The LOC Connection/Issues 31-40
The editor explains that she wanted to include the winners of the recent TLC Awards but that "they'd flopped rather badly." She'd figured with 80 subscribers added to the 20 she'd sent out to other active fans, that she'd have gotten at least 50 ballots returned; there were only 26, and it seemed pointless to base awards on that too few replies:
According to my mail, the main reason most people didn't vote was because they didn't feel they had read enough zines to be confident of that the 'best' choices were for the various categories. It's a moot point now, but if someone else does awards in the future, I hope those individuals who fall in this group will consider that voting in and of itself is not an exact science. There are probably no more than a dozen people in K/S who read all the zines in the same year that they come out. My feeling is that one should vote for anything they may have read that was excellent for its category, even if there may be something even more excellent that they hadn't read yet.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
Re: your LoC on my story "Convalescing" last issue and your question "When there is a competing love interest, why does it have to be male?" That's a very good question and one that in the years since writing the story I've even wondered about myself. I don't recall my thought processes at the time, so can't say for sure what prompted me to make Lt. Parkers a man. It could be that I actually thought I was being somewhat original at the time. However, regarding fandom's tendency in general to make most competing love interests male, I think it has to do with the ladies of K/S wanting to read about men. It seems that whenever a K/S story has a strong female character, it is immediately disliked (even if she isn't a love interest). I know of some fans who automatically label a story a "Mary Sue" if it contains a major female character, no matter how intelligently that character may be written. To be honest, I think it's probably one of those unpleasant little hypocrisies of K/S. Many of us claim we like K/S because it represents a completely equal relationship, but we tend to not want women to have equal status in those same stories. Perhaps we subconsciously see them as competing with us— the female fans of K/S.
I really like that zine. The stories are always about something significant and the contributors are some of the best fannish writers I've seen. In regard to characterization, however, I think that English restraint serves them best when they are portraying Vulcans. Spock really is often like an Englishman, but Kirk is not. Sometimes seeing a stiff, proper and formal Kirk bothers me when I read English K/S. In American K/S conflict often happens between the characters because Spock prefers to be indirect and restrained while Kirk prefers to be more direct and frank. In English K/S both the characters are indirect and restrained. Sometimes this makes for magnificently subtle relationship scenes, and other times the low-key nature of the exchange robs English K/S stories of drama. Speaking of dialogue, this is another barrier when reading English K/S. It seems to me that American fan writers make an effort to try to write dialogue with verisimilitude when they are working with English characters such as Bodie and Doyle. They may not always be successful, but they do try. English K/S writers don't make the slightest effort to write American dialogue for Kirk or McCoy. It isn't just a matter of English slang. American have different sentence structures and different rhythms of speech as well as the more obvious differences in vocabulary. I would suggest that English K/S writers watch the episodes and listen to how the characters really speak. I always check the dialogue in my own stories by closing my eyes, reciting it aloud and seeing if I can imagine Kirk or Spock saying that.
If [name redacted's] desire to see shorter and less pretty zines is supported by many others in fandom maybe the tide has turned. Zines have become as pretty and graphically elaborate as they are because fans demanded it. Prettier zines have tended to sell better, and more simple zines have in the past come under heavy criticism. It isn't just a matter of aesthetics, however. Larger print and more space on the page may be easier for some fans to read. Let's face it, some of us older fans don't see as well as we used to. I can't read reduced print for very long. If I spend more than an hour at a time reading reduced print, I'll suffer from eyestrain and headaches. Editors should consider this before adopting to the suggestion of switching to reduced print.
The LOC Connection 32 was published in August 1991 and contains 14 pages. There are no autobios in this issue.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
1. Homophobia in K/S — I have no objection to depictions of homophobia on the part of any individual organization in K/S, with the probable exception of Spock. I think that there is likely to still be homophobia in the twenty-third century, although, because Federation culture is generally shown as quite open and progressive, it will probably be milder or more of a minority viewpoint than today. Spock is the one character whom I cannot see as ever being homophobic, due to IDIC and his own rather outcast status. 2. Kirk having a fling with McCoy — this idea has approximately the same appeal to me as the idea of Kirk having a fling with his grandmother. Yes, it is offensive, and what's more, it isn't sexy. I just can't see Kirk and "Bones" getting it on, I realize there are fans of this motif, but count me out. 3. Kirk having an affair when Sarek visits him in STIII to find out why Kirk didn't bring back Spock's body–no, this wouldn't offend me. 4. Use of profanity — I think it should be mild. Whenever I encounter strong profanity in zine writing it always seems out of character to me. We simply don't hear strong profanity in the series and only rarely in the movies. I like a Kirk who's a gentleman and I just don't think Spock would feel the need to use profanity. It's not so much a matter of being offensive as coming across as bad writing that doesn't sound like the characters.
Would certain ideas "offend" me. I can only say that, for myself, there is very little in a well-written story that would be offensive to me. As far as the issue of homophobia, unfortunately, it is my opinion that a certain amount of prejudice will always exist in society among certain people. Large organizations i.e. Starfleet would not necessarily be totally free from this intolerance. I think that a story with a homophobic person(s) in it might be quite informative and interesting. It certainly would be reflective of what goes on in our own world to show how "good" people are judged merely on the basis of their sexuality. I've often found that in most K/S stories (my own included) everyone seems to be almost too accepting of a sexual relationship between Kirk and Spock. Even though it is the 23rd century I still think bigotry will most probably still exist, just as it has through the ages. As far as Kirk having an affair with someone while Spock is away, I can only say that it would certainly be possible. Didn't he marry Lori Ciani? Personally, the thought of Kirk and McCoy getting together doesn't appeal to me. I think of Kirk and McCoy as good friends, nothing sexual, but again, it wouldn't "offend" me. I just personally wouldn't enjoy such a scenario.
