|Cover Artist(s):||Signe Landon|
|Date(s):||November 1980, second printing 1986|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: TOS|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Precessional is a 216-page Star Trek: TOS novel by Laurie Huff, illustrated by Laurie Huff, Signe Landon, Merle Decker, Nan Lewis, Stephanie Hawks, Harriet Stallings. Cover by Signe Landon. It won a 1981 Fan Q. The story is gen h/c and/or pre-slash. (see talk page).
The author writes, in its editorial, that this story took three years to write, and another year to rewrite and publish.
From the AuthorFrom the editorial:
Since I entered fandom in 1975, I've been reading and enjoying other peoples' fiction. I wanted to write, too, but found myself pleasantly preoccupied with zine editing and illustration. Off and on, ideas would occur, but I always managed to put them of. 'Precessional' is the result of several that refused to wait. The story started off as a small novella. I became interested in the strengths and vulnerabilities of James T. Kirk; I wanted to attempt to explore some of the man's limits. I also wanted to address the probability of Kirk being stuck with a boring Starfleet desk job (a future which seemed as implausible to me as it was unappealing). And then there was the very special relationship between Kirk and Spock... In the course of the writing, unexpected things began to happen. Characters began to develop minds of their own and started telling what words to put on the page. I became obsessed and possessed. The 'small novella' grew. And grew. When it became increasingly apparent that I had a Major Project on my hands.
Planet Ahmdalin: a place of wonder and brutality. There, two star travelers must face the loss of the world they know. Together they must survive and try to build another life. Join James T. Kirk and the Vulcan, Spock, on a journey of outward bound challenge and inward growth. 
The story started as a small novella. I became interested in the strengths and vulnerabilities of James T. Kirk; I wanted to attempt to explore some of the man's limits. I also wanted to address the probability of Kirk ending up stuck with a boring Starfleet desk job (a future which seemed as implausible to me as it was unappealing). And then there was the very special relationship between Kirk and Spock ... In the course of the writing, unexpected things started to happen. Characters began to develop minds of their own and started telling me what words to put on the page. I became obsessed and possessed. The "small novella" grew. And grew. When it became increasingly apparent that I had a Major Project on my hands, I determined to follow it to its completion as a partial "thank you" to all the terrific writers who have given of their time and talents, providing me and others with much entertainment and food for thought. PRECESSIONAL was plotted (and most of it was written) before ST:TMP was released. It is therefore not contiguous with the movie. I consider and have always considered PRE. to be a sort of alternate universe--a "what-if" for exploration. 
He wondered where Spock was. In another cubicle? Still with Amian? He hoped the latter; it was just possible that the Vulcan might be able to reason around her madness. And if not that, there was always Scotty -- Kirk knew it couldn't be too much longer before a recon party was dispatched. Be careful, Scotty, he prayed silently. I don't like the feel of this one...
The Proposed SequelIn the 1983 editorial of Galactic Discourse #4, the author talks of a sequel, one that was never published, at least under the proposed title as a zine:
A fan in 1984 wrote:For those who've asked, the sequel is underway (working title: 'Per Aspera Ad Astra') PAAA deals with Kirk and Spock's further adventures on planet Ahmdalin, the evolution of the relationship, and the inevitable encounter with Starfleet. I haven't had much time to devote to it lately, but I hope to remedy that situation soon. I'll post news of PAAA's progress, assuming there is progress, in the newszines.
I have a tendency to view many friendship and hurt/comfort stories as pre K/S, whether that was the intention of the author or not. In the case of PRECESSIONAL, for example, I happen to know that Laurie intended it as a pre K/S story and is planning on a K/S sequel called 'Per Aspera Ad Astra'. 
