Courts of Honor

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You may be looking for the Star Trek: VOY novel Code of Honor.

Zine
Title: Courts of Honor
Publisher:
Editor:
Author(s): Syn Ferguson
Cover Artist(s): Sat Nam Kam
Illustrator(s): Suzan Lovett
Date(s): 1985, 1988 see below
Series?: Yes, sequel to The Price
Medium: print zine
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Star Trek, Kirk/Spock, Star Trek: The Original Series
Language: English
External Links: Courts of Honor, Archived version
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Contents

Courts of Honor is a Kirk/Spock novel by Syn Ferguson, first published in 1985. The front cover is by Sat Nam Kaur Keahey. A huge zine of more than 600 pages, Courts of Honor has a K/S storyline but features a number of secondary characters and romances as well as an intricate political plot. Many fans regard it as a fannish masterpiece.

Courts of Honor was originally to have had art by Suzan Lovett and Gayle F. The author thanks them both in the zine's acknowledgments, writing "... both [Gayle F] and Suzan Lovett, whose illustrations, though they could not be printed with the book, proved to me that I had conveyed some of my love for the STAR TREK characters in its pages."

Suzan Lovett's illustrations are here, Archived version.

See Inspiration: Poetry and Art.

Part of a Series

Summary

Near the end of the five-year mission, Starfleet sends the Enterprise to the Ochros system, along with another ship, the Haile Selassie. Because of galactic drift, the inhabited worlds in this system — the planets Riga and Veith, and the hollow artificial satellites Nod and Dow — are about to cross over from the Romulan Neutral Zone into Federation space. Starfleet intends to establish a presence in the area, under the command of Admiral Harnum of the Haile Selassie, until elections can be held to determine whether the people of these worlds want to join the Federation. [1]

Early Ads

An advertisement for Courts of Honor first appeared in March-April 1982:
'Courts of Honor' is an action/adventure novel with Gayle F illos, interior grapics by Wendy Adrian Shultz, and a full-color cover by Sat Nam Kaur Keahey. The novel is K/S and does require an age statement, but contains no sick sex, sadism, maiming, killing, or crazy-making of the main characters. Nobody dies, and the Enterprise is not destroyed at the end! 100,000 words of upbeat Trek adventure that will make you feel good. [2]
From an ad in August/October 1992:
Two philosophies in a cultural clash just short of civil war. Two planets driven by Anarchy and Treason. Two men dedicated to freedom and each other. Pawns of Galactic Diplomacy. Celebrants in the Courts of Honor. [3]
From an ad in late fall 1983:
Mary Ann Drach, Kathleen Lynch, and Barbara Storey have taken over copy-editing chores. Syn is working on the final typing as fast as moving and professional commitments permit. The four-color cover by Sat Nam has already been printed. We are awaiting for addition ills by S. Lovett. (Anyone who ordered this novel over a year ago will receive it for the price they paid then. Syn is willing to refund the money of anyone who is nervous of this delay.) Everyone has waited so long for this, and we want to do it right. Due December '83. [4]

Image Gallery

The Poster

According to one fan, there were 4000 posters printed, [5]

The poster was offered for sale in mid-1982. From one ad:
'Courts of Honor' covers, painted by Sat Nam Kaur Keahey, is available as a 21 " x 29" four-color poster. An action collage of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy with scenes of flying and bull-leaping taken from the novel. Nothing erotic, just great Trek! Printed on heavy, glossy stock, mailed in a cardboard tube. [6]
In the October 1982 issue of Interstat, Syn Ferguson wrote of a letter regarding this poster, and of larger implications:
I'm writing because I think someone should let the fen know about the new attitude taken by Gulf+Western, the
 conglomerate that owns Paramount. STARFLEET fan club recently received a typical threatening attorney's letter from Bruce Hosmer, Associate Patent Counsel for G+W, with regard to our fund-raising project, which involves a 22" x 30" full color poster of the cover of COH. Evidently Sat Ham's beautiful art, and the professional print job led Hosmer to believe STARFLEET was a large corporation raking in big bucks, of which G+W wanted a share. That is not the case, of course, and not my point. After all these years of total disinterest in the activities (and opinions) of fandom, it seems that we're being recognized. This is the form the recognition took. Unlicensed use of Paramount's design patents can result in damages, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees. G+W demands to know the date of manufacture/sale of such items, a list of items sold, the sales price of each, the names and addresses of each person or company to whom items were sold, ditto for items purchased, names and addresses of persons involved in this "business", and plans for recalling any infringing merchandise. purchaser could find herself In legal hot water. And oven if the old rule holds true: there's no point in suing a pauper, i.e., if no profit was made, it's not likely G+W would waste time suing, there is still the possibility of damages being awarded. They wouldn't get far on my typewriter and a car largely held together by duct tape, but they have time and money to spare to prove their point—and I don't… Quite apart from legal considerations, there are ethical ones involved. "Everyone's been doing it for years" is not much of a foundation for an ethical stand in support of fanzines, but practically, fanzines and fan art, or the sale of stationary or posters is no competition at all for Paramount. It does them no harm. Quite the reverse, fans kept Star Trek alive when Paramount didn't give a damn, and they have now realized sweet profits on our fidelity. And there are literary precedents for the continuance of a heroic saga—see the El Cid cycles in Spain, for example. My conscience doesn't twinge a bit because I write Trek, or because people are willing to pay me to do it. If Paramount/Pocket Books/Gulf+Western were meeting that need, no one would, and I would write it for myself alone. Where I feel a concern is that demand to supply a list of purchasers. I guarantee it would take a court order to make me do it, and not just a demand from a large corporation…..Having corresponded with my readers, I know some of them are preacher's wives who keep their zines in the attic. It could be disastrous if they began receiving communications from Gulf+Western. It may be that after the mailing of COH I will simply dispose of my mailing list and never accept another order from someone who doesn't come personally recommended. That would make Trek underground indeed. If everyone felt that way, and if G+W does get tough, it would put INTERSTAT, UT, and FORUM out of business. What a shame, what a waste. What a loss to Paramount if new fans couldn't plug in to the exciting world of zines and letterzines and the community of fandom. [7]
In March 1983, Eric A. Stillwell, a fan club president, made this clarification:
I would like to refer to the letter by Syn Ferguson in I#60. Syn is a dear friend and she does hours of volunteer work for STARFLEET. Her assistance is invaluable. Her letter in I#60, however, is not entirely correct. The letter from Gulf+Western which she refers to was addressed to: "Starfleet Imports, c/o Syn Ferguson." "Starfleet Imports" was an independent enterprise headed up by Syn before it disbanded last fall. Syn was not and is not a member of STARFLEET, therefore the connection between it and G+W is a fallacy. After "Starfleet Imports" disbanded, all merchandise was donated to STARFLEET for use in fundraisers. To this date, Gulf+Western has not once approached STARFLEET on this subject, nor have they ever questioned our activities in this area. After all, we are a fan club. This may not have been clear in my letter, or in Syn's... [8]
The poster was still being sold in 1987. From one ad:
Had trouble getting your 'Courts of Honor' Zine? So did we. But you can get a full color 22" x 30" reproduction of the cover artwork for $4.00 plus $1.50 shipping and handling. We have these in stock & ready to ship. [9]

The Posctards

The poster artwork was also sold in the form of a set of 4 postcards, each showing a different close up portrait of the main characters: Spock, Kirk, McCoy and the Romulan Commander. Some of the postcards were later used at the the backing of the digest sized zine when it was finally published.

First and Second Printings

From Boldly Writing:
Syn Ferguson published her magnum opus, Courts of Honor, in a limited edition in 1985. Like most readers, however, I got the second printing of 'Courts of Honor', an authorized reprint coordinated by Mary Ann Drach of Maine. This digest-sized, novel-length fanzine story ran 609 pages. Reviews said that the story was about Romulans; Jacqueline Lichtenberg described it as "grand opera. [10]
A 1985 announcement regarding this later printing:
I would like to take this opportunity to tell readers of NTS that Syn Ferguson has finished writing COURTS OF HONOR, & that the end result of her efforts is wonderful. I know because I have read the entire novel in manuscript, as a member of the proofreading team appointed by Syn's editor. The finished manuscript will go back to Syn very soon, and it should be at the printer's in short order. (I'm writing this in early August.) COURTS OF HONOR is a magnificent achievement. It's staggering in length (more than 600 pages), and Syn needs every bit of that length to tell a story which has a real SF premise and which is extremely complex, suspenseful, and -- as one would expect of her work -- very beautifully written. After reading COURTS OF HONOR, I can certainly understand why it has taken so long to complete. Work of this quality simply requires a long time and great care: it can't be dahsed off at lightning-fast speed. Work of this quality is more than worth the wait, too, no matter how long that wait turns out to be. COURTS OF HONOR will create an absolute sensation in Trekfandom. I don't think that anything on this scale has ever been attempted before -- and Syn Ferguson's novel succeeds on so many levels, too -- as Trek, as SF, as K/S,as literature, finally, of a quality that other zine writers will have go very far to equal, and that none of us are likely to surpass. Rejoice! Rejoice! It's almost here! [11]

