- Homage to the Space: 1999 science fiction series.
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"Space: 1999 - A New Moon Over Bajor"

Interview with the Author: Ariana

This original fan fiction novel involves a cross-over between the Space: 1999 and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine TV series. The author, Ariana, discusses her writings.

You've managed to merge the Space: 1999 and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine universes together seamlessly. How did the story come together?

Back in 1998, I was mainly a Deep Space Nine fan, but with the year 1999 approaching, I remembered Space:1999 from my childhood, and thought about writing a story comparing Odo and Maya's shapeshifting capabilities. The BBC gave me an opportunity to refresh my memory when they repeated the show, and it wasn't long before I came across the active Space:1999 online community.

I watched all the episodes and read all the Space:1999 fan fiction I could get my hands on (the search for more to read eventually became the Space:1999 Fiction Archive), and I'd soon rekindled my love of the show. At first, I was daunted by the great quality of most Space:1999 fanfic; there is so much Star Trek fan fiction that it's difficult to find the good stories, but Space:1999 stories are written by really dedicated fans who want to create a quality product. But the spark that actually started me writing "A New Moon Over Bajor" was probably reading Philippa Sidle's "The Transformation" (a crossover with Star Trek: The Next Generation) - and thinking "I can do even better than that"!

Why post-Y2 (Space: 1999) and the Dominion War era (DS9)?

I usually like to set my fan fiction in the "now". With Space:1999 finished anyway, it was logical to set the story at some point after "The Dorcons"; this also gave me the freedom to do anything with the Alphans' destiny, knowing that I didn't have to make it fit any subsequent episodes.

Deep Space Nine was more tricky, because Season 6 had only just started when I began to write ANMOB; I wanted the story to fit in with the actual show, so that in future, readers wouldn't be thinking "but that doesn't fit in with season 7...". I made sure everything in the DS9 universe was more or less reset at the end of the story.

Who are your favorite characters within the story? Why?

I started out intending to write about Odo and Maya, and in the end, Tony and Kira were the ones who dominated the story! They're both flawed characters, even in their "canon" representations, and it was interesting to push that further in the story. Tony was particularly fun to write because he got some of the best lines.

Having said that, I probably had the most fun writing some of the ensemble scenes, particularly the ones set in Quark's. A lot of that came from observing work colleagues at the pub, with some help from my husband and one of the British chaps proofing the story. They gave me a great insight into the peculiarly male art of "talking rubbish", which led to pointless discussions about cricket, football and the like between Tony, Alan, Miles and Julian.

Without spoiling the story specifics, you give closure to some aspects of Space: 1999 within your story. You've avoided "bringing everything full circle" as Star Trek tends to do--and charted a new course for the Alphans. As a reader, that made the story very enjoyable. It wasn't easy to second-guess your storytelling direction; there are numerous surprises throughout the book.

I'm pleased to hear that my cunning plan was successful! There are certain things that TV shows (American ones in particular) traditionally avoid, and a lot of fan fiction tends to follow those guidelines. I wanted to break away from that predictability. One of the things I enjoyed most about both Space:1999 and Deep Space Nine is precisely that they allowed their characters to be morally ambiguous at times, making questionable decisions and being called on them by other characters. But even in those shows, fan fiction tends to err on the side of making the author's favourite characters overly perfect, and ensuring that nothing happens that readers might not like.

It was interesting to see how readers reacted to the story as they read it. A New Moon Over Bajor was originally published as a weekly series on various DS9 and Space:1999 mailing-lists and newsgroups. Before publication, it was also "beta" read by about a dozen people reading the chapters in advance; they ranged from die-hard DS9 fans who knew nothing of Space:1999, to long-standing Space:1999 fans who didn't watch DS9, and also included my family, who were only casual viewers.

This meant that I was getting feedback on readers' reactions every step of the way. It was clear from the discussions that some readers thought my setup for certain events was just a tease, and that they were expecting the story to conform to the usual patterns. Needless to say, under those circumstances, they were rather surprised when it didn't!

