Chris Soto

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Fan
Name: Chris Soto
Alias(es): Ciana Sepulveda, Ciana Mitchell
Type: fanartist, vidder
Fandoms: Star Trek: TOS, K/S, Darkover, Starsky & Hutch
Communities:
Other:
URL:
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sample artwork used for cover of Daring Attempt #6

Chris Soto was a prolific Star Trek: TOS fanartist and an early vidder. She also wrote a small amount of fiction under the names "Ciana Mitchell," and "Ciana Sepulveda."

Chris passed away in May 1997 of cancer.

Her art appears on Fanlore at the request of her fannish executor.

Her Pseuds and Her Fiction

The editors in The K/S Press write in issue #41 (January 2000) of Chris and her fiction:
Note from ye eds: The late great Chris Soto was not only a skilled artist, she also wrote some wonderful K/S stories under the names Ciana Sepulveda and Ciana Mitchell. There aren’t too many, but they are oh-so-good. Try Ballad of the Rival Lord’s Son in Scattered Stars 3 (really a long poem), The Eagle and the Hawk in Within the Mirror 3, Forests of the Night in First Time 17, Honorbound in Scattered Stars 5, One Tin Soldier in First Time 27, Ordeal by Consent in First Time 31, Secret Admirer in First Time 42, Unfinished Business in First Time 24 (short). And finally, the last story from Chris is an excerpt from her novel in progress that was never finished. Robin Hood and Kathy Stanis extracted a chapter and worked on completing it, and presented it to us in Scattered Stars 12: The Edge of the World.

In Her Words

I work primarily in ink. Very few editors do half-tones, so be default I've had to learn the intricacies of rapidographs. What I really like working in best is pencil (graphite or color). I also work in acrylics, oils, charcoal, pastel... oh heck, let's just say I've tried about every medium there is with varying degrees of success... make that failure. Right now I'm trying to teach myself airbrush... but I keep missing the canvas and end up spraying the wall. What inspires my work? A good story or poem will make it easy for me to get a visual of what I want to draw. The more enthusiastic I am about what I am illustrating, the more I want to shoot for a personal best. I've worked both from a story and from imagination. A story gives me specific subject matter to work from and sets a mood, but I also like the challenge of working from just a description that an editor gives me. Sometimes I've only had a one sentence description to work with and that is really a challenge. Though working from imagination does sort of take away from one of the cheap thrills I get out of doing fan art... and that is getting to read a story or a poem before everyone else. But best of all, I like drawing whatever just comes to mind, what I want to do, not what another person tells me to draw...[1]

A Review of Her Songtapes

Because songtape distribution was more complicated than printing and distributing fanzines, very few detailed or comprehensive reviews of Chris's vids have been published. However, in the K/S letterzine Come Together one fan offered the following review of one of Chris' songvid collections:

"I am still madly in love with K/S music videos; watching them is a thrill. Well, Chris is an extraordinary talent at this. Hers are very good quality, audio and visual. The collection I have has 16 cuts, really a good selection of songs. Something for everyone—from excellent ship/space gen songs ("In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins, "Highway to the Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins [the first she made; won an award at IDICon 1988]) to the highly-romantic K/S ("One Hand, One Heart" by Neil Diamond, "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables").

And most of what she labels "gen" have plenty of what we see as K/S in them anyway.

What is most remarkable about the videos is how very specific are the images she chooses for each song and going even further than that, really perfect choices of images to go with particular lines of songs. And combining scenes in such a way as to convey a very direct connection between Kirk and Spock where otherwise there wasn't actually one. And there is a lovely poetry in how the focus of a certain song will be from one of them to the other. She doesn't just put any old scenes of them together to go with a generic love song. Every moment is very intentional; you can see what a perceptive person she is about K/S, and she has a very fine sense of the dramatic. She also does some special effects, a multiple-splitscreens, and stilling images and so on.

My favorites (all very K/S of course): "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx, "Don't Know Much" by Linda Ronstadt/Aaron Neville, "This Time" by Neil Diamond, and of course "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler (my favorite of K/S songs, if I have to pick one favorite). It was really a beautifully intense experience watching this collection for the first time, and the second, and the third, and sharing it with others who had not seen it. And a real treat for Shatner fans: WS in non-ST roles, to "The Best" by Tina Turner. Indeed. My only wish for more perfect K/S music videos would be that some of these gorgeous love songs would be in male voices rather than female.

