Cover Up

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K/S Fanfiction
Title: Cover Up
Author(s): Kay Wells
Date(s): 1991
Length:
Genre: slash
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links:

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Cover Up is a Kirk/Spock story by Kay Wells.

It was published in the print zine First Time #31.

This story, ironically titled, was a plagiarized version of the Pros story, Breaking Cover by Ellis Ward, see below.

Summary

"Kirk is on a stakeout with a fellow captain for a Romulan spy when the man tries to seduce him-something he had tried years before without success."

Reactions and Reviews

I liked this story altogether. The only thing I didn't like so much was one of Kirk's sentences (on page 9) "Better is having your first officer still alive, Tom."). I don't think Kirk would use such a low sentence, even if he is very annoyed and all mixed up. But this is only an unimportant quibble of mine. I liked the rest of the story very much. And I even liked the character of Tom Galen. One could feel sorry for him. He wanted to repress the death of his first officer and lover with illusions. It was bound to go wrong. I liked the way in which Tom Galen tried to seduce Kirk. Whenever I try to picture the faces of Chekov, Kirk, and Galen as Chekov catches Galen at one of his attempts to seduce Kirk, I have to giggle. But the best of the story was the interplay between Kirk and Spock. First both were too careful to speak about their feelings and at the end then the confrontation. Spock takes the risk, and both discover that they want the same. I definitely like happy endings. [1]

One must admit, almost every contrivance known to man and Vulcan has been used to get Kirk and Spock together—really together. Yet here is something with enough difference to make it new again.

Another starship captain, teamed with Kirk on a mission, keeps making passes. They were very realistic passes, I thought. Neither Kirk nor I can figure if it’s loneliness because this guy has lost his 1st officer/lover or just lust. But it does work...makes Kirk take the final step with Spock!

On the way, though, there was a fresh approach. Kind of had a gritty realism. There was one rough spot, however. When the other captain is telling Kirk how good it can be with another man, “nothing better”, Kirk responds by saying “a live first officer is better”. That’s way below the belt and totally out of character, I felt, to show Kirk this deliberately cruel. The coming together ~PUN!~ boy, was it worth the wait! Incredibly sexy. [2]

This Story, "Cover Up," Was Plagiarized

Comments in "Chalk and Cheese"

In the editorial of Chalk and Cheese #10 (May 1992), Mysti Frank wrote that Kay Wells had "rewritten" this story, using a Pros story by Ellis Ward called "Breaking Cover":

Approximately a week ago, I received a letter from Kay Wells stating that she could not remember the name of the story or its plot, but did not feel she had anything to apologise for. I was rather confused as to what she was refering until I chanced to talk to a few West Coast friends, who informed me that me Wells had taken Ellis Ward's story, "Breaking Cover," which was published in Chalk and Cheese 8, and rewritten it as a Kirk/Spock story (without the author's consent or even awareness) and submitted it to Robin Hood, who, not knowing the circumstances, published it in First Time 31, her K/S zine. Not only did she "rewrite" the story, but she lifted whole paragraphs intact. Regardless of what you call it, this is plagarism, pure and simple. Ms. Wells said that she didn't think that K/S fans read Pros, or vice versa, and that the story just seemed to be made for the K/S universe. Folks, fandom as it exists today is too well connected, too diversified, for anyone to think he or she can get away with this. I cannot control Ms. Wells' actions, nor can I speak for Ellis Ward, who is dealing with this matter in a dignified and humorous manner, but this situation galls me. It strikes at the heart of the editor in me and angers the writer in me. What if Ms. Wells, or someone else, decided to do that with one of my stories? Regardless of what anyone may think of my stories, I can at least state unequivocally that they are mine, every word agonized over and carefully chosen. Me. Wells cannot say the same.

I apologize for using this editorial as a soapbox, but I felt the above needed saying. Please, fen, don't plagarize [sic]. If you feel the need to rewrite a story — from whatever fandom — at least tell the author and zine editor so. If you plan to release your "new" story into the circuit, acknowledge the title of the story, if not the author, that you are borrowing from. This is only respectful, and respect makes the world go 'round a lot smoother.

There were some later fan comments in LoCs printed in Chalk and Cheese.

One of two comments about this subject in "Chalk and Cheese" #11:
I hope that the plagiarism of her story doesn't sour Ellis Ward on fandom in general. I do look forward to each new story under her by-line. (editor says: -Ellis has responded like a lady. She's ignoring it.-) [3]
One of two comments about this subject in "Chalk and Cheese" #11:

"On the note of plagiarism: in a fandom which thrives on lifting plots from classic novels, writing sequels to others' sequels, perhaps it was merely considered "borrowing" Ward's story. After all, how can a fan sue another fan for lifting the plot of a story which is already a copyright violation to begin with? I mean, we're all already "stealing," so I guess some fans consider it their privilege to just lift someone else's story.

I think a lot of that mind-set is due to fannish writing not being seen as "real writing" (i.e. legitimate). No money changes hands; no contracts are signed, so it's not like the "real world," is it? Maybe not, but there is still something known as courtesy. And some fans are just more courteous than others. It was mean-spirited and presumptuous. And bespeaks a rather imperious attitude toward the rank-and-file fans. "Oh, they'll never read this, they're in another fandom."