Reactions and Reviews
In PRECESSIONAL, Laurie Huff weaves a compelling story, a blend of Kirk/Spock hurt/comfort and character growth set against a fully fleshed science fiction background. The Enterprise Captain and First Officer, captured by an insane scientist, are stranded on the planet Ahmdalin after the Enterprise is destroyed. Spock must deal with an injured, comatose Kirk and finds refuge at the home of a woman, Evanna Te'Lhurean. When Kirk finally regains consciousness, weakened and emotionally scarred by the scientist's torture, Spock must make the difficult decision of waiting to break the news concerning the ship. When Kirk learns the truth, both men struggle to face their grief and, finally coming to terms with it, attempt to save the planet's inhabitants from invading aliens lured there by the scientist. The society of Ahmdalin is undergoing a struggle, too; those with telepathic, psychic powers are persecuted as evil by a group rejecting science and progress. The telepaths, 'Those with the Gift', have maintained a peaceful, hopeful philosophy, seeking the wonder of the universe and the marooned Starfleet officers eventually find a place among them. Laurie Huff manages all this with a deft, sure hand. The female scientist is not a typical "mad scientist", though she has deluded herself that her psychological experiments—tortures—were for the 'good' of humanity. The character of Evanna is well-drawn and believable, a loner, at first unsure of the offworlders she has taken in, then a concerned friend who learns, through their example to accept her own past grief and rejoin her people. The philosophy is uplifting and hopeful — besides being an appropriate refuge for Kirk and Spock, it reflects the hopes and dreams of the future that is Star Trek. And that is one more reason the novel is so effective. Though the Enterprise is gone, it is extremely satisfying Trek fiction. Still, much of it is Huff's own creation. The science fiction, the planet's society and new characters add to the interest, making it much more than just a Kirk/Spock vehicle. Love, skill and endurance are evident in the work. It is stated in the preface that the novel was four years in preparation and it shows. Each idea is fully developed, all elements meshing into a coherent, well-nlotted story. Both Kirk and Spock receive e-qually good treatment, as they deal with the tragedy and grow closer to each other. Huff handles the complexities of their personalities, their emotional turmoil and growth, while staying true to the characters, giving them strength and humanity. The writing style is precise, intense, often lyrical. The reader feels the pain and progress of the characters and can become involved with the world of Ahmdalin. In moving language, Huff evokes scenes of beauty, tenderness, sorrow and elation, without lapsing into the maudlin. The production of the zine, too, is excellent. The reproduction is clear and clean, the copy virtually typo-free. Exquisite illustrations by Merle Decker, Signe Landon, Stefanie Hawks, Nan Lewis, Harriet Stallings and Laurie Huff grace the pages and the color cover is by Signe Landon. PRECESSIONAL is a finely crafted novel, an emotionally satisfying story and should take its place among the classics of fan fiction. 
PRECESSIONAL has been marketed as a story of loss, struggle, and character growth, and deals with lasting changes in the lives of Kirk and Spock. Whatever that means! I've seen several reviews of this work, none of which contained any more plot synopsis than in the quote. So what's it all about? An evil woman scientist, Dr. Rheva Amian, escapes prosecution for illegally experimenting with a device for remote,, mechanically induced behavior control. While piloting her stolen shuttle craft, she runs into a vessel iron an alien race, the Sfing, who plot to seize Federation controlled territory. She agrees to help them, and they release her at a lovely class M planet, Ahmdalin. Several years later, the Enterprise arrives to investigate a strange energy reading emanating from Ahmdalin. Kirk and Spock beam down and have the strange transceiver they find beamed up to the Enterprise. A few minutes later they are captured by Dr. Amian and some members of "the Order," a native authoritarian group which she is helping in violation of the Prime Directive. Unknown to Kirk and Spock, the transceiver contains one of her behavior control devices. Unfortunately, it does not work as planned, and the crew of the Enterprise goes insane causing the loss of the ship. Kirk and Spock escape Dr. Amian, but Kirk is very badly injured. How can Spock keep Kirk alive and free without violating the Prime Directive any more than they have to? Will they ever see the Federation again? And who will stop the Sfing? And that's just the first 38 pages! There's more excitement to come. One of the nice things about this work is that it is rated PG, but it is not boring. While the Kirk/Spock relationship is extensively developed, it does not go beyond hurt/comfort. You could lend this to a friend without embarrassment. The action/adventure sequences are also handled well. However, I wish the author had spent a little less time on the well-worn hurt/comfort theme, and had spent more time developing the natives of Ahmdalin. At the time of the story, they were in the midst of a major cultural and evolutional transformation. They were in the process of acquiring substantial psychic powers. Ms Huff could have had another Darkover on her hands if she had gone a little farther. The zine is nicely put together with an excellent print job and a color wraparound cover. The interior artwork, by several well-known artists, sticks very closely to the descriptions in the text and greatly enhances the work. 
