Tag Archive | writer

In Dorothy’s Footsteps The Legacy of a Star Trek Pioneer and Legend

Though it received fewer comments on Yahoo Voices, this tribute to Star Trek pioneer Dorothy “DC” Fontana remains popular among science fiction fans.

 

In Dorothy’s Footsteps

The Legacy of a Star Trek Pioneer and Legend

April 2nd, 2013

On March 25th, the legendary Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana turned 74 years old. Dorothy has been a pioneer in science fiction since first beginning her work with Gene Roddenbury in 1963. She wrote some of Star Trek’s most famous episodes, including “Journey to Babel” for the original series, “Yesteryear” for the animated series, Star Trek the Next Generation’s opener, “Encounter at Far Point,” and “Dax” for Star Trek Deep Space 9 (see Startrek.com’s recent interview with Dorothy Fontana).

Babylon 5 also owes some of its glory to Dorothy Fontana with “The War Prayer,” which is one of my favorite episodes from season one, a poignant story about racism, politics, and love. A famous line from that episode is delivered by Londo Mollari, “My shoes are too tight, and I have forgotten how to dance.”


I remember reading Dorothy’s work in junior high when I first discovered Star Trek on a serious basis, books marked “D.C. Fontana” on the cover, disguising the fact that my favorite science fiction author was a woman.

Growing up, I never saw any examples of women science fiction writers, as if it were a complete oxymoron — rather like a female physicist or astronomer. Women were teachers or nurses — not writers and certainly not scientists! Women were supposed to get married, have children, stay home, and promote their husbands’ careers. And if their marriage was abusive or unhappy, women were supposed to just put up, shut up, and hope to not be killed by her husband.

As a child I often questioned this expectation for my life as a girl growing up in a very conservative, Evangelical Christian home. My feelings were dismissed as defiance and rebellion. There was something unnatural about me for loving science.

Without knowing that my favorite science fiction writer was a woman, I had no clear evidence my family was wrong. Only in later years, when Ms. Fontana’s real name came forward to me, did i realize that across the many years of my life, my role model for great science fiction writing was a woman.

In the aforementioned interview, Dorothy (no longer D.C.) talks about the barriers she faced as a woman daring to defy gender stereotypes and the discrimination that forced her to publish under pseudonyms. No one would take “Dorothy” Fontana seriously in the 1960s and 1970s when some of her most cherished works were first published and produced on television; using her initials masked her gender from sexist eyes.

Hidden from view, Dorothy Fontana changed our world. Everything we think of as “Vulcan” we owe to her pen and her willingness to not let gender stereotypes define her nor lesson the quality of her work.

More than perhaps most of the visible icons of the “women’s movement,” she quietly followed her talent and imagination, opening doors for the rest of us who dream of the stars, understand science, and embrace our gift for language.
The legacy of Dorothy Fontana is in every single woman who dares to be more than “just” a woman, who follows her passion, no matter where it takes her, including and especially to the stars.

Forty years after “Journey to Babel,” the barriers are not completely gone for women in science fiction. But they are fewer. Today, no woman feels she needs to conceal her gender to the world when she writes. We are allowed, finally, to pursue the “final frontier” as Star Trek puts it in ourown right.

Conformity, Self-Acceptance, and Being True to Ourselves

We all want to be loved and liked.   Whether we are introverted, extroverted or ambiverted (the middle ground between introversion and extroversion), social needs are at the very heart of our pyramid of needs as described by Abraham Maslow.  Can it be any wonder then that Maslow’s hierarchy or pyramid of needs remains one of the core tenants in the humanistic school of psychology?

 

Humanistic psychology not only teaches us that our social needs are important, but they are even more basic to our lives than our needs for self-esteem (our emotional feelings about ourselves based on our self-concept, that is our intellectual opinions about ourselves) and transcendence (our spiritual needs or needs to connect to something greater than ourselves).  So it should come to no surprise that oftentimes in our individual quests for love, friendship, and acceptance our habits tend to involve compromise.  That is, we often alter our behavior and project ideas, beliefs, and even emotions to others that are inconsistent with our own, innermost personalities and convictions.   We try so hard to be whatever we think others want us to be instead of being who we are.

