S/A (Quantum Leap letterzine)

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Zine
Title: S/A
Publisher: Micrazy Press
Editor(s): Stacy D
Type: letterzine
Date(s): 1994-1995
Frequency:
Medium: print
Size: letter-sized
Fandom: Quantum Leap
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
cover issue #3

S/A is a slash Quantum Leap letterzine. It was letter-sized, stapled, and ran around 20 pages. It required an age statement to order. There were at least four issues, with a fifth in the works (and perhaps published).

From On the Double: "A letterzine for the Quantum Leap slash fan to bring this fandom together. A thought provoking quarterly discussing Sam and Al and their relationship. Filled with letters of comment, news, zine information and reviews."

Regarding the Title

From the first issue: "Micrazy is pronounced mick’-razy. The translation is “Am I Crazy”!"

Wishes for the Future!

From the first issue: "Best of luck on your letterzine. May S/A survive as long as K/S!."

From the first issue: "Quantum Leap slash fandom is just a baby fandom yet. There are so many stories that need to be written, so many ideas that need to be explored. There is a lot waiting in the wings for this fandom and I think we ain't seen nothing yet."

Doing a Good Deed, and A Thank You

From the first issue: "Writing stories is, for me, a lot easier than writing letters. And I always cringe when I read back what I've written... But I force myself, because I want to do my part, to participate in the care and nurture of this fandom. So here goes... First of all, I want to applaud Stacy for taking this important project upon herself. We need a regular, reliable forum. A place to get together and share ideas and thoughts. It's about time."

Drumming Up Interest for the First Issue

The first issue of letterzines were dependent on a bunch of interest and work up front; information had to be distributed prior to publication, as demonstrated by this LoC:

The letterzine is a wonderful idea, I can't wait to see it. The question on the flyer has been going round and round in my head ever since (guess that's what it's designed to do!), and I can't resist trying to answer it anyway.

Issue 1

S/A 1 was published in May 1994 and contains 22 pages.

  • ten LoCers (Lilly A, Stacy D, Kandy F, Jane M, Jamie Melody R, Nancy R, Leah S, Sue W, Carol Z, Astrid B)
  • An Editors Work is Never Done
  • Editors Last Word
  • Zine Listings
  • the cover photo is by Stacy D, taken at Quantum Con '93
  • TOTM:
    How old were Sam and Al when they first met? I am guessing that Sam was 25 years old and Al was 45 years old. Sfarbright is the first project that Sam an Al worked on together and it had to do with holographic images. From that, the project evolved into Project Quantum Leap. What in the series made you think Sam and Al were slashable? In the pilot episode the look of hurt in Al's eyes when it became clear to him that Sam's memory of him was gone.
From the editorial:

Welcome to the first issue of S/A! I really didn’t think that I would ever manage to get this off the ground. I am quite pleased with the effort that has been put out by those who’s submissions are in this issue. I want to thank (or is it strangle) [Leah S] for getting me into this mess in the first place. Without her foot in my backside, I might have sat on the sidelines until the end of time. I took this issue on vacation as I wanted this issue available at Media West. I managed to forget a couple of pages, so it didn’t get printed until my return. It was quite fortunate that it didn’t get printed as I received several submissions while I was gone. I hope that you like it and have suggestions and ideas to improve this effort as well as submissions to contribute to future issues. For those of you who don’t know, my name is Stacy Doyle. I have been in fandom over 10 years and I got into slash through K/S. Prior to Quantum Leap, I was never managed to write anything more than an article for my local Star Trek club. I was inspired to write Quantum Leap slash and I have a couple of stories written and published (in the Quantum Instability’s and Leapin’ Friskys 2). I have realized that the general Quantum Leap fans are a very intolerant bunch and when you mention slash, they bristle and become very indignant. I left my name off the flyer as I rather not receive hate mail in my own name from someone I don’t know- I don’t mind if the intolerant sending something to Micrazy Press, but I didn’t want any ‘Sweet Mary Jane’ to know instantly who I am. For convenience, I put the submissions in alphabetical order - the zine listings are alphabetical by press name.

Subscription prices are $2.50 per issue for the U.S. and Canada, $3.50 per issue overseas.

[Jane M]:

