Foresmutters Project

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Archive
Name: Foresmutters Project
Date(s): 1999-present
Archivist: Mary Ellen Curtin
Founder: Mary Ellen Curtin
Type: fanfiction archive
Fandom: ST:TOS
URL: foresmutters.org (Wayback Machine copy)
OTW mirror
AO3
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Foresmutters Project is a bibliography and collection of some of the stories from the very earliest days of recorded slash, principally Kirk/Spock from the mid-1970s. The archive contains several stories by Leslie Fish including the famous "This Deadly Innocence, or The End of the Hurt/Comfort Syndrome."

When M.E. Curtin was on the verge of losing the domain name, the archive was preserved by the Open Doors project of the Organization for Transformative Works, who purchased the foresmutters.org domain name and also mirrored the project on the OTW website.

Fanworks Hosted

The Proposal

Posted May 9, 1999:

The Foresmutters Project is a disorganized effort to type in old printzine stories for posting online. We expect to

post our first item Real Soon Now. There have been some rumors floating around about it, so this is our Manifesto. We have been using our resources and influence to ensure:

a) that no story will appear online without the explicit permission of the author or hir heirs. If the author cannot be identified and located, the story won't go up.

b) that existing copyrights in works of fan fiction remain valid and that older works do not, through inadvertent omission of the proper copyright notice, pass into the public domain. In fan fiction, the copyright is almost always the author's, except in those rare instances in which the author has assigned hir copyright to the editor.

c) that no story will appear online except under a name of the author's choosing. If the author wishes to remain anonymous online, we will encourage people who recognize the story not to "out" hir.

Most of the interest in the Foresmutters Project so far has been directed toward material from the earliest days of slash -- stories in zines that are physically deteriorating. Our interest is *not* in posting stories from zines that are still in print.

Present character-reading technology is not able to cope with the low print quality of most zines. Because nothing is going up that someone isn't willing to type in, you can expect things to show up that are of historical or literary importance, but not the whole content of run-of-the-mill zines or zines that are still in print. The Foresmutters Project is by no means (theoretically) limited to K/S, but that's what people have been most interested in, so far. Mary Ellen is very interested in finding out what story is the earliest example of S/Mc (no K), but hasn't had any luck.

If there's an old zine story or poem that you love and want to save for the world, and that you're willing to do the work of typing up, contact Mary Ellen Curtin [email redacted] or Judith Gran [email redacted] Our function is to help people contact authors and to prevent duplication of effort. We will state that, at least for 1999, [Gayle F, real name redacted] does *not* wish her fanfiction or art to appear online, and we will do everything possible to see that her wish is respected.

Mary Ellen, Doctor Science, MA

Judith Gran, Dean, TSU College of Law [1]

Fan Reaction: 1999

When the "Foresmutter's Project" was first proposed, there was a flurry of comments from fans. Some of those comments, included below, were made during a six day time period in May 1999 to alt.startrek.creative [2] shortly after the first story Freedom is Standing in the Light was posted to the newsgroup. You can read it here.

This first story posted included the "header," which was apparently something that a number of fans felt very strongly about:
Title: Freedom Is Standing in the Light
Author: name withheld by author's request
Series: TOS
Part: 1/3
Rating: PG
Codes: NR (not revealed); character death; hankie alert
Summary: The mysterious city-dweller on a remote world has devoted his life and wealth to hearing travellers' tales. He rescues a young outlaw from the hills, and his quest comes to an end.

Introduction:

"Freedom is Standing in the Light" was first published in 1980 in SUN AND SHADOW, a zine dedicated to the "hurt/comfort" theme in the Kirk/Spock relationship, a theme that was very popular among "relationship" fans in the pre-slash era. Reaction to the story was overwhelmingly positive. Many many fans claimed that it was the best piece of fan fiction ever published. A review in UNIVERSAL TRANSLATOR 9 (1981) called it "gut-wrenching ...heartbreaking ... [and] unforgettable .... The lyric quality meshes with the legend-like aura of the tale."

"Freedom" is appearing online with the explicit approval of the author, who wishes to remain anonymous. Ze has stated: "I don't want e-mail. Fans have praised me generously in the past; I hope they will give their feedback to new writers who really want and need it." Comments about the story should be posted to the newsgroup. The poster asks long-time fans who recognize the story not to mention the author's name in public fora, to protect hir privacy as much as possible. </ref>

After this story was posted, fans discussed many subjects, including warnings, BNFs, the value and "burden" of history, how to preserve stories, fannish organization, antagonism towards print zines [3], and the value and use of feedback. The comments include an early use of the term squick.

The first comment was from Jungle Kitty:
<deep breath>

I am very uncomfortable with this whole thing. I freely admit that part of my discomfort is due to the less-than-pleasant experiences I've had among the citizens of the zine world. But one of the things I grew extremely sick of was having the Glorious History of K/S shoved in my face every time I turned around, which started up the minute I entered that forum.

I know Judith and Mary Ellen mean well with this, but I have to question the value of posting these stories to the NG. There is plenty of Trek fanfic on the web, and not all of it has appeared on ASC/EM. I certainly understand the value of sharing these stories, but why not do it on a webpage? You could post update notices to the group, as is frequently done by the owners of similar pages.

