One Way Mirror

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Title: One Way Mirror
Publisher: Poison Pen Press
Author(s): Barbara Wenk
Cover Artist(s): MRO Ludwig
Illustrator(s): MRO Ludwig
Date(s): May 1980
Series?: no
Medium: print zine
Genre: het
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links: available at AO3
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
flyer from the 1981 Media West program

One Way Mirror is a het 251-page Star Trek: TOS novel written by Barbara Wenk and illustrated by Mary Rosalind Oberdieck-Ludwig.

It had a original print run of 1000, reprint 1033.

It is a story that shows what can be done with the Mary Sue archetype by a skilled and self-aware author.

One Way Mirror won a 1981 FanQ.

Both the PDF with art and the text can be found at AO3 here.

Masiform D Supplementary Issues

from Masiform D #10 -- "'HER blazing -passion (to stay alive)! HIS burning need (to get Imperial Star Fleet off his back)! THEIR mutual indifference!! Jenny Marlowe was a perfectly normal STAR TREK fan. Commander Slair was the Third Officer of the ISS Victory . . . and a Vulcan. When she was captured by alien slavers, he made her an offer she couldn't refuse. Unfortunately for all concerned, he wasn't interested enough to ask the right questions . . . and so a STAR TREK fan found herself playing officer's lady in MIRROR, MIRROR. From the author of a number of other nasty-minded stories….' Barbara, however, preferred a more restrained approach: 'ONE WAY MIRROR: A Mirror, Mirror story...sort of. Therefore, to comply with Federal Equal Time standards, keep peace in our time, and avoid being hit over the head with an IBM Selectric, I hereby give you your choice of ad. ($5 book rate or by hand, $6.75 book rate special handling insured.)"
cover for the first printing in 1980, MRO Ludwig
cover for the second printing in 1982


From the editorial of Masiform D #9 (August 1979):

Looking far to the future, I have TENTATIVELY secured Barbara Wenk's permission to publish her novel, One Way Mirror. As you may have noticed, Barbara sees things from a slightly different angle than most of us, and her story gives us rather an unusual view of the "Mirror, Mirror" culture. One Way Mirror is tentatively-scheduled to be out in May, 1980, as "Masiform D Special Supplementary Issue #2". It will be illustrated by MRO Ludwig, whose work I have been proud to publish in earlier issues of MD. The novel looks to be about 250 pages long, and will probably cost about $4. Because of the length—75,000 to 100,000 words—and what it will cost to print, the Special Issue will be considered the equivalent of 2 issues of MD on a subscription. One Way Mirror can be ordered by leaving an SASE on file for final price notification.

From the editorial of Masiform D #10 (May 1980):

Then, of course, there was The Novel. I've printed a novel before: Fern Marder and Carol Walske's excellent Threshold. (It is now out-of- print!) However, Barbara Wenk's novel is twice as long, and the considerations of collating (125 sheets plus cover plus. . . time 500) and binding (stapling through how many inches?) drove me hither and yon like a demented chicken. There, also, were the gaps and gaplettes so dear to the reluctant writer. And . . . Suffice it to say that I spent a great deal of time on One Way Mirror that should have gone to MD#10. But the novel was more exciting, more troublesome (I knew I was printing MD#10. and I didn't need to call strangers and price their per-page cost, and will you bind if I bring you the collated material, and how much are those little screw-posts?) The result of all this is that One Way Mirror and MD #10 will be appearing simultaneously, at Mos 'Eastly Con. (Printing a zine, preparing a novel for the printer, and planning a con to come out the same weekend is definitely not a smart thing to try, folks.)


Jenny Marlowe, a ST fan is captured by alien slave traders in a crazy mixed-up version of the Mirror Universe...and finds herself acting as officer's lad, for a Vulcan. [1]

The viewpoint character is a hard-core Trekkie of the time (late 70s) -- the kind that thought nothing of spending 26 hours running a mimeograph to get a zine out in time for a con. She's a romance reader, a Spock fan, and she's heard rumors about fans who write Kirk and Spock "together" but that's a little too far even for her. One evening, she's walking in the park on her way home when she's abducted onto a space ship by slavers...who are taken into custody by a Federation starship! Saved, she thinks, until she realizes she's been "saved" by the Mirror!Mirror Federation. She is given a cake or death offer to become a Vulcan's Officer's Lady, and uses Star Trek episode stories to gradually Scheherazade her way into her Vulcan captor's heart. [2]

