he holds an "A7 computer expert classification" in the original series episode "The Ultimate Computer." Fat lot of good it did him in that episode, and it's not much use either to him or Ensign Chekov in this story, either. Whoops.

Admiral Komack

That dour flag officer who seems to take great joy in sending Kirk to places he doesn't want to go, is first referenced in the original series episode "This Side of Paradise," and is later seen in "Amok Time." Oddly, the actor who portrayed Komack in that episode, Byron Morrow, would later be seen as a different admiral in "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky."

Page 19

The Starfleet Medical Journal

Though it makes perfect sense that such a publication would exist, the Starfleet Medical Journal doesn't seem to actually be referenced by name until the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Body and Soul."

Page 23

Transporters and "biomatter transport"

The latter term was first heard in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Broken Bow," when we learn that transporters had only recently been approved for use on living beings.

Page 25

"Sir, a fragment of burning ash has landed on your clothing. Let me help you."

Spock's line of dialogue before disabling the Grennai worker with a nerve pinch is a tip of the hat to "A Taste of Armageddon" (TOS), when Spock uses a similar distraction tactic to incapacitate an Eminian guard.

After the nerve pinch, Spock and Kirk's dialogue about Kirk ever learning the technique echoes similar exchanges from the original series, most notably "The Omega Glory" (TOS).

The Landing Party

Robert Greenberger

Page 35

James T. Kirk

First introduced in "Where no Man has Gone Before" (TOS).

Leonard McCoy

First introduced in "The Corbomite Maneuver" (TOS).

Hikaru Sulu

First introduced in "Where no Man has Gone Before" (TOS), Sulu received his first name in Vonda McIntyre's Star Trek novel, The Entropy Effect.

Mark Piper

First introduced in "Where no Man has Gone Before" (TOS).

Nurse Christine Chapel

First introduced in "The Naked Time" (TOS).


First introduced in "The Cage" (TOS).

Page 38

The disastrous mission to the edge of the galaxy was of course chronicled in "Where no Man has Gone Before" (TOS). The ship's helmsman was Lee Kelso, the senior navigator was Gary Mitchell and the ship's psychiatrist was Elizabeth Dehner.


The communications officer first introduced in "Where no Man has Gone Before" (TOS).

Yeoman Smith

First introduced in "Where no Man has Gone Before" (TOS).

The conversation between Kirk and Sulu was chronicled in Michael Jan Friedman's Star Trek trilogy, My Brothers Keeper Book Two: Constitution.

Page 39

Sulu's interest in botany was seen in the episode "The Man Trap" (TOS).

Page 40


Captain Christopher Pike was first introduced in "The Cage" (TOS).

Page 41


First introduced in "Return of the Archons" (TOS). His first name was inspired by the actor to portray him, Christopher Held.

Page 45


Refers to the senior geologist first introduced in "That Which Survives" (TOS).

Page 59

Angie Martine

Refers to Phaser Control Officer Angela Martine, first introduced in "Balance of Terror" (TOS).


Tefers to phaser officer Robert Tomlinson, first introduced in "Balance of Terror" (TOS).

Page 64


Commander Giotto was first introduced in the episode "Devil in the Dark" (TOS).

As Others See Us

Christopher L. Bennett

From Robert Burns' poem "To a Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady's Bonnet at Church."

Page 166-7

Jeyam Tybris-Kir = James Tiberius Kirk

Seyar Mandas-Pok = Sarek, Amanda, Spock

Leyan Ardem-Koi = Leonard McCoy

Teyar Risar-Gan = Theresa Errgang

"...always kept his headscarf pulled down over his ears"

Since "Seyar"/Spock has pointed ear tips that he has to cover, as he did with hats in many TOS episodes.

Page 168

"The kiteman"

This is a planet with higher gravity than Earth, so not only are the people larger and stronger, but the air is denser. Since buoyancy is proportional to weight, it cancels out gravity, so the ability of a body to float or fly is proportional only to air density. This means, paradoxically, that flying or gliding would typically be easier on higher-gravity worlds. Thus, Yemai lookouts use kites instead of crow's nests in the masts.

