180 Degrees

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Star Trek Fanfiction
Title: 180 Degrees
Author(s): Mary Suskind Lansing
Date(s): 1986
Length:
Genre: slash
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links: at AO3

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180 Degrees is a Kirk/Spock/McCoy story by Mary Suskind Lansing. It has art by Marilyn Cole.

art by Marilyn Cole
art by Marilyn Cole

It was published in Nome #9.

This was one of the stories that was to have appeared in "Best of Nome" #1.

Summary

"A new method of time travel sends McCoy and Kirk to a deserted planet. In 20 minutes of ship's time they are to experience 2 days an the planet. An accident damages the mechanism used to send them to the planet and the two men cannot be returned until Spock effects repairs. McCoy and Kirk spend 7 years together in the 15.2 days of ship's time it takes to bring them back. During that time they become lovers. When they return, McCoy is willing to give up the relationship knowing Kirk and Spock love each other. Kirk is not willing to turn away from McCoy, nor is he willing to give up his love for Spock." [1] "

From the Publisher

From A 2007 Interview with Victoria Clark:
"We were selling at Creation Con. Their tables were quite expensive, so we shared one table with other editors who had zines with more explicit covers than the ones we published. Whenever someone came up to our table who we didn't recognize we would say, we have to tell you these zines include adult material; if you feel same-sex stories aren’t something you want to read about, please don't buy these zines. Mary came up to our table and looked through everything. She got the spiel, bought “Broken Images”, “Nome” and some others. She returned later and bought everything on the table. The year that I was on sabbatical, Mary was writing “180 Degrees”, a threesome story that was “logical”. “180 Degrees” was published in “Nome” # 9 in 1986, the same year that the third movie came out. We premiered “Nome” # 9 at Shore Leave that year. A fan came up to me the next day to tell me that the story bothered her so much, because it was so well written, and yet Kirk and Spock and McCoy were saying doing things in their own voices that they shouldn't be doing."

Reactions and Reviews

180 DEGREES by Mary Suskind Lansing, is a different kettle of fish. BOY, is it ever different! I am also not a fan of K/S/McCoy tales—but this one grabbed me and kept my interest—the premise for the trio was the most believable I've ever come across, and the best reason yet for why Spock REALLY left for Gol at the end of the 5-year mission. The Pollyanna's among you probably won't like the ending worth a (insert colorful metaphor of your choice), but it's perfect for the story.[2]
Menage stories are by their nature controversial; this one is out of the ordinary also in that the "initial" pairing is Kirk/McCoy rather thank/S or S/McCoy. The plot device whereby this comes about is a mixture of cliché (trapped on an isolated planet together because of mechanical failure) and clever idea - there is a time distortion whereby a few weeks' delay in repairing said equipment in "our" dimension allows several years to pass on the planet. This provides some background for the two friends to turn to each other for release and comfort, and adds extra tension on their return, carrying the baggage of a long-term relationship in isolation from everyone else, into an unequal triangle with Spock who has been waiting only a short time for his would-be lover Kirk to return and realise their mutual attraction.

Inequality is indeed the hallmark of this relationship and the reason why I feel that, despite the fact that the story is well constructed and written, and emotions are clearly and poignantly explored, it fails to satisfy. The ultimate outcome of all the angst is the separation at the end of the 5-year mission - Spock to Gol, McCoy out of Starfleet and Kirk to behind a desk. After two years of the stresses and strains caused essentially by Kirk's inability/refusal to bond exclusively with Spock, and to give up McCoy as a sexual partner this is understandable. What is not, is how it could be maintained in the first place; it seems clear from the text that McCoy would be regretful at the cessation of their physical love, but that he would get over it and support Kirk and Spock as a friend; Spock on the other hand wants an exclusive bond and never changes his mind and heart on this point. The triangle causes him a great deal of suffering, and the emotional connection he eventually comes to have with McCoy I didn't find convincing.

