'Author, Author' A-Plot

By Amy
February 23, 2001 - 9:48 PM

Robert Picardo, Voyager’s holographic Doctor, recently spoke with Cinescape contributors Gregory L. Norris and Laura A. Van Vlee. Their topic? Upcoming Doctor episode, ‘Author, Author’, set to air in early May, was recently touted as something of a ‘Measure of a Man’ style episode by Voyager writer Micheal Taylor. This Picardo confirms – "It's about holographic rights" he told the Cinescape duo, and should see his character finally receive true equality among the Voyager crew. It also promises to be a comic outing – one Picardo believes to be one of their best - though it should turn "quite serious at the end."

Unlike interviews with many other Trek actors and crew, Picardo has been very liberal with spoilers for the episode, virtually giving a run-down of the entire 'A' plot. As previously thought, the story will see the Doctor write a holonovel based on his experiences in the Delta Quadrant – the catch is, he doesn’t realise that he’s completely basing his 'call to arms' on his own experiences, including writing the hypothetical crew of the equally hypothetical ship, the USS Vortex, as thinly disguised and "very unflattering" caricatures of the all together too real crew of the USS Voyager. "He's done these very unflattering portraits," Picardo says, "because he's pursuing a political agenda in his book, not realizing [that] when the book is published it's going to hurt and damage the reputations of his fellow shipmates."

The Doctor, it turns out, has sent it to a publisher on Earth who has downloaded the book and is interested in publishing it. However, the 'pivotal turn', as it’s described, occurs when the Doctor shares his creation with Voyager’s pilot and sometime medic Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill)– who’s not impressed, and doesn’t believe any of the crew will be either. In fact, we’ll "get to see all the crewmembers play the novel, and play the Doctor," up until "Janeway calls the Doctor onto the carpet" and he realizes his mistake and attempts to have the novel altered – only to discover that the publisher has gone ahead with the novel – and refuses point-blank to change it. "When the Doctor tells him to recall every copy of the book that's been issued because it's an abrogation of his rights, the publisher tells him, 'You're a hologram, and according to Starfleet law, you have no rights'", Picardo says, and adds that from then on it becomes a legal battle over the Doctor’s status. "Not being a person, per se, 'an organic,' is he an artist by definition, and therefore, an individual, and should he be protected by the same rights other individuals have Starfleet law?"

Something of else of interest in this is that it appears to allude to a new communication method for Voyager – the Doctor’s conferences with his publisher take place, as Picardo describes it, "over the phone", implying that they may now be able to contact the Alpha Quadrant, if not in real-time, then at shorter intervals than the current one month.

The full interview with Robert Picardo is set to appear in the March/April issue of Cinescape Magazine.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.