Occupational Hazard

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Star Trek Fanfiction
Title: Occupational Hazard
Author(s): Rose Marie Jakubjansky
Date(s): 1979
Genre: gen
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
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Occupational Hazard is a Star Trek: TOS story by Rose Marie Jakubjansky. The art is by P.S. Nim.

It was published in the print zine Menagerie #15


"Dr. Adele Seton, a medical examiner from the Surgeon General's office, is in hot pursuit of a pet theory that starship Engineers' constant proximity to, work with and responsibility for, matter/antimatter generators places unbearable mental and emotional strains on them."

Reactions and Reviews

Scotty is duly tested and duly registers 'unacceptable' stress scores. To relieve the pressure and give him a chance to repeat the tests under supposedly more favorable conditions, Scotty is rotated dirtside to the offices of a boy-wonder space-installation designer, where his duties are largely bureaucratic and entirely frustrating. This, to put it mildly, does not work out. At Kirk's and McCoy's insistence, the doctor then allows Scott to transfer to a freighter as Second Engineer, again on probationary status. So far, so good, and at least moderately fresh. Unfortunately, Scotty's tour aboard the Nisaba-Zami is allowed to degenerate into a series of cliches. The ship is a scrap- surplus rustbucket. Her skipper is a mercantile hooker with a heart of pergium. The crew can't stand Navy men, and won't respond to anything Scott recognizes as efficient descipline, (Not surprising, perhaps, given their resemblance to another crew of shaggy Anarchists; not to mention the fact that none of them seems to have gotten beyond sixth-grade science—all that's necessary to refrigerate a hold in deep space is to refrain from heating it, Scotty goes to the bottom of the class on this score, too.) These circumstances produce the inevitable crisis; the inevitable attempt to scratch Scotty; his daring rescue of one of his antagonists; the redesign of the Nisba-Zami under the Fleeter's benevolent and brilliant supervision. Cheers, shocked come-to-realizations, and Scotty's vindication. He returns to the Enterprise; the Nisaba-Zami pursues its newly-efficient if reg-stretching occasions; and the lady doctor prescribes a less stressful assignment for herself. Exuent omnes. (including Scotty, in an obscure years-later tag by Jane Clary, which I didn't and still don't, understand.)

Now, all this gritching isn't to say that "Occupational Hazard" is a poor story. It isn't. The prose is lucid and fluent, the pace carries one along willingly. And the characterization, as far as it goes, is well-handled; Jakubjansky's treatment of McCoy and Kirk is skillful, and her Dr. Seton is an independent, intelligent person, free of malice if not preconceptions, and capable of growth. The trouble is that not enough of this care has been expended on the central character. At the end of thirty pages of Smith's microminiature type, I don't know any more about Scotty than I did at the beginning. I don't know what he drinks — except Scotch; what he reads — except technical journals; whom or what he loves -— except his ship. He is neither changed nor revealed by his experiences. Given fanfic's general neglect of the Chief Engineer, I submit that this is a wasted opportunity and a bloody shame. Any one looking for the depth of perception evident in MEN's usual offerings won't find it here. Indeed, it occurs that had a more generalized zine printed this story, it would be less of a disappointment. The art, all by P.S. Nim, is well-executed and expressive. Unconditionally recommended for the action/adventure fan; under caveat for the rest. [1]
This issue features one long absorbing Rose Marie Jakubjansky story about Scotty called "Occupational Hazard." It rests on a slightly flimsy premise, but does serve to place the engineer in another setting and round out his character considerably. Anyone with an interest in psychology could assume from the small bits we learned about the Montgomery Scott of the episodes that he might be headed for trouble. Just think: he preferred reading technical manuals to taking shore leave, we were shown his drinking to excess on many occasions (and presumably the rest of the time, too), he regarded the engines of the Enterprise as his children (and had no real ones as far as we know), had no lasting relationships with women, and no hobbies other than his work. To say nothing of his unwillingness to fight for anything but insults to the big E. Symptoms of possible stress in the future, eh? Yep, that's what the psychological profiles done by the Chief Medical Examiner of Federation Outpost 24 showed, too, and she was able to force McCoy to go along with a temporary transfer for the engineer — either groundside or to a smaller vessel, while his psychological reactions are observed. So he tries both in that order. Spit and polish Scott on an ore freighter has to be experienced to be believed — the story has both humor and good sense, clearly demonstrates character development, and is a Trek-reader's delight. Highly recommended for both Scotty and gen-fen. [2]


  1. by Jane Aumerle in Star Canticle #2
  2. from Dixie G. Owen in The Clipper Trade Ship #27 (1980)