Kirk comes over as incredibly selfish and insensitive. Whatever he says, he acts as though Spock's feelings and needs don't really count. Now, OK, we know JTK can be selfish and pigheaded, though it is stretched a long way here, but what really rankles is that he also appears to be thoroughly indecisive. That's not our Captain! the Jim Kirk we know doesn't balk at hard decisions, but takes the consequences and deals with them even at cost to himself. The Kirk in this story talks a lot about not wanting to hurt his friends/lovers but ends up hurting one of them far more badly than necessary, because he can't bite the bullet and commit. He manipulates Spock into accepting something the latter does not want and can't sustain, and it all seems to be about what Kirk wants and needs. Not a very attractive picture. There are some great moments though.[3]
If ever someone would ask me if I read a story which got on my nerves, well this one is a dandy. Brief summary.: Kirk volunteers as guinea pig in Spock's time travel experiment. McCoy seeing a perfect opportunity to have a good and long chat with our intrepid captain, decides to join him. There is an accident and they are stranded on an uninhabited planet in the past. Due to different time streams, seven years have passed for Kirk and McCoy while on the Enterprise only a couple of weeks went by before they could retrieve their officers. Meanwhile Kirk and McCoy have become lovers, Upon returning Kirk refuses to end that relationship while simultaneously wanting one with Spock. Spock asks Kirk to bond with him. Kirk refuses because he doesn't want to end his relationship with McCoy. He convinces them that the only way of sharing without having to exclude either one is a menage a trois. They agree. The end of the five year mission is at hand and Kirk accepts a groundpost. After two years of living together Spock asks Kirk for the last time to bond with him without telling him his Pon Farr is near.

Kirk refuses because that would exclude McCoy. Meanwhile McCoy has learned that Spock is going into Pon Farr and decides to leave Kirk, giving Spock free reign, never knowing that Spock has left for Gol. Neither Spock nor McCoy tell Kirk about their decisions. Where will that leave Kirk? Pardon the expression, emotionally in deep shit. Deserted by his lovers, no explanations, no farewells, just take a shuttle and go.

Where did that leave me? Hanging high and dry because the story ends here. Reading this in the evening isn't very conductive to having a good night rest. The story left me...agitated is the correct word I think. I usually refrain from reading menage a trois stories. Something in me this story before I knew what was going on, I would have loved to read a more in depth development of Spock and McCoy's adjustment to reconcile the sharing of Kirk. Kirk is the nexus. Kirk is the nexus. Kirk doesn't have to make adjustments, he has what he wants all along. No, it just didn't ring true, at least as I see them.[4]
"180 Degrees" is the first totally plausible menage a trois story that I've read, but the ending was absolutely awful. I mean, that poor Kirk is going to come home to find both of his lovers gone. Please, please beg the author for a sequel, even if it's only a very short one. But I loved the arguments about who's going to be on top. It reminded me of that old Abbot and Costello routine, only in this case it might go, "Who's on top, what's on the bottom, and I Don't Know's in the middle." Anyway, the story was great, but for the ending.[5]
"180 Degrees"--! admit up front that I'm not particularly fond of K/S/Mc stories. But after putting my prejudices aside, I still found a number of problems with this novella:

1. When stranded in time on the planet, I thought Kirk and McCoy's emotional reactions were underplayed. The writer was telling me about some occasional feelings of hopelessness-on Kirk's part- but I wasn't feeling anything. And when they were rescued- well, it all seemed so numb. I didn't feel like I was part of the story. 2. Once back on the ship, Kirk was a complete jerk. I can't forgive him for not letting him and Spock spend even their first night alone together . He was unnecessarily cruel-to say nothing of the fact that he lacked the balls to choose between his two friends. Instead, he laps all the love right up-at least double what most of us will ever experience in our own lives— and leaves his friends each with half a loaf. Why couldn't he have alternated between the two each night, rather than forcing Spock and McCoy to sleep together with him? 3. In the scene where Spock is first penetrated, I couldn't accept his screaming in pain-especially with McCoy in the room. He's always been able to handle physical pain before. Why not then? 4. It seems to me that Spock was speaking in contractions throughout the story. It's not like him. and I had trouble matching his face to the words. 5. I was very upset to invest so much time in reading this story, only to have it turn out to be a pre-ST:TMP. Despite my anger with Kirk throughout the tale. I pitied him greatly in the end. But he deserved being left alone. I suppose I should be grateful for this novella, as it showed why a K/S/Mc relationship can't work. At least one person will always feel excluded by the other two. But emotionally it was very flat. The only tender moment in the entire 100 + pages is when Spock tells Kirk. "My speech would write itself."