Like the majority of QL/ fans, I'm an Al fan first [snipped] Why are the majority of slash fans the Al fans? Probably because of Al's joyful embrace of the sexual side of human living-something Sam's Farm-Boy heroism eschews (or it did till Donald changed everything again...). Not to mention that Al talks a good Dirty Old Man, but he genuinely likes and respects women and is refreshingly direct and honest with children ("It's a game grownups play" is my favorite line in "Another Mother"- Al knowing exactly how to explain the term "sexual intercourse" to a four year old). Nothing specifically in the series triggered my slash button. Slash is not merely sexual to me-getting two good-looking guys in bed together and watching the fun—but also powerfully emotional; I've written a lot of non-explicit slash (including one story where the two men never even kiss!), writing only of the emotions shared. Nearly every tender moment Sam and Al shared in the series simply built up my mental image of the powerful love between the two men-a love that would be strong enough to express itself as a sexual relationship. I never saw lust in any of the long looks Sam and Al shared; what I saw was love-steady and white-hot with intensity-and a rapport beyond being "buddies." You can just guess how white with fury I was when Donald hastily invented Donna the Twinkie ~ not just because it's cheating to invent a wife for your protagonists 4 years into a series, but because she wasn't even interesting enough as a character to merit her being married to Sam in the first place! Nothing she and Sam said or did in their sad moment of parting could match the power of Al's sobbed "Put your head down, Sam, put your head down!" in "Shock Theater" - and any vague sympathy I felt for her fizzled and died the moment she snapped "I don't care!" when she was told Al would die if Sam didn't leap (after she'd been reminded of how many times Al had saved Sam's live). Donna was badly-written - an immature male's fantasy of what a woman is. And there's a rumor that she'd been created in haste by Donald in reaction to the slash rumors. ('Course, the Actor/Creator Finds Out About Slash is our version of the Poodle in the Microwave story-everyone swears it's happened in their fandom...) You'd think he'd at least invent an interesting wife for Sam. And you'll notice she was never mentioned again? How convenient-she his wife, and at the same time yet another disposable TV Broad of the Week for the hero to go to bed with... She's what is known as a Beard - a female character that, like a beard, is only present to prove the hero's a Real Man. (You know, like those Starsky and Hutch episodes where they spend the whole episode bleeding and crying all over each other, hugging each other and calling each other "babe" - and in the last 10 seconds they're seen dating two nameless bimbos, Beard 1 and Beard 2. "See? We're not queer, really, we're not! We're not!")

Ah well, that's a major pet peeve of mine about American TV.

[Jamie Melody R]:

I like to think of Sam maturing with Al by his side, providing guidance and insight, and a healthy anchoring to reality - and Al working through his private despair and fears with Sam's loving help. I think that would best account for the bond they share. And I've never really agreed with ol' Don's views on QL anyhow. So he created it. So what? He sure screwed it up at the end. Non-slashers may think that Sam's sacrifice to give Beth back to Al is a wonderful, sentimental ending to the show, but I think it stinks. Aside from the slash aspect - if Beth never left Al, and Al never went through all that pain and suffering, he just wouldn't be the same Al Calavicci we know and love. Much as we all may detest it, suffering is necessary for growth. Al never would have grown in the same ways without the torment of Beth's loss. And without that hemorrhaging wound in his psyche, would he ever have been motivated to form such a strong bond with Sam, as a friend or otherwise? I guess the main factor for me in Sam/Al is the extraordinary closeness and affection between them. Although it's faulty reasoning to say that this alone means that they're lovers - I have female friends who I'm affectionate with and close to, and I'm not sleeping with them! But of course, it's so much more entertaining to believe otherwise in the case of Sam and Al... There is a certain validity in the (mostly male) viewpoint that slash has no basis in fact, and that we'd slash any two males who happened to be in the same room together. I can slash just about anyone, with no provocation whatsoever! Pornography is so much fun... But then, there are some couples whose chemistry together is so perfect, you can just see the sparks fly. Sam and Al are one of those pairs. Even right non-slashers can't help but see the closeness. Which bring to mind one of my main complaints about non-slash fiction. So many of these 'straight' writers ignore the Sam-Al relationship entirely, or simply fail to do it justice. It's as if they're afraid that any attempt to show Sam and Al's closeness will bring on accusations of 'slash'. Is the QLslash paranoia really that extreme? And being fairly new to fandom in general, I must ask a question of those who have experience in other fandoms: is the anti-slash movement so strong in other fandoms, or is this paranoia and persecution unique to QL? What is this with the rumors and the fear and all the writers who'd rather die than reveal the person beneath the pseudonym? Why aren't people free to speak and write what their minds and hearts demand, without fear of reprisal? What's the big deal, anyway?

Personally, I'd feel quite comfortable defending slash to Don or Scott or Dean, should the situation arise. I happen to think that my stories, such as they are, are infinitely superior or some of the crap we saw during the show's last season. How is it that the same men who get off to women doing it together are so oblivious to the appeal to women of two men doing likewise? Sure there's the cringe factor, which is inevitable, but let's have a little fairness here...

[Nancy R]:

I'm very interested in your letterzine; I was concerned that QUANTUM LEAP slash would fade once the program ended. My interest has certainly not died down, even if my time to write has. I do have some slash in "Leapin' Friskys" due out at MediaWest.

[snipped]

The scene that changed me from a generic QL fan to a deranged slasher, was the very last scene in "8 1/2 Months." When Sam cried out in his pain during childbirth, the person he cried out to was Al. It just evoked images of Sam's complete love for and dependence on Al. When in pain, a person isn't rational enough to think about who they cry out to for help. At least I know I wasn't during labor!

[Leah S]:

I'd like to say that Quantum Slash fandom has grown rapidly since the first fanzine came out in May '92. [1] The total is currently 18, and by the two-year anniversary, the average will be close to a zine a month. I have heard someone say Qslash fans have been slow to show support for l/z forums. Don't believe it, it's just a case of transferring blame-and I don't think that's fair. I know for a fact it is UNTRUE.

