Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Sometime last week I happened to come across one of those “You have $15 to do X. Who do you choose?” graphics where it lists a bunch of things/people at $5/$4/$3/$2/$1 costs and you share how you would put together whatever “X” is. For “X”, I’ve seen everything from music festival lineups to sports teams to your ideal Marvel superhero team-up. So seeing these, I wanted to put together my own, and inspired mostly by how hard I’ve been writing my space opera web fiction recently, came up with this Pick Your Own Space Crew graphic:
First choice I made was confining selections to one from each category. These are a less common variant, and I’ve mostly seen this with putting together sports teams (confining the choices to one per position). However, since I’m pushing for an actual crew here, and wanted to include ships as well as people, I thought this would be the best way to present.
Second, I needed to figure out what franchises to dip into. On the one hand, I wanted to keep it accessible, on the other hand, other than Star Trek and Star Wars (and Guardians of the Galaxy, if you can really put it in the same category) sci-fi doesn’t exactly have a wide audience. So I dipped into things somewhat more obscure including Battlestar Galactica, which, I’m going to go ahead and admit right now at the risk of excommunication, I haven’t actually seen, though of course heard a lot about. Also I think given that I have four individuals from Star Trek and two of them are from Voyager, its easy to tell which television series was the first one our whole family got into when we moved to Canada.
Third, and it’s not like I hadn’t already known this, but man does sci-fi have a diversity problem. There’s been some improvement in this area recently. Star Wars is making some strides, though the abysmal treatment of John Boyega proves there’s a whole lot of work that needs to be done on that front. I also hear Star Trek: Discovery is great and it’s been on my “want to watch” list for a while. But overall, and especially with the most culturally prominent roles and characters, this is an area that is still predominantly white and male.
I tried to push back against this with how I organized my graphic, and I probably could have done a better job of it but the limited material was challenging to work with. This is one of the major reasons I try to break this trend with my own writing, but as with any aspiring writer the odds of me ever making any kind of cultural impact are pretty slim. Here’s hoping though.
In addition to the difficulties created by the diversity problem I just described, generally picking and organizing what was included in the graphic was not a straightforward task. I wanted to represent multiple franchises without spreading myself too thin, which worked to an extent. I expect few people to actually recognize John Sheridan and Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5, but it being my favourite sci-fi show, I couldn’t resist.
Then once the actual elements have been selected, picking which cost categories they go into was its own challenge. The entire $5 tier is Star Trek and Star Wars. Is it really because I think these are worth the theoretical $5 or because that’s what I think other people will value them as? It was a little bit of both, which is why the lesser known franchises occupy the lower tiers, sometimes unfairly. Is Han really a better pilot than Po? Definitely not. But rank the original fan favourite below the new guy, all hell will break loose. Or in the case of Serenity – it literally has no weapons, but at the same time it’s a far more iconic vessel than the Milano, even though more people have seen the Milano in action than Serenity. Will a million offended fanboys tell me that Obi Wan should rank higher than Ahsoka? Probably. But Ahsoka is my favourite lightsaber duelist in the whole franchise, and I’ll die on that hill.
There’s definitely places where I could have been braver putting this together. But overall it as just something fun to do while watching TV, so it is what it is. And if anyone’s interested, my selection would be: Captain Janeway, Harry Kim, Ivanova and Ahsoka on the Millennium Falcon.
Drop a comment to let me know who you would be choosing.
Michael is a husband, father of two, lawyer, writer, and is currently working on his first novel, at a snail's pace. A very leisurely snail. All opinions are author's own.