I think this may be contradictory to the community spirit that we enjoy here. From private convo with Doc & Judith, I know that they had to *beg* the author of "reedom Is Standing In the Light" to allow them to post it to the NG. If this person is so reluctant to participate in the NG and suspicious of what may happen here, why use up the bandwidth (esp. on ASCEM, which is limited to 50 posts a day) when the writer has no interest at all in response from the readers or in participating in the group at all? Lurking authors? A very strange concept.

The first story has just appeared on ASC and will presumably appear shortly on ASCEM. In the introduction, the author says s/he doesn't want feedback because she has been praised enough. Let the feedback back go to newer writers, who need it. What if someone has something to offer other than praise? Oh, that could never happen, because it also states in the introduction that many regard this as a finest piece of fan fiction ever. Well, I guess there's no need for feedback or discussion to that, is there?

I welcome other opinions on this, but to me, it feels like our party has just been shut down. Someone has shouted, "Shut up, sit down, and listen to this! This is IMPORTANT!" And we are politely but sternly told not to try to contact the writer, so no discussion with hir (praise or crit) is possible. What's the point? If these people want to post the stories and join in the fun, great! Welcome aboard! But this feels like we've just been given a reading assignment. I get enough of that sort of thing in real life.

If Judith and Mary Ellen really want to post these stories, they should go ahead. First Amendment, Freedom of Speech, etc. But in that same spirit, I have to voice my objection, and I hope others here will speak up, yea or nay.
Comment by UKJess:
I think JK, if I may call you that, you may be forgetting that ASC isn't a two-way conversation between reader and writer. It's also a one-way conversation between all the readers and posters too. If the writers doesn't want/need feedback, there's no reason why we, the readers, can't discuss it between ourselves.

I actually reckon it's quite helpful of the author to disclaim the need for feedback -- the story is too long written to be changed and (s)he feels that new writers need feedback more that (s)he does. So we can discuss it between ourselves without wondering whether we ought to moderate our language for fear of hurting the author's feelings....The point, surely, is that readers and other writers may enjoy reading and commenting about the story between ourselves.

It is regarded (rightly or wrongly) as a very fine story and something of a classic. Although I personally feel it is let down badly by and over-ambiguous ending, there is no denying the power of the central concept or of the language.

I'm glad I read it a few years back, it's one of those that makes one want to hang up one's word processor. Maybe other people would welcome that option too.

As for the web-page - some of us pay for local calls by the second and spending a lot of time on the web isn't healthy for our bank-balances.

From Raku:

Guess I've got somewhat similar feelings, JK, while also differing in some ways. I personally also feel overburdened with The History of K/S sometimes, and I get tired of hearing Oh that was done before by lessee some person in 1984 whom I've never heard of (tho that happens less now than it used to, dunno why). If I can't read it now (relevant zine being unavailable), and haven't been able to read it before I wrote the story, and most of my reading audience hasn't read it, how is it relevant what someone did 15 years ago or more?

But now I just ignore it on those occasions when people start on about the past, and write what I want to write, and read what I want to read. I too feel that if the author doesn't want feedback, and wants effort expended on new/young authors, the story's something of a waste of time: if we read it, we're obviously not reading something new/young, and if we discuss it, ditto. So even if we don't feed hir back, we're still taking time from the new/young.

On the other hand, there is the delete key; nobody's making me read anything.

On the other other hand, I worry in RL about issues of preservation, electronic and paper both. And I've wondered whether/how early zine stuff is being preserved, and how web stuff is being preserved (I personally own several versions of one of my stories, for example--which is the *real* one? Not even the posted ones match.)

raku, interested but likelier to read something truly new, with active web-based authors whom I can talk with

Comment by Fizzbin:

Funny, I can see your point, but at the same time I had a completely opposite reaction. I welcomed the idea of seeing some of this stuff on the NGs, though now that you mention it, rampant posting would put a strain on ASCEM.

To explain, I need to tell you little of my history as a fan. I've been a Trekker since Day One in 1966, but for most of that time I have been completely cut off from opportunities to talk with other Trekkers. So much so that I was a K/Ser for years before I even knew there were others anywhere with a similar take on the relationship. I also never had very good access to zines and, until I stumbled into ASC/EM was pretty clueless about what sort of fanfic was actually out there -- I knew it was there, I wasn't that far out of the loop, but I just didn't have an reliable opportunities to get my hands on any of it.

For all these reasons, when Mary Ellen posted the Foresmutters announcement, I was very excited to at last see some of the "history" of the genre. History is a good thing to have -- as long as folks don't start worshipping it. And I'm sorry to hear that people have been shoving the past in your face. That shouldn't happen -- it's the first step to "orthodoxy".

Whether or not the original authors desire feedback, there is nothing to stop such stories from providing a springboard for discussion among group members. And, maybe that might be valuable. It would be for me, but then, as I've said I'm a relative newbie to this, so it might bore oldtimers senseless.

I do think it would be a good idea to have a web-based archive somewhere outside the ASC/EM collections, since I don't think the stories will be eligible for awards here and adding them to the ASC/EM sites would be another burden on our archivists. But a lot of people don't have the luxury of accessing websites and I think it would be unfortunate if the material weren't available -- at least on ASC -- for those who would otherwise lose out. I've been there, it's a lonely place.