Not these days with everything lurking in everyone else's computer! [4]

Comments in Blake, Rabble and Roll

Less than four months after Mysti Frank's statements about the incident in "Chalk and Cheese," she made some dishonest comments about it in her editorial to Blake, Rabble and Roll #3. While Frank condemned the act of plagiarism, she neglected to name the story or the plagiarist, Kay Wells. While this could be seen as an attempt to calm the waters, something she disingenuously states herself, what Frank does not mention is that she includes two of Kay Wells' illos in the very zine she is writing the editorial for, Blake, Rabble and Roll #3:

A bit of a flap sprang into being when someone who enjoyed a story I published in one of my other zines took that story, rewrote it using another fandom, and submitted it to another zine ed, who, not knowing the circumstances, printed it. All without the original author's knowledge or consent. I'm not going to start naming names--I don't want to start that again. I simply want to make the point that if you plan to borrow someone's work, be they fan or professional, Barbara Cartland or Shakespeare, please notify the author (if possible) and ask permission! When (and only when) given, also tell the zine ed to whom you are submitting the story that it borrows heavily (if not lifts whole paragraphs intact) from another source. Otherwise, fen, what you've done is committed plagiarism, pure and simple.

We 'amateur' writers don't have much, but we've got our stories and they are ours. To have someone steal one behind your back, rewrite it with characters that may not even fit the storyline, and then submit it to an unknowing zine ed, is the worst kind of feeling in the world. Please don't do this. We don't need this kind of tension in any fandom. IDIC's more than just a concept, you know. And the rest is just plain common courtesy.

[snipped]

Welp, that's it for me this time. I hope I raised a few consciences here and didn't piss off too many fen. Hopefully, I'll see you in a year with another great issue of Blake, Rabble and Roll!

Comments in "First Time"

There weren't any comments in the zine the plagarised story appeared in.

The editor of First Time did not address this issue in her zine, even in her editorial. Fans were unable to comment in "First Time" because it was a zine that did not print fans' LoCs.

Comments in "On the Double"

The editor addressed the then-recent plagiarism incident in On the Double #23 (June 1992):
Editor's note: Plagerism [sic] is not nice, people. In fandom, we sort of operate on the honor system. Sequels are often written by different authors, with the original author's permission. We also often have more than one version of the same story, again, with the original author's permission, or because the same plot was used by different people as an intellectual exercise, (or contest). But to take a story from one fandom and transfer it to another fandom, making only cosmetic changes and not even acknowledging the original author, never mind bothering to ask permission, is a very different matter. Unfortunately, this has happened very recently. At the very least, the person who took the story has lost all credibility as a innovator, which is very sad. Fortunately, two of the three people who were "robbed" chose to react with humor. (The original editor and publisher was not so amused.) In any case, the person who commissioned the original story asked me to print her letter and I decided that I would. It's only fair, especially since the writer who did the "borrowing" was contacted and feels that what she did was okay, and that she doesn't owe anyone any apology, including her editor, who was unaware that the story in her zine was not original.)
Also in "On the Double," a response letter:
OPEN LETTER TO FANDOM: It was a dark and stormy night... well, since this is about writers who borrow from other writers, I thought I would borrow a little on my own. It was two weeks before MediaWest and all through the houses the fans were astirring, every one all. The zines were at printers, or editors were begging authors and artists to finish at last. The anxiety was building as I watched time slow down. First it was two weeks and four days, then two and three, then two and two. Drat, would the time never come. What was needed, I thought, was a diversion, something to keep the fans talking until the big day arrived. I pondered and pondered and came up with naught. But, this is fandom: it always finds a way to fill the void. My salvation came with a phone call - as is usually the case. (Pac Bell should write paeans of praise to the fannish rumor mill.) It seemed, god forbid, plagiarism had been discovered. Gasp! Gosh! Horrors! This was not your normal plot theft, however, this was grand theft story. Last year at MediaWest, Ellis Ward was acclaimed by one and all for her story "Breaking Cover", (rightfully nominated this year for a Fan Q award), which was inspired by Suzan Lovett's "The Declassizing of Bodie", or better known as, "Have you seen Page 96A in Chalk and Cheese 8?" Anyway, what to my amused ears should arrive, but a tale of a story in First Time 31 by Kay Wells that was not just similar, but in which whole paragraphs had been copied verbatim. Now really, self, I said to myself - that isn't kosher and it isn't fair. Especially since I bought the picture and commissioned the story in the first place. I mean, after all, if you are going to steal, at least be subtle. Subtle is fun - blatant is stupid. What was Ellis Ward's reaction to all this? "I haven't had such a fun day in a long time. It made my day. All I could picture was Kay Wells retyping the story and going through her thesaurus to find different adjectives." I would like to thank Kay Wells, author(?) of "Cover Up", for giving us something to talk about and fill up these interminably long two weeks. On a personal note - Kay, I understand you are an artist as well. May I recommend Suzan Lovett as a role model. If you are going to copy, copy from the best. Sincerely, Kathy

References

  1. from The LOC Connection #42
  2. from The K/S Press #44
  3. from an LoC in "Chalk and Cheese" #11
  4. from an LoC in "Chalk and Cheese" #11