Reminisce With Me/GENESIS: Rebirth and New Beginings

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The following represents the fannish memories of Nancy Kippax, which she recorded on LJ in the last months of her life. Permission to archive these memories has been granted to us by April Valentine.

Jul. 7th, 2008

There was a two year wait while TPTB created a new film – two years, and longer if you were overseas, while Spock remained dead, encapsulated in the shiny black tube on the Genesis planet where he was interred. A long time for fans to agonize and to entertain all manner of scenarios that would bring our beloved Vulcan back to us. This time, rumors circulated (and were eventually confirmed) that while we might get our Spock back (although in what form we didn't know), our ship, our very soul, the Enterprise, was going to be sacrificed. Not a proposition we cheerfully accepted, so again, fans were ambivalent to a degree. How could they possibly take our beautiful Silver Lady away from us? She was as much a character as any role in the film.
"Star Trek III: The Search For Spock" was released in the USA on June 1st, 1994. If you had been in the UK, you had to wait until the end of July, and in Germany, until November! But if you had lived in France, it was an awful wait until February 1985! Oddly, the film opened in Japan at the end of June 1984, just weeks after the USA, and trumping UK by a month!
But it returned with an impressive amount of seasoned talent on board: Harve Bennett was once again Producer, as well as writing the script with Gene Roddenberry. The Director this time was none other than Leonard Nimoy, who had negotiated the job as part of his agreement to perform as Spock again. Nimoy was also an uncredited script writer, tweaking it to his satisfaction as Director. All the regulars were back, including Merritt Butrick as David Marcus-Kirk, and former series' favorites Mark Leonard as Spock's father Sarek, and a cameo by Grace Lee Whitney as Janice Rand. Guest stars included John Larroquette and Christopher Lloyd as the Klingons Maltz and Kruge, and we couldn't quite believe two actors primarily known as comedians in such a serious drama! But Nimoy thought he knew what the fans wanted in a film, and he was determined to give it to them. On a sad note, Kirstie Alley was replaced by Robin Curtis as Lt. Saavik.
In Baltimore, we prepared for the opening as we had for the earlier ones: It was party time! Our friends from Miami flew up again to share the experience, but by now it wasn't only the fans who were keyed in and welcoming a new "Star Trek" movie! Local businesses all over the country created tie-in events to lure in trade. "Trekkies" were becoming a big-money commodity. In Baltimore in what was essentially a "sports bar" in the Inner Harbor, PJ Crickets, (thank you, Mary!) a "Star Trek" night was held on the evening before the opening. They had drinks with Trek-themed names and even a wonderfully blue Romulan Ale Shooter! There was a DJ who'd spin the songs of your choice, and I remember two of our crowd went up and played a request for "Three Times A Lady" for J. Emily Vance! So clever! We all had a wonderful time – I think we had about a dozen or more of us there that night, and no one had to be carried home, that I know about! The next day, we all went en masse to see the first show in DC with our fan friends there. Seeing a ST film for the first time surrounded by friends and fans is an experience not to be taken lightly. It's the pinnacle of satisfaction and enjoyment!
Our ship did go down in a blaze of glory in a scene almost as painful as that in the reactor chamber when Spock slid slowly down that wall. No one was prepared to lose the Enterprise, and the loss was felt as keenly as that of parting with a treasured old car, if you've ever had that experience. The ignominy of finishing the journey to Vulcan in a Romulan Bird of Prey was clearly a cruel injustice. But in exchange for Kirk's ship, his son, our Admiral got his Vulcan back, his "soul", as he put it. For me, I was never really comfortable with the fact that this Spock, this "reborn" Spock, was really nothing but a clone. This wasn't the Spock who'd served with Kirk and flown through the stars for all those series' adventures. I was expected to deny reality and accept that they were one and the same, but it never set well with me. It was too far "out there" for my taste.
But Spock was back and the fans were happy, and the film was a box-office success, paving the way for more adventures!
