Bitter Glass

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Star Trek Fanfiction
Title: Bitter Glass
Author(s): Killashandra
Date(s): 1996
Length:
Genre:
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series/Star Trek: TNG
External Links: Bitter Glass

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Bitter Glass is a Star Trek: slash TOS/Star Trek: TNG story by Killashandra.

Author's summary: "A story about regrets and second chances. Faced with the news of Kirk's death in Generations, Spock tells the story of a thirty-year friendship that defied all categorization."

A Vid Which Inspired "Bitter Glass"

See Now We Are Free, a vid by Bersakhi which was inspired by this story.

The Author Comments

From 2002's The Best of Trek Fanfic Interview with Killa:

[Tell us a little about "Bitter Glass." We found that story to be an intensely compelling portrait of Spock and your attention to detail, ie using Vulcan and Romulan phrases throughout, added dimension to the story. What sparked the idea for that story?]: Thank you very much. :) Beth M. and I got into an email conversation several years back about Spock's off-screen love life. We talked a lot about the kind of woman he would choose for himself if he were to get married, and how it would affect his relationship with Kirk. At some point, the conversation wandered off on a tangent about the flaws we both saw in the later Trek movies, especially in Star Trek 6 and 7 and in Unification, and how we wished we could "fix" the characterization and canon problems we saw in those movies and episodes. I started writing Bitter Glass around the same time she started writing Last Dance, as I recall, and we were comparing notes a lot and writing about some of the same ideas in very different ways. I put some of those ideas together with the great portrayal of Saavik that Carolyn Clowes and Vonda McIntyre gave us in their Trek novels, and the story quickly grew a mind of its own.

Reactions and Reviews of "Bitter Glass" (contains spoilers)

Unknown Date

One of the finest stories I've ever read. In stunning first-person prose, Killa evokes Spock's pain with such realism that you will swear he's speaking directly to you. I admit to being awed by Killa's work. And I suspect you will be too after you've read it.[1]

1998

And then, there is Killashandra. How does she do it? The first story by this author I read was “Bitter Glass". It isn't exactly (by the purist definition) a K/S story (except for the last chapter), but I haven't been so touched by anything I ever read before. And then those ‘real' K/S stories of hers…incredible. She has a way with words that I really don't have words for.[2]
A warning is due for "Bitter Glass," her K/S epic -- possibly the most depressing fan fiction I have ever read. It's post-death, they-never-got-together. The rest is all magical. [3]

1999

My first encounter with fan fiction came after I read Constance Penley's book NASA/Trek -- I was considering it for review for Amazon.com, as it got very good reviews in the British scientific press. In the event, I did not review Penley's book, but I was interested enough in the topic to do some web searches for more information. What I found was totally unexpected.

No-one had hinted to me that fan fiction might be good in a literary sense. I was expecting to find it interesting or subversive, but not of very high quality -- no better than the average of the professional Star Trek novels, and probably much worse.

Instead I found myself reading some of the best fiction produced in the 1990s in any genre. I was astounded. The best fan fiction -- works like Killashandra's "Bitter Glass" and Macedon & Peg's "Talking Stick and Circle" -- are true works of art, a distinct genre of literature with its own particular strengths.[4]

2009

One, of the rare, rare stories that have made me cry. The author labels this as Kirk/Spock, but it's not slash, and can be read as a friendship story. So if you like Kirk and Spock at all, even if you're slash-phobic, I highly, highly recommend this.[5]

2010

I‘m sure I don‘t have to spend time praising this writer‘s skill. Killa‘s work is well-known for the masterful way she has with a story. This one is not as well known as 'Turning Point' or 'Full Circle,' but it should be.