Controversy

As was not uncommon at the time, pre-orders were taken for the zine before it was finished, but this time they were lost/misplaced/spent. According to Boldly Writing, Syn Ferguson was selling cover art for Courts of Honor as a fund-raiser and reported in October 1982 that Gulf and Western (Paramount’s parent company at the time) got upset about this but it turned out that Paramount had simply mistaken a fan effort for that of a professional retailer and no action resulted from the case.[12] Enterprising Women gives this account of the troubles behind the scenes:
The case of Syn Ferguson’s Courts of Honor demonstrates the paradox that the fan community is often at its best when it is at its worst. Syn Ferguson wrote to me of her struggle to write Courts of Honor, a homoerotic novel with many scenes of hurt and fewer, perhaps, of comfort. [...] During the roughly four-year course of writing the novel, Syn struggled with that creative effort, often at the expense of basic life necessities. She lost jobs, found jobs, and lost them again. She received support, including food and shelter, from a succession of fans and non-fan friends and lost that support. Advances paid for copies of the novel went to buy food and pay rent, and for one or two weeks when everything else failed, Syn lived in her car. Not everything she did was sensible or appropriate in the community. Fans are not allowed, by law, to make a profit on their ventures, and Syn had priced her novel accordingly. She lived on the advances, although she had no profit margin in her price to pay for production of the actual book. A number of fans who had sent her up to twenty dollars for a copy of Courts of Honor sent her hate mail, and one even left a mutilated toy dog on her front lawn.[13]

There were many, many letters written to letterzines and ad zines by fans complaining that they had waited too many years for their copies. One typical letter:

We seem to have a severe problem in fandom today. I realize that I have been in the fanzine portion of fandom for a relatively short time, about five years, and I realize that there have been instances (relatively few) in the past, when someone left fandom, taking with them hundreds of dollars without giving anything to the fans who sent the money in. It appears that these infrequent occurrences are becoming almost daily happenings. Unless you are in a group or clique, it is very hard to know whom to trust in fandom nowadays. That is a sad commentary for a group of people who profess to understand the meaning of IDIC. Nevertheless, for some reason, I was deeply shocked by the fact that it has, apparently, happened again. News is that Syn Ferguson has left, leaving others "holding the bag." Despite her promise, the people who have waited for years for COURTS OF HONOR will not be getting it from her. Syn sent out notes to a select few, as only a select few received their zines, that she is "emotionally and financially bankrupt ..." I received a copy of a copy of the note; it was not sent directly to me. I thank [the person who did send it], because if she hadn't sent it to me, I would have been waiting around for several more months... We all have problems. But someone who commits himself to doing something like putting out a zine and who takes money for it has a responsibility to at least communicate with the readers and/or the people he has taken money from. If the problems are insurmountable, then return the money. Part of Syn Ferguson's problem was her lack of communication with people. If you make people wait three-four years for some kind of word, then, obviously, it is natural for those people to be anxious to receive their merchandise. If, however, she had periodically written in a public forum that she was working on the zine, or to ask for help, I am sure that there would have been some help for her... it is going to take me a long time — if ever — to trust anyone in fandom again. [14]
Another fan had this to say, blaming Syn for what she considered all of fandom's sins:
In this issue, the editors have initiated a new feature - several pages - of LoCs; an interesting feature in itself - but I question the judgment of editors who saw fit to include a letter from Syn Ferguson, whose last communication with fandom sounded suspiciously like "Adios, Gringo...." However, I do have an answer of sorts for Syn's letter: she wants to know "what's changing in fandom, and how come?" It's simple. Syn: One of the nicest things about fandom, that lovely glow of trust among strangers who share a common interest - it's gone. Do I need to mention why? [15]

Even after the zine was published, and to generally very positive acclaim, some fans were still angry. This one doesn't care about the content of the zine so much as he complains about any positive attention:

I don't hold with your printing of reviews of COURTS OF HONOR. A lot of people got burned by all that mess, and printing reviews only encourages sales of that zine. I feel that all this hoopla about Syn Ferguson's great writing and all overwhelms what really happened: people (fans) got ripped off by another person (fan). Now this gang of whatever is glorifying this work, and it seems to me that this will only encourage this sort of behavior in the future from Ms. Ferguson and others. [16]

Some Personal Statements

In TREKisM #49 (July/August 1986) and Interstat #108 (October 1986) , an excerpt from a personal statement issued by The Gang of Six:
Dear Friend of Star Trek: In March, we learned that Syn Ferguson was bankrupt and unable to continue distribution of COURTS OF HONOR. Many who ordered this zine have not received It. Several of us who have read COURTS OF HONOR believe it is an outstanding work, and we want It to be available to fandom. To that end, we have formed a committee to publish COH. Since March, we have been working toward the most equitable means of accomplishing this goal. It has become clear that fund-raising efforts will not pay for the printing bill, let alone for collating, binding, and shipping, In addition, after contact with many who have already ordered the zine or are interested in ordering it, we have become aware that the majority of you simply wish to see the novel in print as soon as possible. We have therefore concluded that the only viable way to make COH available Is to charge everyone the same set price of $20.00, no matter what the status of any previous orders. This price includes postage. The price will be the same by mail or by hand. There is no incentive to wait to buy the zine at a con for a lower price. To put it plainly, we must have pre-orders to go to press at all. If there are not enough of them, COH will not be printed and we will refund all monies promptly. [17]

In 1986, Syn Ferguson herself has this personal statement in July/September 1986:

COURTS OF HONOR is completed and a few copies have been mailed — few in comparison to the many copies ordered. It has taken me four and a half years to reach this point, and now that I have, I am emotionally and financially bankrupt. I can't fill the remainder of my orders, and I can't handle the volume of correspondence COURTS OF HONOR has generated. For some reason I can't fathom, there still are fans who are willing to donate their time, money, and labor to this project. I have turned over the paste-up and all other physical assets of COH to them. They will issue their own statement about the disposition of COH in this and other information zines. They do not, of course, inherit my debts. I alone am responsible for those, and I am the only one who has received income from the zine. I am gafiating, and after the end of March, no one in fandom will know where I am. This isn't what I intended or expected as a result of my work, and I very much regret both the financial loss to those who ordered COURTS OF HONOR and my betrayal of their trust. [18]

From a personal statement in Universal Translator #31 in July/September 1986 by The Gang of Six:

Re: COURTS OF HONOR: Although it is very premature to announce ways, means, prices, and printing dates, we would like to assure all who have ordered COURTS OF HONOR that we are determined to see it in print and generally available as soon as possible. To that end, we ask anyone who ordered COH and did not receive it, and is still interested in obtaining it, to send a SASE (no money yet, please) to [address redacted]. If you send a SASE for a new order, please indicate same in your correspondence. New orders include the following situation 1) You never ordered COH from Syn Ferguson 2) you asked for and received a refund 3) you received the copy you ordered and want another one. What we are doing is a rescue effort. We cannot be responsible for Syn's debts. We cannot give you a refund of money you paid her. However, if enough people still want to order, we hope that we will be able to take into account those who ordered originally and how much they've paid to date. We understand we can't be fair to everyone, but we're going to try to be fair to the majority. As soon as we know precise details, all SASEs will be mailed out. Print run will be based on the number of orders we receive, and it will be necessary, no matter how we actually handle the pricing, to have a significant number of pre-orders to go to press. We're each chipping in what we can afford. In spite of that, it won't be enough unless we have order money up front. We know you've been burned; we're asking for your trust."

Publication and Reparation

A consortium of fans headed by Victoria Clark, editor of Nome took it upon themselves to put out an edition and give copies to those who had paid years earlier (selling Heatwave, one of Syn's S/H stories, to raise money for the project). The five fans (Barbara Storey, Bev Sutherland, Alta Brewer, Edi Bjorklund and Victoria Clark) pooled their resources to do a fairly small print run (probably for lack of money), so the zine was hard to come by. Any excess funds raised by the sales went to repay those who had pre-ordered the zines from Syn Ferguson.

The group estimated that they were able to repay 2/3 to 3/4 of the funds. [19] In 1986 Syn Ferguson won a Fan Q Award as best Star Trek writer for Courts of Honor.[20] In the 2000s, a second print run was considered but the plan fell through. As a result, copies of the novel remained scarce and have sold at some of the highest prices for fanzines. At Nuttercon's auction in 1993, a copy of the zine went for for 53 pounds. More recently copies have been selling for $100 and higher in private sales, [21] however after the zine's release for free online some copies sold for under $50.[22]

Much went into tracking down the original pre-payers. From a notice/letter by the Gang of Six in the May/Summer 1988 issue of On the Double (who also included the names and addresses of roughly 215 fans "the California editors have on file"):
"To whom it may concern: COURTS OF HONOR is nearly sold out, so it's time to start considering proportional rebates for those who ordered it from Syn Ferguson and did not receive that order. We sent out a call for SASEs from those who were in that situation. Many people have written but we still have many on Syn's list who haven't been in touch. We are doing everything we can to verify addresses, but we can't send checks out blindly to whose who've probably moved. Please, people. It's worth it. The rebate will be at least 50% of what you paid originally and perhaps more. If you haven't sent us a SASE and a letter confirming what you paid Syn, please do so as soon as possible. If you've written but have moved recently, send us a change of address. We indicated when we started all this that we would set a deadline. That deadline is August 15, 1988. Anyone we haven't found by then forfeits any claim to a rebate. By the way, if for some reason you can't remember whether or not you ordered from Syn way back in '82, write to us. We can probably tell you. Although the records are not absolutely accurate, we do have extensive information about who ordered and how much they paid. If there's a discrepancy concerning the amount, we may have to ask for proof. We'll accept copies of cancelled checks, money order receipts, or even check registers with surrounding entries to verify the date. Those of you who ordered when the zine was first announced may have-made out your checks to [J M]. Appended to this statement is a list of those whose addresses are In doubt, along with city and state of last known" residence. If you know where any of these people are now, please tell them to send in a SASE or, better yet send us the address yourself and we'll take it from there. If all goes well, and Mary Ann's computer doesn't crash, we'll start sending out checks by the end of August (about a month after the dead line). This is likely to be a long process, so please be patient. We all have busy lives apart from fandom. Thanks more than we can say for your cooperation and understanding. It means a lot, and has made this project, from Mary Ann's point of view, more satisfying than it might have been."

