“Brief Candle” Notes
Contains spoilers for story
There’s an original novelette I’ve been trying to sell for years. It’s a story that means a lot to me, and I keep getting rejection letters saying “This is a beautiful, poignant story, but it just doesn’t quite work for us.” I’ve been encouraged enough to keep trying to revise it and get it to a sellable point, but I still haven’t had any luck. When I was asked to pitch to Distant Shores, I had just about given up on selling it, so I decided to develop a story around similar themes, building on the terminal illness of Lt. Marika from “Survival Instinct.” At least that way I could say the things I wanted to say. As it happens, though, once I’d written this, I thought of a way I could rework that original story, take it in a slightly different direction and make it viable again. I haven’t sold it yet, but I’m still hoping. (Update: I finally did sell the story, “The Caress of a Butterfly’s Wing,” in 2014.)
The reference to the Ankari’s far-ranging ships is necessary to explain the discrepancy in “Equinox” of how the Ankari could still be in range if Ransom’s crew had been using their bodies for months to cover tens of thousands of light-years. I also took the opportunity of Marika’s exposition to explain a little more clearly how her triad managed to escape the Collective and reach Voyager. Also, I attempted to provide a practical explanation for why Seven wore those catsuits. Not that I ever had a problem with her wearing them….
The Three-Kiloparsec Arm is the arm closest to the galactic core. It also rates a mention in Orion’s Hounds. This is where Voyager ended up after its transwarp journey in “Dark Frontier” and for the rest of the series.
When I saw the end of “Distant Origin,” with Chakotay giving Gegen the globe of Earth as a souvenir, I was expecting that there would turn out to be hidden data files within it. It just seemed to me that it should. That didn’t happen in the episode, but here I had the chance to make it so.
Here, as in “…Loved I Not Honor More,” I chose to make my story occur simultaneously with an episode of the series. This is because I don’t like a season to get too cluttered; I feel there should be downtime between adventures as much as possible. I also think it adds depth and believability to a universe if you know that different people are leading their own independent lives simultaneously. But in this case, having the story overlap “Barge of the Dead” allowed me to fill in some of the gaps in that episode. I was able to explain what the multispatial probe was trying to probe, why it was so important to retrieve it, and what happened to it afterwards. Most of all, though, I was able to answer my biggest nagging question: why the Doctor would have consented to B’Elanna’s request to be “killed” a second time. That was a scene that, in my view, needed to be told, and Marika’s perspective provided the key. (Ironically, though, making the story work meant reducing the downtime between “Survival Instinct” and “Barge of the Dead” to less than a day. The final Seven-Naomi scene of “Instinct,” apparently taking place after Voyager has left the outpost, would have to come several scenes into this story, after the log entry.)
Meanwhile, the scene with Neelix in the mess hall let me work in a reference to my favorite character, Kes. Originally his tale was told in flashback, so that Kes actually appeared in the story. Alas, it ran too long that way, and I had to change it.
My description of the Markonians is based on one of the numerous species appearing in “Survival Instinct,” though the episode never specified which species they were. The species I chose appeared in two different scenes (the bridge scene at the beginning and the corridor scene with Seven and Naomi), but with a different skin color in each scene, pinkish in one and blue in the other. Presumably Markonians, like humans, come in a variety of hues.
Originally, since Marika had a whole month to live, I thought of tying this into “Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy” as well. However, I decided it worked best if I cut her lifespan even shorter than expected, so there was no overlap. I considered at least having Marika, say, suggest to the Doctor that he take up daydreaming, but that would’ve been veering a bit too close to Mary Sue territory.