Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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Name: Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Type: fan writer & professional writer
Fandoms: was a fan of Star Trek: TOS and Star Trek: TNG and of Darkover; created Sime~Gen, Dushau & Kren
URL: website, LJ
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from the Neo-Star: Cleveland Star Trek Convention program book in 1979

Jacqueline Lichtenberg is, among many other things, a fan turned pro. She is the creator of Kraith and of Sime~Gen. She is also a practicing occultist who has written several books on Tarot cards and astrology.

She was one of the hosts of the Writing for Fanzines workshop.

In 1977 Lichtenberg wrote:
Jean Lorrah and I, in collaboration, have just sold Doubleday a Sime novel, FIRST CHANNEL. That's exciting to me for a number of reasons, but mostly because it's the first time I've sold an unwritten book, which makes it a milestone in my career. It's Jean's first novel sale (though not her first sale), and collaborations are "in" this year, so we're feeling very good about it. If Niven and Poumelle can do it, why not us women? [1]

Activities as a Fan

Star Trek

Lichtenberg was a active fan in Star Trek: TOS and Star Trek: TNG zines, as well as a writer of Trek tie-in pro books.

She was also a co-writer of Star Trek Lives!, which her survey Strekfan Roster Questionnaire and her list The Strekzine List were utilized.

Lichtenberg was the creator of Star Trek Welcommittee.

Trek zines with fiction, poetry, or articles by Lichtenberg: Archives' Log | Babel | Back Trekkin' | The Best of... (Sarek and Amanda) | Energize! | The Enterprise Papers: Warp One | Eridani Triad | Federation Centennial | The Federation Chronicle | Grup | Impulse | Independent Entity | Interphase | Kraith Creator's Manual | LNSTFCCF Bulletin | Masiform D | NCC-1701 | Off the Beaten Trek | Overload | Pastaklan Vesla | Remote Control | Space-Time Continuum | Spockanalia | Star Trek: That Which Survives | Tetrumbriant | Tricorder Readings | The Voyages


Lichtenberg was a major Darkover fan, and a personal friend of Marion Zimmer Bradley. She was a relentless promotor of Bradley's work in zines, newsletters, and at cons. She mentions several times in her own zine Ambrov Zeor as well as Darkover Newsletter that she was working with Bradley on the pro book "Stormqueen!". Lichtenberg also co-wrote the pro book "Thendara House" though she is not credited. [2]

Darkover Newsletter has many comments and columns by Lichtenberg, and her Darkover fiction appears in Starstone as well as a story co-written with Jean Lorrah that appears in the DAW Darkover Anthology, "The Keeper's Price."

Lichtenberg was also in charge of organizing the Darkover fan clubs called councils. Her own council was called Keeper's Tower.


Fan Fiction Policy

"According to a post by Kiri Aradia Morgan to the mailing list, tml@travellercentral.com, dated June 3, 2001, Jacqueline Lichtenberg does not tolerate fan fiction or RPGs written based on her work." [3] However, she has welcomed fan writers into at least two of her created worlds - her "no fanfiction" policy seems to be mostly based on her characters, and possibly applies to changes to canon details that are incompatible with her concept of the worlds.

Frequent Con Guest of Honor

Lichtenberg was a very frequent guest of honor at for-profit conventions and non-profit fan cons.

Nominated for a Hugo Award

In 1974, Lichtenberg was one of two Star Trek fans nominated for a Hugo Award. The other nominations, and winner for Best Fan Writer - Susan Wood, Richard E. Geis, Laura Basta, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, and Sandra Miesel. The winner was Susan Wood.

Intimate Adventure

Intimate Adventure is a genre which was created and actively promoted by Jacqueline Lichtenberg.

Despite robust attempts to make the term into a widely-accepted one in fandom, only Lichtenberg and her associate, Jean Lorrah, appeared to use it.

A similar term, one which did take on wings of its own, is Paula Smith's term Mary Sue.

See more at Intimate Adventure.

A Fan Described Lichtenberg in 1978

To any serious Trekker, the name of Jacqueline Lichtenberg needs no introduction. She has been a leader in the Star Trek Fan movement since its beginnings: organizer of the Star Trek Welcommittee, author of the controversial "Kraith" series of fan fiction, and co-author of the best-selling paperback, "Star Trek Lives."

Her interests are not confined to Star Trek alone. Destined, it seems, to be a leader wherever she goes, she's one of the shapers of the "Darkover" fandom (Marion Zimmer Bradley's SF series). She also has a fanzine of her own; the 'zine "Ambrov Zeor" is entirely devoted to her "Sime" series which, to date, consists of two published novels ("House of Zeor" and "Onto Zeor Forever") and numerous short stories. Her writing is richly detailed and convincing, with powerful emotional impact.

In person, Jacqueline Lichtenberg is every bit as dynamic and impressive as her writing. slender, almost frail in appearance (it's easy to see where she got the model for her wiry, agile Simes), she's a powerhouse of energy, efficiently accomplishing more in an hour than most people can in a week. She is also an effective speaker. Her voice is soft, but intense and she speaks with impassioned rhetoric or quiet humour with equal facility. Often, like the good writer she is, she will pause as she speaks, searching for exactly the right word to express her thoughts.

Interviewing Jacgueline Lichtenberg was a memorable experience, and one I shall treasure. Her success is an inspiration to fan writers and her generosity in giving her time and talent to fandom would seem to know no bounds.

