The Many Faces of Fan Fiction

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Title: The Many Faces of Fan Fiction
Creator: Christopher Randolph
Date(s): 1978
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic: fan fiction and tropes
External Links:
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"The Many Faces of Fan Fiction" by Christopher Randolph is an essay about fanfiction. It mentions Star Trek: The New Voyages and has a run-down of genres in fan fiction. It explains gen, get 'em, Mary Sue, K/S & adult, and alternative universe.

The article was printed in Enterprise Incidents #6.

One interesting bit is that Randolph defined "get 'em" as a death story and never mentioned hurt/comfort -- "'Get- 'Em' stories never have a happy ending (well, almost never). In this type of story, one, if not all, of the main characters will no longer be alive when the end comes (literally).".

Specific Fanfiction Discussed

Some Excerpts

You can always recognize a "Mary Sue" character by the tons and tons of flowing hair, combined with long eyelashes and a heart that flutters when in the presence of her long-lost love, which can range anywhere from Captain Kirk, to Spock, to Sulu, to Riley, etc... Kirk or Spock are usually the prime targets, however... I'm sure the "hate mail" is going to flow in response to this treatment of Mary Sue stories, but infinite diversity is what Star Trek is all about. There will be some of you who will enjoy reading Mary Sue stories, just as there will be some of you who would prefer the general type Treklit, or even K/S. I am not trying to say that Mary Sue stories should not be written at all, for it is certainly up to the readers to decide on their own whether or not they want to read more of this type of material. Most of the Mary Sue stories are okay for light reading -- so long as you don't allow yourself to take them too seriously. If you're a fan of Gothic Romances, Mary Sue stories are probably for you.
Alternate universe Star Trek stories are not to be confused with sequels or prequels to MIRROR, MIRROR, This type of fan fiction is meant to offer alternative views of what could happen with the Star Trek charac- ters, given a different set of circumstances or surroundings. Alternate universe fan fiction is usually not intended to take place on the same time/space level as the Star Trek of the actual aired episodes, and is sometimes geared to appeal to certain interests of specific groups of fans.
The Kirk/Spock (K/S) relationship is, without a doubt, the most controversial subject ever to have been breached in fan fiction. To the best of my knowledge, the first stories on this theme began appearing just a little over 2 and a half years ago, and have grown from there. Gerry Downes' story, ALTERNATIVE, was the first highly recognized effort...

And since Star Trek takes place over two hundred years in our future, could we actually believe that our taboos and restrictions will still be valid concepts? While today any type of homosexual behavior is still looked on by a great number of people as "abnormal " and "perverse," would it still be considered that way two hundred years from now? It has only been in comparatively recent history that such strict morals and laws have developed the attitude which tends to make many people see "homosexuality" as a dirty word...

The Kirk/Spock relationship is one which has been explored quite freely in fan fiction, and which tends give us a different view of the tender, more emotional side of our heroes. Space, for all its virtues, is a vast expanse of loneliness, and if two people come find love in that expanse, it just doesn't stand to reason that they would try to deny that love, especially not if they could accept this love within themselves. It is possible that the physical expression of love between Kirk and Spock might never develop, but there is nothing in aired Trek episodes to contradict the possibility...

K/S stories are obviously not for everyone, and all the zines which deal specifically with this theme, or 'adult' themes in general, carry a restriction that you must be over 18 years old to order their zine. If you're not completely open-minded and even somewhat liberated, you'd probably better not order this type of zine at all . The K/S relationship, a beautiful premise, is also a controversial subject, and is best kept in the hands of those who are willing to accept it the vein intended.
There are also a few good "adult" zines which deal specifically with the heterosexual contact in the Trek universe, though these are no where near as controversial as they were a few years ago when the first GRUP came along.
"Get-'Em" stories never have a happy ending (well, almost never). In this type of story, one, if not all, of the main characters will no longer be alive when the end comes (literally). And yet, some of the best stories available are to be found in this category. Most get-'ems have a purpose, other than the death of any of the characters to build on, and generally offer insights to the character which were previously undiscovered.

Reactions and Reviews

Fan fiction is subject very near and dear to my heart, and for that reason I'm very grateful for the expansion of your format. However, this article by Christopher Randolph leaves something to be desired. In his introduction (paragraph 3), he covers himself by stating "...I'll never be able to discuss it all adequately...," and (boy!) was he right. I feel that he left out many basic zines. Perhaps, if Mr. Randolph had not used so much space discussing certain stories at length, he could have given a better overview of zines in general. He states in the same paragraph that the article "... is not intended as a review of specific zines or stories," and then immediately uses about 12 column inches discussing a single story called "The Weight" in the "General" section. Perhaps, some background on zines would have been helpful, along with mentions of some of the very first zines such as Spockanalia, which is again available in a reduced format set of five zines. There are dozens of good general zines other than WARPED SPACE. Even if Mr. Randolph didn't go into any detail at all, a simple listing of them would have been helpful to the neofan.... In the "Alternate Universe" section, Mr. Randolph does mention several of the most well known alternate universes, but manages to leave out one of the very important ones, the zines called Alternate Universe 4.... Also, I'm not a die-hard Kraith fan either, but the stories are exquisitely and intricately written and certainly deserve better than the very poor description they received... They are certainly some of the most detailed ST fiction ever written, and worth of a more comprehensive statement. Kirk/Spock's "liege" relationship is only a very small part of this universe. In the "K/S & Adult" section, Mr. Randolph apparently things that only "adult" fiction in Trekfandom is about Kirk and Spock. What about the beautifully written Kirk/Uhura series in Delta Triad? Obviously, another major oversight. Also, once again, the stories he has chosen for examples in this section are out of print. [1]
But, what an elegant article by Christopher Randolph! [2]
I found Christopher Randolph's "The Many Faces of Fan Fiction" the most interesting as an intro for new readers, though I was incredulous that a writer could consider "Get 'Em" stories (one of the Big Three put through painful experiences) without once mentioning the definitive "Logical Conclusion" by Paula Smith (printed in MENAGERIE 7/8). [3]


  1. from a LoC by Elaine H in Enterprise Incidents #7
  2. from Enterprise Incidents #7
  3. from Dixie Owen in The Clipper Trade Ship #24 (1979)