Tales of Feldman

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Zine
Title: Tales of Feldman
Publisher:
Editor:
Author(s): Mindy Glazer
Cover Artist(s):
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): 1981
Medium: print zine, fanfic
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links:
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Contents

Talesfeldman.jpg

Tales of Feldman is a Star Trek 209-page novel by Mindy Glazer: a novel-length story about OFC Ensign Fiona Feldman and her accidental marriage to Spock. It required an age statement to order.

"Tales of Feldman" won a 1981 Fan Q. [1]

In the zine's introduction, Mindy writes: "I only wrote Tales of Feldman to make myself laugh...when others laughed as well, I decided to share Feldman."

The story was first passed around and required a deposit of $22.50. [2] In the summer of 1980, Mindy wrote that she was finally going to print and sell it as a zine. [3]

One fan, the zine reviewer for Universal Translator named T'Yenta, took her name from a minor character in "Tales of Feldman." [4]

Series

A Zine Trusted to the Post Office

"Tales of Feldman" had its start as a loaner zine. It was written at a time before there was a Kinkos on every corner. "Mindy, at this time, circulated her Star Trek story in an innovative way: she sent her only copy to interested fans to read; then the fan would send it back so she could mail the copy to someone else. In a year or so, enthusiastic readers persuaded her to make the story available to a larger audience, and she found a publisher. The story appeared next year as the fanzine Tales of Feldman." [5]

Considering the reputation the Post Office had with some fans, it is remarkable that this zine survived its early days.

Summaries from Other Fans

"The story centered on Ensign Fiona Feldman, a very eccentric young woman who, in a series of misadventures, ends up marrying Spock and having a daughter by him. In the end, she takes the baby and runs away. In the epilogue, the author explains that Feldman 'never really understood' military discipline." [6]

Summaries and Blurbs from the Author

"Tales of Feldman" has got to be about the most blurbed about zine in fandom; the author had a different one for each ad, and one each in different zines.

  • "Peculiar Announcement -- The Library of Demented Treklit will soon have available, on a lend basis only, 'Tales of Feldman.' In the tradition of Harlan Ellison's theory that there are bound to be a few rotten apples in the Enterprise bunch, Demented Treklit takes courage in presenting Ensign Fiona Feldman. Follow her merry angst as she bobs and weaves between court-martial, and other generally lousy situations, only to wind up in the same old place... but not quite. 'Tales of Feldman' asks the question: Why did Starfleet take this Jewish girl? Why haven't we had any more Jewish Mary Sues? Why, in all probability, will we never have one again? For the answers to these and many other peculiar questions, SASE to Mindy." [7]
  • "Peculiar Announcement #2 -- 'I belted my Capain. I also clapped a bucket over the head of my first officer -- I'd hate to think what was in it.' What was in that bucket? Could it merely have been yellow rain water? The answer to these and many far more bizarre questions will not be found in 'Tales of Feldman.' The Library of Demented Treklit takes a vicious sort of pride in presenting the saga of an atypical crewmenber -- abnormal would be more like it -- which quickly degenerates into the sorry tale of a match made in hell. 'Tales of Feldman' is available on a lend basis only (perhaps with good reason)."[8]
  • "Peculiar Announcement #3 --Though the Fleet's soon to be repealed Freedom of Information Act, you, that's right, you, can get all the dirt on Federation vs. Feldman, the shoddy court-martial case that has made absolutely no headlines. Why? Because Starfleet's Chief Surgeon, none other than Bertha Feldman (a.k.a. Big Bertha), has spent a small fortune covering it up. (The esteemed in-laws of Ensign Feldman, who, for obvious reasons, choose to remain anonymous, have also contributed handsomely.) But now, for a limited time only... you can hold all the sordid details in your sweaty little hands. The Library of Demented Treklit will, until they are caught doing so, offer, on a lend basis only, 'Tales of Feldman." [9]
  • "Identify the following quotation: 'I will give thee hemorrhoids. I will give they father hemorrhoids. Why hast thee given thy sehlat hemorrhoids?' A) lyrics to a popular pre-Reform Vulcan love song; B) Spock's final statement to T'Pring; C) Kirk's last memo to Spock; D) Words of traditional Vulcan marriage ceremony, badly bungled by poor Jewish girl who was trying her best." [10]
  • "Tell me it's normal for an individual to choose, voluntarily, to sign away five years of life at zero plus two pay per annum, to go nowhere in a big tin can full of fascists.' In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed person is constantly being bumped into. SASE for more information, or if you are tire of information send a $4.00 deposit plus an SASE." [11]
  • "Why does Ensign Feldman make Mr. Spock dance with Dr. McCoy? a) To embarrass the First Officer?, b) Because the Doctor paid her a lot of money?, c) To get the Vulcan in practice for a Jewish wedding?, d) At the time it seemed like the logical thing to do? If you look real hard, the answer to this question can be found in 'Tales of Feldman,' the underground classic that's coming up for air." [12]
  • "'Tales of Feldman' is finally available! What happens when a nice, normal, Jewish neurotic runs away to see the stars and wind up with your garden-variety, pointy-eared, obsessive-compulsive?" [13]
  • "Are you dissatisfied with the kind of Spock-and-a-woman stories you've been reading? Looking for a story where: A) Spock isn't a sap, B) the woman isn't perfect, C) the woman isn't beautiful or even half-Vulcan, D) the woman doesn't die in the end? And on top of all this, do you want something well-written and really funny? You've come to the right ad. 'Tales of Feldman' just happens to have won Mindy Glazer this year's Fan Q award for best Star Trek writer, and this year's Trekstar award for best Star Trek humorist. And if that's not enough of a recommendation, there here's another one: try it, you'll love it (everybody else has)." [14]
  • "The Library of Demented Treklit takes a vicious sort of pride in presenting the saga of an atypical crewmember -- abnormal would be more like it -- which quickly degenerates into the sorry tale of a match made in Hell." [15]
  • "Can a Jewish neurotic find happiness in the stars? Can she find love with a Vulcan obsessive-compulsive? Can she find her way out of a paper bag?" [16]
  • "TOF offers the first Enterprise Chinese Food Fight, Spock in drag, and the Women's Gynecological Liberation and Hosannah Society. It also asks the question: How are women's rights in the 23rd Century like women's rights in the 20th? And it answers: Someone keeps taking them away."[17]