The story involved a Star Trek fan, captured by interplanetary slave traders and sold to one of a starship's senior officers. In the course of the story, the fan discovers that the ships bear a strong resemblance to the ones in the Star Trek episode, "Mirror, Mirror." The fan's role is to be the sexual partner of and living ornament to the ship's first officer, who happens to be a Vulcan. In the story, the fan eventually settles into the first officer's family, and in the process discovers that Gene Roddenberry is a refugee from this interstellar society, and is hiding out on Earth. The story was instantly popular and won a Fan Q the next year. [3]

A 'Mirror, Mirror' story -- sort of. It was a perfectly normal vacation day until Jenny Marlowe, a Star Trek fan, was captured by a group of alien slavers. Who in turn were stopped by Imperial Starfleet with an officer who looked amazingly like a Vulcan! 'Of course, I've gone crazy. What a relief!' Jenny thought. Unfortunately, she hadn't. So Jenny finds herself trying to play 'Officer's lady' in a crazy mixed up version of Mirror-Mirror universe. Comm Slair was not quite what she had in mind when she'd thought of Vulcans. And it turned out that she wasn't precisely what he'd expected either. [4]


The novel is adorable on its own merits; it's also a charming look back at Trek fandom of thirty years ago. It was very popular when first published and was reprinted many times. As Sandy Herrold put it recently, "that puppy's a classic, and progenitor of a hell of a lot of today's meta/crack humor."[5]

In 2013, with the help of Morgan Dawn and Jan Levine the zine was made available online at AO3.


A Follow-Up Zine That Was in the Making

At least one fan was inspired by this zine to create her own, the proposed "One Way Universe." "I have the permission of Miss Wenk and her publisher, Poison Pen Press, to do OWMUniverse and am now looking for art, articles, stories and filks set in the One Way Mirror universe. Projection publication date: May 1984" -- ( eluki bes shahar in Datazine #29 and Universal Translator #22) This zine did not materialize.

Reactions and Reviews


To say that I liked this zine would be a gross understatement. I loved it! It takes the premise that admittedly sounds a bit tacky -- a ST fan finds herself swept into a mirror universe -- and makes a thoroughly enjoyable zine from it. The story is told in first person by the ST fan, Jenny, who, while on her way to a ST con is captured by alien slavers, rescued by an Imperial cruiser, and eventually offered a position as a Commander's Lady. Jenny thought life in this universe would be a snap because she already knew about 'Mirror, Mirror. and the Empire, but she was terribly wrong. How Jenny learns what life is really like in the Empire, how she develops a 'convenient arrangement' with Commander Slair into a lasting relationship, and how she finds out why ST and this universe are so similar make for some of the most enjoyable and interesting reading I have had in many, many months. The first person style is especially captivating, and Jenny's fannish comments on events which take place in the Empire are delightful. Her reactions to meeting the 'real' Sarek, Amanda, Spock and Marlena are to borrow a phrase, fascinating. The illos are generally of superior quality, and the layout and printing are exceptional. As if I need to say it, in my opinion this zine is a must for any fan who is interested in Vulcans, 'Mirror, Mirror' or who simply enjoys a good well-written zine. [6]

Interested in some light summer reading for a hot summer night? How about a Star Trek gothic novel? ONE WAY MIRROR is the story of Jenny Marlowe, a perfectly-ordinary Star Trek fan who is plain, 27 years old, not yet married, and still a virgin. While on vacation she is abducted from a lonely beach by alien slave traders. Soon after her abduction the slave ship is stopped by the local space gendarmes. A tall, dark, handsome, bearded Vulcan officer inspects the contents of the slave hold,, and Jenny is brought on board the I.S.S. Victory to the Vulcan's quarters. Slair, the Vulcan, then informs her that she has the choice of becoming his "lady" or being thrown to the crew. She makes what appears to be the logical decision and enters a life of excitement and intrigue. There's only one problem: instead of the "official" Star Trek universe, she's stuck in the "Mirror, Mirror" universe. But everything is just a bit off from that episode, and what she doesn't know may get her killed. In addition, Slair doesn't know that she is totally ignorant of Imperial manners and mores because she is from Earth, a non-Imperial planet which has only been visited by the slave traders and the renegade Imperial Officer Gene Roddenberry. I dare not tell more for fear of ruining the plot, but I assure you that if you like Star Trek and gothic novels, you will love ONE WAY MIRROR. In someone else's hands, this could have been a perfectly awful Mary Sue/wish-fulfillment story, but Ms Wenk has managed to avoid that pitfall and give us a superb, if different, gothic novel. I predict that it will become a classic in the genre. Ms Wenk's heroine, Jenny the fan, was nicely done — neither Mary Sue nor shrinking violet. She's a quite modern miss who manages to pull her new life together through a combination of ingenuity and good luck. In addition, there are some great scenes. For example, you'll laugh yourself sick when she explains Star Trek fandom to her Vulcan. And there's the clothes buying expeditions (remember the kind of clothes. they wore in that episode?). I must confess that I love glitterthread and sequins as much as Jenny. The clothes are illustrated. My only complaint is that the background intrigue is not fully developed. Slair is a typical closed-mouth Vulcan who tells her nothing. We only know what she can guess from incomplete observation. There're enough unanswered questions at the end to fuel a sequel. OWM contains adult situations and very mild profanity, but there is no explicit sex and very little violence. I'd rate it PG. [7]

