Combining Forces

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Title: Combining Forces
Publisher: Revenge Press
Editor(s): Kim Gianna & Linda DeLaurentis (issue #1), Kim Gianna & Linda DeLaurentis, Clara Testa (issue #2)
Date(s): 1981-1982
Medium: fanzine, print
Fandom: Star Wars
Language: English
External Links:
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Combining Forces is a gen Star Wars anthology.

Issue 1

front cover of issue #1, Kim Gianna
back cover of issue #1, Kim Gianna

Combining Forces 1 was published in January 1981 and contains 114 pages.

From the editorial by DeLaurentis:


This zine is a result of that philosophy (which has been thoroughly drummed into my brain). For years we talked about doing a Star Trek fanzine, but somehow it just never came together. Why did it work this time? I think the force was with us (it had to be!). I suppose it really started back on May 21, 1980, we waited on line in the rain for three hours to get in to see "Empire Strikes Back" (and I thought that was the most bizarre thing I ever did!). Afterwards, Kim told me that she liked Darth Vader more, than after seeing "Star Wars." I was at a loss to understand this, I for one, hated Vader more. How could he be Luke's father and be so evil? Kim, however, had a different approach, what terrible thing, she wondered, had happened to make him turn so evil? Of course, three or nine years is a long time to wait for the answer, so one does the next best thing—make up one's own. "Blood Ties," "Boy Meets Girl," and "At Friendship's End," are the results. Have I changed my mind about Vader? Read "Echoes From The Past."

We finally decided to do the zine in October, when we came up with "Nell's Story," in which we put our script writing class to use. We felt at this point we had enough ideas to possibly fill 100 pages (stop laughing Kim), and it's been non-stop ever since.

I've read so many times how editors go nuts (that's putting it mildly) putting together zines, but it is something that you cannot appreciate until you've been through it. You also begin to understand why they keep doing it. Besides the seven dollars worth of lettering and brand new bottle of Liquid Paper for copies that you have no other possible use for, there is all that you've learned from doing it the first time.

There is always that "next time we'll do it this way," not to mention all the ideas you couldn't get in this one.

I would like to extend my appreciation to Burger King and McDonald's for the use of their facilities (many an important decision was made over a Whopper); to the guy at the copy center for not throwing us out after the fifth time we showed up with another picture of Dagen and Jess; and to the people at work, who by now are thoroughly convinced that Kim and I have finally gone off the deep end.
  • Conflictions, poem by Clara Testa (4)
  • Blood Ties, An Episode In the Continuing Saga Darth Vader, The True Story by Kim Gianna (5)
  • Boy Meets Girl, or A Jedi to the Rescue, An Episode In the Continuing Saga Darth Vader, The True Story by Kim Gianna (10) (Luke's father meets up with a member of the Lars family)
  • The Dream by Kim Gianna (37)
  • At Friendship's End by Kim Gianna (38)
  • untitled poem by Clara Testa (45)
  • Ode to Millennium Falcon by Linda DeLaurentis (46)
  • S.P.O.D.V.D.L.O.S., two letters by Kim Gianna (48)
  • untitled poem by Clara Testa (50)
  • Nell's Story, or May the Farce Be With You by Linda DeLaurentis and Kim Gianna (script) (51)
  • Advertisement by Jamie Gianna (72)
  • Nell's Poem by Clara Testa (74)
  • Echoes from the Past by Linda DeLaurentis (Takes up where TESB left off, what happens when a SW fan wishes herself into the SW universe?) (75)

Issue 2

Combining Forces 2 was published in August 1981 and contains 90 pages. The inside art is by Kim Gianna.

front cover of issue #2, Kim Gianna
back cover of issue #2, Kim Gianna
The first issue said there would be a story called "Nightmare" published in this second issue. It was not included. The description:
"Nightmare", in which through a series of bizarre (!?!) events, Princess Leia offers herself in marriage to the Evil Dark Lord. Will our Brave Princess he able to prevent herself from constantly cringing in her Bridegroom's presence? Will our Hero, Han Solo he able to accept his beloved Leia in her new guise as Bride of Vader? Will our Stalwart Commander, Luke Skywalker wind up having to call the Princess from Alderaan Mommy? And if you believe this, then there is a gas mining colony we would like to sell you.
The editorial by DeLaurentis:


(with apologies to Frank Herbert)

Aggravation is the gut killer.

