Challenges (Star Trek: TOS story)
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|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
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It was published in the print zine Berengaria #1.
Reactions and Reviews
A Pike-era Scotty-focused Mary Sue -- she gets them out of dungeon with microelectronics in her compact.
[A fan objected to the sex in this story]: Like the story until the man dropped his pants! Didn't think that was needed in a Star Trek story. [The editor responds]: Do you suppose those 430 plus crew members played tiddly-winks for five years? 
CHALLENGES: Fairly polished, well-written story. Carle' Johnson knows his/her stuff. There's confusion for me on the gender because the calculated feminine voice of the narrator is just enough missing in verisimilitude to make me feel uneasy. (Ed. Carle' is a definite female). Personal attitudes on the part of the writer were starting to creep in, which is fine and unavoidable, but when you get the feeling that the writer doesn't really care much for the heroine-nar rator in spite of trying to portray that person sympathetically...I guess for any of us it's difficult to write with conviction about things we haven't experienced, and with restraint or objectivity about things we have. Johnson's parents came off as unreal (I don't care if there really ARE par ents like that in real life, as there doubtless are -- fiction is not real- life), in their disinterest and hostility, not to mention Johnson herself, who should have had SOME kind of hostility towards everything in general with a background like that. There just wasn't enough of the story to fill out the characterization believably.
I am a feminist; I like some of the points that Johnson made (How significant is it that both narrator and writer have the same name?) but having Scotty slap her in the face is not the way to make them. That was totally out of character for Scott. I could sooner see McCoy or Sulu wallop someone than Scotty, especially a woman, since Scott has these -— SIGH— "chivalric principles" that he'd stick to. I realize yeoman are the rock-bottom on the ship (having a yeoman scratching his back in SHORE LEAVE was somewhat out of line for Kirk!), coffee-makers, room-tidiers and so on, but the service just does not function that way. Having some obnoxious petty-officer of a Stiles (BALANCE OP TERROR) type slap her is far more believable than a senior officer like Scott doing it, no matter how stressful the situation. And I have a feeling that the situation itself was made deliberately more dire than it need have been — over-written-- to form a believable background for that particular bit of interplay. Bad structure. But the story... well, basically I liked it. The only things I'm nitpicking on are things that I catch myself doing wrong. I am DELIGHTED to see SOMEONE using the Star Trek universe for something other than THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OP KIRK, SPOCK AND MCCOY. Captain Pike was always to me a much more believable Captain than Kirk. And it was no easy job to take on the position of writing from the POV of a yeoman, when the readers are all used to reading the Blishized POV of Kirk, or sometimes Spock. Has anyone ever written from McCoy or Scotty's viewpoint extensively? I'd like to see someone do a Uhura Journal. Carle' gave me a real gut-feeling of what working down in the lower ranks of a starship is really like, the petty inter-office type stuff that man probably took into space with him as surely as he brought along sexist stereotypes and cultural prejudices (which Roddenberry naively and Pangloss-ianly) describes as appreciation for one's own culture's uniqueness as well as for the uniqueness of others... and don't anyone tell me that the very epitome, supposedly, of this broadminded philosophy towards other cultures, the Vulcans, are not biased against humans, Andorians, Tellarites and whatever else! -- to say nothing of being supremely patriarchal).Anyway, I thank you for this story. I thank you for the valiant attempt at meshing the accepted-feminine-stereotype that the yeoman represents with a person with competence, dignity and resourcefulness. I'm sorry to see it didn't work, but keep trying. Maybe with Uhura you'd have better luck? 
...and here I'm afflicted with my usual problem with Star Trek-centered fanzine contents: I don't have the thorough background in the Star Trek world to deliver the kind of reasoned judgments that I'd like to give. Undoubtedly I overvalue one item and fail to appreciate properly another because I don't know enough about the traditions of Star Trek fandom, haven't watched all the ST episodes on television, have read only one of the paperbacks about the series, and so on. So, If you'll keep those limitations in mind in what follows, I'll risk the opinion that CHALLENGES seemed like the strongest story in this issue. Maybe I'm at that dangerous age and therefore prejudiced by the fact that its central character is a woman. But I do think that this story was outstanding for the fact that it humanized all the events, by causing them to be seen through the eyes of one person, giving the reader someone who takes a personal interest in. It might have been even stronger if more care had bean given to explaining the circumstances through which the Enterprise people got themselves into that mess: it just doesn't seem like the course of action an experienced crew would follow when invited to dinner. But I liked very much the opening pages which painted very well a sense of camaraderie aboard the starship, and the action scenes are well,done, even though they didn't wind up in one culminating ding dong battle bigger and better than previous skirmishes.