The Complete Rack

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Zine
Title: The Complete Rack
Publisher: Nancy Kippax & Beverly Volker
Editor(s): Harmony Press
Date(s): July 1980, July 1984 (second edition)
Series?:
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links:
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The Complete Rack is a 166-page gen Star Trek: TOS anthology. Art by Alice Jones, Merle Decker, Pat Stall, Stephanie Hawks, Vin Bowman, and Linda White. Art has been included on Fanlore with the permission of the publisher's heirs.

front cover of first edition, July 1980
front cover of the second edition, July 1984, artist is TACS
first page of "The Rack"
Summary from a distributor, Lionheart Distribution:
Controversial classic Star Trek novel, with accompanying letters, poems, songs. Illustrated by Carole Swoboda. Includes The Rack and All the King’s Horses, All the King’s Men by J. Emily Vance. Additional material by: April Valentine and Bev Volker. Includes an explanation of the story, and the responses to it. Art by Pat Stall, Stephanie Hawks, Vin Bowman. These stories are not about the right or wrong of homosexuality, but about rumors, false accusation, choices, and perceptions. Kirk and Spock are at the center of these accusations, and the consequences are far reaching and deadly. This book represents a whole section of Star Trek fandom history.

The Zine's Dedication

"For those who suffered through THE RACK and ALL THE KING'S HORSES, ALL THE KING'S MEN the first time... and came back for more; for friends and lovers everywhere..."

From the Editorial in the Zine's Second Edition: Some Explanations

It's been seven years since we first published THE RACK. It's been four years since we published THE COMPLETE RACK. A lot has happened in that time. We now have three movies to add to our adventure. There have been many varied changes in fandom and in fan fiction themes.

Still, THE RACK remains as popular...and as controversial...today as it did in 1977. Not a week goes by that we don't receive at least two or three letters about it: "...I borrowed a friend's copy of CONTACT 4 and read THE RACK and want to say..." , "...heard about a story called THE RACK. How can I get a copy?...", "...read THE RACK, where can I get the sequel?..." ...saw an old copy of Enterprise Incidents #6 and must read THE RACK...", on and on. Why?

In this issue, because of the number of requests to do so, because of the continued interest, we will present, under one cover, THE RACK and ALL THE KING'S HORSES, ALL THE KING'S MEN. Yet we wanted this to be more than just a reprint of the stories. We wanted to include some of the phenomena of THE RACK and also attempt to consider and speculate a little about why the stories had such an impact on fandom. We'd also welcome your thoughts on the subject once you have read the 'zine.

The stories had to be written. The subject is pertinent not only to fandom and fan fiction, but to today's society. And the subject is multi-layered. On the surface, it asks, "What could happen if...Kirk and Spock were rumored to be homosexual lovers and Starfleet found out and saw it as a threat to their capabilities as Captain and First Officer of the Enterprise. ... And what if the rumors were not true." That's the surface.

Yet THE RACK is more than that simple plot. It makes us look at ourselves and without moralizing or passing judgment,, examine how we feel about certain things. What happens in THE RACK and its sequel is tragic. It attempts to show the danger of rumor - whatever the reason, of bigotry and personal prejudices, especially if they occur in places of authority. It examines what can happen when too much imagination and speculation lead to misinterpretation of innocent motives, and it shows the frustration of being the victim, unable to disprove false accusations or convince even acquaintances of their absurdity.

The stories had to be brutally realistic. They could not portray James Kirk and Spock and McCoy as larger-than-life heroes, no matter how much we may want them to be just that in our fantasies. For this purpose, they had to be real people - with weaknesses, vulnerabilities, capable of making the wrong decisions, capable of succumbing to extreme pressure. They had to be characters with whom the reader could identify, could feel the pressures, share the uncertainties, empathize with being in their places and then understand and be affected by the injustice and horror of the situation. We had to know what it is like to be the victim before we could ever begin to wonder if we, in even the slightest way, might be guilty of being the accuser.

For the purpose of this story, we could not have a happily-ever-after ending. Life seldom does, and if it is accomplished, then we count ourselves fortunate. It is not meant to entertain, but to make us thoughtful. The authors had some things to say and what better way than through fiction? If the stories touch you, make you react with some strong emotion - grief, anger, fear, frustration - then our purpose is accomplished. If they also perhaps make you a little more sensitive to situations in the future, then we have accomplished that purpose, too. Later on in the 'zine we will examine some of the reactions of readers.

We considered writing a prequel, revealing how the rumors got started, but when we checked Starfleet records, we found that eighteen minutes of tape were missing from Admiral Lewis' files. However, our informant has confided to us...but we'll never tell. Like so many things in real life, it is one of the things we'll never know -- how or why or who -- and maybe in the long run, it doesn't really matter.

