Spock (TOS)

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Name: Spock
Occupation: Starfleet
Title/Rank: Science Officer, Executive Officer, Captain, Ambassador
Location: Enterprise
Status: More logical than you
Relationships: A few brief canonical encounters: otherwise, only in fandom
Fandom: Star Trek
Other:
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Contents

Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) was introduced in the first, unaired pilot of the original Star Trek TV series and starred in all three seasons and six subsequent movies. He also appeared in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and in the 2009 film Star Trek.

Canon Background

See Memory Alpha's entry for more canon details.

Spock is both the first officer and the science officer on the starship Enterprise. His Vulcan commitment to logic means that he will not often acknowledge having an emotional life, but he appears to be friends with Captain Kirk and (in a sense) with Doctor McCoy. Later, in The Wrath of Khan, his friendship with Kirk is stated explicitly in the famous line, "I have been, and always shall be, your friend."

Spock is half-Vulcan and half-human, the son of the Vulcan Sarek and his human wife Amanda, but presents himself as fully Vulcan. In fact, there has been much discussion among fans (somewhat confirmed by canon) that he is over-compensating for his human half and consequently acts "more Vulcan than most Vulcans" — ultra-logical, intelligent and efficient. He is also characterized by self-sacrifice and unswerving loyalty to his friends and shipmates. According to his mother, Starfleet is the only place he feels at home.

Spock's parents first appear in the episode "Journey to Babel," when the audience learns that Spock and his father, Sarek, were estranged for eighteen years. Sarek, expected him to join the Vulcan Science Academy. Instead, Spock's curiosity about the universe led him to join Starfleet. Sarek did not approve, not only because Vulcans shun weapons and violence, but also because Spock was following his own mind instead of being obedient to family tradition. After Spock saves Sarek's life, they are reconciled.

In the first, unaired pilot ("The Cage"), Spock is the Enterprise's science officer, and Captain Christopher Pike is in command. From the second pilot onward, James T. Kirk is captain, and Spock is also the ship's first officer. Kirk describes Spock as his best officer and friend.

In the famous episode "Amok Time," Spock is overcome by the pon farr mating drive which must culminate in either marriage or death. Kirk ends up participating in a traditional challenge rite, Kaliffee, involving a fight to the death. Kirk/Spock fans had and continue to have a field day with Kirk's participation in the Kaliffee, and pon farr continues to be a recurring motif in both fanworks and canon. The rite was called for by Spock's affianced bride T'Pring, who had no interest in becoming his wife. She described it as the only way she could get a divorce.

Gene Roddenberry came up with numerous backstory elements for Spock; Vulcan as a high-gravity planet, accounting for Spock's greater strength; the people as originally violent but reforming their society through logic. Responding to fan interest, he also figured out how species as different as Vulcan and human could have a child. As explored with Mark Lenard (playing Sarek) on the 1974 recording Inside Star Trek, Spock was conceived via normal sexual congress between his parents. He was partly gestated in a test tube and given various chemical alterations to ensure his survival before being returned to Amanda's womb. He was born through Caesarian section and spent his first few months in an incubator. [1]

Fan Response

Fan response to Spock was immediate and overwhelming. As early as April 1967, science fiction author (and fan) Isaac Asimov wrote a tongue-in-cheek article called "Mr. Spock is Dreamy!" for TV Guide, in which he described and tried to explain the female reaction to Spock:

Captain Kirk (for those, if any, who are not STAR TREK fans) is a capable hero and a full-blooded human. Mr. Spock is half-alien and is a creature of pure reason and no emotion. Naturally Captain Kirk responded to every danger with an appropriate twist of his handsome and expressive face. Spock, however, kept his long, serene face unmoved. Not for an instant did he allow emotion to dim the thoughtful gleam of his eye; not for a split second did he allow that long face to grow shorter. And my daughter said, "I think Mr. Spock is dreamy!"[2]

Commercial teen fan magazines -- 16/16 Spec, Tiger Beat, Fave, Flip and so on -- promoted Nimoy as a teen idol, although he was much older than most of the other featured stars. Spock set an example in these magazines as a role model for getting good grades and pursuing life goals.[3] There were photographs and articles about Nimoy's offscreen life and other projects

In September 1967, just as Star Trek began its second season, the first American Trek fanzine, Spockanalia, appeared in New York City. It included a letter from Leonard Nimoy to wish the zine editors luck.