As if I didn't love K/S enough, Chris' videos have added even more dimension to it for me."[2]

In a later issue of the letterzine, this review prompted one fan to plaintively ask if Chris could possibly distribute her songtapes through a zine publisher so more fans could watch them.[3]

After her death in 1997, one fan wrote:

"Chris was one of our best K/S writers and authors. But I think what set her apart from the rest of all the other excellent writers and artists (including the two who put this letterzine together every month), is her extraordinary talent at creating those fifteen music videos. To me, this was a unique talent that she possessed, one that we K/Sers may never see again. If you own these music videos, I know you understand what I mean. Her videos stir powerful emotions in me whenever I watch them, due to her uncanny ability to put images from the TV series and the movies together with song. It is a joy to watch all my favorite scenes of these two men together (without having to scan hours of videotape) over and over, and seeing them in a new perspective when they are coupled with music. Of all things K/S that I own, this videotape is by far my most prized possession. We have indeed, lost a unique talent, one which we may never see again."[4]

Partial List of Her Star Trek Vids (at least 15 vids were made)

  • "Another Saturday Night" by Cat Stevens (this vid was shown at the 2004 Vividcon "Wayback Machine" vid show)
  • "I Don't Know Much by Linda Ronstadt/Aaron Neville
  • "Highway to the Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins. This is the first vid she made and it won an award at IDICon 1988.
  • I Dreamed a Dream from "Les Miserables" ("tells the story of Kirk’s loss after Wrath of Khan") (this vids was shown at the 2005 Vividcon "High-Definition Theater" vid show)[5]
  • I Heard It Through the Grapevine
  • In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins ("features the battle between Kirk and Khan in Star Trek II, as well as original scenes from Space Seed,"[6] (this vid was shown at the 2009 Vividcon "History of Vidding: 1985-1990" vid show)
  • Land of Confusion
  • One Hand, One Heart by Neil Diamond ("has scenes from "Amok Time,") In K/S Press #36 one fan wrote: There’s “One Hand, One Heart” with the gripping scenes accompanying “…and even death won’t part us now”.
  • One Moment in Time
  • "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx ("deals with the events in STIII, along with several scenes from the classic series")
  • The Best
  • The Burning Heat
  • The Tijuana Jail
  • This Time" by Neil Diamond ("The song is about a second chance at love, and features scenes from The Voyage Home)
  • Turn, Turn, Turn
  • Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler

Reviews of Her Writing

Chris wrote under the name of Ciana. In April 1992, she was the volunteer in "The Booth," a feature in The LOC Connection in which fan writers and artists asked other fans to review their entire body of work.

Some excerpts:

If Ms. Ciana Hitchell was hoping for helpful, valuable criticism of her work, I'm afraid she'll have to get it from others. I could find nothing wanting, anywhere. Her poetry is warm and sensitive, beautifully expressed. Especially the two, "Adagio" and "Dust Devil". Both these works gave me that yearning feeling in my stomach which always means my emotions have been reached. I wanted to take both men out of their lonely, unresponsive nights, write them back together again and cuddie them up all warm and snug in one bed. "Dust Devil" started a germ of a possible idea for a story twitching around in my mind. I hope Ciana will have no objections if it shouid take root and become a full blown cold? As for her stories, I'll use the three. "Forests of the Night", "One Tin Soldier", and "The Eagle and the Hawk". Ail three were long, well thought out. had something to say, and if there was anything technically wrong with the writing, I couldn't find it. "Forests" was a page turner, and when i got to the end, I only wanted more. All three are what I call 'memorable' stories. With so many offerings, all with the same central theme, so to speak, it's hard to come up with individual works whose plot snaps into mind with the first few paragraphs. All three of these did, and it had been quite some time since I'd read these particular zines. "One Tin Soldier" didn't make the mistake of dragging the trauma of rape on and on, a rather common fault. But I don't believe she shorted it either. She's a very sensitive writer, as well as being logical. I believe the thing I personally like the most about her characterizations is she makes her people reasonable in their dealing with others. Her Romulan slave owner in "Forests" wasn't portrayed as a gentle man, but he could still feel something for Kirk, enough to regret hurting him excessively. Her Spock in "Eagle and the Hawk" was as tough and dangerous as he's ever been portrayed by any of us yet he was able to be tamed in just the one area by Kirk, so they both had a warm and satisfying memory to live with for the rest of their lives. No, I'm afraid I have nothing but praise for Ciana, and if she ever writes a full length novel, here's one sure sale.[7]
There is no other author I know whose stories absolutely gush with the passion that Ciana obviously feels for these characters and the relationship between them. Her writing style conveys a great deal of love, and I picture that she must have been emotionally drained upon finishing each story. I get the feeling that she is probably incapable of 'throwing something together' just to get a free zine, or to please an editor wno may have begged for a story (something the more prolific of us often stoop to). None of her writing is anywhere near "ordinary" or "average"; they each demonstrate an excessive degree of care and concern for how the story will be received by the reader. I think, perhaps, that the great care Ciana takes in writing her stories may also be a drawback. To me, her endings always have a slight feel of tying things up too conveniently. I don't think any of them would have felt overly pat had they been ordinary stories. But because the bulk of her stories are written with such attention to the characters' emotions on every page, it's very difficult to top that with a 'bang' at the end. So, what might be a 'bang' in anyone else's story, just ends up being part of the regular flow m Ciana's stories. I'm not sure of the solution to this; and I hope she goes without trying to find one if it wouid compromise the impact of the earlier segments of her plots. One other small distraction I've noticed in Ciana's stories is the excessive "Kirk worshipping" that goes on— from Spock and other characters. Admittedly, I'm more of a Spock fan, but I believe I'd feel that same disagreement if such extreme worship were directed at the Vuican. Every being who comes into contact with Kirk seems to find him irresistibly handsome -- and the virtues go from there. Thankfully, Kirk's own integrity keeps these situations from becoming over-blown but while reading Ciana's stories I have at times stopped and paused a split second to shake the feeling that I was having Kirk's utter wonderfulness shoved down my throat. (Now, having said this, Ciana will probably tell me that she actually favors Spock.) After giving it some thought. I've decided that 'The Eagle and the Hawk' is my favorite of Ciana's works, with 'One Tin Soldier' a close second. 'Eagle' had the wonderful psychological element (concerning the passionate/violent Mirror Spock) that I favor in any form of literature when it is well done. I'll take a psychological melodrama any day over raw sex; I love complex characters. If I had a wish for Ciana's future work, it would be simply that she move away from 'rape' themes. She's done that subject very well, and as a reader I'm willing to move on to whatever else sne may wish to tackle. I know it'll be an extraordinary journey.[8]
If I were to make a list of my top five K/S authors, Ciana Mitchell would be on it. Although she has written very little prose, each story is memorable, not only in story content, but in mood and technique as well. Perhaps what attracts me to Ciana's stories nore than anything is the maturity of her writing. Nothing here to earn a rueful grin or roll of my eyes while I read! Her themes are serious, her treatment of then respectful. And so naturel. How very many rape stories we've all read. But "One Tin Soldier" is so sensitively written, and doesn't gloss over the pain and mental turmoil of the victim's experiences. I usually dislike rape stories for the pat conclusions and unrealistic treatment. In "One Tin Soldier", making love with Spock doesn't solve all of Kirk's problems, but it does help him to face them. And those two loveiy, lovely scenes where Kirk tells Spock that he is bi-sexual, and Spock reveals the same, and then when Kirk tells Spock that he ioves him. How easy it would have been for the writer to rush through these tender moments, or to have such declarations end Kirk's torment, or perhaps have them fall into each other's arms. But Ciana resisted this temptation. Her writing has a unique quality in K/S literature, she is patient. She allows the emotions to develop fully, naturally, never asking the reader to believe something unlikely, aaking her characters very, very real. Her Kirk is no less masculine for his doubts and fears, but he is a person with whom any of us can identify. Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoy Ciana's writing so much is that her three major works of prose are all long short stories, almost novelias. This format gives her plenty of scope and time to develop the exquisite emotions she brings into play. She doesn't tackle a subject, or an emotion, unless she's prepared to do it justice. And this isn't easy. To truly get into a character's head, to know what he is experiencing so that you can express it with words on paper, and then to allow those words to build without forcing.... It's a labor of love. I aiso enjoy her subtlety. Ciana knows how far to take a scene, when to stop before it becomes exaggerated and unbelievable. ...I wonder if this author is not more prolific because the fine detail in these stories is not easily come by. Her Spock and Kirk really love one another, in a soul-deep, wondrous way that will suck me into a story every time. It's a tender love that, to me, represents exactly what I read K/S to find. And because of Ciana's penchant for writing longer stories, and the recent TLC discussion about novels, it has occurred ot me that Ciana would probably write a wonderful novel. I'd buy it in an instant.[9]
A 2003 comment from The K/S Press:
She wrote some wonderful stories (both as Ciana Mitchell and as Ciana Sepulveda), and I especially liked her h/c stories, which have just the right combination of hurt (not a lot) and comfort (lots and lots) for my tastes.[10]

