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Author, Author (episode)

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"Author, Author"
VOY, Episode 7x20
Production number: 266
First aired: 18 April 2001
164th of 168 produced in VOY
163rd of 168 released in VOY
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 0 released in VOY Remastered  
623rd of 728 released in all
PhotonsBeFree-Doctor Intro
Teleplay By
Phyllis Strong and Mike Sussman

Story By
Brannon Braga

Directed By
David Livingston
54732.3 (2378)
Arc: The Pathfinder Project (4 of 4)  
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The Doctor completes work on a holonovel that depicts the crew of Voyager in rather unflattering roles as they abuse and scorn the Emergency Medical Hologram. When the holonovel is published without his permission, the issue of The Doctor's legal rights is brought into question.


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Using an opportunity of communication with home, The Doctor publishes his memoirs as a holodeck novel, which portrays an EMH on a ship called Vortex, in an attempt to draw attention to the oppression of his fellow holograms. Unfortunately, he uses his own situation as the setting for his story, changing the names of crew mates only slightly and using their physical parameters as a base for the characters, making only superficial changes to their appearance and names.


Mr. Tulak


Torrey is not at ALL supposed to be based on B'Elanna Torres




Marseilles, not Paris

Their personalities, however, bear no resemblance to the USS Voyager crew. In the opening scene, the analog to Captain Janeway, Captain Jenkins, shoots a severely injured crewman to force the doctor to treat her helmsman who has a minor injury. The story proceeds with the entire crew of the starship Vortex treating the EMH as a slave devoid of all feeling. The holo character doctor's mobile emitter is portrayed as a heavy metal pack. In the end of the story, Captain Jenkins orders the EMH to eliminate all his subroutines not strictly related to the medical profession. The EMH refuses and is then decompiled by the captain as a result.

After the story has been transmitted to a publisher as a rough draft which The Doctor has asked to be allowed to refine before release, the crew takes turns running the program and are horrified by a portrayal which will obviously be interpreted as being the real conditions aboard Voyager. Furious with The Doctor, they ask him to alter the holonovel to eliminate the similarities between the holographic characters and themselves. The Doctor refuses, claiming that the characters are not truly based on the Voyager crew. The next time The Doctor runs his holonovel he finds that Tom Paris has switched the file with his own holonovel.

Doctor by Paris2377

A sleazy Doctor, as re-imagined by Tom Paris

This holonovel portrays a doctor aboard the USS Voyeur who cares nothing for patients he cannot seduce and pursues his own recreational activities while forcing his duties off onto the medic. It starts of with the doctor telling the real Doctor that he is late, by a matter of just a few seconds. He then goes over to 2 of 3, and hastily scans her, then drugs her. The physical appearance of this doctor holo character is, of course, nearly identical to The Doctor. The Doctor is appalled and confronts Paris, who throws The Doctor's own logic that the character was not based on The Doctor back at him. The Doctor does not seem swayed and Paris relents and tells him where to find the backup copy of the original holonovel.

After Neelix provides comforting advice (he was the only viewer to enjoy the holonovel), The Doctor does realize that he needs to alter the holo-characters to not cast doubt on the reputations of his friends; however, the crew finds that the rough draft of the holonovel has already been published. Outraged, The Doctor demands an explanation from the publisher, who makes the claim that since The Doctor is not a person, he has no rights as author of the novel.

This results in a Federation tribunal to determine The Doctor's rights carried out across the thirteen or so minutes of communication that can be managed each day. Captain Janeway brings in various members of the crew as witnesses to The Doctor's claim of personhood. In the end, the arbitrator leaves the decision of whether or not The Doctor is a person as out of the scope of the case, however, he does declare that the legal definition of "artist" encompasses The Doctor, and as such The Doctor has full rights concerning the distribution of his holonovel.

Unfortunately, the novel has already been seen by thousands. The consequences of this for the crew are not clear. However, in a Federation mining colony four months later where hundreds of EMH Mark I's are engaged in mining operations, one is told to report for his recurring maintenance by another EMH, who recommends running The Doctor's holo-novel. Perhaps The Doctor's holo-novel may have sparked a revolution in the fight for holographic rights.

Log Entries

  • "Chief medical officer's personal log, stardate 54740.8. Although the decision has made me unpopular with the crew, I've decided not to compromise my work. I'm making some final revisions to the program before transmitting it."
  • "Captain's log, stardate 54748.6. A Federation arbitrator has been assigned to determine whether the Doctor has the right to control his artistic creation. Because of our limited com time with Earth, the arguments should take about three days."

Memorable Quotes

"This is outrageous!"
"What's outrageous is that I'm going to miss my tee time."

- The Doctor and Paris's fictional doctor

"Your program is about as subtle as a Ferengi mating dance!"

- Paris, about The Doctor's holoprogram

"I could use your help with the rewrites."
"Really?! Well, you realize, as a writer, I'm a little unsophisticated."
"No, I believe the phrase you're looking for is low-brow."

- The Doctor and Paris

"Sorry, it's just frustrating to hear that I have no more legal standings than a replicator."

- The Doctor

"I would never have believed that an EMH could become a valued member of my crew, and my friend. The Doctor is a person as real as any flesh and blood I have ever known."