I don't feel like I've been told to shut up and sit down -- hell, I'm far too uppity an entity to do that even if I had been told. It does seem that I'm being told it's important, but in a lot of ways I agree with that. Preservation appeals to me, and I'd like to see how certain genres and fanfic traditions evolved. Disclaimers of being "the best fanfic ever", on the other hand, are likely to be met by my extreme skepticism. I'll make up my own mind on that score and cheerfully ignore such labels. But, I would welcome the opportunity to be allowed to make up my mind at long last.

Maybe the solution would be to post the stories, without archiving, to ASC only, and also establish a web site to maintain an archive? In any case, IDIC.
Comment by Mary Ellen Curtin:
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Fizzbin, also UKJess and Kevas (who said similar things). That is *exactly* what we're trying to do.

Let people see some of the old material they've heard about but to which they have no access, make life easier for historians, give us an opportunity for discussion, and ON NO ACCOUNT tell anyone to shut up. On the contrary, it's a lot easier to be ruthlessly honest about a story's faults when the author isn't listening.

The web site is not yet under construction, it's more at the sit-around-looking-at-the-backhoe stage (I'm learning HTML). But it *will* happen, just don't hold your breath. The archiving issue I leave up to the ASC/EM deities, long may they wave.

Comment by Sydvick:

On to the real issue. I love history and I love the view back at what others have done, especially since I never got to read any of the K/S zines until last year. So, post on. I am always looking for new things to read,old or new, it doesn't matter. I treasure any good writing I can get my hands on. I can understand your view JK, but I just don't agree. Mostly that is because at 2am in the morning when I am looking at the NG, I want something TOS posted and I want alot of it, so by any means necessary.

Comment by Jungle Kitty:

Responding to many emails here, some sent to me privately. Why can't these stories just be posted? Why must there be a Foresmutters Project? Part of what turns me off is the name. Smacks too much of Founding Fathers, as if they're people we should automatically revere and respect. They're fanfic writers, just like the rest of us. So they should act like it. Instead, it feels like they're coming down from the lofty heights, gracious generous deities, to share with us, the unworthy scribblers. I think the stories would be much better received if they were simply posted, without all this fanfare or the Foresmutters' designation of Historical or Literary Importance. One of the greatest things about ASC/EM is how welcome the newbies are, how no one asks how long they've been a fan, or what do they have to offer. The Foresmutters feel like visiting celebrities, and I say bleagh.

According to the Project charter (oh shit, I'm in Project Management again), only stories of historical or literary importance will be included, and will apparently be so designated by the choice of the project team. It's simply not in the wide-open, everyone-is-welcome spirit that I associate with the NG. In short, it has a tinge of snobbishness. Remember the country club discussions?

If these stories are to carry the lofty designation of the Foresmutters Project, I really do think a webpage would be a better place for them. It would be an archive, and a valuable one. It's certainly one that I would bookmark. But people do seem to want these stories to be posted, and I don't want to discourage that. I just think it can and should be done without all the fanfare. They're stories. Post them without all the history, without telling us how Important they are, and without the Stamp of Approval.

Comment by Wildcat:

Having read through all the posts on this topic, I chose this one as the basis for my reply because it most closely reflects my own view, ie. somewhere in the middle. I'm interested in reading these stories, but not without a few reservations. I agree that they'd do well on a website. If not everyone has easy access to the web, well, then I suppose my second choice is seeing them on asc. It makes me very uneasy, however, when I learn that the writer of this story 1) doesn't want feedback and 2) didn't really want hir story posted in the first place. It makes me wonder what sort of arm-twisting took place to convince hir to allow it: "We'll post it, but we'll make sure all those ng folks leave you alone," perhaps?

As for the story itself, I was lukewarm about it. I think I might have enjoyed it much more if not for the grand introduction--my expectations were set rather high, so just about anything would have been a letdown. There's probably a lot more I could say about it (such as the predictability of the ending), but I kinda feel like it's not worth the effort. The story has been around a long time, and since the writer isn't interested in feedback, it feels like a dead subject to me. That's probably not the right attitude, because I know there's considerable merit in discussion of "old" works, but given this forum, that's just how it feels to me.

Jungle Kitty had a good point when she suggested that the stories simply be *posted* without such fanfare. Yes, I enjoy knowing their origin, and yes, I appreciate the great effort Mary Ellen and Judith are making to retype them, but they're still just stories, regardless of where they originated. The fact that they hail from the "old days" is a curiosity to me, nothing less, nothing more. We've all heard about the glories of the old zines--I think it's entirely possible we'll read these stories and learn that they're not that much different than what we find here on the net, today.

Comment by Greywolf the Wanderer:

<The Wolf stands there shaking his head for a moment> Woo. With all due respect, honourable Kitty-san, I think thee is *waaaay* over-reacting here. I didn't see it that way at all. I think Preservation is much more the concern here than snobbishness. Many many fen have no zine access at all, nor likelihood of getting it. Hell, for 20+ years I thought I was the only K/S fan in the universe!! And I've met others who lived the same....Thee has the right to thy opinion, nor would I deny it. But I question the strength of your anger here... What is wrong with posting more stories to a story-posting group? I do not understand.... [referring to Freedom is Standing in the Light]: I personally love this story. I do agree with Jess, that the ending could have been more definitive. But it seems quite clear on careful reading what will happen next. He has no more reason to live, he will let himself go. As would I in his place. To me this was a lovely example of angst-to-the-max...

