Nu Ormenel

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Fanwork
Title: Nu Ormenel
Creator: Carol Walske, and then Fern Marder
Date(s): in zines: around 1974
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
External Links:
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Nu Ormenel is a created universe. Stories, art, poems, articles, and music appear in many different zines, as well as Nu Ormenel Collected.

It was originally created by Carol Walske and later co-created with Fern Marder.

Kraith is another similar created universe.

"Nu Ormenel's" Birth

Carol Walske started developing Nu Ormenel ("The Empire"), a universe focused on the Klingons, when she was in high school. It is "gen" in the older sense of the word in that it pertains to the Star Trek universe, but has none of the canon characters or situations.

From the forward in Threshold:
I have- taken the parts of my characters for so long that it's sometimes difficult to speak for myself.

At one time the Ormenel was a game I played for private enjoyment. It began nine years ago with the development of Kor and Roan and the basic conflicts between them. Writing stories was a pleasant energy-consumer, and researching reference material for the universe was a challenge. Writing is addictive. The Ormenel grew from a harmless diversion to a habit—and all further creative endeavors were designed to some how fit into the universe. The Ormenel took over me. To the extent that a science fiction universe reflects its creator, I suppose the Ormenel represents me: my background, some of my beliefs, etc. The keynote of the series is cultural and ideological conflict.

Living in a number of different countries as a child, I had a chance to experience 'cultural conflict' first-hand. As such, the Ormenel is also my story.

A Meeting of Minds and Hearts

Fern Marder describes how she met her collaborator in the 2005 interview, Writers in Fandom: The Fanzine Scene: Interview with Fern Marder:

Carol and I met (of course!) at a small Trek/media convention in NYC in 1973 when I spotted her name tag and went over to compliment her on what was one of the first published Nu Ormenel stories "A Klingon Heritage." About two years later, she contacted me when some zine people we knew were planning a two-zine set, one fiction and one non-fiction, with articles on how the universes for those worlds had been built. I had been recommended to her as a good person to help write a section on language, since her Nu Ormenel universe had multiple languages, complete with grammar, alphabets, etc. While we were working on the technical article, Carol was telling me about a plot problem she was having with the story to go in the fiction volume. I suggested a fix for the problem and we were suddenly collaborating on the story, "Broken Sword," the first story to get our shared byline. We each subsequently also wrote on our own, but the majority of our fiction writing was co-authored after that.

NOT a Shared Universe

Not all fanfic writers are happy to have other fans create in their universe creation. "Nu Ormenel" was one that was to be hands off. In 1978, Fern Marder and Carol Walske threatened other fans with "copyright infringement."

There is a personal statement from Fern Marder and Carol Walske complaining about copyright infringement on the characters/universe they have created:
There is a relatively new fanzine available, called Antithesis, which deals with the Klingon Empire. The first issue contains material by the zine's editor, P. Spath, which bears close resemblance to details of our Klingon series, Nu Ormenel. We have been assured by Ms. Spath that these similarities are purely coincidental and that she has drawn her material from other sources and her imagination. We are willing to accept her word for this. In view of this situation, however, we would like to make a few comments with reference to the 'Nu Ormenel' material. All works in the 'Nu Ormenel' series have been copyrighted to us, either directly or through the editors of the fanzines in which they appeared. Therefore, the use by any other authors of any 'Nu Ormenel' data about Klingons, our characters, original vocabulary, and proper names, is an infringement of our copyright and will be dealt with accordingly. Any work regarding Klingons which is not identified as part of the 'Nu Ormenel' series, and/or which is not written by one or both of us, IS NOT part of 'Nu Ormenel.' We have not given our permission for anyone to write and publish stories in our series, nor do we plan to in the future. Any story which contains material from 'Nu Ormenel', be it labeled as such or not, has been published contrary to our wishes and to the copyright laws. [1]
Guinn Berger writes:
Ordinarily I don't go in for 'foaming-at-the-mouth' LOCs, but I have just finished reading the personal statements section of the latest Scuttle-but , and I'm about mad enough to chew neutronium. The creators of the Nu Ormenel series, it seems, are particularly peeved by the very suspicious (they say) similarities of Other Writers' Klingon stories to Nu Ormenel. These Other Writers have not now, and never will have their permission to write Nu Ormenel—and if This Situation goes on (they warn darkly) Appropriate Action will be taken. (!) Well, gee. I guess they mean they're going to hire a hit man! I hope they don't seriously believe the copyright laws will protect their Magnum Opus. Anyone who does more than hint that their story is about Klingons, or Andorians, or Romulans, or Thalosians, is violating the copyrights held by Gene Roddenberry, Paramount, Norway Productions, et al—disclaimers notwithstanding. This goes for the girls who are so fierce about protecting their version of Klingon civilization from rip-off, too. A theft is a theft, and we in fandom are all guilty. You cannot plagerize someone's work, expand upon it a bit, and then warn everyone else to keep their cotton-pickin' hands off because it's yours now. We all are lucky that the fan phenomenon is seen by the true holders of ST copyrights as a desirable thing—otherwise the "Appropriate Action" they'd take would have us up to our necks in legal fees. What I'm trying to say, I guess, is let's stop all this 'I-have-a-copyright-and-I'll-sue-your-ass' nonsense inside fandom. Sure, it's good manners to ask permission to use somebody's stories or even their ideas—but how many of us did that before publishing our ST stories based on the brainchild of Gene Roddenberry? HMMMMM? [2]
Jeff Johnston comments on the idea of shared universes and copyright:
I too saw the comments in Scuttlebutt and it almost did appear that the authors of the Nu Ormenel series wanted to insure a monopoly on their own alternate universe by use of threat. I wonder if that was just a reaction on the part of the authors to keep the competition away. It seems to me that alternate universe series are becoming rather popular. Kraith is probably the first, but there have been many others since then. However, nothing guarantees that the characters that you decide to use for your alternate universe can't be used by others. There is a bit of paranoia involved on the part of some authors who may wish to have one whole segment of the Trek universe reserved just for them. [3]
Fern Marder, co-creator of Nu Ormenel, comments on copyright:
In reference to Guinn Berger's letter (Interstat #9). There are two distinct issues raised here. Ms Berger has a valid point in her statements about the copyrights held by Gene Roddenberry, et, al. However, Mr. Roddenberry, on behalf of Paramount, etc., has given formal permission for the publication of fanzines dealing with Star Trek material. Therefore, it is legal for fans to write Star Trek-related stories. It is not a "rip-off." The provision of a copyright means only that one must have permission to use such material. Second, any writer, fan or otherwise, has the right to copyright as his or her own any original material created, even though it might have its distant roots in other material. A novel about the life of Neil Armstrong is copyrightable, is it not? The Nu Ormenel series is based on a large body of original material created by Carol Walske over a period of ten years. This includes historical background, social structure, biological data on the species discussed, and many, many characters. The stories in the Nu Ormenel series are based on this work. Our statement in Scuttlebutt was intended to protect the original material created for Nu Ormenel. There is a general feeling in fandom that anything in a fan-written story may be used by any other fan, as if it had appeared in Star Trek itself. Gene Roddenberry gave permission for Star Trek material to be used—we have not. Our long-range plans as writers make it Impossible to permit others to borrow from original Nu Ormenel material. We hope that our fellow fans—both readers & authors will understand our position & recognize our legal right to protect our work. [4]