Thanks by The Gang of Six

After a long, long journey, the second print edition was listed for sale in Datazine #47 in the spring of 1987. In a personal statement for the same issue of Datazine, The Gang of Six wrote this letter:

In April 1986, at Idicon, we had the painful task of making the first public announcement that Syn Ferguson was bankrupt and that she had gafiated, leaving many unfilled orders for her long awaited novel, Courts of Honor. we stated then that was intended to re-issue COH, and that Syn Ferguson has agreed to turn over her manuscript to us -- on the condition we would raise enough money to publish her novel and then make it available to fandom on a non-profit basis. our goal has now been achieved.

The Gang of Six go on to thank many people, including:

They also wrote:
We think that, if it had not been for Mary Ann Drach's sustained encouragement (and for her talents as an editor), Syn Ferguson might never have finished COH in the first place. We believe that it was Syn's confidence in Mary Ann -- and Mary Ann's willingness to negotiate with Syn -- which made our project possible. Because she knew and trusted Mary Ann, Syn was willing to trust the rest of us, whom she did not know... we thank you, [Mary Ann] not just in our capacity as the rest of The Gang of Six, but on behalf of fandom... We, The Gang of Six, are grateful to Syn Ferguson. We are grateful to her for writing a superb, inspiring, beautifully-crafted novel, an achievement she completed under conditions of extreme poverty and deprivation. We are grateful to Syn because she did not merely gafiate and disappear, once she know that she could no longer overt [sic] bankruptcy. We are grateful that Syn reached out to use and asked for help. By trusting The Gang of Six, she made it possible for us -- with the aid of others who are mentioned here, to restore Courts of Honor to its rightful place as one of the treasures of fandom. [23]
In TREKisM #54 (fall of 1987), this open letter was printed:
In April 1986, at Idicon, we had the painful task of making the first public announcement that Syn Ferguson was bankrupt and that she had gafiated, leaving many unfilled orders for her long-awaited novel COURTS OF HONOR. We stated then that we intended to try to re-issue COH, and that Syn Ferguson had agreed to turn over her manuscript to us -- on the condition that we would attempt to raise enough money to publish her novel and then make it available to fandom on a non-profit basis. Our goal has now been achieved. But we know that our faith in COH and our collective fund-raising efforts would not have been enough -- by themselves -- to accomplish this. We had help, and now we want to thank publicly -- for the record -- the others who contributed to making our new edition of COURTS OF HONOR a reality. First of al I, we thank the people who sent pre-orders to Walking Carpet Press. Without those orders, the new edition would not exist. We further thank everyone who sent us letters of encouragement, and those who sent statements of support to Information zines. We thank the Idicon (1986) and Four~Play and Beyond (1987) con committees, for giving us program time. We thank the Shore Leave con committee (1986) for letting us sell donated art works to raise funds for the new edition. We thank Rodney Bonds (Shore Leave) and Marnle Strom (of the WHIPS) for special help. For printing our statements, we thank Teri Meyer of INTERSTAT: KathE Walker, Steve Walker, and Joyce Thompson, of DATAZINE; Susan Bridges and Linda Deneroff, of UNIVERSAL TRANSLATOR; Vel Jaeger, of TREKisM, Marion McChesney and Sandy Zier, of COMMUNICATIONS CONSOLE; and Sarah Leibold, of NOT TONIGHT, SPOCK. There are several special people whom we thank for Individual contributions. Judith Gran (Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia) gave us legal advice at the very beginning, when Mary Ann Drach was negotiating with Syn Ferguson. We owe Judith much appreciation, for good suggestions and caring support. We are deeply grateful to Suzan T. Lovett, whose beautiful iIlos were originally Intended to appear with COURTS OF HONOR. Suzan allowed them to be published as an art portfolio in NOME 9, along with new poems based on COH. She created additional illos at our request, covering scenes from the second half of the novel. Her lovely and evocative works helped us, we know, by attracting more attention to COURTS OF HONOR. Besides all this, Suzan donated original art which we sold to raise money for the new edition. The Gang of Six thanks the distinguished science fiction writer Joanna Russ, who donated zines from her personal collection to help us raise money for printing COH. We thank Patricia Frazer Lamb -- for encouraging Joanna to contact us, and for other help. We render special thanks to Rhea Brainerd, who sent an unsolicited cash contribution at a time when our collective morale really needed a boost. Rhea, we love you and we miss you. Get well quick, now -- and thank you, again and forever, from all of us. To GRT Book Printing, of Oakland, California, we are grateful for doing a rapid, efficient, and reasonably priced printing job. The other members of The Gang of Six thank our fearless leader, Mary Ann Drach, for guiding this project to completion. We think that, if it had not been for Mary Ann's sustained encouragement (and for Mary Ann's talent as an editor), Syn Ferguson might perhaps not have finished writing COURTS OF HONOR in the first place. We believe that it was Syn Ferguson's confidence in Mary Ann -- and Mary Ann's willingness to negotiate with Syn -- which made our project possible. Because she knew and trusted Mary Ann, Syn was willing to trust the rest of us, whom she did not know. Mary Ann, we love you. And we thank you, always -- not just in our capacity of the rest of the Gang of Six but on behalf of all of fandom. There is another person whose contribution should properly be acknowledged here, because she too is entitled to our gratitude -- and to our sympathy. In more than one way, Syn Ferguson has been responsible for the existence of our project. Without Syn, there could not have been any effort to re-issue COURTS OF HONOR (nor, alas, would one have been needed). Therefore the Gang of Six is grateful -- finally -- to Syn Ferguson. We are grateful to her for writing a superb, inspiring, beautifully-crafted novel, an achievement she completed under conditions of extreme poverty and deprivation. We are grateful to Syn Ferguson because she did not merely gafiate and disappear, once she knew that she couId no longer avert bankruptcy. We are grateful that Syn reached out to us, then, and asked for help. By trusting the Gang of Six, she made it possible for us -- with the aid of others who are mentioned here -- to restore COURTS OF HONOR to its rightful place as one of the treasures of fandom. So we thank Syn, at last, for not allowing COURTS OF HONOR to vanish into oblivion. We thank her, for enabling the six of us to carry on her effort to give this unforgettable book to the Star Trek community. Thank you, Syn -- last but never least, and with all our hearts -- from the Gang of Six. Live long and prosper, Edi Bjorklund/Alta Brewer/Victoria Clark/Mary Ann Drach/Caren Parnes/Barbara L.B. Storey "The Gang of Six" -- May 1987.

Winner of a Fan Q Award

From A 2007 Interview with Victoria Clark:
Lori Chapek-Carleton. (con co-chair of MediaWest) was pretty egalitarian, and she was the one who insisted that “Courts of Honor” win the FanQ at MediaWest when its competition was eliminated on a technicality. Only two zines were nominated that year in that category, Courts of Honor and, I forget the name of the other zine. It was gen. It turned out the other zine was disqualified because it had not been published in the calendar year that these awards were centered around. The committee in charge of counting the ballots decided that, since the other zine had been disqualified, they should declare that the entire category was disqualified for that year. When Lori heard about it she said that wasn’t fair; that Courts of Honor had received many more votes than the other nominated zine anyway. Therefore, even if the other zine hadn't been disqualified for a technicality, Courts of Honor would still have won. Lori insisted it receive the award. I later heard comments from two of the old time fans who had been most opposed to slash that, now that Courts of Honor had won, the final taboo had been broken; that there was no stopping the slashers now.

Inspiration: Poetry and Art

A few years after the zine was published, other fans were inspired to contribute to the universe that Syn had created. Suzan Lovett had been working on illustrations that were intended to appear into the zine's first print run. At the time Suzan and her family were living overseas and after Syn's publication collapsed, the art never made it into the novel. [24]

Flora Poste heard about the art and contacted Suzan and said that if Suzan would send her the artwork, she would write a series of poems for each of the illoes and give them to “Nome”. The poems and thirty-two pieces of artwork were published in Nome #9. See Nome #9 for the titles of the poems by Flora Poste and a sample of this art as they appeared in print form. The art is also archived here., Archived version

Suzan would go on later to design a cover for an additional print run that never took place in the early 2000s.[25]

From the introduction to the portfolio in Nome #9:
NOME is proud to present a series of drawings which were originally intended to appear with Syn Ferguson's novel, Courts of Honor, a book issued without internal illustrations. As fans of Suzan Lovett's art (her skill as an artist, we think, is matched only by her ability as a writer), we felt that her drawings should not be lost to fandom. Suzan graciously consented to let us print them, and even more graciously agreed to do several additional illos, in order to take her sequence out to the end of the story.