Aggravation is the little death that brings excruciation [sic] pain.

I will face my aggravation.

I will count to ten and permit it to pass over me.

And when it has gone past me, I will turn to see aggravation's path.

Where aggravation has gone, there will be nothing.

Only my ulcer will remain.

It was suposed [sic] to be easier the second time around, but then again, why should I have believed that, issue one was suposed to have been a one-shot. It just goes to show that things don't always go as you planned. Quite frankly though, I think this issue came out better than we planned. We got some positive feedback on the idea of a script, so we're doing it again in this issue with "Welcome To Blue Squad." For all of you anxiously waiting, there's "Boy Meets Girl: Part II," and "A Serpent's Tale" (have your hankies ready for this one folks, it's sooo sad!). Clara is making her debut as an author in' this issue with her short fantasy piece, "Maraja." I'm sure we'll get plenty of letters about "The Dark Side" and "The Strangest Thing Ever," but please remember, they are written in fun. There is also a Han and Leia adventure called "Pawns."

Well, there it is.
  • editorials (2)
  • The Strangest Thing Ever, metafic about writing, by Clara Testa (4)
  • More Important Things by Linda DeLaurentis (5)
  • And They Returned by Linda DeLaurentis (11)
  • Meraja, a Vision of Loveliness by Clara Testa (14)
  • untitled poem (20)
  • An Alternate Universe, The Dark Side by Kim Gianna (21)
  • Boy Meets Girl, part II by Kim Gianna (22)
  • A Serpent's Tale by Kim Gianna (37)
  • Pawns by Linda DeLaurentis (58)
  • Welcome to the Blue Squad, or This Isn't What I Signed Up For, another script from CF Productions by Kim Gianna and Linda DeLaurentis (71)
  • S.P.O.D.V.D.L.O.S. Presents by Jamie Gianna (90)

Issue 3

front cover issue #3
back cover of issue #3
flyer for issue #3 from the 1982 MediaWest con program, click to enlarge

Combining Forces 3 was published in May 1982 and contains 100 pages. It contains Star Wars (mostly) and Star Trek: TOS.

[From the editorial by Linda]:

I've learned alot about selling zines In the past fourteen months, such as it helps to have a big mouth. If you're quiet like Kim and I, you are sometimes mistaken for being unsociable. Unsociable is when a big name in fandom, to whom you are about to be introduced, whispers something to the person about to introduce you and then turns her back on you, leaving the third person shrugging her shoulders as she walks off, neither one giving you any explanation. That in my book is not only unsociable, but downright rude! If you don't like my zine or my ideas, then that's one thing, but don't treat me like a non-entity. I don't expect all of fandom to beat a path to my door. I do ask to be given the same respect due any human being. If you've got a gripe, then let me know about it. The silent treatment is no more than typical infantile behavior.

We've also been called isolationists In that we don't accept outside submissions. Kim and I (unlike some people we've dealt with) feel that we have a great deal of responsibility towards others. To accept a submission is to make a commitment, one which we might not be able to keep. There was never supposed to have been an issue three or, as I stated in my last editorial, an issue two.

If there seems to be alot of bitterness in this editorial, it is no doubt out of hurt feelings. Please note that I said feelings and not, as some people would have it, ' ego.' I also don't think that either Kim or I suffer from over-inflated egoes [sic]. I. for one, do not feel that putting out my own zine automatically entitles me to lecture other zine editors on their responsibility to fandom, neatly pigeonholing editor types, or telling George Lucas that he has no right telling us what we can or can't do with his characters.[1]

Kim and I are the editors of CF because we put this thing together, but our first and foremost concern has always been to share our ideas with others through our stories.