I must add that I sincerely hope that this is the end of the K/S/Mc stories that seem to be so common now in "K/S" zines. They almost seem to be a trend the way slave stories used to be. I've had my fill, and don't wish to see anymore.[5]
Mary's "One Hundred and Eighty Degrees". Well. This story bothered me. I had a very uncomfortable feeling in my stomach (Yes. I'm too, too close to K/S.). The whole last three-quarters of the story. The exclusivity of the K/S relationship is. I believe, the prime reason I'm such a fan. (I know it inspired whatever stuff I submitted to zines.) And, too. I didn't like this Jim Kirk. His only thought was for what he wanted, the hell with the feelings of Bones and Spock. He truly got what he deserved. I don't know, maybe I disliked it so much because it was so well written. Usually, I can easily dismiss the stories I don't like. This one just kept eating at me.[5]
It almost works. Mary Suskind Lansing can write, very well. The beginning was very well done, Kirk and McCoy alone on that planet for all those years. Maybe to me, 'cause I see the sexual relationship as a comfort. But, what was so It almost works. Mary Suskind Lansing can write, very well. The beginning was very well done-Kirk and McCoy alone on that planet for all those years. Maybe to me, 'cause I see the sexual relationship as a comfort. But, what was so very wrong was the way Kirk so cavalierly brought Spock in and started that menage a trois. Kirk would never do this, to Spock most especially. Besides, McCoy wouldn't have allowed it. The Kirk in this part of the story is very selfish. I can almost see him getting involved with Spock, slowly. And, then, maybe still continuing on with McCoy. (Though I still believe that once he made a commitment, he would be committed, to one person.) He destroys the relationship, which I guess in that poignant ending is the ultimate get. The strange thing about this story is this is still Kirk and Spock and McCoy but they are doing things they wouldn't do. I have a feeling that there will be a sequel? . . . In a way, I'd like to see how it progresses; on the other hand, I'd like to see this author write other stories.[5]
I had a little trouble with "One Hundred and Eighty Degrees." First off, 1 have a lot of trouble with menage- a-trois, especially with three such strong personalities involved. Kirk/Spock I can see...Even a McCoy/Spock relationship, if it's done right. But I have yet to read a truly successful attempt at getting all three together in a long-term sexual relationship. Though I must say that Mary Suskind Lansing has done it the best so far. However, in my opinion, the best that anyone can do is to have a K/S relationship that involves McCoy as a close personal friend. One can have a very deep relationship without having to go to bed with the other person, although the premise Mary sets up was good and logical. But with the way she depicts Kirk in this, I really think Spock should dump Kirk before pon farr hits and find McCoy. I think in this case it'll work out a lot better.[5]
Although I'm not particularly fond of menage a trois pieces, "180 Degrees" was very well written and worth reading. I did groan a little, however, when I found out it was yet another "reason why he went to Gol." [5]
Kirk and McCoy are stranded on a planet for seven years while onboard the Enterprise, only 15 days pass. They become lovers, although McCoy knows that Kirk loves Spock. Back on the ship, Kirk declares that he wants both, and maneuvers them into a triangle situation. Personally, I have some issues with the way Kirk is handling the situation - not my idea of a healthy polyamorous setting, and I definitely hope that Kirk would be better able to talk things out. Nevertheless, the story is well worth reading and shouldn't be missed out! [6]
Kirk and McCoy are stranded on a planet for seven years while onboard the Enterprise, only 15 days pass. They become lovers, although McCoy knows that Kirk loves Spock. Back on the ship, Kirk declares that he wants both, and maneuvers them into a triangle situation. I like the mess up feel of how the trio starts their relationship and the evolution of how everyone deal with it was lovely. The ending broke my heart but worth reading. [7]

References

  1. from The McCoy List
  2. from On the Double #3
  3. from The K/S Press #34
  4. from Come Together #29
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 from the LoC section in Nome #10
  6. "KSMC Zines". 
  7. "Recs: our friends say it's darkest before the sun rises".