Inside Kraith

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Fanwork
Title: Inside Kraith
Creator: Daniela Kendall (a pseud)
Date(s): August 1977
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
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Inside Kraith is a 7-page article by Daniela Kendall in Probe #11.

first page

It discusses the importance of the Kraith universe in fandom and its general fabulousness, the round robin process, copyright, unauthorized sequels, editorial control, Kraith Creators, and the writing process/permissions dictated by Jacqueline Lichtenberg.

There is a sequel to this article in Probe #12 called "Inside 'Kraith' : A Follow-Up." This article consists of the complete reprint of the introduction to Understanding Kraith by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, as well as two short comments.

The first comment is from Kendall who notes that "the project, and Ms. Lichtenberg's statement, deal with only a few of the issues raised in 'Inside Kraith'."

The second comment is from editor Howlett: "This ends Probe's involvement with the subject of the Kraith writing system. "Inside Kraith" was published by Probe with the intention of pointing out some important issues about fan fiction writing and publishing, and to get some intelligent reaction to and discussion of a serious subject. Reactions from the general public ranged from favorable to disinterested. With the exception of Ms. Lichtenberg, Ms. Segal and one other person, reactions received from Kraith creators -- in person, by phone, by mail, and in other publications -- were less-than-logical and sometimes bordering on the inane. The subject is closed."

Some Excerpts from "Inside Kraith"

Daniela Kendall is a pseudonym. I am one of the Kraith Creators. I began research on this article long before I approached Winston Howlett with the idea. I had become concerned that there were entirely too many people in fandom who were not familiar with some of the most basic factors in the creation of the Kraith series. Even Winston, who has published Kraith material, did not know about the 'round robin.' I decided to write an article. This past May, Kraith Collected V was finally published. It includes a brief article by Jacqueline Lichtenberg about how Kraith stories are written. It explains the round robin, at least on the surface. However, I feel that there are a number of other things going on in Kraith fandom which need discussion. Some of my research interviews with fans pointed out exactly how much explain ing was required.
Jacqueline Lichtenberg's Kraith series is one of the most well-known and important series in Star Trek fan literature. In the past

few years, however, Ms. Lichtenberg has turned her talents to professional writing, and thus spends less time on the actual creation of Kraith material. Instead, most of the new Kraith stories being produced come from other fans. Wherein lies the tale. . . In the beginning there was Star Trek. Star Trek begat Star Trek fan fiction and Star Trek fanzines. One of these offspring of Star Trek was Lichtenberg's Kraith. Lichtenberg's Kraith begat other people's Kraith and Alternate Kraith. Alternate Kraith has even begotten its own fanzine, in a sense, with the publication of Kraith Collected V. What we are discussing, therefore, is in many cases a third, if not fourth, generation product. This has both advantages and disadvantages.

Many of the newer writers, of both 'official' Kraith stories and other stories drawing off Kraith material seem to have forgotten that, just as their stories may be fourth generation fiction, there are also later generation fans. There are many readers who have not read all of Kraith from its inception because they were not fans then. Or, there are fans who, for whatever reason, have not followed the Kraith series. These people will read a story — which may or may not be labelled as a Kraith story—and suddenly find themselves in the midst of Kraith cups, affirmations, warder-lieges and T'Uriamne. (T'Uriamne? Oh, yes, Sarek's daughter by his first marriage, to T'Yuzeti. Sarek's WHAT???)
It is no coincidence that there are no other major Vulcan universes in ST fandom. This is not to say that Jacqueline Lichtenberg, or even the team of Kraith writers, set about making that the case. Kraith Vulcan is now not only the major Vulcan series, with the major Vulcan universe, it is now becoming the accepted standard for ST fandom. One needs only look at The Starfleet Handbook, Special Issue: The Aliens

of Star Trek, which presents Kraith Vulcan as fact. The only indication that the material they present is from Kraith is the fact that there is a separate article, by Lichtenberg, on Surak's Construct (Kraith's interpretation of the meaning of the Vulcan salute) and that there is an acknowledgment in the front cover of the zine to the Kraith Creator's Manual. However, there is no indication that the 'facts' cited are from a separate fan series. One may suppose that, here again, all fandom is supposed to recognize Kraith when they see it.

