Diane Marchant

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Fan
Name: Diane Marchant
Alias(es): Kert Rats (Star Trek, spelled backwards)
Type: fan writer
Fandoms: Star Trek
Communities: Austrek, fancons, Star Trek Welcommittee
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URL:
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Diane Marchant was a Star Trek author and artist, and Australia's representative of the Star Trek Welcommittee.

She is well-known for having written the first published slash K/S story, "A Fragment Out of Time" in Grup #3 (1974), and its meta defense, "Pandora's Box... Again" in Grup #4 (1975).

Marchant was an early member of Down Under Space Kooks, joining that club in 1970 [1]. Years later, Marchant ran the Star Trek fan club, Austrek, in Australia and volunteered on many fan run conventions. She was a guest of honor at the first AussieTrek in 1979.

In July 1978, Diane Marchant was mentioned in an issue of TV Times, which called her "Australia’s number one fan of the show." This article includes a photo. [2]

In 1982, Gene Roddenberry sent an audio letter to Diane, which can be heard here on the Scotpress website.

Marchant died April 5, 2006. [3]

Diane Looking Back, and Forward

In 1991, on Star Trek's 25th anniversary, Marchant commented:

Here many of us beheld ourselves, our dreams, our ideals… Tenets we hold dear and by which we fashioned our lives… Life is valuable, there’s a lot more to everything than just mundanity… humane ideals will win through, mankind will survive… ever growing, ever striving for peace, harmony, equality, tolerance and revelation, and that even with success in all these areas, will still go on to greater and more magnificent challenges. [4]

List of Published Fanworks

Conventions

Fan Club Activies

Sample Art

Interviews

1990

See An Interview with Diane Marchant in The Captain's Log #150 (1990). An excerpt:
I remember seeing something in the TV Times, it was a letter that Gene had answered to somebody - I wondered if this was fair-dinkum or just publicity. But there was an address there, so I gave it a try. I told him, more or less, what had happened to me and how he, with his series, said something to me. I just said I wanted to write and thank him and I gave him a few of the ideas that I thought of my philosophy which agreed with a few of the episodes that I'd seen. He wrote back with a gushing big letter saying "Yes." He's citing people all over the world, where it's reaching, that are actually seeing what he means (in the episodes). "It's amazing, the people running the studios haven't got the foggiest idea what I'm doing". He said he loved going there and sitting back listening to them talking, and thinking "Okay, I've pulled the wool over their eyes this time, how am I going to do it the next?". (Laugh) He started off by putting his ideas about anti-conscription and so on. Each main character is an extension of his personality; he would like to be a Captain Kirk, like to be cool and logical like Spock - so he used these people.

2007

See Legacy Interview with Diane Marchant, published in 2007 as part of the K/S Legacy Project and in 2010 online here. An excerpt: An excerpt:
One would have to be wearing blinkers to miss their [Kirk and Spock] growing of two souls becoming as one. It was a beautiful coming together of two halves. The hand needed the fingers if it were to function as its maker and nature planned. They were what was needed for the other. They were a whole. Sharing/caring/relying/ trusting/cherishing/etc. Adding strength to strength, permitting respite, adding closeness, humour, respect and like. In short, each bolstering the other’s strengths—by their friendship, devotion, security, and the constancy of knowing—they are not alone. From our discussion of such things came a natural progression—as to whether— given the century, if not all “love” was acceptable as legitimate. If one considered the IDIC as an universally accepted ideal—then the answer must be an unequivocal: YES!

Fan Comments

2006

Some might remember Diane for her tireless work in organising Trek events in Australia. Her most memorable contribution to humanity, however, will remain the two-page epic short story A Fragment Out of Time, published in issue #3 of the Grup fanzine in 1974. In amongst much coded prose could be found, for the first time ever, a description of a homosexual liaison between Captain James Tiberius Kirk of Earth and Dr [sic] Spock of Vulcan. This marked a turning point in the history of fanfic (which starts with the invention of paper - evidently fanfic was not suited to cuneiform), pushed along the history of feminist sf and kickstarted the slash fanfic phenomenon. As we speak, tricorders are being switched off and jumpsuits worn at half mast in her honour. Diane, millions of Trekkies salute you. [5]
I remember my early days in fandom, when I had just started to make friends. I was a member of Austrek, which at the time was the only Trek club in Melbourne (and maybe it is again, now that the others have died off!). I was invited to come along to one of the Friday evenings at Diane Marchant's home in Mordialloc. At the time, she was living therewith her mother, Jessie, but Jessie was always in bed when we arrived, so I rarely saw her. Diane was delighted to have visitors and always made us welcome. We would sit in her living room talking Star Trek, then we were invited into her special room, where she kept her collection of Star Trek memorabilia - signed photos, books, jewellery, toys, cards - and that massive collection of fanzines. Diane was only too willing to lend them out to us and that gave me the chance to read fannish Trek fiction. Afterwards, we would retire to her kitchen for supper. My favourites were the cheese and pickled onion sandwiches (I still make them, and think of her when I do). I remember, later, when she and Helene Shaw, my friend who passed away almost exactly thirteen years before Diane (about two days difference), used to play a game called ENCHANTED FOREST and argue good-naturedly abvout who was winning. Eventually, the Friday nights no longer happened. For personal reasons, Diane withdrew, even from the Star Trek Welcommittee, which she had helped found, and although she never quite lost touch - I used to get a Christmas card each year - she made most of her friendships in her local church. [6]
There are plenty of examples of fans who took their craft seriously, who archived with out being about their personality, where the zines and archive were created over differences in canon or appreciations of the differences in canon. [...] I know this is true in various parts of the Star Trek community. TaraLJC created Lower Decks and the P/T Collective not as an extension of her own ego or over a personal conflict with others but because of her appreciating a certain of a pairing and neglected canon characters. In doing so, she at the same time created writing resources for others to help them with their fic writing and served as a mentor to a number of newer fen of all ages. Diane Marchant, who is credited with publishing the first Kirk/Spock story, is viewed similarly. The stories I hear about her personally have to do with how helpful and nice she was on a personal level. She engaged in meta discussion of Kirk/Spock. She was friendly with other BNFs of the era. But at the same time, she is supposed to have welcomed fen into her home on a regular basis and discussed with them all things Star Trek. She helped organize conventions, revolutionary ones in a sense. There is no feeling, amongst the recountings of stories about her, that she did this for material gain, fame or access. [7]

