Continuity Theory

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Fanwork
Title: Continuity Theory
Creator: Mary Manchester
Date(s): 1974
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
External Links:
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Continuity Theory is a 1974 fanwork by Mary Manchester.

While its topic is the Kirk/Spock (TOS) relationship, its format is less clear. It appears to have been an informal meta essay or outline.

Context

The Kirk/Spock relationship was one of intense interest to fans and certainly a topic of discussion in their conversations in letters, phone calls, and in person. These discussions would have certainly turned to just what this relationship entailed.

The conversations, in turn, became stories.

These small, but thriving circuit of stories were being written in both the US and the UK in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The "Story Trees" were basically private letters between fans talking about Star Trek where Fan A would mention that Fan B was offering stories - a few of them K/S - which could be obtained by sending Fan B a few dollars. [1] The copies had to be hand typed (as this pre-dated photcopy machines) and then reproduced via blurry mimeographs or faint carbon copies. There were no editors, just a few fans acting as a conduit by collecting, copying and mailing stories. The Ring of Soshern may have been one of these circuit stories.
"...[The Ring of Soshern] and Audrey B.'s stories were the first circulated K/S. You had to know someone on the circuit to have access to the stories, and we were pretty careful about making sure they didn't fall into unsuitable hands. The same system developed in the Professionals circuit."[2]

Some examples of these stories were The Ring of Soshern, written by Jennifer Guttridge in 1967 or 1968, and Green Plague. Both were published to wider distribution years after they were written.

One of the fan conversations was "Continuity Theory" by Mary Manchester, which circulated in 1974. It may have been what propelled the earliest K/S fiction to appear in zines, the first being "A Fragment Out of Time" by Diane Marchant, published in Grup #3 in 1974, and a year later Alternative: The Epilog to Orion, published by Gerry Downes.

One Fan's Description

Leslie Fish commented on "Continuity Theory."

1980

When I got into fandom, K/S was already a much discussed premise around the fan grapevine (I believe Mary Manchester outlined her "Continuity Theory" a year earlier), but it was till hush-hush and underground. [3]

2021

Remember, I know very little about "The Continuity Theory," having been of the "Overt" K/S faction. Anyway, what I've managed to put together is that Mary tracked down incidents in the Trek timeline which indicated that Kirk and Spock progressively grew more emotionally close, and after the incidents in "Amok Time" -- and all the questions that raised -- it was a "logical" progression that they should become lovers. One of the big questions they raised was: How did the shock of thinking he'd "killed my Captain, and my friend" overcome a biological imperative which would otherwise be strong enough to kill? How did that break a telepathic bond of forty years' standing? It could only be that Spock had (through all those mind-melds, perhaps?) formed a stronger bond with Kirk than with T'Pring. But in that case, wouldn't he be drawn by his biological needs toward Kirk? The theory concluded that Spock didn't hold off his Pon Farr too long after freeing himself from T'Pring, but wound up in bed with Kirk a little later. I never actually saw the theory written down, nor any stories inspired by it, but that was the general outline. As I said, the fans involved in it were very secretive, fearing The Wrath of Paramount. [4]

References

  1. ^ This is different from the "story tree" concept discussed by Joan Verba in her book Boldly Writing and by Camille Bacon-Smith in Enterprising Women. That involved many fans writing in a shared universe such as Kraith.
  2. ^ Interview with Valerie Piacentini published in Legacy Vol #5. Also, Morgan Dawn's personal notes from discussions with K/S fans in the 1990s.
  3. ^ from A 1980 Interview with Leslie Fish
  4. ^ from an email exchange between Leslie Fish and User:MPH (September 10, 2021), quoted with permission