In 1984 there were three major Star Trek fanzines being published in Baltimore, and six editors working feverishly at producing zines in those early years of the '80s. Bev and I still worked on "Contact", Martha was publishing Starsky & Hutch, and her Star Trek supernatural "Gateway" zine plus her own ST novels. Marion McChesney had begun publishing her "Vault of Tomorrow" zines. And newcomers Sandy and Michele were bringing out their first issue of "Mind Meld". Quite an inventory for one little pocket of fans!
In addition to the fanzine scene, most of us had been helping out, to one degree or another, with the Shore Leave conventions run by STAT. Some members of the Contact Crowd were STAT members and on the convention committee; others of us, like Bev and myself, just helped out wherever we were needed in an unofficial capacity. We sent out flyers for them with our zines, chaired panels, helped at registration or security. It was thanks enough that we got a good fan-run convention right in our own backyard.
So it didn't come as any great surprise when Marion approached us about holding a second annual convention. Marion had jumped into fandom with both feet and taken off running the second she arrived. An active fan for only about 3 years, Marion had become a regular at our Saturday night gatherings, published a zine, and in 1983 announced that she'd decided to bankroll a February convention in 1984. And we could all be on her committee!
It was a testimony to Marion's unique personality that there were none of us who declined her offer. And yet, at that point, none of us could have known what a pleasure it would turn out to be, to work on a committee headed up by the Divine Ms. M!
That first year, Marion and Gerri, both STAT members active on Shore Leave, were the co-chairpersons for ClipperCon. Our name was taken from one of Baltimore's historic symbols, the great white Clipper Ships that plied the trade routes. It was also, ironically, the symbol used by the Baltimore high school that Bev and I had attended. Coincidence? I think not! Bev took the important secondary position of Program Chair. I was in charge of the Dealer's Room, and other members of our group took other positions. We imported some people from STAT like George Laurence and John Vengrowski, who ran logistics and audio/visual. They would become what is known today as "Conventional Magic".
Marion sent out feelers and eventually settled on the lovely Nichele Nichols as our first guest, and we were off and running! We added Alan Asherman, long-time fan and Trek author and chronicler. He brought along a slide show sneak-peek at ST III, which was still four months from opening.
ClipperCon lasted for six years, and it was a fantastic experience. This was the something else in fandom that I'd been wanting to do. I got to meet a whole new assortment of wonderful fans and to share a really fun time with them.
Fandom itself was changing – it now encompassed a huge assortment of television shows, as Star Trek fans branched out and embraced the shows currently on the air as well as those that were extinct. And as those fans took up residence in a new camp, others joined them, coming in from outside Star Trek fandom. It seemed as if every year Trek was losing the best of its supporters, as one after another turned to a new obsession. The early- to mid-'80s shows, with virtually nothing in common with Star Trek, were both relationship and/or male/male offerings like "Riptide", "Simon & Simon", "Hardcastle & McCormick", and those with male/female leads like "Remington Steele", "Scarecrow & Mrs. King", and "Moonlighting". "Beauty and the Beast" made a big impression and rivaled Trek in many areas.
Of course it goes without saying that the male/male shows were instantly slashed by some if not all of the fans! Even the Simon brothers were incestually included. That happened to be the fandom that attracted me, although totally in a gen manner.
Those words were now put into play for all fandoms, including Star Trek. A fan story or a zine was labeled either "gen" or "slash" I'd never written Trek slash, and the second fandom I participated in seemed even more unlikely. So I stayed happily a gen author, although I was known to read slash.
I began to write "Simon & Simon, a story here and there submitted to other zines, and soon the old zine bug bit me, and I decided to do an anthology zine which I called "Bloodlines", which was an episode title. I even dragged Bev into it with me, insisting that she just had to write a story for my zine, and she did. She had begun videotaping the earlier episodes, and liked what she saw. The show was simultaneously in prime time first run and in syndication with the earliest seasons, if I remember correctly.
So, all in all, it was a time of new beginnings, of rebirth and diversification. A busy time, to be sure, for the Baltimore Bunch and for fandom in general. The '80s were fully upon us, and no one could predict where we'd go from there!