The LOC Connection/Issues 21-30
The LOC Connection 21 was published in September 1990 and contains 11 pages. There are 51 authors listed as subscribers, though some of them have pseuds, some more than one.
Welcome to issue #21 of THE LOC CONNECTION. In this editorial I will discuss the new columns that will become available in TLC beginning with the October issue. My intent is to make TLC the letterzine of K/S fandom, while also preserving its original goal of providing feedback.
1. Each comment must be on an individual piece of work (I will allow exceptions for stories or poems that are 'paired'; i.e., a contrast to each other, or where one is a continuation of the other. In such cases, both works must be by the same author.)Please do not discuss individual LoCs that appear in the Debriefing section. However, you may discuss LoCs collectively; e.g, "Thanks to everyone who has submitted comments on my stories." or "The LoCs I enjoy the most are the ones that quote a line from the story." The one exception to the above is if an author wishes to address a specific question that was asked in a LoC on her story. For me to allow this, the question must be direct, not merely inferred, and the author's response must not go beyond answering the question. For example, if a LoC contained the sentence, "I was puzzled as to why Kirk was still angry at the end", I would not allow the author a response, since a question had not been asked directly. However, if the LoC said, "Why was Kirk still angry at the end? I was confused," then I would allow the author a response. Again, the author could only answer the question and not respond to the LoC beyond that. I want to make it clear that I don't feel authors should ever feel obligated to answer questions that are asked. An author should never have to defend her story, just as a LoC writer should never have to defend her opinion. Also, an author can always contact the writer of the LoC directly if she wishes. My intent is to provide the means for an author to reach a wider spectrum of readers if she's concerned that a question asked by one reader may also be a trouble spot for other readers.
2. Comments of any length are accepted.
3. A story being commented upon should never be compared to another story. (Exception: if the other story(s) mentioned is by the same author as the story being commented upon, then I will allow it.)
4. LoCs about other LoCs will not be accepted. Contributions to Debriefing are meant to be a one-way street from reader to author, though I will allow limited responses from authors as detailed in the guidelines for the Arena section.
S. Comments will not be allowed from authors on their own stories, nor from editors on stories that appear in their own zine(s).
6. Comments on non-K/S stories will not be accepted.
7. Comments on poetry and art must be primarily positive in nature.
8. When commenting on art, the art can be mentioned in the same LoC as the one for the story the art illoed; or the art can be mentioned in a LoC by itself, using a page number in lieu of a title. In the rare case where art is titled, then use the title and it will be inserted alphabetically.
9. Comments will be published under a pseudonym upon request. However, once a pseudonym is used, the contributor must continue to use it for all subsequent comments in future Issues.
10. No LoC will be printed which the editor feels is a personal attack or has reason to believe is activated by something other than the desire to give an honest reaction to a story....
This issue contains LoCs on Off Duty #2, Daring Attempt #2, Matter/Antimatter #8, #9, Otherwhere/Otherwhen, Way of the Warrior #2, #3, As I Do Thee #14, #15, Scattered Stars #1, Naked Times #19, #22, #24, First Time #3, #11, Charisma #9, Star Trek, Oath of Bondage, Between Friends, Shades of Grey #5, T'hy'la #2, The Way Home.
The LOC Connection 22 was published in October 1990 and contains 8 pages.
This issue has LoCs from First Time #14, Between Friends, Way of the Warrior #1, #2, Within the Mirror #4, As I Do Thee #10, #11, #15, Matter/Antimatter #3, #8, KSX #1, Out of Bounds, The Long and Winding Road, Sojourns, Alternaties #1.
The TOTM:A couple of subscribers wrote to point out the poor readability of last month's fluorescent paper. Upon re-reading through the issue myself, I must agree. Unfortunately, the color of TLC each month has nothing to do with any attempt at creativity on my part. Instead, it has to do with economics. The local printer I use (the cheapest in the area runs a Color-of-the-Month special, choosing a different color each month for the special rate. That rate is half the normal price for colored paper and is even cheaper than the rate for plain white. Therefore, I've been dependent on the special rate for keeping TLC's price reasonable, and the subscription cost is based on that rate.
The topic is sex scenes. I know my attitude toward them has changed a great deal in the four years I've been involved in K/S, and I'll expand on that next month. What about everyone else? Are sex scenes the first thing you look for when a new zine arrives? Do you enjoy reading/writing them? Do you find it eabarrassing to write them? Are you bored with them? Are they a big part of what makes a K/S story a K/S story? Do you wish they were steamier? More subtle? More realistic? Less realistic? Would you like to see more of them? Less of them? Opinions, please.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
Although I have read some quite enjoyable stories whose existence was entirely because of the love scene. I must admit six years ago when I discovered K/S the novelty of reading single sex love stories made me more accepting of endless love scenes than I am now.
Are sex scenes a big part of what makes a K/S story a K/S story? I can hardly stand to read a straight Star Trek story, because I can't stand the indifference of the command team to each other. What makes K/S for me is the warmth, the caring, their NEED for each other. After that comes the actual sex. I would say sex is one third of what makes it work for me.