Probably the best reason that the original Kraith stories and articles deterred other Vulcan-oriented work is the simple fact that they were superbly written. There is nothing better for eliminating competition than having the best product. Competing with Kraith and its large, vocal fan following was quickly deemed not worth the trouble it would cause.
However, the Kraith series is one of the best examples of what can happen when fandom embraces one of its own too closely. There

is now 'open season' on Kraith. Everyone is throwing 'Kraithisms' into their stories. In some cases they ask permission to do so. In other cases, the writer really isn't aware that something he/she has assumed to be a 'fact' about Vulcan society is really a Kraithism, In most cases, the writer simply assumes that he/she may make reference to a Kraith person or, more usually, a Kraith concept, because all of fandom accepts it.

It is said that "Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery." I wish I could find another word to accurately define one of the most unfortunate aspects of Kraith's expansion. I have heard it referred to as "borrowing," "sharing," and so forth. It is none of the above.
There are three different ways in which plagiarism is being employed. The first, as I have already mentioned, is the widespread use of Kraith ideas in other works. This is not 'doing honor to Kraith by accepting it as gospel,' it is trading off someone else's creation, rather than doing something original, to save oneself the bother of having to create a new concept. [1] Even single-word 'borrowing' (names of places, for example) is frequently found. This can only be interpreted as an attempt to make a story fit in with Kraith, even when it is not Kraith in terms of general content.

The second way works in the reverse. Situation: a well-known fan writes a very good story about Vulcans—a single story-, not part of any series. A prominent Kraith writer reads the story and de cides that it would be nice to write a sequel to the story—a sequel based on Kraith. The story gets written, in the course of which many of the ideas the first author was presenting become distorted, to fit the Kraith mold. Mercifully, the Kraith writer in this case had the integrity to send the story to the original author, who immediately told the writer in no uncertain terms that the story was not to be published anywhere. It would have, of course, saved a lot of time, effort and bother had the Kraith writer written to the original author, first, for permission to do a sequel to the story, and second, to discuss the ideas to be presented in the sequel. Not all writers are that ethical. Sequels to stories, of course, are like stories in a series.

It was nice for the Kraith writer in the above case to 'clear' the story with the author. One would assume this also worked for series. Yes? Not necessarily. The third and most direct form of plagiarism is that, whether the stories are officially accepted by Lichtenberg or not, people have been and are writing Kraith stories. This occurs without the permission, or sometimes even the knowledge, of Lichtenberg and the Kraith editors. These stories are published by fanzine editors who perhaps don't realize that the story is unauthorized (a careful editor will insist on knowing the Kraith series number assigned to a given story); who are willing to publish the story anyway, because any story dealing with Kraith material is a good draw for readers; or who, frankly, don't care whether the story is authorized or not, as long as they feel it is a good story.
Recently, a well-known fan published an excellent story in a quality fanzine. The story was based on Kraith, with full acknowledgment of the fact that it was intended as a Kraith universe story. It was well written; I can easily understand why the editor accepted the story. One problem: the author did not contact anyone connected with the series to let them know that she intended to write a Kraith story, much less to let them see it before publication.

Why? Two reasons, both revealing. First, the author pointed out that all of the original Kraith material is not copyrighted. It was published in zines like T-Negative which did not copyright its stories. Even the Kraith Creator's Manual and the first four volumes of Kraith Collected are not copyrighted. The net result of these trusting ways is that, at least in legal terms, the original stories and concepts of the Kraith universe are in the public domain. Kraith stories appear ing in copyrighted fanzines are only protected to the extent of the original material they present (new characters, concepts, etc.). Thus the use of Kraith material, even to the publication of Kraith universe stories is not—technically—plagiarism. Ethics are another matter.

As it turned out in this particular case, reason number one was really a front for reason number two: the author didn't want her story to have to face the Kraith creators' round robin. She was concerned that the story would be substantially altered. She was also concerned that the round robin would hold the story up so long in the haggling that it could not be printed as she wished.
The basic idea of the round robin was a good one. It was intended to maintain the quality of writing and to monitor the continuity of the series. It was also meant to be a writers' workshop, through which writers from around the country could help each other through constructive criticism. Generally, the round robin consists of fans, mostly Kraith creators in their own right, who have touched upon some aspect of the story in question, or who have simply proven themselves to be capable writers and editors. When a story is submitted to Lichtenberg for approval, a list of potential critics is made up. The story is then sent to the first on the list. This person reads the story, comments on it, and sends it on (letter of comments included) to the second person on the list. This next person reads the story and LOC, comments on both, and sends it on to the third person. Copies of all of the letters are also sent to Lichtenberg and the original author.