As for anonymity, that is any entity's right, nor does Privacy permit rude enquiries as to *why* lom might Choose such a thing. Lom did; that is the only pertinent datum. And after all, no-one's got a phaser to anyone's head to *make* them read these things...

I'm with Syd. At 0230 I don't give a shite where my TOS fix came from; I just want one, to give me relief from the endless oceans of stuff I couldn;t care less about.

Truly, we all are examples of Infinite Diversity, not so?

Greywolf the Wanderer, who personally thinks the Foresmutter's Project is a fucking *great* idea!!

From Kattz:

Perhaps because ASC/EM is a moderated group and they are already swamped with new stories they have to post. Maybe the Foresmutters should consider having a webpage for browsers and sending the stories out directly by e-mail. Or they could post them to ASCE and anyone who wants to see them can wade through all the sex ads.

Comment by Jungle Kitty:

If I've offended anyone by suggesting that a web archive would be a better venue for the Foresmutter stories, then I apologize. But I felt it was something worthy of the group's attention, so I brought it up....IMO, this is not *just* a story-posting group. It isn't an archive. Like Wildcat, I'm scratching my head over why these writers want their stories posted in a forum in which they have no interest. If it's simply a matter of wanting them preserved on the net, then I still think a website would make more sense. But the group feels differently, so IDIC in action. As has been pointed out, no one's forcing anyone to read them.

As to the feedback issue: Yes, every writer has the right to refuse feedback. So why not a simple statement like "The author does not wish feedback." Instead we have this:

"I don't want e-mail. Fans have praised me generously in the past; I hope they will give their feedback to new writers who really want and need it."

There is a condescension to that statement that makes me cringe.

And I still have to question the manner in which these stories are being posted. If the stories are so wonderful, we'll figure that out for ourselves. Just post them. Say something simple like "This story first appeared in <zine> on <date>." Why must they carry the burden of being an Important Story of Historic Importance?

And it *is* a burden. I first read the story in question about a year ago, after it had been given a big build-up in a private chat group I was part of at the time. I thought it was excellent, and I found much of it moving, but for me, it fell short of stunning. I ended up being disappointed, I suspect more so than I would have been if I hadn't heard so much about it. I think there are flaws in the story, but I'll never know how much of my response was due to that, and how much was due to the fact that it simply couldn't live up to everything I'd heard about it.

A couple of other people have said the same after reading it here on the NG. Their level of expectation had been raised so high that the story couldn't live up to it.

So, hell, yes, post the stories if the group feels that's what they want. But please, get the heralds down off the balcony. The trumpets are drowning out the words.

Mary Ellen Curtin commented:

<Why can't these stories just be posted? Why must there be a Foresmutters Project?> To protect the rights of authors. The idea of scanning/typing in old stories has been kicked around in a variety of fora and conversations for several years, but it's finally reached a critical breakthrough point. Many people (not just Judith and I) have been very worried that stories would be posted wholesale, without proper attribution, permission, or copyright statements. That's why the Foresmutters Manifesto is about legal issues. The legal implications of posting fanfiction written before 1985 on the net are complex and undefined, and it would be quite possible for authors to lose their copyrights if works are posted arbitrarily.

Judith and I are not interested in organizing what is going to be netted, assigning people to type, or making judgements for others about what is or isn't worth netting. What we *are* offering to do is to help contact authors, and to ensure that the legal and moral rights of authors are respected. It would be nice if this could be done without any central coordination at all, but the legal situation is too unclear for that to be a really safe option.

>Part of what turns me off is the name. Smacks too much of Founding Fathers, as if they're people we should automatically revere >and respect.> Actually, quite a few other people have said they like the name and find it mildly humorous. I think Ben Franklin (an internationally-ranked nice dirty old man) would be amused at the association. To me, it's got a Harpo Marx honk-honk quality: I do not automatically link the word "smut" with reverence.

>According to the Project charter (oh shit, I'm in Project Management again), only stories of historical or literary importance will be included, and will apparently be so designated by the choice of the project team. It's simply not in the wide-open, everyone-is-welcome spirit that I associate with the NG.> Apparently we weren't clear here. By "historical or literary importance" we mean: things someone -- *anyone* who is willing to do the work -- thinks is interesting enough to post. "Literary importance" means "the poster thinks it's a good story, and wants to share it." "Historical importance" means "may not be a good story, but the poster thinks it's historically interesting and wants to share it."

It *is* wide open, and everyone is welcome. Many long-time fans want to share their favorite old stories, or stories that made a big impression on them at one time. Many newer fans (especially those outside North America) are curious about the earlier days of what turned out to be Treksmut or slash.

Our main concern is that the generous instinct to share the things we love doesn't end up stealing from the authors who boldly smutted where no-one had smutted before.

Jungle Kitty commented:

As usual, Mary Ellen, you have missed my point completely. I wasn't sugggesting that the stories should be posted without copyright protection or without the writers' permission. I just find all this fanfare offensive and pretentious. But I will try to address your statement. Is the way the rest of us post less than adequate when it comes to protecting the rights of the authors? Why do theirs need extra-special protection?

T'Kae commented:

As a fan living outside North America I would like to thank Mary Ellen for her efforts. Living in Hungary, I never had access to fanzines and I'm not likely to have it in future, so I welcome every posting of old fanzine stories. I agree that putting them on a website would be better in general, but I personally find it more handy to have them here on the newsgroup.

