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Joseph Manno
In search of the Golden Fleece
The following the first part of an email interview between Joseph Manno and Alex Thompson, creator and primary writer for The Adventures of Argus .

In search of the Golden Fleece
A TWG Interview

TWG - I've heard Argus called "the grand old man of fanfic." Now, Trek-related fiction sites have been around for a long time. What did you do different to be considered a pioneer?

AT - I think Argus was different in that I set out to create an experience, instead of simply a place to show my work. I wanted the site to be different and detailed˜to not only keep people coming back, but also to encourage others to write for it. I didn't know at the time that it would inspire others to create their own series as well.

TWG - How long have you been at it? What was Argus, Day One?

AT - The first Argus story went online on August 30th, 1997, although the site had been there slightly longer than that.

TWG - Whoa. Four years is a long time for a fanfic, isn't it? Usually they collapse after just a story or two.

AT - I have seen a lot of fan fiction sites come and go. Normally if they can get past their third or fourth story, they're going to be around for a while because the author then has a lot invested in them. With all the work that I put into the background of the Argus I was always going to be in it for the long haul.

TWG - USS Argus? is that a reference to Jason and the Argonauts?

AT - Although the name of the ship and her captain does seem to be a tip of the hat to that, I didn't actually realize that until a friend pointed it out three years into Argus' existence. The name of the ship is actually a reference to the HMS Argus, the first truly through deck aircraft carrier which saw action in both world wars. However there is a reference to the Greek myth in the reworked version of "Beginnings" (which is retitled to "The Eterhal Flame").

TWG - I'm surprised you didn't go with Ark Royal, then.

Jonozia could almost seem, to readers looking for parallels, a reworking of the word "Jason." Lex, obviously, has connections to your own first name.

AT - Personally I prefer Argus to Ark Royal (although the connection between Royal and Sovereign would be a nice one). Argus was actually suggested to me as a possible name for the class of what turned out to be the Zeus-class carrier in "Beginnings."

TWG - Your captain, the aforementioned Jonozia Lex, is a Trill, and, like DS9's Dax, has had numerous hosts. Was this a decision geared to created storylines?

AT - Partly. I also have a great love of the Trill species and I think that they are one of the most interesting that Trek has ever created. It was also that I wanted to create a young captain on a very powerful ship and needed a way for it not to seem too out of place. Realism is very important to me for Argus.

TWG - He's married. That's unusual for a Starfleet captain, from what we've seen on screen. Did you give it a lot of thought before attaching "the old ball-and-chain"?

AT - Very early on in my creation of Argus I tried to discover what shaped each character aboard. Jonozia has always been a very different captain to those seen almost anywhere else. It was an early decision to give him a wife, someone who he could draw strength from in what was originally designed to be a turbulent command. However as time has gone on Lex has learned to draw strength from the rest of his crew as well.

TWG - You're a member of the TetraLuminaire Group. How's that worked out for you?

AT - I'm very pleased? it? adds?richness to [a] work that otherwise would exist [in a vacuum], without the level of continuity that its sites [share]. A lot of the further fleshing out of my characters has come from working with other members of the TL.

TWG - Give me your impression of your sister sites and their creators: First, Julie Raybon, and To the Stars through Hardship.

AT - Julie's is probably the TL site that I know the least well. While I enjoy her work, it tends to be the TL site? I read last. I do like the fact that her crew isn't perfect, and that, unlike way too many fanfics, her[s]? isn't an all-powerful "super-ship." Although we have yet to do a direct crossover, I'm hoping that it wo[n't] be too long before the Adventurous and Argus meet.

TWG - Johnny R. Call and Star Trek: Liberator.

AT - I have a lot to be grateful to Johnny for. At the beginning of Argus' second season, he approached me, saying how much he enjoyed my work? and would I like to take a look at his, sending me an early copy of the first part of "Reunions and Revelations." It started a dialogue between us that eventually introduced me to Joseph Manno˜who became my editor for the next two years˜and laid the ground work for the Tri-Luminaire group (as it was at the time). I hope that Johnny's recent restart means that we'll see a lot of new stuff from him. Argus' crossover with Liberator I felt was very successful and I hope that someday we can do it again.

TWG - Joseph Manno and Star Trek: Liberty.

AT - He is one of two people who have had a large influence on how Argus has developed over the years, other than myself. Argus and Liberty are very intertwined and there are very few stories from the second season onward that don't at least have a mention of someone aboard the Liberty. I do find Mantovanni a little too Kirk-like sometimes, but that doesn't detract from some of the best fan-fiction on the web.

TWG - What's your favorite Argus story?

AT - This is a tough one. At the moment it's a toss up between "Survival" and "Messages from Home."  I'm looking forward to reworking "Messages..." as part of my first season revamp.

TWG - How long are you planning on writing Argus?

AT - Argus is planned to be a seven-season series, with a couple of possible spin-offs that are constantly in development. However that isn't a definite length and I continue to write it as long as both I and the readers enjoy it.

[In Part Two of our interview with Argus creator Alex Thompson, we discuss upcoming storylines, his site refurbishment, and the future of Star Trek, both on the web and on screen.]

 

Check out the fan fiction of Alex Thompson at The Adventures of Argus


Posted: 2002.02.17
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