Captain's Log: Vaia
|Title:||Captain's Log: Vaia|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
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It was published in the print zine First Time #44.
"Kirk and Spock beam down on a planet survey only to be taken unaware by the female inhabitants, and a drugged Kirk is forced to service the women."
Reactions and Reviews
From its leisurely paced, moment-to-moment beginning to its fast-paced, exciting story telling, this story, another of Stanis' unique and terrific ideas, just sweeps you along with marvelous writing, exciting plot, unusual characters and damn fine K/S. What more does one want?
Try this example of terrific writing on for size: How to say to this beautiful friend, this fantastic creature... how to say it without saying it...I love you, Spock. For being so smart, for being my shield. For your amazing Vulcan abilities and your poignant human innocence. I am not The Captain of the Enterprise without you.'
The entire first pan of the story concerns itself with Kirk and Spock working on Kirk's memoirs. What a wonderful scene this is as they "dance" around each other with their unexpressed feelings of love while they remember past missions and events.'
Later, when they beam down to an unexplored planet and encounter zaftig Amazon-type warrior women, we are treated to what I believe will go down in the annals of K/S lines: "We want your sperm, James T. Kirk."
The creation of an entire planet and culture is carefully and expertly done It's all so rich in detail that the story just comes alive. The women's' sensibilities, their attachment to nature, the crystals, their interaction with each other and especially their completely direct approach to matters sexual, all form a fully-realized portrait. I am ceaselessly impressed by any author's ability to do this and Slams does it extremely well.
As complete and as fascinating as this society is, never once does it upstage the K/S. In fact, Kirk and Spock's predicament here is what helps their love to evolve.
So many wonderful touches. I loved the way the women introduced themselves as so-and-so "as was my grandmother, and hers before her." Wouldn't that be great? I can hear it now—"I'm Shelley, as was my grandmother, and hers before her."
Detail after detail fill this story so beautifully Of course there's Stanis' requisite toilet scene and in a delightful touch, some of the ladies enjoy a fine cigar after a meal. So many issues come into play with the dilemma that Kirk, especially, finds himself in. I always love the conflict between loving something and hating something that characters feel when involved in a situation that holds both pleasure and pain. Slants shows us many levels to the predicament—but most of all the issue of Kirk and Spock's love for each other instead of just sex.
The use of the crystals as being a source of life and power for these women is a wonderful invention.And without question, one of the best story endings ever. 
Another unique and attention grabbing story by this talented writer. And a long one too! I loved Kirk's slow unveiling of his love to himself and to us and to Spock. 'Something's happening here.... He was caught in the deep, ebony eyes. This man is my life.' No one quite turns a few words into so much more as does Kathy. There is depth here, in her characters. Collaborating on Kirk's memoirs of the Five Year mission give both Kirk and Spock opportunity to voice feelings that came up in different situations during the mission, but they had never told each other. I liked the way this was done. But then there is this uncharted planet Spock's sensors have picked up.... And very intriguing it is, a planet with strange crystals, of Amazons with a most unusual cultural and racial background (sorry you're going to have to read this story to find out, cause I ain't telling). There is a very real need to upgrade their gene pool. And they prefer getting semen the old fashioned way. One small problem I had, that Kirk wasn't given a choice about the mating made me a little uncomfortable. I liked Paris' honesty and sense of honor. Ah, then but back on the ship, truths and secret fears and quiet longings must be dealt with and are. The love between Kirk and Spock throughout the story is so all encompassing. I ended reading this story with a big smile on my face. It left me with a warm glow inside. There is just so much love in this story (yeah I know I'm sounding corny, but there is no other way to say it, ok?). 
This is one of the most intriguing, exasperating K/S stories I have read. There's lots in it that I like, and have re-read. There is more in it that disturbs me. I don't feel as if I understand what this story is actually about, perhaps because there is so much in it to think about.
First, the good parts. The section on page 19 where Kirk and Spock kiss for the first time is exquisite. A whole wonderful paragraph just on that first kiss, and each time I read it the passage retains its freshness. "He took the yes from Spock's eyes and from his parted lips and from the warm, uneven breath he felt against his own lips, and he lowered them and closed his eyes and he was kissing Spock, feeling the strong and fluid response -- it was like nothing else, nothing ever." And then later, "He was afraid to stop, afraid this was all he was ever going to get. And it was the best he had ever gotten."