I like to think that Starfleet is tolerant of homosexual officers, even if some individuals are not. The only way I would enjoy a story on Starfleet being intolerant, is if Kirk and Spock were forced to choose between a career with the fleet or a relationship with each other. Homophobia from strangers does not sound like it would be that interesting. I don't think Kirk and Spock are really going to be bothered about what people they don't even know think about them. Regarding friends' homophobia, I guess it all depends on how important the friend is, and what kind of impact it's going to have on the characters and/or the readers. It's hard to say more without knowing specifics. Actually, I would love to see a Kirk/McCoy story that takes place between the 5-year mission and The Motion Picture. It's an excellent scenario, Spock has left Kirk and Kirk no longer commands the Enterprise. With the two most important things gone from his life, be may become emotionally distraught, and seek a meaningful relationship with a good friend such as McCoy. McCoy does seem kind of lonely, so it is quite possible that he too would be seeking such a relationship.
... homophobia is a time-honored topic in K/S literature. We've read it in many stories, and I believe it is a valid interpretation of the future. I have no problem with homophobia in the stories I read, although taken to extremes it could lead to some really depressing stories, and I am no fan of those. Yes, I would be offended if Kirk has a fling with McCoy before ST:TMP, and not because of homophobia, but because I see no basis for such an action in the characters. Unless you want to plainly state you are dealing with an alternate universe, or print your story in a multi-media zine, I can see no possibility of such a scenario with the characters as they have already been established. According to my understanding of the characters, they simply do not have that kind of relationship, nor is it likely that they would develop it. After all, the whole reason for the existence of K/S is that we saw the relationship between Spock and Kirk. You don't have to strain very far, or not at all for some of us, to see K/S in the aired characters. No matter how hard I might try, I don't see it between Kirk and McCoy. Sorry.
In response to [name redacted's] comments in her bio-line profile about experimenting with different techniques, I think I would like to see the results of her experiments. Unfortunately, I think that some K/S fans really want to see art that resembles photographs as much as possible, and judge all the art they see in zines on that basis, As for [name redacted's] plea that the rules shouldn't be changed for art in TLC, I'm quite certain that art criticism does require more specialised knowledge than most K/S readers have. If, for example, you do a portrait of Spock that employs the style of abstract impressionism, I expect you would want to know whether you utilised that particular style well. Let's suppose I comment on this piece and I know nothing about abstract expressionists I've never studied the theory behind it and I know nothing about the techniques that abstract expressionists use. I've seen a few Van Goghs in museums, and I think they're pretty strange, but I don't even know enough about art to recognize that the style of your portrait is similar to Van Gogh's. Also, let's imagine that I'm the type of fan who'd really like it if all K/S art resembled photographs, and to hell with a variety of techniques or an artist's individual approach. I don't understand anything about that. It only matters that your piece has fallen short of a photograph's realism. So all I can say is "Gee, that illo sure looks weird. Were you a little spaced out when you drew that?
I have become accustomed to Kirk's meaningless sexual encounters with women and I'm quite comfortable with them. But when either of them branch out with other men, except, under certain conditions, McCoy, I feel personally betrayed, hurt, and jealous. And unless the author gets rid of that intruder in fairly short order, I'm furious!
I would like to thank Regina Moore and THE LOC CONNECTION for existing! I only just discovered this nifty letterzine via [name redacted], whom I in turn previously discovered through a lucky fluke. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get information on K/S from the Welcommittee?
The LOC Connection 33 was published in September 1991 and contains 11 pages. This issue has a new feature, a section called "The Booth." Authors/artists volunteer to be "in the booth," and fans comment on their entire body of work regarding trends, improvements, styles, and such. The first fan "in the booth" is Charlotte Frost.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
All the negative comments about K/McC make me feel like I ought to put in a good word for that relationship. I have heard from some fans that they regard McCoy as a dried up old prune of a man. Is this ageism? I certainly don't feel that the series portrays him as lacking in vitality. It does portray him as having had an unhappy past which could make him unwilling to risk deep involvement again.... The Kirk of the series also fights shy of commitment. I don't feel that sex is problematic for either of them, however. They both appear to see sex as a basic physical need that should be fulfilled in as uncomplicated a way as possible. Kirk has been known to have sex with women friends like Areel Shaw who were sophisticated enough not to expect very much of Kirk. There is no reason why he wouldn't do this with a male friend who has a similar attitude about sexual encounters. Since they can't always get away for shore leave. I could easily see casual sex between Kirk and McCoy. It would be superficial, intermittent and totally without strings. They'd refer to each other as "fuck buddies", and pretend that their relationship didn't really matter — even if it did. A Gol separation period interlude, however, would be quite different. Whether or not Kirk and McCoy were "fuck buddies" during the five-year mission, a sexual relationship that begins with lending each other mutual comfort over the hole in their lives that occurred when Spock left for Gol, has got to be deeper — more emotionally revealing. The intensity of it would probably frighten Kirk and McCoy. That's why it would be very temporary. It would burn incandescently for a short time. They would cling to each other for a while because no one else would understand their loss so well, but in the end, it would be too much for them and they would both flee — Kirk to the safety of a temporary contract marriage with Lori Ciani, and McCoy to a Georgia medical practice. These are both men who run from intimacy. Their relationship would have no glue to keep it bound together for long. That's how I see K/McC.
In response to [name redacted's] complaint about pro-Trek novels — the reason why pro-Trek novels had been getting away from Kirk and Spock is because of Paramount's fear of K/S. The pro writers can't portray deep friendship between Kirk and Spock without arousing the studio's paranoia. This was shown in their reaction to KILLING TIME. So the writers went with secondary characters, or characters who they created. Personally, I'd rather see a genuine intimate relationship between created characters like T'Shael and Cleante in DWELLERS OF THE CRUCIBLE, than a novel that centers on Kirk and Spock, but has a phony and superficial relationship between them. Unfortunately, that is what we are likely to be getting in the pro-Trek novels produced in the foreseeable future.... Well, at least we have K/S zines as an antidote to the studio's pablum.