Page 170

Sigma Niobe II

Presumably in the same constellation as Beta Niobe, which went supernova in "All Our Yesterdays" (TOS). There is no real constellation Niobe; presumably it was conceived and named by human settlers on some distant planet where the star patterns are different. Niobe was a tragic figure from Greek mythology.

Page 171

Archaeology and Anthropology

A department of the Enterprise science staff, established in "Who Mourns for Adonais" (TOS).

Page 173


A species seen in "The Way to Eden" (TOS) and "The Ship" (DS9), bald with large, scalloped ears. Presumably Chaane's ears are subtly more elaborately shaped than the human norm.

Chaane's multispecies diversity is inspired by that of the Temporal Agent discovered in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Future Tense."

Page 174


The Nahuatl (Aztec) word for a type of spear-thrower used by many cultures from the Paleolithic into modern times. The woomera is an aboriginal Australian variant with the attributes described in the story.

Page 175

"...he swam down a meter or so, which should be a sufficient depth for the water to slow the bullets harmlessly."

This was demonstrated in Mythbusters episode 34, "Bulletproof Water." Low-velocity bullets need to travel approximately 8 feet (2.4 meters) through water to be slowed to non-lethal speeds (whereas more powerful, supersonic rounds disintegrate from the force of impact with the water and are thus far less effective). However, since such bullets would generally be fired at a shallow angle, one would generally be safe at a depth of a meter or so. Another factor to consider is that the light would be refracted by the surface of the water, throwing off the shooters' aim.

Page 176

"...a late K-type star"

Meaning a star toward the lower, cooler end of the K-type (orange) range, about K6-K9. The origin of the "early/late" terminology is unclear. Such a star would be smaller and cooler than the Sun.

Page 177

Mudd's Planet

From "I, Mudd" (TOS). All the androids there were controlled by a single central computer.

Page 182


Closest Ilaiyen approximation of "Glysinek."

Page 185


Alternate term for nanobots coined in "Evolution" (TNG).

Page 188

Ronald Tracey

Captain of the Exeter from "The Omega Glory" (TOS).

The Coalescence

An original creation of the author. It is not related to the so-called "coalescent organism" from "Aquiel" (TNG).

Page 189

Andronesian encephalitis

A nonlethal disease first mentioned in "The Dauphin" (TNG) and again in "Cold Station 12" (ENT). Memory loss is not a symptom established in those episodes, but it can be a consequence of severe encephalitis in real life — along with personality changes, which would also make an effective cover for the Coalescence.

Further notes and discussion on "As Others See Us"

The Leader

Dave Galanter

Page 221

Shuttlecraft Copernicus

First appeared appeared in "The Slaver Weapon" (TAS).

McCoy's ring

McCoy is often seen wearing a ring on his little finger in the original series.

Page 223

M-Class moon

The classification for Earth/Mars conditions of a planet, perhaps taken from Minshara Class, a Vulcan term we learned of on Star Trek: Enterprise.

Page 228

"Tera'ngan Ha'DIbah!"

Klingonese, a language devoloped by Marc Okrand for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Translated literally: "Terran animal!" While Klingonese isn't heard in the 79 episode run of TOS, it is called Klingonese by a Klingon in "The Trouble with Tribbles" (TOS).

Page 230

Triox hypospray

First seen in "Amok Time" (TOS) but also seen in "The Tholian Web" (TOS) and in "Rise" (VOY), Triox is an intravenous medicine that helps people to breathe after or during low oxygen exposure.

Page 231

Earth normal atmosphere

Probably "1 atm," this is what was often referred to when the atmosphere of a planet was nitrogen/oxygen and "normal" relative to Earth's atmospheric pressure.

Page 232

Wild Qaj

A type of Klingon animal (supposedly with brown lips) as found at the Klingon Language Institute.

Page 232

yIntaH qIrq 'e' vIneH.  DaSwIj bIngDaq latlhpu' vItap.

