Pulse of the Machine

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Zine
Title: Pulse of the Machine
Publisher: Pemberley Press
Editor: Karen Swanson
Author(s): Jean Kluge
Cover Artist(s): Jean Kluge
Illustrator(s): Jean Kluge, Marty Siegrist, Susi Leinbach, and Melody Rondeau
Date(s): 1991
Medium: originally print; in 2012, the zine was available as a download with 45 pieces of art (ten more than in the original print edition)
Genre: het
Fandom: Star Trek: TNG
External Links: http://jeankluge.ravenshadow.net/pulse.htm
front cover by Marty Siegrist
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Pulse of the Machine is a Data/Tasha het novel by Jean Kluge, gorgeously illustrated by both Jean, Marty Siegrist, Susi Leinbach and Melody Rondeau. It is part one of what was originally intended to be a two-volume novel, but there never was a sequel.

There were 250 issues in the original print run. There were also 250 issues in the reprint run, though this second edition doesn't contain all of the illustrations that were in the first edition.

From the Flyer

flyer printed in Artforum #2, click to read
another flyer, side one
another flyer, side two

"A post-Naked Now saga by Jean Kluge, Pulse of the Machine focuses on the relationship between Data and Tasha Yar, a relationship that grows and changes, even as they do... Publication is scheduled for Fall 1989. Pulse of the Machine will contain the first story in the saga, 'Android Blues,' winner of a Fan Q for Best Short Story, reprinted with slight revisions from Vault of Tomorrow #13, and will feature black and white and color interior illustrations by Marty Siegrist and Jean Kluge, plus a color cover and interior graphics by Marty Siegrist."

The Second Edition

The first edition contains 31 full-page illustrations, 3 in color, and a full page of cartoons. The second edition is lacking some of this art, though it is unclear just how much.

A fan's comment about the second edition, one she bought through the mail rather than from at a con:
AFAIK it's authorized. I bought it maybe 2 years ago, I think from Pariah Press, which one of the artists runs. As for the illos, it states "this edition contains...a selection of the original illustrations" on the table of contents. And yes, $30 was an awful lot... I knew the writing was pretty good, but what I really wanted was the artwork. What got left out seems to have no rhyme or reason -- not just the adult pics, but also a gorgeous color one of Data and a dragonet. [1]

The Art

Much of the art can be seen at the artist's website; WebCite.

Chapters

  • Android Blues ("After the incident with Lore, Data needed all the friends he could get. Tasha Yar, Geordi La Forge, and some of the more interesting residents of the holodeck all pitch in to give him the help he needs.") (first published in Vault of Tomorrow #13)
  • Shut Out ("It's World Series back on Earth, and baseball fever has hit the crew of the Enterprise. Of course, other games are being played as well...")
  • Shore Leave ("Vacations are great, and Tasha had certainly enjoyed the get-away she had taken with Deanna. It wasn't until the last night, though, that things began to get really interesting...")
  • Discoveries, Part One ("There are many truths in the universe. Some we create, some are created for us. Many are pleasant, more are not.")
  • Discoveries, Part Two
  • Epilogue

The Sequel

There is no sequel to this zine but the author, at one point, was working on one. "Connie Faddis nearly brought the sequel to Pulse to a stand still last August when she totally stymied one of my main plot points. With Marty's help and a good three months of growling and pondering, that plot point has turned into something more plausible, with more ramifications for the characters- It's simply better, because I was forced to reexamine it. That doesn't mean I didn't kick and scream and throw a tantrum and generally rail over it at first." [2]

An Excerpt

From a flyer: ". . . Data reached for her hand, a pause giving her the opportunity to pull away and reject the contact if she so desired. When she did not, he completed the movement, taking her hand in his and closing his fingers about it in a brief, gentle squeeze before releasing it. . . . Tasha felt her smile broaden absurdly, delighted by his use of the newfound gesture toward her, then tried to dampen it down somewhat, a little embarrassed at just how appealing she found the gesture. . . ."

Comments from TPTB

See Brent Spiner discusses erotic painting of him and Denise Crosby (YouTube clip).

