Alternate Universe 4
|Title:||Alternate Universe 4|
|Editor(s):||Shirley Maiewski, Anna Mary Hall & Virginia Tilley|
|Date(s):||1974 - 1980 (1986?)|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: TOS|
|External Links:||Alternate Universe 4 online here|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
"... it ranks as one of the most outstanding Star Trek fanzines of all times. The publication gained immediate popularity, and was widely distributed. 
This series was mentioned in Star Trek Lives!.
The editors note that the purpose of the fiction in this zine was "to honor a man often overlooked or treated as a minor character in much of the world of Star Trek fandom writing, Captain James T. Kirk." This was probably a reaction to the belief of some fans at the time who felt Spock was the center of too many stories, that Kirk was merely a secondary character.
ALTERNATE UNIVERSE 4 is a Kirk-'zine. It is a reasonably believable look at what happens to Kirk after he screws up a mission, is drummed out of Starfleet, and joins Lightfleet (a basically undercover peacekeeping group—Garu 7 worked for them.). It's an exciting look at a part of the ST universe not previously perceived or explored by the average 'zine reader. The authors are Shirley Maiewski, Anna Mary Hall, Daphne Hamilton, and Virginia Tilley. The artwork is tastefully done and unobtrusive; the plots are clear-cut, fast-moving, and of high quality. The second issue analyses the relationship of Kirk and McCoy towards each other and goes into much more detail of the life and peoples Kirk finds himself involved with than did the first issue. The reviewers gave this 'zine a high 9 reading for fiction. Even if you are not a Kirk-fan (as I am definitely not!) this 'zine will increase your appreciation of the Captain's character and bring him into focus as a human being. The 'zine only costs a couple of dollars per volume—I'd say it's one of the best bargains in TREK fanzines today. 
Origin of the Zine's Title
The name of the zine refers to Trek universes. The canon Trek universe is the first, the Mirror Universe the second, the Kraith universe the third and this one the fourth, hence Alternate Universe 4. The premise centers around Kirk being court-martialed and eventually joining a secret organization of advanced aliens called Lightfleet (sometimes this is also called "Lightfleet Universe"). The zine is a psychological study of a hero rising out of the ashes of his own destruction.
The Lightfleet stories are now also online. 
From Virginia Tilley in 1976
Some excerpts from Interphase #3 about the beginning of this famous series:
And somehow or other, during homeroom and English class, I began to jot down the first ideas about Lightfleet.
The Lightfleet of 1967 bore little resemblance to the Lightfleet of 1975. I blush to recall some of the details, in fact; it was run by a president, and . . . well, never mind. It bore a great resemblance to Starfleet, but it was more powerful, and was run by a dark-eyed race called the "Feanorians", a name I took straight from Tolkien (and which for the purposes of Alternate Universe 4 I changed to "Velonians"). There were nine cruisers, and nine captains — all male — to run them. I wasn't sure what the Ships did — the patrol nature of Lightfleet was only a foggy seed of thought in my mind — but they were fast and beautiful, so who cared? I fiddled with the idea for the rest of Star Trek's 2nd season, developing crucial factors like the names of the redels and the color of uniforms, until I met a kindred spirit and Star Trek fan, Cathy Minks. Within a day she was an ardent Lightfleet creator, and within three days we had created characters for ourselves: Commander T'Ares Halon (me) and her captain, Sharna Colbon (Cathy). We not only talked about them but acted then out by the hour, to the consternation of ice-cream shop owners and book store proprietors, and when my family moved to New York City in 1968 we continued to act them out through letters.The Halon/Sharna letters — written totally in character -- were the vehicle for the real fleshing-out of Lightfleet, its purpose and nature, limitations and goals and history. During the next five years of letter-writing Lightfleet attain its raison d'etre; the preservation of peace in the galaxy. Kedals and uniforms were forgotten by stages, the male dominance crumbled and fell, the militarism faded to a loose chain-of-command. By trying to imagine ourselves as command officers, we began to glimpse what it meant to be a command officer, to be tied to a ship or to a mission, to be responsible for other lives. Halon and Sharna consequently began to grow, reflecting the burden of responsibility we began to understand them to have. It was almost hard to keep up with them, though we controlled them; their experiences and growth required so much insight from us, which we often lacked and had to search for in other literature and sometimes never found, Hallon and Sharna went through adventure after adventure, mission after mission, and by the fall of 1972, when I was a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts, Malon and Lightfleet had gone from being simple images of Spock and Starfleet to being unique in their own right. In fact, in some ways, they had grown beyond my own understanding -- and I'd created them, damn it -- when I met Shirley Maiewski.