Klingonese translation provided by Marc Okrand from my English: "Kirk I want alive. The rest I will grind beneath my boot." Marc told me that literally the line is: "I want that Kirk keeps living.  I will mash the others under my boot."

Page 236

Beta Aurigae colony

Beta Aurigae is a real star system in the Auriga constellation. In "Turnabout Intruder" (TOS), the Enterprise was scheduled to rendezvous with the USS Potemkin to conduct gravitational studies of what is refered to as a binary system. In reality, the system is trinary. (All this according to Memory Alpha, anyway. Enterprise never makes it to Beta Aurigae in the show, as it is diverted to Camus II due to a distress call. A former lover of Kirk then swaps bodies with him and hilarity ensues.)


An engine imbalance caused the Enterprise to create a wormhole in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Page 237


The events of "Errand of Mercy" (TOS) and the Organians and their forced peace treaty between the Klingons and the Federation is an underlying reason for D'kar to feel he somehow robbed Commander Kor (also first seen in "Errand of Mercy") of his honor.

Page 238

McCoy's shingle

It's not the first time Kirk has teased McCoy about putting out his shingle on some colony. In "This Side of Paradise" (TOS) they had a similar conversation.

Page 242

Boosting the communicator

They always seemed to be finding componants which could boost their communicators in Star Trek, but here Kirk isn't as skilled in this regard as Spock or Scotty might be, and his attempts are fruitless.

Page 258


In "Errand of Mercy" (TOS) Spock's cover story was that he was a Vulcan trader, a dealer in Kevas, and Trillium. Kor uses a mind scanner (or "mind ripper" as he calls it) to verify this, despite its not being true. Here he asks snidely how the Kevas trade is, and Spock — because he's Spock — knows exactly how it is.

Page 259

qab yon Da'agh.  qablIj yon yI'aghHa' 'aghHa'pa' 'etlhwIj.

Marc Okrand again translated my English line into Klingon. I gave him "Scrape that smug look from your face before my blade does it for you" and he gave me back this, saying literally it was: "You display a satisfied face.  Dis-display your satisfied face before my blade dis-displays it."

chobelHa'moH, DI'qar.  SajlIj 'oHbe' quvwIj'e'.

More Marc Okrand goodness. My line was "You disappoint me, D'Kar.  My honor is not your play-thing," and Marc handed back this Klingonese. (Literally: "You displease me, D'Kar.  My honor is not your pet.") It was fantastic for Marc to take his time to translate these lines for me, and I owe him big.

Page 261

Kirk, Spock and McCoy

I wanted the story to end as so many classic Trek episodes did (and I also wanted to use Spock a bit) so we have the Spock/McCoy philosophical tussle, the veiled insult from Spock, and a final "Ahead, warp factor one," from Kirk has he settles into the comfort of the familiar. "Walking computer bank" was an insult used at least once before by McCoy, and Spock has many times explained that he's quite pleased that he is not human. Isn't pleased an emotion? Ah, Spock — always the mystery.


William Leisner

Page 265

Pentam V

A made-up name. No hidden meanings. Sorry.

"... more than a year after his transfer to helmsman..."

Sulu's transfer to the bridge occurred sometime between "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (TOS) and "The Corbomite Maneuver" (TOS). That would place "Ambition" early in the second season.

Thraz Outpost

In the original proposal for this story, I had adhered to the gender-prefix naming pattern established for Andorians in the DS9 "Relaunch" series. The editor, however, asked that my Andorian names be more in keeping with those used in TOS. I did, however, try to maintain the suggestion that these names could be "retconned" to fit the more modern convention (in this instance, "th'Raz").

Page 267

"But a starship bridge has its own command structure."

Such structure was rarely evident on the Enterprise, as Kirk quite often put Scotty in command ahead of Sulu. Keith R.A. DeCandido's take on this peculiarity, in his TNG novel A Time for War, A Time for Peace, was responsible for planting the seed for this story in my mind. So, a big shout-out to KRAD!

"You do want your own command someday, da?"