One of the things I most admire about Killa‘s work is her ability to take what canon gives us, however unpalatable, and weave it into story that is wholly satisfying. 'Bitter Glass' begins as word of Kirk‘s death reaches Spock on Vulcan. Spock and Kirk had become somewhat estranged in recent years due to secrets Spock keeps from his former captain. This sad course of events starts when Spock goes on the rescue mission to Hellguard to save a group of half-starved, feral Vulcan/Romulan children—Saavik among them. Being sworn to secrecy, this is one thing he cannot share with his captain. Spock takes on the charge of trying to civilize the girl with the help of a young Vulcan woman named T‘Sharen. Killa draws rather heavily from the Star Trek pro novel The Pandora Principle by Carolyn Crowes, an excellent story, and through her expertise embellishes it until it too feels like canon. On the way back home to Vulcan, Spock enters an early pon farr and survives it with the woman‘s help. They later bond. Yes, I know, not a favorite scenario, Spock with a woman, but one that furnishes this piece with so much of its depth and resonance. For thirty years Kirk, Spock and T‘Sharen form a love triangle Spock is not even aware of. Some of the scenes that touch me the deepest—bring me to tears, in fact—are between these two people who love Spock the most: the captain that cannot quite find it in himself to sway Spock from what he sees as a normal Vulcan life for his friend while desperately needing Spock with him on his life‘s journey and the woman who loves Spock with everything she is and resents the hold his captain has over Spock‘s life. Wonderful conflict and deeply moving. And believe it or not, there is a happy ending for our two guys at the end.

If somehow or other you‘ve missed this story, give yourself a treat and remedy that situation.[6]
I‘m not sure this is a real review as such; it‘s more of a response to Carolyn‘s piece about this story in the January edition. And what a story: I read Bitter Glass a few years back. It‘s a l-o-n-g tale, one that stays with you... I agree wholeheartedly with everything that Carolyn says about it. Killa‘s writing is so pure and strong and she gives us a mature, wonderful Kirk, seen only from Spock‘s point of view, who clearly loves Spock, needs him so-o much, and yet the moment is never right... As the author herself says, it‘s a story of regrets and second chances. This, for me, was the power of Bitter Glass, and it kept me reading, even the heartbreaking Spock/T‘Sharen scenes. Her character becomes part of Spock‘s tragedy: I wanted to hate her, but no. Jim and Spock hardly ever see each other, and Spock makes even these few encounters difficult. I can still visualise each one. Their love is evident to us, if not to each other, and, given the style of the narrative, this is nothing short of amazing. One such meeting takes place on Vulcan, on the eve of Spock‘s wedding. Jim has achieved the impossible to arrive in time and the wedding gift that he and Bones have procured literally renders Spock speechless... This scene, with Killa‘s poetry, had me in tears. Indeed, and as Carolyn wrote, many scenes made me weep. The happy ending, which I think is the most satisfying use of the Nexus I‘ve ever seen in fan fiction, is a case in point: Spock finally finds Jim, chopping wood and I could hardly read my print out! Don‘t be put off by the length or the screen. Print it out, enlarge it, go back to it. Read it and relish...[7]

2012

The first slash story that I deliberately read in Star Trek was Killa's "Bitter Glass," because it was rated PG and I was like, Well, this is slash but it's not explicit (laughs) so maybe I could read this one. And of course that's the horrible depressing novel-length—I mean, it's a really good depressing novel-length story where they just never tell each other how they feel and pine for each other their entire lives and die!

And I stayed up until five in the morning reading this story, and by the end of it I am like, shaking my laptop to the heavens like an Etch-a-Sketch and just shouting, "Spock , admit you're in love with him for God's sake!" And after that my resistance to reading K/S had kind of evaporated....

...that story had completely convinced me that if that was the alternative to them being together, then they should just fuck already, really. It didn't so much convince me that it was a good idea; it convinced me that all the other ideas were worse. I mean, I still have reservations to Kirk/Spock, but they're mostly the "I'm not sure that either of these guys can be in a romantic relationship in any stable and adult way. But they're probably better inflicting that on each other than trying to inflict it on other people, and they will probably make each other happier than anybody else could.[8]

References

  1. Slash Story Recommendations - due South, Highlander, Various Fandoms, Archived version
  2. from The K/S Press #27
  3. comments on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously with permission (October 8, 1998)
  4. from "The Learning Curve": Hypertext, Fan Fiction, and the Calculus of Human Nature (1999)
  5. "Where No Fangirl Has Gone Before..." Archived from the original on 2019-04-24. 
  6. from The K/S Press #160
  7. The K/S Press #161
  8. from Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Ellen Fremedon (2012)