Obsession (Star Trek: TOS zine)

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Title: Obsession
Publisher: Shoestring Press
Editor(s): Katharine Scarritt & Mary Lowe
Date(s): July 1981
Medium: print zine
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links:
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Obsession is a gen Star Trek: TOS fanzine devoted to the exploration of the character of James T. Kirk.

From a proposal in 1981: "'Obsession' explores the character of James T. Kirk in several stories... The zine will have right-justified margins, some half-toned artwork and a four-color silkscreen cover (of Kirk!)." [1]

In 1983, the editors placed an ad in the Proposed Zines section of Universal Translator for "Obsession X," a zine "of X-rated stories, art and poetry focusing on the life of James T. Kirk." This zine, however, never made it off the ground.

Art has been included on Fanlore with the publisher's permission.

Issue 1

cover of Obsession #1, Mary Lowe
another version of the cover of issue #1

Obsession 1 was published in July 1981 and contains 90 pages.

It has art by Mary Lowe, Camille Richmond, and James Doyle.

From the editorial:

Houston, Texas is a hot and humid town. Heat has always been known to have strange effects on the mind, and indeed, our work has taken on an obsessive quality. We are due at the printer’s tomorrow, and a small doubt begins to creep into our minds whether we will make our deadline.

The original conception of OBSESSION was Mary's, and she has to take credit for most of the artistic touches of the zine. Katharine joined later, and between the two of us we have hopefully managed to come up with a zine worth reading, and rereading.

"Why a zine dealing exclusively with Kirk?" you ask. Kirk symbolizes the brightest hopes of today for the future of the human race. He draws on our past events and future trends, human philosophy or alien, with equal facility, balancing them to achieve his goals. He can be held up as an inspiration to us all, yet at the same time we can still identify with him. His dreams, hopes, and fears are not too far removed from our own, and, like the classical heroes, there is a touch of tragedy to his life in his obsession with his ship.

Therefore, we present you with our visions of James Kirk. If this first issue is well received, we will print a second one, so send us your visions of Kirk.
  • Afterthoughts, editorial by the Editors (7)
  • Earthbound, poem by Amanda Wesley (9)
  • First Love, story by Katharine Scarritt and Mary Lowe (11)
  • Edith, poem by Amanda Wesley (36)
  • Miramanee, poem by Amanda Wesley (37)
  • Reflection, story by Katharine Scarritt (39)
  • Kirk, story by Mary Lowe (44)
  • The Face of Agony, story by J. Pat Reck (45)
  • Enemy Within the Mirror, story by Mary Lowe (47)
  • Free to Choose, story by Katharine Scarritt (63)
  • I, Captain Kirk, filk to the tune of "I, Quixote" from "Man of La Mancha," by Katharine Scarritt (70)
  • Dreamer from the Dream, story by Mary Lowe (75)
  • Unchained, poem by Amanda Wesley (89)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

"Obsession", a zine, in the author's words, 'devoted to the exploration of the character of James T. Kirk' seems to me to encapsulate all the problems of a British buyer of American zines. The binding is most professional, the typeface is attractively clear and the silkscreen print of the cover, ambitious. On this basis the zine seems a worthwhile buy.

Unfortunately, in the opinion of this reviewer, there are serious doubts as to whether "Obsession" represents value for money, in these hard times, to British fans. Rather a condemning statement - true, so I'll try very hard to examine the zine in an objective way.

First for me in any zine, and I suspect for most fans, are the stories. There are only four of any length and all are by the editors, Katherine Scarrit and/or Mary Lowe, This is purely a matter of taste but I find so much by only two writers creates a lack of balance in a zine. However, the story content and style is another matter.

Of the four stories, which trace highlights and crisis points in Kirk's career, only the last has any great originality. "The Dreamer from the Dream" traces the impact of Star Trek and 'Kirk' on a bleak world of the future. The plot is thoughtful and has a good twist.

The remaining three longer stories are marred by a rather simplistic style and plot construction. This is especially true of "First Love", when by a time warp accident, a fifteen-year-old version of Jim Kirk returned to the Enterprise - a splendid opportunity for some interesting character play between Spock and Kirk since Jim at fifteen is even more outgoing than the Captain we are accustomed to. However, the writers never really get to grips with this. We are given only Spock's external reactions, never his thoughts and his careful avoidance of the young Kirk is not satisfactorily explained.

"The Enemy Within the Mirror" is an A/U retelling of "The Enemy Within" and offers few surprises. "Free to Choose" is the author's examination of the 'Kirk -promotion/where next? problem'. No dramatic conclusions are reached.

Next in importance, to this reviewer, comes poetry and really good poetry ranks equally with prose. In this zine the poetry too, is rather simple and again suffers from being all by the same writer, Amanda Wesley. The subject matter is uncomplicated and the curious interspersed of free verse with rhyme is disconcerting in all four poems.