One Way Mirror is a very funny twist on that class of stories known as Mary Sues. Customarily, our heroine stumbles onto the Enterprise, saves the day, and then has the officer of her dreams fall madly in love with her. Jenny stumbles into a Mirror universe by being kidnapped by a slaver. The slaver in turn is captured. It so happens that there is a Vulcan officer who needs a "lady" in a hurry. He asks Jenny if she wants the job. This leads Jenny through a whole series of adventures, some funny, some frustrating. Ultimately, she does get what she wants -- a steady place in the Mirror society. A very interesting story. [8]


Okay. You're a typical trekfan, right? I mean, you go to cons, you read and possibly write the 'zines, and you salivate at the mention of Spock's name, right? And you feel, I mean, really feel, deep down Inside you, that even though you've done nothing in your 26 years of life but gofer at the NY Star Trek Con, you could still hack life in the 23rd Century. Out there, where there ain't no air ...

Well, Barbara Wenk shows that you can do it. All you have to do is be born incredibly lucky and have a guardian angel who doesn't object to overtime. When you are picked up from Central Park by space slavers, try not to get eliminated right off the bang as an undesirable cull. When you, as cargo, are confiscated by an Imperial cruiser, try not to become rape bait for the boys in Engineering. When you happen to be selected out of 200 others to become an officer's iTedwariWBr and conspicuous consumption mannequin, try to be picked by the one non-vicious male on board. Sure, you display twenty-nine knives as part of your Bertha the Bold costume, but can you actually fight with them for real? And you know you could get it on with a Vulcan, but what would it really be like to have your life and well-being depend on the goodwill of an alien?

To her everlasting credit, Venk deals straightforwardly with just these questions and improbabilities. Her twentieth-century east-coast-trekker heroine recognizes her own luck and limitations, makes mistakes, and—the mark of a truly intelligent person—finds out how to recover from them.

The writing is smooth and unobtrusive, al lowing the story to take proper precedence. Jenny, the heroine, is almost painfully realistic; I feel I met her or someone like her at a con (or maybe in the mirror). And there are good chuckles from the fannish in-jokes. If the ending is a little slushy and unlikely, well, we gotta have a happy ending, don't we, and it is no more unlike ly than the circumstances that got Jenny into the story in the first place. Illos by Mary Oberdieck-Ludwig are expressive and appropriate to the text. [9]

A fourth major type of marriage story might be labeled the "Making the Best of a Bad Situation" theme. The protagonist of this genre is frequently a time-displaced female from the twentieth century for whom marriage provides a viable alternative to starving in the streets (or corridors). "Echoes of the Past," which has already been mentioned, is an excellent example of the type. Though the heroine, Aidan, is supposedly an intelligent, capable, and creative individual in her own right, all her attempts to make a life for herself once she is marooned in the future are centered upon getting Spock to pop the question. Harlequin romance with space ships!

Barbara Wenk's excellent and witty "One Way Mirror" confronts this theme most bluntly. Jenny Marlowe is not time-displaced; rather she is a dedicated Trek fan who is kidnapped by slavers while attending a STAR TREK con, and eventually finds herself being rescued by a UFP (sort of) cruiser that parallels the ENTERPRISE in some minor but tricky details. The only job available to her is that of Officer's Lady, which means exactly what it sounds like. Eventually she and her owner/employer reach an accommodation, but Jenny can never forget that she lives on the sufferance of a man's needs and generosity. She comes to love Slair and he to love her, but along the way she makes a great many adjustments, having wisely if bitterly come to the conclusion that she has no alternatives. "I'd rather

be dead" sounds noble but is essentially self-defeating. [10]


If you are looking for a different kind of zine, a bit "off the beaten Trek", this is it! This is the story of Jenny, a fervent Star Trek fan who suddenly finds herself in a sort of 'Mirror, Mirror' universe. The dream which every Trek fan secretly has, turns into a nightmare, when she realises just how bad life can get.

Snatched from Earth by slavers, she is given the opportunity to become an officer's lady to Commander Slair, the Vulcan Third Officer, which is certainly preferable to the alternative of being given to the crew. What looks a promising venture, however, becomes a nightmare when you don't know the rules of the game and the Commander doesn't want you anyway. . .