... the more violent sex scenes can be fun to read and write, too, because they're just as titillating ["Oh, ay God, they did THAT?!'! thanks to their shock value, even though many of us don't like to be shocked. Either way, graphic or not, gentle or harsh, there's a certain degree of fantasy fulfillment involved in reading and writing about these two men who are crazy in love with each other: we all wish such an exhilarating love was something we have for ourselves -- and so we read and write about a sexy Kirk and Spock.
There's a certain voyeuristic appeal in watching the "bedroom antics" of the characters...aside from that, though, I enjoy them because I like the emotional expression that comes out of them. I like seeing Kirk and Spock express their affection for one another in this natural way. For the writer in particular, sex scenes can be a means to "reach a conclusion" of the story's basic idea. This conclusion is usually (although not necessarily) the acknowledgment of Kirk's and Spock's affection for one another, whether or not that acknowledgment is hard or easy for them to come by.
The LOC Connection 23 was published in November 1990 and contains 9 pages.
I know that some in fandom are of the opinion that because the production of fanzines is an amateur endeavor all the creative people behind fanzines should not be subject to criticism. I disagree with this view because a) fanzines cost so much, and purchasers have a right to expect a certain level of competency for their money; and b) while I have no intention at this time of trying to become a professional author, I do care that readers benefit on some level from reading what I write. (If I were writing merely for my own enjoyment, then there'd be no point in sending my stories out for publication. They could just sit in my closet to be re-read only by myself.) And there is nothing better than a good LoC to indicate how much and what kind of benefit the readers are getting.
The LOC Connection 24 was published in December 1990 and contains 8 pages. Many fans write in about writing, pseuds, what constitutes hurtful feedback, and whether its better to have too few words or too many:
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
When I dislike a story, I sometimes can't think of anything except mean, hurtful things to say about it. And they may not even be fair! So I shut up. The funny thing is, I'm beginning to suspect that what I do say sounds cruel anyway. Could it be that we all value different things in our stories, and what hurts is only being touched on our own particular raw spot? And how can someone else know what that is? The one I think would hurt me is, "This is gushy, sentimental claptrap." When I write I have to try to turn off the part of me that's afraid of that one. Does anyone else here have a particular tape in her head that she has to turn off to write?
... one aspect of 'criticisms' bothers me. This is when people criticize something that, if they had only read the story more carefully, they would have found actually was there. I have read, I guess you'd have to call them negative comments on stories written by others, and actually went in and dug them out of my stacks to see if I was supplying my own mental bridges for their missing links. Invariably I found I had remembered correctly, and the writer of the Loc must have missed it on her read through the story. I know how much time I spend trying to make my meaning clear without harping, and I find it distressing to be panned for something that is really there, if the story had been read, not scanned.
I know it will be controversial, but I think that tightness is a commercial market requirement that doesn't necessarily make for better stories. Professional editors want tightly told narrative because of their space limitations. As a result of this tendency in the professional markets, authors submitting to them are often forced to sacrifice complexity of plot, character, and background. We are amateurs, and we don't have to do this. We needn't practice the professional gospel of tightness for its own sweet sake. Instead we can use our own judgenent. We can put in scenes that aren't strictly necessary, but which lend further depth to our depiction of the K/S relationship. If you can justify including a scene in your own mind, and it is important to you, then I see no reason why you should cut it because of some professional ideal of tightness.
Re pseudonyms- People write under pseudonyms because they don't want their authorship known to some person or group of persons, and this is their right. Our individual circumstances vary, and we shouldn't judge others for what might be perfectly legitimate fears. I know of one K/S writer who lost her job when her employer found out she wrote K/S, and another who received threatening letters from an unknown source. Consequences like these nay seem inconceivable to those of us who live in cosmopolitan or ultra-supportive environments, yet these things do happen. Please respect pseudonyms.
I stated in my comments about sex scenes, being as open as I was about sex in those stories isn't something I feel comfortable doing. The pseudonym allows my playful sexual experinentation that I don't feel free to do under my own name. I have no intention of proliferating pseudonyms. I note that the biggest proliferaters of pseudonyms are editors. I believe that there are two reasons why editors might proliferate pseudonyms. One is the problem of receiving honest locs. If fans know that a story was written by the editor of a zine, many fans are even less inclined to be honest in their comments about it than they would ordinarily be. They want to avoid offending editors, and stay on their good side. So any time a pseudonym or series of pseudonyms that an editor has been using become too openly unmasked, the editor runs for cover and proceeds to proliferate more pseudonyms. That way, they hope to receive less insincere praise. I believe that another reason why editors proliferate pseudonyms is because they often produce zines with multiple stories by themselves. They might fear that if fans knew how much of the zine had been written by the editor, it would precipitate a rumor of the zine's imminent demise due to lack of submissions. Such rumors tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies. Once fandom loses confidence in the future of a zine there are no submissions and no pre-orders.