Like most projects, the writing of THE RACK and ALL THE KING'S HORSES had its lighter side. Amidst all the gloom and doom and tragedy we often needed a little comic relief to stabilize our equilibrium, to put the universe back in its proper perspective. We are, believe it or not, essentially optimists, and we like 'happy' as well as anyone. Included in this issue is are counting of some of the misadventures of working as a conglomerate of three. It may help you understand our feelings about writing this story.

After it was all over, after both stories had been written and published, after the reactions and repercussions had begun, after we were cited as the authors of 'the-story-you-most-love-to- hate,' a little bit of mischief, vindictiveness and true irony began to creep into our souls.

We wrote OH, GOD, a fantasy, Vance-style. We wrote it for pure devilment,, to share with our friends, a grand hoax. We share it now for the first time, with you. Do not take it seriously. It is not meant to be part of THE RACK or ALL THE KING'S HORSES. We believe very strongly in the reason for those stories. OH, GOD is just for fun.

From the Editorial in the Zine's Second Edition: Some Differences in the Editions/Stories, and Some Thank Yous

Recently, in preparing for publishing this issue, we re-read and revised both stories, but they are essentially the same as the originals. We feel just as strongly about them now as we did seven years ago. We think you will, too....

One last item - an editors' page would not be complete without a list of thank-yous. The following people came through, despite what they might personally want to do to 'J. Emily Vance', to help us make this issue possible. In the original publications, Alice Jones and Pat Stall illustrated THE RACK and ALL THE KING'S HORSES, respectively, and we are again pleased to include their original works. In the first printing, we expanded the art and included scenes which were not shown before. Merle Decker gave us "Lewis", because she had drawn him in NIGHTVISIONS, and "knew what he looked like." Stephanie Hawks allowed us to finally see the scenes on Vulcan and the effect of it all on McCoy. Linda White had a style that, was perfect for the mood of OH, GOV. And now, in this second printing, we welcome the artwork of Carole Swoboda, Trek Artist and friend, who designed our new cover and also finally brings Brent and Collin to life. Thank you, artists all.

Our thanks also go to Marilyn Valentine, who transcribed the music. Yes, we,uh...dosing about THE RACK. And thanks, too, to Carolyn Venino, for that very special birthday gift to Bev. Thanks to Sandy Gent, who long ago was so moved by THE RACK that she, wrote the heart-wrenching "Stones". And to Carol Frisbie and Susan James. Their gift to J. Emily Vance on the occasion of her "first birthday" is a gem.... Thanks to all the readers who felt compelled to write us their comments and to those who gave us-permission to print them. Thanks to Pat Stall, for the many long hours she spent with us during the original writing, even though she "hated it." We still appreciate it.

And last, but certainly not least, thanks to Sandy Zier, who re-typed the major stories for this second printing, despite a hectic personal schedule. For that, and for "finding our new printer-her brother, Dick- Sandy deserves our heartfelt gratitude. A J.Emily Vance story for MINDMELD, you say...?

From the Editorial in the Zine's Second Edition: A Warning and Some Advice

If this is your first reading, we offer this word of caution. Read them slowly. If you become too emotionally upset, put them down and get away from them for awhile. After you've read them through once, wait a while and when you are ready, read them a second time. Most readers find they are so emotionally caught up in what's happening that they miss many of the finer points of the stories.... At the end of an editorial we usually say, "now enjoy the zine." In this case, that somehow does not seem fitting. Let us just say, prepare now for an experience that we hope will in some way touch you, move you, and perhaps make you a little wiser, if indeed sadder.

Regarding the Authors' Pseud and of Collaboration

From "Who's Afraid of J. Emily Vance?":
By now, nearly everyone knows that J. Emily Vance is a pseudonym for the three of us. We blew the whistle on ourselves, publicly in February of 1978, and to many fans before that. We've been asked why we decided to use a pen name in the first place, and there are several answers. On a practical level, there was the amount of space taken by listing [April Valentine], Nancy Kippax and Beverly Volker. It seemed neater to have one name that symbolized all of us. Then, because we knew the story was going to be controversial, we felt that an 'unknown' would receive more unbiased, honest reactions, and we wanted THE RACK to stand on its own merit, without personal influence....

Working on the two stories, we found our personal styles, our thoughts and reactions meshing so acutely, anticipating each other, working with total understanding, that it almost seemed as if an invisible hand was guiding us. If you've ever collaborated on a story, you know how difficult it can be to get tuo people interwoven - and we were pushing three together! Yet it worked remark ably, amazingly well. We had help, you see, from J. Emily Vance.

When we finished the sequel, we laid her to rest and picked up our separate identites. But in her own, perverse manner, she wouldn't leave us alone. For several months, each of us had a problem getting anything written. It was probably the strain of writing the emotionally-charged sequel, but we began to suspect we were being haunted. The ghost of J. Emily Vance...? Oddly, when we came together to write OH, GOV! as a surprise for our friends in May, words flew out of our pens with ease for the first time in months, and we conceived and wrote the entire story in one week. We considered calling in an exorcist.

