This is a story I wrote in a mad frenzy of passion after falling in love (with a resounding crash) with the (then) brand-new show Deep Space 9 in general and Odo, that crusty and secretly angsty shapeshifter, in particular.
My friend and I were then doing fanzines--just like a webpage, but actually printed on actual paper. :) This story is long out of print, but I happened to still have the disks and was able to convince my proud modern beauty of a computer to decode the old data.
I have gritted my teeth and made no alterations except for very obvious typos. This is pure 8 year aged in the bottle me.
Here is the preface which appeared in the zine. It's a bit weird--if it seems way too bizarre, just pass it by. The storyline isn't nearly as opaque.
(This is just the part where the author goes blah, blah, blah about the story. You can skip it if you want.)
Every kind of writing has its tricky bits, and doing this DS9 story was no exception. When you decide to start speculating in great detail about a show you've only seen a few episodes of, you're courting disaster; that's assuming, of course, that you define disaster as Getting Caught Diverging from the Canon. I try not to. Oh, sure, I'll be exceeding the legal happiness limit if it eventually turns out I haven't gone outside the officially established lines while coloring this. But it's a big universe, with room for lots of differing ideas. Being alternative doesn't bother me, and I hope it won't bother you. (For the record, I'd seen the pilot and all six episodes up through "Dax", plus read the novelization by J. M. Dillard, by the time I was done with the rough draft.)
Perhaps coincidentally, I had just started college classes about the time I was starting the story. (If all goes well, I'll be a nurse in December of '94.) That's why I have been able to insert Exciting True Facts, or at least Interesting, Possibly True Theories from the fields of Physiology, Chemistry and Physics into it. I could have also inserted ETF from Algebra, but this would have required said facts to firmly stick in my head in the first place. (I'm with Barbie on this one. Math is tough.)
Actually, my problem is that I keep getting distracted in Algebra class by Math as Philosophy. For instance, there are these things called reciprocal numbers. It's like the opposite of a number, kind of; what you bring in when you're trying to get rid of part of an equation for awhile so you can do something else to the rest of it. (You can see why I have trouble in this class, can't you?) I got to thinking about how you had to have reciprocals to have relationships. You take a number, then find its opposite and multiply them. What you get is two ending up as one, which is generally touted as the ideal in matters of romance. (That's if you started out with fractions. If you have whole numbers, and one is negative, they're still reciprocal but you get zero in the end. Philosophically true, but depressing in real life.)
Seeing situations as equations to solve is another warning sign of being a Math Philosopher. There are two basic types of equations we can solve by using fiction. On a TV show or in any other type of serial fiction, you don't want to mess with your parameters much. So your variables have to be events, and the idea is to let your regular characters have functions, as though they were the signs that say whether to add or divide or group and multiply. The script writers then pick certain functions to work through the variables until they get the answer to the equation. This is a legitimate process, in my opinion. But you are somewhat locked in. Your plus sign can't just turn into a equal sign overnight, or maybe ever.
The other type of equation is what I'm working with in this story. Some characters are walking equations with a lot of unknown variables, and some of us writers can't resist the urge to solve for those X's, Y's and Z's. One of the ways you solve this kind of equation is to plug in possible values, or information, for the unknown quantity, then work the equation to see if you get an answer that makes sense. Once you get two or three good sets of answers, you can graph them out and draw lines that give you even more answers, until you've got the whole thing figured out and settled to everyone's satisfaction.
I'm going to translate from Mathese to English now, and in passing show how this story isn't (well, tries hard not to be) a "Mary Sue". For anybody who's new to fandom, I should explain that the primary indicator for a classic "Mary Sue" story is where the author and the heroine are virtually identical, to within two or fewer digits in their Social Security numbers. They are also, in an amazing stroke of luck, the perfect match for whatever tv character the author is interested in. They usually either marry the hero or die nobly, often both.
I designed Allita, the other half of this romance you're about to read, using the reciprocal theory I just talked about. (The decision on how good I am at guessing what characteristics to substitute for unknowns is to be made by the readers, with apologies in advance to those who
think this approach is much too clinical for real romance.) She and I don't have all that much in common, or at least no more than writers generally have with the characters they create. I admit there are some similarities. We both have builds you could charitably call short and
stocky. Neither of us are drop-dead beautiful, or even give-you-a-mild-headache beautiful. I'd like to think I am similarly open-minded, and I have a tenuous claim to being a musical performer, since I was once a backup singer for an amateur band formed by our bus factory. We
did local dances, company parties and the occasional road trip to appear at industry conventions. (Yahoo, right?)
I picked music as a career for Allita because of knowing just that little bit about the field. Also because I took one rather unspecific line Odo says and interpreted it as meaning Odo, on the whole, likes music. Some kinds. Or at least isn't dead set against it in general. Probably. So, anyway, Allita got to be a singer. I could have made her something else, like a welder, but it would have been a much harder story to write. And in solving equations, you want to use Least Common Denominators. Don't go for 64, when 2 will do nicely.
While I'm at this, I'd like to thank a few people: Caro, my partner and editor, for boosting my ego tremendously by hanging on my every word, just about; daughter Damaris, for watching baby Mikey while I'm at college learning Exciting True Facts; son Sterling, for doing many more helpful things than usually come standard in a teenager; and baby Mikey, for never crying while DS9 is on. Most of what I know about love I learned from them.
Susan the Neon Nurse
P.S. There's a quiz at the end of the hour, and yes, some of this
material will be on The Test.