I use pen names (lots and lots and lots). At the present time I've used more than 3$ pen names, with more than the general reasons. Most people either want to write K/S and not have to worry about tbeir name and subject coming back to haunt then, and the others are intrigued with the idea of a neater, different personality vith which to write. I use pen names for a variety of different reasons: I use them in order not to have too many Robin Hood's show up in any one zine. I use then to indulge my whims in that I attempt different styles with several of the names. But most importantly, I use then to garner honest comments. To wit: It is difficult for a reader to write me while asking me to send their next zine promptly and tell me that they hated my work. Who knows what a pissed off editor might do with their next 'fix'? By using pen names, I can also get honest answers (and yes, it gets ouchy sometimes) from friends etc. about my work. Yes, this might make it a bit more difficult for the reader to follow a favorite author, but then it does help the author conceive more work for the reader to read.
Private LOCs sent directly to a writer or to a writer through an editor can be as thorough as the reader likes. LOCs written for publication are more difficult because the critic is speaking not only to the writer but to other readers—influencing others by what they write, telling other readers what they might want to read or avoid, while not giving the story away, and still giving the writer the feedback she needs. These LOCS are reviews, and anyone writing one should be aware of it. The only complaints I have ever had with LOCs of my work or anyone else's arose when the contributor either didn't read the story carefully before reviewing it or gave away the ending or some surprise twist. But this happens rarely. What's important, is that the writer gets feedback. It is then up to her to assimilate and use it.
The LOC Connection 25 was published in January 1991 and contains 7 pages. There is an autobio of Kay Wells.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
... why I use a pen name. The basic reason is, although I'm not ashamed to read or write K/S. The truth is it's not worth the hassle if one of my non K/S Star Trek acquaintances happens to pick up a zine and see my own name there. The Star Trek group I used to belong to made no secret of the fact that they thought K/S was disgusting (and my friends and myself got accused of being perverts just for reading it). Needless to say, we don't belong to that group any longer and I consider myself lucky to have four great K/S friends to bounce ideas and stories off of (and spend lots of weekends with). But, like I said, it's not worth the aggravation that you get from the Star Trek public at large.
I am sorry to hear that Cali-Con is cancelled. Is there another convention going on anywhere? I can't afford to go to every slash convention, and I mainly like K/S, so I would only want to go to something like Cali-Con that is mostly K/S. I have heard that K/S fans are dropping out, and getting into other fandoms. I think that K/S needs help. There has to be more flexibility in the personality of the characters to prevent the stories from becoming stale. Almost everything has already been done before. The use of new alternate universes, historical or future time periods, and different political climates from the typical Federation Starship setting might help as well.
As far as LOCs go. I've only recently found myself able to write even a semi-negative one. For a long time I only wrote "positive" ones and skipped over stories I didn't care for. But now I try to be more honest (without ever being too cruel or harsh). I agree with [name redacted] and usually just shut up when I find a story I really can find nothing nice to say about (and that doesn't happen very often). I don't think it's necessary to hurt someone's feelings over something they really put time and effort into. Constructive criticism is helpful but I think we have to be careful not to go too far.
I consider the relationship between Kirk and Spock ideal and appealing because 'for me' the two of then fit together. The only other two men that turn me on together are Simon and Simon. All the other couples in fandom rate nothing but a 'big deal' in my book. These other men do nothing for me, so I opinion, not logic, but that's why from the very first I was charmed by K/S. They both appealed to me so strongly I couldn't make up my mind. Putting them together solved the problem.
When I write positive reviews or positive LoCs for TLC, my purpose is to get other people interested in what I enjoyed, so I write about what drew me into that story, and if that means revealing a surprise plot twist, so be it. You see, a plot twist is just a gimmick, I don't believe that a good story relies on the strength of its gimmicks. A gimmick is like the pitch man at a carnival. It causes us to sit up and take notice. That's precisely the sort of thing I want to see in a review. If I see a description of a story that causes me to sit up and take notice, then l'm likely to order the zine. It shouldn't ruin the story at ail. The best tales succeed on the strength of their concepts and characterization. If a review of HAMLET were to discuss the play within the play, that would be revealing a plot twist, but it certainly doesn't ruin HAMLET. It's a funny thing. Everyone knows that plot of HAMLET, yet it still gets produced. There must be a value in it that goes beyond the plot. It's the same with a good K/S story. Nevertheless, I try not to reveal surprise endings in my reviews. Yet if I find that the ending is one of the more conspicuous flaws in a story, then I feel it's unavoidable. The author has built a house of cards, and it's collapsed. I cannot make the disaster any worse by revealing the extent of it, and there is the possibility that I might be teaching the author a valuable lesson. So I go ahead and do it. In a review I generally set apart such revelations with the phrase SPOILER WARNING telling the reader to skip that section if they don't want to know the ending. I haven't done SPOILER WARNINGS in TLC because I had understood that TLC LoCs were addressed to the writer, who already knows the plot. If people think I should put SPOILER WARNINGS in TLC, I'll do it where it's appropriate.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
I've always had a difficult time with the question from co-workers and such about what I 'do' with my free time. If I bother to answer the question (and most of the time I try to steer away from it), I usually say, "I write Star Trek stories on an amateur basis." I'm not completely happy with that answer, because the mention of ST either brings a raised brow indicating the other person is questioning your level of maturity, or else the other person enthusiastically reveals their own interest in ST, and if they don't know about fanzines, then they surely don't know about K/S, and I tend to not want to be the one who introduces the concept to them. I find myself particularly avoiding conversations with male ST fans. They seem to be on a whole different wave length.
