The Mind-Sifter (Star Trek: TOS story by Shirley Maiewski)

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You may be looking for The Mindsifter, a Star Trek TOS and TNG zine or Mindsifter, a Star Trek TOS zine.

Star Trek Fanfiction
Title: The Mind-Sifter
Author(s): Shirley Maiewski
Date(s): February 1975
Length: 66 pages
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links: entire text online here Star Trek: The New Voyages fan-produced episode released in 2014

Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Mind-Sifter is a well-known 66-page early Star Trek: TOS story by Shirley Maiewski.

It was first published in the zine Showcase #2 in 1975 (After the first three issues of Showcase, the story was removed, though the art remains.) and was later reprinted in an edited version in the official collection The New Voyages.

In 2015 it was produced as an episode of Star Trek: Phase II with Brian Gross as James Kirk, Brandon Stacy as Spock, Rivkah Wood as Dr. Jan Hamlin and Clay Sayre as Kor.

This story was discussed in To Slay or Not to Slay: Why We Write 'Get-em' Stories -- & Love 'em!.


In the story Kirk is tortured (offscreen, the story starts in the aftermath) by Klingons to get information about time travel and then stranded on 1950s Earth, where he ends up mostly amnesiac and unresponsive in a mental hospital, with some brutal orderlies and a caring nurse who falls in love with him. Back on the Enterprise, Kirk is considered to have "disappeared" on shore leave and is believed dead. Spock is aware via a telepathic impression that something more happened, but is ordered to leave off the search and assume command. Chekov discovers a clue in the past that leads to Kirk's eventual rescue.

Comments from the Author

In 1984, Shirley wrote:
First of all, I am writing as ME, Shirley Maiewski, author of "Mindsifter" and writer, editor, publisher of ALTERNATE UNIVERSE 4 - NOT as Chairman of the Star Trek Welcommittee! I don't know if anyone realizes how difficult it is to keep one's private life separate from something as public as head of STW! "The opinions that follow are those of ME and not of STW!" Now - regarding such things as the Star Trek books we buy and read, I want to thank Ann Crispin for her exceptionally fine explanation of what goes into the publication of professional Star Trek books as opposed to fan publications. [1] I mentioned "Mindsifter" up there because it is a good example of what can happen to a fan's material once it goes pro. Many of you have heard the story of the changes that were made in the original material, first published in Sharon Emily's STAR TREK SHOWCASE, changes that were made WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE before publication of STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES. I don't know if you realize that almost without exception, every story in that book was also changed? I assume that such things can no longer happen, and authors at least know of changes before the book goes to print. I certainly hope so! I would send a word of caution to anyone submitting material to a publisher to be sure they know what they are doing and/or signing! I would hope, however, that writers continue to submit material, even under the restrictions Ann tells us about and hopefully we will be able to read more of the kind of books we can enjoy! One thing I'll say about the pro books - the covers are getting better. [2]
In 1985, Shirley Maiewski commented on this story and explained why she didn't write anything after it:
I agree whole-heartedly... re the sniping, called 'critiquing.' at Trek writers! Some of those doing it are dear, dear friends, but, doggone it folks! Gee! We do this for fun, after all, at least in zines... Somebody likes them or they wouldn't be printed! Many, many fans enjoy all ST stories? Why make them feel dumb by telling them they have no taste or smarts? It's an awful putdown to read that something you have enjoyed a great deal is 'poorly written; no character development; a -- horrors -- Mary Sue!' So what? Frankly, people have asked why I don't write more after the success of Mind Sifter. It's a long story, but there are two main reasons: First, the damage done to my story by editors (without my knowledge or permission), second, the thought that anything else I might write would be torn apart by the 'experts.' Best reasons in the world for a terminal case of Writer's Block. [3]
In 1991, Shirley used her story as a warning to other fanwriters:
...a word of caution—know what you're getting into, if you decide to go the professional route! Find out how to do it correctly and never sign anything until you know what it says! Take if from someone who found out the hard way. Anyone wanting to know the sad story about my "Mind Sifter," in Star Trek: The New Voyages, can write me. [4]

Reactions and Reviews from Fans

Preference: Zine or Book Version?