Anna Mary Hall is one of my favorite people in the whole world. She's direct, honest, perceptive, fun, and a goldmine of imagination. I described Lightfleet to her (that is, I fumbled and faltered in an unsuccessful effort to summarize) and somehow — to this day I don't know how -- she saw through the clumsiness of my description and was interested.
We both had read one of Shirley's typically disastrous , desolating Kirk-stories called "No Tomorrow" (which is now Chapter 1 of AU4 Volume I). In it, Shirley had courtmartialed Kirk and thrown him right out of Starfleet. There is a final scene in which Kirk says goodbye to Spock and McCoy, in Shirley's original last line was "And they never saw him again." Anna Mary had written a sequel to salvage Kirk, and had titled it "Tomorrow" (now Chapter 2 of Volume I). Anna Mary mentioned sometime during the evening that she wasn't sure where Kirk went after "Tomorrow". Suddenly I got a gleam in my eye. Would It be possible. . . ? Then I saw the gleam growing in her eye eye, too, and we both shouted almost simultaneously, "He joins Lightfleet!" And AU4 was born. We planned the plot that night, lying awake until 5 a.m. It was, of course, obvious that Kirk must meet McCoy and Spock again, and that final scene between them — which we later called "The Scene" — was the first to be written. We acted it out in Shirley's kitchen, I typed it up at work, and gave it to Shirley the next day. I was watching her read it, waiting for a "it needs work", when to my astonishment she began sniffling and dabbing her eyes. When she took it home to Anna Mary and qot the same reaction, we felt we had something going. When we all sat down again together around it, I was told that "It's perfect, perfect! There's just one little word. . . ." We then worked on it for four straight hours and changed it totally. It was to become the classic pattern of all our work together.But collaboration is not an easy thing. Everyone has individual "druthers", tastes, pet characters, and fondly-imagined scenes of drama and comedy, and everyone, no matter how stable and reasonable at other times, has the potential for a total regression to floor-stamping childhood when it comes to cutting cherished passages, or even words. Words, indeed!; in Volume II, we have long battles about whether a comma should be a semi-colon. And those of you who think I'd exaggerating can ask those few who have seen us in action.
We wrote Volume I between the summers of 1973 and '74, completely by letter. I had made things much more difficult by moving to my sister's farm in West Virginia, so none of us were within easy visiting of each other. The distance between us was both a problem and a blessing; a problem because it meant having to cram all our arm-waving and ardency into letters — not to mention all those typed carbon copies of one draft after another — and a blessing because emotions never got too hot and we managed to avoid, the floor-stamping stage — at least most of the time. Part of the problem was solved, too, by the division of AU4 into chapters, each of which was written and "controlled" by just one of us. This wasn't as simple as it sounds, however, because each of us was still answerable to the other two. For example, let's say I complete a draft of the chapter "Recruitment". I then type it up and send copies to Shirley and Anna Mary. They read it, and write me reams of comments, 3nd I struggle with rewrites and eventually send them a whole new version, which they again criticize, etc. It is not unusual for one of us to write a letter labeled "Comments on your comments on my comments on 'Recruitment'" or whatever, nor is it unusual to get a letter saying "I don't care anymore! It stays as it is!"
In a sense, we wrote AU4 in our spare tine. It didn't occur to me at the time that we were doing anything unusual. Collaboration by mail? Why not? We met once, in New York City at the International Star Trek Con in the Americana Hotel. We compared notes, ideas, criticisms for three days, then we were apart again until summer. We met at Shirley' house in Massachusetts in July and prepared to publish.
Ah, the days of publishing! Up to several days after we arrived there, we hadn't considered putting AU4 out ourselves. I'm not sure why; we hadn't much idea of how to go about It, I guess. But the idea came slowly that it was just possible, and after a few more days I found myself typing like mad at the final copy. Anna Mary and I shuttled back and forth to the printer... and somehow it was completed, stapled and baptized. There they lay, 200 copies of AU4, gleaming in the morning light .... Well, it was a moving moment. We signed each other's special copies and looked at each other with glowing eyes.