I've thought about what K/S aeans to me personally enough over the past four or five years that I think I have a fairly pat answer. For me, K/S means, simply, unconditional love -- "I love you no matter what." All the other stuff — huge penises, perfectly-timed orgasms, perfect bodies, etc. -- is just window dressing.
My observation at the last Cali-Con was that more and more fans were getting interested in multi-media. That doesn't mean they were getting out of K/S -- merely that they were expanding their interests to include other things in addition to K/S, which means their money was spread thin between the zines from various fandoms. We can't control what other people choose to read or write, nor should we try. As for beefing up K/S, so to speak, for those of us who remains avid fans of it, I'm not sure what the solution is. I do know something needs to be done, as I myself am finding it more and more difficult, upon finishing reading even a very well written story, to be left with any lasting impression, because so much of it has already been done before. I don't really agree with Laurel's suggestion about increasing the use of alternate universes and the like, because, while I've greatly enjoyed some of those stories, the vast majority leave me unable to believe that the characters involved are really Kirk and Spock. If the rumors are true that the sixth movie will be the last, then the problem aay take care of itself.
I disagree with [name redacted] when she says everything has been done in K/S. If has if you're talking about first time stories. It's very difficult to ring new changes on the first time theme. Yet there's an amazing amount of unexplored territory in the realm of established relationship stories. There are so many issues and perspectives that have never been touched upon. We need to think more about the different stages of a continuing K/S relationship in all the various K/S universes. We have all these years of K/S behind us, and we've barely scratched the surface. That's always been the trouble with K/S—the fact that so many writers always want to go back over the old well-trod paths. It would be as if the Enterprise never left the safety of the Federation. There is certainly no lack of strange new K/S worlds to discover. All we need is to call upon Kirk's courage for exploration, and Spock's conceptual ability.
Do not try to share your love of K/S with your conventional Trek friends, least you find yourself lynched. For them, K/S defiles Star Trek. And do not expect to find K/S at your local con; go to a slash con.
I began writing under ay own name, [name redacted], and had no intentions of ever using a pen name. Then some friends of mine had zines seized and destroyed by Canadian Customs and I had one opened. Mine, luckily, was an issue of Mind Meld. That did, however, get me to thinking. If Customs ever opened one of my K/S zines and saw my name in there as an author, they'd probably open everything I got from now until I'm 94!
I wonder about xeroxes. Is there a whole group that does this on a business-like basis? It is it just sporadic with some fans trying to make a buck? I own four copies that I know of. Does that make me a thief? How can I tell if I'm buying from FAN X (I get the name from an ad) that the xeroxed type zine I get from him is 1) a bootleg he made or bought; 2) an original 1st edition that was xeroxed; or 3) an original later edition xeroxed from the original 1st which may or may not be a xerox itself.
The LOC Connection 27 was published in March 1991 and contains 10 pages. This issue has an autobio from Sherry H. Zoeller.
With this issue I'a enclosing a chronological history of K/S zines that I recently compiled just for the fun of it. It appears that 1986 and 1987 were the peak for K/S fandom, as there were a total of 31 new zines published each of those years. I come up with a total of 226 K/S zines through the end of 1990. That's a lot of zines (!) — and doesn't even count those published overseas. Peel free to xerox the list for anyone who say find it of interest.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
I think that in addition to the popularity of multi-media zines, one of the problems K/S is having is that there are too many K/S zines for the fandom to support. K/S has never had so many titles. It's not surprising that no zine is selling as briskly as it used to and that all zines are having trouble getting enough material to fill an issue. The same few editors are proliferating K/S titles trying to find the one that will sell, and it's got to stop. Let each editor pick one K/S zine to keep afloat, and all K/S zines will be that much more viable.
I think that some of the best and most imaginative stories I've seen in K/S have been a/u. An alternate universe doesn't have to be really distant from mainline Trek. Please realize that any time you make a decision, an a/u in which you made a different choice is created. So the changes can be large or small. A B/D fan made a very odd statement during the K/S panel at Escapade recently. She said that K/S had no a/u stories. Her definition of a/u was a total change of universe. In B/D fandom, a/u stories tend to be like that. The characters are in a completely different context with different identities and different names. This rarely happens in K/S. The only times I've seen such total change in this fandom is in reincarnation stories. The reason is that K/S doesn't need to make such drastic changes in order to achieve the variety of milieu that is the goal of the a/u story. You can write a mainline K/S story, and place those characters anywhere or anywhen. Trek is also so rich a background that you can come up with any number of alternate Kirks and Spocks based on branchings off in Federation history, or in the lives of the characters, and still have them be Kirk and Spock. If the environment of the a/u dictates changes in their personalities, then these changes are justifiable, but the core personalities must be recognizable to us as Kirk and Spock. If they aren't recognizable, then it's a badly written a/u story. You mustn't condemn a/u stories in general on the basis of bad writing in some of them.