Sulu would eventually become captain of the Excelsior, sometime prior to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Page 268

... nine other ships...

This is based on Scotty's line in "Relics" (TNG) that he had served on eleven ships, and assumes the Enterprise and Enterprise-A were numbers ten and eleven. Other fans have done the math differently, and I have no quarrel with any of them.

Page 269

"... negotiating some kind of alliance..."

An alliance between the Romulans and Klingons would be confirmed in the third season episode "The Enterprise Incident" (TOS). That whispers about the impending alliance could have reached Sulu months before can be attributed to the fact that rumors travel at Warp 10.

Page 270

Ensign David Frank

Another made-up name. Move along, nothing to see here...

Page 271

"He resolved to do what he had to to make the transition..."

I was unaware as I was writing my story that Robert Greenberger would be writing one about Sulu's transition, and I am very pleased that this unintended reference to what was covered in "The Landing Party" actually works pretty well.

Page 272

"... sixty-six years ago..."

A reference to TOS's debut in '66. Happy Birthday!

Page 274

"... like a leaf in the wind."

Watch how it soars...

Page 276


Though this has been generally accepted by fandom (and Ms. Nichols) as Uhura's first name, it was never established on screen.

Page 278

"I'm an engineer, dammit, not a..."

Yes, I did enjoy having this particular phrase thrown into McCoy's face in this instance.

"... and if I live another hundred years, an engineer is still what I'll be."

More than a hundred years later, Scotty would be head of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, as established in the ebook series of the same name.

Page 285

"... this is a life-form?"

The original proposal for this story had an actual ship and actual attack on Thraz. The editor liked the Sulu-Scotty story, but requested I give the story more of a "sense of wonder". The "turtle eggs" twist was inspired by Carl Hiaasen's recent young adult book, Flush.

Page 288

"Why are we part of this Federation with you Earthers..."

This animosity is meant to reflect the impression from "Journey to Babel" (TOS) that the Federation is not quite a perfectly harmonious union yet, and some species-ism does still exist.


Again, an Andorian name that could easily be retconned, to "sh'Revan" (which would make the Director a shen, and "Ms." a more appropriate honorific).

Page 292


Kirk did face one of these aliens in "Arena" (TOS). Unfortunately for him, building a crude cannon and shooting Pentamian politicians was not an option.

"... they only purge their bodily waste one day out of four, too."

A curious complaint, given that the Enterprise crew never seemed to need to purge their bodily waste, either...

Devices and Desires

Kevin Lauderdale

The title has two meanings. First, this story is about just that: objects and what people want. But the phrase is also part of a prayer of confession found in The Book of Common Prayer: "We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts." As we will see, this story's antagonist is far too concerned with her own wishes and interests.

— Kevin Lauderdale

Page 297


Named for Hayao Miyazaki, Japan's greatest animator, and creator of (among other films) My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away.

The Yard

My nod to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and L. Sprague de Camp worked during World War II. Everyone just called it "the Navy Yard," and I've always liked the sound of that.

All of the alien objects in Bishop's office were made up by me. Note the small potted palm. This room is based on Mr. Lurry's office in "The Trouble With Tribbles" (TOS). Lurry had a potted palm.

Page 298

Dark running

A term I invented. Think of "silent running" for submarines.

Page 299

B6 Blue

B6 Blue is a Nasat name. The Nasat first appeared in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Jihad," though they were not named until their reappearance in the first Starfleet Corps of Engineers ebook, The Belly of the Beast.

"It was she who was responsible..."

This event, and the subsequent rift between Spock and Sarek, was explored in "Journey to Babel" (TOS), but the exact reason was never mentioned.

Page 300


She was originally to be D1 Blue, nicknamed "Deacon" (solely for the purpose of allowing me to pull of a rather dubious Steely Dan joke). When that was axed because Deacon sounds too much like D-Con, the bug spray (not a connotation you want with an insectoid species), I found that I had already started to pepper the story with religious terms, so I decided to find a similarly religious nickname. Besides, a Bishop is a much higher "rank" than a deacon.