While the early round robins were relatively small, one of the most recent stories is going through a cycle of 14 people, on two separate lists (to try to speed it up somewhat). The Kraith critics comment on everything from Kraith values and concepts, to plotline and story development, to paragraph organization and grammar. If a similar point of criticism occurs repeatedly in the letters, a change must be made. The rewritten story may be sent back out on the robin a second time, before the story has taken an acceptable form. Finally, changes in the 'final draft' may be required by Carol Lynn and Debbie Goldstein, the editors of Kraith Collected.

The entire process may take many, many months. A story touch ing on a new or radical concept may get particularly tied down in letter arguments. Some concepts never make it through intact. Some authors are asked to make so many changes that they simply give up on the story.
Sometimes the changes are made even before the robin gets the story. Occasionally stories by different authors get merged with or without permission of the parties concerned. Lichtenberg herself may take exception to parts of a story and reject them. The story would then have to go through rewrite (sometimes more than once) before it would be judged 'fit' to go out on the robin. It is the rare story that goes straight to the robin, without at least some discussion. It is almost impossible to get a story accepted without it going through at least a small robin.

All of this is why some people write and publish Kraith stories without ever having them 'accepted.'

There are disadvantages on the critics' end of the robin, too. Anyone who has ever done anything relative to the Kraith universe is liable to find him/herself on a round robin. Forever. The 14-person robin contained at least one person who had specifically asked not to be sent stories for criticism, one who had dropped out of fandom years ago, and one who is no longer at the address given. The story may get further delayed in postal forwarding or returns to the last sender, who gets stuck mailing the package (not often light) to the person listed after the 'missing' one.
A first draft of a story needs at least five copies: one for Lichtenberg' s master file, one for the round robin (more for multiple robins), one to the Kraith Collected editors, one which the author is expected to circulate to personal friends and contacts not on the robin, and at least one as a work copy to be held by the author. (Each time a major change is made, the author must copy again.) The circulation copies of a final draft would be used to submit the story to fanzines, (One author declared that she would happy to have her story critiqued by the robin—provided Kraith picked up the bill.)
After a time, some Kraith creators, for many reasons, do drop out of fandom (or just out of Kraith). As I have said, this is not easy to do. Unfortunately, many who drop out do not inform Lichtenberg or the Kraith Collected editors, or, perhaps they are not taken seriously. This can be a problem, if they were working on Kraith stories when they decided to quit.

For example, the latest list of Kraith stories (published and projected) in Kraith Collected V lists one story which was started some seven years ago. Due to the many changes made by Lichtenberg and/or other creators, the author never finished the story. The author has dropped out of ST fandom. Nevertheless, the story remains numbered and on the list. The author was recently put on a round robin for a story which touches on one aspect of her originally planned outline.

Perhaps most important, this author's hold on a given slot in the Kraith series prevents anyone else from writing about that part of the universe. Reserving slots is a fine practice for actively writing fans, in that it prevents someone else from, as it were, beating them to the published page by writing a story about the same event, etc. However, after a reasonable period of time, a story which has been reserved and never written should be questioned. The author should be contacted and asked when the story will be completed, and, if necessary, the slot should be opened to someone else.
With the growing importance of Kraith in fandom, the status and esteem of the Kraith creators grew as well. It became a major achievement to publish a story in the Kraith series. Would it still be so prestigious if everyone knew that, in addition to the author(s] in the byline, anywhere from 3 to 14 people had had a hand in the writing? And that many of these people were'among the best and best known writers? Would fans be as impressed with a story if they knew that it had taken more than a year of rewrites in a writers' workshop to get the story from the first draft to the printed page? Most fan writers have a friend look at their stories with an eye toward constructive criticism. A good fanzine editor will ask for minor changes if necessary. This is very different, however, from an organized editorial group.
The Kraith Creators do their job very well. Most of the Kraith stories we read are good because they come out of the round robin. It's a pity they aren't billed that way. The Kraith series is a prime example of the kind of quality ST fandom can produce, when a group of people work together.

Reactions and Reviews: Excerpts from the Introduction to Understanding Kraith

The biggest reaction to this article was the publication of Understanding Kraith.

MAY YOU LIVE LONG AND PROSPER.