The artwork presents a problem for the reviewer since art is so much a matter of taste. However, I think it is fair to say that the cartoons and the cover are not representationally accurate and an artist friend informs me that silkscreen is the wrong technique for this kind of cover illo. Among the rest of the artwork, only the illo's of the teenage Kirk have a certain freshness.

The zine runs to ninety pages but the margins measure 1" on both sides also at top and bottom. All paragraphs are double spaced and there are many less words to the page than average.

All in all, then, "Obsession" poses a number of problems for the reviewer. The zine is well produced, the writing is average if a little uninspired, yet partly because of the expensive postage, I do not consider that "Obsession" represents a 'good buy' for the British reader. [2]

Issue 2

front cover of issue #2, Mary Lowe
back cover of issue 2, Pat Kilner

Obsession 2 was published in April 1982 (2nd printing in 1985) and is 112 pages long.

The art is by James Doyle, Pat Kilner (back cover), Mary Lowe (front cover and fold-out), Marie A, Barbara Gordon, borders by Caro Hedge.

There is a foldout of a nude Kirk by Barbara P. Gordon, which is mentioned in the editorial (and by the author in another zine, see the image gallery):

We would also like to blame our lateness [of this issue] on that nice German lady at "Gulf Coast Negative Service" who looked at Barbara’s lovely drawing and said, "Vat, you vant us to make a plate of zis?" and to the guy at the copy shop who said they'd print it but did it wrong, and finally the Kwik Kopy who printed it right -- but who now all come out to leer at us when we go in there. Now, we have to draw straws to decide who has to go back there to get stuff done. Anyway, that's why we're late, and we're sorry. Now, on to pertinent information.

If you're over eighteen and not easily offended, you may wish to remove the flower in Barbara Gordon's fold-out. To do that, carefully peel the plant away, and massage the area gently to remove the remaining rubber cement. If you're under eighteen, don't touch that flower and don't read the first story in the zine, either.
  • Editorial (1)
  • Double Play, fiction by Pamela Rose (3)
  • More Than You Know, poem by Crystal Ann Taylor (21)
  • Eclipse, fiction by Mary Lowe (23)
  • Absence, poem by by Linda Neel (35)
  • Timeless Night, fiction by Katharine Scarritt & Mary Lowe (37)
  • Games, poem by by Sharon Fester (52)
  • Graven Image , fiction by Mary Lowe (Spock has summoned McCoy to Vulcan to ask his help in cloning a duplicate of the deceased James Kirk.) (reprint from Deck Five Digest) (54)
  • Graven Image, Part 2, fiction by Lezlie Shell (Shell wrote an introduction to this story in Deck Five Digest #1) (Jamie, the genetic duplicate of Jim Kirk is now a young man. He has a close, loving relationship with McCoy, but is in constant conflict with Spock. He has not grown up as Spock envisioned and McCoy, nearing the end of his life, strives to bring them together.) (59)
  • Delta Vega, poem by by Amanda Wesley (73)
  • Who Marks the Sparrow's Fall, fiction by by Cynthia Lockwood (75)
  • Through Different Eyes, poem by by Crystal Ann Taylor (99)
  • Betrayal by Instinct, fiction by by Katharine Scaritt (101)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

  • Double Play / Kirk is recruited for some espionage work, partnered with a beautiful but caustic woman, and is offended to find that it is his role, not hers,to let their (male) target agent seduce him. He does so, feeling fouled, and Phillip reveals that he knew about them all along, he did not have the object they were seeking, and he went through with the seduction only to teach Kirk what Starfleet Intelligence would do to him. Kirk quits despite all their plays on his loyalty, with a final, "Fuck the Federation." A delightful read.
  • Eclipse / Very well-written exploration of Spock's decision to leave Enterprise, from Kirk's pov as his world falls apart. Excellent characterization, apart from an overly intense Spock, which is pivotal to this interpretation. Spock will not quite explain his reasons, but it has to do with getting too close to Kirk, to losing his Vulcan-ness. Nice Kirk/McCoy scene as the doctor insists that Kirk must stay with the ship. Fade out on Kirk pondering 5 years of lonely command without Spock, remembering Kollos' dismay over the fate of humans, locked alone in a hollow shell.
  • Timeless Night / Spock returns (as Starnek) from a future in which Kirk has died of an unidentified accident, and Earth was subsequently destroyed by V'ger, leaving Starfleet and the Federtion devoid of the driving force of humans. Kirk is slowly rotting of red tape in the Admiralty. Spock manages to rescue him, and vanishes. Excellent writing.
  • Graven Image / [rep from Deck Five Digest] Spock clones the dead Kirk, and calls on an appalled McCoy to save the embryo. Lovely characterization.
  • Graven Image, Part 2 / Sequel to Graven Image. The embryo has grown into 15-year-old Jamie, who has been told he is Jim Kirk's son, and is being raised by Spock and McCoy. McCoy is hiding the fact that he is dying of his xenopolycythemia. Jamie is attempting to please Spock, but is discovering that his bliss is acting, not science, and does not want to attend the Academy. Lovely, intense writing without being mushy. Nice family conflicts, and a great death scene for McCoy.
  • Who Marks the Sparrow's Fall / Early days on the Enterprise; Kirk is just getting to know Spock and McCoy, and is faced with two grisly situations in which the Prime Directive is in force and he must stand by and watch tragedies unfold. This does a nice job of setting up the interactions of the Big Three, as well as Kirk's unorthodox reaction to Prime Directive situations.
  • Betrayal by Instinct, Part I / My copy was missing p. 109-110, making this story incomprehensible. The landing party is sent to prevent civil war on a planet governed by some religious hierarchy.
  • Duty Roster / staff graffiti sheet
  • Noteworthy poetry: Games / A recital of Enterprise events as moves in chess and poker. Clever. [3]