Poems based on her drawings and on the novel were contributed by Flora Poste, a writer who shares our admiration for Suzan Lovett's artistry and for Courts of Honor. For readers who have not yet read that book, this portfolio provides clues to some of the scenes in store. Poems and illos appear in the novel's plot sequence, and are accompanied by brief explanatory notes.

This special portfolio is a tribute to, and a celebration of, Courts of Honor. the novel which inspired both artist and poet.
A fan in 2004 comments on these sonnets and the art:
"Images" is an art portfolio accompanied by sonnets based on the happenings in The Price and Courts of Honor by Syn Ferguson. I have always had very mixed feeling about COH. Some parts of it I liked, other parts I did not. But I think anyone can enjoy this lovely portfolio which provides clues to some of the scenes if one has never read COH. The poems and illos appear in the novel's plot sequence, and are accompanied by brief explanatory notes. Very nicely done. It's a shame these were never put into the novel. [26]

Artist Comments: 1984

From Suzan Lovett in a letter that was printed in the December 1984 issue of Interstat -- the editor of that letterzine comments that this "letter is several months old and its delay in being published is completely my fault. My apologies to all those involved.":
To whom it may concern: I'm aware that there are a lot of questions about the availability date of Syn Ferguson's novel "Courts of Honor." As I have been identified with the venture in the capacity of illustrator for almost two years now, I thought it best to clarify my position in the matter. I was offered to illo the novel in the Summer of 1982. After some re-evaluations, the deadline was set for the Spring of 1983 by the writer. I would get the completed text by early Spring, devote a month to the illos, and be done, since my schedule does not permit me to do fan work in summers. By June of 1983, I had received one-third of the novel and had finished eleven illos. The rest was promised by September, and later the deadline was changed to the Christmas of 1983, by which time two-thirds of the novel was in my hands and the illo number had reached twenty-one. [personal stuff redacted] I notified Syn that the completed novel had to be in the mail by the end of March, so I could have April to work on it before I started to pack out in May. I received one-hundred-plus pages within that time limit, with, I was told, fifty to seventy more pages to come. The illos done to date by me number twenty-eight. My own deadline is past and I have not received the end of the text. It is my decision that the illos done so far will stay with the novel only if I an given the chance to finish what I began. I do not yet know if Syn has opted to keep me on as the illustrator. If she has, the earliest I will be available is September of 1984 which I realize is another considerable delay. If Syn returns my illos, I do not know what she will choose to do from then on and what, if anything, it will mean in terms of finalizing COH. The reason for this clarification is, obviously, not altruistic, but a desire not to have my withdrawal be seen as the only cause for further delays. I'd like to think I've established a reputation for reliability among various writers and editors in one fandom, and I'd like to keep it. The only portion of the responsibility I will accept is whatever delay is caused by my insistence that it will be all or nothing. For that, I apologize to the waiting readers, but I cannot explain further, except to say that the reasons are personal and should remain between those immediately involved. One point I'd like to stress is that what I've read of the novel is excellent and has everythinq to recommend it. Although everybody has to judqe the limits of their own patience, I personally feel COM will be well worth the wait. [27]

Author Comments: 2007

Some excerpts from A 2007 Interview with Syn Ferguson:

How did I choose my themes and develop the background of my universe? Arrgh! Not consciously. I’m not one of those people who can outline a plot, write up little thumbnail sketches of characters, etc. What I do is much more like hunting up and down the radio dial for a clear signal. I’m as surprised as anyone when all of a sudden cannons boom and it’s the 1812 Overture. I write scenes. Little packets of conflict. Then put them where they go. At about two-thirds of the way through COH I remember having scenes in little stacks all over the living room floor—and it was a large living room—wondering how in the hell I would ever fit them together in a linear sequence. My conscious mind could not hold the whole novel at once. Thank God for the unconscious.

Perhaps the media got into COH because I’d worked as a reporter. I know the refugees got in because I’d been involved with boat people from Vietnam. Computers because I worked in the computer science department of the University of Oregon. Students because I was one and also hosted and counseled foreign students. Writers are sponges—suck it up, spit it out.

What would I most like to tell people about my work? (Besides “Read it!”?) If by people, you mean readers, I don’t want to tell them anything. A writer’s job is to show readers.
I have such mixed feelings about [how popular Courts of Honor is]. I love to hear it. I’m as proud of COH as if it were a child instead of a novel. It still gives me such a high to get an e-mail from a total stranger saying they stayed up two nights running, ruined their eyesight and wept in all the right places. I should be really proud, right? Instead, I feel as if I only escaped by the skin of my teeth. The best of me is in the book, but I live with the rest of me. My life was a mess while I was writing this. Other people supported me, psychologically and financially while I wrote it and nobody’s giving them any credit. I had a terrible writer’s block for over a year, was unemployed, broke and—yes—living on pre-orders, had three important relationships go to hell on me.... [snipped]... I only finished it, in the end, because of Mary Ann D.’s superhuman coaching and because one of the ex-friends said in print I never would finish it. (I showed him!) Anyway, angst. Artists often don’t live up to their art. I had the conviction that the book was going to be good and all would be forgiven if I could just get it written and published. So, yes, I do know people loved COH and thank God it turned out that way. I didn’t send my kids off to the foundlings’ home or abandon my family to go paint in Tahiti, but I did the moral equivalent. What if it had been a flop?
Almost everyone liked Spock better than ]]Kirk]]. Don’t hit me, but I think more women, or maybe more straight women, identified with Spock’s repression than Kirk’s aggression. They were always beating Kirk up. I certainly felt a lot of anger toward men at the time I was writing COH—I had gone back to college and discovered women’s studies—but I really couldn’t hate success and power and competence. Kirk was right there modeling them and collecting his percentage. Spock was even more competent, probably more powerful, but he modeled a competent, powerful person with lower status and recognition—someone who was feared, when he demonstrated his power. Spock was about keeping strength hidden, sacrificing his ego for love. Talk about the history of women in the world! (Currently, my favorite quote is “Women hide their egos the way men hide their emotions.”) It wasn’t right, it wasn’t fair. Couldn’t people see they complimented and balanced each other, needed each other. Arrrgh! Lots of stories are written to show other people where they got it wrong. It’s probably a little late for a disclaimer, but I never saw Kirk or Spock as gay. If I have a belief about sex it’s that the bodies are the least of it. They both happened to be men, I like men, beautiful bodies, sex with same—but I didn’t see them as homosexuals. (I’m straight so my opinion probably isn’t very informed, but gay culture, as opposed to homosexuality per se, seems to have a lot to do with being a minority, being underground, under attack, fighting back, being outrageous—elbows out and jostling for position in the mainstream.) The explicit sex I’d been exposed to pre K/S was all about male fantasies: violence, dominance, victims. It took pleasure defined by women to show me sex between equals for the first time.

Reactions and Reviews of the Zine's Content

And I must also add my voice of praise to Syn Ferguson's COURTS OF HONOR—it was not only worth waiting for, it was also worth paying for twice. I could not put it down once started, and was torn between racing to find out what would happen, and re-reading some particularly effective passages. Normally I find extensive plot detailing and characters tedious, but Syn's characters and story are as exciting and involving as grand opera. Now I have to figure out how to rebind my copy so that I can incorporate Suzan Lovett's original art, plus Flora Poste's elegant sonnets they inspired. Most definitely another keeper. [28]
This is by far the best K/S novel ever written. Unlike 'modern' novels which are more excuses for sex scenes (Dreams of the Sleepers comes to mind), this novel captures the vibrancy of life aboard a spaceship in a plot that is entertaining and vividly conveyed. Unlike 'modern' relationship novels, which focus almost exclusively on the main characters (Fetish and In the Sunlight come to mind), this novel involves us in the lives of others, blending their separate concerns skillfully with those of the main three. Indeed, it is the richly textured plot, filled with details and right-on characterizations which makes this book stand out above all the rest.

Some of us can tell a story. Some of us can describe the internal conflicts of K and S in such eloquent words that the reader feels the pain or the joy. Some of us can write dynamite sex scenes. Some of us can depict a reality that all of us recognize and accept as a 'truth' in our K/S universe, or indeed, in the mainstream Star Trek universe. Only Syn Ferguson has done all these in one novel, Courts of Honor.

There are, of course, holes in the story which each of us would have written differently. I've never felt comfortable with Admiral Harnum's actions, nobody mentions at the court martial that Kirk gave away secret technology, and like another reader. I truly doubt that Vulcan has no basic biology texts which explain the aftermath of Pon far [sic]. Sarek's explanation, three to six chapters into the book, is plausible. (He wondered if texts included such 'smut' as the emotional reaction to the aftermath of Pon far. In a society which eschews emotion and states all of its members are ruled solely by logic. It is possible that texts mention nothing of the emotional reactions. I accept the explanation as consistent with the premises set out by the author.)