- Janeway

"The Doctor exhibits many of the traits we associate with a person. Intelligence, creativity, ambition, even fallibility, but are these traits real or is The Doctor merely programmed to simulate them? To be honest, I don't know. Eventually we will have to decide because the issue of holographic rights isn't going to go away, but at this time, I am not prepared to rule that The Doctor is a person under the law. However, it is obvious he is no ordinary hologram and while I can't say with certainty that he is a person I am willing to extend the legal definition of artist to include The Doctor. I therefore rule that he has the right to control his work and I'm ordering all copies of his holo-novels to be recalled immediately."

- Arbitrator

"Ask the operator to run Program Forty-Seven Beta."
"Why? What is it?"
"It's called Photons Be Free. It's quite provocative."

- EMH Mark I telling another EMH Mark I in the dilithium mines about The Doctor's novel

"As far as I know captain, you haven't executed any of my patients."

- The Doctor, to Captain Janeway

"This Captain Janeway sounds like such a lovely woman. Maybe I should write her!"

- Mary Kim and Harry Kim

"Doctor, I need your help."
"Unless you're suffering acute symptoms, go away."

- Neelix and The Doctor

"I made myself clear. But The Doctor disobeyed my direct orders. In the process, he endangered the ship, and crew."
"Hardly commendable behavior."
"No, it wasn't. But it was Human."

- Janeway and Arbitrator

"It hurts when I do this."
"Well then, don't do it."

- Two of Three and Paris' fictional Doctor

Background Information


  • In this episode, Voyager's crew complement is given as 146 (including The Doctor).
  • This episode reveals that B'Elanna Torres did not personally name her Toby the targ stuffed animal mentioned in the previous season's "Tsunkatse". Toby is actually a popular children's holoprogram character published by Broht & Forrester.
  • As in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Measure Of A Man", the rights of non-organic lifeforms are at issue in this episode. While it had been determined that Data, although being a machine, was not Starfleet property and thus had the right to choose what to do with his life (and thus could most likely be considered a person), it seems the whole process had to be repeated for The Doctor and fellow holograms. The situation here is even more complex than with Data, since Data was a unique single being who was not created by Starfleet (he was found by Starfleet personnel), while holograms were programmed and designed by Starfleet and integrated into ships, space stations and other Starfleet property. In the end, it is not acknowledged in this episode that the Doctor is a person, but he is rather granted the status of an artist.
  • Tuvok's fictional counterpart, Tulak, sports a goatee, not unlike the mirror universe's Spock in TOS: "Mirror, Mirror". Tulak, however, is not a Vulcan, since he has no pointed ears.
  • The Doctor mentions that Janeway has never executed any of his patients as he knows. This ignores the events of VOY: "Tuvix", where Janeway in one sense executed Tuvix.

Behind the Scenes

  • This is the last episode of the series to be directed by David Livingston.
  • This was the 600th live action episode of Star Trek produced. Both this episode and the 700th live action episode (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly") were written by Mike Sussman. According to Sussman, on his Memory Alpha User Talk page, this episode was "a tough episode to write but [he] thought it turned out nicely". In an interview for, Sussman said of this episode, "'Author, Author' is probably my favorite Voyager script. The Doctor writes a holonovel, a roman à clef that portrays the Voyager crew in a less than flattering light. The heart of the story was the Doctor's struggle to be accepted as a legitimate writer and a regular person. Bob Picardo really made that episode and he brought the funny – you could give Bob the phone book to read and he'd be terrific." Template:St
  • Barry Gordon previously played Nava in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Nagus".
  • Robert Duncan McNeill, who usually wears a red uniform (and had previously worn a gold uniform in "Worst Case Scenario"), dons the blue sciences division uniform becoming the second of three Voyager cast members to wear all three department colors on his uniform, the other being Robert Picardo (EMH, ECH, Lewis Zimmerman). Garrett Wang, who also donned the blue uniform in this episode (and usually wears gold), became the third when he was given his red uniform in "Endgame".
  • The smoking jackets worn by Picardo and McNeill in the intros of Photons Be Free were auctioned off in the It's A Wrap! sale and auction. [1]

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Main cast

Guest stars

Special guest star


Uncredited co-stars


47-Beta; Adventures of Captain Proton, The; Alpha Quadrant; aortic rupture; arbitrator; artificial lifeform; assimilation; Bajoran; Bolian; biradial clamp; Borg; Broht & Forrester; coffee; concussion; Cooking with Neelix, a Culinary Tour of the Delta Quadrant; Daystrom Prize; Delta Quadrant; dermal regenerator; dilithium; dilithium matrix; Dixon Hill series; Earth; EMH miners; Federation; Federation law; Ferengi garbage scow; Ferengi mating dance; gigaquad; Hansen, Erin; Hansen, Magnus; Happy Birthday to You; holo-cookbook; holo-lab; holo-novel; hyper spanner; hypochondriac; isolinear chip; K'Ratak; Kessik IV; kilogram; "The Killing Game, Part II"; Klingon aphrodisiac; logic; McKinley Station; Miral; mining; mobile emitter; North America; Operation Watson; optronic pathways; Paris, Miral; Pathfinder Project; plasma burn; plasma conduit; Photons Be Free; quantum singularity; Qo'noS; San Francisco; slavery; solar flare; Starfleet Command; strawberry, strawberry tart; tachyon beam; Theta-15; Toby the targ; Talaxian; Tolstoy, Leo; tonsillectomy; triplets; Twelfth Guarantee; Type 6 shuttlecraft; Vedek's Song, The; Vortex, USS; Voyager, USS; Voyeur, USS; Zimmerman, Lewis

Previous episode:
Star Trek: Voyager
Season 7
Next episode:
"Friendship One"

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