Laurel A. Rockefeller at age 25Laurel A. Rockefeller, January 2014This winter, I went to great lengths to change my personal appearance to meet another person’s standards, to transform myself into what he wanted, even though what he wanted ran very much contrary to my own personal preferences.  I cut off my hair and cut it to a side part (which granted, apart from the length, I do like).  I dyed my hair black for the first time since my mid-20s when I dyed my hair to look more Asian — a response to a flood of past life memories I was working through at the time.  I also pierced the upper part of my earlobe, suffering months of pain while it healed.  More dramatically, I bought two pairs of jeans for the first time in my entire life; when I wore jeans as a child and early teen, they were always imposed on me by my parents — in complete opposition with my persistent and pervasive preference for dresses and skirts.  Even after all of this, the man (towards whom I had my first romantic inclinations in years) was still not satisfied.  He insisted I also pierce my eyebrow and get a tattoo.  Fortunately for me, the winter of 2014 was especially brutal and the businesses offering those services located far from public transportation — preventing me from doing something I really did NOT want to do — just to “earn” a date from someone who was not genuinely interested in me at all.

 

In writing about my makeover, (see http://voices.yahoo.com/going-goth-why-changed-look-2014-12471451.html?cat=43), I attracted the attention of a troll who posted numerous harassing comments to not only this article, but several others since that time.

 

And I look back and wonder, “WHY???”

 

Because you see, all of this was people pleasing.  It was my attempt to become what another wanted in hopes that he would want me.  I caved into pressure, lured by a carrot dangled in front of me, yet wholly without reward.  In the end, I never attained what I thought changing myself would achieve.  All of it — both physical and financial pain — was truly empty, a waste.

Women/Validation

I am not the first person to try to people please.  If anything, that compulsion to people please saturates the creative professions.  Actors, musicians, comedians, writers — we all want that love and adoration.  Sometimes great art comes from it — at a price.

 

When we try to please others, we please no one — least of all ourselves.  Upset at the emptiness, it becomes easy to try to use artificial means to try to either fill in the gaps or make us forget about it.  Far too many people have died trying to escape the emptiness of people pleasing.

 

So what is the answer?  What is the cave we fear to enter where our treasure lies?  Where will we find joy, creativity, and happiness?

 

There is but one place:  we must jump over that third rung of our social needs and get to self-esteem.  That is to say, we must put our own mental health first.  We must let ourselves be ourselves.  We must say “it is okay that I like ___ — even if no one around me does.”  And we must allow ourselves to say that most powerful of words:  “NO!”

 

No I shall not wear clothes I hate and find physically uncomfortable.  No, I shall not put my personal safety at risk just because someone else wants me to.  No, I shall not spend my life doing what others want unless I independently want that too.  No, I shall not tolerate mistreatment in order to gain something else in return.

 

No one can love you until you love yourself.  No one can want to be around you until you want to be around yourself — living and choosing consistent with your own core values.

 

Is this easy?  Hell no.  I find I struggle with it, especially when I come to like someone or something especially strongly.    The more I want something, the more afraid I become sometimes.  Because for me, it is especially hard to trust people.  So instead of waiting for people to get to know me, I rush into the fray full tilt — with the consequence being that I often repel the very people I want to like me.  Then I try changing myself to suit whoever it is I want to like me, as if I can somehow force someone to like me.

 

Yes, it is very irrational.  But it is also human.

 

Because waiting on the will of heaven is not easy.  It is not easy, no matter how much you may know intellectually that pursuing validation from other people is foolhardy, to actually believe in yourself so much that you can confidently proclaim “I am okay whether you agree with me or my choices or not.”

 

Conformity is an impulse even the most notorious non-conformists like myself still feel.  It comes from inner insecurities about ourselves and our self worth.

 

But here is the best message of all:  WE ARE WORTHY — OF LOVE, OF FRIENDSHIP, OF PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS.  Anyone worth working with, knowing, or be close to needs to like us and want to be around us for who we ACTUALLY are.  And if anyone cannot accept the real people we are — well it is unlikely that person is a healthy influence at all — and needs to be removed from our lives.

 

None of this comes easy at first.  But when you realize that you are worth it, it all becomes worthwhile.

 

 

Royal Genealogy of the Known World SCA

Arms of the Society for Creative Anachronism. ...

Arms of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Blazon: Or, a laurel wreath vert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Royal Genealogy of the Known World SCA

This website is a very nice resource for finding out who ruled where and when in the SCA.  Covers all kingdoms and you can display records as kingdom lists.  Very useful for when you forget who ruled when and where or just want to discover the SCA more

History of the East Kingdom

The East

The East (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

History of the East Kingdom

Research is the key to every author’s success.  For the Peers of Beinan series, research into medieval history, science, and the history of the Society for Creative Anachronism all shape the stories each of you enjoy in my books.

But finding that information can be a challenge.

Fortunately there is a really good website for starting your adventure discovering nearly 50 years of medieval adventures in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

As the second oldest kingdom in the Society, the East Kingdom historian office has a lot of great information.  http://history.eastkingdom.org/index.php is the top level to the EK resources.  Whether you play in the society, write historical fiction, or just want to know more about the SCA as a whole, this site is a great starting point.