I hope the flood of overreactions the Foresmutters project prompted doesn't stop anyone from posting old fanzine stories.

If the main objection is the lack of bandwidth on ASCEM, why not post them just on ASC?

Nesabj commented:

I would just like to add that for those of us who live in sleepy little burgs with no access to conventions, and little possibility of purchasing older fanfic, I am thrilled that you are taking the trouble to make some of the work available. Those who are uninterested or offended by this project can exercise their rights by not reading the posts. The rest of us will be very grateful for the opportunity to read more TOS fanfic.

Fizzbin commented:

I think it's a good idea, provided the posts are written *very* objectively, perhaps including some information on the various zines mentioned, and, if possible, where the story's concept stands on the fanfic evolutionary tree. With regard to that last, I wouldn't want anyone to take that mapping as a dictum for what can and can't be written today. (Orthodoxy -- Phtui!) I'm more interested in how attitudes in fanfic have changed over the years and how those changes stack up against changes in society as a whole -- I guess that's just my wee anthropologist soul rattling its cage and slavering "feed me! feed me!"

Raku commented:

Surely it's possible to post a dissenting opinion without it being called an overreaction? raku, thinking about getting ticked

Jungle Kitty commented:

Ahem. I apologize to the group. Obviously, I have strong feelings about this, and I'm sorry that I included some of my offline experiences and feelings in my original post. I thought I should share that with you, rather than hide my bias. Despite that, I stand behind what I've said. I believe the Foresmutters Project is a sincere, valuable, and well-intentioned activity that is not being handled in a way that would truly serve its purpose. I find it interesting that there is one item of discussion that has not been answered by the Foresmutters. Namely, the grand unveiling aspect to the posting of the first story interfered with their enjoyment of the story. So if it's actually interfering with the appreciation of the stories, why is it so necessary? Can't you just post without all the fuss? And I'm sorry, a separate "history of the story" post is just more fuss. Anyway, I'm going to shut up on this subject now. I'm sorry if I've misbehaved, and I thank you all for your patience with my particular madness.

Katie Redshoes commented, regarding the suggestion of not archiving these stories:

Why? I don't *want* to pass over the posts completely. Unless the original author has an objection, of course, I would want to archive these stories too. The fact that we are running an archive backlog currently should not be a factor in whether these stories should be archived or not, IMO....FWIW, I was also taken aback by the phrase "a flood of overreactions."

Joyce Harmon commented:

Really? I thought it was a pretty accurate description of some reactions that I can only describe as juvenile, small-minded, and insecure. It sounded to me like the younger sister, flouncing around complaining because everyone thinks her elder sibling is so great. "I'm sick of hearing about early K/S! I'm tired of hearing about the great old zines and how we should all bow down.." etc, etc. My reaction to quite a few of the posts on this thread is a weary "Grow up."

Fizzbin commented:

I was not taken aback by the description "a flood of overreactions", but I was rather dismayed at the rather unfortunate phraseology.

As I am similarly dismayed by the tone of your response. I support the Foresmutters Project, but I also think the dissenters have legitimate concerns that are a product of their own experiences in fanfic. I believe the object of this thread should be an amicable discussion of the methods of posting, so that a means can be found to satisfy the needs and interests of all the group's participants. Your post does not further that pursuit. In fact, it is, essentially, a command "to sit down and shut up" -- the very attitude that the dissenters predicted and found so distasteful. As such, it is more likely to precipitate a flame war than it is to build consensus.

We cannot do away with feelings born of experience that are keenly felt, nor should we ignore the desire of others to explore the history of the genre. Suggestions for a possible solution have been placed on the table and a call has been made for discussion.

Joyce Harmon commented:

Legitimate concerns? All I've heard is people posting that they've had bad experiences with zine fandom, which seems to me to have nothing to do with the quality of the stories, and complaints that a) there's plenty of fanfic and why post these others, and b) the posters are tired of the reverence given to early K/S.

I don't even read K/S or TOS, but anyone who glances at the archives can readily see that TOS is far and away the least represented of the four Trek series. There are plenty of stories out there from the early days of zines, good stories that have maybe been read by a grand total of several hundred people. There are people here who want to read these stories. Should they not be allowed to because a handful of people choose to take offense at the tone of the framing intro?...

Amicable? Quoting from earlier posts on this thread:

"But one of the things I grew extremely sick of was having the Glorious History of K/S shoved in my face every time I turned around, which started up the minute I entered that forum."

And this:

"But please, get the heralds down off the balcony. The trumpets are drowning out the words."

And this:

"Why can't these stories just be posted? Why must there be a Foresmutters Project? Part of what turns me off is the name. Smacks too much of Founding Fathers, as if they're people we should automatically revere and respect. They're fanfic writers, just like the rest of us. So they should act like it. Instead, it feels like they're coming down from the lofty heights, gracious generous deities, to share with us, the unworthy scribblers. "

And this:

"I just find all this fanfare offensive and pretentious."

I can only conclude you have a different definition of 'amicable' than I do....

You're asking for a 'solution' when I don't see a problem. Stories that were printed in zines before the internet are being transcribed and posted to the newsgroup, with the knowledge and consent of the stories' authors. Most of the posts on this thread have been highly supportive of that effort. A handful of posters, however, have complained about the project. I'd think the solution would be for them to ignore it. Solves the alleged 'problem' just fine.