I'm into lists. I could never do a list of K/S classics, however. For me, a classic is something that seems as fresh and original to me years later as it did when it first appeared. By that standard, the only K/S classic I've ever read is "Resting Place" by Beverly Sutherland (ANOTHER K/S ZINE). I used to have a top ten of K/S, but then I started seeing such wonderful non-K/S Trek slash. So now I have a top ten of Trek slash with six K/S stories on it. This list is not "for all time" though. I believe that writers build on the successful stories of the past to create even better stories as time goes on. The best K/S of today, may not be a patch on the best K/S of the future. That's why my list is temporary. For me, more than half the fun of having a top ten is explaining why particular stories belong on the list. There would never be enough room in TLC for me to do that. I have written a long essay of my Trek slash top ten list called "They're The Tops". Anyone who wants to read it can send me a SASE.
After bringing up the question about not finding K/S zines at ay local con, I find that I need to amend my previous statement. I tried looking again, and actually found three — not in plain sight, but rather placed in a box labeled "fanzines" under a table — two of which I already own, the third was a premier issue of an ongoing series, and an exceptional find, in my opinion. I bought it, of course; it was irresistible. I can't tell if it's an original or a xerox, and I paid a premium for it, of course, but does that make me one who's contributing to the demise of fandom? Quite frankly, I'm eventually going to order the entire series from the editor, as a result...so it's all for the best, I feel. Don't get me wrong, I am not defending the proliferation of unauthorized xeroxing; it does hurt fandom. And I do buy directly from the editors, but exactly whom should I not be buying fanzines from? Dealers or fans who sell their own copies or xeroxes of the same? How does one recognize an authorized distributor? It gets all very confusing.
Submissions wanted for a K/S story circuit. This is a place to send rejected stories and unfinished stories for comments. If you want to be involved send me a SASE and also one story ... Please keep them short, long stories would be too expensive in terms of mailing them out. If you have a special request such as no rape stories, or no K/S/M, I will remove those stories from your packet. If you want comments to be mailed directly to you list your address at the beginning of your story. If you wish you identity to remain a secret, have the comments sent to your pen name in care of me. Depending on how much response I get, I hope to be able to send contributors a free copy, otherwise I will ask for a small fee (under $5.00) to cover postage and photocopying. I promise to do everything I can to cut costs. I am not doing this to make a profit, my intention is for stories that would otherwise not be read to gain an audience, and to help people improve their writing.
The LOC Connection #28 was published in April 1991 and contains 10 pages. The editor writes that the letterzine now has 80 subscribers, double the number of last year in April. This issue has autobios from Nina Boal, Karla Kelly, Chris Soto, and Cybel Harper. There is a long, long letter in this issue from a fan about how to recognize pirated zines, how to point them out and make dealers uncomfortable, and why pirated zines are bad.
Kelly Tower, chairman of the Surak Awards Committee, has recently informed me that the Surak Awards have been cancelled, due to a variety of circumstances, and a letter to this effect will be appearing in various publications in the near future. As a result of the Surak’s cancellation, TLC will conduct balloting for awards in K/S fandom, which will be known as the TLC Awards. While this letterzine will be the official ‘voice’ of the Awards, and its subscribers will automatically receive all mailings concerning them, one need not be a subscriber in order to participate.
Some excerpts from “Arena,” the fan discussion section:
A note on art critique: Fan art, except for brief LoCs, is pretty much neglected in fan discussion columns (I'm still mourning the demise of ARTFORUM), thus artists are rather united on feedback. An LoC saying “Gee what a nice drawing,” while being flattering tells the artist nothing of WHY the art is good. Or why does the art fail? Artists aren't any more touchy about their work than writers (I know art is in the eye of the beholder, but so is how a reader views a story), artists can take it on the chin just as well when subjected to constructive criticism. It used to be an inside joke in art class that to be told your drawing was ‘nice’ was considered the kiss of death...it translated to being told your art was mediocre. So it would be interesting to have a comment or two in the ARENA section of what fans like, dislike, want to see more or less of in the visual aspects of zines.
I guess I need to disagree with [name redacted] about the number of K/S zines. I don’t think there’s too many, in fact, I find myself waiting sometimes for months for any new ones to come out. I do think we need some new writers (have to keep new blood coming) and I’m doing my part by trying to encourage my friends to write. It’s not always easy. The time restrictions of job responsibilities and mundane life in general keeps some people from writing. Also, just plain old fear of rejection and lack of self-confidence keeps many talented people from submitting anything. I keep telling my one friend that once you get the first one published it gets easier, and if I can do it she can, but she's still afraid.