[Sue W]:

As for what scenes in the show make me think of them as lovers, well - you can't really watch any episode without seeing that Al loves Sam, the way he worries about him, fears for him, the risks he takes for him and the sacrifices he makes for him; look at the way Al just accepted that Sam would break the rules to fix his own life but not Al's ~ or the way he reacted when Sam lashed out at him in Play it Again Seymour, hurt but not hitting back, still worrying about Sam's safety. They did go so far as to mention the possibility of a sexual relationship, and I suppose on TV you can't go much further - which is a shame really because I'm sure both actors could have played it well (and it would have been fun to watch - no, hush!). There are little hints and strangeness - for instance Sam is very intense in Play Ball in that scene where he says: "He reminds me of you" (to quote a line I've always remembered from the film Victim, where someone is shown a photograph of a man and the boy he's having an affair with sitting in a car; "It wouldn't mean a thing if the boy weren't crying.") Also I thought Al reacted a little oddly in Running For Honor where Sam demands that the homophobe take a good look at himself - Al seemed to be very upset about Philip, too, as if this meant more to him than met the eye.

[Carol Z]:

What scene makes you think Sam and Al are lovers? When I read my first S/A story, I thought, no this can't be true. But then as I've re-watched episodes and read more S/A fiction, I can see how it could be an alternate timeline. I think you could find indications of a possible relationship way back in the pilot. When Sam is so upset about not knowing his name, Al says "It's Beckett, Sam Beckett." Right there Al broke all the QL rules, but he did it to make Sam feel better. Then there's the dialogue in "Starcrossed," where Al says, "Don't give me that sick puppy look. I'll never scratch you behind the ears again." As the series went on there are more examples that one can extrapolate from. Of course the fact that both Sam and Al are married does pose somewhat of a problem. But the creative slash writers have found many ways around that fact.

[Astrid B]:

I like to fantasize about the possibilities of them taking that one step further into love. Not just the friendship love I've heard many American friend refer to, but also the physical love - the kind that goes with "forsaking all others." After all, it's all in the mind of the beholder; and this beholder has a mind that works that way. I can see them exchanging looks. I can hear them not say something that should have been said, l can talk myself into believing that beyond what we see on the screen, they really are lovers....

Okay, they have a (by the series' creator) recognized all surpassing friendship in the series. So if they have all of that - and obviously can't touch - why [[[slash]]? Why not stop there? Why bother to bring it beyond friendship into physical love at all? Why not keep it nice and neat the way it is and not try to push something that is beautifully platonic into homoeroticism? Why? I don't know why! But what's even better: I don't know why not. So why not?

I just know that I derive a lot of fun and pleasure from thinking about the possibilities.

Issue 2

S/A 2 was published in August 1994 and contains 17 pages.

  • there are nine LoCs: (Alexandria, Aydan, Astrid B, Stacy D, Susan G, Eileen R, Leah S, Melissa S, Carol Z)
  • the color cover photo is by Stacy D; it is either taken at Quantum Con '94 (noted on the title page) or at Creation's Quantum Leap Con 1992 (noted in the editorial: "The one day March 1st convention. I love the dreamy look on Scott's face and his rapt attnetion on Dean on the other side of the stage!")
  • TOTM: "What are your favorite outfits on Sam (name two if you name the diaper) and Al, and why? Although our ideas can change from story to story, when you first thought of Sam and Al as lovers, who do you think made the first move and why?"
[from the editor]:
I feel it is important that we know each other and can see what we have written, who we are, and where we come from. I have no objections to a pseudonym, but I hope you’d write any Qslash stories under the same name, so we can congratulate you. I have put my home address with my submission (which probably doesn’t help much).

[Aydan]:

I very much enjoyed the first issue of S/A. I wasn’t a confirmed QL slash fan but I’m willing to be convinced! Actually recently attending Media West and seeing some QL music videos brought home how intense Sam and Al’s relationship really is. Having read various comments in the l/z I watched “Play Ball” again - how could I have missed that scene in the locker room first time round? When Sam talks about his first meeting with Al he does not even look at him - he’s so choked up.... For my view, I’d say Sam was not married and gay - Sam has always loved Al but disliked the way Al couldn’t commit. In a way, perhaps Sam did the first leap because he was unhappy and desperate in his real life - helping others made him forget about himself literally. Gradually his memories come back and in a way he’s secretly glad to have Al with him. It’s a very ‘one on one’ relationship. With the danger to Sam on the leaps, Al realizes how much he really cares for Sam. Through everything I think Al would realize Sam’s feelings and feel slightly guilty he hadn‘t acknowledged them before. They love each other and now they want each other too.

[Astrid B]:

Topic: who made the first move and why. Good question! Actually I’ve got a trick-answer. I always pictured them making the first move together. When I started watching at the very beginning the fact that they were connected via brainwaves stuck in my head and never quite let go again. I just knew there was more to it than just locating Sam through Al’s connection. As soon as they opened/installed/initiated the brain wave connection, Sam and Al would be linked. They’d start reacting to each other’s feelings and moods. When one finally fell in love with the other, they’d both know and they’d both react to it by reaching out. So the first move in my first idea about them being lovers was done by: both! After all, with Sam and Al, it’s only natural.