I am sorry if my words caused anyone to confuse medium with style. There is no reason why the graphic mediums I mentioned could not produce realistic looking illustrations. The example Linda gave, abstract expressionism, is a style that can be done in any medium, such as oils, pastels, woodcuts, scratchboard, watercolor, etc. However, the concepts, "abstract" and "illustrate" are at odds. It goes against all common sense for anyone to try to illustrate a story with an abstract picture. It defeats the purpose of illustration entirely, and you'll never catch me trying it! As for criticism, I would not mind hearing that anyone thought that my illustration missed the mark, even if they could not give me an in-depth critique on the medium or style I used. Let's de-mystify this area a little. What would be wrong in pointing out that the story placed the guys in an opulent setting and the artist showed them in a stark room? Or that the likenesses were off the mark, or the bodies looked more like little boys instead of grown men? They need not tell the artist how to correct those shortcomings if they did not know. Like literary criticism, it boils down to one person's opinion. We can pretty much agree that one need not be an expert in order to critique fan fiction. Why put artwork on a higher pedestal?
Yes, my family knows what I write about. I gave up keeping secrets a number of years ago. (Not that I don't get very nervous.) My mother has read a few of the less graphic stories, and said she enjoyed them, and she's eighty-two years old. My [grown] kids think it's a kick, and describe their mother as a 'porno-queen' to their friends. (God!! I should have kept it secret from them.) My husband complains that my nose is always in a book, or the word-processor, and why don't I get paid for all the time I spend writing? Some of my closer friends torture me until I let them read something I've written, but one seems to be enough for them.
Not many people know that I write. It isn't that I am embarrassed or ashamed about what I write. I guess it is more along the line that I don't have much self-confidence yet. I mean I still can't believe that the stuff I write is coming from ME. I am sure that there is this goblin deep down inside taking control of me and putting out this stuff. K/S gave me a place, not necessarily to belong to but to be understood, The people involved in K/S are the type of people who are willing to listen to someone's ideas and thoughts and not laugh at them. Not necessarily so with the rest of the world.
The LOC Connection 34 was published in October 1991 and contains 8 pages.
- this issue contains comments about the stories in: The Air is the Air, Alternate Babel, Animal Passion, The Baths of Tizar, Catnip, Chains, False Starts, Fantasy's Fire, Feverland, The Decision, The Glory of Love, Love Letters in the Sand, Delayed Reaction, An Erotic Shadow, The Mirror Cracked, Thy Brother's Keeper, The Oldest Story, Portraits, The Summons, Two Beds are Better than One, The Turn of a Card, What He Did for Love -- also comments about the art in First Time #30 and T'hy'la #10
- Chris Soto comments on homophobia in the Star Trek universe: Homophobia by individuals? Yes, there's always one loony in the crowd who finds a reason to hate someone. Homophobia in general? I don't think the Federation would have all that many members if they were prejudicial and closed-minded. I've never heard anyone kick about the Deltan's sexual practices. As for Starfleet, there would have to be a certain amount of tolerance in this area. Often their ships would be first to contact new cultures and races. Men and women serving aboard Starfleet ships would most likely have to be accepting of different societies. Yes, today the military is the most conservative of institutions,but we're talking three hundred years from now.
- Chris Soto comments on the pairing Kirk/McCoy: I would read a story on that theme...IF it were well written and there was a very good reason given for Kirk and McCoy. There have been some stories written along this line, but I found them too 'soap operish'. What's even more unbelievable... S/Mc stories. It boggles the mind trying to picture these two together in blissful co-habitation. At lease McCoy has a few things in common with Kirk.
- Chris Soto: regarding Sarek/Kirk: Kirk having an affair when daddy Sarek comes looking for Spock's katra? Kirk wouid have just lost his best friend and/or lover...I don't think he'd be in such of a mood to make whoopie with anybody. Kirk may be arrogant at tines and a bit self centered...but he's not unfeeling. Mourning Spock's death by jumping in the sack with someone just doesn't cut it. And I don't believe he would be so distraught as to forget himself and lose control in that way at that time. Kirk and Sarek? Only if they were stranded on a deserted planet and Sarek went into Pon Farr and there was no one else to save him but Kirk. Kirk wouldn't like the idea, but he's not the kind of man to let someone (and certainly not Sarek) die if he can do something to prevent it.
- Chris Soto, about art: One doesn't need to know anything about the technicalities of art to state their opinion on it. I've never taken a writing course and I used to do my History homework during English class in college, so you can say i know zilch about writing. Yet, if I read a story that catches my attention I'm not hesitant to try and explain, in my limited vocabulary, why it moved or did not move me. I'm sure I'll get my point across somehow. And that is the purpose of an loc, to let the writer know how their story affected you. It is the same with art, one doesn't have to have taken art appreciation or be an artist to observe a piece of art. What training in art does it take just to say if an illustration succeeded or failed in a viewer's opinion? Fans do it all the time with stories they critique, and I'm sure many of them don't write or have taken creative writing courses. Therefore I could never accept the premise that one needs to know something about art to comment on it intelligently. I don't think any artist is asking for their work to get torn to shreds as some critiques have done to a few K/S stories. Nor does an artist invite nitpickiness (who cares if the writer uses too many adjectives or the artist does only ink). The point is...does the art elicit an emotional response? Does it take the viewer react negatively or positively or not at all? Of so, why? If writers learn by their mistakes, then so do artists.