Your chapter titles are witty; fans of both shows will recognize them. So, what came first, the chapter title or the chapter contents?

There was some amount of shoehorning. At least one of the mailing-lists I was posting to couldn't handle messages over something like 20K; as I didn't want to be flooding the lists with too many posts, I limited each chapter to 2 20K posts. And because I wanted both shows to be treated evenly, I was alternating between DS9 and Space:1999 episode titles.

All this meant that I would sometimes pick a chapter title from one of the shows, and then find that the event corresponding to the title overflowed into the next chapter, or got pulled up into the previous one (whole scenes were often cut or added the week before publication!). I remember that the draft titles for the chapters around the holosuite scenes flip-flopped between DS9 and Space:1999 a few times, and that I was particularly disappointed at having to use "All That Glisters" (though I can't remember what the brilliantly appropriate DS9 alternative was now!)

In hindsight, were there any additional characters or situations you would have liked to add into your original story?

My favourite character in DS9 was originally Gul Dukat (this was before he was turned into the True Evil antagonist of season 7), and I was disappointed at the time that there was no way to integrate him into the story. I think if the story had been written a year later, I would also have incorporated some of the revelations about the Dominion and the Prophets from DS9's season 7 - on the other hand, the story would have been completely different then!

Something which is still a little unsatisfactory to me is the role of the Prophets. I didn't want them to be too much of a Deus ex Machina, but their motives remained mysterious - even to me!

There was also a lot of material that was cut. I wanted to make the most of both shows; I'd read too many crossovers where one show was given little attention because the author was only interested in one aspect of it (for instance, to import one or two characters). Although I originally came at the story from the point of view of a Deep Space Nine fan, and was importing the Alphans into the DS9 universe, I did my best to include everything I possibly could about both shows. This even included some more metatextual references, like using Space:1999's decidedly 1970s style and music as a recurring theme. But the cuts were necessary to keep the story moving, and even now, I can see some remaining longueurs that could have been tightened up.

What has surprised you the most about being a published fan fiction author?

The most fantastic thing about writing fanfic is that you have a ready-made audience of people who are by definition interested in your story. So it's a great way to get feedback on what works and what doesn't in the way you write. I've had some great advice from fellow fan writers over the years which has really helped me improve my writing and story-telling skills.

What writers inspire you? Why? What other genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

In the realm of Space:1999 fan fiction, I found David Welle and Philippa Sidle's stories particularly inspiring. They gave season 2's characters a depth that they mostly lacked on the show, and gave serious thought to Maya's metamorphic abilities and the ramifications of being an alien alone among the Alphans. Going back further, I learned a great deal from Star Trek fanfic writers on alt.startrek.creative too.

Perhaps the greatest influence on my style when I first started writing was a French author called Raymond Queneau. He had a very humorous way of writing in which the language was as much a part of the story as the story itself, though I've moved towards a more functional style in my own stories nowadays. My non-fanfic reading doesn't generally involve science-fiction at all, though I recently read some of my husband's Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov books to remedy this. I enjoy what one might call "women's fiction" by writers like Mary Wesley, as well as classics of literature, and children's fiction like The Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter. Having said that, most of the books I'm reading now are technical manuals!

Any upcoming stories that you want to announce?

I am currently working on a Space:1999 story for the first time in a few years; since the birth of my son last year, I haven't had much time to do anything! However, writing again has rekindled some of my inspiration, and I'm hoping I'll be adding something of my own to the Space:1999 Fiction Archive this year.

And one final question, albeit an unfair one: If you could only choose one show to watch, would it be Space: 1999 or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine?

That's not a choice; that's torture! Deep Space Nine would probably keep be busy for longer because there are more episodes, but Space:1999 will always have a special place in my heart. And of course, the new DVDs make watching Space:1999 a new experience all over again!

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