2800 words, complete @Ao3 by ChronicallyOwlish
Genre/What to expect: A Sylvia Tilly character study. Warm and full of hope.
Rating: General Audiences
Pairings: None / Gen
Friends are hard to come by when you’re a little too smart, a little too loud, and a little too weird for the people around you. Sylvia Tilly has always had one dream, to join Starfleet, but there are a lot of voices out there telling her she isn’t cut out for it. She’s going to prove them all wrong.
Suitable for fandom blind readers? Yes
I don’t very often find real affinity with characters, even if they might share some of the tropes that I recognize when I look in the mirror. Tropes which I embrace, by the by. While I’m not saying whoever writes my life is a good writer, they do at occasion pick good tropes. But anyway.
Tilly. Sylvia Tilly. Let’s talk about her.
Look at that cinnamon roll with her bright smile and the stubborn joy in her eyes. Why she didn’t pop out at me after her introduction in Discovery is beyond me- though I may blame the pretty colours and flashing lights of the rest of the show for distracting me. What can I say. I am a simple person.
But then I read ChronicallyOwlish‘s one-shot about Tilly’s life before Starfleet, and I’m never going to be able to look at that character the same way again. Which was how? Dismissively. Much like a great deal of the rest of her world treated her, and- hey- look at that- that sounds familiar- I dismissed her. I shouldn’t have. Because under that wild mess of red hair, and behind the happy bubbling noises that string together to form words (lots of words), hides a person. A genuine and incredible person, something that Owlish has captured beautifully in her short story.
The tone of Chin Up. Smile. is hopeful from the start. Warm. It deals with the challenges that Sylvia must have faced growing up, and shows us how intimidating life can be. But it does so without being on the nose about it, without trying to stab at our own experiences, or trying to make us feel sorry for her just because. Instead, we see how strong Sylvia is. And that, I think, is incredibly inspiring and uplifting.
That the writing is smooth and feels a bit like feeding honey to your brain, that’s an added bonus.
Read this. Read it if you like Star Trek Discovery. Read it if you like Tilly. Read it if you want to know more about her. Or read it if you just want see how someone that doesn’t quite fit into all the predefined drawers society likes to keep ready, can navigate life with gentle fire bubbling in their gut.
What other people say:
By athousandpigeons: This is so good! Tilly is awesome and quirky and so much stronger than people give her credit for, and you captured her voice perfectly. And that last paragraph is *everything*!
By Artemis1000: Oh my goodness how perfect and on-point this story is, I can’t even! I love it so very much, and I love the depth of emotion and the richness of your atmospheric writing. Just give me all the Tilly fic, I’m in love