I realize that my disenchantment with SW fandom is the result of the actions of a small, though popular group of people. There are, however, other zine editors out there who are not so loud and have put out some of the best material that fandom has ever seen.

This has been a good life experience, though. No matter what you do, you are always bound to run into a small group of very loud, dominating people. When in this situation, you have two choices. Either you agree to play by their rules and grovel at their feet, acknowledging their 'greatness' while agreeing to be intimidated by them, or you can be your own person.

There, I've had my say and that's what really counts, especially since this may very well be the last chance I'll get. This will, in all probability, be our last issue. Before the rumors run rampant, let me set the record straight—Kim and I are ceasing publication because we are both trying to pursue our own careers and with a full time job. It is difficult to do both and still put out a zine.

There are times when I'm tempted to say that it's not worth the aggrevation [sic], but then I think of the nine out of ten people who, after ordering issue one, a few weeks later ordered issue two. Certainly there are people out there enjoying CF and that's what really matters. So, in closing I would like to say thank you to you, the reader, for keeping us going this long. For those of you who took the time to write, may the Force be with you, always. For those who didn't, may you someday put out a zine of your own.
[From the editorial by Kim]: Well, I never! Actually, I wrote my editorial first, but after reading Linda's (you have read Linda's?) it seemed sort of silly. t thought I might revise it a bit, maybe talk about the Excaliburization of Star Wars in fan fiction, but I just can't seem to get up the energy for a fight (a wasteful proposition any way). So, I think that I'll go back to what I originally had—with just a few minor modifications.

First off I'd like to thank everyone who wrote to us with comments on our first two issues. We appreciate the time and thought that was put into those letters. I'd also like to thank everyone, who, throughout the last year, sent for copies of CF One and Two. We appreciated that as well! Please do send us your comments on this issue. We'd like to hear from you and promise faithfully to answer every letter.

This issue has been a learning experience If ever there was one. If I learned an hundred new things, then so did Linda and that was the fun of it all. Combining Forces' discovery of double columns and right margin justification are due entirely to Linda's efforts. It was her game and she enjoyed turning up every so often with a new 'puter trick that made us all smile with anticipation at Issue three's final print. She worked long hours making it all run out 'just so' and I thank her for it.

Our approach to issue three was a little different from that of our first two as you will soon see. For one thing we've gone a little Trek which was a pleasant journey back to our beginnings. All of which reminds me that by the time this zine is out Star Trek II will be opening. Personally, I can't wait. The trailer looked that good.

Speaking of movies, it looks like it's now or never, so I'm going to state for the record that I think that Darth Vader is the 'Other' or as it's said in 'Empire.'

BEN: That boy is our last hope.

YODA: No, there is another.

Well to my mind Vader is the only choice for that other hope. If for no other reason but to hear the screeches from the balcony. What can I say? I've always believed that Skywalker, Sr. and Vader were the same person. Oh dear! Well, time will tell.
  • Editorials (3)
  • Gone Tomorrow by Linda DeLaurentis (a short short) (5)
  • Grieving by Kim Gianna (9)
  • Little Mary Alice by Kim Gianna (Han is dead. Can Lando win the grieving princess for himself?) (13)
  • Stardust by Valerie Lesley (Star Trek: TOS, a continuing search for our roots.) (15)
  • To Spock, An Apology, poem by Clara Testa (21)
  • True Love by Kim Gianna (22)
  • Precious Cargo by Linda DeLaurentis (23)
  • All's Fair by Kim Gianna (24)
  • Dragon, Dragon by Linda DeLaurentis (42)
  • Darkness Versus Light by Valerie Lesley (44)
  • Civilities by Kim Giana (45)
  • I Am the Ego-Boo by Kim Giana (filk to the tune of "I Am the Walrus") (47)
  • Biting the Apple by Kim Gianna (48)
  • Sidetracked by DeLaurentis (Han and Luke's mission is slightly altered by a bad deal and a tall female.) (49)
  • The Revenge Countdown Calendar (58)
  • Mater by Kim Gianna (61)
  • A Leave Taking by Gianna (62)
  • Cheetah Chrome's Scrapbook (71)
  • The 497th Running, or Murphy was a Genius, a Star Wars story by Gianna and DeLaurentis in script form (Han and Luke attend the Intergalactic Ord Mantell Space Yacht Races.) (75)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 3

