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The return of Mel Hocken

A couple of people lately have commented on Mel Hocken in the Legacy series, so some thoughts on Mel.

First of all, Mel was originally intended only to be a character in Death Game, in John's flashback to when he was in college. She was based on three real people, one of whom did sit in front of me in a poli sci class and who had an adorable duck tail, one of whom is an active duty Air Force officer I met through Service Members Legal Defense, and she looks a lot like Legacy coauthor Amy Griswold as she was twenty some years ago when I met her in college. So Mel is not one real person, but a combination of three, and I really had no idea what happened to her after graduation.

However, my editor at Fandemonium, Sally Malcolm, loved the character of Mel in Death Game and asked me if I could bring her back in the Legacy series. She wanted to know if Mel ever got to be an astronaut, or maybe she got something even better? A SG team? A 302?

At about this time I was rewatching the SG-1 episode Avalon Part 1, which is the first episode of season nine, the introduction of Cameron Mitchell. I noticed there was one female 302 pilot in the line chatter, addressed by Cam as Major. And in the landing bay scene aboard Prometheus at the 4:42 mark, there is a small, slight woman standing to Cam's right who perfectly fits a description of Mel twenty years after the scene in Death Game. You can also hear her in the line chatter after the crash, as Cam drifts in and out of consciousness. And so that's Mel -- she got her 302, and the one she knows in all this is Cameron Mitchell. Yes, she's two years older than he is, but he's an Academy man with a stellar record and the not inconsiderable advantage of being male, and so he ranks her by season seven of SG-1.

But then he hit a bump in the road, as it were, and in Legacy she's got the job Cam trained for -- command of a 302 squadron. She's Caldwell's pick, and we all know Caldwell, right? He's a by the book stickler who knows what he wants and lines everything up on the dotted lines, a good guy but a prickly boss. If he picked Mel, it's because she suits his exacting standards of perfection, which tells you something about how she's evolved in these twenty years. She's given this her all -- and had room for nothing else in her life. Mel has been very careful not to screw her career up with relationships, but at forty that's starting to not work for her anymore.

Maybe it's time to do something else, to get out of the 302s while it's still a choice, while she's still got the reflexes and the vision, time to start the second half of her life somewhere she can be herself and not be looking over her shoulder all the time. Maybe the skies of Sateda are the place for her.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
emmtob
Oct. 4th, 2012 01:55 pm (UTC)
Love Mel! Cant wait to see what happens to her in the last Legacy book. :)
jo_graham
Oct. 5th, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like her! I think she's my favorite of the original characters.
tielan
Oct. 4th, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
Such small but crucial details!

I love that you took a glimpse of a female character in canon and bound her into your storyline. And it's so usual for fandom to do exactly the opposite: picks a minor male character and gives them a story, all the while proclaiming that women are boring and nobody ever gives them stories that make them worth writing about.

And Mel is a great character.
jo_graham
Oct. 5th, 2012 03:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you like her. We see two 302 pilots in that scene, which makes sense, given the ages of the characters. The Air Force is now about a third female, but in the 80s when Sam and John and Cam went in the ratio was much less, so there is still a greater disparity in the jobs that require a lot of experience and expertise. Sam and Mel are on a front edge. It's very different for Cadman.
Erick Brockway
Oct. 11th, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking she'd do well on Sateda, talk about a fresh start!
Know who else might find a home there? Those Pegasus nomads might, and they have the rough interstellar tech to contribute significantly.

Maybe you should give their leader a call? I forget her name, but she's cute :)
jo_graham
Oct. 11th, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
It would be a fresh start, and I think she might really like it. That's a good idea about the nomads. Yes, they do have the tech to contribute, and the Satedans would be glad to have them. You mean Larrin, the girl who wouldn't give John her number? ;)
Erick Brockway
Oct. 12th, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
That's her! Yeah, surprisingly I couldn't get her number, either.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )