|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
|External Links:||Beyond Setarcos at the KS Archive|
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In a Series
- Desert Heat (first published in The Sensuous Vulcan, then in Naked Times #2, and later in The Cosmic Collected)
- Beyond Setarcos (first published in Thrust, then in The Cosmic Collected)
- Night of the Dragon (also first in Thrust, then in The Cosmic Collected)
- Between Friends (first published in Obsc'zine #3 in 1978, but was written and circulated hand-to-hand earlier as a story called "Birthday Present."  It was later printed in The Cosmic Collected).
Reactions and Reviews
This is the second story in a series of four, well-known to long-time fans. In the first story, the dreaded pon farr had struck, and Kirk satisfied Spock's need. In this one, Kirk finds he needs Spock, whether he wants to or not; Spock. on the other hand, is desperately trying to give Kirk the space he believes Kirk needs, although in fact they are bonded. Thrust was one of the earliest K/S zines, and in many ways it shows. There is, I feel, an apparent uncertainty about how far to take the theme even although, once she gets started, Gayle's descriptions are very uninhibited - far more so than those of any other writer in the zine. The writing style is more sparing with words than is customary in zines nowadays; whether this was Gayle's actual style back then or not is difficult to say, but it is certainly very enigmatic; succinct, with short statements forming paragraphs, not all of which are even sentences. Some are obviously the characters' thoughts; others are simply factual comments. It's effective, even though it gives the reading a slightly staccato (spelling?) effect. And the one thing that comes over, in spades, is the love these two have for each other.
Many K/S stories show either Kirk, Spock or both being inhibited by internalized homophobic assumptions. This is not to say that the stories or authors are homophobic, but that their characters are embodying a pre-conscious stage that exists in gay men before the formation of a positive identity. In "Desert Heat" by Gayle F.... pon farr provides the perfect scenario for homosex performed as a grim duty. "No one is asking you to enjoy it, mister. Kirk says to himself as a rebuke. It hasn't occurred to him that it's possible for him to enjoy it. His mind has dismissed the idea that he might have an inclination toward homosex. Perhaps this is because he has been attracted to women. The homophobic assumption involved here is the theory that any man who is attracted to women or who is even capable of having sex with women can never have a homosexual component in their make-up. From this assumption it is not very far to the idea that sex with a woman will "cure" homosexuality. We see this in Gayle F's "Beyond Setarcos" when Kirk attempts to forget how much he enjoyed sex with Spock in the arms of an Andorian woman. Of course, this doesn't work. In fact, it makes him even more distraught when he finds he can't function with her. The homophobic assumption he then makes is that since he's had homosex, he is now converted into a homosexual & he can never again enjoy anything else. What fear this engenders! The fact is that any man who is in a state of panic over his sexual identity shouldn't be surprised if he is unable to function sexually, since no one can be expected to enjoy anything while in a state of panic. Once Kirk is able to accept that he has a gay side, there is no reason why he souldn't be able to take pleasure in heterosex as well as homosex.
Okay, okay, I'm probably one of two people who haven't read this [zine] (the other probably being my mother), but it's one of my huge collection of unread zines and therefore subject to my incredibly insightful, penetrating, discerning (sounds like Spock's eyes) scrutiny! So for that fine other person out there, this is for you.
This [Desert Heat, Beyond Setarcos, Night of the Dragon, and Between Friends], is a series of connected stories concerning Spock going into pon farr while he and Kirk are left for a week on an abandoned planet. So, of course, Kirk has to help out. The stories continue back on the Enterprise, and Kirk has to help out some more. In the last story, McCoy helps out, but more on that later.
I'd already heard about [Gayle F's] writing being a lot like her sexy, ultra-explicit, fantasy artwork. Well, it's not exactly like it. There's a bit too much of "he licked his chest, abdomen, legs, knees, ankles, feet, toes,..." (not a quote) for my taste. Then, there's lots of "telling" not "showing". Also, the characterizations are a little strange. For the most pan. Kirk is unrecognizable and Spock is cliche with his exacting, logical talk. The rest is inner thoughts that are so heavy with a kind of emotional poetry, that I was confused as to who was feeling what and especially, why.The style of writing was frustrating to me. Done in short, clipped sentences, I had to work really hard to visualize things and believe me, there were lots of things I wanted to visualize) The use of repeating verbs didn't help imoi?), nor did leaving off nouns and the objects of verbs, and the "ands". Example: "Dropped his pants, kicked them away and jerked off boots, socks." There are many more examples, but you get the idea. Also, there are lots of hes, hims, and hises that totally confused me as to whose, whats and wheres.
For those of you who might not be familiar with Gayle F's work, I will mention her briefly here because she was so important in K/S since the time of the beginning (to coin a phrase).
This is not one of her best, by far, but it stands out because of the very early publishing date of 1978 and some of the ideas she puts forth in the story. Gayle was (and still is, but not in K/S) one of the most extraordinary artists. Her stylized drawings drew gasps at their outrageous explicitness, but often needed getting used to in order to appreciate. I absolutely love her work and her writing was equally as explicit and exciting. This story is no exception—it’s pretty much sex, sex and more sex. But what great sex! Gayle was, by far, the master of sexy writing. This early story has ideas like mind-melding with sex and Kirk and Spock’s intense passion with their bond that were first expressed during this time. It’s fascinating to read these things knowing that when they were written, it was all brand new. I don’t know if I even need to tell the plot—there really isn’t any! But some of the ideas were Spock says Vulcans consider homosexual relationships “perverse” since 3,000 years ago with warriors; they both might die if their bond is broken; Spock has been unintentionally transmitting sexual thoughts to Kirk; and especially, mind melding during sex. And lots of it.If you haven’t read any of Gayle’s work, then run, don’t walk to “Choices”—her novel with lots of signature [Gayle F] sex in it and takes place in a city that resembles ancient Venice during a fantastic masquerade ball. You won’t soon forget what happens on the balustrades.
I decided to review two stories from this very early zine, because I enjoyed them very much and I wanted to examine how we can enjoy fiction from the early days. This is the second story I will review. I love the sense of discovery in these stories. This Kirk and Spock don’t take it for granted that a relationship between them will work out – they must discover it for themselves. This is a sequel to an earlier story in which Kirk and Spock come together in Pon Farr. But this is a story that should make us think twice about any story in which a violent Pon Farr is the beginning of happy ever after. They may have has sex but they haven’t talked. And you can believe that can’t you? Does Spock explain himself in Amok Time, no he does not! He kills Jim and still he does not really explain himself. This Kirk assumes Spock is no longer interested, and whilst he is willing to accept his new found bisexuality, he thinks that Spock will not welcome him outside of Pon Farr. And in all honesty why ever would he assume he would?
Kirk and Spock are both ready to set the other ‘free’ assuming that’s what they would want. This Kirk and Spock do talk, they do communicate, they just don’t really understand what they themselves want. Lets remember that talking about personal desires can be much, much harder than working together to solve a command problem. I don’t find it at all hard to believe that Kirk and Spock could communicate wonderfully professionally and yet struggle at a personal level. These are both private self contained men. I love how Spock is a bit gauche – and actually he IS a bit gauche in TOS – remember that dreadful comment he makes to Rand at the end of enemy within? And here with no preliminaries he kneels before an aroused Kirk and says ‘Come in my mouth’. This is Spock, he knows what he wants, he knows what Kirk needs, but he lacks the social grace to get from A to B smoothly. What a particularly like about this story is the sex scenes. This surely won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I find it quite plausible. This Spock is desperate for intimacy with Kirk, but he is not easily aroused, perhaps he is even incapable of arousal outside Pon Farr, unless that is he is melded with Kirk. This Spock is certainly no prude, I don’t think anything about Jim would revolt him. Kirk is horried when totally without sexual desire in the human sense Spock (what’s the proper term?) licks his arse. Kirk stops him and I love the following description “There was no excitement in Spock’s face, but the expression was tender, open. “Jim, I do desire the intimacy.” [...] “Jim...can you not accept that I wish to bring you pleasure?” I like this so much because, it is different, it is alien, and it could easily be Spock. I am forced to question all my human assumptions about love and sex and arousal and all sorts and re-think it from Spock’s perspective. This is what I mean about these early stories being ground breaking. They were breaking new ground exploring different possibilities and perspectives. They were written before it became fanon that Spock’s sexuality was essentially human, that his sexual drives and desires would tally up neatly with Kirk’s. What if they are not human, and what if they don’t at first seem to match. Gayle’s Spock is typically selfless willing to offer whatever sexual stimulation Kirk would like best. But he is not a martyr, he will enjoy it too, just on a different level. We should pause at this point in the story and ask ourselves if that really matters, do we need Spock to have a human sex drive or is the concept of IDIC the concept of coming together despite experiential differences? Luckily however, the story goes on and Spock finds that picking up on Kirk’s sexual energy allows Spock to become aroused too. (For an interesting modern take on a similar idea read Jenna’s Re-Kindling Fire, a story I have such strong personal feelings about that there is no way I could review it!). Spock’s curiosity about Kirk’s acceptance of his own desire is a very adorable moment, “you wish to experience my pleasure?” he asks all Vulcanly curious and humanly vulnerable. Spock’s gradual discovery of sexual pleasure is a wonder to read and I share in the magic Gayle creates as Spock ‘gasped softly’ at the first caress that really pleased him. I love Kirk’s consideration – this man is a good lover: “He blew on the cock again softly, since Spock liked that so much”. But throughout it Spock’s sexuality is on a slightly different plane, “penetration would please me as much as anything. I wish us to belong to each other” is not something a human would say, but I find it perfectly Spockian. Spock is aroused as much by Kirk’s own desire as by the touch of their bodies, but Spock is a creature of the mind, that’s understandable. And still they manage to come together in perfect if different accord.So if you have a chance to get this zine, read and enjoy. Join Kirk and Spock as they go to strange new sexual worlds and seek out and discover new emotions and revel in the magic as writers take you where no fanzine had gone before.