You hold in your hand a unique research tool—a dictionary of Kraithisms. Many people have complained that terms which originated as part of the Kraith universe have been borrowed by other fan writers for use in their own non- Kraith-related universes. This sort of borrowing was fun and a great in-group joke when STrekdom was young and consisted of maybe 25 or 30 'zines and perhaps 1100 active fen. We all knew each other and we knew what the other fans were familiar with. It was what Edward T.Hall calls, in BEYOND CULTURE (a book every sf writer must read) a high-context culture. With the rapid influx of new fans (neofen) all afire with their own original ideas for STAR TREK derived stories, our high-context culture has strained to the breaking point trying to assimilate new people. Many of the old original 'zines are long out of print (though some editors are trying to bring them back into print). Most of Kraith is still available or will be reprinted periodically, but still, it often involves a delay of a year or more between entering fandom, finding the address of Kraith in the ST Welcommittee Directory, and actually laying hands on KCollected itself. The most well-meaning neofan writer has had enormous difficulty doing the primary research for a story. So what happens is that—burning up with the need to write her story—the neofan writer simply reads whatever 'zines she can lay her hands on, absorbs a subliminal impression of concepts and ideas, Vulcan customs, words, phrases, etc. that are taken for granted in fan stories, and proceeds to write her story in the fanzine vernacular as she has learned it. Very often these first attempts are so good that they carry the power of their own conviction, and a third generation who can't get the 'zines Neofan One used for her sources then picks up this second-hand information and uses it in her new stories. And so third and fourth generation fans are beginning to write for the *zines now, using Kraithisms (words and concepts originally coined in and for Kraith) without even knowing that they are Kraithisms, let alone where or how to look them up—or even that it is necessary to footnote sources on such borrowings.

When I wrote Kraith, I footnoted all the main stories for aired-Trek references, but not one editor ever saw fit to publish the footnotes. I am certain many well-meaning fan writers now are footnoting Kraith and editors are industriously deleting the footnotes because FICTION ISN'T FOOTNOTED.' Well, our high-context culture is long gone. It is no longer true that every ST fan knows all the 'zines every other ST fan has read recently. We must now cope with a low-context culture in which it is necessary to make every bit of background information highly explicit. A dictionary of Kraithisms should help with this task.
The reason it is necessary in our strange subculture called STrekdom to foot note our fiction is that we are working on derivative universes of a television show, and (for some people, at least) it is extremely important not to confuse aired-Trek established facts with "facts" made up unofficially by some fan. Some people feel that this is a copyright issue, and the borrowing of such terms as Kraith is miss a copyright infringement. Words,concepts, and ideas can't be copyrighted, so the borrowing of Kraithisms is not illegal. However, in the eyes of many fans, it does make the writer look like a sneak thief if she does not acknowledge her sources in some manner.

Perhaps editors will be willing to print footnote references to a numbered item in a Kraithism dictionary. I certainly hope so, for the confusion has become unbelievable, and Kraith is one of those primary sources which should be cited whenever it is borrowed from.

Words cannot be copyrighted, but they can be trademarked, which is a legal method of reserving the right of usage of a word identifying it with a product. Both Kraith and Sime are Jacqueline Lichtenberg trademarks over which I exercise assiduous quality control. Zeor is another Sime-related trade mark of my own which I reserve to my own usage, while all Sime-related copy rights are duly registered and reserved. You cannot simply write a story and call it a Kraith story. It must pass through the processes outlines in Kraith Collected, Vol. 5, and be assigned a number on my Master List.

But you can borrow words and phrases, ideas, concepts and background details from Kraith. Nobody — not me or any Kraith Creator—would call that plagiarism, provided it is done with the written permission of the author of the story in which the term or word was FIRST used.
The publication of this dictionary is not intended to be an effort on my part, or on the part of any other Kraith Creator, to exercise censorship or control over the borrowing of Kraith terms. Quite the contrary — we are flattered that you feel Kraith has such a powerful aura of plausibility that it is placed in virtually the same category as STAR TREK itself as a primary source. (And Kraith Is. a primary source: terms which appear elsewhere but also in Kraith were either established on the air, in THE MAKING OF STAR TREK, or in Kraith. Kraith does not borrow.[2])

Fan Reactions and Reviews: "Inside Kraith" and Its Follow-Up Article

The reactions to "Inside Kraith" were varied, coming from Kraith creators, Kraith readers and some who had no connection with the series at all.

