Diane Marchant

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Fan
Name: Diane Marchant
Alias(es): Dynie, Kert Rats (Star Trek, spelled backwards), DSM
Type: fan writer, activist
Fandoms: Star Trek
Communities: Austrek, fancons, Star Trek Welcommittee
Other:
URL:
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Diane Marchant with Walter Koenig, the Guests of Honour at the Time-Warped Convention, Mon 29th September 1986 in Old Melbourne Hotel, Melbourne. Photograph by Irene Grynbaum, used by permission.
Diane Marchant (left) with Betty Franklin at the Galactic Tours Convention banquet (March 1986) - photo by Helene Shaw in the Helena Binns collection
Diane with Helena Binns at Trekcon 3 in 1987. Photograph from the Helena Binns collection.
Diane at home, mid 1980s? Photograph by Irene Grynbaum, used by permission.
Diane Marchant in her 'Star Trek' room at home in Mordialloc (Melbourne) in the mid 1980s. Photograph by Irene Grynbaum, used by permission.
Diane Marchant, Betsi Ashton (in blue), Robin Walker, and Theresa ('Tessie') de Gabriele (front), at Diane's house during the weekend of Trekcon 1 in July 1978. Photographer unknown.
Diane Marchant (left) and unknown fan (background) with Gene Roddenberry (right) at the 1975 Star Trek Lives! convention in New York City. Photographer unknown.

Diane Marchant (31 December 1939 - 5 April 2006) was an influential and beloved Star Trek fan author, artist and activist, and was a co-founder and overseas representative of the Star Trek Welcommittee (STW). Joan Marie Verba refers to Diane as a "behind the scenes" fan and a "mainstay of Australian Star Trek fandom".[1]

Diane began watching Star Trek in 1967 and quickly became heavily involved in fandom.[2] Her introduction to Star Trek came out of a bad time in life,[3] but tapped into Star Trek's utopian vision for the future, and directly led to her helping found the STW:

I was going through a bad time. My sister died and Mum was very ill. I was just coping, going to work, looking after Mum, eating and sleeping. The TV was permanently on in the background.

When Star Trek first came on it didn't really register, but after a couple of weeks I found I was waiting for it to start every week.

Then I read in a magazine that five women in the USA were forming the Star Trek fan club.

I wrote to them and so became a founding member. [4]

Many fans dedicated their zines to Marchant.[5][6][7][8][9] Leslie Fish called her "The Fandom Queen of Oz" in the dedication to Outrider, and Geoff Allshorn suggested she was the creator of the Australian Star Trek family in his dedication within These Are The Voyages; he later referred to her as "the mother figure of Star Trek fandom in Australia."[10] Diane later spoke of the Star Trek community in terms of family when she paid tribute to Gene Roddenberry in the Roddcon Program booklet:

In many ways, Gene Roddenberry is in touch with us all. He and his immediate family share much with us. Seldom is there a barrier between them and the general Star Trek public. [11]

Marchant was an early member of Down Under Space Kooks (which later morphed into STAC and Astrex), joining that club in 1970.[12] Chandler Award winner Edwina Harvey recalls how Diane helped her and a friend make contact with that club in their early days of fandom:

Julie Townsend and I were two Star Trek fans in high school when we wrote to Diane Marchant, the Australian Welcommittee contact. The Welcommittee was a global scattering of Star Trek sentinels who put Star Trek fans in contact with other Star Trek fans. We asked if there was a Star Trek fan club in Australia that we could join. Diane sent us a list of names and addresses, including Sue Clarke (now Susan Batho), Shayne McCormack (who managed Galaxy Bookshop), and Nikki White (who made her career in the National Library).[13]

Diane attended the 1975 Star Trek Lives! convention (and maybe others in the 1970s in New York) where she escorted Gene and Majel Roddenberry to a room party. She also attended Aussiecon 1 (the first Australian Worldcon in 1975) where she held a room party showing Star Trek blooper reels.

She became a prolific artist and author, particularly of fiction relating to Spock and Christine Chapel, (reflecting her personal favourite episode, Plato's Stepchildren, which features a romantic/sexual liaison between them).[14] She sometimes signed artwork as "DSM" which also revisited her occasional signature (which she used in some correspondence) of "Diane S.T. Marchant", which included her middle initials (for 'Suzette Therese') and possibly alluded to Star Trek.

