Ruth Berman & Juanita Coulson: Created Worlds

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Ruth Berman & Juanita Coulson: Created Worlds
Interviewee: Ruth Berman & Juanita Coulson
Date(s): November 1974 (discussion), February 1975 (print transcript)
Medium: panel discussion, then print
Fandom(s): Star Trek, Original Fiction
External Links:
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Ruth Berman & Juanita Coulson: Created Worlds was a panel discussion at KWestCon in 1975. The transcript of this discussion/interview was printed in Menagerie #5.

first page of transcript from "Menagerie"

The printed transcript is three pages, single-spaced, double columns.

Some topics discussed: original fiction, Wizard of Oz fiction, Star Trek, fans' original universes, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Lord of the Rings, several prominent Star Trek zines, writing, creativity, Gene Roddenberry, Harlan Ellison, and D.C. Fontana.

Some Excerpts

Juanita: Some of the people in the Star Trek field have gotten really so far afield from Roddenberry's universe, that they almost can be said to have started their own branch. To some extent Lichtenberg.

Ruth: This would be better if I knew for sure, I think the Light Universe Alternate Universe 4 - Shirley Maiewski's one shot fanzine that came out recently. It involves James Kirk taking part in the actions of a group who know the Federation but are not known to the Federation. I don't know if this group of people existed in the heads of Shirley and her friends before Star Trek came along. My impression is that Star Trek came along and it grew out of Star Trek. It's really a world of their own. They've attached it to Star Trek, but it's essentially a world of their own. That's perhaps, the kind of case you were talking about. There's no difference in creativity, it's just a matter of who you ran into first. The other world and then you built your own or you had your own and then ran into the other. D. Goldstein: Or for example. Laura Basta's Daneswoman, that whole background there was a created world. Ruth: Margaret, maybe you can tell us, did Laura create the world involved in the Daneswoman before Star Trek, or did it grow out of Star Trek? Margaret Basta: She created some of the world long before Star Trek. Ruth: I guess it is typical then. You start out with your own world, but if you're young enough when Star Trek came on the air, then Star Trek will be your world first and you'll grow out of that. I think that it's a question of age. The age you are when you run into somebody else's world that really hits you. If you don't get hit by somebody else's world until you're fifteen say then before that you'll have your own.

Juanita: It has a great deal more impact when it's visual and there are costumes and there are real people portraying the characters.
Juanita: Of the two pieces of Star Trek fiction that I have done, one was a script, there was no place for it to go, so I fictionalized it and gave it to Ruth. But the idea, the extrapolation I did was fairly typical for me. I don't want to move in the universe, if I'm not writing a script. Okay. We'll take an alternate -- what happens from this point on in "Mirror, Mirror."?

Ruth: Oh. I thought of a good example. That's Marian Bradley's story which brings in Lord of the Rings. She has a story, in which her hero, Regis Hastor, not the Regis Hastor of the science fiction books, but the Regis Hastor of Aimer Dihn, meets Strider. It's a delightful story. Juanita: The thin strong lonely heroes. Ruth: It's I think, as fascinating a story as any of the ones she's had published professionally, as delightful to read.

Juanita: They bump into each other around the campfire, in effect and exchange the "Is it this way with you?" and "Isn't it a bitch trying to solve all the ethic problems of our worlds?" We're making it sound flippant, it happens to be a story that's serious in tone. But it fits. You can imagine this with a number of others.
Juanita: Well, Marian Bradley is a single Bronte. She had a dream world, a created world, in which she could escape from certain unhappy personal situations. Her concept was a parallel world, in which the Spanish in the southwestern American continent were cut off from the Old World, And at the same time they mutated esper qualities. So you had seven elitist, aristocratic families, that dominated the region. She had maps. She had language. She had music. This is not unusual in a created world. The people, when they go into it, they really go into it. It is a total world. You worry about. What do the animals look like, what do people wear, what do they sing when they're on a drunk? What is the religion like? She went into it in total detail. Well, this is very nice, but it's not commercial. And eventually, Marian started writing commercially, and she said, "What can I do with Almaerden ((??-spelling)) that would be commercial? I can put it on an alien planet." It is a backworld of the galaxy, in which esper powers have been refined to a high and alien point. In other words, the humans that cone in contact with them never quite understand what they're dealing with. And in some cases, I don't think she does. She has made it deliberately, very convoluted, nobody can penetrate into the inner secrets, except the seven families. And it has become a very successful Darkover series.
Tom Daoust: Yeah, about Star Trek again, you can write stories involving the characters -- well the characters, by now, are predictable. You know Kirk, you know Spock, you know McCoy, but the characters that they encounter on their travels of course, are unpredictable, but yet...

Juanita: That's your department. T. Daoust: Yeah, still, but couldn't you use more room for your imagination by eliminating Star Trek. Ruth: You can and many people do. It's a question of preference, which you feel like doing at any given moment. Juanita: For some people it is an ego problem. They don't feel quite strong enough, I'm not going to start from scratch creating my own universe. But if I come in here riding on the shoulders of Kirk and Spock and McCoy, whom I feel comfortable with, they're my old friends, then I will meet all of these new characters.... Ruth: Course, it isn't only a matter that you love Star Trek's world and you want to write about the world but you love the characters -- And it's not really satisfying to write about the Star Trek world only, if you are also hung up on Mister Spock. You want to write about Mr. Spock. Predictable as he is, still you want to see what you can do with him. Or if you're Jacqueline Lichtenberg, then you can take him way off, into something far removed from the television Spock, into essentially what is an original creation of her own. She doesn't like me to say that. She says No, no, I took it all out of the television episodes. Here is the basis for this. There is the basis for this.... Nah, she made up her Spock, really. Juanita: She's not working in a vacuum either.

Margaret Basta: About Jacqueline, episodes, I think "Enemy Within" the handles and Jacqueline went, Aha, a Kraith cup, and on which is how Kirk became telepathic.