The Series' Origins

In January 1980, Mindy wrote of alternative universes, authorial self-indulgement, difficulties in series, her views on the birth of this zine, and the third volume that, in the end, was never published:
On alternate universes: I feel two conflicting points of view: the reader and the writer. As a reader I prefer mainline trek, and have learned (through much expense and more confusion) which universes I'm not interested in. I prefer a fanzine to be all trek, full of characters I know and situations which do not require massive appendices and/or glossaries to be understood. But as a writer the question becomes sticky, because I know how easily one can become intrigued with the products of her own mind, and just not want to stop churning out the wonderful world she has created. The greatest thing about fanzines is that anyone can be published, if not by someone else then by her own hand. But I think there's also a question of responsibility, on the part of the writer and the publisher to know when to stop. This is not easy, and well I know it. My first trek novel turned into a trilogy. I have plotted all of the second novel and written much of it. I have also written the first third of the last book. And I have put them away. Although there are two stories there yet to be told. I am not entirely certain of all the reasons they should exist. And maybe the best reason they should not is that it is necessary to have read the first book to understand the background of the second; and it is absolutely necessary to have read the second book to understand the motivations of the third. Judging from my own early experience with zines—coming in on the middle of too much too soon. I don't think that this is a format zines are conducive toward. There are also characters and situations far beyond the norm of mainline treklit. Where these can be interwoven with the more general trek line in short stories and vignettes, they are fine. Where they turn into tales unto themselves it becomes caveat emptor. While toying with the idea of publishing a most bizarre saga I seem to have written along the way, I wondered about warnings on fanzines. We're all used to "Adult." It so runs the gamut that it doesn't say enough. Maybe we should be more inventive here, and let the reader know what she/he's getting. For my own saga I knew that "Adult" wasn't enough, and therefore added, "TACKY!!! COMPLETELY OFFENSIVE TO MOST!!! BEWARE, NEW YORK JEWISH HUMOR AT WORK!!! YOU'RE GONNA BE SORRY! (And if anyone doesn't know that 10 exclamation points in a row are a sure sign of trouble then they deserve it.) I had been vacillating between publishing my epic and chortling over it in the privacy of my own home when I came to another solution: not everything has to be published. This seems completely obvious, as it was to me when I first began writing and knew my novel probably would never even be finished, let alone published. But it never occurred to me to be a question of my own choice. At this point I have decided to type to draft my weird opus and make a lending library of it (small library). Because I know that there are a handful of people in fandom who would laugh until they cry over it. And I know that if I got someone to do a flashy cover for it I could probably sell a lot of them at conventions. And I know that I would rather have a handful of people laugh until they cried than have anyone look at the zine, grimace, and whine, "I paid money, for this? There is a question of knowing your audience, its extent and its limits. And there is a question of respect, and honesty, in dealing with that audience. Although it's fun to see your name following the word "by" on a printed page, and although it's cheaper to be handed a contributor's copy than to buy a zine, I seem to have decided that it's better to know your work will be understood, and appreciated, by those who read it. [18]