Jane: I completely agree that a story doesn’t need sex to be severely slashy. I’ve noticed that a lot of fans (that I know) actually prefer the heavy emotional side of the relationship between the heroes. Me, I love a good sex scene, but it needs something around it. Plot, I mean. There’s gotta be a reason, or an incentive, or whatever to make that step into sexuality. A story with plot and no sex, but lots of gut wrenching emotionalizing can be a very, very good read.

[Astrid B]:

I agree with you about some non-slash fiction totally ignoring the closeness between Sam and Al. I genuinely don’t like those stories. Makes me feel I am wasting my time and a lot of money. This is why I’ve stopped buying a lot of non-slash Qleap zines. Most of them disappoint me, with the notable exception of Accelerator Accidents and Oh Boy 3. Dare to Dance the Tide was really heavy on relationship too, but there it has me frustrated because it really should have been a slash story. They even kiss and swear their eternal love for each other. C’mon, now really. We can all do that, and we can’t have them just fade out at the end in bed together? Make that final commitment! It’s only fantasy. Can’t bite back, y’know?

You posed another question, Jamie. Despite having been in fandom for most of my life, I don’t know much about the troubles happening in the different fandoms while starting on writing slash. I kinda tend to think it’s a poor attitude to take to disapprove of anyone doing anything when they’re careful not to thrust it upon unwilling parties. But that’s just me.

What I know about K/S (anybody chime in when they want to here) is that it was so bad when the first slash story was written (with no real sex in it, but only a reference to a sexual relationship), the woman who wrote it was run out of the fandom. She never returned, or at least not under the same name. [2] Not much later, K/S fandom started to take off. I don’t quite know what year to put on this anecdote, but it must‘ve been 1973 and 1979 somewhere. [3] (Definitely before my time, but my mother’s a K/S fan and I’m a fandom baby. I get told these things from time to time.)

There’s also that story about Michael Praed finding out about Robin of Sherwood slash zines at a con. I suppose a lot of you have heard this in one way or another. It seems he was at a British convention and accidentally opened up a slash zine about his character in RoS. He freaked out, until someone calmed him down and told him not to take it personally, and that it was only a fantasy story about the character on TV, not himself. The story goes that after that he was okay about it. [4]

About Starsky and Hutch: what I understand happened is that they had this long discussion back in ‘80 or ‘81 in the Torino Times letterzine and it was called the “Do they or don’t they” discussion. That was also before my time, so I’m not sure, but what I gather is that it all went about rather peacefully and they just split up in the end, leaving it basically undecided.[5] I’ve got a S/H novel from ‘82 I think, in which they wrote in the editorial (I’m doing this from memory...): “We don’t know if they do or if they don’t. Maybe they don’t. But if they did, this might be the way it went....” I thought that was rather elegant. [6]

[Susan G]:

I feel a little like Alice, who stumbled through a rather innocuous looking door to find Wonderland. I didn’t have a clue about QL while it was on in prime time; I had just been accepted into law school and was living most nights in the library.; In fact, it was slash fiction that introduced me to QL -- I read a story in a “multi-media” zine (I think it was Dyad), and tuned in what turned out to be the final episode. (Ain’t that a kick in the butt?!) Then I found out the show was on late night on USA. And just about the time I realized I was addicted, I got an unsolicited flyer in the mail from Bill Hupe advertising a zine called Living Year to Year.

I’m sorry to read that most QL fans are so homophobic. I’m a very “out” lesbian, and as one of the writers in the first issue of S/A said, Quite frankly, I expected more from fans who claim to identify with QL. If they can’t find it in their hearts to celebrate diversity of the human spirit, I expected at least tolerance. But it sounds like even that is too much to ask. I’ve been reading slash for a long time, in a lot of different fandoms. Perhaps because of my sexuality, but more likely because of my politics, I tend to read slash rather critically -- I dislike stories that try to avoid the issue of Sam and Al (or Kirk and Spock, Illya and Napoleon, etc., etc.) being gay or bisexual (the old “he’s the only man I lust after” bullshit), or that portray gay sex as inherently violent (some slash writers come dangerously close to rape on a regular basis -- something I have trouble with as a queer and a feminist -- we have sex with our partners to make them feel good, not cause them pain!). I think that’s one of the reasons I’m particularly drawn to QL slash -- most of what I’ve read (and if Leah’s count of 18 zines is correct, I’ve read at least 2/3) portrays a very tender, loving relationship between two strong, intelligent men trying very hard to find a path through their doubts and insecurities to each other. Doubts and insecurities which do not (generally) include concerns that they are deviant or perverse, but rather the kinds of concerns all of us have in approaching a special relationship with another human being, for example, Al’s concerns about his ability to have a lasting relationship with anyone. There is sometimes fear of rejection by the other for their sexuality, but always joy in discovering the depth of their feeling for the other man. I was not surprised to read there is a rumor that dear old Don invented Donna (Don? Donna? Hmmm ...) in reaction to rumors about QL slash contingency. I think Don’s homophobia came out in “Running For Honor.” If it didn’t matter whether Tommy was gay or not, why couldn’t he just be gay? Why was Sam so insistent on absolute, definitive proof of Tommy’s sexuality (as if there is such a thing)? Where were all those famous Beckett hunches? And why was Al portrayed as so fucking homophobic!!? (It seems to me after the incredibly diverse life Al has led he would be totally accepting of the human condition. Besides, do any of us really believe Al lived through the fuck-anything-with-an-orifice 1960’s without having sex with a man??) Do you know how exciting it was to see QL finally exploring gay issues, only to be bitterly disappointed by the bullshit liberal “we’re all the same” attitude? We’re not all the same, some of us are queer and of course it matters -- it’s who we are!!