Eventually, things did return to normal and we managed to shove her back into the deeper layers ofour subconscious. With the advent of this project, we've been skipping down memory lane and we've seen evidencethat she's still with us... waiting. As a matter of fact, the three of us have come up with some new ideas that seem just perfect for J. Emily Vance...

We've been asked why we were so sadistic and cruel to write two such horrible stories. Was it fun? If you thought they were rough to read, believe us, writing them was rougher. Many nights we absolutely had to sit and watch the aired episodes, just to assure ourselves the characters were all okay, to see them alive and well and whole. The stories tore us apart, yet we believed, and still believe, that they conveyed an important message, that it was a viable theme that should be done. Besides, J. Emily Vance made us do it.

Regarding "All the King's Horses, All the King's Men"

From "Who's Afraid of J. Emily Vance?":
When we finished THE RACK and published CONTACT IV, we had no intention of doing a sequel. Although we knew what happened next - one evening, driving in the dark, discussing the final scene of THE RACK, Bev saying, about Spock, "He'll never come out of that room," and all of us, with goosebumps, knowing she was right - it was, we decided, too horrible an idea to commit to paper. Then, the responses began to come in - readers who had reacted so emotionally, writers anxious to do sequels, because they simply couldn't leave it like that. To those who checked with us for permission, we agreed, because we knew how agonizing the ending was. "But," we nodded to each other, "that's not what happened..." Tentatively at first, we began to discuss it. What happens after McCoy finds Kirk and Spock, what does he do?

Contents

  • From the Editors (1)
  • Prequel Poetry:
    • Stargazing by April Valentine (2)
    • The Unspoken by Beverly Volker (3)
    • Touches by April Valentine (4)
    • Tomorrow by April Valentine (7)
  • The Rack by J. Emily Vance (7)
  • So Constant the Change (song), words by Beverly Volker, music by Carolyn Venino (54)
  • Into the Night (poem) by Beverly Volker (55)
  • All the King's Horses, All the King's Men by J. Emily Vance (57)
  • Jonah (song) words by April Valentine, music Kathy Burns (132)
  • Who's Afraid of J. Emily Vance? (memories of a three-way collaboration) (136)
  • Harmony (song) by April Valentine (136)
  • Oh, God! by J. Emily Vance (137)
  • And The Rack Goes On, The Fannish Controversy (153)
  • Readers' Responses:
    • Stones by Sandra Gent (153)
    • A Letter by April Valentine (155)
    • In Scottish Eyes (poem) by Carolyn Venino (157)
    • Postscript by C. Frisbie and S.K. James (158)
  • LoCs (159)

Gallery of Art from the First Edition

Gallery of Art from the Second Edition

The second edition contains almost all of the art from the first, with some additions by TACS.

An Excerpt from "The Rack"

"What your feelings are about these rumors about me and Spock," Kirk persisted.
The doctor sighed. "All right, Jim - if it'll make you feel better. I'm on your side, no matter what. Yours and Spock's. There, Is that better?"
Kirk wasn't satisfied. "No. What do you mean, 'no matter what'?"
McCoy was confused by Kirk's line of questioning, but he reminded himself of the Captain's need for reassurance. "Look, what are you getting at? I said 'no matter what' as a figure of speech. You and Spock are the two closest people to me in the whole universe. I want what's best for you, whatever it takes to make you happy, and it's nobody's damn business what that is. I'm with you." He met his Captain's eyes, not understanding the pain he saw there.
Kirk spoke softly, "Bones, I have to know. You do believe Spock and me?"
"That you're not having a homosexual love affair? Of course, I'd know it, if you were." He took a long look at Kirk. "You're both too conscientious to have engaged in anything that might have jeopardized your careers, your ship..."
Kirk shook his head. "No, Bones. That's not what I meant. You do believe it's not even what we want?" Kirk was incredulous, but McCoy dismissed the question.
"What difference does it make if that's what you want or not? The point is, it's not happening and you two are being persecuted, being split up, having your lives torn apart because of it."
Kirk was becoming desperate. He had the helpless feeling that he and McCoy were speaking in two different languages. "Bones," he tried again, "I don't want to make love to Spock and he doesn't want to make love to me!" His voice was pleading to be understood....
[snipped]
In an effort to ease the tension, he came around the desk and put his arms around Kirk's shoulders. "Jim, you don't have to convince me. I told you, I'm with you and Spock," he said quietly. "I only want you to be happy, whatever that takes."
Kirk slumped, so tired. He hung his head, whispering, "Et tu, Brute?"
"What was that?" McCoy asked.
"Nothing." So, even you, my friend, do not really understand, Kirk thought sadly. And when Spock was gone.... who will?