She is well-known for having written the first published slash K/S story, "A Fragment Out of Time" in Grup #3 (1974) [15][16], and its meta defense, "Pandora's Box... Again" in Grup #4 (1975).[17] For years afterwards, ironically, she was somewhat reluctant to speak about this achievement.[18]

Originally becoming the overseas representative of the STW for the entire world outside of the USA, Marchant helped fans in many countries develop networks and fan groups - including Finland, UK, Germany, Japan, Turkey etc.[19] Then as each nation developed its own Trek community, she progressively withdrew her services and remained exclusively as STW representative for Australia only. In Australia, she answered copious numbers of letters sent to her by fans from all over the country, putting them in touch with each other or their local club. Her volunteer work in the STW was summarised in a biographical piece for the Trekcon 3 con booklet in 1987:

Diane was instrumental in helping many clubs set up: clubs like the British ‘STAG’, the Leonard Nimoy Club in the USA and, of course the various Australian clubs. Britain and Europe now have their own Welcommittee representative and New Zealand, last but not least, has now its own Representative as well. [20]

She also assisted the founding of the Star Trek fan club, Austrek, in Melbourne, Australia, often attending meetings where she presented the latest Star Trek news by reading from letters sent to her by her pen pals, Gene and Majel Roddenberry. She was a volunteer or Guest of Honour at many fan run conventions, including at Trekcons 1, 2 and 3 in 1978, 1980 and 1987 respectively; and at the first AussieTrek in 1979.

Diane spread the message about Star Trek widely: she was an original organizer of the Bob Johnson's Star Trek Marathons; and as a primary teacher, she was not averse to using Star Trek as an educational aid:

I sometimes show slides of the show to the children and then they write their own stories to the Star Trek outlines. [21]

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

After possibly 25 years of voluntary fan service, Diane resigned from the Star Trek Welcommittee in early 1994,[22] after the death of Gene Roddenberry and before the VIACOM crackdown. She dedicated herself instead to running a "Welcoming Committee" at her local church, and she kept in touch with a few of her fannish friends.

Marchant died on 5th April 2006.[23][24] Geoff Allshorn gave a eulogy on behalf of Star Trek fans at her funeral.

In 2023, Austrek established the Allshorn/Marchant award for dedicated service to the club. In response to this award, it was noted:

None of us would likely be here in the club today if not for Diane. She was more than just a friend and mentor to many early Austrek members, but she was also a pioneer and powerhouse of energy in Star Trek fandom.[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. [25]

Interviews

See Interview Excerpts.

List of Published Fanworks

Fiction and Art

Non-Fiction

Convention Guest of Honor

Fan Club Activities

Photos

  • 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. photo (July 1978)
  • a photo of Marchant at Sol III is in G.H.T. Journal #15 (1987)

Tuckerized

Marchant was Tuckerized in several stories. Some examples: "The Pendulum" by Rebecca Ross in Obsc'zine #4: "Lt. Kelly Marchant helps Spock through a surprise attack of pon farr while on landing party."

Sample Art

1971

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

The poem, "Nova," by Barbara Richley which accompanies Marchant's illo in "The Sensuous Vulcan":

from The Sensuous Vulcan: The poem "Nova" is by Barbara Richley in The Sensuous Vulcan (1977).
Nova!
Then rebirth, slowly;
And senses, each in turn,
Recall the moment of their undoing:
Eyes behold a dream in flesh--
A fantasy made real;
Lips tasted a wine sweet kiss,
Intoxicating and rare;
Cool satin skin seemed to burn
'Neath fingertips' caress;
A heady scent of wild honey.
And laughter--
The sound of liquid silver.
All these combined to overwhelm
Mere mortal; but mortal no more am I,
For in your arms I have learned
The secret of the Phoenix,
And do not fear, but long for
Nova!

1978

1979

1980

1982

1984

Interview Excerpts

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:

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. [26]

Diane with her mother Jessie at Trekcon 1, 15 July 1978. They became quite well-known in the local fan community for hosting Friday evening soirées at their home in Mordialloc - photo from the Helena Binns collection.
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 about 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. [23]

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. [27]

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. [28]

I saw Diane primarily as a mentor – she gave us a lot of encouragement and advice. She used to joke about the fact in later years that she actually gave us the stamps so we could post out our first newsletter. She was always a source of information as she knew Gene Roddenberry personally. She was a bit like a mentor and a friend and a good source of information. [29]

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. [30]

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. [31]

2020

{{Quotation| 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. <ref name="GA">