Jungle Kitty commented:

I said I was going to shut up, but I'm jumping back in for three reasons.

1. I've been insulted. 2. I would like to try to put this in perspective. 3. I want to propose a compromise for the group's consideration.

On point 1: I think it's pretty ungracious of Joyce to lecture me, when I've already apologized for my earlier statements. Twice. As to the whole issue of needing attention: ASC, ASCEM, Judith, and Mary Ellen have all been very generous to me with feedback. But I know that people send feedback because they feel like it, and they like or dislike stories for all kinds of reasons, and I really doubt that the presence or absence of other stories has any impact on either of those things. You guys have all been far too good to me for me to feel threatened.

Now the perspective:

Suppose someone posted a story to ASC where it was highly praised. A few months later, they post it to ASCEM, but for some reason, they also post all the glowing feedback it received on ASC. Wouldn't that seem strange? Wouldn't it feel like the author was afraid the people on ASCEM wouldn't realize what a good story it was?

That's how the Foresmutter stories feel to me, when they are posted with a special designation, such as historically important. Like someone's afraid we might not get it.

And now the compromise:

In a thread a while back on ASCEM, we were discussing whether or not we wanted warnings on stories that included the death of a character. Most people seemed to feel that they would rather let the story unfold as the author intended, without that foreknowledge. In this current discussion, some people have said that the introduction of the first of the Foresmutter stories actually got in the way of them fully enjoying the story, kind of like the death warning prevented people from feeling the full impact of the story.

There are people who want to know and discuss the history of these stories, and there are people who would rather read them fresh and be allowed the luxury of their own response, without having it colored by heightened expectations.

So how about this: Post the stories just like regular stories. No history, either with the story, or as a separate informational post. Let people read the story and discuss it if they're so inclined without feeling like they may be going up against 20 years of history or the endorsement of a quasi-official organization. Post the history a little later, as part of the discussion, or perhaps just as the discussion is dying down. It might even revive the discussion in a new and interesting way.

Sydvick commented:

I want to know that it is an older story and what zine it was from, if possible. Jungle Kitty, I honestly think you are not thinking of the greater good here, and you normally do. Many people have no idea of what went before. I was one of those people. I had never heard of any of the zines mentioned, or the stories. I also had no one to talk to about them, if I had heard about them. This gives everyone who accesses this group a chance. If it is Mary Ellen's sometimes overly enthusiatic prose you object to, then skip it and go on to the story. Perhaps we need to back away from the topic for a while as you wanted to before and just let it play out. It will either be welcome or not by the readers. Let the market have access as the designers planned, and the market will decide.

The story sits in the time it was written. All of us smutters and near smutters write in the context of a wide open net, where people post question about things like: why is there such a squick factor to my story on incest. Now I am not an old entity, but my read of human history says that this was not always possible. Treksmut has a 27 year history, let us enjoy the pearls and laugh at the dross from it, but I object to any move to bury the historical place or significance of the story. I want to know how it was received back then, or not. Sensibilities change.

How many of the group are open about there sexual choices or interests now, that would never have been 20 years ago? Would you have gone to Bill Shatner with a spanking list to sign, without years of Trek Smut to back you up? And if so, would he have signed it. He knew what it was. He is use to the concept and considers those zines stories to be " some of the most erotic stories he has ever read."

As for the writers statement about the lack of desire for feedback, I did not find it offensive in any way. I found it refreshingly honest.

I also find your comments to be honest and I appreciate them. I, however, must respectfully disagree.

Laura Taylor commented:

Although I am not as affected by this issue as some, having no interest in K/S or TOS stories, I'm inclined to agree with those who object to the fanfare. I've felt similarly let down by excessive hype in advance of some stories posted to ASC, and would prefer to have the opportunity to judge stories on their own merits, rather than the high praise of others.

Fizzbin commented:

I'm an on-again-off-again anthropologist in RL and this is just the sort of stuff that's grist for my mill. Star Trek fandom has had a *huge* impact on American popular culture. References to Trek are everywhere, everyday. Seeing how it started and how it has changed over the years would be invaluable to me. Ever since I started lurking at ASC/EM, I've been astounded by the changes that have come about in attitudes over 30-odd years. When I first brushed up against fanfic, in the early 70s, there was very little sex at all and almost no explicit material -- especially m/m. Stonewall was only a couple of years in the past and people of differing persuasions were just starting to come out of the closet. I'd love to track the "outness" of Trek fic against the growth of openess in the culture as a whole. What a gender studies project that would make! But it ain't gonna happen if nobody preserves the material.

Jungle Kitty commented:

I know this didn't come across, but part of why I brought up my bad experiences with printfen was their failure to address the needs of the entire community, wherever possible. I know Mary Ellen & Judith don't intend any sort of negative effect, but I saw this semi-official Stamp of Approval business as potentially having the unintended effect of setting some sort of defacto standard. I didn't want to see that happen to the newsgroup. No one's standards should be given any more credence than anyone else's. I really do think my analogy about posting to ASCEM with all the ASC feedback attached is a legitimate one. If the

story's a good one, we'll figure it out. And not everyone will have the same response. They're entitled to that. There are people who want to know the history, like you. I don't want to deny that to anyone. But I do think there's value in separating the two. Let the stories stand on their own, let them be experienced on the net the way they were first experienced in print, let us have our responses, whatever they may be, and then let's unveil the history that Jay is bringing down the aisle.

