Echoes of Forever
|Title:||Echoes of Forever|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
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It was published in the print zine First Time #38.
From the publisher: "While in the past of the 1930ʼs, Kirk and Spock see a 3rd timeline in the tricorder, one in which they remain in the past and help create a better world as bondmates. "
Reactions and Reviews
So many quotable entries abound in this story that the only way to relate all those I'd like to share would be to reprint the whole thing. It's 1930's Earth, in a rooming house we all know well. Spock, alone in the room, has just discovered what must be Edith Keeler"s fate. His heart goes out to Jim and he remembers how, in his youth, he found his heart and another particular organ to be closely in tune. He recalls how he put those thoughts successfully to rest until JTK took command of the Enterprise. Then: "The slumbering beast had been awakened within point three seven days" (of their meeting) and Spock had put it "on a tight leash, where it patiently waited, watched and sometimes daydreamed." He finds things on his makeshift tricorder that he must reveal to Kirk. Things that speak of more than friendship between them if they stay in this timeline. His mind cries out, "Jim, come home." The scientist in Spock rises to the front and he boldly decides to experiment with chemistry which will begin with lowering of his own barriers and response mechanism. He shall, he decides, encourage touching. Ah! rm hooked! And the way this author goes on to describe those first few tentative touches is excellent. This is very tight writing, with never a word or a comma that doesn't accentuate what is happening between the two men. Some of the conversations are borrowed from the episode, but the settings and exact circumstance are often altered. This clever usage helps us "hear" the words. In one memorable instance Ms. Stanis describes Kirk as waiting "as if he could hear with his eyes". With this mastery of words are you surprised to learn their first unclothed embrace is said to "melt a honeycomb of little holes in the Vulcan's mental shielding." You know Kirk's propensity for absorbing and mimicking the local culture, so how about "The Vulcan in love passing for a regular Joe sat on the stoop, waiting...". The story ends, as I suppose it realistically should, with Edith's death and a whispered promise of "...forever", caught in a coalescing transporter beam. Exceptionally well done. 
This short story is a brilliant re-working of "City on the Edge of Forever" which starts from the premise, so startling in its simplicity that I wondered why I'd never seen it before, that just as McCoy's time-travel to Depression-era New York created an alternate time line, so Kirk's and Spock's arrival in the same time and place must have created an alternate time line of its own. Unlike the time-line created by McCoy in which Hitler wins World War II, Kirk's and Spock's presence creates an alternate future which is peaceful, tolerant, and altogether a significant improvement on the latter 20th century as we have known it. Spock retrieves the images of that future from his tricorder, and the pair must decide, not simply whether Edith Keeler should live or die, but the more difficult question whether to give up a Utopian future for the much grimmer course of events that is "supposed" to happen. (The author sums the latter up pretty well: e.g. "the Challenger exploded ... the white male American imperialist forces disarmed all in its path, leaving a trail of toxic waste across devastated land masses nearly depleted of life.
In a clever twist, Spock's discovery of the new time line also precipitates a K/S relationship. (I won't say more, but I do demand that the author receive the Outrageous Acronym of the Month award for creating an FDR-era alphabet-soup social program whose initials are THYLA.I Although I'm personally not comfortable with a scenario in which Spock declares his desire to bond with Kirk within minutes of their beginning to discuss a sexual relationship, I enjoyed the relatively slow build-up and anticipation in this story as they became lovers, including a luscious "courtship" scene in a Depression-era diner.
As always, this author writes wonderfully, in prose that sings and paints vivid images that linger in the mind's eye long after the reader has finished the story and put down the zine. For example: "From the distance of a city block, their eyes met and held, laser gazes drawing them unerringly to each other. Kirk, trim and fit from daily physical labor, lit a path of vibrant energy down the dingy street, and Spock's verdant glow was a warm welcome home." Remarkable prose.In sum, an intelligent, subtle, politically astute, loving and superbly-crafted story. Highly recommended. 
It is the time of the episode, "The Guardian of Forever" and Kirk and Spock are attempting to rescue McCoy and restore the original timeline. The story opens as Spock watches the tiny make-shift tricorder screen in their shared room at the mission. It's a clever invention of the headlines of the future potential timeline. There's mention of K and S being involved in the political arenas of the past. They create "THYLA" an acronym for "The Homosexual Youth League Association". This is so intriguingly done as it's combined with real history and a sort-of pastiche of futuristic sounding things and events.
