Care to Debate That? Broadside

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Title: Care to Debate That? Broadside
Creator: Johanna Cantor
Date(s): 1977
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic: fanon, Star Trek: TOS, explicit fanworks
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Care to Debate That? Broadside is a short essay meant to generate discussion. It is in R and R #5, and its author is Johanna Cantor.

The essay is an installment in a series of essays and their following discussions called Care to Debate That?.

Its topic: the recent debate regarding Star Trek: TOS, explicit fanworks, and The SekWester*Con Porn Debate.


Okay, grab the chair, we're going into warp. Seriously, though. What gives any fan (or group of fans) the jurisdiction to declare what is "noble" and what is "scum" in Treklit? Who has been appointed arbitrer of decency in fandom? Since when are one fan's characterizations "true," and another's "borrowing someone else's creations and returning them covered with slime?"

One of the eternal fascinations of Trek fandom is fleshing out our beloved characters. And that always involves extrapolation. Kirk doesn't like breakfast, but he eats it so as to set a good example for the crew. That rings true to me, but it's an extrapolation. Vulcans eat meals in silence. That doesn't ring true to me, but again, it's an extrapolation. I have my Kirk. My Vulcans. You have yours. The possibilities are astronomical. We tend to take the live series more or less as given, though even there there are direct contradictions in addition to myriad ambiguities. But we want to know more about the Trek characters. We want to know how they eat, think, dress—everything that tells us something about them. And many of us want to knew how they make love—in all senses of that term. That tells us something about them too.

Exploring the Trek characters' sexual relationships is done on many levels, of course. But the levels differ in degree, not in kind. Mary Louise Dodge cannot depict her curiously Victorian, "she-for-God-in-him" Uhura without exploring Uhura's sexual relationship to her lord-and-master captain. Dodge's explorations, which are by no means confined to her adult-rated stories [1], tend to be couched in veiled language. In fact, if there is such a thing as "prissy porn" Dodge is certainly its queen. But her stories are, in kind, the same thing she condemns so roundly in others: the presentation of an extrapolated love (sex) relationship between two characters created by others. If the exploration of a sexual relationship is a sin (and there are many who hold just the opposite), Dodge is in no position to start the stoning.


  1. ^ referring to Dodge's fiction in Delta Triad