The most striking response was the publication of Understanding Kraith, a dictionary of 'Kraithisms.' Compiled by Judith Segal, Understanding Kraith was published in an attempt to clarify some of the confusion over what is Kraith and what is not. It is available from Ms.Segal [address redacted] for $1.35 (price includes first class postage). Understanding Kraith includes an Introduction by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, the originator of the Kraith series. We are pleased that Ms. Lichtenberg

and Ms. Segal have given us permission to reprint the Introduction in its entirety. We trust that the Kraith creators who submitted rebuttal articles for publication will accept this statement by Ms. Lichtenberg as response enough. [3]
I wish Ms. Segal the best of luck with her publication and I thank her for the copy she sent to me. I note, with some regret, however, that this project, and Ms. Lichtenberg's statement, deal with only a few of the issues raised in "Inside Kraith." [4]
This ends Probe's involvement with the subject of the Kraith writing system. "Inside Kraith" was published by Probe with the intention of pointing out some important issues about fan fiction writing and publishing, and to get some intelligent reaction to and discussion of a serious subject. Reactions from the general public ranged from favorable to disinterested. With the exception of Ms. Lichtenberg, Ms. Segal and one other person, reactions received from Kraith creators—in person, by phone, by mail, and in other publications—were less-than-logical and sometimes bordering on the inane. The subject is closed. [5]
I realize it is somewhat unusual for a fanzine editor to supply a second opinion on a review of his own fanzine -- particularly a review that is supposedly favorable -- but I think this case warrants it... [He goes on to disagree with four points the original reviewer made, including what he felt was a dig at the "Inside Kraith" article] Might the fact that the article did an extensive examination of the Kraith Round Robin -- of which you are a member -- have something to do with it? Hmmmm?... I have done some generally-inaccurate reviews in my time, but that was usually because the zine was so bad I had to try reading it through a glass of Bromo-Seltzer. But Eileen implied she liked the issue, so what's her excuse? When I take a shot at somebody (cheap or otherwise), I'm at least a lot more clever about it, Eileen. Or forthright. Whey don't you try it sometime? I don't know who you were fooling, but if the feedback I've been getting is any indication, the answer is, 'No one but yourself. [6]
I have learned recently that I have an 'image problem in fandom,' that people think I've 'been cutting up everybody.' Please believe that was never my intention and certainly not my desire. I really don't want to be in a position where saying that I like a zine or story is somehow a personal attack on the editor or author, so the reviews in this issue of 'Scuttlebutt' will be my last. My apologies to anyone who has been hurt. [7]
I have resigned from the staff of Probe as you read this. Normally, such a statement is not necessary, but since Winston A. Howlett lists me as a staff person, I feel compelled to announce this resignation. I find myself in editorial disagreement with Winston on several issues, but since he makes no disclaimer in his zine to the effect that the editorial opinions are solely his own and not that of his staff, one could easily get the impression that we all agree. Winston and I will continue to be friends, but I will henceforth not be associated with 'Probe' fanzine or M'Pingo Press. [8]
[1989 comments by Winston A. Howlett about "Inside Kraith" article]: Even when you open up your universe to other people, when you let them in, you still say, ‘Okay, but this has got to be twisted to fit right, because I’m still saying something, over all.’ And you’ve got to keep firm control over it. If you let it get out of hand, you wind up looking on it and saying, ‘What happened?!’ For a while, I had a fantasy where my universe would become like KRAITH, where I would have lots of other contributing writers. It didn’t happen, and now I look back on it and say, ‘Thank goodness it didn’t happen!’ because I know some of the problems Jacqueline Lichtenberg went through. I was close friends with several members of the KRAITH round robin. It got to be sticky. And so I had an article in PROBE 11 — which a lot of people did not like — about how the nuts-and-bolts of the KRAITH round robin writing system wasn’t doing the job it was supposed to be doing. Some of the KRAITH creators said, ‘How dare you say that?’ but it was all true, because it was written by a KRAITH creator. So sometimes your universe can get out of hand if you let too many people in with you and you don’t keep firm control. [9]

References

  1. Hello? And Kraith is based on what popular television show?
  2. Except for the term ni var, which was included in a Vulcan glossary in Judy Segal's Kraith Creators' Manual and given a Kraith Vulcan linguistic analysis. Dorothy Jones Heydt, who created the term, was never credited.
  3. from Winston A. Howlett in Probe #12
  4. from Daniela Kendall in Probe #12
  5. statement by Winston Howlett in Probe #12
  6. the editor of Probe's rebuttal, from Scuttlebutt #5, in regards to what he felt to be an unfair review of Probe by Eileen Roy
  7. Eileen Roy's personal statement in Scuttlebutt #6, in which she bows out of reviewing zines for Scuttlebutt due to reaction she got for her review of Probe
  8. a personal statement by Linda Deneroff in Scuttlebutt #6, a probably reaction to the dust-up in 'Scuttlebutt' #5 and possibly to the inflammatory, anti-gay editorial Winston wrote in 'Probe' #10
  9. comment by Winston A. Howlett from transcript of a panel discussion in 1989, accessed March 6, 2013, also printed in Wulfstone