Of course, Spock's research leads him to discover Edith Keeler's death. And another revelation that Spock tells Kirk: they are, or will be, bonded. I so appreciated the way the author handled Spock's need to tell Kirk of his love. This is a good strong Vulcan with doubts and fears that don't stop him cold or completely incapacitate him.
As an example of the fine way Ms. Stanis portrays Spock, here is part of a scene where Spock has told about "THYLA". "Balanced by his own ingrained sense of logical caution, he would step off the precipice, and if Kirk's waiting arms did not break his fall, he would pick himself up and carry on in whatever manner was called for. He sensed those arms would be there, however; he could almost feel them merely by looking at them. At the least, he knew that Kirk would never turn away from him." Of course Spock has terrible fears and insecurities, but he is truly a logical, strong person, able to function on his own as he has for most of his life. He is highly individual and independent. So when he reveals his love for Kirk, he doesn't lose that spark of strength. So many times, an author will throw Spock's power out the window in order for him to be with Kirk.
Another insightful aspect of Spock's characterization was his having learned about risk taking from Kirk, yet it's "balanced" with his own strength. Also, Spock understands that even if Kirk does reject him as a lover, he won't die or lose Kirk totally. Contrary to what one might think, this does not weaken the drama, nor lessen the impact on the reader. It is still just as important that Spock receive love from Kirk, and he still hopes and suffers, but without any simpering weakness.
And here is one of my favorite lines: " 'I find it very pleasurable to wake up to the sound of your voice.'" So perfectly Spock, so real!
Here's a beautiful way to describe Spock's feelings and amazement at his feelings as his love grows: "It seemed he had stepped not only into another time but another dimension, where time was marked by heartbeats, where natural laws were enacted between a lover's one word and the next.".
Another gem: "The Vulcan in love passing for a regular Joe sat on the stoop, waiting, facing in the direction of the docks." The author's use of language was exemplary, such as Spock "schooled his features...". Also the use of the word "forever" woven throughout the story.An absolutely superior ending as the author describes Edith Keeler's accident and K and S's feelings for each other as "Forever". 
I really enjoyed reading "Echoes of Forever." My ultimate guide in determining the true effect of any K/S work is whether I want to read it again, I read this story on a Wednesday afternoon, and when I woke up on Thursday morning, I read it again right after I got the kids oft to school It is very memorable.
The author has a marvelous touch for conveying the tension and sensitivity of those frozen moments leading up to a first time encounter. The scenes in the "flop," when Spock tells Kirk about the picture, and then the wake-up scene are both wonderful. (When Spock tells Kirk he's thinking of kissing him.... I'm a puddle on the floor.) And I also really enjoyed when they went to the restaurant to eat.
There were some great phrases and concepts in this story. The idea of the tour bonding rings seemed unique; I don't believe I've ever come across that in K/S before. Also, the use of the phrase "regular Joe" was so fresh, so original, especially "A Vulcan in love trying to look like a regular Joe....' Super!
I never would have believed that anyone could incorporate K/S into the actual time frame ol "City." This story gives it a good try, and almost makes me believe it. However, the very opening paragraphs set us up to believe that Kirk's feelings for Edith are exactly what they appear to be in the episode. If that's the case, his falling out of his feelings for Edith, and into love with Spock in such a short period of time doesn't quite make sense. I'm not questioning the Spock pan, but I would have tried to soft pedal or change the Edith pan. Or changed the time frame somehow. I don't know. That was the only part of the story that caught me up short and pulled me out of the flow.
I did feel the ending wasn't quite right. No matter if Kirk had discovered, or uncovered, or released his feelings for Spock, It seemed to me he still would have experienced great grief over Edith's death. Heck, he feels that he's responsible for just about everybody in the universe, and I think even if his feelings for Edith never went beyond 'fond,' he wouldn't be speaking to Spock the way he did immediately after her death. Of course, that's assuming the Guardian took them rather quickly after the auto accident, but the story did not seem to indicate otherwise.