Known Inspired Works

  • A la récherche de l'avenir, from Starbase MTL. It takes place five years after "The Rack." Spock and the OC character Val become lovers.
  • Trial by Mariann Hornlein in Nexus #1. Written with permission, an alternate version of "The Rack" by J. Emily Vance in Contact #4 in which Kirk is not dead and Spock decides to face court-martial. It details Kirk and Spock's strong determination to remain together on the Enterprise and Starfleet's equally strong drive to force them apart. Despite Starfleet's innuendo, coercion, persecution and dirty tactics, Spock and Kirk rely on each other's concern, support, love. And, despite the odds, they WIN.
  • "Stones" by Sandra Gent, in "The Complete Rack"
  • "A Letter" by April Valentine in "The Complete Rack"
  • "In Scottish Eyes" by Carolyn Verino in "The Complete Rack"
  • "Postscript" by Carol Frisbie and Susan K. James in "The Complete Rack"
  • "A Different End" by Toni Cardinal-Price. An alternative to "The Trial" which in turn is an alternative to "The Rack": Kirk & Spock really are lovers, and after the trial are now safe from invasive speculations. In (Nexus) #1

Reactions and Reviews: The Authors Comment on "The Rack" and "All the King's Horses, All the King's Men"

When THE RACK was conceived, more than seven years ago, we knew we had a controversial story idea on our hands. We expected comments -- yet we weren't quite prepared for the intensity of the groans, the screams, the tantrums (bomb threats?) that we did get! THE RACK was a story about which almost everyone in fandom had an opinion and most people lost no time in expressing themselves -- usually quite vehemently. For us, as well as for everyone else, feelings about THE RACK run strong. We've been reminded of those feelings in working on this 'zine and Bev and [April] were so inspired as to write some new poetry to go along with the existing material.

For we the writers, THE RACK was one of the first stories that "got out of hand." What be gan as a simple concept seemed to grow and grow until we were dealing with psychological con flicts and ideas that we realized must be included only after we began working on the story. The same was true of the sequel. Beginning only with a few opening scenes and the idea that we wanted to show that Kirk and Spock had not died in vain, we soon found ourselves dealing with new characters and trying to put a broken McCoy back together again. The story expanded in scope and power, from the personal story of McCoy to that of Brent Stevens and Collin Patrick, to making changes in Starfleet Command and beyond. As experienced writers know, this is often the case -- from many a simple idea, the most complex and difficult of stories can evolve. And -- the readers responded. The Loc's for CONTACT 4 came pouring in. The writer would usually begin with a few simple comments on the other stories in the 'zine, mentioning poetry and artwork they had enjoyed. At some point thereafter, there would be a sentence like, "And then, there was THE RACK." It amazed and amused us that so many correspondents began their volumnious comments about the Vance story in just that way.

The impact of THE RACK on people soon became obvious -- the story was told with such stark realism, with such a lack of romanticizing the characters, that many people missed the point of the story, missed what we were trying to say, simply because they were totally overwhelmed by the emotional impact. It seemed that when that awful last page of THE RACK was reached, when they read that last sentence and then turned the page, expecting more, only to find Bev's poignant "So Constant the Change," everything that had gone before, that had been building toward this point, paled. Why it happened no longer mattered -- what the readers cried about, complained about and told us about, at length, was what had happened. So many of the respondents took great pains to explain why Kirk would never, but never take his own life. And we could see their point -- up to a point. It is terrifying to think that one we love so much, idolize so much, could be a character who could lose a battle such as this. We are not saying in THE RACK that Kirk is a weak individual, that he had suicidal tenden cies. We do not seek to judge him. We intended to show that there are times when even the best of us, when in pain, must call a halt, must say 'enough." Kirk is not a quitter, a man who would give up, but for the given set of circumstances, the ending is anall too realistic possibility.

If it can be agreed that the real theme of THE RACK is to show the evil of rumors and the damage that can be done by false accusation, then that idea would lose its impact if we'd allowed a "happily ever after" ending. How much more horrible if Kirk, with the strength of character and conviction we know he has, could be pulled under by the weight of those accusa tions. What about us ordinary people, how would we react, with our all-too-human vulnerabilities and flaws? If Kirk could be affected so seriously, how would we respond in a similar situation? It's a scary proposition and perhaps one reason readers responded so violently.

And what of the ending? What precisely does J. Emily Vance say happened to Kirk? Many readers have cried that Kirk would not commit suicide. Is that what he did? Did James Kirk con sciously swallow those pills seeking an end to his life? "He wouldn't hurt Spock that way," some argue. Was Kirk thinking that far ahead, or was he merely in so much psychic pain that he sought only surcease and release from that agony? We do not know the moment he swallowed the pills, we are not with him during his last moments. But during the time we are with him, Kirk is a tor mented, confused man, a man who, in a moment of turmoil, could have made a fatal mistake.