Many fans like the original zine version better:
I read a letter by a fan to Trek magazine in which she said that the version of 'Mind Sifter' which was originally published was better than the edited version presented in 'New Voyages.' I have contacted Sharon Emily of Star Trek Showcase, and she said that she could not sell the original 'Mind Sifter' to me. Could someone help me find a copy of the original? I would very much like to see a 'Mind Sifter' that is better than the one in 'New Voyages,' especially as that is my favorite 'New Voyages' story to date. [5]
But other fans liked the book version:
TOS novella, non-slash but strong friendship. Jim is kidnapped by Klingons and after being subjected to the mind-sifter, is marooned in the 1950s where he ends up in a psychiatric facility. Terrific story. An edited version was published in the anthology Star Trek: The New Voyages in 1976; the online version is the original. I admit I prefer the book version because it was tighter and played up Spock’s role in Jim’s recovery and his dedication to finding him, which is all the more appealing to a K/S fan :).[6]


My personal favorite was The Mind-Sifter, by Shirley Meiewski [sic]. It was a touching, revealing story that went into Kirk's character without contradicting any of the established facts. The only thing that bothered me some was that Jan, the woman who helps Kirk, is too much like Edith Keeler. Otherwise, it's a very good story. It has an introduction by William Shatner which shows that he either has a very good scriptwriter or is really full of soggy milquetoast. [7]


Oh god… we enter “Marshak and Culbreath” territory, someone save us… Fortunately, this were not actually written by them, just gathered by. Unfortunately, they have absolutely no idea of what’s good literature. They were actually fans, recollecting fiction made by fans, so technically this is just published Fan Fiction!

Ugh, and I hate fan fiction! Why? Because they linger and describe all the wrong things, describing long and lovingly their favorite characters, they put them up in all type of weird situations that are not proper to the series, or to the genre. And the dialogues, ugh! They overuse and overextend the dialogues horribly, repeating and reiterating the same things over and over. Well, to put it succintly, fans do not make the best writers.

But publishers had began to notice the Star Trek publishing phenomenon, so they were really short on stories, so they published this horrible stuff. Well, on the other hand, we have a collection of really different stories, in a very different format.


Weirdly, the best of the bunch and the best of a lot of stories in a while. [The Mind-Sifter] has all the elements, time-travel, mind-psyched-out, adventure, action and a big emotional involvement. I do highly recommend this story ven if the rest of the bunch are not that good.

So well, just the last story barely makes it up for the whole book. It would look nice to have different styles of all type of different stories, but it does make it long and tired at the middle of most stories. [8]


This story is serious hurt/comfort, so while it's v. well written and characterised, it's not particularly fun to read a lot of the time. It's a strong story, though, and is mildly slashy throughout, with one hell of a slashy ending.

A large part of the story is based upon the fact that Jim, when in trouble, calls out to Spock in his mind. The K/S builds from there...

(RE: Jim) "Is... is he married? Is there someone else?"

McCoy smiled ruefully. "No, he isn't married, and there isn't anyone—no woman."


Kirk chuckled softly and continued. "Look, my friend, it's time you and I stopped fooling ourselves. I know you have emotions, you know I know, so why not admit it? At least, in here" — Kirk smiled — "I promise not to tell McCoy."

Spock didn't speak for a moment. He seemed to be struggling with himself; then he looked into Kirk's eyes and smiled ever so slightly as he said, "Captain... Jim. I am what I am. I cannot change."

Kirk didn't insist. Even this much was a great concession. "I know, Spock. I hope you don't change—too much." He paused for a minute; then: "When sanity began to filter back to me, finally, in that place I was in, I remember thinking of you Spock. It was one of the first realities I remember. Somewhere there was a... a friend I called 'Spock.'..."


"It seems I always turn to you when I need help."