A tradition that Spockanalia carried over from sf fanzines, and which carried over to subsequent Star Trek fanzines, was the check-off list on the last page. The list's introduction stated, "You are receiving Spockanalia because...." A number of possibilities followed. On my issue, the editor checked: "You are in Spock Shock," "We admire you," and "You are totally illogical."[4]

Spock's character has always been acknowledged as a great part of why the show affects people so deeply. Gene Roddenberry believed it was because of a hint of "controlled evil" in Spock; Leonard Nimoy asserted that he was not playing Spock as evil, but that his "cool" might resemble the emotionless calm much admired by young people and fans of James Bond. In Star Trek Lives!, Jacqueline Lichtenberg discusses the "Spock Effect" partly in terms of viewer response to the Friendship.

Bjo Trimble, a BNF who directed the original "Save Star Trek" letter campaign, believes that the single most appealing thing about Spock is that "he didn't belong anywhere". She wrote of receiving thousands of letters from young people, in many cases about to commit suicide, saying that Spock had given them a new lease on life. Spock's struggle between his human and Vulcan natures mirrored teens' struggle "trying to find themselves". Some of them were attracted to the orderliness of Vulcan culture and adopted similar philosophies for themselves, and took Vulcan names, often combined with "hippie" elements.[5]

Spock's Name

According to D.C. Fontana in a letter to Spockanalia, Spock's family/last name is Xtmprsqzntwlfb.

The exact wording D.C. Fontana used in her letter to Spockanalia was:
Both his mother and father have been married only once... to each other... Spock is an only child... there are absolutely no other siblings... I have projected Spock's last name as XTMPRSQZNTWLFB.

"In the canon, Spock is formally addressed as Mr. Spock. In the TOS episode "This Side of Paradise", when he is asked if he has another name, he replies "You couldn't pronounce it." In "Journey to Babel", Amanda, when addressed as Mrs. Sarek, says "I'm afraid you couldn't pronounce the Vulcan name." D.C. Fontana, who wrote the script, decided that Spock's family name was Xtmprsqzntwlfb, and fans dutifully worked out the etymology and pronunciation thereof."[6]

In 1984, a fan wrote of this name: "I think it's funny that it's practically carved in stone that Spock's family name is Xtmprsqzntwlfb. If you go back and look, this came up in a letter from D.C. Fontana to Spockanalia, and her general wording was that his name was something like that, not that that was what it was. It was an example. But fans latched onto it, and there you have it. Personally, I think we should be free to believe or disbelieve what we want. [7]

In fan fiction, he is sometimes called Spock cha Sarek ("son of Sarek"[8]).

The final page of the pro novel Ishmael proposes that the Vulcan family name of Spock and his father Sarek is S'chn T'gai.

Spock's Smile

Main article: Spock Smiles

Spock smiles several times during the series. Mostly it is due to his being affected by things like alien spores, going back in time, etc. He smiles of his own accord once during the regular series, in "Amok Time".

Spock-centric Fanworks

front cover of It Takes Time on Impulse #1, artist is Nan Lewis

Early fan portrayals of Mr. Spock often focused more on his mere presence and personality rather than on his sexuality. Much fan fiction centered on speculations about Vulcan culture and Spock's place within it. There was also gentle satire from writers like Ruth Berman, and many attempts (some of them quite good) to write straight-ahead Star Trek episodes in fiction as well as screenplay form.

Fans who wrote romances for Mr. Spock assumed that he was heterosexual, and made further assumptions on Vulcan sexuality based on the episodes "Journey to Babel" and "Amok Time", the only TOS episodes to show hints of Vulcan culture, and on his remarks and actions in "This Side of Paradise", "All Our Yesterdays", "The Enterprise Incident", and "The Cloud Minders". Romantic fan fiction about Spock, therefore, was universally "het" at first, pairing Spock with Vulcan, Vulcan/human, or occasionally Romulan women, or Earthwomen, often those who had studied on Vulcan or been raised there. K/S fiction may have circulated privately, but did not appear in fanzines until Diane Marchant's "A Fragment Out of Time" was printed in Grup #1 in 1974.

The "Dorothy and Myfanwy" series of stories by Dorothy Jones (later Heydt) and Astrid Anderson began in T-Negative #1, edited by Ruth Berman, in June 1969. These are seriocomic tales about two junior officers, linguist Dorothy Conway and xenobotanist Myfanwy Orloff. Eventually they marry Spock and McCoy, respectively; but these should not be mistaken for Mary Sue stories. The two women are portrayed as highly intelligent and educated but otherwise perfectly normal, without unrealistic traits; they are exceptional people on a starship full of exceptional people. The storylines and canon characters are well in keeping with original series episodes such as "Shore Leave". Interestingly, the stories establish that by the time of Star Trek, psi abilities are portrayed as being generally acknowledged in earth societies, and Starfleet cadets are tested for ESP.