Soapboxes. That’s a problem of mine. Just tell me to shut up.

[Eileen R]:

When did I first think they were slashable? I’ve slashed the Skipper and Gilligan--this is no harder, trust me. It’s amusing, because I’m watching QL on the Sci-Fi Channel as it runs from the beginning, and on the aired episodes they are really straight. But then, as Leah’s pointed out to me, QL is the one show that not only permits but is predicated upon alternate universes, including alternate histories of its own main characters, so why the heck not?... Anti-slash feeling in QL is the strongest that I’ve seen in any fandom. Why? Luck of the draw, I think. The first very vocal, very active fans were anti-slash and set the tone. Ignore them.

[Leah S]:

Jane: You are by no means the only one who feels like an outsider. I don’t attend any of the fan-run QL cons. If I’m not wanted somewhere, then I don’t want to be there. It’s sad that we have to feel like this, especially when we should all be on the same side--pulling together to keep QL alive. I’d like to be more involved in general QL fandom, but I’m afraid I’m too much of a liberal to tolerate pretending. I’ve never been in the closet--I’m too obnoxiously outspoken. I don’t go looking for trouble though, so I leave them alone and expect that they leave me alone.

It’s interesting that a homophobic ladies’ man should grab the majority of us so strongly, while in the straight fiction, Al’s largely overlooked. Probably because we’re used to digging deeper into the personalities in order to ‘see’ the slash aspects, while the straight fans take things on face value. Al’s not what he seems. It was Al’s obsessive devotion to Sam that first attracted me to him.

[snipped]

I give everyone the benefit of the doubt and don’t believe any rumors unless I hear them from the horse’s mouth, but I have no doubt sometimes things are done to discourage slash. The funny thing is, most of the time those very things only serve to make it more obvious (for instance, what male would have believed we’d slash Blake with Avon, a man who supposedly hated him--and killed him! Yet it’s obvious, because of that, isn’t it?). In response to an issue Jamie brought up, I was wondering how many besides me can’t bare to look at that picture of Al with his ‘family’? Donna I can deal with just fine. Beth is a real nasty, forcing us to erase innocent children from existence or act as home-wreckers. I resent that, even though I see the absolute love and devotion in Sam to make his sacrifice. I love Al almost as much as Sam does, I want him to be happy. I can’t stand seeing him in pain. But I also know that it’s the hard times that make us strong. A difficult lesson in life.

Nancy: I think Qslash will only grow larger now that the show is off and some of the paranoia has died down. I’m very sorry to hear that your time to write has died down, though!

Issue 3

S/A 3 was published in the Fall of 1994 (was meant to come out in October, but that turned into December) and contains 22 pages.

  • LoCs from 9 fans (Alexandria, Stacy D, Susan G, Jane M, Eileen R, J.D. R, Leah S. Carol Z, Mystery F)
cover issue #3
  • editorial
  • 1994 Stiffie Award Winners, 1995 Stiffie Award Nomination
  • ads and cons
  • TOTM: "Sam the boy scout, Al the leech [lech], are they or aren't they? What changes do you 'see' in Sam or Al's personality due to Donna or Beth?"
[regarding the cover]:
I hope you all liked the color cover. The cover of the current issue is Scott Bakula’s backside. At Quantum Con 94 (the fan con for $30 that didn’t list a major guest in the flyer) both Scott and Dean showed up - which made everyone extremely happy. The story behind (no pun intended) the picture is Scott went to answer a question at one side of the stage and his mike cord dragged in front of Dean. Dean stepped on it and Scott stopped short when he ran out of cord. Scott posed so nicely, with his posterior to the audience, and glared at Dean (suddenly the room was alight with flash bulbs!). With the 200 zoom lens and the extender and Scott only about 10 feet away, I slipped the lens back to the widest view I could get, focused and snapped.
[Susan G]:

I love it! Slash, the Next Generation. I was a little young at the time too, but I remember the K/S debates. You would’ve thought slashers were the second coming of the antichrist for god’s sake, fit only for the nth level of hell. Now we’re just the black sheep -- nobody talks to us, but they can’t keep us out of the family reunions either.

As for your question, I think Dean Stockwell would get a kick (or at least a good laugh) out of slash. He’s always been a little on the wild side in his career, and I can’t imagine him being offended by this new interpretation of his character. Scott Bakula’s harder call for me, because I quite honestly never heard of the guy before QL. I remember a question though, in Louis Chumovic’s The Quantum Leap Book, during the interview with S.B., about whether there was something about the character Sam that he knew, but the audience didn’t. S.B. said something to the effect that yes there was, but he wasn’t telling. Wouldn’t it be interesting if that little something was Sam Beckett’s passion for his best friend, the admiral . . . ?