Narnel's World

Narnel's World is made up. In later series, planets have more scientific names, but I always liked the pioneer flavor of TOS which used names like Sherman's Planet.

Voice print recognition

By the movie era they would have moved on to retina scans, but voice is the sort of thing we saw in a 1960s episodes.

Page 301

Surface area and volume

If I did my math correctly these numbers should be right (Approximately. Planets don't have absolute dimensions.)

Page 302

The cloaking device

The Romulan cloaking device was the object retrieved by Kirk and Spock in "The Enterprise Incident" (TOS). "Devices and Desires" occurs shortly after "The Tholian Web" (TOS), and so a few weeks after "The Enterprise Incident."

Page 303

Travel pods

First seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Scotty takes Kirk to the refitted Enterprise in one.

The Doomsday Machine

The Doomsday Machine first appeared in the TOS episode of that name.

Page 304

Doctor Pad

This story was originally packed with in-jokes, which my editor wisely made me cut. I'm glad he let one stand, though, and I'm glad this is that one. A reference, of course, to Peter Allen David, (more commonly called just Peter David, but if you say PAD on a Star Trek or comics bulletin board everyone knows who you mean) author of the TNG novel Vendetta, which postulates that the planet killers were built (by the Preservers?) to fight the Borg.

Page 305

"Sarek was still an academic then..."

Things are never really explained in "Journey to Babel." Sarek says that he wanted Spock to attend the Vulcan Science Academy like he did. Why would a diplomat have attended a science school? The only logical answer is that he had a career as a scientist before becoming a diplomat. Astrophysics seemed like a good 1960s discipline. I was delighted to subsequently learn (if the Memory Alpha wiki is to be trusted) that in the script for "Journey" there was line establishing that "Sarek was previously an astrophysicist before becoming a diplomat." I've always thought it was very cool that, in the TNG era, Spock has become Ambassador Spock, following in the father's footsteps after all.

"Human warp field engineers..."

According to the Star Trek: Enterprise there were a lot of them there.

At least one human..."

Spock's human mother is Amanda Grayson.


I made up the frost fields, but Efrosians are those fellows with the long white hair and droopy mustaches. The Federation president in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is one.

Page 305


Andorians were first seen in "Journey," and then later much more frequently in Star Trek: Enterprise. Yeah, they're cool.

Page 308

"The Golden Age..."

A proverb whose origin is lost in the mists of time.

The Guardian of Forever

The Guardian of Forever first appeared in "The City on the Edge of Forever" (TOS.

Page 309

"Smoke Trapezoids..."

The items mentioned here are all made up by me.

Epsilon Sagittarii

Epsilon Sagittarii is real. No one knows (yet) if it has four planets.


An incomplete epic poem by John Keats about the Titans and their defeat by the Olympians.

Page 310

Occita's Theorem

Occita's Theorem was made up by me.

Page 311

F3 Red and T'cal

Products of my imagination.

Page 312


Made up by editor Marco Palmieri.

"...didn't the Vulcans initially hold back..."

This has also been documented on Star Trek: Enterprise.

Page 313


Captain Christopher Pike commanded the Enterprise before Kirk. See TOS's "The Menagerie."


Sulu is the Enterprise's helmsman. As we learn in Star Trek VI he would later go on to captain the Excelsior.


Hadley was a character played by William Blackburn. Blackburn appeared in various episodes over the years as a security officer, a helmsman, and a science officer. Sometimes he was a lieutenant, sometimes an ensign. Since the only time he is referred to by name — "A Piece of the Action" (TOS) — he was at the science station, I've made him a scientist.

"one of the androids from Harry Mudd's planet..."

See "I, Mudd" (TOS).

"Landru's lawgiver staffs"

See "The Return of the Archons" (TOS).

Romulan War Birds

The main battle ships of the Romulan Star Empire.

Page 315

Moffett Field

Moffett Field is still standing in 2006. Next time you're in Silicon Valley, drive by Moffett and see the huge dirigible hangars built in the 1930s. As lovely as any cathedral.