Fandom artists, how do you turn your drawings into recognizable characters? I’ve done a bit of drawing and taken a few art classes, still some things remain a mystery to me. My main interest is in fashion drawing, but I have decided to try branching out into fandom drawing. Going from drawing female fashion models (Barbie) to Kirk and Spock is not an easy transition. My two main problems are reproducing accurate facial likeness and their uniforms. I wish Kirk and Spock wore more elaborate costumes perhaps similar to Blake 7. It’s easy to say this is Kirk and Spock by putting them in uniform, but the uniforms are too simple to lend themselves to complex illustration. Could this be why so much of K/S art does not depict them in their uniforms, but rather warrior outfits, chains, and so on? Or do we prefer to see Kirk and Spock without their uniforms, depicted as objects of lust? I attended a panel at Revel Con entitled “How To Draw Good and Get Zines for Free.” This struck me as a bit vulgar, I don’t like to think of myself as someone who tries to write or draw in order to get zines for free, in spite of the fact I can’t afford to buy zines most of the time. My contributions to fandom are things I like to do, not work. If I’m not enjoying what I’m doing, I won’t do it.
I also dislike the “they’re not really gay” approach. When writers go to great lengths to try and assure that Kirk and Spock are “normal” heterosexual men who DON’T love other men, ONLY each other, it gives off the homophobic impression that there is something “wrong” or “abnormal” about being gay. However, I can easily understand the stories where being gay is no longer a big issue in the future society of STAR TREK (I can only hope that this is so!) I can also accept the premise that the two are bisexual. I am a Lesbian so stories which feature positive gay role models are important to me.
While everyone knows I collect Star Trek, including K/S, no one knows I write it. I don’t know that anybody would be upset, but as a teacher, I am required to be a role model, with, at least, the appearance of no vices. When I decided to write more than a token story for the fun of it, I switched to a pen name.
The appeal of K/S for me is the love story between the two. While K/S is more sophisticated than Silhouette  type books, many of the same elements are presented-except Star Trek does not exploit the ‘woman as victim’ theme. As a feminist, I admit that part of the appeal is the recognition that a loving relationship does not require one person to be subservient. (Courts of Honor makes this point exceptionally well.) As a feminist, I am also aware of the irony that the two people involved in this equal relationship are male. On looking at that last sentence, it occurred to me that they are, in reality, sexless or, more accurately, genderless. It is the relationship that appeals, the interaction between the characters, the exploration of what makes different beings interact lovingly when our culture demands an antagonistic relationship. For that reason, I don't like stories that make Star Trek over in the values of our culture, i.e., making one or the other a victim, emphasizing violence instead of IDIC, substituting, what I can only call, ‘macho’ exploitation, for the sharing and friendship of the two. (That may be why I don’t like other /zines.)
This issue has a long, long letter from the editor explaining the need for, and explaining how to write, LoCs.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
...what I want to see in art, I have a preference for realism. In K/S we are dealing with the future or with the fantastical realms of alternate universes. I feel that it is the task of the artists to make these unreal phenomena more real to us. Thus I not only want to see portraits that resemble Kirk and Spock, I'd like them to be rich with details from the fiction or poetry that the art is illustrating. The more directly related an illo is to a story or poem, the better I like it. I'd love to see more illustration of scenes from stories including backgrounds that place the characters in a specific location. If the characters are costumed, I want to see real garments that have texture and which hang a certain way. If the characters are naked, I want to see realistic musculature and body proportions. On the rare occasions when I see K/S art that meets these standards, I am always greatly moved. The best art brings K/S alive for me, as nothing else can.
I believe [name redacted] hit on an important point, when she said there are getting to be too many K/S zine for fandom to support. We're not exactly on welfare, and I get zines when my stories are accepted, but I still don't feel I can justify buying all the other zines I'd like to have. When I started writing, four years ago, I think Robin was putting out First Time only, now look at the line up she has. Ditto Jean and Alayne. In addition to the financial outlay of buying them, where would I store them all? That's getting to be a real consideration to me now, too. However, don't ask me for a list of which ones should be dropped... Part of me was delighted to read [name redacted's] review of Escapade Con. When someone goes to the trouble to put those on, I like to see their efforts rewarded. It sounded very nice. But here again, are we in danger of having too many cons for fandom to support? At the '89 and '90 Calicon, there were more than a sprinkling of fans from New York and Canada, to mention a couple of pretty good air fares to and from San Diego. [Name redacted] and I only live in Northern Calif. We drive down. Diesel, motels, eats, hotel, zines, earrings, pictures, I figure $2000 in travelers checks and a clear Visa card. Most of the gals are much younger than me, and at their age, I would have had to work all year saving for one con, let alone take in two or three.
I can hardly stand to read standard Trek anymore, because I can't stand the 'coldness' between K and S. I just need a warmer relationship between them before I can enjoy a story. There doesn't even have to be sex, just special caring.
If K/S is "declining," has anyone ever considered that price is a factor. There is a definite Unit to the number of $15 - $20 zines I can buy. The 4-color covers are nice but I would prefer less luxury and a lower price. Also proof-reading doesn't cost anything and I have a great deal of trouble appreciating any publication full of typos, bad grammar and hickies , but to pay $20 for it is a real bummer.