Reactions and Reviews

1990

Most legends are based on truth, and PULSE OF THE MACHINE does exist -on diskettes in the homes of writer Jean Kluge and editor Karen Swanson, on sketchpad and canvas at Jean's St. Louis apartment and Marty's Lancing, Michigan address, and in the cartoons being shuttled via the U.S. Snail from Melody Rondeau in California. It should all come together in time for Shore Leave XII in mid-June. It'll be one big fudge-covered oreo of a zine: A hundred and fifty pages of text. Four interrelated stories exploring the Tasha/Data relationship as we the fans just knew it would evolved, but that the supposed demands of commercial television cut short. Three, possibly four color plates inside, plus twenty-to-thirty black-and-whites and niftily crafted borders with detail enough to make the Goridan Knot look like a tangled shoelace. PULSE opens just after "Datalore" with a wonderfully chummy piece called "Android Blues." Data fears that the failsafes in his programming installed to keep him from becoming the psychotic bastard that Lore was will also prevent his ever becoming more human. Tasha spends a companionable hour with him on the holodeck trying to talk him out of his melancholia, prying into the reason why he and Geordi aren't speaking to each other, and hunting down the faeries that some whimsical soul has - apparently - introduced into the programming of the forest they're walking through. A liesurely bit of comraderie guaranteed to make the reader feel like they're at home with family. In "Shut Out," a reluctant Tasha is roped into playing baseball in an Enterprise vs. Yorktown match. During private practice sessions with the Big E's pitcher - Data -lost memories of what took place between them during 'The Naked Now" begin to reemerge, along with a guilty suspicion of exactly what she might have put him through with her infamous, "It never happened." But Jean refuses to take the easy way out with this story, and the ending isn't what either Tasha, Data or the reader bargains for. "Shore Leave" follows hard on "Shut Out's heels, with yet more thrashing out of this relationship between two people about as tempermentally suited to each other as ZsaZsa and the Beverly Hills P.D. But it is in "Discoveries," a giant two-parter, that PULSE OF THE MACHINE takes a truly dark turn. The episode with the Binars has ended happily; Picard has commended Data for his performance during the whole affair. When then, has a desolate android seculded himself in the holodeck? Not just desolate...terrified. The Measure of a Man" may have laid to rest some of the questions surrounding Data's legal status, but as Tasha discovers, there will always be forces able to circumnavigate the law. And all that glorious color artwork and lovingly detailed pencil drawings are accompanied by prose worthier of the term "professional" than almost all of the stuff that Pocket has been putting out for the past however many years. Tasha's fire and Data's naivete' are perfect, perfect. Jean's writing will make you feel as though you're watching an episode the episode that was shot and deemed too complete, too moving for we buyers of lottery tickets and Hefty Bags to appreciate, the one that producers have sealed in a vault until genetic engineering technology has made possible the birth of a generation capable of recognizing its true worth. [3]

1991

This is a D/T zine - an X rated treatment of the relationship between Data and Tasha Yar. What! Two people of opposite sexes? In Star Trek! Whatever next: Well, sometimes I get a bit fed up with the stale/male relationships that seem to pervade ST, so I was really ready for something like Pulse.

I bought the zine primarily for its artwork and the artwork is quite magnificent. Not only does it contain a lot of exquisitely drawn scenes from the story, but every single page of text has been decorated as well, I spent a long time just turning pages and looking at the pictures before I read a single word.

And as if that weren't enough, the words turned out to be a joy as well. The relationship is beautifully explored and the writing style is excellent. There are four separate stories that run sequentially - an episodic novel - with all the events taking place during the first TNG season for obvious reasons. There is little action or science and although most of the first season characters do make an appearance, it is mainly composed of scenes between the Android and the Security Chief.

If you don't like TNG, you don't like Data or Tasha and you don't like straight sex, there probably isn't anything in this zine for you. But if you happen to like all the above, then Pulse is exactly what you are looking for. I do perhaps have one criticism, that the last story does not draw to a close very well. I sincerely hope this is because there is to be a sequel, otherwise it raises too many questions that are not satisfactorily resolved.

Now for the bad news. First: it is expensive for a zine. But then, It's not really quite like any other time that I've ever seen. The production quality is extremely high and it has 135 pages of text, 31 full page illustrations including 3 in colour, a full page cartoons and a colour cover. Second: and this is worse. The production run was advertised as 250 copies, so there may not be any left. [4]

1992

I also wanted to tell you that by far the best thing I bought at last year's Mediawest was your zine. The Pulse of the Machine. I actually bought it for the artwork by you and Marty Siegrist, but after reading It 1 just fell in love with it. It is how I was introduced to Tasha, and shows what an admirable character she could have been, given the chance. And it's how I wish the Data/Yar relationship could have developed, while remaining true to the characters, and believable. It has spoiled me terribly, and is one of the many reasons I reacted so violently to "Redemption, but I'll go into my knee-jerk reaction to that particular episode later.[5]


