The Ring of Soshern
|Title:||The Ring of Soshern|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: TOS|
|External Links:||cited here|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Ring of Soshern is a slash K/S 105-page (single-sided) novel by Jennifer Guttridge. It was circulated privately in Great Britain far earlier than 1975. Jenna at Beyond Dreams Press notes that "my personal information from contact with the author dates that story several years earlier, to 1968 and possibly slightly before that." Because it mentions pon farr, it could not have been written earlier than mid-September 1967.
It became one symbol of the stress and conflict in Star Trek fandom over the idea that Kirk and Spock could have a sexual relationship. Most fans in the 1960s and early 1970s would not have accepted this premise. Many copies were purposely destroyed. "A certain K&S relationship fan in the southern U.S. bought up as many copies as she could find and burned them -- a singularly, reprehensibly unfair form of censorship!" 
The story is often cited as one of the example of an informal K/S circuit that pre-dated fanzines. (A few Star Trek fanzines actually appeared as early as January 1967). According to a fan writing in The K/S Press, Guttridge never intended the story to be published. And, according to other fans, it was later published in the zine Alien Brothers without the author's knowledge and she did not learn of the publication until decades later.
"“Ring” contains many of the elements K/S fans have come to know and love: pon farr forces their first sexual encounter in a cave on a prehistoric planet fraught with danger. The sex is brutal and unromantic at first, and both men regret the necessity for it, yet Kirk refuses to let his friend die in pain and humiliation. Hurt/comfort abounds for both Kirk and Spock. “The Ring of Soshern” is well written, truly a trailblazer in many ways. What today may appear clichéd was definitely cutting edge in 1975." 
Reactions and Reviews
"RING" is essentially an action-adventure tale, with very good descriptive details, heavily laced with a most tender and intense, yet realistic and unsentimental K/S relationship. The sex is masculine, strongly realistic, not romanticized at all -- anal sex is like anchovies, folks; you have to develop a taste for it! -- as are the descriptions of various physical injuries, and there is no gloating, tearjerking over-sentimentality at the less-than-pretty descriptions. 
One of the earliest K/S stories. Photocopies of the manuscript circulated very privately, before it was finally published in 1987 in Alien Brothers. In the story Kirk and Spock beam down to a previously unexplored planet to investigate some mysterious sensor readings. Through a miscalculation the Enterprise gets caught in an ion storm and must leave them behind. Kirk and Spock are left deserted on the planet, not knowing when the ship will be able to return for them, for there will be much damage from the ion storm that Scotty will have to fix first. Over the next days Kirk and Spock have to deal with dangerous plants, dinosaur-like creatures, and even some shaggy humanoids. They each in turn get wounded and must be tenderly ministered to by the other. But the real crisis comes when Spock begins to go into pon farr. Although Spock is only half-Vulcan, he still goes into the heat suffered every seven years by all Vulcan males. He will go into a blood fever, become violent, and finally die if he does not mate. And he cannot mate with just anyone; it must be someone with whom he is already empathically bonded. Kirk realizes that there is a bond of love between him and Spock because of the years they have worked together. Kirk goes to Spock, who at first refuses his offer but then his blood fever takes him over and he has no choice. Not only does their sexual act save Spock's life, it makes Kirk realize that he does not just love Spock, he is in love with Spock. Spock too realizes his love for the captain and they spend all their remaining days on the planet exploring both the planet and each other's bodies. 
This was apparently the original “Pon Farr in a cave” story!!! Although to classify it so simply rather does it down, as this story is really more complicated than that. They both (K and S) seem to get injured an awful lot in this story by big fish, dinosaur creatures and ape men etc., etc. Whilst this story seemed basically well written and thought out—although I would have liked more explanation of this ‘ring of soshern’ which seemed an interesting idea—there were a few things which spoilt it for me. Firstly I never much like Pon Farr stories anyway because of the inherent violence in many, (this is a personal bug-bear of mine). Secondly there was just too much retching, vomiting and general diarrhea, now I accept that being unable to keep food down is quite probably one of the symptoms of Pon Farr, but when Spock fell in the river and “Vomited...several pints of thick foul smelling fluid...with several blackened clots of blood.” I began to be unable to shake the feeling of yuckkyness. Poor Kirk is not spared either as apparently, “Vulcan semen acts as an enema!” Unfortunately I think that these things are the mental equivalent of a cold shower, and I admired Kirk’s love as he curled up with Spock at night despite the phlegmy and hacking cough. Seriously though it was interesting to read such an early K/S story and I was pleased at the complexity of the story considering it was not written for the large zine ‘audience’ of today. If it had not contained so many bodily functions then I probably would have enjoyed it despite it being a Pon Farr story. 
My favorite story in the zine is Jennifer Guttridges's "The Rings of Soshern". This novella was written in the early '70's before the existence of K/S zines, and is published for the first time in ALIEN BROTHERS. The story could be categorized as K/S, hurt/comfort, and action/adventure, and is satisfying on all levels. It is smoothly written, interesting, and very sensitively done. It concerns Spock and Kirk being stranded on a primitive planet, whore there is danger from dinosaurs and ape-like natives. (Both suffer their share of illnesses and injuries, and Guttridge graphically depicts acts of vomiting and other symptoms of physical anguish.) Spock goes into pon farr, and Kirk, of course, must 'save' him. The sex scenes are tastefully done, with much left to the reader's imagination. My one complaint is that the ending is rather weak once the two return to the ship. 
- Jenna Sinclair, SHORT HISTORY OF EARLY K/S or HOW THE FIRST SLASH FANDOM CAME TO BE, citing as source: "email with the author, who referred to her original dated manuscript." (Accessed 13 October 2010)
- from "The K/S Completist" column in Not Tonight, Spock! #2
- As reported during outreach for the Foresmutters Project in 2002. Most fannish communication in the 1980s took place via mailed letters, so the prominent ads placed in the letterzine Not Tonight Spock that announced the publication of the story might not have reached the author or even if they did, communication between author and publisher might have become garbled over time and distance.
- from The K/S Zine: The Time of the Beginning 1976-1985
- from Not Tonight, Spock! #2
- Constance Penley in Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Popular Culture. (Accessed 27 January 2010)
- from The K/S Press #32
- from Treklink #12, commenting on the story as it appeared in Alien Brothers