|Cover Artist(s):||Signe Landon|
|Date(s):||November 1980, second printing 1986|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: TOS|
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Precessional is a 216-page Star Trek: TOS novel by Laurie Huff, illustrated by Laurie Huff, Signe Landon, Merle Decker, Nan Lewis, Stephanie Hawks, Harriet Stallings. Cover by Signe Landon. It won a 1981 Fan Q. The story is gen h/c and/or pre-slash. (see talk page).
The author writes, in its editorial, that it took three years to write, and another year to rewrite and publish.
From the AuthorFrom the editorial:
Since I entered fandom in 1975, I've been reading and enjoying other peoples' fiction. I wanted to write, too, but found myself pleasantly preoccupied with zine editing and illustration. Off and on, ideas would occur, but I always managed to put them of. 'Precessional' is the result of several that refused to wait. The story started off as a small novella. I became interested in the strengths and vulnerabilities of James T. Kirk; I wanted to attempt to explore some of the man's limits. I also wanted to address the probability of Kirk being stuck with a boring Starfleet desk job (a future which seemed as implausible to me as it was unappealing). And then there was the very special relationship between Kirk and Spock... In the course of the writing, unexpected things began to happen. Characters began to develop minds of their own and started telling what words to put on the page. I became obsessed and possessed. The 'small novella' grew. And grew. When it became increasingly apparent that I had a Major Project on my hands.
Planet Ahmdalin: a place of wonder and brutality. There, two star travelers must face the loss of the world they know. Together they must survive and try to build another life. Join James T. Kirk and the Vulcan, Spock, on a journey of outward bound challenge and inward growth. 
The story started as a small novella. I became interested in the strengths and vulnerabilities of James T. Kirk; I wanted to attempt to explore some of the man's limits. I also wanted to address the probability of Kirk ending up stuck with a boring Starfleet desk job (a future which seemed as implausible to me as it was unappealing). And then there was the very special relationship between Kirk and Spock ... In the course of the writing, unexpected things started to happen. Characters began to develop minds of their own and started telling me what words to put on the page. I became obsessed and possessed. The "small novella" grew. And grew. When it became increasingly apparent that I had a Major Project on my hands, I determined to follow it to its completion as a partial "thank you" to all the terrific writers who have given of their time and talents, providing me and others with much entertainment and food for thought. PRECESSIONAL was plotted (and most of it was written) before ST:TMP was released. It is therefore not contiguous with the movie. I consider and have always considered PRE. to be a sort of alternate universe--a "what-if" for exploration. 
He wondered where Spock was. In another cubicle? Still with Amian? He hoped the latter; it was just possible that the Vulcan might be able to reason around her madness. And if not that, there was always Scotty -- Kirk knew it couldn't be too much longer before a recon party was dispatched. Be careful, Scotty, he prayed silently. I don't like the feel of this one...
The Proposed Sequel
In the 1983 editorial of Galactic Discourse #4, the author talks of a sequel, one that was never published, at least under the proposed title as a zine.
- "For those who've asked, the sequel is underway (working title: 'Per Aspera Ad Astra') PAAA deals with Kirk and Spock's further adventures on planet Ahmdalin, the evolution of the relationship, and the inevitable encounter with Starfleet. I haven't had much time to devote to it lately, but I hope to remedy that situation soon. I'll post news of PAAA's progress, assuming there is progress, in the newszines."
Reactions and Reviews
This was one of the 'The Enterprise is a distraction to the real story of Star Trek, which is, of course, about Kirk and Spock and their friendship stories. The ship plunges into the atmosphere of a planet (with everyone else aboard) early in the story, leaving Kirk and Spock stranded. The remaining narrative resembles a character study more than a science fiction tale. The high popularity of the story illustrated the rapidly diminishing influence of science fiction among Star Trek fanzine readers and writers. 
For me, it’s the quality and enduring nature of the relationship that matters most. That is why Precessional counts as pre-K/S. It has the necessary intensity and at the end of the narrative Kirk and Spock are clearly moving towards a physical as well as a mental relationship and Spock is asking Evanna of the telepathic Glista what an intimate is. Laurie intended there to be a sequel in which it is discovered that Sulu and others have also survived and which was to be K/S. She never got around to writing it. 