A TrekStar Award Thank You

Mindy Glazer thanks fans for the votes that made this novel win a TrekStar Award for best ST humor:
I consider myself very lucky because humor is, in a way, its own reward. Laughter is a prize that can be shared by the writer every time she hears someone react to something she hoped would be funny, but getting an actual, official award - and the plaque is very impressive - makes you remember, when you can't hear the laughter, when you can't make the con, when the new story gives you trouble and maybe when everything else is a drag as well, it makes you remember that there are an awful lot of people like you, who also understand that if you don't laugh you may do something you'll regret later on...and laughing is fun, to boot. So thanks again for the TrekStar Best Humorist award for Tales of Feldman. I was pleased and proud to have been nominated in the two categories, and proud of the company I was included in. The award is very special to me.[19]

Tales of Feldman and Judaism

Of particular interest to Jewish fans is how the novel projects Judaism into the world of Starfleet.

Tales of Feldman and Mary Sue

It was a clear reaction to a million Spock + OFC/Mary Sue stories in Star Trek fandom at the time. Instead of the frighteningly common "OFC gets Spock, lives happily ever after," it was OFC gets Spock and is now stuck with him and his deeply scary Vulcan-bigot family forever, and now what do I do?

Reactions and Reviews

The Tigriffin has seen a number of zines that take themselves too seriously. It comes as a pleasant surprise to find one that does not take itself seriously enough. TOF is advertised solely as a humorous work in the various zine listings. The author herself, in her forward, says she only wrote TOF to make herself laugh, and fears this knowledge may be upsetting to her prospective readers, as she has only had to people laugh at her favorite joke over a period of nineteen years. Fear not, TOF is in fact quite funny. It is either the funniest long Trek novel or the longest funny Trek novel the Tigriffin has ever seen. It is the sort of zine you should only read when you are alone. If you read it in the presence of non-fans, they will want to know what you are laughing so hard at, and when you tell them, they won't understand. This only reinforces the belief that there is something intrinsically unstable about Trekfen. If you read the funny parts aloud to fellow fans, you will be forced to take the zine with you where you go until you finish it, to forestall premature borrowing. TOF concerns the misadventures of Fiona Feldman, who has chosen a career in Starfleet as the one way to escape her large, eccentric family Her fellow crewmembers regard her with varying degrees of alarm, and Captain Kirk doesn't like her much at all after he comes back from her first landing party assignment with two black eyes and grievously wounded dignity, all courtesy of Feldman. Like so many crewwomen who have gone before her, Feldman decides Spock is the sex object of her dreams. She even succeeds in getting him, during the most absolutely hysterical 'Spock in pon farr on an uninhabited planet' scene ever written. But, to her dismay, Spock insists their relationship must be 'til death do them part. And that's not so funny. A lesser writer would have been content to merely write about the silly surface events as they occurred to her. But in the tradition of pro novelists like Erica Jong and Joyce Rebeta-Burditt, problems that cannot be fairly solved because the needs of the parties differ too widely. We -- the author, the reader, and Feldman -- are all laughing as not to cry. Feldman wants to do her job well, but has severe difficulty believing her own value as a person. Spock gives her a new perception of her worth, but unwittingly tries to keep her from accepting it, due to his need for her to conform to the standards of decorum proper for Vulcan wife. Feldman is too stubborn to allow herself to be swallowed up in a culture that won't accept her individuality; Spock is too stubborn to try to understand why she will accept some but not all of his guidance. Time might have brought a reconciliation, but instead it brought an unexpected pregnancy, which brought up the question, 'Does a woman have the right to control her own mind, body, and biological contribution to the future, or does she not?' The answer is not so simple in real life, and it isn't answered simply in TOF. This point, as well as some of the language and situations, makes TOF a good zine for the conservative fan to pass by. However, those who enjoy clever, stirring, thought-provoking stories should definitely get this zine. It is one of the most enjoyable Tigiffin has read in years. [20]
Ensign Fiona Feldman came aboard the Enterprise as an anomo-eccentro-absurdo-sociologist; in simpler terms, an inanist -- and a good one. She studies cultures that have declined so much that their frameworks are beyond (normal) human understanding. Feldman, and her best friend, Lt. Nora Gilbert, are moving Feldman's extensive collection of pornographic art (the eleven Andorians are doing WHAT?!!) when Feldman sees Spock go down the corridor. One wolf whistle, several hilarious shipboard and planet-side incidents, and two Sogs later, Fiona Feldman is Mrs. First Officer. Typical Mary Sue, right? Author-turned-heroine saves the universe (or some small part of it), marries the officer of her choice, and lives happily ever after. Wronngg! 