While famously opinionated, the Argellian columnist is notoriously evasive when it comes to interviews. In an interview with fellow FNS reporter Tellaria D’sol, Maronida Shiir gives a look at the woman behind the words.
Maronida Shiir: Pennington Award winner, Federation Medal of the Arts honoree and a woman with 45 years of hard hitting journalism under her belt. She’s taken down corrupt Federation councilors, gone up against presidents and beaten down every upstart rival, but what makes Maronida Shiir tick? What about the woman behind the acerbic columns, expert fashion sense and intimidating literary legacy? I recently sat down with Maronida to discover just that.
Thank you for seeing me.
“Oh my pleasure, anything for a fellow member of the FNS. Plus I do love the afternoon tea here.”
You’ve been resistant to interviews in the past.
“Yes, I feel that I put enough of myself out there in my columns, people shouldn’t go anywhere else for what I think, what I believe. I also then get to set the narrative, control the flow of information. I do like to maintain some air of mystery about myself but practically I think people care more about what I write then who I really am.”
But you can’t fault people for wanting to know more, the woman behind the words, what shaped your worldview, how your politics and writing style developed.
“You know I don’t actually consider myself a particularly political person. I’m just a person with a lot of opinions and a syndicated column.”
While a fixture in the upper circles of Earth and Federation politics, Maronida Shiir was born on Argelius, the decadent and cultured homeworld of the Argelian people, long time members of the Federation. Initially schooled and trained in the fine arts, Maronida left Argelius to settle in Paris, claiming that she wanted to see more of the galaxy.
“It’s where all the action was. I was drawn to the excitement, being close to the art, the culture, the center of the Federation society.”
So what did you do for the two years between the time you came to Earth and the publishing of your fist article?
“Loitered around a bit. I continued to paint but I didn’t show anything to anybody. I was just living in the thirteenth arrondissement here in Paris and that just happened to be where people like Pela Zhor, Kit de Franc, Allein Xher, Mors K’Fhrer were.
(Laughs) You know now those are all incredible, recognizable names but back then we were all living in these little studio apartments just running in to each other, tripping over each other really. And then once we became famous the neighborhood became famous and the atmosphere was just… electric. There’s a picture of Mors K’Fhrer, Sheev Varna, Amanda Kane, Jean de Lar and all these other famous people in the background and now you wonder in what world would these people all be in the same room and to which I respond, ‘only in the thirteenth’.”
Only in the thirteenth?
“Only in the thirteenth.”
Maronida’s own break came when the Setlik III Massacre occurred, stunning the Federation and the galaxy at large.
How did an artist get approached to do a war piece?
“Well I was friends with the Argelius dispatch reporter assigned to the Embassy and I had edited some of his pieces to be published in other services. He had been sick that week and asked me to write the piece for him. And the rest is history really.”
Was it a difficult article to write? Argelians are known for their pacifism.
“It actually helped me write it. My style is emotional and I was outraged at the deplorable loss of life and barbaric actions by the Cardassians. People connected and responded to what I was saying, it struck a cord with them. I received hundreds, thousands of letters, comments, people on the street saying they agreed with not just what I had written, but how I had said it.
Some others tried to frame it as some mishap, cross-cultural wiring crossing, non-sense really, they were trying to rationalize violence and genocide. I said ‘absolutely not’ this is a barbaric act, committed by a government with a history of barbaric acts and the blood of millions on their hands. This was not some isolated incident and the Federation council needed to wake up and realize that they were fighting a war, a real war, and people liked that.”
And you’ve kept with it, some call you the voice of a generation, the oracle of public opinion.
(Laughs) “Oh what a lofty title you’ve concocted for me.”
You don’t think it’s true?
“I write what I feel, I write my truth, and people are free to respond to it however they like. I will say that I think people of my generation do have a shared mentality though. We grew up with the Khitomer Accords, the Cardassian Wars and the Fedlight Movement and while people’s opinions change we were all defined by those events and carry common emotions related to them. All of those things and more framed a worldview, and I just happen to write within it.”
So you’re a product of your time?
“No more than anyone else. I do strongly identify with it though and the reason why so many of my opinions have stayed the same is that we continue to face many of the same issues.”
Well let’s talk about the issues then. What do you think of the Orion Free Traders setting up on Mars?
“It’s a gross abuse of powers. The separation of powers has always been ruled by precedent in the Federation and to allow a foreign body to conduct unilateral diplomatic negotiations with a member world is unprecedented. The Orions should have consulted with the Federation Council on their intent to conduct trade negotiations with Mars, something all foreign powers must do.
There are those that say that this is purely a commercial venture but the Orion Captain is now an “Ambassador” and the deal should be voided and brought before the Council and the Supreme Court for review. This is not one foreign commercial body negotiating a deal and that sneering little man on Mars needs to stop jockeying for votes from autonomists and play by the rules.”
Pointed as always. What about the end to the Transport Union strike?
“I think the President made the best deal she could. Starfleet is beleaguered, we have not lost faith and support for people in uniform but in their ability to use their current resources to combat the piracy threat. Starfleet is not a purely military organization. It’s scientific, its humanitarian, its peacekeeping and I would not destroy what Starfleet is in order to arm it as a glorified customs enforcement agency. Starfleet does need more resources and until such a time as they can handle all aspects of their mandate, I see no reason not to supplement our forces temporarily.”
And what about the election? Do you see a candidate on the field that you could support?
“I think it’s an interesting assortment but I think like many of my readers there’s not anyone that gets me really worked up. They still have time but the election is closing in.”
Thank you for sitting down with me Maronida.
Maronida Shiir’s column is published weekly on the FNS.
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