Thank you, Jacqueline. [4]

Lichtenberg and Perceived Ego

A fan in 1979 wrote that she enjoyed Lichtenberg's zine Ambrov Zeor "except for the overdoing on JL's part sometimes of autoegoboo." [5]

In 1979, Jean Lorrah (Lichtenberg's friend and professional and fannish collaborator) wrote of Lichtenberg in Ambrov Zeor #8 in response to a fan's comments about characters in the Sime~Gen universe:
Are Farrises self-centered? Yes, exactly the way Jacqueline Lichtenberg is self-centered. If a neo stumbles across Jacqueline when she is saying she can do the new Trek movie better than Gene Roddenberry, and then encounters her discussing how she plans to change the course of science fiction, then runs into her assertions about copyright and trade marks, and finally sees Jacqueline directing her personal gofers, that neo would undoubtedly decide that Jacqueline is the most self-centered person in the world. Yet Jacqueline is the same person who delayed publication of UNTO [her own book, Unto Zeor Forever] to sell Joan Winston's book to Doubleday; who founded the Star Trek Welcommittee; who gave Kraith to fan writers as a kind of giant writing laboratory; who sold my idea for FIRST CHANNEL to her editor. Self-centered? No, she is the embodiment of Chaucer's clerk, the ideal teacher: "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."...The reason Jacqueline seems so alien to so many people is that she is a non-junct in a junct world.

On Concrit: "The Negative Value of Positive Input"

In 1993, Lichtenberg addressed fans in Information for Would-be S/G Writers about writing fanfic. It displays her views on concrit for fan writers, the "payment" for zines, thin and thick skins, egos, "real writers," and her views on the purposes of fic.

The Negative Value of Positive Input.

To a serious writer, even one who hasn't sold yet and may choose to never attempt to sell, positive input has no value whatsoever and is a waste of time to read. It's the seemingly insightful fingering of the flaws that the real writer is starving for. And that's what I (and all the editors and agents I know, as well as most of the writers I know) dish out.

Therefore, a lot of my criticism is couched in acid-tipped language. If there's nothing complimentary to say, I use scathing rebukes and searing putdowns to make my points.

I have a reason for this and it's not cold, uncaring cruelty. It's the cauldron in which professionals are tempered. It is how I was taught, and the very pain is really the only teacher. No pain, no gain. It's true. Writing is about pain, human pain, emotional and physical pain, because without the pain there can be no pleasure. No one who is afraid to hear the truth about their product will ever make a good writer.

AZ and the other zines do not "nurture" any writers. Writers are not made by nurturing. They are made by truth, craftsmanship and discipline. They are made by honesty, not by "positive input." Anyone who can be discouraged from this craft should be discouraged. Writing is something you do because you can't not do it. It's not something to do for glory. Tender egos should not be nurtured because if they do get so full of "positive input" that they think they can write, they'll be doubly devastated by the first truth that comes from a professional editor. Positive input only makes that moment of truth unutterably destructive.

After you've gone a few rounds with me, and you begin to see a positive comment on your mss, however small, fleeting or irrelevant, you know it's the truth and not any kind of salve for your ego. You know you did it!

When I was writing Kraith, twenty years ago, I had letters in every zine that carried my stories begging and begging for negative input—I had tons of letters of positive input that did me no good whatsoever. The oniy letters of any value were those pointing out where my stories failed, not where they succeeded. Stories succeed for different reasons, but they fail for the same reasons: plot, conflict, thematic disunity, etcetera.

I have no trouble getting along with people who are wholly and totally incompatible with me, and I welcome with open arms S/G stories that are incompatible with my own biases and themes. I've worked with many ST and S/G writers who are now better than I will ever be, many of whom will never, ever submit anything for professional sale. I have no problem with that.

But I am a professional and the S/G zines are amateur publications. The only way we can pay contributors for their work is with access to professional level criticism, plus publication in a zine that has become known for its rigorously high standards. AZ is an expensive addiction for our readers and so we try to deliver a product that meets their highest expectations. Many of the stories we've published actually exceed the minimum standards necessary for professional publication—and that's why we are now beginning to see so many of us breaking into professional print. And I expect more to come.

I often circulate mss submitted to me among several other S/G writers for their comments, so don't be surprised if your ms returns to you via people you don't yet know.

No beginning writer can learn anything of substance from a non-writer. Most other beginning writers have little input of value. But the more criticism a beginner has taken, the better their output comments on other mss. I have beginners comment on other beginners for their own benefit—to make them articulate the lessons I've been harping on— not for the benefit of the one receiving the commentary. I tag mss to be circulated to particular writers for reasons having to do with the particular writing lessons each of the pair is wrestling with, I tag mss for exchange because of their subject matter, theme, or technical flaws. I wouldn't waste a serious student's time on irrelevant nonsense that isn't pertinent to what they are currently learning. I match up people who have something valuable to exchange.

So if you're willing to participate in this admittedly difficult and challenging experience, we're willing to have a go at your ms. Maybe, just maybe, you'll live to see your own words in print!

This attitude echoes and was in part shaped by Lichtenberg's apprenticeship with Marion Zimmer Bradley. See also Marion Zimmer Bradley as a Mentor to Other Fan Writers, Dianne Sylvan's Vampires Saved My Soul...after Marion Zimmer Bradley tried to kill it, and Lichtenberg's Marion Zimmer Bradley's Influence on the Sime~Gen Universe.


Meta/Further Reading


  1. from Darkover Newsletter #8 (November 1977)
  2. Bradley's comments in Holes in My Yard, 1992
  3. Writers University, Archived version
  4. from the introduction to An Interview with Jacqueline Lichtenberg (1978)
  5. from Amy Harlib in Ambrov Zeor #7