The fact that the question is raised in chapter one and ts not 'answered' until deep within the book Is one of the characteristics that distinguishes this novel from run of the mill ones. Events unfold as they would in real life, not as they usually do in our stories, where the end is a given and we telegraph our resolutions with ritualized clues in internal dialogue. Other people require adjustments on the part of our three guys without violating the main theme as a variety of subplots are folded into the story. This is not a formula story raising formula questions like "how do we tell McCoy?" This is an action novel that would hold up even without the K/S element. (I've always thought Paramount should make a movie of it, leaving out the K/S conflict for profit's sake. It would make them a mint.)

I have read a number of stories where I didn't agree with the author's view of the characters, but accepted them within the context of the author's premises, especially if they managed to keep K and S true to life. (One Alt U story really pushed my limits It dealt with Spock as a drug dealer, T'Pring as a brothel owner, and Kirk as an addict starship captain.) Syn Ferguson never makes a misstep in her portrayal of either the major or minor characters. They are believable enough to invite to lunch at Paramount or NASA.

In fact, the strength of the novel is its portrayal of K and S as flesh and blood people without cliches and in situations described in such vivid language that the scenes stay with you forever. Someone has already mentioned the bull jumping scenes as an example. There are many more less dramatic scenes which also linger; Amanda kidding Spock in the shuttle craft, McCoy's flight and awkward courting. Spock's attempt to get to Kirk in the arena, Uhura's use of the media. I repeat what I said before. IMO. this is the best K/S book ever written. The fact that I do not write this well is a constant spur to do better. This is the book all other K/S novels will be judged by and if learning how to write well requires reading well written novels, I heartily recommend IhS one (or all K/S writers, but be warned: it may make you want lo throw away your pen. [29]
Without a doubt, COURTS OF HONOR is my favorite K/S novel... Syn Ferguson's tale is of epic proportions, weaving a tale rich in descriptions and vivid in the depiction of life in the worlds involved. Within the context of a magnificently plotted story, the K/S relationship naturally unfolds and believability soars in a way that fandom will find hard to beat. Their relationship is rich and fulfilling in that neither character sacrifices any of those traits that have caused us to love them over the years. Not only does the author pay attention to the detail of the worlds, but of the various aspects of their society, such as bull leaping and winged flying the thermals which draw us into the story itself. Her characters are far from one-dimensional for she has avoided the trap of making the "good" and the "bad" as defined as black and white (when they seldom, in reality, are). Her portrayal of the Romulan Commander Rho is a perfect example of this. [30]
Imagine my surprise at opening a mysterious brown envelope and finding a fanzine I’d ordered three, maybe four years ago: ‘Courts of Honor.’ The order was so old that the package had followed me through two previous addresses. To make a long story (600+ pages!) short, I read it and didn’t like it much. Don’t remember why exactly – I thought that Kirk and Spock mooned over each other too much, Spock’s ignorance about Vulcan sexuality unbelievable, and the printed type to small, etc. I’ve now had COH sitting on my shelf for a couple of months now, and something in the back of my mind has been saying, ‘read it again, you dope.’ So I did. Painstakingly. I’m here to tell you that I’ve totally changed my mind. COH is the sequel to ‘The Price’ which ends sadly with Spock’s chilling announcement that the aftermath of the pon farr has left him without sexual desire. COH begins with Spock’s request for transfer off the Enterprise because he cannot reciprocate Kirk’s physical passion; he assumes that Kirk’s misery will be eliminated if he simply leaves the ship. Before Spock can leave, Kirk receives word that Sarek has been kidnapped and the story begins. Ferguson’s controversial (in the sense that it’s been hard to get a hold of) novel is the most detailed, intricately plotted look at Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Star Fleet, Romulans, set, love, and yes, honor that I have ever read. It is crammed with detail – and not just description – but the intimate detail that we’ve become addicted to in Trek literature. COH is a story happening on many levels; the main plot is the simplest, but it is the glue that binds the whole 600 pages together; the binding love between Kirk and Spock. Will they or won’t they get back together? Another main plot deals with whether the two neutral planets, both drifting into Federation space, will be allowed by the Romulans – because of a thriving slave economy – to freely join or reject the Feds… Another plot pits Kirk and the Romulan Commander Rho against each other in a literal court of honor. Another plot interweaves McCoy’s feelings for the young woman Dia, the daughter of a powerful Romulan slave owner, with Dia’s new-found feelings of self-worth and purpose. If COH is heavy on plot structure, it is also heavy on theme: what is love, how is it different than sex, what is honor, can one technically break the law and/or one’s oath and still remain honorable? Kirk is the hero here, in conflict with just about every element in his life, but sure in his love of Spock and his absolute sense of his own honor. Defining that sense for us is what this novel is all about. If you’re squeamish, be warned that a real streak of cruelty runs throughout COH, and Ferguson uses that element to add depth to nearly all levels of the novel. There is constant shifting between the cruelty of loveless sex and the tenderness of true love-making. Kirk’s character is the clearest example of this as his sexual obsession for Spock often clashes with the nobility of his love for Spock; the scenes where his perceptions and behavior become warped by sexual frustrations are very hard to read. The Romulan Commander’s need to take revenge on Kirk and Spock drives her and them to places nearly beyond endurance; and her escapades with a male Romulan slave owner are filled with heartlessness and domination. However, McCoy’s love for the young Dia, who wants to be a doctor, is both chaste and fatherly and therefore bittersweet, lending balance against the brutality. Another word of warning: COH requires very careful reading. Ferguson likes to bury important details within seemingly innocuous-looking paragraphs. You can’t count on the dialogue to keep you informed of the intricacies of the story. That was my first mistake. Another minor gripe is the sloppy use of pronouns. I often had to go back and reread paragraphs trying to decide whether ‘he,’ ‘him,’ or ‘his,’ referred to Kirk or Spock. There is no artwork (they are printed in Nome #9 and are spectacular) but the novel is imaginatively engaging and works well without art. My advice regarding COH: Find a quiet place, some good lighting, and lose yourself in this Trek masterpiece. [31]
Here. After 4 years. Several pounds of explicit K/S, but is it worth the hernia you'll get trying to lift a xerox copy — for a copy is all you're probably going to get unless you're one of the lucky few. I read this novel with anticipation. Imagine! Over 600 pages of well-written K/S, for Ms. Ferguson is a good writer. I've read other reviews stating that one thing they most particularly enjoyed was the minute detail the novel goes into. I'm sorry, but I like something left to the imagination. I had no opportunity to think in this story, everything was spelled out and respelled out and told another way just in case I didn't get it the first four times. If you don't like to think, or you've had a bad week, or love violence and want everything done for you, then this is your book. I wanted a page turned, was looking for one, anticipating one.... Instead, I had a slogger. Page by page, chapter by chapter, I crawled; from Kirk and Spock fighting, to being separated every other chapter, then reunited for one lovely, licking moment... before the smallest of misunderstandings is finally found and eliminated. I know this review is negative, but there are very good elements in this book (tome if you'll excuse me). If someone had taken a very red pencil and slashed out the pages of useless scenes that didn't move the story forward one little bit, slashed without a heart, without fear of author reprisal, we would have had a wonderful 300 page novel that would warm our hearts for many years to come. So, I suppose you could say that I loved every other page, and slept through the odd numbers. There was a plot. Unusual in many novels, it held up (for the most part, although not for anyone ever having been in the service), and the sex scenes were positively body stirring. But, would you like this novel without the sex. Pretend it didn't have any. Would any of you still be awake, much less able to hold the weight up? The writing was smooth, well thought out, but lacking the spark of life that touches so few novels in any genre; and then just as the end when the entire thing winds up and you can feel proud that you've made it through, Ms. Ferguson gives you hope. Something of real interest: the next mission. Something Kirk has lived for, and we read Trek for — and then the novel is over, without even of a hint, and the ending shouts for one (although I won't hold my breath). In short, COURTS OF HONOR is worth reading, but is it worth the $25.00 it may cost the new reader? Or even the $20.00 in xerox costs? Not unless you're rolling in dough. Borrow the copies that are revolving through fandom, and then make your decision as to whether or not to hold your breath until you can get an 'original'. After four years and all the hype, I was disappointed. [32]
The novel is about love and honor and putting oneself on the line, personally, for what one believes. It sets the hero a test: to win as a “hero” Kirk must sacrifice his personal honor; to retain personal honor he must relinquish his position as a hero in the eyes of the Federation. Spock, imprisoned and brutalized in the novel, comes through his experience with a new understanding of himself and his relationships." [13]