Since I'm not an active fan I haven't run into any serious anti-slash crusaders but I attended a con last summer (had a truly great time by the way) where "adult material, straight or slash" was totally banned from the art show and the dealers' room. Now, I can understand that courtesy to the guests of honor would prevent displaying their characters in flagrant delicto but a complete ban on adult material sales bothered me quite a bit. Courtesy does not require suppression!
I went to a Dreamworks con two days ago, and one dealer there had K/S in a box behind the counter. He wasn't hiding it, though; he had a sign advertising Adult Fanzines, Over 21 Only (illustrated with a blushing nude Spock protecting his most vulnerable area). So I guess at least some professional con promoters do allow K/S. It was awfully expensive, though.
I would like to say that you may mourn the demise of ARTFORUM, I mourn the fact that there never has been a place where fannish poets could speak to other poets about the techniques of poetry. Poetry is also pretty neglected in comments, and I am primarily a poet. I have years of poetry workshop experience behind me, and I'd love to be able to share what I've learned about the way poetry works with other fannish poets. Regina, however, has the same policy about poetry that she has for art. No one may make negative comments on poetry or art published in TLC no matter how constructively they are phrased. This means that neither poets nor artists will ever learn from TLC about their mistakes, and how their work might be improved. I believe that Regina has this policy because she knows very little about either poetry or art, and therefore would have no way to judge whether a criticism of either of these was fair or unfair. This leads to why there are so few comments about either art or poetry. I'd imagine that most fans would say that they know what poems or artwork they liked when they see then, but they don't have the vocabulary to express what it was they liked about these works. They don't know the terms. They also couldn't write about what was wrong with a poem or an illo for the exact same reason. They'd only know that for some reason they didn't like it. I myself have a limited knowledge of artistic terminology due to having had a mother who sketched as a hobby, and to having a friend who collects art. Yet I am not an artist, so I don't know the techniques that can be used to improve a piece of art. Therefore, I can never make truly constructive comments in this area.
I have a couple of stories titled, "Elf Tale," in that zine (Anything Goes) I was going to write a series, but haven't, so I offer the idea to anyone who wants to use it. Vulcans, unknown to the Federation, miniaturize a ship and send it to spy on Earth. It crashes in a field in Iowa. When it leaves, Spock's left behind. He wanders upon a young Jim Kirk and the rest is history. I had thought to have the Ken doll-sized Spock help Kirk through the Academy and return to Vulcan, eventually. It's rather hard to cone up with new K/S scenes for such disparate sizes... I tried to rip off...er, parody of "Here Comes the Brides," with Spock the older brother, Sulu and Chekov the younger brothers, Kirk a bride, Uhura either the saloon keeper or a rival bride, and McCoy the steamboat captain. The story's not finished, but it doesn't resemble my original idea at all. If someone wants to 'borrow' this idea, be my guest.
I've never gotten into any other fandoms -- and probably never will. To me, K/S is unique. And I guess it bothers me when I see others leaving K/S. To me, the friendship and deep feelings between Kirk and Spock are so obvious and I just don't really see that in other shows, except maybe Starsky and Hutch. So often, it seems that two men are thrown together simply because they happen to be on the same TV show when there has been nothing to indicate any such feelings. Of course, people are free to read or write anything they choose — but, for me, I'll never feel the same about any two characters the way I do about Kirk and Spock. I hope K/S lasts forever.
After several forays into New York City [for cons], I discovered zines. The lady who sold then also had brought her personal library to the convention so that others could read out-of-print zines. Through her I discovered CONTACT. I began to look for zines that interested me but bought few. For some reason or other, most of then didn't appeal to me. Then I found some that did. When I was told about the K/S nature of the stories, I was flabbergasted that others had seen the characters the same way that I did. Until that time, I had thought I was a little strange for even imagining such a thing.
The LOC Connection 30 was published in June 1991 and contains 11 pages. It has autobios of Daphne Garcia and Suzane Um.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
.... regarding the cost of going to conventions, I don't know how other people do it, either. I can only afford one convention a year — though in 1991, I can't afford to go anywhere at all — and that takes me all year to save for. If I weren't spending so much money on zines, the travel expenses wouldn't be so bad, but what's the use of going to a con if you aren't going to buy zines?
Hobbies? I enjoy photography and travel. My idea of heaven is a few K/S zines tucked into the lining of my suitcase (Customs!), a bag stuffed with camera gear, and meeting my husband in far away places like Greece or China or Switzerland. The sons stay home and take care of our three cats.
..chalk me up as one of the people who feels there are too many K/S zines. In terms of sheer numbers of zines, there aren't any more being printed now than there were in the late '80's when K/S was at its peak of popularity. The difference now, however, is that the slash dollar is being spread more thinly between the various slash fandom, so there isn't as much money available for purchasing K/S zines as there used to be. This means editors aren't selling as many zines (at least, that's what I've heard). Another problem is that there aren't enough writers to support all the K/S zines. What has really been baffling me lately is that so many K/S editors are trying to produce so many different 'theme' zines. If they can't get as many stories for their 'standard' K/S zine as quickly as they'd like, then why are they up and inventing all these new zines in which to badger writers for stories? It doesn't make sense to me.