- Linda Frankel comments on art: There are K/S artists who have a style that is deliberately non-realistic, but which still illustrates. We mustn't ignore art history from Renoir to Van Gogh. There were the impressionists, the pointillists, the fauves, the expressionists and the surrealists. These styles involve individual approaches in which the subjects are clearly recognizable, but the art is also definitely not photographic. I have seen impressionism, expressionism and surrealism in K/S art, and I appreciate such non-realistic styles when the artist has enough understanding of them to execute them well.... Strictly speaking, a great deal of K/S art doesn't illustrate at all. The most typical form of zine art is the generic portrait of either Kirk or Spock. They don't specifically relate to the stories or poems that they are supposedly illustrating. Why does this happen? I have thought of two possible scenarios. The first is that editors can't get artists to do specific illustrations. I have read that some artists limit themselves to portraiture, and others may not have the time to draw a detailed scene before the deadline that the editor has set. Another possibility is that editors could get specific illustrations from artists, but they don't request them. Instead they ask for generic portraits that they can stick anywhere in a zine. I suspect that both these scenarios are happening. Some editors may want specific illustrations, but aren't getting them. Others may have a policy of using generic fill-ins because that lends them more flexibility. Consider that an editor can use a generic portrait in the zine she's currently editing, or hold it for another zine that will appear a year later. If she periodically asks artists for generic work to keep on file, she will aiways have art on hand. From the editor's standpoint, this is a very practical policy. In any case. I would like to see more illos that really do illustrate.
The LOC Connection 35 was published in November 1991 and contains 15 pages.
The editor says that she has "decided that I will start accepting constructive criticism on poetry and art. Previously, I had only printed positive comments."
- the fan writer in "The Booth" is Gena Moretti, see that page
- this issue has a very long autobio of "Regina Moore (Charlotte Frost)"
This issue contains fan comments about A Terrible Rightness, View from Vulcan, A Web of Twos, All the Way Home, Animal Passions, Another Side of the Mirror, Best of Innocence, The Arms of a Friend, The Best Laid Plans, The Ballad of the Rival Lord's Son (a poem in "Scattered Stars" #3), Blue Symmetry, "The Bonding" (a poem in Charisma #12), Dear Diary, "The Captains" a poem in Charisma #13), Direct Hit, The Captain's Boy, Escape Artist, Catnip, Hand to Hand, More Than Yesterday, Less Than Tomorrow, Hovering, Nightmare Road, Nor No Man Ever Loved, The Oldest Story, Irresistible Force, Pock, Portrait of Freedom, "Simply Love" (a poem in Nome #12), Psychic Storm, The Stars of Home, The Rasputin Effect, Reflection, Swan, Revolving Door, A Terrible Rightness, Trouble in Hell, Taking Command, Two Blind Mice, Velvet Deceptions, When Lightning Strikes Twice, What Price Security, Warlords, the cover art and other art for Scattered Stars #3
- comment about Spock/McCoy: I agree with Chris Soto about Spock/McCoy. They don't have very much in common — except possibly a belief in the sacredness of life. Yet this brings up the issue of what Kirk and Spock have in common. What they share isn't very obvious, but I believe that they are in agreement about what the most important things in life are. McCoy really is in disagreement with both Kirk and Spock about very basic matters. Kirk and Spock believe in loyalty to principles, but McCoy thinks that loyalty should be to an individual. Kirk and Spock may be willing to let principles fall by the wayside under extreme circumstances, but it would be much more difficult for them to deal with such a situation than it would be for McCoy. They would be conflicted about it, and feel that their integrity had been breached. I'm not saying that McCoy is unprincipled. It's just that his first principle is that people come first. If it were up to McCoy, he'd rescue an epidemic stricken non-Federation world using Federation medical technology and never once consider the Prime Directive. Kirk and Spock would have to consider the Prime Directive out of loyalty to their oaths and to the Service, while McCoy has made it abundantly clear that his loyalty is to Kirk and not to Starfleet. McCoy just isn't dedicated to the Service the way Kirk and Spock are. It isn't part of his identity. So if fans are writing Spock/McCoy or Kirk/Spock/McCoy, they have to be aware of a fundamental conflict in the relationship because of the differences in McCoy's priorities and values. I have some more thoughts about Spock/McCoy. The one thing they do share is their love of Kirk. This is why Kirk/Spock/McCoy would be viable. Kirk would be the glue that would hold them together. If Kirk were dead, Spock and McCoy could share the memory of Kirk and comfort each other, but over the long haul that wouldn't work to keep them together. They really aren't compatible. Fans who are fond of Spock/McCoy must be adherents of the idea that "opposites attract". I don't believe that this is a recipe for viable relationships. People aren't magnets, nor are we solely bundles of hormones. We have minds that make choices, and personalities with specific traits that need to be understood by the partners we choose. Individuals who are opposites may be physically attracted to one another, but they will almost certainly live unhappily forever after unless they can discover some common ground. The common ground between Spock and McCoy is as uncertain and shifting as a fault line.
- comment by a fan about feedback: Re: your letter in the last issue about locs on art and your statement "Nor does an artist invite nitpickiness in locs (who cares if the writer uses too many adjectives or the artist does only ink.)" As a writer, my answer is that I care. I realize I'll probably taking your statement more literally than you intended, but if a story mine is so overloaded with adjectives that the reader notices enough to comment upon it, then there's a problem with my story-telling technique. And I want to be told about it. So, I invite nitpickiness in comments on my stories. I know I'll never write a perfect story, but I'm always striving to write smoothly enough that the reader thinks she's participating in the story instead of just reading it. Too many adjectives is one of numerous stumbling blocks that can jumble a story so badly that the reader is distracted from what is taking place. However, I do agree with what you say about wanting to know if your art elicits an emotional response. I, too, want to know how readers felt about my stories. I enjoy receiving locs from those who don't know the first thing about writing and can only convey their emotion as a reader, as well as from fellow authors and/or English majors who are capable of structurally picking a story apart. In short, I want reactions from both sides of the tracks. [snipped] Locs are the most valuable when there's a lot of them on a single story. (I've written 40 K/S stories, and I've found that it's at least a year before I have enough locs to get an overall feel for how well a story was received. And some stories just never receive such response, period.) In the past, I've shrugged off small criticisms in certain locs because the criticism was only "one person's opinion". Yet, when I see those same criticisms popping up by different readers on more than one of my stories--or in a situation such as "The Booth" - then I know there's definitely aspects of my writing that need improvement. The point I'm trying to get at is that any single loc shouldn't be taken as gospel; each should be viewed as a small piece to a large puzzle. But you can't have the whole picture without all those little pieces, so as an author I feel grateful for every little morsel I get - even if it's difficult to swallow. I'll take nitpickiness over silence any day.
