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Joseph Manno
In search of the Golden Fleece, p2
The following the second 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 (Part 2)
A TWG Interview

Part 1 of this interview can be found here.

TWG - How far ahead are your storylines plotted? I mean, do you know what the ensign from stellar cartography had for breakfast yesterday, or are you more of a, "'We'll see how this goes' author?"

AT - There are several levels to how I plot Argus. The? series is vaguely planned out through the seven possible seasons. Each episode will normally carry something that moves the arc forward, although often it isn't obvious˜even to me˜until months, or even years, later. There's an arc for the characters each season, as well˜which, together with the basic plot for each installment, is normally developed a year in advance. Finally there's the story itself beyond the basic plot, which tends to [evolve] anywhere from its initial conception to [the finished product].

TWG - I've been glancing at the new Argus site: It's really quite impressive, but... how important do you feel the graphics to be in relation to the quality of the fiction? I mean, "bells and whistles" are one thing, plot and characterization are another. Do you try to strike a balance (you mentioned something about a complete experience)? How successful do you feel you've been?

AT - Quite often I find that I start to watch a TV show because I like the way it's presented, but? stay because of the characterisation and plot. I believe that the two go hand-in-hand, and that if your work isn't well-presented in the first place that you could have the most well-written story in the world [and] no one would read it. On the other hand, if your site is all bells and whistles, you'll get no returning visitors because there is nothing there to keep them.

As to my success, I believe that the balance is just right with Argus. It has one of the highest number-for-visitor rates for an original fan fiction site, and I've been told several times [it] has inspired others to begin writing themselves. The site also seems to retain about 30% of its visitors, which is a pleasingly high rate.

TWG - Why, with all the work you've obviously put into the site, do you not make the story pages themselves more palatable? Paragraph indentation would go a long way towards making the stories more readable˜especially in relation to the other TetraLuminaire sites. It seems an odd imperfection from such an ambitious [individual].

AT - I'm always looking to improve Argus and constructive criticism like this is often a good catalyst. Many of the improvements in the new site (such as a larger viewing area for the stories) have come as a result of suggestions sent to me.

As for this [particular problem], it's due to be corrected in the next update to the site.

TWG - Have you seen the new series, Enterprise? If so, what are your initial impressions, now that we're eight or nine shows into its run?

AT - As of now only the pilot episode, "Broken Bow", has aired in the UK, and I have to say that so far I'm impressed. Other than some unavoidable continuity flaws (such as 'phase pistols' instead of 'lasers', which would just seem silly), they have been very careful to respect the future history of the franchise. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how the missions of Archer's Enterprise shape the founding of the Federation, [as well as] the 23rd and 24th centuries.

Already it's far superior to Voyager. :-)

TWG - Hard to be worse.

So... what can we look forward to, by way of significant developments? Any upcoming tales of which you're especially proud?

AT - There are a lot of surprises [in store], especially as more of the overall arc is revealed. I'm looking forward to 'The Journey', which focuses on Lex's previous hosts, and is jointly written by the TL group members˜as well as a few talented guests. The two-part Season Four finale "Revelations"/Season Five opener, "Reunions", has me excited as well; it deals with Kate's [attempt to handle the emotions accompanying Voyager's return, from a very different perspective] than Liberty's Janeway Trilogy.

TWG - What are your favorite Argus tales so far? Which ones would you change now if you could?

AT - My favorites are "Messages from Home" and "Survival". "Messages from Home" was the third story I wrote for Argus. It gives an alternative  perspective on the events in Voyager's "Message in a Bottle", filling in several of the gaps in that episode, and is the only one that I've felt really emotional while writing.

I love "Survival" because it treats the Borg exactly how they should be treated˜something to be avoided at all costs˜but also because it deals with the crews differing reactions to them, especially those of Dulmis and Frasier.

I'd like to, and [am] in fact in the process of, rewriting the first season, partly because I've come a long way [as an author] in four years and partly because there's so much missing that would enrich them without changing the original plots.

TWG - I understand TetraLuminaire has a pair of upcoming projects: and The TetraLuminaire Project. Tell us a little about the one you're heading.

AT - I'm in the process of constructing, which will go into the TL Universe in greater depth than the individual sites do. The idea is to create a central place from which the TL authors and readers can keep track and the authors can maintain the common continuity easily. It'll also given people somewhere to discuss TL members' work and a home for the TetraLuminaire Project.

TWG - It was a real pleasure talking to you Alex. Best of luck in all your endeavors, Trek and otherwise.


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

Posted: 2002.05.21
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