I also realty enjoyed the picture of Kirk in jeans. Incredible, that Shelley drew it without even knowing this story, which it fits so well, was being written. I find that a good piece of art will always enhance a story.In my opinion, this is the best Kathy Stanis story so far. I'll be reading this one over again I'm sure. 
Kathy believes this is the best story she has so far written. I would totally agree with her, This lovely believable story is wound round my favorite episode. 'City on the Edge of Forever'. The author has plenty of ability and some good ideas, but her story lines are frequently sublimated by long passages of intricate prose, beautifully written admittedly, but often detrimental to the readers understanding. In 'Echoes' however, she has simplified her style and the results are impressive- A beautifully balanced tender story. I loved it. 
I really enjoyed this retelling of "City on the Edge of Forever" the way it should have happened. Since my foray into K/S, especially K/S writing, I've often tried to make sense of that episode, tried to understand how Kirk could almost give up the Enterprise, Starfleet, and the universe he knew for a woman he'd just met. Kathy solves that problem here by rewriting the story, changing none of the parts we see, but writing a K/S story behind those scenes that is tender, believable, and satisfying.
This story is told more straightforwardly, less amorphously than some of this author's most poetic writing; nevertheless, it exhibits her gifted ear for the language and her ability to give us an emotion or moment in a single phrase or sentence. For example, I love Spock's thoughts at the very beginning of the story, when he sees Edith Keeler's face on the tricorder screen and feels sorrow for what he knows Kirk will have to endure: "[Spock] saw an uncommonly attractive woman - yet another attractive woman to whom Jim Kirk's heart seemed to open up like a flower to a sun./ As mine does to Jim..." Kathy gives us the essence of Spock's feelings for Kirk right there, in the second paragraph, and so we can feel with Spock as the story unfolds.
I love the fact that Kathy went behind the scenes of the episode. While reading the story, I relived the episode, too, and for the first time it occurred to me to wonder exactly where they'd slept in that tiny room. After all, Spock's delicate equipment was all over one of the beds, leaving only one for sleeping, and I can't imagine Spock staying up all night with his machine, which would keep Kirk awake. This story has Spock removing the equipment, but then sleeping on the floor anyway.
[snipped for length]
I also thought Spock's confession of his love for Kirk, emboldened by what he had seen on the tricorder screen, was a bit too quick and unexplained. (The Homosexual Youth League Alliance was fascinating, but I'm not sure I found it believable for 1939.) It's as though Spock just suddenly grabs this opprtunity to confess his love, but I didn't think there was enough explaination of why he chose just this moment. I can imagine all sorts of reasons why: the newspaper article from the "future" made him think for the first time that Kirk would be responsive to his advances, and the extremity of their situation, being trapped in the past with no way to get home unless they righted whatever had gone wrong, but Spock's reason was explained well enough for me.
Another quibble I have - and I see this all the time in K/S, so maybe it's unfair to lay this at Kathy's door - but I personally don't like to see the concept of bonding" taken for granted. Kirk bandies the term about as though it's an everyday word with him, when actually it's a fan convention that was never used in aired Trek, only hinted at. I would be absolutely unsurprised to see it show up on the screen one of these days in DS9 or future series or movies, and it's certainly already in "pro" novels, but I think it's a concept that needs to be explained to Kirk, even if just in a sentence. It also bothers me in this story that Spock reveals his love by saying he'd like to bond with Kirk. In other words, the very first thing Spock ever says directly about how he feels is "Will you marry me?" This is somewhat unbelievable; I'd like to see more of an explanation.
[snipped for length]
I cheered out loud when I got to the end. Hurrah for a vision of "City" that includes a delightful K/S "first time."Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention Shelley Butler's heart - stoppingly gorgous drawning of Kirk in jeans and plaid shirt, which accompanies this story. A beautiful three-quarters view of Kirk's face with that trademark 300 watt smile just beginning on his lips. My knees are weak. 
I realize that my dislike of K/S stories that take place during "City on the Edge of Forever" as this one does, is a matter of personal preference, I am fond of Edith Keeler, and I think that Kirk's's tragic love for her adds depth and pathos to his character. I also believe that it's possible for Kirk to love both Edith and Spock, I have always felt that stories that dismiss Kirk's romantic involvement with Edith were implying that K/S isn't powerful enough to compete with Edith's memory. There is also the matter of the highly unlikely alternate universe, I suspect it would have taken a great deal more than Edith Keeler's survival to make an organization like The Homosexual Youth League Association feasible, A list of conditions that would make an a/u possible is always a good exercise whenever you write a story dealing with an a/u. 