Jenny survives (only just) and begins to feel like Scherezade, captivating Slair with stories of ST fandom to keep him amused — wait till you discover who Gene Roddenberry really is! The ending is perhaps a little inevitable, but reading the rest of the story is definitely worthwhile.

Perhaps the best quote to sum up the sentiment of the zine is when Jenny comments that if she ever gets home, she will throw out every piece of ST "junk" she owns. I think it's the way I would feel if I suddenly found that the thing which had been the centre of my life turned out to be a parody.

The story is well written by Barbara Wenk and has some good illustrations by M. Ludwig, There is a hint of humour throughout the zine, almost tongue in cheek and the zine has been well edited by Devra Langsam, one of the group who put out some of the first US zines, such as Spockanalia, back in the late 1960's.

The zine is 'adult' to a certain extent although there are no explicit scenes but the nature of the relationship between Jenny and Slair is hinted at. Perhaps what puts people off this zine is the lack of Kirk, Spock, McCoy etc. - well, actually "Spock" puts in a fleeting appearance- but I would recommend the zine to all lovers of good fiction writing. [11]


One Way Mirror. I LOVE that zine!!! What a hoot! Sure, she falls in love with her rapist, and through him learns poise and self-esteem, but so what; the story was wonderful. Thanks for reminding me about it. [12]

You can't find better than Barbara Wenk's One Way Mirror... Wenk knows the genre of Mary Sue (just as I knew the genre of "we're not gay but" stories when I wrote "'Folded Arms' and Open Minds" ) and constructed OWM with reference to it. I tend to reserve the uninflected designation "Mary Sue" for use as a derogatory term, however, so that I would not call OWM a "Mary Sue" so much as I would say that it demonstrates that not all Mary Sues are bad. See the difference? I'm still calling it a Mary Sue, but I need to qualify the statement so as not to seem to be criticizing OWM. [13]


As for good K/S, just about the only K/S that I ever spent actual money on - and I think it was worth every cent — was One Way Mirror, by Beverly Sutherland which was written in 1983. I've read vast quantities of other K/S, but mostly in that craving-to-inhale-junk-food mood one gets sometimes. So if you're looking for a recommendation from another dubious-about-the-concept fan, there's mine! [14]


In the good old days of hand-cranked mimeo machines...

Mary Sue started off as Lieutenant Mary Sue, when Star Trek fanzines started the whole thing. Lt. Mary Sue was a character based upon the author (usually a fan in the 11 to 20 range; very thinly disguised, if at all). She was transferred to the Big E (U.S.S. Enterprise for you non-fans) where Kirk fell in love with her (sometimes chastely and from a distance, depending upon the author's age and background), McCoy looked upon her as the daughter he never got to raise, Scotty found a drinking buddy who could put him under the table (and be straight as an arrow the next morning) and Spock admired her incredibly keen intellect and bowed to her superior chess skills and musical abilities. She was beautiful, talented, the youngest to graduate Starfleet, etc., etc. (Sometimes she was an orphan, rescued by the Enterprise; I always wondered if the background of the Saavik character from the second movie wasn't a gentle poke at Lt. M.S.)

After editors saw story after story after STORY!!!! in this vein the term "Lieutenant Mary Sue" was coined.

Some people took this as a challenge and ran with it. The Star Trek fan novel "One Way Mirror" took an offshoot (Star Trek fan thrust into the Star Trek universe) and went to the ultimate degree: it was believeable and it was well-written. Instead of being the heroine to end all, the main character found herself in the crappiest of crappy situations, scrambling to survive. The ultimate "be careful what you wish for" situation. [15]


  1. ^ from an ad in Communicator #5 (May 1982)
  2. ^ from Boldly Writing
  3. ^ from. Boldly Writing
  4. ^ from. Datazine #3
  5. ^ sherrold commenting on a zine sale post. May 15, 2010. Accessed July 27, 2010.
  6. ^ from Datazine #5
  7. ^ from TREKisM #13 (1980)
  8. ^ from the Augustrek program book (1980)
  9. ^ from Bored of Review by Paula Smith, printed in Warped Space #45
  10. ^ from Some Attitudes Towards Marriage in Star Trek Fan Fiction
  11. ^ from Communicator #4
  12. ^ comments by Sandy Herrold, at Virgule-L, quoted with permission (March 9, 1995)
  13. ^ from Strange Bedfellows (APA) #10 (August 1995)
  14. ^ from Shoshanna in Strange Bedfellows (APA) #17 (February 1997)
  15. ^ comments by Aunt Kitty, 2010