" is an episode of the TV series Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Voyager is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe. Set in the 24th century from the year 2371 through 2378, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet vessel USS Voyager, which becomes stranded in the Delta Quadrant 70,000 light-years from Earth while...
, the twentieth episode of the seventh season.
A new method of communications allows Voyager
to contact home for 11 minutes each day with live sound and pictures as opposed to the previous sound and data only. Each crew member is given three minutes to use this time on a rotation which is selected by drawing lots. In the holodeck
A holodeck, in the fictional Star Trek universe, is a simulated reality facility located on starships and starbases. The first use of a "holodeck" by that name in the Star Trek universe was in the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Encounter at Farpoint", although a conceptually...
The Doctor, an Emergency Medical Hologram Mark I , is a fictional character from the television series Star Trek: Voyager, played by actor Robert Picardo...
edits his holonovel Photons Be Free
and, pleased with his work, he saves the file. He plans to use this new method of communication to publish his work in Federation space.
Thomas Eugene "Tom" Paris, played by Robert Duncan McNeill, is a character in the television series Star Trek: Voyager. Paris serves as the chief helmsman and an auxiliary medic aboard the USS Voyager...
asks the Doctor to let him preview Photons Be Free
, set on the fictional USS Vortex
a Starfleet ship lost in the Delta Quadrant. The protagonist of the story—a holographic doctor—wears a huge cumbersome backpack-like mobile emitter to get around and is constantly mistreated by his crewmates. Worse, each member of the crew is a thinly-veiled allusion to an actual crewman but portrayed as being cruel or obnoxious—for example The Tom Paris character is a self-serving adulterer, Harry Kim
Ensign Harry S. L. Kim, played by Garrett Wang, is a character in the television series Star Trek: Voyager. He serves as the USS Voyagers operations officer.-Depiction:...
is a hypochondria
Hypochondriasis or hypochondria refers to excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness. This debilitating condition is the result of an inaccurate perception of the body’s condition despite the absence of an actual medication condition...
c and Captain Kathryn Janeway
Kathryn Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew, is a fictional character in the Star Trek franchise. As the captain of the Starfleet starship USS Voyager, she was the lead character on the television series Star Trek: Voyager, and later, a Starfleet admiral, as seen in the 2002 feature film Star Trek...
is a tyrant and murderer. As a further homage to the mirror universe Tuvok
Tuvok is one of the main characters on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. Tuvok is a Vulcan who serves as the ship's chief of security and its chief tactical officer. Tim Russ portrayed Tuvok throughout the show's run, from 1995 to 2001....
's character wears a goatee. The senior crew plays through the novel one by one. When Janeway sees the fate of the fictional doctor she orders a meeting. The Doctor, while insisting that the story was not based on his crewmates, claims his novel was meant to highlight the plight of Mark I holograms back home. The Doctor, a Mark I hologram, does not like the fact that the other holograms are now reduced to menial tasks.
Going back to the holodeck to work on his novel, the Doctor discovers it has been replaced by a parody where he
is a boorish slacker who drugs a patient, reminiscent of Seven of Nine
Seven of Nine is a fictional character on Star Trek: Voyager, portrayed by actress Jeri Ryan. Born human, she was assimilated by the Borg at the age of six. Eighteen years later, Voyager left Borg space with Seven on board, after attempts to negotiate passage through Borg space proved only...
, to take advantage of her. He confronts Tom Paris who explains that he made it in order to show how hurt the other members of the crew were when they heard the Vortex
portrayals of them. This, and a talk with Neelix
Mr. Neelix is a fictional character in the television series Star Trek: Voyager. He is played by actor Ethan Phillips.-Fictional Biography:Mr. Neelix is a Talaxian originally from Rinax, a moon of the planet Talax, in the Delta quadrant, although his great-grandfather was Mylean. His entire family...
, convinces him to edit his work so that it is more fictional. He does not wish the entire Federation to see his friends in a negative light. The issue seems to become moot when Admiral Paris from Earth lets Captain Janeway know that Photons Be Free
is already being distributed without the Doctor's permission by Ardon Broht, his intended publisher, and people are wondering how fictional it really is.
When Broht refuses to recall the holonovel an arbitration hearing is conducted by long distance. After several days the arbiter rules that the Doctor is not a person under current Federation law but is
an artist and therefore has the right to control his work.
Flash-forward to a few months later to an asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...
where several EMH Mark I's perform menial labor. One of them suggests to another that at the diagnostic station they play Photons Be Free
- The Mark I holograms performing menial labor was first referred to in "Life Line," when Zimmerman expressed profound embarrassment that holograms he had modeled on himself were taken off medical duty and summarily reprogrammed.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry as part of the Star Trek franchise. Roddenberry, Rick Berman, and Michael Piller served as executive producers at different times throughout the production...
episode "The Measure of a Man", which first aired over 12 years prior to "Author, Author", established that artificial life forms (such as Data
Lieutenant Commander Data is a character in the fictional Star Trek universe portrayed by actor Brent Spiner. He appears in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the feature films Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek...
) do count as people under Federation law. This episode implies that, unlike androids such as Data, hologrammatic characters like the Doctor are not yet considered to be alive.