Nebula of Orion

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Star Trek Fanfiction
Title: Nebula of Orion (also after known as "Alternative 1")
Author(s): Gerry Downes
Date(s): 1976
Genre: gen
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
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Nebula of Orion is a gen Star Trek: TOS story by Gerry Downes. It appears in Stardate Unknown #1.

This story is most known for its role in what became the first K/S novel published, Alternative: The Epilog to Orion.

It has a slash sequel, Alternative: Continuing the Epilog to Orion. All three parts of this story are reprinted in The Compleat Alternative.

Gerry Downes also wrote a short (16 page) "Insert For Orion" which was never published but which still exists in copy form. It was meant as an insert to the first zine, and explores the consequences of Christine watching Kirk and Spock make love at the ship swimming pool.

This story was mentioned in The Development of the Kirk/Spock Relationship: Its Foundation in Fan-Fiction (1978).

Some Poems

This zine appears to contain at least two poems by Downes.

  • So This Is Love by Gerry Downes (reprinted in Best of Pon Farr (1977), Relay #1 (1980))
  • Just Between Us by Gerry Downes (reprinted in Relay #1 (1980))


In the first issue [of Stardate: Unknown], Gerry wrote a story called NEBULA OF ORION. In the story, the Enterprise is travelling close to the Nebula and the closer it gets the more Kirk's personality changes. He becomes angry without reason, suspicious of his friends, and a general tyrant to his crew. By the end of the story, we have learned that the Nebula is a living entity who is lonely and is seeking, through dreams, to turn Kirk against his crew so that he will leave the ship and remain with the Nebula. Spock, with the help of McCoy, melds with Kirk to drive the entity out. While in Kirk's mind, Spock inadvertently allows McCoy to see the depth of feeling he has for Kirk, he uses this love to call Kirk's mind back from the entity. While this is a gen tale, and there is no implication of anything sexual in Spock's love, it is the basis for the first K/S zine. Having been converted to K/S fandom, Gerry decided to write a K/S story. She expanded on the NEBULA OF ORION story and ALTERNATIVE: EPILOG TO ORION was born. [1]

Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

Kirk is taken over by Orion, the mind of the Orion Nebula, which they are investigating. It knows it will die in a few eons, and wants his company. Meanwhile, it tries to make him kill Spock and McCoy, but Kirk manages to hold on to his self, convincing the entity that he will be its Satan, never its friend. Spock and McCoy are left to rescue the wrung-out and unconscious Kirk him from the brink of death by melding with him. It's an overdone plot, but handled well enough. And it has this delicious bit of dialogue: McCoy: "So now you're dead, I'm an accomplice, some monster's in charge of the Captain, and everything's just fine!" Spock: "Precisely." [2]


The 3rd & last story [in the zine] is "Nebula of Orion," an exorcist sort of story about an alien, the Nebula of Orion of all things, who takes over Kirk's body & mind and sends the Big E hurtling through space. A general "feel" of the story can be found in McCoy's words to Spock:

"So now you're 'dead,' I'm an accomplice, some monster's in charge of the captain, and everything is just fine!" [3]


In the story, the Enterprise is on an exploratory mission to the Nebula. Kirk's mind is very gradually being influenced by some mysterious agent The Entity first enthralls him with heightened sensual awareness to ordinary objects, and with pleasure and later punishes with psychological pain. In seeking to control him, the Entity recognizes Spock as its chief obstacle and tries to force Kirk to hate his friend. Because this goes so contrary to Kirk's actual feelings, he becomes aware that something is influencing his mind. He tries to fight its influence by using physical pain to clear his mind. The Entity then inflicts nightmares on him. It projects him in to a mental desert-world, where Spock taunts, torments, and injures him. Under impossible pressure to kill his closest friend, Kirk retreats into himself and collapses in a coma. Spock surmizes that it was the only way Kirk could escape from whatever has been tormenting him and influencing his behavior so negatively. In a three-way meld, Spock and McCoy enter the symbolic desert-world in Kirk's mind, where they find his weak, tormented image. He tells them of his torment. Spock concludes that they must find out more about this Entity, so that they can stop it, and convinces Kirk to allow it to take over his mind completely. Kirk, under the control of the Entity, takes the Enterprise on a very dangerous and unstable path through the Nebula; it wants the ship destroyed, so that it can have Kirk to itself. It forces Kirk to (seemingly) kill Spock, and persuades McCoy to cover up Spock's death. Spock, now free to work on the problem uninterrupted, realizes that the Entity is the Nebula; that, as stars and planets are born out of it, it evolves; that the Mind is dying and fears death; it wants Kirk as its friend/companion/thrall. In spite of the control the Entity is exerting, Kirk begins to feel remorse for "killing" his friend. He begins to fight the Entity and succeeds in forcing it away, only to fall into a coma from the extreme strain of resisting it, and from his despair. Spock guides the Enterprise to safety, and returns to Sickbay, where Kirk lies dying. In another three-way meld, Spock and McCoy find Kirk, lost in bleak gray despair, lone liness and alienation. Spock and McCoy must acknowledge their feelings of friendship for each other and their love for Kirk, and unite in empathy to fight Kirk's feelings of unworthiness and betrayal and his self-degradation. With an outpouring of their love, Kirk is rescued and returned to life. [4]


[LoC for Nebula and Alternative: The Epilog to Orion]: I have head about these zines and stories for years, but never read them. According to Jenna (who has assisted me in the facts about this zine), Epilog to Orion is considered the first K/S standalone zine. Quite the accomplishment back then in 1976!

So they are really meant to be read with this genesis in mind–this was the very first time K/S had actually been published in a zine. Well, maybe the very first time, but certainly nearly so. The story of “Nebula Of Orion” is basically a gen story and concerns an entity mentally and emotionally attacking Kirk. I was never really certain what this entity exactly was—and that’s a major flaw—but that still didn’t stop my enjoyment of the story. It was quite well written especially for having been written in the dawn of K/S, and it involved lots of Star Trek- type of stuff with the ship, the captain, Spock and McCoy.

Actually, McCoy features prominently as he helps Spock rescue Kirk, but there’s more than just a glimmer of K/S here. As an example, when Spock and McCoy go into Kirk’s mental landscape to save him from dying, Spock expresses his love and need for Kirk. McCoy questions him about it afterwards, but Spock doesn’t say much and the story ends.

“Alternative”, which I guess was written not long after, explores K/S much more directly through a series of poems and vignette-type stories that tell a little about what happened after the Orion incident.

These need to be read with the first K/S in mind—a time and place that was the first blush of K/S. Reading these brought back many memories of my just reading the words: “they kissed” and falling into paroxysms of pleasure.

Jay hopefully won’t mind my paraphrasing her when she said that those days were like being newlyweds and now we are in established relationships (Jenna will like that!). It’s not that we’ve lost any love for K/S, we’ve just grown into a more meaningful and fully-developed relationship.

At any rate, the Orion zines are definitely worth reading and having for your collection. Take the opportunity now that they’re being reprinted to enjoy some wonderful early K/S—for its historical value if nothing else! [5]


  1. ^ from Ann Carver in a column from On the Double #2 (1987)
  2. ^ from Karen Halliday's Zinedex
  3. ^ from The Clipper Trade Ship #13
  4. ^ summary from Not Tonight, Spock! #3
  5. ^ from The K/S Press #67 (2002)