When Kirk and Spock are on the planet examining the crystals, it's neat how each of them sees a reflection of the other in the rock because they were thinking of each other, and even better that they tell each other this without any further explanation. The scene in Kirk's cabin at the beginning when they are going over details of the mission for possible publication I found very real, as if I were spying through a keyhole while the conversation took place. And the details of the women's mountain dwelling were fresh and interesting.
The section where the women are abusing Kirk (I don't know what else to call it. Rape? That's really what it was) was especially compelling and disturbing. The author managed to capture Kirk's disgust, his arousal and his fuzzy-headed thinking. I was repelled by this section, and disturbed, exactly as I should have been, and was left with mixed emotions just as Kirk was.
However, I had some problems with characterization in this story, and I believe some of it was caused by the issues the author was exploring. It seems impossible that Spock would have accepted Kirk's use by the women all night long so complacently. I envision him battering down doors and walls, using Paris as a hostage, attempting to learn to use the crystal as a weapon, but I don't seem him sitting quiet and steeple-fingered before the crystal while he knows Kirk is being sexually abused. I understand that Spock was also being affected by the environment, but never as much as Kirk was. I also had trouble seeing the captain's true self in this story. Up to where they encounter the women by the water, he's the captain, but after that he is so under the influence of the women's thoughts and "group-will" that he's like a Gumby doll that can't stand on its own. I wanted to see more of his realization of what was being done to him, more disgust at his lack of will, of relying so much on Spock. I began to get quite impatient, especially when the condition followed them back to the ship at the end. It isn't until page 62, and a paragraph where Kirk wraps a blanket around Spock in bed because "You must be chilly," that Kirk actually does something on his own. I believe that the ineffective behavior exhibited by both officers goes back to the author's exploration of gender roles.
I was disturbed by the casual attitude towards reproductive material shown by our heroes. There's apparently a sperm and egg bank on the ship, and some of its contents might have been given over to the women through negotiations if their attitude had been different. Instead they extract sperm from the captain through more immediate means. Never once does he think of the children of his that will result, the true issue of his body. (At least, I believe that pregnancies will result from the copulations. The story was a little unclear on this point; it's possible that Kirk's sperm simply reactivated the women's own body chemistry and they impregnated themselves, and only Paris truly bore his child.) But Paris's child is Jim Kirk's son as much as David is. (Assuming you believe in David; I personally think he's the product of the alternate universe of the movies.) That child is the result of sexuality, which I think is one of the real topics of this story, and I felt that Kirk's feelings towards that child needed to be explored in order for the story's theme to be complete. (And yet even that sexuality is skewed, since it was through artificial insemination, and not natural if forced penetration that the child was conceived. I'm not sure what the author was trying to say here. That the artificial act with fondness towards Paris was far superior to the forced penetration? But does it therefore relieve Kirk of any sense of kinship with the child? And does the success of the artificial insemination, and Paris's happiness, imply what I think it does in terms in the story's theme, that such an act is superior to the typical way of conceiving children?)
All these ruminations bring me to my understanding of what this story is really about. In the introductory scene in Kirk's cabin, the captain tells Spock that he wishes he could have experienced sex while in Janice Lester's body, and that he doesn't "have such strict definitions of male and female anymore." Then the men encounter a society where there are only women, women who literally contain both the male and the female sex organs within them. At the same time, Kirk and Spock are moving closer to a homosexual relationship. The unstated but always present question in any such relationship is what that does to their self-image, and how they will handle the blurring of traditional gender roles that such a relationship makes inevitable; the way the story is constructed makes such a question even more obvious.
So it seems as if this story is about gender roles, and how Kirk's experiences with the women affect his perception of himself and his relationship with Spock. He's already been laid open to the possibility of change by his encounter with Janice. But the author gives us a Turnabout of a different kind. The women are aggressive, rude, single-minded, physically stronger and larger than Kirk and Spock, and because of their mind control and group will, they are able to force sex upon the captain. The women are imbued with some of the worst and most stereotyped traits of the aggressive male sexual animal in our own society.