If you disliked 'Obsession,' you might still give the second issue a try. It's a great improvement over its predecessor. The seven stories and five poems are stronger and better written and among the ten full-page illustrations are two marvelous head studies by Pat Kilner, one of Admiral Kirk and the other of Captain Kirk of fifteen years before. The three fold-out nudes are a dubious bonus, being heavy on beefcake and short on likeness.

Pamela Rose's opening story involves Kirk in an under-cover operation during which his eyes are opened to what the Federation can require of its agents. The story revolves around an homosexual incident which is not detailed (and does not involve Spock).

Another writer offers her version of the confrontation between Captain and First Officer at the end of the first Five-Year Mission. It seems that as long as fans write Trek, they'll keep on trying do understand Spock's flight to Gol. The story that follows is a good companion to the previous one, an imaginative variation on the events before V'Ger, postulating a Spock who did achieve Kolinahr and then, 200 years later, returned to Earth and Iowa to try to change history.

Then, Cynthia Lockwood, a writer new to me, contributes an insightful story of young Captain Kirk coming to terms with the Prime Directive. His handling of a heart-wrenching situation opens doors of his character to Spock, who thought perhaps he never could get used to this new commander, who doesn't understand his little jokes.

Susan Fetter has written an outstanding long poem using analogues from chess and poker to describe significant events In the heroes' lives. She matches imagery to episode with a sure hand; this counts as one of few really good Star Trek poems I've read.

And finally, there's 'Graven Image', parts one and two, in which Spock seeks to make his dead friend live again by cloning him. Mary Lowe wrote the vignette which is part one, where McCoy discovers Spock's mad plan and agrees to help, against his better judgement. In part two by Lezlie Shell we learn how right he was, maybe. When the story commences', Jamie is fifteen and being reared by his foster parents, the doctor and the and the Vulcan. What they've got instead of a midget JTK is a young Bill Shatner -- a bright kid who wants to be an actor, not a starship captain. Spock's bewildered and clumsy attempts to make Jamie into Jim are touching and the results should strike a chord in any parent, Vulcan or not.

All the above themes are well-worn but each author manages to say something a little differently or bring a new scrap of insight to the characters. I doubt 'Obsession 2' well worth the price and enjoyed reading it once again for this review. Even if you hated No.1, I still say at least borrow No.2. New writers and better realized, more mature stories make it a good value for your time and money. [4]

Issue 3

cover of Obsession #3 by Barbara Walker
back cover of issue #3, Mark Dowman

Obsession 3 was published in April 1984 and is 104 pages long.

The art is by Barbara Walker, James Doyle (not credited), Pat Kilner, Paula Mathai, Barbara Gordon, Barbara Walker, Kathy Jolly, and Mark Dowman.

From the editorial:

It ought to be pointed out that it is somewhat difficult to type with egg on your face; it interferes with the vision. We don’t know quite how to get the effect of prostrating ourselves on paper, but hopefully the thought will count. We are terribly, awfully sorry for being sooooooooo late with our zines, including this one. We’d like to feel that we’ve had more than our fair share of. bad luck, but our perspective on the situation leaves something to be desired.

Obsession 3 was originally scheduled for Shore Leave last July, but a couple of stories didn’t make it in time. In fact they never made it all, leaving us with an 85 page zine that supposed to be 100 pages or so. By December, we received a few more submissions and Mary wrote another story to make 100. Also during this period, Federal Express left some artwork outside our door, and it was stolen. It took many moons to convince them that it was their fault, since they had not followed instructions, and more time to get a check out of them, which our bank promptly put a 20 day hold on, and finally get the money to the artist, who I hope will forgive us all the trouble.