- a fan is worried about poetry: Now that I've finally become a fanzine writer, I find myself in a strange dilemma. I don't want to read any poetry now because I'm afraid I'll unconsciously copy it. I think poetry is very much an act relying upon the unconscious and it bothers me to be afraid to read poetry now. Do other poets have this fear? I really don't see it as something that would bother a short story writer or novelist. But maybe some of the prose writers feel the same way??????
- more on reviews: I was somewhat disturbed upon reading the last two issues of TLC to find that some of the subscribers didn't feel that it was necessary to review anything — story, poetry, or art — by someone whose name wasn't on the list of subscribers. As we all know, many of us who write K/S stories use pen names. Some authors use only one, merely as camouflage. Others use several. One of the main reasons for this is to, hopefully, invite constructive criticism which is not influenced by the reader/critic's knowledge of the writer's identity. Frequently, if a critic doesn't know who the writer is, she feels freer to express herself. After we have written a few stories under one pen name, the readers, especially those who are writers themselves, and/or attend cons and know us personally, know our pen names. When this happens, those critiquing our work either generalize, or avoid making any criticism that they feel will hurt our feelings. Another reason for additional pen names, is an alternate style of writing. If I try a new style under the name I'm known by, the reader's judgment of the new work may be influenced unintentionally by association with "Phaedra's" previous work rather than according to the merits or demerits of the story itself and the new style. Ergo, the "unacknowledged" pen names. I, personally, have two other pen names. If the stories and poems that I have written using a pen name that is not on the list are not critiqued because the reviewer doesn't recognize or know who the author is, I don't get the feedback I need (nor do any of the other writers with alternate pen names) to improve my work and offer the readers better stories or try new approaches. I don't think we should impose this limitation on our reviews. Nor do I agree that the reviews in the August issue should have been limited to the works of those authors on the subscriber's list. This implies a bias of membership (which is not necessarily accurate), if nothing else. Perhaps, in the future, an alternate solution to this problem can be found.
- about art: I can honestly say that I have not run across the K/S styles of zine art that Linda Frankel described as impressionism, expressionism, and surrealism. I wish I had! She also says that the styles were "deliberately non-realistic," yet the subjects were "clearly recognizable." This leads me to believe that Linda and I are thinking of two different things when we say "realistic illustrations." My guess is that Linda means photographic realism where every hair and wrinkle is rendered in excruciating detail. On the other hand, my thoughts run more to easily recognizable when we mention "realistic" illustrations. Nothing is distorted or obscure and the identities of the subjects are never in doubt. Each of these interpretations can be found in K/S art, though I think lore artists still strive for photographic realism (with differing degrees of success) in their illos. There is obviously room for both approaches, and I look forward to the variety that can be achieved. As for what Linda tens "generic" art (usually a portrait) that does not really illustrate a specific story, I suspect that editors who put out a large number of zines in a short amount of time must resort to these. It does take a good deal of time, first to contact artists to see if they are willing to illo for you, then to send out all of the stories in the zine to different artists and hope that they send back illustrations related to the text (preferably before the next Ice Age). These days, finding enough artists who have the time and are willing to work with the editor is nearly impossible! I agree that illos that really illustrate make for a much more satisfying zine, which is why I am doing my zine that way. Yes, Linda, you initiated some good feedback about art! Chris Soto also made some valuable observations and asked some leading questions about zine art. Fans should ask themselves, when they look at an illustration, does it elicit an emotional response...negative or positive...and why? Then, tell the artist!
- comment by a fan: In looking back, I'm not sure what made me want to write K/S. I suppose part of the reason was to get free zines. I think the other part was a desire to write the long, drawn out sex scenes (and buildup to sex scenes) that even my most favorite K/S stories seemed to fall short of. I've always loved hurt/comfort — in any artistic form — and I think a long buildup in a sex scene is a form of hurt/comfort, I lean, no matter how intense the physical reactions get, I like each man to always be fully conscious and caring of the other. Ideally, lust never takes over, even in the midst of orgasm, I'm not claiming it's realistic; I'm just saying that's the part of 'slash" that makes my heart go pitter-patter: the affection, the caring; not the you-make-me-so-horny-I-have-to-have-you-right-now stuff. Which brings me to one of the things I dislike about some K/S stories. No matter how excellent the writing may be, I don't get much out of stories that have K and S falling in love with each other from the moment they first meet (which includes Academy stories); or stories there they're attracted merely from each other's exterior qualities; or even when they sense "we were always meant to be together'. First and foremost, for me to really enjoy K/S (or any slash) I have to believe the characters actually like each other. And they can't like each other if they don't know anything about each other. I'm rarely impressed with "fated to be together' scenarios because it seems as though they have no choice but to be together. I want my slash guys to choose to be together -- again, because they genuinely like each other and enjoy each other's company; not because the forces of the universe insist that it must be so (which I see as merely another form of slavery, with the universe as "Master"). That's not to say that I can't enjoy the eroticism of some sex-for-the-sake-of-sex stories. Alexis Fegan Black, in addition to writing many heart-warming stories, has a particular knack for writing m/u or a/u stories that are nothing more or less than sheer eroticism -- and deliciously so. The kind of stories I like most tend to be the ones that generate all those "warm feelings" -- without being unrealistically mushy. These days, however, I find myself insisting more and more on plot beyond the sex before I feel a story is truly superior. I'm always the most amazed when I come across stories that do have a strong plot, yet don't sacrifice the warm feelings in order to tell their tale.