This story, for readers who might not have read the previous reviews, takes place during the episode "City on the Edge of Forever." I should say at the outset that my feelings for this episode go so far beyond a normal response to a good TV show episode that perhaps I am the wrong person to critique this story. "City on the Edge of Forever" is entwined with some of the most important events in my life, so that it is really no longer a TV episode. It is really part of my own personal mythos.
Unlike the previous reviewers of this story in CT, I really disliked this story. Not because it is badly written. It's quite well written as has been described in previous reviews. And I don't dislike it because it's a different version of a story I love. There are already three official versions of this story (Ellison's, Roddenberry's and Blish's), all of which I like, and I think time travel stories are particularly amenable to multiple versions because changing any little detail can get you a different future and therefore a different story.
What I really disliked about this story is that the author ignored everything that makes 'City important. For instance, reading this story without having seen the episode, you would have no idea that Kirk and Spock are experiencing immense problems. Earth in the 1930's might have been the most alien place they have ever encountered. They come from a society where money is only for luxuries, everything you really need is supplied for you. Suddenly they find themselves penniless beggars in a world where money is everything. They have to do menial work (and if you read Ellison's version, you realize just how menial that work is for Spock) just to live in one rundown room and pay for groceries and vacuum tubes. They have to find McCoy, who might have become an incurable raving maniac, and figure out how to get things back to the way they were, or they are going to be stuck in this nightmare for the rest of their lives.
None of this anxiety is reflected in the story. Spock doesn't seem to be working outside the home. Kirk seems to like his job. They seem to have enough money to go out to eat and for Kirk to take Edith to the movies in the same week. Nothing seems hard.
Which brings me to my second point. One of the underlying themes of the show for me is that "Let me help" is more important than "I love you." The whole show centers on helping, McCoy helping Sulu and getting hurt in the process. Kirk and Spock trying to help McCoy and getting stuck in the past. Kirk trying to find a way to help both Edith and the Enterprise live and not succeeding, and finally Edith helping them restore the universe by giving her life, albeit unknowingly. And through the whole thing you have Spock helping Kirk try to not only make but implement the most difficult decision of his life. (BIish's version is particularly good on this.)
There's very little helping in 'Echoes' because they have very few problems. They seem sure they're going to run into McCoy. Edith's potential death causes them hardly an eye blink. In fact "I love you" become far more important words than 'Let me help."
Finally there is the problem of Edith. She only shows up in this story in time to get killed. Does she recognize that Kirk and Spock are falling in love? Does she care? Does she still call Kirk "her young man" when she's talking to McCoy? We'll never know. There are few enough strong women in Star Trek. It's a shame to lose one of the few we have in this manner.In conclusion, I would say that if you've always looked at "City ../Ml problem episode that needs to be explained away so Kirk and Spock can get together, than you will undoubtedly find this story a good read. If, however, you feel that Kirk's experience with losing Edith is somehow integral to who he isf that it is in some sense necessary in order (or him to learn to love Spock, then you'll need to wait for some other story to integrate "City on the Edge of Forever" into K/S. 
Words are such remarkable tools when placed in the hands of a master craftsman. This is a glowing example.
A wonderful story, set in Edith Keeler's time and neighborhood, is made infinitely more compelling by the careful way in which every sentence is created. Such as Kirk waiting expectantly "as if he could hear with his eyes".
Revelation of mutual attraction in this setting could have been s o frustratingly awkward. Instead it is graceful, rewarding, spirit-lifting. Trust. Trust is there in so many ways.
How much does Spock's thought reveal when he considers "love feels heavy without expression". None of the words of this story were written merely to tell a tale. They were meant to evoke great sensation, complete sharing of the characters emotions withthe reader.
It is such a daunting challenge to take what is recognized as Kirk'sgreatest love affair with a woman and turn it into a K/S event of equal impact. Here it is skillfully done, with never a moment of disbelief, every occurrence dovetailing beautifully with the scenes that were never revealed before.
I've read this twice and would like to memorize it before I'm finished—it is a memory I'd like to hold with me.Forever.