As some of you already know, we have a small printing business (inspired by zines!) which has surprised us with the amount of time it takes up. It seems that every time we think we're all clear and can start the zine, more work piles up. And because we're, how to put this delicately, broke, we have to take in as much business as we can to keep up. And there was the matter of the employee we had for a little while who made off with some of our supplies.... but, never mind. We finally managed to replace those supplies and get the rest needed and put off our other customers for a week and get the zine to you. Thank goodness! The delay and the waiting have frazzled our nerves just as much as yours, so again we’re really sorry, and we appreciate more than we can express the patience most people have shown with us.

We are also sorry that we are poor communicators. One of the reasons for this is that there seemed to be nothing to say but 'We're still working on it!, and we really kept thinking that publication was right around the corner, and we’d have definite information to you. After massive reorganization of our files, we have a good system for keeping up with orders, so future orders will be handled promptly and smoothly, and we will be able to answer the (hopefully fewer) inquiries or problems personally. For those of you who have ordered other zines from us, at this very moment, even as I type all orders to date are being mailed out for Only Trek, Obsession 1, and Obsession 2. With this mailing, Obsession 2 is out of print, with a reprint scheduled for May-June 1984. Also along those lines, Mary will be sending out a status report to all those who have ordered Fallen Star shortly.

Despite all the troubles, we still enjoyed putting the zine together, and we hope you’ll enjoy reading it. There’s a good mix of stories, and some really gorgeous artwork. We’re continuing the tradition of ’cheesecake” foldouts, so if you’re offended by male nudity, don’t unfold them. Let us know what you think, we’re starved for letters that don’t begin ’where’s my zine?’
  • Afterthoughts (1)
  • Starman, poem by Shona Jackson (3)
  • Captain Wesley Test for the Best, poem by Sharon F (5)
  • Beginnings, fiction by Richard Pollet (7)
  • Class Dismissed, fiction by Sharon Hyler (19)
  • Images, poem by Sharon Hunter (20)
  • Prophecy, fiction by Pamela Rose (21)
  • Before the Battle, poem by Patricia Demetri (29)
  • After the Battle, poem by Patricia Demetri (32)
  • The Unanswered Question, fiction by Dawn Law (33)
  • Things To Remember, fiction by Tere Ann Roderick ("McCoy is troubled by Kirk's apparent inability to grieve for Spock and by his own failure to keep the Vulcan from sacrificing his life. The bottle doesn't help, maybe reaching out to Kirk will.") (37)
  • Afterthought, poem by Sharon Hunter (42)
  • Summon The Future, fiction by Jan Beckworth (45)
  • Untitled, poem by Rhea Brainerd (48)
  • Star Captain, poem by Wendy Rathbone (50)
  • Priorities, poem by Crystal Ann Taylor (51)
  • Jahoda Blue: A Price To Be Paid, fiction by Jeanne Noga (53)
  • Even To Captains, fiction by Kay Crayton & Denise Walters (64)
  • Captive Audience, fiction by Mary Lowe and Katharine Scarritt (69)
  • Ruth's Song, poem by Shona Jackson (73)
  • Betrayal By Instinct, Part 2 (Conclusion), fiction by Katharine Scarritt (75)
  • Plea, poem by Teresa Sarick (95)
  • Cul De Sac, fiction by Mary Lowe (Spock with emotions) (97)
  • On the Bridge, poem by Wendy Rathbone(103)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 3

  • Beginnings / Kirk and Finnegan torture one another at Academy
  • Class Dismissed / 1-pager; hand to hand practice
  • Prophecy / Matt Decker's ghost shows Kirk Spock's death. Kirk returns to the admiralty, giving up the Enterprise.
  • The Unanswered Question / Kirk musing over Spock's death.
  • Things to Remember / McCoy is disturbed that Kirk is taking Spock's death too calmly.
  • Summon the Future / Kirk's conversation with a little girl planning to be a starship captain.
  • Jahoda Blue: a price to be paid / Kirk, on a diplomatic mission, inadvertently chooses sides by protecting a child; he is forced into desk service as a "reward".
  • Even to Captains / Kirk wakes up next to an ensign whose name he can't recall.
  • Fold-out artwork - in strategically placed towels and underwear...
  • Captive Audience / "Naked Time" from Rand's p.o.v.
  • Betrayal by Instinct, Pt. 2 / Kirk appears to have gone crazy and taken over a planet by assassinating the ruler.
  • Cul de Sac / Kirk proposes to Spock that they become lovers - just before Amok Time? [5]


  1. ^ from Universal Translator #10, and one of the first-known ads that specifically mentions "right-justified margins," ushering in word processing
  2. ^ from Communicator #2
  3. ^ Halliday’s Star Trek Zinedex (TOS) - Title Index, Archived version
  4. ^ from Communicator #10 (1983)
  5. ^ Halliday’s Star Trek Zinedex (TOS) - Title Index, Archived version