Page 316

Lagoon Nebula

A real place.


Medusa is the Gorgon from Greek mythology who could turn you to stone with a glance. She had hair of writhing snakes.

Page 318


Deltans first appeared in Star Trek: The Motion Picture Ilia, the Enterprise's navigator, was one.


The preferred name of the Klingon home world.

Page 322


Thanks to Marc Okrand's The Klingon Dictionary for the translation.

"a dealer in kevas and trillium..."

See "Errand of Mercy" (TOS).


The mineral critical to warp drive systems.

Duotronic computer systems

Designed by Dr. Richard Daystrom, duotronic computer systems are an integral part of Starfleet's ships. See "The Ultimate Computer" (TOS).


Allyn Gibson

Unless you've read "Make-Believe" don't read the annotations. I cannot stress this enough. You will be doing yourself a disservice if you read these in advance of reading the story itself.

— Allyn Gibson

Page 363

"He may have grown up in Georgia..."

Though the original series never specifies Leonard McCoy's birthplace, John M. Ford's novel The Final Reflection suggests that the McCoy family hails from Georgia. David R. George III's TOS novel Crucible: McCoy: Provenance of Shadows places McCoy's birthplace in Atlanta.

Van Allen radiation

Named for its discoverer, James van Allen, the Van Allen Radiation belts are areas of high-intensity radiation trapped within a planet's magnetic field. McCoy's attachment of "magnetic fields" to "Van Allen radiation" in his dialogue, besides being unnecessary as magnetic fields are a component of the Van Allen belts, is indicative of McCoy's typical obliviousness to the physical universe.

Page 364


Also known as Mirfak and Alpha Persei, Algenib is a star in the constellation Perseus, between 575 and 600 light-years distant from Earth. Translated from the Arabic, Algenib means "side." In the sense of the constellation Perseus, side refers to Perseus's side. In the sense of the story, I meant an alternate meaning of side: edge. I felt that having a location for Kirk's journey with an Arabic name would serve to tie the story's two plot strands together — just as the United States, with its Iraq adventure, has gone into an Arab land, so to is Kirk with his mission across the surface of Algenib II.

Page 365

T.J. McCoy

McCoy's grandfather appeared in The Final Reflection. According to that novel Thomas J. McCoy — T.J. for short — was the Chief of Medicine at the Emory University Medical Center in Atlanta.

Valles Marineris

The largest canyon in the solar system, the Valles Marineris stretches 4,500 kilometers long, and measures 200 kilometers wide and 11 kilometers deep.

Fort Kiley

Named for the actor Richard Kiley who guest-starred as the Martian Shazzerd in "Requiem for a Martian" (TOS) and as the stellar engineer Gideon Seyetik in "Second Sight" (DS9).

Page 367


Short for Gabrielle, the French feminine form of the Hebrew name Gabriel, which means "strong man of God." Why? Gabby has to be strong, given the circumstances of the story, yet we find her at a very weak point in her life. The story, then, is about Gabby coming to find the strength to go forward.

On a different note, Gabby was inspired by two women I have known in my life. Let me stress that Gabby shares none of their histories, but I modeled Gabby's appearance on one and her behaviors upon the other. The advice Billy Crystal gives in Throw Momma From the Train — "Write what you know" — was in full usage here.


The Irish Gaelic form of Brendan, which means either "prince" or "sorrow." Both meanings fit the character's role in the story. He would be of an age where parents were picking ethnic names because they could to be different and/or trendy.

"That the school counselor could mistake her son's name..."

A clue to the indifference Gabby feels she and her son are being shown.

"'An incident,' she repeated."

Sulu's reaction, using the same words, to Brigadier Kerla's assertion that Praxis's explosion in the opening scenes of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was nothing more than "an incident" provides a good contrast. In Sulu's case, his exasperation stems from Kerla's downplaying of the destruction of Praxis. In Gabby's case, her exasperation stems from an instant feeling that the school has over-reacted in taking away her son's toy. Both characters in the situation feel the situation has been exaggerated.

