Tower of Terror

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Star Trek TOS Fanfiction
Title: Tower of Terror
Author(s): Jennifer Guttridge
Date(s): 1972, 1978
Genre: gen
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
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Tower of Terror is a Star Trek: TOS story by Jennifer Guttridge.

The story was discussed in Star Trek Lives! (1975) and in The Development of the Kirk/Spock Relationship: Its Foundation in Fan-Fiction (1978).

Publishing History

It was published in the print zine Tricorder Readings (1972, in two parts).

The story was reprinted in Archives #1 (1978) with new illustrations by Hans Dietrich.

Inspired Fanworks

There is a sequel to this story in Beyond Orion #2 called "Descent" by April Valentine (from the flyer: "...reveals the Kirk/Spock relationship at it tortured best.") (July 1977). [1] [2]


A Hurt/Comfort story where Spock has to rescue Kirk on a planet where cold, rain, corrosive acid, monsters, fire and more as an alien presence tries to destroy them both. The alien's motive for this torture: "Let us say that my reason is to find the measure of the man."


From the reprint in Archives #1 (1978) with new illustrations by Hans Dietrich.

Reactions and Reviews


Jennifer Guttridge's Tower of Terror graphically describes tortures inflicted on Spock by an alien in order to find "the measure of a man"... This type of story sets up an artificial situation in which the protagonist is forced to explore his or he inner self. Tower of Terror dwells at great length and in exhaustive detail on the physical traumas, yet in the end it fails to "find the man", for it is obsessed with the suffering and neglects to examine the inner Spock or to allow him to question his own motivations. In fact, the only motivation we are given for Spock's enduring this abuse is his need to "rescue" Kirk, who may not even be in danger. The reader is left with gratuitous violence, but a lack of insight into either Spock o the being "testing" him, who appears to be a flagrant sadist. Ms. Guttridge writes a powerful superficial scene, but as psychological drama, Tower of Terror is a failure. A pity. [3]


Often leaving plotting and action to longer stories, vignettes were composed in which life and death situations or pain of disease or injury forced some expression from the characters. Because for so long Kirk and Spock had said nothing, the expressions at first were of a restrained nature. A brief look or touch or even just saying the other's name sufficed. For example, in "Tower of Terror", Jennifer Gutteridge paints a compelling picture of Spock's ordeal nothing she or the enemy can throw at him will stop him from searching for Kirk. His actions show that he cares, yet Spock does not consciously think about his affection for or loyalty to Kirk. The only though in the Vulcan's mind is that he must find Kirk, with no verbal reason given. The only overt expression is at the end, when Kirk gathers Spock into his arms and Spock calls Jim's name just before losing consciousness.

An awful lot of pain just for a "Jim", wasn't it? Many writers thought so, too. They began searching for other techniques through which Kirk and Spock could show their caring. Since too much verbal expression was viewed as being out of character, the methods employed had to be of a less direct nature. Touching became one of the most frequently used means of demonstrating their love. As with verbal expression, it was at first limited and fairly restrained, usually a supportive hand on the shoulder or taking the unconscious friend's hand. Writers soon began to increase the intensity of the pain to justify more touching. Pain-racked bodies could be held closely; wounds examined and cared for. Inner, or psychological pain was found to be just as effective. The death of a friend or the psychological impact of torture, especially on Spock, could create a situation where the need for comfort was even greater than if the character had it also, became more intimate, characterized by an implied sensuality. [4]


  1. ^ "'Descent' takes off where Jennifer Guttridge's 'Tower of Terror' in Tricorder Readings #2 and #3 stopped six years ago. If you caught that, there's not too much point in reading 'Descent'; it is a recap, plus Kirk Realizing What Spock Sacrificed. [The author] is a good writer of emotion -- see 'For Cyrano' in thish -- but this one missed the cosmic boat.
  2. ^ It is unclear if this sequel was written with permission from Guttridge. If it wasn't, then there is some irony here: see The Rack by April Valentine and co-author and the wank that ensued when an "unauthorized sequel" was written for that story.
  3. ^ from To Slay or Not to Slay: Why We Write 'Get-em' Stories -- & Love 'em! (1976)
  4. ^ from The Development of the Kirk/Spock Relationship: Its Foundation in Fan-Fiction (January 1978)