Readers also comment on the fact that they believe Starfleet would not retain such pro vincial attitudes three hundred years from now. The pendulum of morality swings both ways. We may have come a long way since Victorian days, but even further since the days of Ancient Greece, and who can predict how many times the pendulum will swing between now and Star Trek's, time? Regardless of the moral climate of the twenty-third century, THE RACK is not an attempt to pass judgement on homosexuality, nor does it intend to imply that Starfleet Command would be prejudiced against those who practice it. Lewis and Whitney are but two individuals who happen to be misguided and who misuse their power. We would like to think that Starfleet is a well- regulated body, and those officials who do listen, finally, to Captain Patrick and McCoy prove that the organization does indeed try to make changes and amend its errors.

Even in the present day, Americans have been rudely awakened to the unpleasant truth that statesmen can, in reality, be less than perfect. Our system of government, our courts and con gress, though we may have grown up believing in their inherent fairness, are still only as good as the Individuals who direct them. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, the most elabo rate system of checks and balances,false accusations can be taken as fact and suspects unjustly persecuted. Kirk and Spock were not being tried on charges of homosexuality. The concern of Lewis and Whitney was that their relationship was causing interference in their duties aboard the Enterprise. It is unfortunate for Kirk and Spock - and, of course, a plot element of the story - that Lewis and Whitney become emotionally involved and do make judgements against what they believe to be Kirk and Spock's moral conduct. THE RACK does not say that a physical relationship between two men is wrong — merely that the Kirk and Spock of J. Emily Vance's universe do not want such a relationship for themselves. For those whose own personal view of Kirk and Spock differs, this is a point of contention, of course. THE RACK does show how actions and words can be interpreted to show things which aren't there, to imply feelings which do not exist. The controversy lies in the differing attitudes of those who believe Kirk and Spock are .lovers — the fictional characters in THE RACK and the real-life fans. [1]

Reactions and Reviews: The Authors Comment on Other Works Inspired by "The Rack" and "All the King's Horses, All the King's Men"

We have stated that many readers were emotionally upset by the tragedy of THE RACK. Some expressed their feelings through Letters of Comment, while others were compelled to write their own stories, poems and vignettes, ideas inspired by the heartwrenching, difficult-to-accept ending... Other stories, published elsewhere, were also inspired by our novella. Mariann Hornlein, in TRIAL (NEXUS 1), delivers an alternate ending which had its own impact on fandom. While we don't agree with her premise, we know Mariann's story did satisfy those for whom the unhappy ending of THE RACK was difficult to handle. We did request, during one of our conferences with Mariann, that she bill TRIAL as a spin off inspired by THE RACK, rather than as a sequel, so that confusion among readers would be avoided, and she agreed.

Another story was a matter of a different sort. While we don't wish to turn this column into a soapbox for airing differences, the story in question is part of the response of fandom to THE RACK and we feel it does require mention here. In 1978, a story called "A La Recherche de l'Avenir" appeared in the Canadian 'zine, STARBASE MTL. Several things bother us about this story: the premise upon which it is based, as well as the manner in which it was presented to us. Contrary to the fannish custom regarding spin-offs, the first inkling we had that such a story had been written was when the zine-ed showed it to us in print. And we were shocked and dismayed by the story itself — five years after Kirk's death, Spock, as Captain of the Avenir, takes up a love affair with Val Kaminsky. We feel that this story premise, besides being based on our own created character without our permission, undermines what we tried to say in THE RACK and the way the Kirk/Spock relationship is regarded throughout fandom.

Nevertheless, the Canadian story, Mariann Hornlein's TRIAL and the other responses printed here are all part of the overwhelming impact THE RACK seems to have had on our readers. And, in turn, that response has both overwhelmed and gratified us.

People have been compelled to analyze the story, write alternate endings for it and con tinue to request we reprint ALL THE KING'S HORSES. Working on THE RACK, its sequel and this 'zine has been a unique and important experience for us as writers. The stories have touched our lives, becoming part of us in a very personal way — we've learned a lot about people in general, fandom and the art of writing. [2]