- from this letterzine's editor: I don't have any desire to be married or have children. Most people think of "leaving their mark" via their offspring; but, for me, I envision, hundreds of years from now, a young woman leafing through her great-grandmother's possessions and coming across some old, crinkling 'booklets' which include stories by someone named Charlotte Frost. If those stories leave the woman feeling moved, disturbed, amused, whatever -- just as long as she feels -- then I will have left something valuable behind. I spend so time and effort on fandom that it's like a second job, and I confess that I sometimes wish I could take an extended vacation from all the responsibility. But the rewards have been tremendous, and when I wonder what will happen when it all fades away, I realize that it doesn't ever have to. It seems new people are always discovering K/S, even as old K/Sers seem to be branching out.
The LOC Connection 36 was published in December 1991 and contains 12 pages.
Featured fan in "The Booth" is Emily Adams. There is an autobio from C.D. Mamaril.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
A... question that has come to my mind is whether people prefer to read short stories or noveis. My own strong preference is for novels, as I think that the K/S relationship can be much more fully and thoughtfully developed in a novel. Most of my favorite zines are novels, and I feel that they usually achieve an impact that short stories do not. I also feel that an author's best work will often be her novel or novels, no matter how many short stories she has produced. Thus, to my mind, Jenny Starr's best single work is FETISH. Charlotte Frost's best single work is PORTRAITS.
... you should take a closer look at the style of Gayle F. It isn't photographic realism. The most realistic of her work, tends to impressionism, but I have also seen Van Gogh type expressionism by her, and even surrealism by Marilyn Cole though most of her work does tend to the photographic. Both Gayle and Marilyn are good at what they do, regardless of whether they are being photographic or are taking a less realistic approach. It seems to me that the less realistic styles lend themselves quite well to fantasy or metaphysical type material, they fit in with the mood that the author would want to create and will even intensify that mood. So when I find non- realistic art illustrating those types of K/S, I consider it especially appropriate.
I'm a visual person. Even when I read I see pictures and potential drawings in my head. It is the overall message a story or piece of art leaves with that is important. I apply that old saying 'I may not know anything about art, but I know what I like' to myself when it comes to reading. I know little of the mechanics of writing, the technical aspects go a mile over my head. But I know what I like and when a story has left a lasting impression on me. On the rare occasions I get up the nerve to write an loc, it is most likely to deal with the impact a story left me with. If I am inadvertently doing an injustice to the writer by not pointing out she had too many run-on sentences, then either I did not have the technical knowledge to see it; or, in the overall context, I found it a minor quibble compared to the effectiveness of the entire body of work.
... it was stories in such zines as OFF THE BEATEN TREK, STARDATE UNKNOWN, TURBOLIFT REVIEW, NTM, ARCHIVES. GALACTIC DISCOURSE. GUARDIAN. CONTACT, and KRAITH, etc. that were driving me crazy, and these fanzines weren't even K/S! My favorite non-K/S story is "Home is the Hunter" by Volker and Kippax. Another great story is "The Rack" by J.A. Vance -- even if I don't agree with its ending. (I've always wanted to say that, so I'm taking the opportunity now.) By the time K/S came around, I felt I knew the characters pretty well, which didn't jibe with what was between the covers of THRUST, the very first K/S zine I laid my hands on at a convention. And yet reading that zine had me panting for more. It was easy to accept it on a purely entertainment level. It was scandalous and outrageous for Kirk and Spock to be interested in each other. It was fun reading, but wouldn't happen in "real life". It wasn't until I read a lot more K/S and wrote my first K/S story, published years later in NAKED TIMES 16. "Tender, Hidden by the Night", that I couid really accept it as a viable relationship.
Another reason for 'generic art'... An artist may do an 'orphan' illo (a drawing done just for the hell of it, because one liked the photo reference, the pose... whatever) and submits it with instructions that if the editor chooses to use it, that they place the illo with a fitting story. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. I'm sure there are artists who have seen some of the 'orphans' pop up in the strangest places, all because the editor didn't have the patience to wait for a proper story that the art could accompany. I have also read somewhere that some artists limit themselves to portraits, but have never actually come across such an example. From personal experience I can say that it doesn't take me any longer nor is it any easier to do a detailed non-portrait illustration than it does a portrait.
Experimenting would be fun, but not all editors can afford to print anything but ink. If one did a watercolor, how many editors would be willing to go to the expense of halftoning it properly or printing it in color? Recently a S/H and a few genzine editors have printed color interiors as well as having color covers. The effect of encountering such a bonus was incredibly striking and enhanced the quality of the zines. But that is rare, and very expensive. Thus it leaves a narrow margin for a zine artist to experiment with different mediums, styles and colorations (though I'm delighted to see some using scratchboard).
The LOC Connection 37 was published in January 1992 and contains 11 pages.
Jane Elza is the fan in "The Booth." There are autobios from Zetta M. Hopkins and Antje R.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
Regarding established relationship stories, I think most fans like the idea of those types of stories; but when they actually read them, they are often disappointed and complain about how dry and unerotic they are. I think what K/Sers want is to maintain the sensuality of the first timer, but still have a real plot other than getting them into bed together, which is the plot of most first timers. I disagree that established relationship stories are easier to write. On the contrary! With these stories, the author has to come up with an actual plot: whereas, in the first timer, a plot, as I said, is already provided — getting Kirk and Spock into bed together. And I think that's why there are so many more first timers than established relationship, because first timers are less work. The author already knows where she's going; it's just a matter of what method she's going to use to get the characters there. I think really good established relationship stories are more appreciated by fandom, because there are so few of them.