Thank Ghu for editors that say something in their editorials! Linda DeLaurentis' editorial for CF #3 is a strong protest against treatment she and her co-editor have received from some quarters in fandom. I'm unfamiliar with it all, but if, indeed, some disapprove of CF's closed-contributor policy, I can only remind them that there are plenty of zines out there greedy for submissions, and if CF's editors are lucky enough to have enough material to fill their zine, more power to them. Perhaps if CF were a lousy zine, these criticisms would have some validity, but such is not the case. I wish CF's other editor, Kim Gianna, used her editorial in the same way as Linda did, especially since she mentioned "the excaliburizatiion of SW fanfic", something I would have liked her to expand on.

Only a few errors and typos can be found in thish and the attractive typeface is doubly complimented by the neat typing and columned format. It's a very clean zine with a very open quality to it. Illos are spread throughout well, and perfectly integrated.

Two short-shorts introduce us to the varied and fascinating range of ideas offered in CF, and to the impressively well-crafted writing. The first is "Gone Tomorrow" by DeLaurentis, remarkable for its delivery of a rather complicated set of circumstances and a not-so-small range of emotions in less than two and one-half pages. Economy of writing is not one of my strengths and I admire and envy anyone who's skilled at it. "Gone Tomorrow" concerns a 15 year-old Tatooinian girl who has a crush on Luke, and her plight after Luke's sudden disappearance from his world in ANH. Light, sweet and humorous, it's a great attempt at showing the effect of Luke's sudden abandonment and his guardians' deaths, on those who knew them at home. The only complaint I have is one I level at almost all fan stories which attempt to show life on Tatooine (or Corell). The people and relationships here are simply too much like some American teenage sitcom. A minor compliment: I was struck by Linda's penchant for excellent and convincing names in an alien, yet Earth-like setting. "Grieving" by Kim Gianna is, again, a great idea and poignantly executed. Han is dead, Leia is grieving and Lando, who loves her, waits until she will turn to him. Hooray for Gianna! I'd love to see Leia and Lando get together! I don't think that's a popular idea in fandom, though. My problem is that I'd love to see Leia get all three of them (Han, Luke and Lando)!

"Stardust" by Valerie Lesley is a fascinating ST story and an entry in the editors' "search for our roots". Congratulations to DeLaurentis and Gianna for not forgetting their origins, for not holding ST in contempt (as so many SW fans seem to) and for presenting a very strong story about the consequences of Kirk's obsession over his ship, combined with an invading space phenomenon. It has an extremely moving ending, and I was particularly touched by Spock's and Scotty's reactions at the climax. Lesley's writing is very clear and complete, every word and sentence tightly essential.

"All's Fair" by Gianna is a very aptly titled story about a triangle between Luke, an Alliance lieutenant called Ranel and a rebel womanizing captain called Kenan. Gianna has a couple of scenes with some impressive aliens and their accents. The main body of the story concerns Ranel's and Kenan's mission to a planet that enslaves its women, so naturally Ranel must pose as Kenan's property. Good characters and an interesting subplot about Kenan and his Imperial brother (Vader's aide) are just a few of the interests here, but I did not like Leia's icyness. Nor did I feel altogether comfortable with the enforced slavery idea. I always wonder in stories like this (and they've become a fanfic cliche, whether male or female domination) if there is not a calculated desire by the writer to put a particular character in a position where she/he gets herself/himself "straightened out" and conforms in some way. In this story, Ranel falls for the womanizer (it's never quite clear why) who turns out to be not such a creep after all. But his sudden conversion is not convincing. Ranel's treatment of Luke afterward is not very kind either. Still, it should be read if only because of Luke's role in it.