1993

For author Jean Kluge's way with words, which is passionate but never gushy. For its overall design, which is thoughtful but never stilted, interesting but never overbearing, and just fuckin' beautiful. And for the parade of gorgeous, catch-in-the-throat artwork from both Jean and Marty, in two styles which complement rather than compete with each other. [6]
If you got yours and didn't ScotchGuard it like the instructions said and it is sticky and smeared with drool and other body fluids, it's your own fault If you've only been able to read it at a friend's house where you've seen it displayed in a museum case like the Declaration of Independence, at least you've had a brush with greatness. If no one will let you touch theirs, and you didn't get one of your own, beat your head bloody on the nearest brick wall. [7]
[The editor has] an obligation to your readers to require the best you contributors can provide. And that means that sometimes you have to reject things, even from people you like. Barbara and I rejected several things submitted to us for Tunnels 1, and I rejected one of the illustrations done for Pulse of the Machine, because they just weren't at the same level as the rest of the work in the zine. To be fair, it isn't always easy to do—there's one illo in Pulse that I should have rejected, but didn't because I was too much of a wimp; to my eye, it stands out like a sore thumb when compared to the rest of the zine. That's a screw up on my part that a reviewer or LoCer would be perfectly justified in criticizing. [8]
The pulse of the machine is an imaginative look into the relationship that could have developed between Lt. Commander Data and Lt. Tasha Yar immediately following the away team mission in the episode "The Arsenal of Freedom". Tasha had come to realize that she misses the friendship that she had been developing with Data prior to the Enterprise crew's encounter with the Tsiolkovski. While participating in the ship's intramural baseball league, Tasha and Data work together to improve her batting and fielding skills. While they spend time together, Tasha and Data overcome the barriers they both erected when Tasha said "It never happened". From this point the author begins to weave an elaborate tapestry of discovery as Tasha helps Data understand the various aspects of friendship and love, both physical and emotional. Although Picard and the other members of the bridge crew make occasional appearances, this is strictly a Data/Tasha love story. Unfortunately, Jean Kluge chose to include several distracting subplots in the story and resolved them in a rather frustrating manner. The use of the Faeries, an objectionable Starfleet Directive, and a Starfleet Admiral who remains nameless are just a few of the holes in this story that you can fly a shuttle through. There are several pages of excellent illustrations that make the text come alive in the book, in black and white and in color. The majority of the drawings are quite erotic without being too explicit. The combined artworks of and styles of Kluge, Marty Seagrist and Melody Rondeau are a perfect example of the philosophy of IDIC, their diversity working to create a greater whole. If you are an incurable romantic who longs for what might have been, then the Pulse of the Machine should be on your must read list. [9]
Big sigh. Yes, there's a good story here, but there's also some of the bitchinest artwork ever printed anywhere. Screened pencils AND color repro. I take this out and just LOOK at it every so often. [10]

1994

Ever buy a zine at a con because the artwork was so gorgeous you just had to have it, and then when you got it home and started reading you realized the written material was pretty awful? Likewise, have you ever tried to read what looked like it might be a good story, but you gave up on it because the reproduction was so poor it hurt your eyes? Wouldn't it be nice to find a zine in which the art and the writing share the same high standard? Wouldn't it be even nicer if that zine were about our favorite android?

Well, take heart, friends: there is. such a zine. It's called PULSE OF THE MACHINE, and it's written and illustrated by Jean Kluge (with additional art by Marty Siegrist). I could save a lot of space by just describing this zine in one word: "exquisite." It is, frankly, the only truly outstanding ST:TNG zine I've seen since the show's been in existence. Congratulations to Pemberley Press editor Karen Swanson for achieving the highest quality in every phase of production. Of course, it helped that she had such a dynamic talent to work with. Jean Kluge is a double threat — as skilled with her left brain as she is with her right.

And aside from all that, the story is a Data fan's version of heaven. This is the Data you've been longing to see — the one that the show's producers have now decided doesn't exist -- the one who's allowed to grow and develop emotionally. The story takes place in an alternate universe where Data and Tasha become lovers. Sure, it's not a new idea, but never has it been done with such flawless characterizations. Tasha's personality is captured exactly, as is Data's — with a few minor inconsistencies (for example, he's able to make love expertly, but he didn't know the meaning of holding hands). Kluge employs a marvelous device: in the context of Data giving Tasha a baseball lesson, the two get to know each other physically. Their relationship is gradual, unforced, sweet, and believable. (The mystical scenes, with tiny dragons and fairies, are not so believable, but they're enchanting nonetheless.) The sex scenes are explicit but always tastefully done; fortunately Kluge only goes into extensive detail about "the first time," because let's face it -- it would be boring and pointless to read a minute-by-minute account of every time the pair went to bed.

So, what exactly is the plot, you ask? I really can't say. The story just flows. Once you start reading, you won't be able to stop until you reach the end 140 pages later. Ah, the ending -- there's the rub. The ending isn't. There's no closure, no resolution. In the forward, it's stated that Kluge may or may not do a sequel. But if she wasn't sure there would ever be any more, she shouldn't have left the story so completely up in the air. What happens with Data and Tasha's relationship and the obstacles they face? What about that dangerous problem with Data's off-switch? And far from being illuminating, the epilogue is a cryptical piece that has no connection at all with the body of the story. Kluge and Swanson are cheating their readers if they don't provide a conclusion to the story. Bight now, PULSE is an unfinished masterpiece. There should be a second volume, and the two zines should be offered as a set.