[Leah S]:

Ah, the old "he's the only man I lust after" debate. I've always wanted to express my opinion on the subject. While it's true I don't like stories that harp on the "I'm not gay!" issue, I also prefer the ones where they've never been with another man before. However, I assure you it has nothing whatsoever to do with any form of latent prejudice or ignorance. The simple fact is, I find the "pain of sweet surrender" isn't as sweet if that person had slept with men for years. When there are obstacles to overcomes it enhances the intensity of the relationship. I love stories that defy convention (and I consider gay just as conventional as straight). I prefer the off-beat love stories, like "Two Mules For Sister Sara," a movie where Clint Eastwood was fighting his feelings for Shirley MacLaine because he thought she was a nun (she was actually a hooker in disguise). Two gay guys falling in love is just too ordinary for me. When the character is fighting his feelings, the final surrender is more intense.

[Jane M]:

Good to see so many brave S/A fans out there, scattered to the four corners of the globe and achingly grateful to find other people whit whom to talk QL slash.

I went from K/S to multi-media / in early 1991 (at the first Escapade), and thus discovered the concept of slash. So I discovered S/A about the same time I discovered a lot of other guys. As for the “Sam the Boyscout, Al the lech” (I believe you meant to call him a “lech,” as in “lecher,” and not “leech,” as in “Limbaugh”): I’d say that Sam really is that earnest farm-kid at heart, as a rock-solid basis for his values and his morality (both word, unfortunately, have been turned into ugly code-words for religious fascism by supremely un-Christian Christians). I just assumed that Sam’s code of honor was the reason he didn’t sleep with the girl in every episode. Of course, that’s usually the sign that Our Hero is gay, and Sam could very well be gay, and fighting it as something he’s been taught to loathe from his Middle-American upbringing. (The only possible reason I could see him marrying that bland, boring Donna creature would be to prove to himself and his family that he’s “normal” in at least one respect.) Still, I found it very refreshing to have a single male TV hero, ostensibly straight, that didn’t feel honor-bound to ball every female to prove his masculinity. Then along came Season Four - but more on that later.

But Al is no lech. As I said in S/A #1, Al talks a good dirty-old-man, but his genuine respect for women keeps showing through despite all the yarns about his wives, Tina, and his many girlfriends (and who can say how many of those were made up by Al to give Sam a bit of comic relief, or to replace his depression with good healthy disgust at Al’s lasciviousness?). Lechers use women, and I can’t picture Al sleeping with anything but a 100% consensual partner who knows what she’s in for with him - a good time but no commitment. Is he promiscuous? Most likely; Al enjoys sex, and he loves women as a gender. But given his taste for every 70’s fad that came along, he’s probably had group sex and gay sex too, despite that extremely out-of-character homophobia coming from his mouth in “Running for Honor.”

[Susan G]:

[Obviously it’s a little hard to make a slash relationship fit neatly into a heterosexual television series, but I also reject the idea that Al and Sam, if they admitted their love to each other, would nonetheless agree to continue screwing around with others until Sam came home. I still can’t figure out why some slash writers keep Al in a relationship with Tina while he waits for Sammy to leap home, and I really can’t imagine Sam taking it in stride. I admit, he’s been amused when Al cheated on Tina, but I think he’d be furious if Al was cheating on him. And I think Sam would stop getting laid on leaps, unless it was necessary to leap, because his commitment would be to Al. But then again, I don’t buy into the idea that men can’t control their sexual impulses, or that once they’re used to getting laid regularly, they can’t stop...

[snipped]

That second question is tougher. Every time I imagine Sam or Al in a relationship with Donna or Beth, I’m usually concentrating on haw to get them out of it. I guess in a way, I’ve already answered the question about Al in my comments to Leah. I don’t imagine Al changing a great deal, because I think to him “real life” is still twenty years without Beth. Adapting to suddenly finding Beth in his life would probably soften up the edges a bit; I think a family would give him more stability. I think he would realize that the dream of Beth he’s been clinging to all these years is just that, a dream, but there would still be a kind of love between them, and I think Al would be absolutely committed to his daughters. I think he would take his responsibility to that family very seriously, which might make for some interesting conflicts, if his daughters, or Beth, needed him at the same time Sam did. Given his comments about family, however (for example, in “The Leap Home,” when he says he would give anything to be with his father and sister again), I don’t think Al would feel anything but blessed if he were given the chance to experience this family, regardless of the difficulties it might create.

On the other hand, I think Sam would definitely discover that everything he thought he wanted with Donna was a fairy tale, that he doesn’t want the beautiful wife and the picket fence. He wants Al, warts and all, and the infinite possibilities that life with him offers.

[Carol Z]:

I think it is great that there is a forum where people can express their thoughts and feelings about the subject of Sam and Al. I was very upset to read that there are such vehement anti-slash feelings in the general QL fandom. I guess I've been lucky so far not to meet any of those people.