This book—and at almost 600 pages it is a book—has been called by many within the fandom the best TOS fiction ever written, gen or slash, professional or fan published. I…don’t agree. I’ve read the entire thing through three times and I’m still so conflicted on how I feel about it that I can’t even say whether I like it or not. But. The first time I read it, I did so in one sitting. I sat up all night to finish the damn thing. Whatever else CoH is, it’s riveting. The good points are, for me, what make a fan-novel worth reading: wonderful (for the most part) OCs, fantastic world-building, and — also for the most part—believable interpretations of the canon characters. The biggest reason I have to love this book is Ferguson’s fleshing out of the Romulan Commander from "The Enterprise Incident". I worship her, and although I do take issue with some of her actions as dictated by DC Fontana, she's one of my favorite Trek characters. In CoH she is so real, so perfectly imperfect it hurts—in the very best way. Spock and McCoy are just beautiful. And the plot—god, excellent. Three planets that have historically been part of the Romulan Empire have begun to drift over the line into Federation territory. When Sarek, who is representing the Federation on Riga, is kidnapped by a pirate (space pirates, oh my!) the Enterprise is sent in both to retrieve Sarek and represent the Federation for the two inhabited planets: Riga and its satellite Nod, and Veith. This is, of course, just the bare bones of a lush, fully fleshed story that does justice to the worlds it creates. In storytelling and scope, CoH succeeds admirably. I guess my stumbling block is the rather purplish romance and the hints of Mary-Sue/Gary-Stuism I get. It’s hard for me to see Ferguson’s female OC lead as anything but a Mary Sue. And she has done the unforgivable for me: turned Kirk into a Gary Stu. Not totally. But just enough to leave me with a sour taste in my mouth. But I’m an unabashed Kirk fan, and I’m very picky about his characterization. Very few people write him the way I see him. Syn Ferguson got…some of him, enough that most people will be able to let go and just love this book. I do very much suggest you give it a try for yourself; it’s an absorbing read, and worth drawing your own conclusions about. [33]
I acquired a large stack of large 'zines this summer, and I've made a horrid mistake. I read COURTS OF HONOR by Syn Ferguson. Nothing will ever measure up to this one. Ferguson has given me an inferiority complex. Today, a large commercial novel sells in quality paperback for $13 and runs 150,000 words tops. COURTS OF HONOR is over 370,000 words. You may need a magnifying glass to read it, but it is the best dollar value you'll find anywhere. Ostensibly a K/S novel, COH is a rich tapestry of interlocking themes that resonate on a hundred levels at once. There isn't a spare word or a false note in it anywhere except perhaps for some minor technical background points which I noted at the time and have since forgotten. Though the setting is sf, a strange planetary/ moon system, and the problem is pure ST, an interspecies treaty negotiation, the novel itself is about communication. I have heard high praise for COH or I might not dare to give it my unqualified endorsement. I would have thought that I love this novel because it weaves a tapestry of love, need, desire, understanding and communication that touches the inner core of my own being, and says what I've been trying to say for so many years, and so my blindness to the flaws in the novel is idiosyncratic and personal. But I have a friend who is repelled by K/S who can hardly wait to get COH back from me to read it again. COH is not porn, is not strewn with gratuitous sex scenes (though there are some violent Romulan sex scenes, thematically they must be exactly the way they are), and is reasonable by any adult (even a non-Trekfan) who is not deeply homophobic. [34]
... anti-K/S readers who love Trek and good literature both... It isn't superb K/S so much as it is first and foremost a magnificent novel, a piece of literature worthy of being leather bound and standing beside the all time classics of general fiction. Secondly, it's superb Trek. As science fiction, it's not so superb, but it's creditable. I've read worse from Hugo Winners. But it's not really K/S. It just assumes the K/S premise and incorporates those scenes where they naturally fall. [35]
I am sorry that Jacqueline is under the impression that all K/S fans are disappointed by COURTS OF HONOR. Here's one K/S fan who isn't. COH doesn't just happen to contain K/S. K/S is fundamental to it. The novel's central purpose is to challenge what Kirk values most, and one of his primary values is K/S. COH threatens K/S, and it survives that threat. If this doesn't make a K/S novel, I don't know what does. COH made me feel inferior for awhile, too, but then I recovered. You see, while Syn Ferguson may have written the ultimate Kirk-oriented K/S novel, no one has yet written the ultimate Spock novel in a K/S context, the one that challenges all of Spock's primary values. So there is a major work yet to be done in K/S, and I expect to be one of many attempting it over the next few years. [36]
What do I find most praiseworthy about COH? The book's suspensefulness; its complexity; its depth of psychological insight; its tolerance for life's ambivalences and for human imperfection; the technical craft which the author has exercised throughout the work; the felicity of her style. I am heartened, too, that Syn Ferguson has deliberately avoided several traps which are common in fan writing. COH cannot be condemned for excessive concentration on hurt/comfort, preoccupation with sadomasochistic themes, absence of believable real-life situations, or reliance on a deux ex machina (some external force or other) to solve the characters' problems for them, as if they were incapable of working out solutions on their own. Perhaps most of all, I am moved by the sheer love for the Trek universe and its people which shines through the entire book, affirming and underlining its positive messages." Flora also points out that the Courts of Honor stands apart in how it handles the depiction of women in the Trek universe: "The treatment accorded to women is a problem in much Trek fiction, both commercial and fan-produced. Following the dubious examples provided by the Star Trek series episodes and (to a lesser degree) by the three films, many Trek writers have given women more decorative than substantial roles in their stories. The relative neglect of women may be a particular problem in K/S fiction, since, in any K/S story, major attention is inevitably focused on Kirk and Spock. K/S themes in COH, however, are just one part of an involved--and involving--narrative wherein both women and men have pivotal roles. Meade Morrow, Rho and Dia Hreth Malock, and T'Pau are important to the story, not mere token female figures. [37]
I have no illusion to be able to write a good LOC about this great zine. I had heard so much about it, that I wondered if it is really that good. So I put it on my 'must read list' from the library. But everybody wants to read COH, so when there was an opportunity to buy the second edition, I jumped in. Used as I am to the normal A4 seized zines I wasn't expected an Az5 seized, about 700 pages thick book with very small typing! No pictures, but this friend copied for me the art that was published in Nome 9 and so I sat down to a marathon read. And a marathon read it was. But it was never boring. I will not try to tell something about the plot because it is far too complex. Just one thing in the story came to me as a bit unbelievable and that was the way Kirk and Spock came together again. Spock tries so long to avoid the inescapable and even resign, and then, in my pov just then, they bond. I had wanted a little bit more insight in how they came to this decision, why Spock suddenly has no more objection to having a relationship with Kirk. The story is well written in a narrative style, taking time to tell the backgrounds as thoroughly as the main plot. The characters are very vividly painted, they come to life on the paper, playing the whole story before you. The technical and scientific information is there if needed, but never too much in my pov. It was hard to put it aside so now and then and to allow real life to intrude once again. Finished, I just wanted to know what would happen next to Kirk and Spock, wanted to peek around the comer again. As thick as the zine is, I just hadn't had enough of it. [38]
Courts of Honor, though nice enough in its Waiting to Fuck sort of way, was a bloated, flabby sequel compared to the spare beauty of the incredible first story, The Price. [39]
I am very grateful to the K/S press and the K/S library. Due to the library I have had the opportunity to read Courts of Honor. Of course the majority of you probably read it years ago, but as a relatively new fan, 6 years, I hadn't. I loved it. I am not very fond of K/S novels in general but I really loved Courts. Don't get me wrong, I love K/S in general it's just that many of the novels spend over half the time hurting one or both of them instead of having them slowly develop a relationship, letting it simmer with occasional stirring by the author. I don't know what I liked the best. Certainly it was a complex and compelling story. Although I am not personally big on angst, there was enough angst without being tortuous. I do think the other characters, good like Ari and Dia, and bad like Harrum added to the story. Kirk's lethargy at the end isn't how I picture him but was well defended in the story and therefore believable for that Kirk. I assume this was written by a British author since there are occasional words or references that don't seem North American. There was a lot of subtly in the story, "It was not the broadest snub Spock had ever heard his father make", paraphrase of Uhura "Didn't you realize the haircuts are a tribute to Spock, they started on the Haille Selassie." Now I didn't catch it the first time I read the book and McCoy wondered why the Ensign delivering their charges looked like a machete had cut his hair, but I did realize the second time around how subtly we had been presented with the information. The longing between the two, sigh, the eventual sex, everything was wonderful. I almost didn't read it because I thought it would be too sad, or have too much hurt comfort/torture etc. If there is anyone out there not reading it for the same reasons, don't worry. [40]
I read it when it first came out and haven't looked at it since, so much of what I say is said from memory, but my memory of my reaction at the time is quite vivid. I know a lot of people go into raptures over Courts of Honor - personally, I thought it needed a tight edit by a very tough editor and cut to at least two-thirds of its length. There are a lot of good ideas in the story but much of it struck me as being unnecessarily detailed. At the same time, I felt that some bits needed more explanation than was given. The bull-leaping scene is excellent, yes - but for me it did nothing to advance the story. It wasn't needed. It could have been cut and the story would not have suffered in any way. With a little development at start and finish to set a background for it, however, it could have been published as a short story, and it would have stood very well on its own. [41]
I've been reading COH again and thought I'd review it in case there's a K/S fan out there who hasn't experienced this wonderful, long creation.

I suppose it's primarily a study of Kirk the lover and the starship captain. Ferguson paints a fully-rounded portrait of Kirk in every mood we have witnessed in the series. She lets him be irritable, aggressive, ruthless, vain, without in any way detracting from his heroic stature. And she describes a man we recognise and know well—totally in keeping with the habits of speech and action of Captain Kirk on aired Trek. Her Kirk is Kirk. I can't think of an instance where it jars. He lives through these pages, and for those of us who are besotted with him, it's a very satisfying experience.