In PRECESSIONAL, Laurie Huff weaves a compelling story, a blend of Kirk/Spock hurt/comfort and char-, acter growth set against a fully fleshed science fiction background. The Enterprise Captain and First Officer, captured by an insane scientist, are stranded on the planet Ahmdalin after the Enterprise is destroyed. Spock must deal with an injured, comatose Kirk and finds refuge at the home of a woman, Evanna Te'Lhurean. When Kirk finally regains consciousness, weakened and emotionally scarred by the scientist's torture, Spock must make the difficult decision of waiting to break the news concerning the ship. When Kirk learns the truth, both men struggle to face their grief and, finally coming to terms with it, attempt to save the planet's inhabitants from invading aliens lured there by the scientist. The society of Ahmdalin is undergoing a struggle, too; those with telepathic, psychic powers are persecuted as evil by a group rejecting science and progress. The telepaths, 'Those with the Gift', have maintained a peaceful, hopeful philosophy, seeking the wonder of the universe and the marooned Starfleet officers eventually find a place among them. Laurie Huff manages all this with a deft, sure hand. The female scientist is not a typical "mad scientist", though she has deluded herself that her psychological experiments—tortures—were for the 'good' of humanity. The character of Evanna is well-drawn and believable, a loner, at first unsure of the offworlders she has taken in, then a concerned friend who learns, through their example to accept her own past grief and rejoin her people. The philosophy is uplifting and hopeful — besides being an appropriate refuge for Kirk and Spock, it reflects the hopes and dreams of the future that is Star Trek. And that is one more reason the novel is so effective. Though the Enterprise is gone, it is extremely satisfying Trek fiction. Still, much of it is Huff's own creation. The science fiction, the planet's society and new characters add to the interest, making it much more than just a Kirk/Spock vehicle. Love, skill and endurance are evident in the work. It is stated in the preface that the novel was four years in preparation and it shows. Each idea is fully developed, all elements meshing into a coherent, well-nlotted story. Both Kirk and Spock receive e-qually good treatment, as they deal with the tragedy and grow closer to each other. Huff handles the complexities of their personalities, their emotional turmoil and growth, while staying true to the characters, giving them strength and humanity. The writing style is precise, intense, often lyrical. The reader feels the pain and progress of the characters and can become involved with the world of Ahmdalin. In moving language, Huff evokes scenes of beauty, tenderness, sorrow and elation, without lapsing into the maudlin. The production of the zine, too, is excellent. The reproduction is clear and clean, the copy virtually typo-free. Exquisite illustrations by Merle Decker, Signe Landon, Stefanie Hawks, Nan Lewis, Harriet Stallings and Laurie Huff grace the pages and the color cover is by Signe Landon. PRECESSIONAL is a finely crafted novel, an emotionally satisfying story and should take its place among the classics of fan fiction. 
In the category of [Best] Classic Trek Novel, the prize has to go to Precessional, by Laurie Huff. Wait, wait, don't even bother with the rotten eggs, I'm already standing behind my Official Rodney King Signature Riot Shield (Walt Disney Products, $39.95, at fine stores everywhere). I will say in my defense that Laurie's work on that work predates our relationship, and that she did it without any input on my part. If you've seen my work and hers, the truth of this should be obvious. This is the only novel mat has ever brought me to tears, and it still does on each subsequent re-eading. 
PRECESSIONAL has been marketed as a story of loss, struggle, and character growth, and deals with lasting changes in the lives of Kirk and Spock. Whatever that means! I've seen several reviews of this work, none of which contained any more plot synopsis than in the quote. So what's it all about? An evil woman scientist, Dr. Rheva Amian, escapes prosecution for illegally experimenting with a device for remote,, mechanically induced behavior control. While piloting her stolen shuttle craft, she runs into a vessel iron an alien race, the Sfing, who plot to seize Federation controlled territory. She agrees to help them, and they release her at a lovely class M planet, Ahmdalin. Several years later, the Enterprise arrives to investigate a strange energy reading emanating from Ahmdalin. Kirk and Spock beam down and have the strange transceiver they find beamed up to the Enterprise. A few minutes later they are captured by Dr. Amian and some members of "the Order," a native authoritarian group which she is helping in violation of the Prime Directive. Unknown to Kirk and Spock, the transceiver contains one of her behavior control devices. Unfortunately, it does not work as planned, and the crew of the Enterprise goes insane causing the loss of the ship. Kirk and Spock escape Dr. Amian, but Kirk is very badly injured. How can Spock keep Kirk alive and free without violating the Prime Directive any more than they have to? Will they ever see the Federation again? And who will stop the Sfing? And that's just the first 38 pages! There's more excitement to come. One of the nice things about this work is that it is rated PG, but it is not boring. While the Kirk/Spock relationship is extensively developed, it does not go beyond hurt/comfort. You could lend this to a friend without embarrassment. The action/adventure sequences are also handled well. However, I wish the author had spent a little less time on the well-worn hurt/comfort theme, and had spent more time developing the natives of Ahmdalin. At the time of the story, they were in the midst of a major cultural and evolutional transformation. They were in the process of acquiring substantial psychic powers. Ms Huff could have had another Darkover on her hands if she had gone a little farther. The zine is nicely put together with an excellent print job and a color wraparound cover. The interior artwork, by several well-known artists, sticks very closely to the descriptions in the text and greatly enhances the work.