The Chris Soto Memorial Fund

In 1998, a special section for The K/S Library was created:
Chris Soto was an extraordinarily gifted writer and artist who generously shared her love of Kirk and Spock with us for many years. Her death at forty-five last year was a great loss not only to those who knew and loved her but to all of Star Trek and K/S fandom. In her name we are starting a new section of the library. I am offering some professional fiction and non-fiction books from my own collection for borrowing. The same rules apply as for the regular library with the exception that we are asking for an additional $3.00 donation for each shipment... I will collect and keep track of the money and by next year we hope to have enough to bring a needy fan to Shore Leave in Chris's name. The selection process is still to be decided. Suggestions anyone? Hopefully we will expand this section in the future to include videos, audio tapes, etc. I think Chris would be pleased.[11]

Fans Remember Chris

Her artwork graced the pages of many fanzines, and her reputation could have stood on that contribution alone. But Chris was also ahead of the curve, creating a plethora of song vids, some of them the finest ever seen despite the early techniques and technology she had to work with. Her "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserable, set in the period between ST II and III, beautifully captured Kirk trying to deal with Spock's death. It's one of the most heart-wrenching pieces of video ever viewed.[12]
I can still remember sitting in Bev's livingroom the first time we watched Chris Soto's song tape one Saturday night. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room after the vid to the song from Les Mis played. To this day, it is one of, if not THE, best song vids I've seen.[13]
Chris was one of our best K/S writers and authors. But I think what set her apart from the rest of all the other excellent writers and artists (including the two who put this letterzine together every month), is her extraordinary talent at creating those fifteen music videos. To me, this was a unique talent that she possessed, one that we K/Sers may never see again. If you own these music videos, I know you understand what I mean. Her videos stir powerful emotions in me whenever I watch them, due to her uncanny ability to put images from the TV series and the movies together with song. It is a joy to watch all my favorite scenes of these two men together (without having to scan hours of videotape) over and over, and seeing them in a new perspective when they are coupled with music.[14]
She wrote and did artwork in Trek, K/S. She did some of the art in Distant Shores (Starsky & Hutch). She did Trek vids to "One Moment in Time" back at Calicon 1, "Another Saturday Night" and the Khan-Kirk vid to "In The Air Tonight" at Calicon 2. I just heard last week that she passed away from cancer back on May 10th [1997].[15]
It took me some time to watch all of the Chris Soto, etc. music video—naturally it was a week before I was alone and could do more than stare at the box! When it finally made it to the screen, there were parts that took my breath away, other parts made me want to cry. And in spite of the fact there was no one to hear me, the contagious laughter from the Pink and Green dance team made me chortle aloud. What a wonderful time you must all have been having! As I knew I would when I first heard the videos described, I will cherish it as long as I cherish Kirk and Spock. What's the technique for getting a sound track from one source and picture from another? Every time I hear a love song now, I start adding film clips from that library in my head!! Chris Soto could never be topped, but maybe if we knew how, some of the rest of us could take a shot at setting some scenes to music. I can't watch these without wondering what Chris was like and how great it would have been to know her. One can imagine the triumph she felt when each piece came together so beautifully. Some small part of her must have known she wouldn't always be here to enjoy Kirk and Spock so she had to capture their love in every conceivable way—art, music and word—while she was here. She left us such a legacy through her many talents. I don't know what I believe, sometimes, about the hereafter. But surely a soul as rich with love and compassion as Chris's lives on. I hope so.[16]

Gallery of Some Sample Art

References

  1. from a 1987 bio in On the Double #3
  2. LOC to Come Together #7, July 1994.
  3. LOC to Come Together #10, October 1994.
  4. K/S Press #12 (1997).
  5. comments printed in the K/S Press #6.
  6. comments printed in the K/S Press #6.
  7. from The LOC Connection #40
  8. from The LOC Connection #40
  9. from The LOC Connection #40
  10. from The K/S Press #87
  11. from The K/S Press #24
  12. Nancy Kippax: Farewell, Dear Fen: In Memorium posted 14 July 2008 (accessed 17 Jan 2010)
  13. projectcop: Farewell, Dear Fen: In Memorium posted 14 July 2008 (accessed 15 August 2010)
  14. The K/S Press #12
  15. Stacey D. posting to Virgule-L, dated June 28, 1997.
  16. from The K/S Press #23