A Fragment Out of Time

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K/S Fanfiction
Title: A Fragment Out of Time
Author(s): Diane Marchant
Date(s): September 1974
Length:
Genre:
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links: Page 1 Page 2

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Contents

A Fragment Out of Time is the first piece of published slash fan fiction in Star Trek fandom. It is a 2-page story that was printed in the September 1974 issue of Grup #3. [1]

Earlier Versions, and in a Series

It is possible that this story had a sort of birthplace in the zine Spock where Marchant published a series of short bits in a series called 'Fragments." Some of these were reprinted in The Other Sides of Me #2.

From a review of The Other Sides of Me: "[Issue #2 contains] the early 'Fragments' stories. 'Fragments' is a series run in Austrek's 'Spock'. The ones reprinted here are the early ones by Diane Marchant, and have a more adult slant than the later ones."

About "A Fragment Out of Time"

Klangley56 notes that:
Grup was the only adult fanzine being printed at the time (and tame by today's standards). Diane's story really was only a story fragment (a couple of pages of "he" and "him"—no names mentioned, but an illustration by Diane of Kirk and Spock was included). Because it was published in an adult zine, for a more specialized audience and likely with a small print run, fandom as a whole did not register this piece as "the first published K/S.
It was written so obliquely that it wasn't clear to many readers that the two people having sex were both men, much less Kirk and Spock, until Diane's letter to the editor in the next issue, Grup #4. However, in the fanzine Legacy commentators have pointed out that:
....the first ever piece of K/S art was published alongside the first ever K/S story (“A Fragment Out of Time” ....[it included a picture] drawn by Diane Marchant, the author of the story ... given the picture there can have been no doubt they were Kirk and Spock. [2]
original artwork accompanying the story, also reproduced in the zine Legacy

The Follow-Up Essay

Diane's submission in the following issue of Grup also raised the possibility of a close, sexual relationship between Kirk and Spock. It was an essay titled, "Pandora's Box... Again," and subtitled, "A Psychological Discussion of the Relationship Between Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock." As the author of Boldly Writing explains:
In this article, Diane said, "Spock can happily love Kirk all he wants and not feel that it is un-Vulcan...in this stage of his emotional development, Spock is not and could not be any woman's man." At the time I thought Diane simply meant that Spock was not ready for marriage, and that he loved Kirk in a platonic sense. The article is so subtle—as were most hints of K/S at the time—that readers could interpret it in that manner. This is not the intended interpretation, however. Diane was making an argument for a sexual relationship between Kirk and Spock, which other fans....picked up and began to discuss openly. [3]

The Splash it Made

A year later fans were still debating the premise behind the story. In the letterzine The Halkan Council issue #12, Connie Faddis reviewed the story:
Diane Marchant wrote an article on the Kirk/Spock homosexual love affair premise that’s been buzzing around fannish conversations for at least a year. The idea is an interesting permutation, but Diane’s argument fails to convince because she failed to document her evidence thoroughly, and there’s a tone of ‘dirty old broad getting her rocks off, heh heh’ that distracts from the argument and debases the premise. [4]

By the time the last issue was published in 1978, Boldly Writing claims that "Grup seemed almost tame compared to what was coming out elsewhere."[5]

Diane Later Commented

inside art from issue #3, Diane Marchant. "Impossible?.... No Jim. I warned you about messing with aliens,.... especially Vulcans." This drawing appeared at the bottom of the story, offering readers another clue as to the identities of the two characters.
Diane attempted to distance herself from the story years later. On The Foresmutters Project page, they explain:
The author has explicitly refused permission for this work to be in the Foresmutters Project, stating that: "Anything I penned (all those years ago) was only meant to remain in letters between friends. . . But somehow it ended up in print, & so started a huge snowball that became K/S. That was upsetting enough & I had hoped that it was all 'dead & buried' by now."[6]
While it seems unlikely that both the original story and the subsequent essay "somehow ended up in print', given the relatively small circulation of Grup, the reception, the increased visibility of her work and the ever expanding discussion in other letterzines such as The Halkan Council and Interstat may have been unexpected.