... [The] feeling that established relationship stories are easier to write is interesting, but K/S writers in general don't seem to operate by this assumption. The reason is that the first time story has nuaerous conventions and formulas to which authors can adhere. If you're writing an established relationship story, you're entering relatively new territory. Since there are far fewer established stories, it's not entirely certain how this relationship works or how it progresses. The author has to think through an entire concept of the relationship by sorting out what she thinks about relationships in general. That's hard work. Many K/S writers would rather not have to do that kind of thinking. It's far easier to write another predictable first time story with the same sort of character interaction as every other first time story, The only differences would be slight variations in plot or background. These slight variations may even be hailed as tremendously original, but they're only window dressing, a framing device. The essential core of the story is standard operating procedure, the usual first time shenanigans.
... [Since] most novels cost just as much as an anthology, there's greater risk for the purchaser. In an anthology, if one likes at least one story, then she often feels the zine was worth her money. If she doesn't like a novel, then she's wasted her money. I, personally, would rather read an excellent novel than an excellent anthology. However, there are more good anthologies available than there are good novels, so if I had a choice between blindly purchasing an anthology or a novel -- i.e., I didn't know who the authors were, and everything else such as price and page count were equal — I'd choose the anthology because I know there would be a greater chance that I'd like at least something in it. I tend to think that, in general, the biggest factor in deteraining the marketability of a novel is the author's reputation. If fans like her short stories, they're going to want her novel. If they only feel she's mediocre. they aren't going to want to spend the money for just one story, for fear they may not like it.
In 1988 I was confronted for the first time with K/S: someone sent me a picture of Kirk and Spock... kissing!!!! (Whew!!!!) Of course, I was perplexed, but the picture was really thrilling!!! In my next letter I said casually that I would like to read the story. Some time later I had 200(!) pages from several NOME issues in my mailbox! In English! You will say now: "Of course, in English", but I live in Germany and schooltime was long gone and aside from "good morning", "yes", or "no" there wasn't much left of my English knowledge! So I sat there, zine in one hand, dictionary in the other... I had in the meantime many penpals and we began exchanging our zines. There was a time when I lived more in the copy shop and in the post office than at home. Nobody ask me please how much money I left there.... (By the way: I have to point out that I'm no pirate! We exchanged only zines to make a copy for ourselves. We didn't make copies to sell them and make a profit. Most of the out-of- print zines are copies anyway — with missing pages and no addresses of an editor — and nobody knows who has the original issue. Remember, I live overseas and it's more difficult for us to get zines and the right addresses! Don't ask how many letters I wrote to wrong addresses and how much money I spent for postage and return postage).... Unfortunately, recently here in Germany K/S is no more of immediate interest. Many of my friends are fascinated by multi-media "/". I'm not opposed to it, but my love is Star Trek and our two guys, and so I don't know what to do with strange people and their interest in each other. It doesn't thrill me when Hr. X loves Hr. Y!
The LOC Connection 38 was published in February 1992 and contains 14 pages.
There are autobios for Barbara Gainger and Gena Moretti.
There are LoCs for First Time #7, #14, #27, #29, #31, As I Do Thee #4, #12, #17, Within the Mirror #3, Gambit, Scattered Stars #1, Beside Myself #1, Fever #2, T'hy'la #1, Way of the Warrior #2, The Voice #3, #5, Counterpoint #4, #5.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
It bothers me that all the zines seem to come out at the same time. That, too, may be a reason for the dearth of stories, Would it be possible to have certain months reserved for certain zines? If FIRST TIME is any standard to go by, it takes about three months to produce a zine. Couldn't publication be staggered so that one would expect a FIRST TIME about Jan/Feb, COUNTERPOINT March/April, WITHIN THE MIRROR May/June, etc.? The lack of stories means that two of the recent zines I ordered had rehashes -- the same story written over and over. That's not bad, we all do it, but when the same writer in the same zine does it, my eyes glaze over. Surely, there is some solution to this. Maybe it is letting a zine die out when it can no longer stay competitive. I hate to see that happen when the zine is a classic. There are some zines I try to order only from other fans because the editors are erratic about delivering the orders. Perhaps the solution is to stop buying those zines, thus reducing the number of zines available. Why are there so many zines, but never any available when you want them? I realize an editor must wait for stories and that some stories take longer to revise than others. Inspiration does not operate on a schedule, yet I would appreciate smaller but more regularly delivered zines. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. Maybe I'm expecting too much from a fan produced product, given the difficulties we all encounter in 'real' life. I'd be interested in knowing how others feel about the issue.
I find some short stories are becoming rather bland. I love first time stories and accept that after all these years finding a new variation must be difficult but -- WHY is this relationship so universally accepted? Why doesn't McCoy ever say, "Jesus Jim, have you gone completely nuts?" Why doesn't command ever throw a spanner in the works? And what about the rest of the crew? What do they think of their command team becoming an 'item'? And how about Christine Chapel? We all know how she feels about Spock. There again, what about Spock's Mom and Dad? Do they blithely sit back and accept this illogical relationship? And, last but not least, how come no other male, or female, ever tries to come between our lads? I'd love to see Kirk pulling every dirty trick in the book to keep his Spock, or vice versa. Ladies, you all write amazingly well. Fill your stories, however long, with the marvelously erotic sex and tender love, but from one who likes a bit of spice in her old age, would you beef it up a little please?
