Blurring the Lines: Online or in Print, It's Still K/S

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Title: Blurring the Lines: Online or in Print, It's Still K/S
Creator: Lyrastar
Date(s): July 2007
Medium: print, CD
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic: slash, K/S, Zine Fandom, Star Trek: TOS
External Links:
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Blurring the Lines: Online or in Print, It's Still K/S is a part of a three-part series by Lyrastar called "The Legacy of K/S on the Internet. It was published in Legacy #2.

"The Legacy of K/S on the Internet"

Excerpts

[Quote from fan Jenna S]: "Even today, there are fans who will not read fan fiction on the computer screen for any number of reasons. With some truly wonderful K/S being written online, this strikes me as being a real shame. I’ve always thought that K/S exists to be shared; so many of us are hungry in a very visceral, difficult-to-explain way for tales of Kirk and Spock! So the concept that someone might not be willing or able to read great K/S seemed unacceptable to me."
Veteran K/S zine publisher Robin Hood disagrees [about the value of online K/S]: She has been upfront about disliking seeing the slew of unedited K/S stories self-published on the Web. Says she about stories in her zines later going online, “I don’t like it. I tell my authors that, but it’s not my choice. It’s possessiveness. Those stories were given to me; they’re my babies. I had them the way I want them. There’s too much junk on the Internet; I want to keep my babies safe.”
“But what counts as K/S online as discrete from K/S in any other context?” wondered your

humble Internet associate editor, as she sat down to outline that portion of Legacy. Unlike a zine, which has a permanently fixed and defined composition, or a convention wherein events happened and then were over and done to be recorded in collective memory, the status of K/S online is in continual flux, and its history is that of individual experience, different for everyone depending upon where and when each reader clicked. K/S online isn’t really a disparate thing. The Internet has been another platform on which K/S fans can commune in the love of Kirk and Spock. For example C.M. Decarnin’s “Intreat Me Not to Leave Thee,” which is available only online and generally thought of as “an Internet story,” was written back in the mid eighties—years before Internet culture— intended for the KSX 3 zine that never materialized, and only put up online later for lack of a better venue for an incomplete piece.

Just as all K/S zines haven’t reached everyone who might love them, neither has K/S on the Internet. In the mid nineties, pay-per hour service plans were still common—among those who even had Internet access at home—and many readers, especially those outside the USA, had to pay hefty phone tolls for their time spent online. Personal computers were less common and often shared with others, meaning that for many downloading—or even accessing—explicit stories online was less private and secure than having them delivered in a plain envelope.
One phenomenon that has been A Very Good Thing is the use of one platform to augment the other, thusly increasing the amount of K/S accessible to an eager readership. It started almost at the beginning of cyber K/S. In 1997, a re-edited version of the first accredited K/S story online— “Turning Point” by Killa—was published in Thyla 18, along with “Beside the Wells” by Susan Legge, which was also one of the first K/S stories to appear online. The pattern was repeated with self-published stories that had been well-received by an online audience (or, notes Kathy Resch, at least by an eager zine publisher reading on the Web) being re- edited for print—sometimes revised or expanded—and presented in traditional print zine form. This had the duel advantage of giving a story a second chance for revision and outside editing after a set of comments, as well as giving zine readers a selection from the best of the Web—author willing— with the clutter already culled out.
One of the first online stories—“Terminus” by Judith Gran—was not really an online story, but a reoffering of a K/S story previously published in a multifandom zine. A few others followed suit with some short pieces such as “The Director” by T'Rhys, but for various reasons— from the unclear status of a story which had had publication rights given to a zine to the simple time and effort involved in retyping a story when no electronic file was available— this was a slower trend to take hold.

Many other people thought that this was a shame, and in 1999 M.E. Curtin started up the Foresmutters Project to make long-out-of-print K/S stories generally available again via the Internet—given the author’s consent. Says Leslie Fish, one of the authors memorialized there, “I’m glad to see the old stories taking on new life. Another advantage is that online X-rated stories don’t run the risk of being confiscated by prudes at the post office. I’ve had a few new fans contact me to say that they’d encountered my stories for the first time on the Internet, at which I was greatly tickled. Ah, corrupting a whole new generation! “My only regret about online publishing is that very often the sites are text-only, so you don’t get to see the illustrations that accompanied the original stories. Some truly remarkable artists got their start in early Trek-zines.” But times changed; more stories were written on word processors; scanners, optical character readers and bandwidth all became cheaper; and using the Web to redistribute the contents of treasured print zines with everything but the paper became progressively more doable. Says Kira of her Side by Side e-zine, which has Web-archived several zine stories, “I’ve always promoted that I would love to put up any previously published stories from print zines. Some authors have acknowledged this request and sent me stories. I would love to accept more of those! I want to utilize SBS to make K/S available to a wider range of people.”

Along with the stories, Side by Side can host art at fairly high resolution, the limits then shifting to the reception at the viewer’s end with the quality of the monitor or the printer and the speed of download connection. Artists such as TACS have graciously permitted their zine art to be scanned and made available there. Hopefully there will be more soon.