Kirk is put into filmy dresses, actually forced to wear the garment. He is regarded with specifically sexual leers. And most especially, he is forced to endure sexual encounters where he has no power to stop the women, where his arousal is forced upon him. In other words, he's forced to endure the sexual position that is, again, the worst and most stereotyped version of what sex between a man and a women is about. You might say that he gets his wish, he has sex as a woman.
After the encounters with the women, twice Spock tells Kirk not to move, and he doesn't, as if he can't, as if his will to move no longer exists and Spock's will exists over his own. This appeared to be a reaction or revelation that flowed directly from the sex with the women, and Kirk's helpless condition. As if he had learned how to be helpless through having sex on his back!
I am not sure what the author meant by all this, and I invite Kathy to write in to Round Table and tell me all the things that maybe I missed, or sharpen my focus on what indeed her theme was. She's such a good writer, but this story frustrates me, as if I'm missing the forest for the trees. But it appeared to me that the women were tainted by the male reproductive material they contained, that they therefore acted like the worst kind of men. That being or acting like a male was indeed a horrible thing.
It seemed that Kirk learned what it was like to "be" a women through his helplessness, and although I would not define helpless with the word "woman," the stereotype does. I didn't see anything positive come out of Kirk's experience with the women, with connecting with a uniquely "feminine" experience. (Please understand that I'm not putting forth these conclusions as part of my own personal philosophy, I'm just trying to analyze the story!) There wasn't anything of a sexual nature that was good that emerged from the heterosexual encounters, and I found that very disturbing. The best that happened was the artificial insemination as I mentioned above, and that removed all real contact between Paris and Kirk.
It seemed that somehow this experience should have enhanced the captain's relationship with Spock that finally was consummated when Spock penetrates him in the final scenes (I almost wrote "in the end!"), although I wasn't really able to detect such an enhancement. I couldn't see any effect that the survey on Vaia produced except anger at the women, and so I didn't really see any particular point the story drew.I admire this story because it grapples with real issues of gender roles and power and helplessness and sexuality. It's an ambitious story written by a thoughtful, talented writer, and these are all subjects I'd love to talk about with her or anybody. The problem is that while all of this is discussed through fiction, none of it ever came into focus for me through a clear theme and conclusion. The real world is like that, but fiction needs to clarify what the real world cannot. 
Leave it to Kathy to come up with another unique K/S idea. This time Kirk and Spock beam down into a society of Amazon-style women who want Kirk's sperm to revitalize their ability to reproduce.
The opening bridge scene was nicely realized. A good look at Kirk and Spock's daily working relationship. And later we see that relationship expanding into a closer one as Spock and Kirk work on Kirk's memoirs. These will eventually be turned into a book although what the two men leave out will prove far more revealing than what they choose to include. A great scene of them waltzing around their feelings for each other.
But where this story sparkles is in the creation of an alien society. It is very evident that much thought and care has gone into this. Details abound, such as the marvelous descriptions of their "organic architecture," the ways in which the women interact with one another, the use of the crystals as telepathic and empathic enhancers, even their food and drink. I love that they smoke cigars along with their after dinner drinks. Finally we find out that these people are extensions of their planet's very life-force. What a fascinating concept, and very well explored!
There are some lovely lines, such as Uhura being described as "a warrior in silk" and this one: "Spock had turned his head to present his captain with this good news, and Kirk was caught—caught in the act of falling in love." Wow! I loved Spock's throwing the "as your grandmother and hers before her" line back at Zaral. That's my understated and cynical Vulcan! (Who says they have no sense of humor?)
I did have a bit trouble with Kirk's ruminations of being in Janice Lester's body. I really doubt he would think of missing his penis as experiencing "a freedom between my legs." Would anyone missing a body part consider it in that light? Kirk also wishes he could have experienced sex as a woman. He should have remembered the old adage, Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. I wonder what he thought about his wish at the story's end. This experience would cure any man of thinking of a woman as a sex object! I really liked Spock's clever solution to Kirk's problem, but I wished he had been more active in trying to get to Kirk. After all they had been forcibly separated. I do understand Spock had been affected by the women as well as Kirk, but he just seemed to accept it all a bit too easily for me.
One more thing I have to mention. Although Kirk is abused by these women, Kathy avoids the trap of having them come off like total villains. This is difficult to pull off, and here it is done quite successfully.The ending took me by surprise and fit the story perfectly. Kathy, how about a sequel? I'd love to see Paris' son in about twenty years.