"Sidetracked" by DeLaurentis is a truly fun and meaty adventure with subtle humor, gentle warmth and a hilarious ending. I'm not too crazy about Han's chauvinsim here ("Why would an attractive woman like you want to stick out her pretty little neck for people you don't even know?") but there is a lovely and sensitive motif that concerns Han's guilt for not returning soon enough to the Death Star to save Biggs in ANH. Its resolution is a testament to the friendship between Han and Luke and of Luke's sensitivity. Luke's innocence and sincerity are presented with great warmth and dignity.

"Leave Taking" by Gianna surprised me. I'm not usually impressed with most of SW fandom's many series of fiction. Most of them just don't persuade me. But this one story has suckered me in. While I don't care for the series' title (Darth Vader, the True Story) nor for the tinge of middle America Gianna draws us into, I can't help but enjoy this story because Gianna does just that—she draws me into it and keeps me there, and leaves me wanting more. This entry in the series is about Luke's mother at 17, stuck on Tatooine, bored out of her mind, having to deal with her unimaginative brother, Owen, her "genuinely nice" future sister-in-law, Beru and her recalcitrant mother. Sitcom stuff here, folks, but with a warmth and feeling that transcends that cliche. But even if this story were the worst in all of fanzine history, I would have to recommend it for one inclusion here that I haven't seen anywhere else. Thank you, Kim, for including that paragraph on Beru's sensitivity to womprats and her opinions on their preservation. Maybe I'm not the only one who didn't like Luke's line about "bullseyeing womprats".

The last and longest piece is a movie script by both editors called "The 497th Running or Murphy Was a Genius". The editors have a fine handle on movie scripts and I can see this easily visualized onto a screen. I can't see it stretched out into a two-hour film, though. More likely, 60 minutes, 90 minutes possibly. It concerns a mission Han, Luke and a rebel named Xandretta undertake during the Ord Mantell yacht race. It's pure fun adventure with good dialogue and intelligent scene structure. Some quibbles: again, Han's chauvinism ("I don't play ladies' games."), Luke's cheap use of Xandretta as a saloon singer, and his having to "calm her down" when she didn't seem to be in the middle of an outburst at all. Not only is the former very sexist, it's also not especially original. In fact, the entire escape sequence is painfully familiar. There are six vignettes, all excellent. The most memorable are "Darkness Versus Light" by Lesley (wherein Vader muses to himself about his son—fascinating), "Civilities" by Gianna (an extremely well-written and powerful scene between an Imperial and her captured rebel prisoner with some fine dialogue and potent character interplay) and the best in the zine, again by Giana, is "Mater", in which Luke, while on Dagobah, has a beautiful and very moving meeting with the spirit of his mother. I don't think I can ever forget this and it's one of the few pieces of fanfic I'll be going back to periodically.

I should also mention Clara Testa's "To Spock - An Apology" and "From Spock - An Answer". Spock's reply sounds EXACTLY like him! The accompanying illo of Spock in Kolinahr garb and position is very striking—looks like a painting. Spock's neck, fingers and face are drawn with strong crease lines and the entire effect makes the portrait stand out among the other illos in the zine. As to the other illos, the best are Kim Gianna's. Her renderings of Luke, Lando, Han, Leia, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are gorgeous, stippled likenesses. Her best, though, is her two-page black dragon, beautifully spread out with wings, scales and fire. Her most striking story illo, however, is of the character Berand in "Sidetracked", because of the woman's distinctive, bony face. Her stance is well composed, but her bulky clothing makes her look fatter than her face implies. I recommend CF. It isn't every day you can buy a zine for $6.00 first class with 102 pages and quality material inside.[2]


  1. ^ a direct reference to The Star Wars Letters
  2. ^ from Scoundrel #5