Of the three of us, I was the most nervous about AU4's reception. Unlike Anna Mary and Shirley, I had never published before, and I had very little idea of how AU4 compared to fanzines in general. Also, I was worried about how little of Lightfleet, and of Malon, we had explained. Mould people object to the nature of Lightfleet's work? Would Malon inspire the slightest shred of interest in those few pages where she appeared? I had known for months that Volume II was growing in our minds, but should we go ahead and write it, with Volume I's reception still unknown? Daphne Hamilton had, by this time, joined our team of writers (and had adopted the character of psychologist and captain Dival Raithan, who is a central figure in Volume II), and we planned the new plot and returned to our respective states and cities, and hesitated.Volume I sold well. Volume II went into action.
From Anna Mary Hall in 1976
Shirley Maiewski, Virginia Tllley, and I had two major reasons for writing Alternate Universe 4. One was to explore the character of James T. K1rk. The other was to introduce Lightfleet to Star Trek fans.
Many stories have been written about Kirk, but most are about Captain K1rk of the U.S.S. Enterprise. They are adventure stories and very few try to show any growth or change in his character. We wanted to do more than merely tell a story about Kirk, we wanted to make some basic changes in him, in the way he thinks, in the way he reacts to situations. There must be reasons for such changes, so in the first section of Volume I, he makes a mistake that separates him from his familiar surroundings. The rest of the volume shows his struggle to rebuild his life.
The response to the stories has been favorable, but not free of criticism. The critics claim that Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy would have gone with Kirk when he was kicked out of Starfleet. Though their presence would have forced drastic changes in the story we wanted to tell we did consider having them accompany Kirk. The idea works only if you think of the trio as storybook heroes. They are storybook heroes, but if you think of them that way while writing a story it will not be believable. Real people have divided loyalties that pull them In many directions and make choices difficult. Spock and McCoy faced a painful decision. Our story was about Kirk, so we did not tell how or why Spock and McCoy decided to stay with the Enterprise, but their reasons were good.
Commander Spock and Lieutenant-Commander McCoy are career officers with duties to perform, with people other than Kirk depending on them. The doomsday machine had damaged the Enterprise. McCoy had taken injured crewmen under his care. Other doctors could have taken over once the ship reached the Starbase, but McCoy takes his profession seriously. The injured were his chosen responsibility. He would not abandon them, and there was another more subtle healing in which he would have a part. Spock had the welfare of the entire crew to consider. Kirk bore the brunt of the blame for the destruction of the planets. It was his fault, and would have been his responsibility in any case. But the crew's confidence In themselves had been badly shaken. They had a part in the destruction; they shared in the blame and the guilt. Spock must get these people back into shape to do their jobs. There will be a new captain, but he will be an outsider free of guilt, possibly more of a hindrance than a help. It will be years before "I'm on the Enterprise" is once again a statement which people will make proudly.
Spock and McCoy gave Kirk the help they could. They kept him out of the penal colony. They saved his life. Spock gave him what mental help he could. There was nothing more they could do for Kirk. There Is a point past which help can no longer be given. Kirk had to live his own life, or end up an emotional cripple forever dependent on others.
This was Kirk's decision, too. Spock and McCoy love him. Had he called they would have come. He did not call. He had wrecked his life; he did not wish to ruin theirs. He left them each other, and what had been his ship, to care for.
As Virginia told in her article, Lightfleet had existed nearly as long as Star Trek, but it has had a very limited audience for most of this time. Then Virginia met Shirley, learned of Star Trek fandom, and knew she had found the readers for her stories, if she could find some way to tie the two together. Shirley introduced Virginia and I while I was writing "Tomorrow" and wondering about Kirk's next move. We solved both our problems by having Kirk join Ligntfleet. He once more had tasks worthy of his abilities, and the stories could be sold as Star Trek fiction.
Lightfleet exists beyond the limits established by the television series Star Trek. It looks at the Federation from outside. This viewpoint alters attitudes and assumptions. Klingons are evil and treacherous? Romulans are warlike and violent? The Federation is peace-loving and dependable? ... not necessarily when seen from Lightfleet's point of view!Lightfleet has an extensive history, a large cast of regular characters, and many adventures that have no connection with Star Trek. We could write of life on Velona, of the action around Avas, of the Velts or the Anvysos and never mention a familiar Star Trek character or location. But since we had two purposes. Kirk has had a part in all the stories we've published. He is an expert on the Federation, so that is where the stories have taken place. If his part in the action is smaller than in his Starfleet days, if he is no longer certain his solution is the correct one, that is the way we meant it to be. James T. Kirk has changed.