I definitely disagree with those who say there are too many K/S zines. I became a K/S fan less than a year ago, and already I have read the vast majority of what is out there. When the costs of the zines got prohibitive, I started buying used zines. (Sorry, editors, but this is real life.) Almost anything is available through the used lists if you are quick to respond to ads and use your telephone. Through ordering, I managed to connect with another K/S fan in my area who has become a good friend. We started to trade. Now there are four of us. We meet every three weeks or so for lunch and conversation, and to trade zines. Among the four of us, we manage to all have exactly what we want to read, and we take turns bearing the costs of anything new we get.
Let me add my two bits about a list of favorites. PORTRAITS, COURTS OF HONOR, and NOR NO HAS EVER LOVED top my list. NIGHTVISIONS cannot be denied a place. I am happy to say that our own Charlotte Frost is my very favorite author, really!
I first became interested in K/S at the same time I realized that there was an entire fandom out there writing Star Trek fiction. At that point, I was frequently searching the bookstores, both old and new, for more reading stuff, and very infrequently finding anything. Finally, I decided to write to some of the addresses listed in one of the Price Guides — talk about dated lists! — and got back a Pon Farr Press catalog in the mail. I couldn't believe it! but soon became hooked.... Anyway, although I still collect pro Star Trek books, I much prefer reading K/S and other stories that deal with relationships. Everything else seems dry and uninteresting. Suddenly, it was the K/S relationship that became Star Trek — it didn't matter if they were serving on a starship or living in outer Mongolia.
I noticed that editors seem to be out to impress people with the look of the zine. By this I mean doing color covers and trying to make it as many pages as possible to look bigger. But when I open the zine, I find the space inside used very inefficiently. For example, borders around every page, double spacing between paragraphs, and large margins. Now, I'll admit this looks nice, but the story would take up much less room if done in reduced type and double columns. Doing so would result in a smaller, less costly zine, but the stories inside would still say the same exact thing. I'm not trying to put zine editors down or anything. I really enjoy reading what they put out. I just feel if the costs were minimized, I would be likely to buy a lot more from them.
On the subject of K/S art: before I read K/S, I was never very fond of how men look without any clothes on. I mean, they smell good, they taste good, they feel good— but I always thought they looked like a water tap, and should be marked H and C. But since I've been reading this stuff, I've come to appreciate them more. Now that they have Beautiful Male calendars in all the regular stores, I've been looking at some of their bikini'd models. What a disappointment! None of them have any facial expression at all! (Unless you count the sort of practiced smolder some of them affect.) What's the good of a gorgeous body with nothing on top? In the best K/S drawings, the face, indeed, the whole body, expresses an emotion of some sort; the guys look like Real People, not just Real Men.
Killing Time by Della Van Hise (pro ST novel #24, 1985) which one can buy "censored" in stores or uncensored as a genzine from Pon Farr Press is NOT K/S. I do believe Ms. Van Hise has gotten into loads of trouble because people think it is K/S. It's a WONDERFUL story. I was lucky enough to buy the pro novel before some imbecile who disliked words such as "bullshit" and "naked" (SHOCKING!) "censored" it. The original version and rewritten version are both good. I prefer Della's original because it's more detailed about how they are "one" - mentally NOT PHYSICALLY. This book has absolutely no homosexual contact between Kirk and Spock. It's one of the few "pro" novels that's memorable. It's not K/S, but it's still good.
Out of print zines can be obtained in several ways. You light find them at cons, or you might find them on sale lists from fans who are selling their zines through the mail. Prices for originals of out of print zines can be very high, however. Fans who want originals for their collections have driven up the prices. There is nothing wrong with getting xeroxes of these zines. The reason why it's unethical to buy or sell xeroxes of in-print zines is because the editor loses a sale that way. Out of print zines aren't being sold by any editor, so no one loses money when they're copied... Make sure you aren't buying from someone who also xeroxes in print zines. These fans are pirates, and shouldn't be supported in any way. You might be lucky, and have a friend who is willing to xerox her copy of an out of print zine for you. Reimbursing her for the cost of copying is the considerate thing to do. Sometimes an editor decides to do a new edition of an out of print zine as Jean Hinson did with K.S. T'Lan's masterpiece, NOR NO MAN EVER LOVED. If you see that an editor is contemplating doing this, write her a letter indicating your support of the new edition, and put those who are selling xeroxes of the zine on notice about it. They are only pirates if they continue to sell xeroxes of the zine after it's come back into print.
I agree with a lot of what [name redacted] has to say about zines, except that I don't tend to notice pock-marked covers or widows at the tops of columns, What I do notice, and hate, are typos that spell words (the only kind of typo left in this day of the spell-checker) and misused words. I see an awful lot of the latter. These things bother me, not because I look for things to correct, but because they jerk me out of the story the way a sudden bad note jerks you out of the music. To be honest, they'd bother me even if I were paying less. On the other hand, I like borders, which I know some people don't like, because they help me find my way around the zine.
- heterosexual pro books along the line of a Harlequin romance
- a term for typo?