I think it may be interesting to compare our responses to how the story was received years ago. But no real comparison would be possible if we already know what that was. There's some scientific axiom about the simple act of being observed changes the action of the person being observed. Several people have pointed out that just knowing this story is regarded by many people as the best fanfic ever colored their perception of it. A fresh, new experience was denied them on that story. When it's very simple to allow them that in the future, why not do it, esp. if we can give the history buffs what they want as well?

Laura Jacquez Valentine commented:

I completely agree with [posting historical information about the zine at the end of the story, rather than in the header]. I did feel that the history given with the first story (Freedom is Standing in the Light) set me up for a story that, for me, didn't exist. The particular construction of that story is one that has *never* done much for me emotionally--a type of story I've always had trouble connecting with. It would have been a pleasant enough, and interesting enough, story without the buildup, but with the buildup I felt guilty for not thinking it was tremendous. I do want to know some history: what zine it was in, and when, but beyond that...I'd like to read it as itself and judge it for myself and not have to worry about who's judged it before.

Joyce Harmon commentd:

What I find most dismaying about this entire conversation is that people are giving serious credence to points of view stating that these stories do not belong on a.s.c., that they should be posted instead to a website, or not mirrored to the mailing list. There seems to be a point of view out there that these stories are somehow less worthy of this forum than others, and the feeling is coming from the way the stories are being presented or the way the poster was treated in non-internet fan interaction.

I'm sure Stephen will be chiming in with the FAQ any minute now, but alt.startrek.creative is for the posting of fan fiction related to Star Trek. These stories are fan fiction related to Star Trek. Stories are posted here regardless of quality and age and place of original publication.

I think most people would be outraged if someone posted feedback saying that a story that was posted here should never have been posted because it was so bad. But what I'm hearing from this discussion is that some people feel these stories shouldn't be posted because the Foresmutters (who are not the original writers, though they have the writers' permission) think the stories are so *good*, and that simply makes no sense to me at all.

These stories are Star Trek fan fiction. This is a newsgroup for the posting of Star Trek fan fiction. Should Jane Doe in Des Moines not be able to read a story that might interest her because Sue Smith in Texarkana got her feelings hurt by a zine editor back in 1985, or whatever the posters' objections to 'zine fandom' are?

Discussion of the introductions is valid, though it could be done to death, like The Sentinel fandom does with its byzantine warning label system, but I would hope more people would reject the proposition that the stories should not be posted at all.

Fizzbin commented:

As an anthropologist, i.e., participant-observer, I am acutely aware of the dilemma of observation. I, too, think the comparison between contemporary and historical responses would be a valuable part of the discussion. And, that certainly would be derailed if we knew at the top what the historical take was.

As I said in another post, I'm anxious to see how the genre has changed along with the culture as a whole. I also think that the negative experiences in fanfic that some, like you, have had do not stand outside the discussion and should not be excluded from it -- those experiences, too, drove the development of the genre. Every movement has its dark side and, IDIC or not, Trekdom is no exception. I would hate to see us delude ourselves into thinking that all is and ever was sweetness and light.

I hope this all works out -- I have a good feeling about this now.

Fizzbin commented:

Maybe the next segment of the discussion should address what type(s) of historical material group members want to see. We've already got the following (mostly obvious):

1. author's name 2. zine 3. year of publication 4. history of subsequent publication 5. contemporary reviews 6. author's bio

Part of me would like to have some idea of what was going on in the wide world in that year -- something that would place the piece in cultural perspective. I don't think this should be an exhautive examination -- maybe just the relevant info from "Timelines of History", something to provide a benchmark.

Maybe some background information on the zine itself?

Karen commented:

I feel that this is a forum where the readers should be able to draw their own conclusions about a story, whether they liked it, how well it was written and so on. I think that to precede a story with all it's accolades gives it a build up that, in most cases, it can't live up to, and also might inhibit more tentative readers from giving honest feedback (If the author wants feedback). It's kind of like when you're about to tell a joke and start going on about how funny it is, and then you tell it.......and no one laughs.(not that I'VE ever done that, you see)

Joyce Harmon commented:

I wish someone would explain to me *why* these stories are arousing so much hostility that the community (or at least some members of the community) feels the need to create a whole different set of rules for them.

Gamin Davis commented:

As someone who has read some of the old zines *and* some of what is on the NGs, I thought I'd stick in my 2 cents' worth. I haven't seen the posted story, but I've read as much of this thread as RL will allow (messages were in the 100s by the time I got back to the NG--sigh). I see no reason to object to these stories being posted as long as the author gave permission (however grudgingly) and the introductory fanfare is dispensed with--let the reader determine for hirself whether or not all the superlatives are warranted. Some people on this NG would, I'm sure, enjoy enough of the stories (if Mary Ellen is planning to post some of the stories I think she is) to keep it from being a waste of bandwidth. As far as them being "not that different" from what has been posted on the Internet (and I base this solely on things I have read or skimmed through on ASC/EM)--heh-heh--maybe, maybe not. You might be surprised. The quality varies from story to story, just as it does here, but...well, there are frankly certain older zines that I enjoy...er...somewhat more consistently than I do the stories here. It's a tad subjective, of course, but maybe you see what I mean. I hope.