Additional Reading

References

  1. ^ Joan Marie Verba, Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967 - 1987, (second edition) FTL Publications, 2003, p. 19.
  2. ^ Diane Marchant biography in "Special Guests" section of the Trekcon 3 Booklet, transcribed by Anna Hepworth, at History of SF website
  3. ^ a b Geoff Allshorn, "Austrek - The Legacy Continues", in The Captain's Log #356, January 2024, p. 5.
  4. ^ quoted in Eric Scott, "Carry on Trekking!" in TV Times, 8 July 1978, p. 36
  5. ^ "Diane Marchant, and to all those lovers of Star Trek who feel that they are different from their friends and neighbors, and who feel lonely and isolated. May the love of all Trekkers reach out and comfort you." – The Stargazer
  6. ^ "[I thank] Diane Marchant: Who has been holding her breath waiting for this book to come out. Who filled my head with wonderful praise and a few gentle criticisms. (Hope you haven't turned blue yet, It's been a long time in coming.) Also thanks for the drawings which where inspired by the first draft. Especially Spock by the ocean." – The Bond
  7. ^ "To the memories of the great James Doohan and fan friend Diane Marchant." – Millennium #3
  8. ^ "To Sondra Marshak and Dynie Marchant for believing in "Snowflakes"... and me. " – ...A Handful of Snowflakes and Other Trek Tales
  9. ^ "These Are The Voyages" is dedicated with love and affection to: GENE RODDENBERRY, who created the world of Star Trek, DIANE MARCHANT, who created the family of Aussie Star Trek fandom, and JESUS CHRIST, who created the entire Universe." – These Are the Voyages (Star Trek: TOS zine by Geoff Allshorn)
  10. ^ Looking Ahead With Optimism, Archived version by Geoff Allshorn
  11. ^ Diane Marchant, Introduction, Roddcon Program booklet, SASTREK, August 1983, p. 2.
  12. ^ "NEW MEMBERS SINCE THE NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER: Adele Carlisle (New Zealand) and Diane Marchant (Victoria) This brings the present membership to 29." -- Terran Times #3
  13. ^ Edwina Harvey, "The A. Bertram Chandler Award: What goes around comes around", in Bruce Gillespie (ed.), SF Commentary 97, p. 5.
  14. ^ Geoff Allshorn, 'A Kiss Is Not Just A Kiss', Humanist blog, 1 August 2021.
  15. ^ "Another friend, Diane Marchant, unwittingly started slash fiction, ie erotic m/m stories, called slash because it started with Kirk/Spock. She wrote something erotic on the end of a letter to someone big in Trek fandom, as a joke, and next thing she knew it had been published and everyone was doing their own stories about what Kirk and Spock get up to behind the scenes; while people take it very seriously these days, Diane’s preferred pairing was Spock and Nurse Chapel. She has passed away, so no chance to ask her now how she feels. It has moved on to many fandoms, but in those days all we had was Star Trek, and only the original series." -- comments by Sue Bursztynski: On Returning To Reading Fan Fiction, Archived version
  16. ^ Joan Marie Verba, Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967 - 1987, (second edition) FTL Publications, 2003, p. 19.
  17. ^ Joan Marie Verba, ibid, pp. 22 & 24.
  18. ^ Geoff Allshorn, It's Life, Jim, But Not As We Know It, Bent Street #4.1, 24 July 2020, reprinted on Humanist Blog, 29 March 2023.
  19. ^ quoted in Eric Scott, "Carry on Trekking!" in TV Times, 8 July 1978, p. 36
  20. ^ Diane Marchant biography in "Special Guests" section of the Trekcon 3 Booklet, transcribed by Anna Hepworth, at | History of SF website
  21. ^ quoted in Penny Hewitt, "Star Trek Mania Sweeps Australia", New Idea, 10 March 1979, p. 45
  22. ^ The Captain's Log #200, March 1994.
  23. ^ a b Sue Bursztynski at A Fannish Funeral - vale Diane Marchant!, 17 April 2006.
  24. ^ Sue Bursztynski, Letter of Comment, Peregrine Nations Vol. 5 No. 4, January 2006, p. 4.
  25. ^ from Boldly Going... 25 Years On, printed in Captain’s Log #170, September 1991, published by Austrek
  26. ^ Paul Montgomery. A... moment of... silence... please Spock..., 08 May 2006. (Accessed 07 May 2011)
  27. ^ comments by partlybouncy at Fandom and the Cult of Personality
  28. ^ from a review of Legacy #1, printed in The K/S Press #132 (2007)
  29. ^ from Interview with Geoff Allshorn (1997)
  30. ^ Diane Marchant & Kirk/Spock -- SF Women of the 20th Century – tansyrr.com, Archived version by Tansy Rayner Roberts (2015)
  31. ^ I Can’t Stop Thinking About the First Published Kirk/Spock Slash Fanfiction, Archived version by Kaila Hale-Stern (2018)