Page 368

"Star Trek, Star Wars — I can't tell these things apart."

A conversation many Star Trek fans have had with non-fans. Many times. ;)

" took away his toy. That's your indifference."

Again, a clue that Gabby feels that the school counselor isn't receptive to her son's problems. Also, Gabby's anger could be directed at school zero-tolerance policies.

Page 369

"Don't you feel that this is something you and his father should address with Breandán?”

Because this is something several people have asked me about, usually by saying "But wait, shouldn't the school counselor know that Breandán's father died in Iraq?" and "That's no fair — you're going for the shock value!", let me offer the answer here.

Short answer:

Yes, Mrs. Davis already knows, and her lack of recognition of the fact plays into Gabby's argument that the school is being indifferent to Breandán.

Long answer:

As we learn at the bottom of page 369 Kevin Howard died in Iraq when his Apache helicopter went down over the desert. The Iraq War has, in many ways, been a phantom war. It's happening, American soldiers are fighting, and dying, every day in the Iraqi desert, and yet it doesn't touch the lives of most Americans. The President has attended no funerals for fallen American servicemen. The Secretary of Defense didn't even sign the condolence letters himself for close to a year, content to let an autographing machine sign the letters. No photographs of flag-draped coffins have been officially released, and the unofficially released photos were suppressed. In short, for the vast majority of Americans, unless you know someone who has gone to Iraq, unless you know someone who died in Iraq, the Iraq War hasn't affected you directly. The Iraq War is something that most Americans would say affects other people, and when something affects others but not yourself most people can block it from their minds. That's what Gabby is experiencing from Mrs. Davis, the school counselor. The Iraq War hasn't touched her, and while she knows intellectually that the Howards have suffered a loss due to the war she doesn't have to think about it.

That's the long answer.

And yes, I was going for the shock value of the last line of the scene. To borrow a phrase from Dayton Ward, "Sue me." :p


An English name that means "kind" or "gentle."


Surname of Kevin, Gabrielle, and Breandán, Howard means "brave heart."

Page 371


A doctor aboard the Enterprise, Jabilo M'Benga first appeared in "A Private Little War."

Algol Prime

A star in the constellation Perseus, Algol is an eclisping binary system. Algol is the second brightest star in Perseus, hence its designation as Beta Persei. Algol is much closer to Earth than Algenib (Alpha Persei) — 93 light-years distant as compared to Algenib's nearly 600 light-year distance. As is common in the original Star Trek Kirk's mission to Algol Prime should not take the Enterprise anywhere near Algenib, and yet it does. Translated from the Arabic, Algol means "demon star."

Algol Prime sounded like a Classic Trek sort of name for a planet, much like Kevin Lauderdale's Narnal's World from "Devices and Desires" in the anthology.

"ancient Earth astronomy"

I always liked the way Spock said "ancient Earth mythology" in Star Trek VI when describing the painting of Adam and Eve in his quarters to Valeris. That statement and Alexander Rozhenko's "ancient West" in "A Fistful of Datas" (TNG) reinforce the idea that to characters living in the 23rd- and 24th-centuries what we consider the "modern era" and our own recent past are as remote to them as the Renaissance and Reformation are to us.


A sister ship to Jonathan Archer's Enterprise, first seen in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "The Expanse." Named for the space shuttle Columbia, which was itself named for Columbia, an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century feminine symbol for the United States, best known now as the icon of Columbia Pictures. Taken on a symbolic level, the Columbia's mission in 2159 to Algenib is meant to parallel the United States' involvement in Iraq in the 1991 invasion — Columbia, the United States, went in and got out, and now a later captain of ship, of state, goes in with devastating consequences.

Page 373


The French feminine form of Nicholas, a name that means "victory." Nicole's conversation with Gabby sends her on the path toward solving the story's problem, hence "victory."

"combat operations in Iraq have ended"

On May 1, 2003 President George W. Bush, standing on the deck of the US aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln before a banner that read "Mission Accomplished," stated that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended." American casualties in the war stood at 137.