"As I have turned to you, Jim. It is because we... we need each other that our minds are drawn together. [9]
The last story, Mind-Sifter, is IMO the best of the anthology, and the one that touched me the deepest. There isn't that much Kirk/Spock interaction in it (you'll see why easily) but what is there is awesome. It's obvious they are very, very close. And all that Spock does for Jim in that It goes way beyond loyalty and straight into devotion and love. Plus, it had that delectable line by Kirk: "Look, my friend, it's time you and I stop fooling ourselves." Never before had I wanted to take a sentence and twist it the way I wanted it to be. :-D [10]

Resurrected by Star Trek Phase II

"Mind-Sifter" was released as an episode of Star Trek: New Voyages Phase II on December 1, 2014. It can be found in several iterations, with both '60s style and modern film effects, and several commentary tracks, for free on YouTube.

In 2009, some fans speculated that the original version of the story had been rewritten and reused for an upcoming episode in the Star Trek: Phase II series. This was later confirmed:

"STTNV was the first acknowledgement of fanfiction by The Powers That Be. When Bantam Books offered to legitimize some fanfiction, fans were eager to submit their stories and have them published professionally. Being the age of innocence, fans signed the contracts happily with blissful knowledge that everything was going to be great. Unfortunately, the contract gave full editorial control to BB.

"Mind-Sifter" was (and is) one of the most famous classic fanfiction stories, however, when BB published it their changes to it, in Shirley's opinion, destroyed it. Their response to her objections was basically "trust us, we know what we're doing and you're just a fan".

Known as "Grandma Trek", Shirley was a real force in early fandom and spent the rest of her life very vocally blasting BB for their disrespect of fans disguised as "doing us a favor". She's credited by fans for killing the STTNV series, because fans then refused to submit anything to BB.

So, along comes James Cawley in the 80's. Shirley met him at a convention and they spoke about her story and his dream to film more TOS. Shirley gave James her original story and asked him to film it and restore her story to what she wrote.

So, along comes Patty Wright after the turn of the century. Now James has his sets, is filming episodes, and is still talking about the first real story he was given to film... but has no idea how to contact Shirley to pursue it further. Patty tells him that we lost Shirley in 2004 but, (as most NVP2 stories go) it just so happens that she was good friends with Shirley (Shirley actually edited her first fanfiction novel "Broken Image"). Shirley's family was contacted and... well....

"The next episode to be produced is Mind sifter" ~ Patty[11]
Mindsifter on FanFiction.Net. The author's page states:
The teleplay version of the classic fanfiction story by Shirley S. Maiweiski, adapted with her family's permission.....This story has been removed because it has gone into pre-production with Cawley Entertainment Company/Retro Film Studios for Star Trek: Phase II. Watch for it's [sic] release in 2012.
The author also goes on to say:
And so as the story continues the episode goes before the camera starting in June 2011 and Shirley will hopefully be smiling down as her grandson walks the halls of the Enterprise in uniform during the telling of her original story, the way she intended it. [12]


  1. see Yesterday's Son plus Crispin's advice on how to break into professional fan writing
  2. from Interstat #76
  3. from a LoC by Shirley Maiewski in The Propagator #7
  4. from The Trekzine Times v.2 n.2/3
  5. from a notice in Universal Translator #3
  6. from Give Me Your Gen Recs!-- Give Me Your Gen Recs!, also Master List of K/S Favorites, Mary Monroe
  7. from Horta #4 (1977)
  8. Sergio: Reading Star Trek
  9. BOOK: STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES; archive link by Tara Fleur, August 8, 2009
  10. from marymonroe in 2009 at Spock Shaped Snickerdoodles
  11. Comment by Andriech, writing on the Star Trek: Phase II forum, responding to DianeD44's post "Mind-Sifter?", comment dated August 09, 2009, 03:38:15 pm. WebCite.
  12. from Patty's "Mind-Sifter? post to the Star Trek: Phase II forum dated Feb 12, 2001; WebCite.