Reactions and Reviews

From the editorial in Probe #10:
CAROL WALSKE spends most of her free time — besides posing dramatically for back covers of PROBE — exploring her own concepts of how the Klingon Empire functions. The 'Nu Ormenel, Series' rivals Frank Herbert's "Dune" Trilogy in the creation of a fully-detailed alien civilization, complete with language, alphabet, culture, psychology, sociology, history and fascinating personal drama. And her artistic talents — including our color cover-- speak for themselves. FERN MARDER helped in many ways, including an accompanying poem, and once again asked Carol for help in doing the graphics on the lyrics and arrangement of some new Trekmusic.
A fan in Probe #11 wrote:
Now the Klingon story — "Challenge"—is a good story; it doesn't suffer from the one malady that sometimes overwhelms the Nu Ormenel stories, that is, a surfeit of foreign words and names that sometimes make it difficult to under stand what's going on. This one was nice and simple, gave the reader some good —and to me, unexpected—insights into what Klingon culture might be like, and handled the characters of the two protagonists well. It is a little disconcerting to see Kirk coming off as an uncultured boor, but that element of his character was certainly present on occasion in aired ST, and in a way it's a good counter to all the "Kirk and the Federation can do no wrong" stories around. The Feds did very often come off as cultural chauvinists. Fern and Carol have constructed the most sympathetic and believable Klingon universe I've seen yet, I think—and it takes a lot to make me see the Klingons as sympathetic, since I tend to favor the Romulans, as seeming—in the aired version—more noble then the Klingons. I am still curious about the origins of the pro-Klingon sentiment in fandom; in the case of the Nu Ormenel universe, I'm curious about specifically what facets of Klingon life Carol and Fern drew their ideas from (Klingon life as viewed on ST, of course). I also have to applaud their ability to make the reader sort of turn his cultural head around and look at things from the other side, seeing what make a seemingly vicious culture like the Klingon's work the way it does. Makes me wonder if either of them is an anthropologist. (Carol has nice illos, too.)
In 1990, from Grip #37:
l’ve been getting stories both in the "Classic" and "New Generation" mode that involve Klingons...which is the subject of Today’s Lecture. When Gene Roddenberry invented the Klingons in 1966, they were described[5] as "the Mongol Hordes with ray guns". They were supposed to be the all-purpose Enemy, who could be trotted out whenever one was needed. "Errand of Mercy" saw the first (but not the last) appearance of the Klingons: vicious warriors, who thought nothing of executing helpless civilians to impose ruthless order on what they considered a conquered population. They were swarthy, bearded nasties...and they captured the Fannish imagination in ways that the Great Bird never imagined. There were at least three variants on the Klingon culture. One of best was the "Nu Ormenel" series of Fern Marder and Carol Walske which set a Human woman into the middle of Klingon culture.

Zines

References

  1. from a personal statement in Scuttlebutt #7 (1978)
  2. from Interstat #9
  3. from Interstat #9
  4. from Interstat #10
  5. By David Gerrold in his original notes for "The Trouble with Tribbles".