'Tales of Feldman' may be Mary Sue, but it's one of a rare breed. Feldman is not a saviour, but a survivor. She and Spock don't live happily ever after, as Sogs three to eighteen relate... in sordid detail. Yet for all the sadness and spoilt lives, Feldman is outrageously funny. Glazer has the messed-up Jewish girl (and her family) down pat. For all that Feldman is not the sort of person one would choose as a friend, you can't ignore her and hope she'll go away. Feldman dominates the story and her perceptions color our view of the other characters. This tends to make the other characters somewhat repugnant, since their side of the story is rarely seen. In the few scenes where we can see their actions directly (how was Spock to know that the squid at the romantic dinner wasn't kosher?), the other characters don't appear to be as rotten as Feldman makes them out to be. If you don't mind an irreverent but not insulting attitude to the Star Trek universe (and you have a very strong diaphragm), then I heartily recommend this story. I had to shell out a $22.50 deposit just to READ this treasure of (perverted?) Jewish-Vulcan humor, but now I understand that it is to be published as a regular zine. [21]
For those of you who wonder if the reviewer knows the author, I'll admit to a letter correspondence with Mindy and the fact that I've never read anything by her that I didn't like, so you take it from there. TALES OF FELDMAN—what can I say? My first impression is that there is something to offend everyone. I loved it. I laughed so hard that my side ached. My family kept asking me what was so funny; my husband learned better than to ask. I read so many parts to him through hysterics that he went the other way when he saw me coming, book in hand. "What I wanted to do was a basic parody of Mary Sue where our heroine wasn't Ms. Perfect. Putting a whiney, defensive, Jewish American Princess up against a man who purports to have total control and likes it that way was setting the scene to watch the sparks fly."—Mindy Glazer. An, boy, do the sparks fly as well as the shit hit the fan! Yet it is also a story filled with insight and a lot of love and tenderness showing through the masks of pretense and self-protection. It is hard to come through TALES OF FELDMAN not feeling an identity somewhere along the line. Of course that is the beauty and the bane of Mindy's writing—you can't stay uninvolved, and sometimes you identify with something or someone that you wish you hadn't. The Spock in this book is very much the first season Spock, typical Nimoy's "smart ass" Vulcan. He knows what, where and how he is and he's doing his damnedest to figure out where his wife is coming from and cope with it in the most efficient and dignified manner. A lot of the time he makes it. And then there are times .... Everyone I know has either read FELDMAN or wants to. Mindy said that it was a "very limited run", so this may be out of print soon. If you aren't easily put off by bad taste, if you like, tp laugh, if you have any brains,—You'll love TALES OF FELDMAN. [22]
Once upon a time there was a really strange Jewish family named Feldman. And of the nine kids in the Feldman family, the strangest of them all was not our heroine Ensign Fiona Feldman. (Trust me! She might seem strange at first but, compared to the rest of the family , she's apple pie normal —as long as she remembers to dream about bats, not owls.) Thus Star Fleet, in its infinite wisdom, assigned Feldman to the Enterprise where she was the anomo-eccento-absurdo-sociologist. In other words, she was the resident inanist. (inane: adj. 1. lacking sense or ideas, silly 2. empty, void). Therefore it was only logical that she get the hots for the long, lean form of a certain Vulcan Science Officer. It was also logical that he not get the hots for her. Which made her very unhappy, but then she was unhappy to begin with. "Tell me it's normal for an individual to choose, voluntarily, to sign away five years of life at zero plus two pay per annum, to go nowhere in a big tin can full of facists."

Eventually the Enterprise stumbles upon an inane culture, and Feldman saves the day. Spock is most impressed. So when the two of them are marooned on a planet when he goes into pon farr, Feldman's dream comes true. Or does it? "Can a whiny, neurotic, Jewish princess find true love and happiness married to an obsessive, compulsive Vulcan?" The author provides three "stop here if you want a happy ending" warnings .

And you haven't seen anything until the Feldman's descend en masse upon the unlucky Enterprise to inspect the unfortunate bridegroom. And to think that she could have married the dentist with acne. Eventually the story meanders along to an inconclusive conclusion which cries out for the sequel, MORE TALES OF FELDMAN. TALES OF FELDMAN is definitely an unusual found it amusing, but I suspect it is a "love it" fanzine. Much of it is satire and Jewish you take religion/sex/Spock seriously, you may fended by this fanzine. The writing is somewhat uneven in that some segments are very funny, and some seem to drag on forever. Lack of a strong plotline climax don't help, either. On the plus side, characterizations are good, the characters unforgettable situation comedy approach to life and love on the Enterprise is truly unique. Even if you loathe this zine, you won't forget it. [23]
A while back a package came for me in the mail from sherrold. It contained an old-fashioned print zine, written on a typewriter and held together with three screws. The inside cover page says "copyright 1981 by Mindy Glazer." It's a classic Star Trek zine called Tales of Feldman, a novel-length story about Ensign Fiona Feldman, one of the most fabulous OCs ever created, and her accidental marriage to Spock -- and the trainwreck that ensued...