[J.D. R]:

Funny, like the someone in S/A 2, I have never written about a TV show like this, and certainly never had any desire to write a fan story - I just never became so attached to any characters as I did Sam & Al, I don’t know if it was great writing or great actors (probably both). You can almost over look the very many bloopers and inconsistencies (put Donna in whichever category you want - don’t worry. I took care of her, but I was nice about it.)

[Jane]:

I really think Don was getting antsy about proving that Sam and Al were Real Men (read Straight Men). There’s nothing more dangerous to the image of the Rugged Individual Beer-Drinking Girl-Balling Macho He- Man Her so beloved by the American TV than emotional openness and tenderness. So he invented Donna the Faithful Wifey waiting at home for Her Man, and the show devolved from then on into misogynistic and homophobic pabulum. It was either variations on Sam Must Save the Broad of the Week from the Best Friend of the Guy He’s Leaped Into (and Get to Screw the BotW), or generic American-TV episodes that every show has done (the Evil Twin story, the Heartwarming Christmas Carol/It’s a Wonderful Live-Clone stories, the Woman-Having-a-Baby, etc). When Donna began cheerfully breaking every rigid rule of quantum- leaping to suit the current episode, all credibility and suspension of disbelief went too. Where there is no consistency, there is no story. Women are pretty much male fantasies from “Leap Back” onward; they are there to bonk the hero and breed like sows. Look at that ghastly Brooke Shields-Gilligan’s Island episode; every woman I know just dreams of being stranded on an island with no water or proper food for 10 years, and have five kids without the aid of a doctor and not so much as an aspirin for pain relief. I won’t even go into “Trinity.” (Trilogy?) Homophobia is all but ordained in American TV because of cowardly sponsors. Remember, if you don’t show gays as pathetic monsters getting beaten with tire irons, you are actively “promoting the homosexual lifestyle,” according to the brainless humorless prigs who call themselves Christians and who lead most of the boycotts of commercial programs that dare to show gays as fellow human beings. So Al had to be homophobic, even though it was out of character for him - if he’d said something dangerous and radical like “I knew some Navy guys that were gay; they were terrific pilots,” that show would never have been aired-and you’ll notice that Religious Reich still made sure that it never got rerun, because it was still too liberal for their tastes.

[Eileen R]:

My understanding of K/S is that the first slash story, "Desert Heat," by [Gayle F], came out around about 76? and was an immediate hit, (with me at least) starting slash going all by itself. There was a novel (don't remember if it was before or after; have to check my sources) where the rumor that Kirk and Spock were lovers set off repercussions in Starfleet and wrecked both their careers; the novel was both very dark and very controversial, but not really slash. The rumor was the focus, not their relationship. (ed. note: I think the zine was originally “The Rack” and subsequent little stories have been added and the zine is now “The Complete Rack”. I own it. I’ve read it once. Once was enough.)

[Jane M]:

Alas, I find myself drifting further and further away from all forms of QL fandom. The reasons are several. a) I have many other fandoms to read and write in - not to mention trying to write my own professional stories for sf/fantasy magazines; b) I don’t have cable, which precludes me watching or taping the reruns on the USA network; and c) the erratic downward spiral of the series beginning with the fourth season opener (Hey, Donna, leap this!). Of them all, I’m afraid c) is the main reason.... I didn’t watch most of the last season, and I don’t think I missed a thing. I won’t take the Evil Leaper seriously, nor can I accept Donna as a real character when both are such patently artificial male images of women (The Madonna and the Witch).

I still love to talk about slash, though, so I’ll try to keep contributing to S/A. I think QL slash nay be the last bastion of the true depth of love and commitment that Sam and Al feel for each other, sexual or not.

And there are other possibilities for QL slash besides Sam and Al. I did have an idea for a story that begins with Sam returning home, and he and Al going back to his place in triumph for a party, only to catch Donna in bed with Tina... Let’s see, you can also do Al/Gushie, Donna/Verbena, Gushie/Ziggy (you know how computer guys feel about their machines - and here’s this masculine computer with a feminine voice). Even Sam/Elvis (if, say he leaped into Priscilla Presley)!

Issue 4

S/A 4 was published in February 1995 and contains 16 pages.

  • there are 12 LoCers (Alexandria, J.D. R, Astrid B, Aydan, Stacy Doyle, Gena D/L.A. D, Holly G, Eileen R, Leah S, Melissa S, Carol Z)
  • TOTM: "What episode(s) or event(s) [other than the ‘existence’ of Donna or Beth, which we all try to ignore] do you discard, ignore or wish never occurred, and why."
[from the editor]:
This is very late. It’s my fault, all my fault, only my fault. I now have a new computer with a color scanner and a color printer - which is how the color covers will be produced from now on. Because I have a color scanner, I would like everyone to send their submissions on standard white paper - not stationary with borders or pictures - as the scanner trys for a long time to translate the photo to words. If you are sending a cover letter or other correspondence I am available on-line through America On line and my address’ are [redacted]. I might be getting into the internet too, but it looks a little scary and confusing.