Reactions and Reviews for "The Rack": From Fans

You're going to suffer through Vance's "The Rack", but I'm betting you'll hate every minute. The Alice Jones art will rip your heart out, but the story .... the premise is that Kirk and Spock are not lovers, but Starfleet thinks they are, and proceeds to hound them to death over it. The prose is often technically brilliant, pacing, style, all are excellent, the scene where Spock is the recipient of a heavy cruise at a party (and poor baby, he's so innocent) is easily one of the better things I've read in fanfic, and the story is consistent within itself, but as I've said elsewhere, it couldn't be like this folks. Trekfic probably needed an anti-K/S story, for balance is nothing else, and I could suspend my disbelief of this one if Kirk had at least been Kirk. But James T. is a shaper of events, he doesn't wallow behind in their wake, reacting his way along instead of taking action. In spite of this, no ... maybe because of it, Contact 4 is the zine to read this year; if you like studies of the relationship between Kirk and Spock, don't miss it. [3]
Perhaps the best known story of this type is THE RACK, by J. Emily Vance, which deals with a very controversial subject -- Kirk and Spock are accused of being homosexual lovers by Starfleet, and must deal with these charges realistically and immediately. Though these charges are not true, Kirk and Spock must attempt to convince Starfleet of their innocence, or become separated by Spock being transferred to another ship, and given a command of his own. Not to give any of the plot away, you can believe me that the tortures these two go through are more than any agony any two people should be called on to bear in a lifetime. Though there is some dissent as to whether or not Starfleet would drum up such charges, or even if they would care if Kirk and Spock were lovers, the idea itself works well within the framework given. THE RACK appears in CONTACT 4, a zine which deals with the brotherhood aspect (not physical love) of the K/S relationship. Even if K/S does not interest you in the slightest, THE RACK is one story which should be considered. The charges are trumped up by Starfleet (for god-only-knows-what-reason), and are not true. On a scale of 1 to 10, THE RACK would have to rate somewhere in the range of 15, simply due to the emotional and psychological studies we are given of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. This is one of the best written, and best illustrated stories I have ever had the privilege of reading, and I would recommend it to anyone in Star Trek fandom. The sequel to THE RACK, entitled ALL THE KING'S HORSES, ALL THE KING'S MEN is in the FARTHEST STAR, a new fanzine, and deals with the continuing tragedy as seen from McCoy's point of view. ALL THE KING'S HORSES deals more with what too much power in the hands of the wrong people can lead to, and beautifully illustrates "victory in the face of tragedy" when it is already too late for many of the people originally involved. [4]
This zine is devoted to one question: if Kirk and Spock were unjustly accused of being homosexual lovers by Starfleet? This is a good story, and would be an even better one if the characters didn't seem so out-of-focus. In the first story, "The Rack", Kirk and Spock are accused of being lovers and are tried in what amounts to little more than a kangaroo court. They are seperated, and Spock is re-assigned to a ship in another part of the galaxy. The ending is a cliffhanger which paves the way for "All the King's Horses, All the King's Men". When Kirk is found dead, from an overdose of sleeping pills (accidental? It is never determined), Spock goes into a coma from which he does not emerge. After keeping him alive artificially for several months, McCoy disconnects his life-support machinery when he is forced to realize that the situation is hopeless. McCoy then becomes a derelict (totally out of character, as far as I'm concerned) and ends up drifting from place to place. Many years later, now ill and homeless/he is given shelter by two other members of Starfleet, who remind him of Kirk and Spock. When it develops that they are having similar trouble, McCoy encourages them to fight for their rights. Eventually, the Kirk/Spock case is reopened, and they are exonerated - unfortunately, too late to do either of them any personal good. As I said before, this is a well-written zine, and would have been an excellent one if the characters had behaved the way they usually do, rather than letting events overwhelm them. A third short story, "Oh God!", and some excellent poetry and artwork round out this zine. In case anyone is interested, "J. Emily Vance" is a pseudonym for Beverly Volker, Nancy Kippax and April Valentine. [5]
...The handling of the "charge" of this ((K/S homosexuality)) between Kirk and Spock in the story THE RACK, was handled beautifully. You could see "some people" reading that into the K/S rela tionship, especially the way the evidence was presented from ship tapes and reports. All handled beautifully, but did not like the ending. Even though emotionally and physically injured, I believe that Kirk would not have committed suicide. He would have been "crushed" and found it tremendously difficult to go on without Spock, but I believe he would have - or quite possibly, taken a stand and fought. Of course an allegation like that, even if won, would hang over their heads, because there would be someone, somewhere, who would believe it and not let the thing die. Still don't believe Kirk would have committed suicide. Even if I don't agree with the ending, it was an excellent story - really got wrapped up in it. [6]