Has anyone out there not read Precessional by Laurie Huff? If not, I would strongly advise you to get, borrow, or invest in the volume which must rate along side Nightvisions as one of the classics of fan literature. The book is beautifully illustrated hy the likes of Nan Lewis, Merle Decker, Signe Landon, Stefanie Hawks, Harriet Stallings and the author herself: each page is edged and the cover is in three colours. The entire zine consists of the one story.
Dr. Rheva Amian, once of Starfleet and now researching into mechanically induced behaviour control is censored and banished for drawing test subjects from mental patients. Smouldering with resentment against the authorities for her exile and also against Starfleet whom she holds responsible for the death of her brother, she escapes from the Enterprise which is transporting her to Starbase 18 after her sentence. In her escape she encounters a ship piloted by an alien race, the Sfing who, in return for her promised aid when they attempt to conquer and colonise various Federation planets, transport her to a suitable planet on which to continue her research.
Later on routine exploration, Dr. Amian's escape forgotten, the Enterprise crew's interest is aroused on encountering a transmitter beam emanating from the planet. Kirk and Spock beam dovm to investigate and are captured by Dr. Amian and her newly acquired followers 'The Order'. The doctor, now mentally unstable, uses her behavioural device to cause Kirk to beam a similar device on board the Enterprise, requiring the ship for the Sfing. Kirk's memory is affected by a further crude version of the mechanism prior to his and Spock's escape from death.
Spock is then left to deal alone with their escape, with the knowledge of the Enterprise's destruction, with the problem of how and when to impart this knowledge to Kirk, and finally to deal with Kirk's reaction when he eventually discovers the truth. The struggle and problem's it imposes on the pair's relationship forms the theme around which the story hinges.
I can remember the tension knotting itself in my stomach at the first time of reading faced with Kirk's attitude. There were times when I could have gladly shaken him until his teeth rattled so willfully determined did he seem to upset Spock, and equally, there were times when I wished Spock would do it himself in stead of being so long suffering and guilt-ridden.
After the initial tragedy Kirk and Spock live with Evanna Te'Lhurean, one of the inhabitants of the planet. She also has to come to terms with a loss of her own which has left a void in her life that Kirk and Spock to some extent fill. Evanna is the strength of the story. Unlike so many characters introduced into the lives of Spock and Kirk one is immediately taken by her because of her affection for the two of them, and her immediate understanding of their relationship - even when they do not fully comprehend it themselves. She cares for them in a way that obliges one to care for her.
In order to sublimate his grief Kirk redirects his energy into thwarting the Sfing's plans. To do this he employs the help of the Glista, a psychically gifted group of which Evanna was once a member, discovering at the same time his own particular gift. In addition to losing the Enterprise, he also has to come to terms with this unwelcome finding.
Laurie Huff says in her preface that she took four years to bring Processional to publication and the love and care involved show clearly. It is an excellent, touching, captivating even romantic novel, and in no areas is the action contrived or reliant on coincidence. It never ceases to amaze me that we can be fed such tripe from some of the professional writers when a volume like this has to be circulated via an amateur press.I cannot recommend Precessional highly enough both as a story and as a superbly produced zine. Read it, and be indifferent to it, and you have no soul. 
My copy of this excellent zineis, alas borrowed. I cannot afford a new copy from the USA. Not that it is over-priced, for it is novel length and well produced. I think it is perhaps the best zine I have ever read but it is not for everyone; it is strictly for Kirk, and/or Spock fans. No others of the Enterprise crew enter into it and the ship has been, shall we say, 'eliminated'.