... concerning novels and short stories, I would always rather read a novel. I cannot count the nuaber of times I have read a K/S short story and wished the author had taken the time to do it right with a longer exposition. Especially in First Time stories, and my impression is that the majority of stories written are first timers, the situation frequently demands more than a short story can give. Not everyone has the ability to sustain a novel, but it seeas to me that the First Time situation which we are usually writing about almost demands it. Think of it. Kirk is changing his whole sexuality; Spock is transcending the Vulcan controls which have dominated his life. This can be treated adequately in 20 or 40 pages? But despite my preferences for the novel format, there aren't very many K/S novels that I've liked. Too many of them are alternate universe and quasi AU stories, with Kirk and Spock totally removed from their Starfleet careers and Enterprise home. Or they are 'slave' stories. Or they're menage a trois stories. I love K/S, and I love Star Trek, and I am frankly disinterested in reading these peripheral type stories.
I have always been a believer in K/S, even before I knew of the term, only inadvertently learning of it when I saw an answer section in a straight Trek zine as to just what K/S was! Imagine my surprise and delight when I at last realized just what all those ads for K/S zines were really all about. It was like a door opening and fresh air crept in at last and I no longer felt like such a weirdo in thinking that Kirk and Spock were made for each other.
The LOC Connection 39 was published in March 1992 and contains 10 pages.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
When K/S first got started, there were lots of stories such as you describe dealing with Spock's parents' reactions, McCoy's reactions, et al. I did the one on Christine's reactions myself! I think long time fans have seen that more than those who have come to the fandom in the last 5 years. Perhaps the newer writers should hit some of those themes, though. This stuff can go in cycles!
I must say that I disagree with your proposed solution that a zine should "die out when it can no longer stay competitive." I didn't know K/S was viewed by fans as a competitive market. It's done for fun, for love, for obsession, but to be 'competitive'? I question that. Is this a publishing empire? Are we in it for business purposes only? I don't think so. I'm sure business is part of what keeps a zine going. A zine has to make some profit to warrant (and finance) future issues. Competition is for awards, and most awards are popularity contests which miss the point of the honor they supposedly stand for (I think of Emmys and Oscars while writing this.) There's no way to avoid it, but to say a zine should die out because it is not competitive is a very sad attitude...
The LOC Connection 40 was published in April 1992 and contains 16 pages.
The fan in "The Booth" is Ciana Mitchell.
There are LoCs for Daring Attempt #1, #2, #3, #5, #8, Way of the Warrior #4, #5, Charisma #1, #14, First Time #30, Greater California K/S, Act Five #1, The 25th Year, T'hy'la #11, Matter/Antimatter #9, In Triplicate, Scattered Stars #2, Shades of Grey #1, One Night Stand #3, Naked Times #10, #29.
Some excerpts from "Arena," the fan discussion section:
... your questioning of K/S being a 'competitive' market. Of course, it's competitive! It wouldn't be competitive if fans had an endless supply of funds to spend on zines. But, amateur hobby or not, the fact is that most fans have a limited amount of money. Therefore, they must make choices about which zines to buy, and which zines not to buy. That's what makes K/S -- and just about everything else in our society -- competitive... I am also of the opinion that the 'amateur' label should not be used as a constant excuse for treating customers poorly. I think the 'zine reader' -- i.e., those fans wno neither write, draw, nor produce zines — are the most unappreciated people in all of K/S (if not all fandoms). They are the ones spending their twenty bucks for a zine. And when they spend that twenty bucks, they have a right to expect a certain ievei of competence from the quality of stories, poetry, and art within. They have a right to expect to receive their zines witnin a reasonable period of tine, and to be updated from editors, agents, or whomever when something goes awry. I feel that the word 'amateur' is often used as a crutch to make endless excuses for the mistreatment of customers. Yes, fandom is an amateur endeavor for most of us, but the ones who buy our products are nevertheless customers, because they're spending money that could be spent on something else. If we want then to keep purchasing our product, we have to give them reasons to keep coming back.
I, too, would like to know how long the average reader has been in fandom. When I first subscribed to THE LOC CONNECTION, there were a couple of letters from "old" writers indicating they no longer wrote K/S (about three years ago). In the last year, there have been more letters mentioning that so and so is a new writer. I have the impression that an 'old guard' is passing and new one taking its place. Does anybody else get that impression?
... if an author finds certain opinions "unfair, limiting, and a form of intimidation", then I think that author is taking individual locs way too seriously. Just because a LoC writer gives you her opinion does not mean you have to accept her opinion. Trying to put parameters on what aspects of a story are 'okay' for a LoC writer to talk about and what aspects are 'not okay' to talk about is a dangerous form of censorship. Loc-writers are doing authors a tremendous favor in the first piace by daring to voice their opinions and making an effort to actually sit down and write an LoC. After all, once a fan purchases a zine, she has absolutely no obligation to give anyone her opinion of it. LoCs are scarce enough without trying to intimidate readers by suggesting that certain opinions are unwanted. You can't have it both ways. You can't say, "I want your honest opinion of my story" then turn right around and say, "Only tell me about what I consider worth hearing."
As a long-time member of "K/S and K.S. (Kindred Spirits) the APA" I am happy to comply. As the title suggests, our APA is for K/S fans; those who are active in writing, illustrating and publishing zines as well as those who read them... [for more, see K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits)]
The three big presses (and I'm using the word very loosely!) seem to be Bill Hupe, Merry Men, and Pon Farr. I have tons of stuff fron each! Curiosity prompted me to count how much... Hupe I can't count accurately because so much of my stuff from him is used. I own 44 Merry Men Press works -- and whenever the next Pon Farr Press delivery comes, I will own 52 Pon Farr works. For some reason which I honestly can't explain, I have read all but 2 of my Merry Men and probably only half of my Pon Farr. And I never realized that until now! I have about 160 zines I haven't read yet.