From Alaska With Love

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Title: From Alaska With Love
Creator: Jane of Australia
Date(s): 2002
Medium: online
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
External Links: From Alaska With Love; Wayback links
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From Alaska With Love is an early 2002 essay by Jane of Australia using her legal name, Jennifer Downes [1]

The archive links jump from #4 to #8. It is unknown if there were three more pages to this essay, or if they were numbered that way on purpose. Some of the photos from this page were reposted by "Jane" [/web/20210213162342/ here].

Some Topics Discussed

From the Essay

In many ways it's a sad experience for me to be sitting here and writing this editorial, because for this scene to be taking place at all, the Downes family in particular and fandom in general had to lose one of its brightest lights.

Yet in other ways it's a pleasure to be here, and a great pleasure to be doing this ... bringing back into print some of the most classic zines that were published in a very classic era.

Well ... the "waffle" in any zine or website is usually my only real opportunity to speak with my own voice, say what I hope and feel. So here goes, and please bear with me!

Gerry and I had so much in common. Zines, and slash ... our love for the state of Alaska, for Star Trek, for astronomy ... and Dave, her son, my husband. Roll all those commonalities together, and here we all are — some of us still wondering quite how it all happened!

Knowing Gerry was a wonderful experience. I didn't know her long enough, really, and yet many times it was as if we'd known each other for years longer than reality. That commonality again.


Right here, I want to make my ackowledgments. Toshua: I owe you more than I'm ever going to be able to repay, if I live to be a hundred. You were the beginning of it all. Ken: for your hospitality and your friendship, I can't find words to thank you. David: my gorgeous husband, Gerry's youngest and green-eyed son, all my love, and I hope you approve of what appears here.

I joined fandom a long, long time ago. Over 25 years ago! And the fandom I joined was Star Trek. Even before then, I was a rabid fan of the original show. I saw it on its first-run screenings in in UK in 1969 and fell in love at first sight. By 1974 I was involved with the local club; by '76 I was having things published in their zines. In '78 I began to publish my own zines (albeit Star Wars rather than Trek at the time), and I was aware in those days of STARDATE UNKNOWN.

When you lived in Australia way back then, zines were not easy to get hold of. You couldn't easily send money out of the country, shipping seemed to take a lifetime, and ... so on.

I never got my sticky little hands on a copy of STARDATE UNKNOWN, but I did manage to get things like Spockanalia, Warped Space, Guardian and so on. Yep, I still have those zines!

This was the era where I cut my teeth on publishing and editing, and also the time when I learned to love zines. Okay, perhaps I have a personal bias, but I genuinely love the honest old "tape and scissors" zines of those days! My own zines were just like Gerry's ... we even used the same model of typewriter, with the self-same golfballs for the fonts, seventeen and more years before we met!

Little wonder I'm so thrilled to be producing STARDATE UNKNOWN and ALTERNATIVE. The content of these zines, and the techniques used to produce them, are so close to my heart — well, if anyone out there has a copy of EMPIRE STAR #5, or any issue of SYNDICATED IMAGES, drag them out and take a look. Similar??!!

And here was a thrill: both Gerry and I are mentioned, albeit in passing, in the TEXTUAL POACHERS book. Look for us in the index! Sure, they managed to spell our name wrongly (Downs, don't you know?) but what the heck. Look for me under my pen-name of "Jane." I get a brief mention there for The Hunting. Our fifteen minutes of fame.

But to the K/S fandom, Gerry needs no introduction. She was the lady who had the courage to look beyond friendship and see love, no matter that the two are both of the same gender. To look into the future and see a time when the personal problems we humans create for ourselves will have been set aside. Heaven knows, there are plenty of real things to be concerned about, never mind who's sleeping where!

This was the magic of ALTERNATIVE, taking up where the friendship expressed in STARDATE UNKNOWN left off...

Slash-in-print arguably began with ALTERNATIVE, and not merely K/S but every other slash fandom would be well to tip its collective hat to Gerry. I salue her courage, and her vision, both of which flourished in the 1970s, which were far from easy years either for individuals or for the planet.

Gerry's belief was that we will survive as a species. That faith is at the masthead of Star Trek, and echoes throughout the pages of her fanzines. Her writing has a liquid ease that beguiles; but look behind it and glimpse her vision of a future in which humanity survives, but not at the expense of individuals. I like that future. I could live there.

One of the poignant parts of the zines, to me, is Gerry's editorials. Reading them, I can hear her voice as if she's talking to me, with her dry wit and appreciation of humor...

There's an undeniable magic about classic Trek, and the zines that celebrated it. Those who are old enough to remember the 1970s may feel it clearly. I sure do. And zines like STARDATE UNKNOWN take me back to an time I'll always think fondly of.

Producing the zines is another question entirely ... one of hard work, website-building, email-list "pinging," copying, collating, binding, packing, mailing ...! No one ever said zines were easy to do. In fact, someone once said you'd have to be mildly insane to be a zine editor!

Okay, I'm cool with that! The website is done (you're looking at it), I had a lot of fun with the digital art, and I'm actually looking forward to the process.

I'm trying to produce these zines as cheaply as possible, and it's actually worth noticing the price in ~1976, and the price now! I don't want to ramble on any more in my editorial about the physical work and logistics involved in producing the zines ... this isn't the place for that. But for those who may be interested (either because you're zine ed's yourself, or might one day like to tackle the job of publishing, or else you're just curious to know where your consumer dollar is gone) I've included a kind of "self-audit," where you can check out the who process, and see just how much it costs, and why. I've cut as many corners as I can, and yet at the same time preserved the quality of the product, and if the "how, why and where" are of interest, then please, read on!

It's fun! No, really! I've either published or enprinted over 100 titles since those far-off days when I joined fandom, and if it wasn't fun I wouldn't be in publising [sic] today.

These zines are the brainchildren of a great lady who was one of my dearest friends. I love Gerry, and miss her. I miss her kindness, her "super mom" qualities, her dry sense of humor, her perspective on the "stuff" that makes the world wag. Some of her greatest magic was in the "little things" of day-to-day life. As her ashes were scattered at Bulldog Cove, on Alaska's beautiful Kenai, in June 2001, I tried to say tese things, but I couldn't speak for tears. The tears are coming again as I write this, so I'm just going to say one more thing, and then end this waffle.

I've wanted for a long time to upload some kind of tribute and salute to Gerry. The reissue of STARDATE UNKNOWN and ALTERNATIVE is the best tribute I could think of, for in these zines you will experience at first-hand Garry's [sic] brilliance, humor, creativity, artistry and, perhaps most importantly, her courage. ALTERNATIVE was a "first," a groundbreaker, or pathfinder. The rest of us just follow along, on trails Gerry Downes cut out for us.

Gerry: sail on in peace and light, until it's time for us to sail on together.


  1. ^ "This piece, and all digital art on "From Alaska With Love," by Jennifer Downes." -- Editorial Waffle: From Alaska With Love Wayback Machine