Derek Tyler Attico is a writer and two-time winner of the Strange New Worlds contest, whose short story “A & Ω” won the Grand Prize in Strange New Worlds 8. He lives in New York City and has also contributed articles to the Star Trek Magazine and material to Star Trek Adventures RPG.
Derek is another fine example of the excellent talent STA has attracted to its federation of creators. And, since, I am a BIG-TIME Voyager fan, this was a special treat for me.
Michael: How did you get involved with working on the Star Trek Adventures game?
Derek: Star Trek Adventures Line Editor Jim Johnson and I were both in the Star Trek Strange New Worlds anthology series. He was in SNW 7, 9, and 10 while I was in SNW 8 and SNW 2016. Jim was familiar with my Star Trek work and invited me to pitch for STA.
How much creative freedom were you given when you were commissioned to work on the project?
Great question. I was given a lot of creative freedom.
That being said, my chapter had to be written from the perspective of Starfleet’s Stellar Cartography division and include established canonical information on the Delta Quadrant worlds. After that, I had free rein to pick and choose which elements from each world (and its species) I wanted to focus on. That was the toughest part. I combed over seven years of episodes, my top priority was choosing elements from each world that would be useful to STA players.
So, you were responsible for selecting and writing up the worlds that made the final cut of the Delta Quadrant Sourcebook?
Yes. When Jim told me he wanted me to write this chapter I was thrilled!
One of the most exciting parts of Voyager’s journey is the worlds the crew visited. I wanted the chapter to reflect that journey. I also realized that for some people, the Delta Quadrant sourcebook might be their first introduction to Star Trek: Voyager. I wanted this chapter to reveal how interesting and dangerous that part of the Milky Way Galaxy could be.
How long did that research take you?
Only a few days.
Ha! Must be nice!
Haha. I’m very familiar with the Star Trek universe, so right out the gate I had a mental list of the worlds I wanted to include in the chapter. In a weekend I combed through all seven years of the series and created a master list of every world Voyager visited in chronological order by season and episode. This world-list became invaluable to me while writing.
Um. I want to see that list.
Then from that list, I chose the worlds I thought would be best for the chapter.
Did you have anyone with whom you could consult?
Yes and no. I worked on the chapter alone, but what I love about writing in the Star Trek universe is that I’m often referencing material from different points in over fifty years of history. The contributions of everyone that has ever added to the Star Trek universe is available to you. In this case, I reviewed some of my personal favorites –– Star Trek Star Charts by Geoffrey Mandel, the revised Star Trek Encyclopedia by Michael and Denise Okuda and, of course, Memory Alpha.
Talk to me about your sidebar work. I am especially interested in the Voyager storyline sidebars. What was your greatest joy doing those?
The first sidebars I did for STA was in the Alpha Quadrant sourcebook. I always wondered what the Romulans were doing in the Star Trek Generations storyline so I wrote four sidebars explaining this –– including the final transmission from the Enterprise-D!
The Voyager sidebars were great fun to do. I wanted to move some of Voyager’s storylines forward while giving STA Game Masters and players material they could weave into a campaign. One sidebar is a brutally honest personal log from Commander Chakotay, another involves the Omega molecule, and a third involves a temporal ghost.
Speaking of which, what did you think of the Sikarian reference in Star Trek: Picard?
I loved it. Nostalgia plays a powerful role in Star Trek: Picard. The audience and the characters often find themselves yearning for many of the same nostalgic moments. When the Sikarian trajector wasn’t just referenced, but utilized I knew this was a seminal moment. One of the strengths of Picard is that it can use technology and legacy characters (like Riker, Troi, Seven and Hugh) from different facets of the Star Trek universe in ways we haven’t seen before!
What was your first exposure to Star Trek?
Like many kids, my parents introduced me to Star Trek. For me, it was reruns of The Original Series. The U.S.S. Enterprise was cool, but what I really enjoyed every week was the relationships between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy and watching them working together to save the day.
When did your passion for Star Trek first develop?
I’ve always loved and had a passion for Star Trek. There are three cornerstones to every Star Trek story –– friendship, science and hope. Every episode and every film is more than just entertaining, they all share these powerful elements. More than anything, this is what has fueled my passion for this universe. When I first found out about the Strange New Worlds anthology contest, I was excited at the opportunity to create a Star Trek story with the same elements I grew up watching and believing in. I was honored that my story “Alpha and Omega” was the first place winner in SNW 8, and was also my first professional sale.
“It’s really cool to see players embrace the amazing work Modiphius has done with the game, while at the same time bringing their own unique style and imagination to Star Trek Adventures.”
Do you play STA on the regular?
Unfortunately no, but some friends and I are setting up a regular campaign that’s starting soon.
What will your crew be like? Any ideas?
Our crew is coming together nicely, so far we have a Denobulan Captain, a Bajoran Engineer, and a human Security Chief. As for me, I enjoy writing and creating characters that play against type, so I’ve created an Andorian-Vulcan science officer. He’s never been to either of his home worlds –– his unique physiology prevents it. One is too hot and the other is too cold, so either can kill him. I’m enjoying working on his backstory and I’m really looking forward to playing this character!
What have you noticed about public reaction to the game?
From my observations, the public is having a lot of fun with Star Trek Adventures. It’s really cool to see players embrace the amazing work Modiphius has done with the game, while at the same time bringing their own unique style and imagination to Star Trek Adventures.
What about STA struck a different chord with the public do you think?
I’ve seen a lot of people mention the 2D20 system, and how character and ship creation makes everything feel like you’re truly within the Star Trek Universe. Like many of your readers, I have a long history playing RPG’s and that’s everything right? Feeling like you’re immersed in a game and ease of play. If you don’t feel like you’re in the Star Trek universe then nothing else works.
Who is your favorite character in Star Trek? Why?
As a kid it was Kirk, but now I have to say, Benjamin Sisko (with Garak being a close second). Captain Sisko’s personality and command style appeals to me. I also like that Sisko is among the most balanced captains we’ve seen, maintaining both a family life and career. I’m also a big Avery Brooks fan and even met him once outside of the convention circuit!
What is your favorite part of the Star Trek canon? (TV, movies, book)
Actually, my favorite part of the Star Trek canon –– is the canon. A lot of talented people have worked very hard for over fifty years to make sure all the different parts of Star Trek coalesce into what has become a beautiful and enduring tapestry. As a fan, it’s amazing to watch and as a writer I find this to be an incredibly rich history from which to craft new Star Trek stories.
Which series do you like the best?
Honestly, I love them all –– yes including Enterprise. Each series has contributed something special in its own way. But, if I had to choose one as a favorite, it would be Deep Space Nine. DS9 brought a level of complexity and honesty we’d never seen before with Star Trek. Not everyone was happy with some of its themes (on a space station, darker storytelling) but I love that DS9 gave us diverse perspectives on the Alpha Quadrant, and a glimpse into what it takes to maintain paradise in the 24th century.
What would our readers find you doing if it isn’t writing/playing RPGs?
I’m also a photographer so I’m usually out looking for something unusual to shoot. My work can be found at https://www.instagram.com/dattico/
This has been great, Derek. We really appreciate all of your work and everything coming in the future. Last question, though. If you were a component on a starship, what component would you be?
Wow, that’s an interesting question. Probably the holodeck, as a writer I’m always creating new characters and worlds. The holodeck would be the place where my only limitation would be my imagination!