...THE RACK needed a complete rewrite to eliminate the masochist overtones. Killing of the Captain is no way to end any Star Trek story. ...It's not easy to mentally construct a sequel to those horrid endings like THE RACK'S to resurrect their victims from the dead. It's the only way to live with that kind of story. I speculated that Spock ran from the scene, resigned in a rage (even Vulcans get angry!) and disappeared temporarily, not knowing that McCoy arrived to find a spark of life in the Captain and managed to save him. The pain Kirk was in was more physical than mental, lesions on the main nerves leading to the brain causing the agony, a result of the injuries mentioned in the story. Ah, hah, the doctor permits Starfleet to believe Kirk dead and spirits their victim away. The Captain is suffering from amnesia, a result of all that has happened to him and must be retrained... The perpetrators of the rumor that so damaged him and Spock made the error of celebrating and are found out. The wrath of Starfleet falls upon them. Meanwhile the doctor has taken Kirk to Vulcan where he hopes that Sarek will be able to help. They are joined by Scott and the rest, who know that the Captain is alive but have resigned Starfleet anyway. Spock eventually arrives home.- His joy to find Kirk alive tempered by his Captain's nonrecognition of him. Starfleet meanwhile finds itself in a situation that requires men like Spock and the rest and sends a mediator to Vulcan. Suspicion that McCoy has tricked them is verified when the mediator meets the Captain face to face. What is Starfleet's reaction, will Kirk recover, will he and the others return to Starfleet?... [7]
...Who is. J. Emily Vance?... She has, in one story, written both a valid, beautiful novelette, and refuted all the K/S homosexual stories floating around. And the thing about it is, it's so true. I could see this story happen, easily. It could happen all too easily. And this gives another facet to the K/S relationship, that they still love each other in the face of whatever misunderstandings their love might bring. Oh, and that last page! What a chiller! What can I say that hasn't been said? When something is the best, how can you say it? Again, words are not enough. I wish I could see the author and tell her how good she is in person. I hope you can print more of her words...[8]
...Now to my principal bone of contention: THE RACK. It was well-written and I say "bravo" to the points raised by Starfleet about the many times both of them violated orders to save each other. Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. But Starfleet's reasoning was flawed - namely, that once they were separated, they would function with their usual efficiency. What about the reactions - the whispers, the secret smirks, the disgusted looks on the part of the crews? Those would still continue on the Enterprise with Kirk, especially since the truth about Spock's "promotion" would be whispered all over the ship within two days. No doubt, Spock's "reputation" would spread to the Avenir's crew; he'd still have that burden along with his other problems of learning to command a new ship. If crew morale and efficiency would be affected by the situation now... it would not suddenly die out with this new promotion. What if they both happened to be present at a future ceremonial function? It also says a lot of negative and stupid things about Starfleet Command. I wonder if anyone there has given any serious thought to the requirements asked of a Captain - that he can't be personally involved with anyone on the ship. Has it occurred to them that a true situation of isolation like that could eventually increase a Captain's emotional burdens to the point that he could no longer command efficiently? Then, they'd be stuck with the hassle of having to replace him with a new person who might not be as good. Big businesses today are taking a look at the "heart-attack syndrome" of top executives, and trying to combat this turnover rate with exercise programs, and counseling programs for those who need it. I wonder if it's going to take four hundred more years after the 22nd century for the upper-echelon of Starfleet Command to realize they may have to take steps other than mere isolation to deal with that dilemma that's characteristic of command - its pressures? Hope they learn something from this tragedy...[9]
...I hated J. Emily Vance for THE RACK at the same time that I was horribly fascinated and compelled to read it over and over again. What a ghastly and obscene manner in which to end - casting two pearls before swine!...[10]
...THE RACK certainly gives pause. My Horsemasters were writing a final exam and I read the story while I was monitoring it. I am sure they were wondering why I was sitting there quietly sobbing. Then ((a friend)) shattering - I mean shattered - me further by saying we are the cause of someone writing a story like that - the theme being so 'popular' (or infamous). It is easy to see only the good side of the K/S relationship and, from that viewpoint, letting the attraction slide to a physical love and see absolutely nothing wrong with it, which there isn't. And, hopefully, by the 23rd century, attitudes would have changed. Personally, in some cases, I don't think they would, I admit to circumstances where it could happen, and I don't agree with Anita Bryant... The story made me sad - and mad. A good sign of a good writer, I think...[11]
...I was a basket case after reading THE RACK. It can't be left like that!...[12]
...And THE RACK - well, I guess I've been hoping for a story that would tackle the possibility from another angle... Who is J. Emily Vance? The story was well-written and sad and very good in how it handled what might be an all-too-real possibility - my only objection is the scene where Spock got propositioned. It 's a bit too cliched and forced - partially because somehow I think that guy ought to have known a little bit about Vulcans - enough to know that if Kirk and Spock were lovers, Spock would be Vulcanly loyal to him - the very idea this guy suggests could get him clobbered!...[13]
...Speaking of THE RACK, it was a premiere piece of writing. Anyone who has ever tried to deny or ignore an ugly, false accusation...must have found it particularly harrowing. I must admit though that I don't completely agree with the ending (even though it packs a powerhouse punch right to the emotions). Despite the overwhelming circumstances and inner turmoil Kirk experiences I just can't picture him giving in to the ultimate defeat that suicide represents. (But then, I realize I am viewing it from my conception of Kirk and every fan and writer views him differently.)...[14]
...THE RACK was very interesting, and I'm happy to hear there's to be a sequel. The story did seem to be somewhat at cross purposes. It became more and more of a love story, to the point where it was essentially pointless that Kirk and Spock weren't lovers... and that Starfleet was really right - they were endangering the Enterprise because of their love for each other... their basic style as well as their friendship leading them to take some unorthodox risks... It was well-written, quite fascinating. Though I don't believe Kirk would be suicidal... HispKysical state on top of all the disillusioning claptrap from Starfleet command did make it somewhat more plausible. I did like it, despite my objections...[15]