From an interview done a few months before she died, Diane explained:
It couldn't be done, said the others. I don't know.... But one could give it the ol' college try. Thinking the outcome would be staying between the three of us [the editors of Grup and herself], I decided to accept the challenge. Thus, “A Fragment Out Of Time.” Which lo and behold the girls thought was for publication....

Once the tooth-paste is out of the tube just try returning it. The girls had printed the little vignette before asking if I wished to use a nom-de-plume.

Then the letters started arriving.... Whee.... Phew!!!

Amongst which were two I'll never forget. Two ladies (Gerry Downes & Leslie Fish) actually “asking” my permission to use the hypothesis. Gosh, I was tickled. Even if, as far as I could see, it wasn't mine to give. The subject was a universal constant (not mine). It was there in the aired episodes. I just gave it a public voice of fandom.

Really, I had nothing to do with the initial concept, as it was there unfolding on our screens as we watched our beloved Star Trek. Me, well—I just accepted a challenge and attempted to subtly present the idea deftly (with slight humorous overtones) as a scenario which most could find acceptable at that time. [7]

Trivia

A complete copy of A Fragment Out of Time was worth 25 points in the 2011 University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt.[8]

Later Reactions and Reviews

From a fan in 2009:
Crawling out from under the skirts of Star Trek fanzine Grup, the first slash story ‘A Fragment Out of Time’ appeared in 1974.....‘Fragment’ was more twee than twisted but more than enough to fire a photon torpedo across the bow of the trekkie community. Instantly controversial, Merchant defended her work in issue 4 of Grup before expanding on her defence debate through the letterzine The Halkan Council the following year. While fans had speculated there was something to the Kirk/Spock relationship that dare not speak its name, committing the idea to print caused a veritable riot of abuse and discussion impassioned enough to force a rift in fan culture. The story of the libidinous authority figure and the virtuous loner struggling to repress their sexual side had been the hallmark of so-called ‘Harlequin’ romance novels for years. The juxtaposition of a male seducer with a male interest in a science fiction context represented a dramatic break from ‘zines reverential treatment of the canon with their ‘same material only less good’ content. In one move Fragment had created a new brand of fanfic based not on filling in gaps as creating whole new worlds of discovery, boldly going where no fanboy had gone before. [9]
From a fan in 2013:
“A Fragment Out of Time” by Diane Marchant is so poetically vague that only her accompanying illustrations cement that the story is about Kirk and Spock. There’s a great discussion of how the story sparked a debate and then the genre on fanlore.com’s wiki, but for this post, I want to focus on how this piece’s bashfulness adds to its appeal for me.

Though undeniably brave in writing about two pop-culture figures engaged in a homoerotic romance at a time homosexuality was not seriously discussed in pop culture, the language of the story is almost demure in its descriptions. Especially when compared to the exhaustive explicitness (“This goes in there, then that sprays all over everything…”) of many modern slash stories, the omissions here seem literary. I feel they give the piece a tender tone, capturing that feeling of boundaries being gently crossed and what’s long been unspoken being fully understood for the first time.

It’s was a big boundary to cross, one that changed the world of fan fiction forever, so I find it inspiring for my own writing that she did it with such grace and humanity. What do you think? [10] [11]

References

  1. A columnist in Not Tonight, Spock! #2 calls this story "To Invite the Night." It is unclear if this is simply an error, or if this was the original title of the story in what was its underground form.
  2. "From Art: Dribbling Scribbling Women by Liz Woledge," Legacy vol. 1. (Accessed 30 July 2010)
  3. Joan Marie Verba. Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967 - 1987, pg 24. (Accessed 30 July 2010)
  4. The Halkan Council #12—November 1, 1975.
  5. Joan Marie Verba. Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967 - 1987, pg. 44.
  6. The Foresmutters Project. Bibliography of early, early K/S. (Accessed 30 July 2010)
  7. from A 2007 Interview with Diane Marchant
  8. Item 63 on Page 4 of the "The 2011 University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt List PDF" (Accessed 28 July 2013)
  9. "Slashing the ties that bind", posted in 2009, offline at least as of March 2014
  10. Recommendation: “A Fragment Out of Time” by Diane Marchant by Evan Kingston, July 17, 2013, includes scan of story
  11. WebCite
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