The most precious facet of Ferguson's Kirk is his idealism, faithfully reflecting Star Trek's values. Spock has this dimension of integrity also, as do many of the "minor" characters, in contrast to some delicious villains and a confused Romulan Commander. The other characters become a moral barometer for the central duo. We are invited to judge Spock and Kirk from the other characters' POV as well as our own. And we see them prepared to sacrifice their love, and Spock's life, to do what's right and compassionate, even when biology impels them toward each other and separation is killing them.

Courts Of Honor is a love story. Six hundred or so pages explain why these two great men love one another. For me, the essence of the attraction of K/S is that they're not just two guys in love—they're heroes— who love the best qualities in each other; the integrity, the compassion, the goodness. That is why their love is so compelling. Then if you throw in a few "human" weaknesses and some agonising situations into the hero plot, and love still conquers all—what could be better?

I must mention sex (I must). Ferguson somehow manages to create sex scenes which are vividly intense and incredibly original. That's very clever when you think how many times our boys have made love in K/S fiction. There is a glorious edge of psychic danger which adds to the excitement.

If you've not read Courts Of Honor, get hold of it now. It's quite simply the best Star Trek story ever (in my opinion). [42]
Although this is a very long zine with over 600 pages, readers should not be discouraged by this, as this is a thoroughly rewarding and wonderful story with some very good characterisation as well. The scope of this story is absolutely huge and it runs through an intense roller-coaster of emotions along the way. It is both an exciting adventure and a very intense love story at the same time and also includes several interesting new characters as well as a reunion with some memorable old ones too.

Although this is strictly speaking, an established relationship story, at the beginning of the story things look bleak for Kirk and Spock’s relationship. Following a second unexpected pon farr, they have finally taken their relationship to the next level. However, because he is no longer able to feel physical desire for Kirk and wishing not to cause him pain, Spock has decided it’s simpler just to leave, believing that he can only feel desire during pon farr and feeling its not fair for Kirk to have to commit to a relationship in these circumstances. Of course, Kirk is devastated by this and the pain both he and Spock are feeling is very real and well depicted as is McCoy’s concern for them both and Kirk’s determination to do whatever it takes to persuade Spock to stay on the ship.

Set against this background, the Enterprise gets embroiled in a very tense situation when it is despatched to the Ochros system which is drifting across the Neutral Zone from Romulan jurisdiction into Federation territory, forcing Kirk to put his relationship with Spock in the background for the duration of the mission, something which of course, he finds it difficult to do. Although it is impossible to do justice to all the twists and turns of the plot in one review, it is a really intense story set against a very interesting background of two very different planets, moving from Romulan to Federation control and the efforts of both sides to ensure that they end up in control of the system.

From Kirk’s initial mission to rescue the kidnapped Sarek onwards the pace never flags once and something always seems to be happening. This includes McCoy’s relationship with a potentially very dangerous Romulan woman who is also a fellow doctor, to Spock’s “mission” on one of the planets, while believing his relationship with Kirk cannot work and his struggles to cope with the problems they are having. Along the way Kirk has to make several difficult decisions, including a truly heart-wrenching method of keeping track of Spock on the surface of the planet. This is not helped by their encounters with their old enemy the disgraced former Romulan commander, from whom they stole the cloaking device, who has now been sent to the Ochros system and is determinedly seeking vengeance for her lost career and honour as well as trying to ensure that the Romulans come off best in the current situation.

He also has to deal with all the drama of a natural disaster and is forced to make some very emotionally difficult decisions along the way including the use of some new top secret equipment on the ship to ensure Spock’s safety – something which leads to a tense confrontation with Starfleet itself in the person of the obnoxious Admiral Harnum whose “by the book” attitude is the antithesis of Kirk’s wider view of his role and sometimes unconventional way of doing things. Of course this leads to several tense confrontations between Kirk and Harnum and ultimately, to Kirk’s having to defend his actions at a tension-filled court martial.

The court scenes in particular are very well described, especially Kirk’s initial reluctance to appoint a defence lawyer or even defend himself in the face of the determination of Starfleet brass to ensure his downfall, something which is completely out of character, and very puzzling to everyone, especially to Spock who is desperately trying to be supportive of Kirk, even in the face of his own seeming lack of interest in what happens to him. Against this riveting and very volatile background of Romulan intrigue and political manoeuvring we see Kirk and Spock’s gradually developing relationship which goes from separation and pain at the beginning to a gradual coming together as the story progresses. This is beautifully set against a very volatile background in which the Romulans are determined to use any methods necessary to achieve their objectives. Set against this tremendously wide ranging background, the author’s depiction of Kirk and Spock’s stumbling steps towards an equal relationship are wonderfully portrayed, especially the brief and magical time they spend together on the planet which manages to be both tender, erotic and passionate all at the same time.

We are also able to follow some interesting parallel relationships which develop during the course of the story, including that between the Romulan commander and her former sub commander Tal, her search for freedom and self respect, also the decision she ultimately makes about her own future and her relationship with her cousin on the planet, (who is very much following his own secret agenda). He is wonderfully depicted as a truly evil and oily character, whose actions have a direct effect on the relationship between Kirk and Spock, and on the events that take place around Kirk’s decision to provide assistance to Spock on the planet, whatever the method he has to use and the consequences of this. That’s not to mention his daughter’s dangerous liaison with McCoy which gives rise to some truly wonderful scenes where they go on a very special exploration of the planet at the beginning of the story and when they are forced by circumstances into working together to provide medical assistance after a terrible natural disaster. In fact, there always seems to be just one more twist before the end is reached in this wonderful and tension filled story whose pace never falters and whose canvas is truly breathtaking. [43]
I write here to discuss only a single aspect of both works (Full Circle and Courts of Honor): the theme of the reintegration of the hero into society.

Syn Ferguson has said that in Courts of Honor, she wrote against the traditional myth of the hero-of- privilege, the hero who leaves society, goes off into the wilderness, slays the dragon, and returns. The problem is, what does the hero do when he returns? How does he become part of society again--and can he? In TOS, Kirk is of course the hero-of-privilege, the ship’s five year mission his quest in the wilderness. Both Courts of Honor and “Full Circle” are about what happens to Kirk when he returns to Earth. Of course, both the fans and the producers of TOS have always understood that Kirk’s return to society from the five-year mission is intensely problematic. Roddenberry gave us his own (male) version of the returning hero who cannot adjust to society, and fans have responded with an outpouring of stories about Kirk’s Unhappy Admiral phase. Killashandra’s “Turning Point”/”Full Circle” sequence stays close to the canon version of the “Unhappy Admiral” phase but transforms it and in the process, radically transforms Kirk as well. In “Turning Point,” Kirk’s loss of his ship propels him into a sexual encounter with Spock. The result is a bond that he cannot, a least initially, integrate into his identity as hero-of-privilege. “Full Circle” is a story of how the bond with Spock changes Kirk and heals the losses he endured at the beginning of “Turning Point.” It is also a story of how Kirk finally achieves successful reintegration into society. “Full Circle” is rich in social context and connections, from Kirk’s relationships with the Enterprise crew to Lori Ciani’s family to the Starfleet admirals and even the media. At the end of the story, Kirk and Spock have integrated their bonding into their careers in Starfleet. Who among us didn’t cheer when Kirk told the admirals that he would not accept a posting that took him out of transporter range of Spock? While Courts of Honor doesn’t deal with the Unhappy Admiral phase, the last part of the novel is about Kirk’s and the Enterprise’s return from their heroic mission in the Ochros system. The premise of Syn’s novel is that Kirk can’t become bonded to Spock without changing, without surrendering his hero-of-privilege status in favor of an irrevocable binding of his fate to Spock’s. By the time the Enterprise returns to Earth, Kirk has already experienced this fundamental change. The last part of the novel poses squarely the problem of the hero’s reintegration into society, in Kirk’s court-martial for disobeying orders. During the trial, Kirk’s “community”--the family of the ship, Spock’s friends on Vulcan--pitch in and work behind the scenes to assure a successful result. Kirk wins not because he knows how to save himself--he doesn’t--but because he is part of a supportive community that takes responsibility to rescue him. The theme of Kirk’s reintegration into the community is only one of the forms the theme of inclusion/exclusion takes throughout the novel.

[some snipped]

The theme was woven into the fabric of the novel and took climactic form in each of the three decisive “arena” scenes: the bull-leaping scene in the bullring; the High Court; and the court-martial itself. Those three scenes are like a deep movement within the novel: from inclusion to exclusion and back to inclusion again. In the court-martial scene, Starfleet seeks to exclude Kirk from the “community” of the fleet for disobeying orders. The court-martial panel sides with Kirk, decides that he had acted “in the spirit” of his commission, and rejects the self-satisfied claim of Harnum and the higher echelons of Starfleet to a monopoly of virtue because they obeyed authority and regulation and followed the proper chain of command. But the panel does more than declare Kirk the winner. By reminding its audience of their higher duty to the Federation, they chart a course back inside the community for everyone, by reminding them that all Starfleet officers have a duty to the principles of the Federation that ultimately transcends even their duty to obey orders and regulations. This shared commitment to the values of the Federation becomes the foundation of a new community in which Kirk, his crew and his bonded partner can truly be included. The court-martial section of the novel isn’t perfect for me, and I don’t think Syn was fully satisfied with it either. Kirk presents his defense in the form of a long-winded speech that Syn has called a “spirit door” through which the old Kirk--the hero of privilege, not the Kirk who has been transformed by his bonding to Spock--emerges like the cavalry coming over the hill. I feel it would have been much stronger if the themes in Kirk’s speech had been the foundation of a coherent trial strategy. Whether deliberately or not on the author’s part, the speech posed a Major Constitutional Question--whether a military commander may refuse to carry out orders that conflict with Federation Council policy. I wish that question had been integral to Kirk’s defense rather than tacked on at the end.