There is plenty of exciting adventure but it is as a character study in depth that it is so remarkable and, enjoyable - and so like real life. There are many minor characters but the main story is about three people: Kirk, Spock and a woman, No, you are wrong; there is no love story. The woman is 57 years old and her growing friend ship and her affection for the two Starship officers is moving and believable. She is a strong add very likable person. The great interest is how we see Kirk and Spock under the stress of circumstances gradually come to understand themselves and each other, This is not a sentimental story, still less a K/S one but it is a study in depth of friendship.
The one thing which made me a little uneasy was the almost 'magical' potency attributed to the minds of some of the characters. But I reflected we are only now touching the fringe of ESP and who knows how it may have developed in the 23rd century.The illustrations vary. The surprise is that, though it is not mentioned, there must have been a hairdresser on that planet for Spock's hairstyle varies from picture to picture. 
This is considered one of the most classic of zlnes. An American production, it is beautifully printed and illustrated. The story centres entirely on Kirk and Spock, who are stranded on a planet when the Enterprise is destroyed. They get involved with planetary affairs, having knowledge that an alien race is returning to the planet as part of its plan to conquer the Federation. Kirk and Spock enlist the help of the telepathic inhabitants to thwart the plans of the aliens. The main theme, however, is the developing relationship between Kirk and Spock, as Spock has to give his friend the news of Enterprise's destruction and help him to come to terms with it. As Kirk to comes to terms with it. As Kirk develops telepathic powers natural to the planet, their relationship grows ever deeper. 
In the category of [Best] Classic Trek Novel, the prize has to go to Precessional, by Laurie Huff. Wait, wait, don't even bother with the rotten eggs, I'm already standing behind my Official Rodney King Signature Riot Shield (Walt Disney Products, $39.95, at fine stores everywhere). I will say in my defense that Laurie's work on that work predates our relationship, and that she did it without any input on my part. If you've seen my work and hers, the truth of this should be obvious. This is the only novel mat has ever brought me to tears, and it still does on each subsequent re-eading. 
For me, the thing that makes an exact definition of slash less than useful is that the definition of What Is Slash is not the same as What I Like. It's not just that I'm not interested in a great number of things that are indubitably slash; its that a number of things that push the same buttons as slash can't be defined as slash by any reasonable definition.
What I'm talking about, primarily, are heavy-duty relationship stories. The first examples that come to mind are Trek: HOME IS THE HUNTER and PRECESSIONAL , for example. In neither of those stories is there ever any overt mention of the possibility of a sexual relationship, but the stories are full of hurt/comfort scenarios, and in both cases, Kirk and Spock are the most important people in the universe to each other.I'd much rather read that sort of story than one about Any Two Guys, but that's just me. 
This was one of the 'The Enterprise is a distraction to the real story of Star Trek, which is, of course, about Kirk and Spock and their friendship stories. The ship plunges into the atmosphere of a planet (with everyone else aboard) early in the story, leaving Kirk and Spock stranded. The remaining narrative resembles a character study more than a science fiction tale. The high popularity of the story illustrated the rapidly diminishing influence of science fiction among Star Trek fanzine readers and writers. 
For me, it’s the quality and enduring nature of the relationship that matters most. That is why Precessional counts as pre-K/S. It has the necessary intensity and at the end of the narrative Kirk and Spock are clearly moving towards a physical as well as a mental relationship and Spock is asking Evanna of the telepathic Glista what an intimate is. Laurie intended there to be a sequel in which it is discovered that Sulu and others have also survived and which was to be K/S. She never got around to writing it. 
- from an ad in Datazine #38
- from the editorial page of "Precessional"
- from K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #9 (July 1984)
- from Universal Translator #7
- from TREKisM #19
- from Communicator #3 (March 1982)
- from Communicator #3 (March 1982)
- from Enterprise Originals #12 (1990)
- from a LoC by [D B] in Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #4
- comment at Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (June 17, 1995)
- from Boldly Writing
- from a fan in The K/S Press #9
- comment at Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (June 6, 2003)