Dorothy Jones actually was a linguist, and her Vulcan language resonated with fans, many of whom picked up words for their own stories; Jones' Vulcan language originated the expression ni var (two form). This was later used by Claire Gabriel as an alternative title for her novella The Thousandth Man. A shortened version of that tale appeared in the first New Voyages anthology. Ni Var later became the name of a Vulcan ship in the television series Enterprise; the writers thought that Gabriel had invented the phrase.

The Kraith series by Jacqueline Lichtenberg premiered in August 1970 in T-Negative #8. Lichtenberg wrote of Spock, his friendship with Kirk and McCoy, and his search for an appropriate wife. She created an insular Vulcan monoculture which sought to preserve certain traditions while recognizing others as belonging to the past. Her Vulcans used psionic devices as well as mental disciplines, while her earth people were by and large psi-null, although Kirk picks up telepathic abilities from having encountered so many telepathic aliens. Lichtenberg used Kraith to lead readers beyond the idea of a human-centered universe.

Judith Brownlee's T'Pelle stories in Eridani Triad were about the first Vulcan female captain in Starfleet, who becomes Spock's bondmate. The process of their telepathic union is described in warm, psychedelic detail.

Also of note are Jennifer Guttridge's stories in various early Star Trek fanzines. They are deeply introspective narratives in which Spock is physically injured or must endure incredible hardships, often to rescue Jim Kirk. The melodrama "Tower of Terror" (originally published over two issues of Regina Marvinny's Tricorder Readings) has been reprinted numerous times. Guttridge was also apparently an early slash writer.

The Sensuous Vulcan (1977) was an anthology fanzine featuring adult, Spock-centric stories and art -- both slash and heterosexual. Like Grup, contributors included some of the best authors and artists in fandom.

Spock's Physiology

His Body

Dr. McCoy often commented on Vulcan physiology and the strangeness of Spock's health readings on his bioscan. In "The Naked Time", McCoy said "Your pulse is 242; your blood pressure is practically nonexistent, assuming you call that green stuff in your veins blood." Spock replied that was perfectly normal for him. Spock's green blood was mentioned in several episodes, usually by McCoy, often in an exasperated moment. In "Galileo Seven" he called Spock a "green-blooded hobgoblin". In "The Paradise Syndrome" McCoy referred to Spock's blood as "green ice water". "Obsession" established that the base element of Vulcan hemoglobin, the oxidizing agent, is copper rather than iron.

When Sarek, Spock's father, had a heart attack while on board in "Journey to Babel", Dr. McCoy said an ordinary operation was out of the question, and Sarek added this was because of the construction of the Vulcan heart. Spock proposed a "cyrogenic" open-heart procedure; either this was a slip by Leonard Nimoy for "cryogenic", or "cyrogenesis" is some new technology appropriate for Vulcan surgery. Spock's blood, like his father's, is the somewhat rare type T-Negative, perhaps the Vulcan equivalent of AB Negative. With the "human blood elements" filtered out, he was able to give transfusions.

In the episode "A Private Little War", Spock was shot by a flintlock rifle, and Dr. McCoy commented "Lucky his heart's where his liver should be or he'd be dead now." By this episode an expert in Vulcan health, Dr. M'Benga, had come aboard; he assisted Spock in emerging from a healing trance state.

In Spockanalia 1, Sandy Deckinger wrote up a "Proposed Model for the Vulcan Heart"[9]. An alternative version was later presented by Dorothy Jones.[10] Sherna Comerford, Juanita Coulson and Kay Anderson contributed "Physiologica Vulcanensis" talking about the differences between human and Vulcan physiology and neurology[11] [12]. "'SBlood", also by Sherna Comerford, discussed Vulcan blood chemistry.[13] Other articles explored Vulcan psychology, child development, and the possibility of Vulcan religions.

The focus on Vulcan physiology in general and Spock's in particular led the show's continuity editor Dorothy Fontana to remark in a memo that "They write whole treatises and fanzines (for a large circle of fan subscribers) based on Vulcan psychology, physiology, emotions, mores, and what Spock eats for breakfast."[14]

Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Sondra Marshak added, in Star Trek Lives!, that "Vulcans have been analyzed down to their teeth and toenails and the last drop of their green blood."[15]

A Very 'Specific' Part of His Body aka Spock's Penis

Main article: Vulcan Genitalia

By and large, when it came to Vulcan sexuality, early fans of the series seemed much more interested in the mechanics of Spock's conception and birth. If any part of Vulcan anatomy received special attention on the show itself, it was his ears. Vulcan genitalia did not receive the intensive attention they have in later fannish speculation and fanworks. Fanon has established that Spock's penis would have a green hue, and fans have been very inventive when deciding on its shape.