[Alexandria]:

As for Beth and Donna, I would tend to agree with what Scott said about Donna at last year’s convention. She has sparked so much discussion, theories, and the need to write her out of things that I wouldn’t want to ignore her. If everything was so nice and neat we wouldn’t need to write stories or have letterzines to discuss things like Beth and Donna. Though I will admit that it’s hard to explain the daughters at the end of MI. While we can write away Beth, not many have the heart to write off the lives of four girls we were told Al has. In that case it is best to ignore them.

[L.A. D/Gena D]:

I’m going to try and keep this down to a minimum, but there’s plenty of catching up to do -- in many ways, First of all, before I sat down and started to write this, I had to figure out how I was going to handle a certain situation. I finally figured it out. It’s really strange how many people use other names to write slash fiction because of fears of others -- particularly jobs -- discovering they write this stuff, while I’m about to do the opposite. Let me explain. The name everyone knows me as and I write under is so because that’s the name I prefer and have been using it for years before I started to write slash. So it was only natural for me to use that name in fan fiction. However, since I’ve never gotten around to legally changing it, I’m employed by another name. Now suddenly I feel as if I’m hiding behind something, so I’m coming clean here. I’m employed as [L.A. D], but everyone at work calls me Gena. A few of them have even read a couple of my stories and got a kick out of discovering that females can be just as bad as males (right, the ones who read it are males).

Also since I’ve included my address should anyone decide to write to me, they’ll need the right name to assure it gets into my mailbox... I do not want to feel as if I’m hiding behind a fake name just because I’m in the Navy and I’m into slash, especially a fandom where one of the characters happen to be an Admiral. I receive slash zines and letters discussing Sam/Al which arrive right in my work center. I remember when the first zine came in and my supervisor tossed it to me. As I mentioned before, some of the guys even read some of my stuff. They couldn’t believe their quiet, shy Airman actually turned out to be such a pervert! All in compliments, of course. They also want to seek out the female/female stuff. Oh boy!

Looking forward to the next issue and hope to see whoever of you planning to attend LeapCon. This letter is a bit long, but three issues did go by.

[J.D. R]:

I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, HATE!!! “Trilogy”. If there was one thing I wished had never happened on QL more than Donna, more than Al and Beth and their four daughters, more than Sam never gong home, I would abolish the existence of Sammy-Jo and Abigail. It was very disturbing to see Sam’s overworked hormones dictating his action towards a female who, one leap earlier had been his daughter! It was totally unnatural and beyond any realm of good-taste, especially for such a classy show. Then, even worse, (I guess) is in the next segment, there’s no feelings at all for this woman. Just what were the writers trying to say, that females are good for breeding purposes then, poof!

[Holly G]:

Desperate to fill the need for more Sam and Al stories, I took a chance and ordered a few zines “blind” through a publisher whom I had previously bought some ST:TNG zines. One of the zines I chose was Leapin’ Friskys #1 - mostly out of curiosity. I read it, I loved it...and the rest, as they say, is history. As of today, my slash zines outnumber the straight ones! Never in a million years would I have guessed that I’d be talking about slash in a forum like this with fellow fans - but the whole concept of the Sam/Al relationship as it was presented on QL lends itself to that assumption quite easily - more easily for me than Kirk/Spock, for example. While I’ve enjoyed seeing what new directions slash writers have taken our heroes to, there are some things that I myself just can’t accept. Given what we already know about them, the idea of Sam and Al as flamboyantly gay couple, decked out in full drag and marching down Castro Street or dancing cheek-to-cheek in a leather bar, is just a bit too ridiculous for me. Instead, I choose to view Sam Beckett and Al Calavicci as two relatively “straight” friends, who against all likelihood forged an intense emotional and spiritual bond through years of shared crises and close companionship - and that somewhere along the line circumstances arose that gave them cause to go beyond the platonic into the physical, becoming lovers in the truest sense of the work. However, if the relationship were to sour, I imagine them seeking out a woman for solace, rather than another man. In other words, it’s not the idea of sex with a man that draws them in, but sex with a friend - something I’m sure all of us wishes our partners to be.

[J.D. R]:

...the address list [of S/A members] sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, I have to pass at the present time. I still live with my mum and pop, and they would (excuse my French) shit little green apples if they knew what I was typing in my room. I am in the process of looking into a post office box, (which may come in handy if I continue writing fan stories)--I’ll let you know if anything develops.

Issue 5

S/A 5 MAY have been published in April 1995. And it may not have been published at all.

References

  1. This may be Quantum Fire.
  2. Gerry Downes was not "run out of fandom," though she did experience a lot of conflict, and did not write fanfic anymore.
  3. Roughly, 1976.
  4. This is a fandom myth, as Kip Carpenter (Robin of Sherwood's creator) was NEVER okay with slash, something that had a major chilling effect on that fandom. For more on this topic, see RoS Fandom and Slash.
  5. This was not the Torino Times, but instead S and H, and while there was A LOT of discussion of this topic, there was nothing peaceful about it!
  6. Forever Autumn's preface is "There is no intention to shock or upset in this story. We've put together one version of events after Kira, as we would have liked it to happen. We can't help it if we're crazy like that! All the 'do they, don't they' arguments can be found in the pages of the S&H letterzine. This is our way of saying, 'Maybe they don't, but it would be nice if they did... and this is how it might happen."