2007

I loved reading how she was first drawn into ST, and how the fans were keeping it going at a time when the show was over and it was believed there would never be any more of it. Ideas and thoughts were shared with friends, discussions of the characters flowed, and eventually the focus shifted to the two main characters, and their unique relationship and love. From this Diane wrote her story, not realizing the women she shared it with (affectionately called ‘the Grup sisters) decided to publish it! It was like letting the cat out of the bag – the fans went with it. I was very sorry to read that shortly after her contribution to Legacy, Diane passed away. She was a pioneer of what is today a beloved fandom, a fandom that is very precious to me personally. I am grateful to her for taking that step and writing what she truly believed was right there on the screen for all to see: Kirk and Spock in love. [8]

2015

Fanfic, and slash fiction in particular, is a huge part of SF fandom history – and its overlapping communities have mostly been built and shared by women.

Diane Marchant is generally regarded as the writer of the first published fic featuring Kirk/Spock – the ship which popularised slashfic as a fan phenonenon. And she was Australian, to boot!

You’re welcome, rest of the world. [9]

2018

As someone who has participated in online fandom since I was about 12 years old, I’d heard of “A Fragment Out of Time.” But it wasn’t until I was researching for our Flame Con panel that I gave the story a close read and investigated the history around its publication and reception. Now I can’t stop thinking about “A Fragment Out of Time” and how far fandom and particularly fanfiction with LGBTQIA+ themes and characters have come since Marchant’s story in the ’70s.

First of all, its format is absolutely fascinating. Neither character is ever named, and there’s a gaming in the use of pronouns so that it’s never precisely clear in the text that it is two men having a romantic encounter. While the narrator of the story, who is being treated to some tender and then increasingly sexual caresses, is called “he” (it’s Spock), the second character’s actions are shown in an abstract that doesn’t require identification, or else referred to as simply “the other” (it’s Kirk, he of the “blond head”).

[...]

The whole story is roughly 500 words — shorter than this article. An incredibly compact little thing to have created a sensation and to be seen as the forerunner of a fiction type for which there are now hundreds of thousands of fan-made works. Yet it kicked open a door that, I believe, will never be shut again.

[...]

with all respect to Diane Marchant, “A Fragment Out of Time” is very much proto-slash when compared to the stories available to us today on sites like Archive of Our Own and Tumblr, and before that, on Usenet groups, mailing lists, online archives, the dreaded fanfiction.net, LiveJournal, and Dreamwidth.

Today, there is everything from the most explicitly hardcore stories exploring every possible romantic permutation to sweeping works of epic literature featuring popular characters as queer in stories that can run into novel-length works. Queer relationships and romance are increasingly part of mainstream publishing as well—and no few authors got their start in fanfiction.

Reading Marchant’s story now feels profoundly meta: it has become, indeed, a fragment out of its time. I couldn’t be happier that the story came to be—and that we have moved into an era less than fifty years later where reading characters as queer is no longer an idea that is considered atypical and in many cases has entered the zeitgeist. [10]

2020

Diane (1939 – 2006) was a long-time fan who personally knew Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek), and in many ways she became the mother figure of Star Trek fandom in Australia. She helped to found an international fan organisation called the Star Trek Welcommittee, and for many years was its overseas and/or Australian representative. In the days before the Internet, mobile phones or social media, she connected fans to support/friendship networks and local clubs, including my own fledgling effort at the time. Her informal Friday night home gatherings became a tradition for many fans. Diane dabbled in fan fiction (published in paper fanzines, not online), sometimes using the pen name of Kert Rats (or ‘Star Trek‘ backwards), and she helped to make fanfic history. Today would have been her birthday. Happy birthday, my friend. May your ideals live long and prosper. [11]

Additional Reading

References

  1. ^ "NEW MEMBERS SINCE THE NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER: Adele Carlisle (New Zealand) and Diane Marchant (Victoria) This brings the present membership to 29." -- Terran Times #3
  2. ^ photo
  3. ^ Sue Bursztynski at A Fannish Funeral - vale Diane Marchant!, 17 April 2006. (Accessed 07 May 2011)
  4. ^ from Boldly Going... 25 Years On, printed in Captain’s Log #170, September 1991, published by Austrek
  5. ^ Paul Montgomery. A... moment of... silence... please Spock..., 08 May 2006. (Accessed 07 May 2011)
  6. ^ Sue Bursztynski at A Fannish Funeral - vale Diane Marchant!, 17 April 2006. (Accessed 07 May 2011)
  7. ^ comments by partlybouncy at Fandom and the Cult of Personality
  8. ^ from a review of Legacy #1, printed in The K/S Press #132 (2007)
  9. ^ Diane Marchant & Kirk/Spock -- SF Women of the 20th Century – tansyrr.com, Archived version by Tansy Rayner Roberts (2015)
  10. ^ I Can’t Stop Thinking About the First Published Kirk/Spock Slash Fanfiction, Archived version by Kaila Hale-Stern (2018)
  11. ^ Looking Ahead With Optimism; archive link by Geoff Allshorn