Chest Hair in Fanart

Unlike Kirk or Sulu, when Spock appears shirtless in fanart, he is often depicted with an almost alarming amount of chest hair. This trend probably started after a Star Trek episode ("Patterns of Force") featuring Kirk and Spock half-naked and behind bars. [16] But although a hairy Spock is 100% canon, not every fanartist prefers their Spock hirsute.

In Star Trek Reboot

photo art illustration of Spock Prime made by girlnamedpixley for fanfic War Games by seperis

Spock, played by a much older Leonard Nimoy, also appears in the 2009 Star Trek film; he falls into a wormhole and is stranded in the alternate universe where the action of the film takes place. Because the alternate universe version of Spock is another character in the film, the original Spock is usually termed Spock Prime (or sometimes Nimoy!Spock) by fans to avoid confusion. Spock Prime appears in a lot of fanworks made by Reboot fans.

Notable Fanworks with Spock (TOS) in Reboot Verse

Fanfiction

  • Breaking Points by Ragdoll. Spock Prime "meddles" to bring his younger counterpart and James T. Kirk (2009) together.
  • Reviving Methuselah by kyliselle,A very old and lonely man. And a young and lonely man. We put on a pretty poor show, didn't we? - Kirk to Spock, Requiem for Methuselah. A story set in San Francisco; after the defeat of Nero, but before the Enterprise once again took flight. Kirk/Spock!Prime
  • Over Time and Space, Love and Change by sevsgirl72. Spock!Prime seeks a new and old fate that may induce some paradoxical problems. Spock!Prime/McCoy
  • Coming Home by Amanda Warrington. Set a few months into their first mission, the Enterprise is ordered to pick up a Vulcan Healer and transport him to the new colony. Once there they are scheduled to remain and assist with the early stages of setting up the colony. Kirk's liaison is his 'old friend' Ambassador Spock, now known as Elder Sepak, who takes the opportunity to help Kirk and Spock become better acquainted.

Vids

Meta

References

  1. Sarek's Son Spock, transcript of interview on the 1976 recording Inside Star Trek.
  2. Mr Spock is Dreamy!, by Isaac Asimov, published April 29, 1967.
  3. "Spock, Teenage Outcast" (Fave, May 1968) was actually credited to Nimoy, based on his speculations about Spock's early years. Responding to a fan letter from a mixed-race girl, Nimoy (apparently) spoke at length about how prejudice exists also on Vulcan, meaning that Spock was rejected and perhaps bullied by his peers. Instead of trying to be popular, Nimoy said, Spock focused on what he most liked about himself, and chose to be useful; if he were top of his class and excelled at everything, there would always be a place for him in the universe.
  4. Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967 - 1987, by Joan Verba, second ed., p11.
  5. Bjo Trimble, On The Good Ship Enterprise (Donning, 1983), p. 103.
  6. Boldly Writing, a Trekker Fan and Zine History, by Joan Verba, second ed., p1.
  7. from Interstat #79
  8. Diane Duane, Spock's World, official tie-in novel published 1989. See also this page at TV Tropes, about halfway down the page.
  9. In Spockanalia 1, p. 21.
  10. Dorothy Jones, "The Vulcan Heart: An Alternate Proposal". Spockanalia 3, p. 62.
  11. Spockanalia 1, p. 14.
  12. Susan Hereford, "Terran-Vulcan Genetic Compatibility", in Spockanalia 2, p. 62.
  13. Spockanalia 1, p. 47.
  14. Quoted in David Gerrold, The World of Star Trek (Ballantine, 1973). Fontana is sounding off in a memo to producers about the seduction scene in "The Enterprise Incident", warning that Nimoy's and Joanne Linville's objections to the original script were valid; if it were not handled consistently according to established canon about Vulcans, the fans would tune out in droves. Even with the restraint and grace employed by Nimoy and Linville in this scene, the fans still wrote reams to Fontana, blaming her for the inconsistency. It could have been a lot worse. Gene Roddenberry had written in that Spock should "rain kisses" on the Commander! yeesh.
  15. Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Sondra Marshak and Joan Winston, Star Trek Lives! (Ballantine, 1975).
  16. See Eyecandy for screencaps.
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