Alternate Universe 4 #1 was published in 1974 and is 62 pages long. It was edited by Shirley Maiewski.
- No Tomorrow (7 pages)
- Tomorrow (12 pages)
- The Merchant (13 pages)
- Recruitment (10 pages)
- The Agent (4 pages)
- Commitment (8 pages)
- Look At Yesterday (8 pages)
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1
Kirk is distracted by headache at a critical battle moment, and three planets are destroyed by the enemy. The guilt-ridden Kirk is drummed out of the fleet and sent penniless into the world. Spock and McCoy prevent him from committing suicide, and he becomes a freight navigator under an assumed name. However, he is recognized by an agent of Light Fleet - benevolent meddlers in societies, the same folks who employed Gary Seven, and whose aim is a peaceful galaxy. This issue ends with Kirk recruited to Light Fleet as an “Action Agent.” When a mission goes awry, Kirk is briefly captured on the Enterprise, but Spock and McCoy, trusting him, allow him to escape. A pleasant enough read with decent writing, though the angst was a bit overdone, and I found I didn't care much for the whole idea of Light Fleet - too much Big Brother, perhaps. 
This is a nicely printed fanzine, well worth the price. The whole zine is one long story about Captain Kirk. In this story he is court-martialed and loses. The story follows him through the trying times afterwards... This fanzine is of interest to people who like well-written Star Trek stories. The artwork in the zine is minimal, though excellent. It is highly stylized silhouettes for the most part. It fits in beautifully with the story, but is not of great interest apart from its place. 
Jim Kirk has been found guilty of culpable negligence in the destruction of 3 heavily populated planets, court martiaied, and dishonorably discharged from Starfleet. Ue see his departure from the Enterprise and his friends and his recruitment into Lightfleet. Lightfleet is a secret organization that is dedicated to the peaceful unification of the galaxies. It is organized by the Velonians whose technology is far advanced over that of Starfleet. Kirk becomes an Action Agent and and one of his assignments is captured by Starfleet and returned to the Enterprise for questioning. There is a joyful reunion with McCoy and Spock. They cannot turn Kirk over to Starfleet and devise a means to allow Kirk's escape. 
Alternate Universe 4 #2: The Debt was published in 1975 and has 140 pages. It was edited by Anna Mary Hall. Cover: Virginia Tilley
- Above All Others (18 pages)
- The Gift Of Sorrow (7 pages)
- Of Comfort Let No Man Speak (5 pages)
- The Slow Death Of Peace (11 pages)
- A Time Of War (14 pages)
- The Killing (10 pages)
- A Plan For Death (2 pages)
- Debt From The Past (15 pages)
- Gagarin (15 pages)
- A Time To Heal 15 pages)
- Chelacrev (18 pages)
- The Final Battle (6 pages)
- Epilog (4 pages)
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2
My same criticisms [as per issue #1] apply to this second installment - everybody's guilt-ridden agonizing is heavy-handed and Light Fleet is a disturbing concept. But again, the writing is frequently quite good, and the plot kept me reading - or at least scanning for the most interesting bits. On assignment, agent Kirk is rescued from hanging by the Enterprise - alerted by Light Fleet. (Uhura, conveniently, is also an agent.) When McCoy discovers his communications chip, Kirk, per Light Fleet orders, escapes by staging his own suicide. Blaming himself for having betrayed Jim in obeying his Starfleet oath, McCoy becomes such a total wreck that Spock suspends him and he goes to soak his sorrows on leave planet Gagarin. Meanwhile, back in Light Fleet, Vulcan agent Malon is assigned to assassinate the Klingon leader to stop intergalactic war. She does so, but is devastated at having killed. She compares sorrows with Kirk, and they get permission to collect Dival, a Light Fleet telepathic psychologist, and go to Gagarin to put McCoy right. McCoy, however, detects and prevents the healer's telepathic contact, and cannot be cured in the short time left before Dival must go home to undergo a type of spontaneous fission in which a Child is formed. Distracted by McCoy's problems, Dival leaves it too late and goes into the "creation" phase with McCoy witnessing the weirdness. Meanwhile, the war has not stopped after all - Klingons attack Gagarin with a new, indestructible ship, and Enterprise roars into the fray. Dival's friends arrive to help him in his Creation, and Kirk shows himself to McCoy, opting for personal over professional loyalty. But McCoy has now seen too much. He is invited into Light Fleet, but refuses to abandon Spock and has them mind-wipe him, all except for the knowledge that Kirk is alive, which he is allowed to share with Spock. Oh, meanwhile... Malon has had to participate in a Vulcan gang-mind-meld and Spock - also drafted into the group - recognizes her from long ago and questions her supposed death and motives, but she escapes thanks to Light Fleet training. Enterprise, with a little help from Light Fleet, defeats the invincible Klingon ship - leaving Spock to ponder the impossibility of that victory and start putting 2 & 2 together. Kirk and Malon go off to new Light Fleet adventures. 