Jungle Kitty commented:

I've been thinking a lot about this, and mainly wondering, "Why does this bug me so much?" I think I figured it out.

It's the charter.

A few days before the first story appeared, the Foresmutteres posted their charter. Don't know why no one questioned that, but I'm questioning it now. Mods, correct me if I'm wrong, but don't changes or additions to the charter or FAQ have to be approved by the group?

Now whoa there before you lynch me. I do NOT believe that Mary Ellen or Judith had some master plan to sneak a charter modification past us. I think it was an oversight. But please don't tell me that the charter was a joke. You can't put the genie back in that bottle. I'm bringing this up in a serious and thoughtful a manner, and I think it deserves some consideration.

Here's how I see it (YMMV, and please say so):

If Judith, Mary Ellen, or anyone else wants to post old stories with the writers' permission, I say more power to them. Post those puppies. If you have a bunch all typed up and ready to go, bring 'em on. And post the history any way you see fit. Before the story, after the story, at the beginning, at the end, right in the middle of the climactic scene where the Klingons take over the ship.

As long as you are doing it as an individual, not as a chartered group. As far as I know, you have not been granted a charter by any of the newsgroups, either as a modification to the existing charters, or as a subgroup within the newsgroups

I will defend to the death the right of any author or poster to include whatever background they see fit in whatever manner they choose. The readers are then free to respond by saying, "I would have enjoyed this more if I hadn't known it was Colonel Mustard in the dining room with the candlestick." The writer or poster is free to ignore this or modify their future posts. I see this as no different from the bummer warnings or "don't drink coffee while reading this" warnings, which are optional and each writer makes hir own decision.

As I said, I will defend this right, but with the following stipulation: post in the way all old stories are posted: NEW2ASC, NEW2ASCEM, or NEW2ASCA. No special FSP designation, no charter. That assigns the stories an artifical importance that has not yet been endorsed by the newsgroups.

If, however, Mary Ellen, Judith, and anyone else who wants to be part of the Foresmutters Project want their activities to be *chartered,* I think they need to present that proposal to the group, in which case it is entirely appropriate for the group to have the sort of discussion we've been having, as to whether, how, and why these stories should be handled. Once the group has made a decision, then the stories should be posted according to the group decision, which may or may not include a special designation such as FSP.

So I think the Judith and Mary Ellen have to decide who they want to be when it comes to these stories. Do they want to be Judith and Mary Ellen, free to post whatever they want, and with all the rights and privileges contained therein? Or do they want to be the Foresmutters Project?

If they want to be the Foresmutters Project, I see a charter issue, and I suggest that they present a proposal to each of the newsgroups. If their proposal is rejected or modified in a way they don't like, they have lots of options. I can think of several, and there are probably more.

Mary Ellen Curtin commented:

[Foresmutters posting a charter a few days before the first story appeared]: First I heard of it. We posted a "Manifesto", a declaration of intent on our personal parts. (hmm, doesn't sound quite the way I intended, but you get the drift.)

We have no intention, thought, or notion to modify the charter(s) of ASC.

AFAIK, the ASC* charters have not been modified to give an official imprimatur to "TSU", "Marissa", or other special designations in the subject line. Nonetheless, these headers are used, and found useful by the community. If people can designate some posts "TSU" for the convenience of readers, why can't we mark some posts "FSP"?

Stephen Ratliff commented:

As I stated earlier in this post, it's not a charter issue, but an administrative/organizational problem. Judith and Mary Ellen want to get some of the old fanzine stuff posted to the newsgroup... no problem with that. In order to do this, they organized themselves... really a necessary step in order to prevent duplicated work. So they came up with a name for themselves... surely no one would deny them that right, after all this could be a project that will expand and contract in number of people involved.

What does seem to be the problem... Well they posted a manifesto of what the project was. Suddenly we have people doing something that ... gasp ... isn't mentioned in the FAQ.

When I started as FAQ Maintainer way back in '95 we had another one of these. You see, we had a lovely ftp archive, which was just under the new management of Alara Rogers. Now someone wondered why we didn't have a http index to that archive. Alara was still new to the job, and saw the demands and said, no way am I going to do that. So a guy name Matt Steenberg stepped forward and posted his index project... 3 years later, we have an index to the archive that does most of the things he wanted done. The differance... this one involves the posting of stories, stories that we all want to see, but we fear that this is somehow going against our organization. Back in '95 there was just me and Alara. At the begining of '95 there was just Joe. Now we have 17 (This isn't a complete list but, I'm trying: me, Katie, Dina, Ian, James, Sasscat, Ruth, Alexas, JJ, Jenny, Ned, Anne, Kattz, J Jules (okay, who are the 4 I'm missing in the FAQ))

Randy Landers commented:

The original fiction in fanzines should be preserved. ORION PRESS has made efforts to this affect with its fiction. I'm delighted to see FSP (this from an anti-K/S person), and think it will be an asset to all of Star Trek fandom.

Wildcat commented:

[regarding posting information about the story after the story itself]: I'll second this, since the build-up ruined the story for me.

References

  1. at alt.startrek.creative
  2. alt.startrek.creative; WebCite
  3. Relagating print zines to "history" and of no interest was a fairly new opinion; it had only been a few years since print zines hadn't been the main source of fanworks. It illustrates how quickly fannish opinion can change, as well as the divide between many fans over technology and what it could provide.