I've just finished reading THE RACK... The feelings generated were intense and the theme very (almost too) plausible. People do tend to judge much too quickly and many times incorrectly. If there is something that someone doesn't understand, it must be wrong. It is the ^eVing that prevails. I would like to think that Starfleet would have a more advanced attitude; however, the actions portrayed tend to go along with what I feel would have been the attitude of the aired episodes. The reactions seemed perfectly written. Would imagine K/S to act in the same ways show. My only question - Wouldn't Spock have felt Kirk was really down, and had something in mind when he gave him his Captain's pin and said, "At one time, his command meant a great deal to him ? Would like to think at this point, both would realize that the friendship they shared was the truly important point - the most important part of both their lives - and would have taken the necessary actions to prolong that friendship. Even if they left the service, they could still join science foundation or some sort of like institution. After all, Kirk is an excellent command pilot and Spock an excellent science officer. I'm sure they could find an organization that would be eager to get people of their calibre. Alice Jones' illustrations were magnificent! A good graphic adds so much to the story and brings the feelings out. The last one of Spock in front of Kirk's cabin door - just staring at it, you can feel what Spock is feeling. Great!...[16]
There was something about THE RACK which made me want to never read an S.T. K/S story again. Which is, of course, why I posted my order to FARTHEST STAR for the sequel on my way to work...[17]
I didn't like The Rack, but can recognize that the writing was very good and the characterizations were superb. My only disagreement with the author was the ending. I can accept that Kirk was very hurt and suffering a severe sense of loss and was still recuperating from his wounds. Given all that, I still don°t believe that suicide was a viable option for him. If for no other reason than it would hurt the two people he loved most too much!...[18]
...Now - THE RACK. First of all, l nave to tell you that your telling me the ending didn't diminish the story for me at all. My first reading, my only reaction throughout the whole thing was...rage, I guess...sort of an "Oh, God, how could anyone do such terrible things to them!" It absolutely horrified me that 23rd century people could still react like that - which gives you some idea...of how well it's written; because not once did my mind question the reality or the validity of any of the incidents... The story consumes you with Kirk and Spock's agony and anguish, and also makes you feel a deadly rage at military organizations in general... Military bureaucrats...really are like that! And I could also see all their friends reacting that way, too - especially McCoy. If I were he, I wouldn't have known what to say either. ... K/S reactions were perfect, too - not being horrified or disgusted at what they're being accused of, not passing any moral judgment on homosexuality, or denying its validity for others, but merely being horrified at being falsely accused. Perfect! Now - the reason I will not allow myself to believe that he's really dead at the end, aside from the fact that I don't want him to be and that I don't believe Kirk would suicide, is that the story is crying for a sequel. Maybe even more than one. Also - maybe I missed it, but I don't think it was ever explained just how the rumors got started - and I'd love to know - so I could strangle whoever did it. It is so easy to destroy someone by rumor and innuendo -happens all the time right now. And I guess people won't really change all that much over the next 300 years - they haven't, in the ways that matter, over the last 300 and more... [19]
...Lord, if the future that THE RACK presents is what is in score for our galaxy - I hope that a nuclear holocaust ends it all soon!... A galaxy of bigots! When did we begin the trip backwards? In today's world, in planet Earth, the existance of homosexuality among individuals of consenting age is no longer viewed as stigma, while in ST's galaxy it will be, according to the story. Either that, or Starfleet's behavior allows only for monks - who upon entering the service avow chastity... Although the premise of endangering the ship to save a lover could have been just as true if it had been a heterosexual affair, I guess. That's why I consider the necessity for chastity as the only answer, or its converse, continued promiscuity! Anyhow, it seems more likely that Starfleet would have simply transfered Spock to the other ship because the organization must have the power to do so. Why go to all the trouble and bother when such an expedient answer was at hand? On that premise alone, the story self-destructs. [20]

References

  1. from "The Rack Goes On," printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  2. from "The Rack Goes On," printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  3. from Stardate: Unknown #4
  4. by Christopher Randolph in Enterprise Incidents #6 (1978) in The Many Faces of Fan Fiction; a portion of this was reprinted twelve years later in Trek Fan's Handbook (1990).
  5. from an undated issue of Star Trek Mail Association
  6. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  7. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  8. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  9. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  10. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  11. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  12. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  13. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  14. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  15. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  16. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  17. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  18. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  19. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"
  20. a LoC printed in the second edition of "The Complete Rack"