But for now, don't miss out on PULSE OF THE MACHINE -- the most exciting thing to happen to Data for a long time. [11]

2000

"Pulse of the Machine" by Jean Kluge and illustrated by Jean and Marty Siegriest is my all-time favourite TNG fan novel EVER. Sure, it's 1st season, and bears little resemblance to the canon by the time you reach 7th season, but who cares? [12]

2016

This zine falls into what I call the "Zine Under Glass" category, because it's such a beautiful zine it deserves to be preserved for posterity. Damned fine story too (Data/Tasha), which is not surprising given Jean's talent for nailing characterizations, perfect ear for capturing character voices, and ability to satisfyingly develop the seeds of a relationship left unexplored in the series. [13]

Unknown Date

Normally I don't read fanfic about characters for which I have only a superficial liking. This zine was the exception. Granted, it is a Tasha-Data zine and Tasha Yar and Data are two of the characters from the first year that I liked the least It was not the actors portrayals of the roles, but rather the scripts themselves. Tasha was written as being undisciplined, anal retentive, never calm under pressure. Data's had everyone in authority connected with the show deny his possession of emotions and feelings. Tasha's part kept dwindling until it was just "opening hailing frequencies"; the extent of Data's programming was unknown, and that once they said Data was an artificial lifeform, they kept hammering at it. Pulse of the Machine is everything a fanzine should therefore be. The artwork a labor of love. Good writing The characters act like they were portrayed in the show, restoring justice to the two misbegotten characters. No "Ensign Mary Sues". Ms. Kluge's writing style is as well crafted as several pros that I've read. Her plotting is well-thought-out and doesn't seem contrived nor does it seem to outlandish. And I couldn't find any loopholes, either, in any of the stories. Ms. Kluge's supporting characters show the same time and effort of craftsmanship as do her main characters. They don't seem to be an add-on. Geordi behaves just as snotily and is as affected with hoof-in-mouthitis as his television counterpart (My question is, does LeVar like basketball as much as Geordi?) Deanna and Tasha's scenes together make me angry that the scriptwriters did not include scenes with the two of them reacting together or even just chatting. There is also enough suspense in the zine to attract any avid mystery reader. The story also leaves room for a sequel or several sequels (if you're out there, Jean, hint hint...) Pulse is one continuing story with titled chapters. Or, it is several short stories with interconnecting themes and ideas. I'm not sure, although I favor the idea of the former. My favorite scene concerns Data, Tasha and several firelizards and fairies (behaving in a simliar manner to those owned by Menolly in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern books). Another enjoyable scene is how Tasha gets Data to eat ice cream. He doesn't like the color but eats it anyway, and likes it. There's a really nice Christmas party sequence as well I enjoyed. Equally important to the story is the artwork. The zine comes with several inside exquisite color plates and has a gorgeous color cover. My favorite are Data and the fairies & firelizards, and Data and asha on the holodeck surrounded by flowers. The latter was very poignant. Every page inside has the text surrounded by pen and ink borders, whose aspects are astonishing. As I said before, the artwork is a labor of love. Both Kluge and Siegrist (whom I met years ago, and she was drawing even then) have outdone themselves. (If you get the chance, find Jean Kluge's "The Quest" at a convention art show near you. I consider it her best). I can't say it enough. This is the best zine for artwork that I have seen in years. Both artists' complement each other beautifully. There is a unity about the pieces, with styles that are somewhat linear; Ms. Kluge's work reminds me of Botticelli and Byrne-Jones, with color choice reminiscent of Alma-Tadema, Maxfield Parrish and William Morris. Ms. Siegrist's work recalls Rembrandt and his use of chiaroscuro. If you can find it, get this zine. I don't think there will be another Next Generation zine this good in years. [14]

References

  1. laur’s post in the alt.startrek.creative thread Fanzines and the Internet or Economy Outside dated 8 November 1998, accessed 17 June 2012
  2. from Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #4
  3. A fan has a sneak preview of this zine, and comments on it in an issue of Where None Have Gone Before published in spring 1990
  4. from IDIC #17 (1991)
  5. from a fan in Data Entries #16, April 1992
  6. from a fan's top five zine list in Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #4
  7. from a fan's top five zine list in Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #4
  8. from the editor, in a LoC to Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #4
  9. from Electronic Male Network #8/9
  10. from Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #4
  11. from Data Entries #22
  12. June 2, 2000 comment by a fan at alt.startrek.creative
  13. comment by kslangley at What was your first fandom?, August 28, 2016
  14. from an issue of Where None Have Gone Before