Feldman, we learn, is charged with being AWOL. She served aboard the Enterprise for 609 days, during which time she behaved frequently in "non-military fashion." In observance of Chanukah, she lit her menorah so close to the Christmas tree that it caused a fire on-deck. She seeded the bowling alley with cannabis plants. The open question is, what's the story -- why is the Federation bringing suit against her? That's the story the novel is going to tell.

Fiona Feldman is a student of comparative obscenity. ("Wanna see my collection of Early American dildoes?") She holds several records for expulsion from educational institutions. Her field, she tells Captain Kirk, is an unusual one: "I'm an inanist...An anomo-eccentro-absurdo-sociologist." (That sounds like the kind of thing Glazer might have made up just for kicks, but she manages to create an A plot that makes use of Feldman's unique talents; the story of her relationship with Spock is the B plot, at least at first.) For as long as there's been a Starfleet, we learn, there's been a Feldman in Starfleet. (Who knew.)

The day she arrives on the Enterprise, Feldman wolf-whistles at Spock. She chases away her room-mates. She celebrates Sukkot by giving away free coffee, much to Kirk's bafflement and exasperation.

And she winds up -- predictably -- trapped with Spock in an inhospitable planet at a very inopportune time. Being a standin for the average fangirl, she's been ogling Spock's ass from the moment they met, but there's one hell of a difference between thinking he'd be fun in the sack as a onetime thing, and letting him into her mind...for life.

Naturally, they have no choice but to get married. And naturally, it's a disaster. Because if there was ever a character who was a poor match for Spock, Fiona Feldman is it!

One of the things I really like about the zine is that the story doesn't shy away from all the ways in which Feldman and Spock are poorly-matched. Love does not, in fact, conquer all. They're pretty awful for, and to, one another. I don't want to give away the ending, but I can tell you that it's not the happy ending I had expected -- the one in which they work out their differences and the audience gets to enjoy the vicarious thrill of being perfect for the object of our collective desire...

It feels like a piece of my fannish history, even though I've never actively been part of ST:TOS fandom, and I love it as an early example of what happens when Judaism and a beloved fandom mix. [24]
"Ensign Fiona Feldman could only exist in a version of Star Trek that allowed the Federation to hire an "Inanist", which is probably not the Federation that Gene Roddenberry had in mind. Jim Kirk in this version would most likely have not succeeded at the Kobayashi Maru, because this Jim Kirk is much more by the book - which makes him that much less tolerant of Ensign Feldman. Nor do I think the TV show's Vulcans are quite so harsh, or Spock's parents quite so messed up. But where this version is not strictly accurate to the TV version, it is true to the author's vision and consistent to itself. Feldman is a unique creation and the author successfully blends tragedy and parody, managing to comment on both the show and the subsequent fandom within a story that makes sense in terms of the characters she presents."[25]

References

  1. "1981 Fan Q Award Winner ... and not by accident. Succumb to the weight of fannish legend." -- from the author's ad in Universal Translator #15
  2. from a fan's remark in Universal Translator #4
  3. "ToF, that long-awaited saga of trash, is about to be printed (probably in back-to-back xerox). SASE for information." -- a blurb in Universal Translator #4
  4. Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967 - 1987, pg 50
  5. Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967 - 1987
  6. from Boldly Writing
  7. from Universal Translator #1
  8. from Universal Translator #2
  9. from Universal Translator #3
  10. from the Proposed Zine section in Universal Translator #4
  11. from Universal Translator #5
  12. from Universal Translator #7
  13. from Universal Translator #8
  14. from an ad in Universal Translator #16
  15. from an ad in Datazine #6
  16. from an ad in Datazine #11
  17. from Datazine #15
  18. from Interstat #27
  19. from Interstat #62
  20. from Datazine #12
  21. from Universal Translator #4
  22. from Universal Translator #10
  23. from TREKisM #25
  24. kassrachel posted a review in the stilljewish LJ community decades later: Zine review: Tales of Feldman, September 8, 2008; WebCite.
  25. Buncha Shortie Reviews dated July 19, 2010.
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