But still, this part of the novel is a tremendous achievement, in my opinion, because it accomplishes what so few other works of fan fiction have done. Like “Full Circle,” it doesn’t stop with the bonding, it goes on to show the two men as members of society, as officers whose relationship with Starfleet is not just an uneasy truce, as participants in the shared values and experience of a supportive community. [44]
Have just read this classic novel from the library. I'm sure the plot(s) are well known. I found it to be a terrific 600 page love story with an exceptional characterisation of Kirk. Lots of really interesting concepts on Vulcan bondings and culture. I liked the way Sarek and Amanda

were portrayed as very caring parents. I read this three times in a row. The first for the love

story, the second to pick up all the plot threads and the third to memorise as much as possible . I didn't want to send it back! The library edition also has a wonderful portfolio of art done especially for the novel. [45]
For the first time this masterwork of K/S is available on the web thanks to Killa‘s perseverance and diligent hard work. Fandom owes her a great debt, and she will never fully know the gift she has given to scores of K/S readers. Thank you, Killa, for asking me to help. I was privileged to be a part of it.

It would be extremely difficult to summarize this novel, and I‘m not going to attempt it. First, the novel has over 600 pages, and involves many diverse and extraordinary characters and locations. Given the kind of cursory review that would be possible within the limited space provided here would be doing it a grave disservice. Second, I wouldn‘t want to deprive any reader of the experience of seeing this with a fresh eye. Quite simply, Courts of Honor is stunning. And in almost every category by which we judge a written piece of work, it is unforgettable. Let‘s start with characters. These are real people; good and bad, terrified and brave, privileged and poverty stricken and oppressed, and complicated with conflicting motives. Syn has given each one life and substance. And as for Kirk and Spock.... Spock is his loyal, loving self as always, and Kirk is the commander that defines the term. This is what a starship captain does. This is what a starship captain is. The writing is superior and then some. The depth and breadth of Syn‘s story is truly amazing. I make it a point to read Courts at least once a year and more often if I find I need a hefty dose of inspiration and an emotional uplift. Some have argued that Courts could have been shortened and tightened considerably. For me, it could have contained another 600+ pages and I would have loved it. As it is, I treasure each and every word. The novel could not have been easy to write. It required an amount of personal sacrifice on Syn‘s part that was truly extraordinary. I know I‘m probably preaching to the choir here, but if, by chance, you have not given yourself the gift of reading this, you need to remedy that situation as soon as possible. Be sure to read Syn‘s prequel as well—The Price—also available on the archive or from the library.

Both the archive edition and the large-print library edition come with Suzan Lovett‘s magnificent artwork. [46]
Carolyn, you have almost - almost - managed the impossible. You have almost convinced me to read Courts of Honor. You're right, I've owned it for years, have have a pristine copy in fact. And when the artwork that should have accompanied it was published later in Nome, I copied them all and reduced them to the size of Courts and inserted the pages. So I have an illustrated copy that for some reason I've never been able to convince myself to read. I think the size & style of the type have hindered me somewhat, but that's a lame excuse. Your words were very convincing when you say the novel portrays JTK as hero and captain. That's exactly how I want to see him and for some reason I had the impression that was not the case with Courts," that perhaps the characterization was off. Your description of Spock trying to hold his spacesuit together with sheer will so he could rescue his captain speaks to me of pure K/S. I've already been somewhat revitalized as far as K/S goes -- I knew I couldn't stray for long -- but your suggestion that this novel will accomplish that rejuvenation is very encouraging. Thanks for the suggestion! [47]
I think that Courts had many weaknesses, but the primary one was the sex. It was totally irrelevant to the plot. I think it could have been a much better story if it was written straight. (Yes, I know that some of the motivations would have to be changed, but I still think it would be better.) My opinion is probably colored by the fact that I found the sex really offensive. While I might find a little light bondage, in fun, exciting, S&M turns me off, fast. [48]

Publishing Online

In September of 2010, a couple of fans, Killa and Amanda Warrington, joined forces in their desire to see Courts of Honor (and its prequel, The Price) finally made available and freely distributed to online fandom. Killa approached Syn Ferguson about making a serious effort to complete the project. Syn was enthusiastic and extremely supportive of the effort, and as Killa began making inquiries among fellow fans for assistance, it soon became apparent that support for the project would be widespread. Gayle F and Suzan Lovett immediately agreed to allow their original artwork from The Price and the Prize and Nome #9 respectively, along with Suzan's unpublished cover to be included, and they along with others mustered and shared the resources to make that possible. Amanda Warrington OCRed "The Price" and donated a rough OCR file of Courts that she had received from a fan named Linda H. in England. Killa began the long process of optimizing the art and making a line-by-line edit of both manuscripts, a project for which she recruited many editing assistants. Syn herself spent many long hours going over the text and checking the work of the editors. Formatting, typesetting, and coding was the last phase.

In the end, the project enlisted the help and support of a total of 25 fans: Syn Ferguson, Suzan Lovett, Gayle F, Killa, Amanda Warrington, Linda H., Caren Parnes, Dot Laoang, Carolyn Spencer, J.S. Cavalcante, Amalthia, way2busymom, Virginia Sky, kassidy, Mary Monroe, Sandy Herrold, Elaine, vvatima, Isabol, Kathy Resch, Lyrastar, Gwyneth Rhys, Natasha Solten, feochadn, and Morgan Dawn.

Courts of Honor, including Suzan Lovett's original illustrations, is now available online in PDF, epub and MOBI format at the author's website (see links below the cover illustration) and a text-only version is archived at the K/S Archive. As Killa says:
"At long last, this classic novel is available for all to enjoy."[49]

References

  1. from the art portfolio published in Nome #9
  2. from Datazine #20
  3. from Datazine #21
  4. from Universal Translator #20
  5. from a letter by Eric A. S in Interstat #93
  6. from Judy Miller in Universal Translator #15
  7. from Interstat #60
  8. from Interstat #65
  9. as per an ad in Datazine #47 by Intergalactic Trading Company
  10. from Joan Verba in Boldly Writing
  11. from Flora Poste in Not Tonight Spock! #11
  12. Joan Marie Verba. Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan & Zine History, 1967-1987, page 61.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Camille Bacon-Smith. Enterprising Women, Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth, 1992, pg 220.
  14. from a fan's letter in Universal Translator #31
  15. from On the Double #7/8 about Nome #10 (May 1987).
  16. from Treklink #10
  17. the editors of TREKisM preface this Personal Statement with: "Editor's Note: as the novel which is discussed in the following open letter was recommended In TREKlsM, we feel somewhat responsible for those of you who paid in good faith and did not receive your order. Although we are not thrilled at being In the company of those who are left with nothing to show for $20, at least we have an explanation rather than the usual silence. I do not feel the victim of mall fraud, as some zealous fans are charging, rather a deep sorrow for a fellow fan who has had to pay the price of overcommitment.
  18. from Universal Translator #31
  19. From "An Interview with Victoria Clark, published in Legacy (Star Trek: TOS slash anthology).
  20. Joan Marie Verba. Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan & Zine History, 1967-1987, page 74.
  21. Morgan Dawn notes, July 15 2010.
  22. Morgan Dawn's notes about a December 7, 2012 eBay auction.
  23. from Datazine #47
  24. For possible additional information, see A 2007 Interview with Victoria Clark.
  25. From Vicki's 2007 interview which was published in Legacy.
  26. from The K/S Press #91
  27. from Interstat #86
  28. from Vel Jaeger in Treklink #13
  29. from Come Together #25
  30. from On the Double #9
  31. from Treklink #9
  32. from On the Double #1
  33. sans-pertinence. Big List of ST:TOS book recs, 17 June 2009. (Accessed 30 July 2010)
  34. from Jacqueline Lichtenberg Treklink #10 (1987)
  35. from Jacqueline Lichtenberg in On the Double #7/8, 1988
  36. In On the Double #9, a fan responds to Jacqueline Lichtenberg's letter in the On the Double #7/8
  37. from Flora Poste (who would go on later to pen poetry for Courts of Honor) in a letter to Universal Translator #29
  38. from The K/S Press #36 (1999)
  39. Sandy Herrold commented in 1993 to the Virgule-L mailing list, reposted here with permission.
  40. from The K/S Press #20, a 1998 comment, one that emphasizes a thankfulness to a fanzine library, which, at the time, was the only way many fans had access to out-of-print fiction.
  41. from Come Together #15
  42. from The K/S Press #58
  43. from The K/S Press #125
  44. from The K/S Press #33, in an LoC which compares the themes of Full Circle and Courts of Honor
  45. from The K/S Press #106
  46. by Carolyn Spencer from The K/S Press #174
  47. from The K/S Press #154
  48. from Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #18
  49. Killa. Courts of Honor, by Syn Ferguson, 06 February 2011. (Accessed 06 February 2011)
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