The artwork is sparse and stylistic. This zine is worth every penny it costs -- unless you can't stand Captain Kirk. It is one of the best written stories in Trek fandom. It's based in an alternate universe in which James Kirk made a mistake that lead to the annihilation of three heavily populated planets. He was then court-martialed, drummed out of the Star Fleet, and ran to the farthest edge of the Federation. There, under an alias, he begins the slow, lonely, agonizing trek back to self-esteem and eventually joins a group called Light Fleet. I recommend this over all new fanzines I've seen. 
This is a very ambitious story both in scope and theme. It is set in an alternative universe in which a war is about to break out between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Kirk is a member of the Light Fleet (a super secret organization dedicated to maintaining peace in the galaxy). Star Fleet thinks Kirk is a traitor and a spy, so when he is picked up by the Enterprise in the beginning of the story, Kirk is forced to fake a suicide to escape. But, it happens in such a way that McCoy believes he is the cause of Kirk's death. Shortly after that, Spock is forced to give McCoy a leave of absence because McCoy isn't able to handle his grief and feelings of guilt. At Light Fleet, Kirk is trying to deal with his sorrow at having left behind his friends the way he did, and Light Fleet is trying to find a way to stop the approaching war. It is decided that the two Klingon leaders must be assassinated -- though murder goes against everything that Light Fleet and its founders, the Velonians, stand for. A half-Vulcan woman member of Light Fleet, T'Ares Malon, is chosen for the assignment. The rest of the story concerns the assassination (and everyone's complete revulsion at the idea of killing), some strategies to forestall the war, and Light Fleet's efforts to help help McCoy to overcome his guilt and grief. The Velonians (along with visions of their long dead planet, Shev, and an alien birthing process called Chelacrev) and T'Ares Malon are major focal points in this issue. For all the story's broad scope, it's still a very personal story -- focussing on the way the individuals in it handle grief, guilt and duty. My own feelings on it are that the theme would have fit a story with a smaller scale better. 'The Debt' doesn't have quite the intensity nor the feeling of unity that issue #1 had. And the assassination and reactions to it might have benefitted from a subtler touch. All in all, it is very well written and the illustrations, though sparse, are appealing. This issue also lists the 'authors-in-chief' of each chapter, which is nice. It's very well put together. It's one of the major works of 1975, and I highly recommend it. 
Kirk has been captured by the Enterprise and this time he will be turned over to Starfleet security by Spock's order. To escape Kirk used a method in which he apparently turns a Phaser, set to kill, on himself. McCoy is so devastated by Kirk's apparent death that he can no longer function and is given an indefinite leave to try to recover. Most of this volume deals with Kirk's effort, with the help of Melan and a Velosian psychologist, to save McCoy's sanity. 
Alternate Universe 4 #3 was published in 1986 and contains 89 pages. Even though it is numbered #3 it was published six years after "Echerni: the Lightfleet Letters." It was the last volume in the series and was edited by Virginia Tilley.
- "The Decision" by Virginia Tilley, illustrated by the author (43 pages) (Spock deduces the existence of Lightfleet and goes out to find it... this piece is a stylistic tapestry more than a story.)
- "Symbiosis" by Virginia Tilley, illustrated by the author (27 pages) (Kirk and T'Ares go to a planet where the culture has inexplicably changed from a free society to a rigid social order.)
- "A Time to Die" by Anna Mary Hall, illustrated by Daphne Ann Hamilton (20 pages) (No ST regulars, set before Kirk comes to Lightfleet. A Lightfleet ship investigates a mysterious ship from its sector.)