As of this writing American soliders continue to be involved in combat operations in the Iraq theatre. American soldiers continue to be sent to the Middle-East. Reservists, even those on the inactive rosters, continue to be called up. American casualties stand at 2639 — fully 2500 since Bush stood before a banner that said "Mission Accomplished."

As of this writing there is no end in sight to the American involvement in Iraq. Combat operations have not ended, and every speech President Bush gives about "staying the course" in Iraq only proves that his speech of May 1, 2003 was a lie.

For up-to-date casualty figures on the Iraq War, I recommend the Casualties in Iraq website.

"...yet a month later..."

This would date Kevin's death (and the funeral home scene earlier in the story) to late May or early June 2003.

Page 377

"...pointing nearly straight into the air as a lamppost might."

The specific inspiration here was the live-action version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I went to see one evening during the drafting of the story. In some respects another Narnia story, Neil Gaiman's "The Problem of Susan," influenced "Make-Believe" and its blurring of the lines between the world in which fiction exists as fiction and the world in which fiction exists as fact, so evoking the image of a lamppost was meant to signal a point at which the two worlds converge.

Pages 377-78

"Gabby dreams."

This scene, in its flashback, takes place before the story's beginning, and also takes place, in its initial framing paragraphs, after the story's final lines. Which gives me the opportunity to discuss "Make-Believe"'s sense of time. :)

In a strict chronological order the story's scenes would read, from first to last, in the following order:

7, 3, 2, 5, 9, 10, 7, 4, 1, 6, 8, 10

Yes, scenes 7 — Gabby's flashback dream — and 10 — the final lines of the story — take place at two different points in the story's internal chronology. Here in scene 7, Gabby dreams, after the story's conclusion, of events that took place some eight months earlier. Later, in scene 10, the two parallel narratives — Earth 2003, and sometime in the 23rd century — converge and tie the story together. Hence, the dual placement of the two scenes on a chart of the story's chronological order.

The narrative's non-linearity was carefully planned right from the story's first outline. The scene transitions, even the story's shifts in perspective and verb tense, were planned in advance. If anything, the non-linearity in the finished story is less than what was plotted.

In other words, that whiplash you feel from reading "Make-Believe" — that wasn't random.

Page 378

Fort Bragg

A United States Army base located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Unit call-ups and deployments to Iraq from Fort Bragg have dominated local news since the initial run-up to the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Kevin, being a fan, probably has the Director's Edition DVD, released in August 2001.

"You cried when Boromir died."

My sister said to me, when we walked out of the theatre after seeing Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on Christmas Day, 2001, "Were you weaping? When that guy died?" She was talking about Boromir's death defending Merry and Pippen from the Uruk-hai. There were a lot of sniffles in that movie theatre when Boromir fell. A lot.

Page 379

"Night on Algenib II..."

This scene wasn't in the original or revised outlines for the story. In the outline the Enterprise storyline ended on page 379 with the line, "Of his missing crew, there was no sign." I realized, during the drafting of the story, that I needed one more scene with Kirk, one where we finally heard from Kirk and gained an understanding of why he pushed himself and his men across this alien landscape.

"He huddled by the campfire..."

It occurs to me that I have no idea what Kirk made a campfire from at the bottom of Algenib's canyon. It's probable that they're burning things from inside the downed shuttle, or perhaps Kirk had the Enterprise beam down something to build a fire from during one of the transport windows.

Page 381


This seemed like a reasonable mistake a young child would make for Leonard McCoy's nickname.

"Daddy told me that Captain Kirk was sending him away. His shuttle crashed."

As with the scene on page 379, this was decided upon in the drafting stage. I had originally planned for Kevin Howard to have been killed during a roadside ambush, but I realized that I needed something that linked the world of Breandán with the world of Kirk in a much more meaningful way. Kirk's Enterprise didn't carry ground troops, but it did carry shuttle pilots, so I made Kevin a helicopter pilot to continue the parallel between the two storylines. I think the story works better because of the change.