Turning Point (Star Trek: TOS story by Killashandra)

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K/S Fanfiction
Title: Turning Point
Author(s): Killashandra
Date(s): 1995 & 1997
Length: @83,000 words
Genre: slash series
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links: on An Archive of Our Own; and Killa's fiction page on The Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive

Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Turning Point is a two part Kirk/Spock series by Killashandra. It was the first attributed K/S story to be posted on the internet.

The story bridges the narrative gap between the tv series, which ended in 1969, and the first Trek film, which was released ten years later.

The two parts are titled Turning Point and Full Circle.

The series is an in-depth exploration of Kirk's and Spock's emotional conflicts about the end of their five-year mission, Kirk's promotion to Admiral, Spock's decision to pursue the Kolinahr, and their own relationship. It is sexually explicit, and deals, in a specifically Trek-verse fashion, with issues of consent.

It won an ASC Award in 1997.

While there are many reviews below, also see On "Turning Point" and "Full Circle" for more discussion.

Summary

The summary in T'hy'la #18: "At the end of the 5 year mission, Kirk takes Spock to New Orleans after hearing that he has lost the Enterprise."

Publishing History

The first part was originally published in 1995 to the USENET group alt.sex.fetish.startrek [1], and also appeared in the K/S slash anthology T'hy'la 18. It was the first attributed K/S story to be posted on the internet, and helped spark a new online wave of interest in the pairing. The second part was published in 1997 and also appeared in T'hy'la 20 .[2]

[[Image:thyla18-6.jpg|thumb|first page of the story, "T'hy'la" #18 (07/1997)
The story which is generally thought of as having started the rush of K/S online is “Turning Point” by Killashandra, or Killa as she has now come to be known, initially published one chapter at a time in late 1995 on alt.sex.fetish.startrek and completed in January 1996, making it the third piece to be presented as K/S to online readers, but without the caveats of the other two contenders for first.

Oh, but the reaction! Not only is it the first accredited, consummated K/S story available online, but it is lushly written and emotionally intense, telling the story of the interval after the five year mission and before Spock leaves for Gol. To quote from M.E. Curtin’s 1999 Letter Of Comment (LOC) in The K/S Press, “One reason for my high opinion is that every sexual act in the story is both maximally sexy and important to the plot, the plot being development of the characters. There is almost no other plot; very little non-canonical ‘happens’ except inside the character’s heads. Yet none of the sex scenes is there just ‘for fun’ (NOT that there’s anything wrong with that): the sex is there as part of their psychology. It is sex with a purpose, while being some of the hottest stuff ever written. It’s supremely hot because everything the guys do is foreplay, and then when the moment comes each touch, every kiss, is profoundly significant.”

To add to the impact, the posting in chapters kept readers invested and on the edge of their seats. Of interest, it was also written and sent one piece at a time, just as readers received it in 1995. According to Killa, she had no formal draft or outline, she just sat down and typed. She says, “I certainly don’t think it was a good way to go about things, I just didn’t give any thought to other possibilities. I was obsessed.”

Whether or not it’s labeled “first,” through LOCs, emails and newsgroup replies, we can see that “Turning Point” has drawn numerous Web surfers into K/S, given K/Sers already extant a gorgeous new story, and has inspired numerous writers to “come out.” [3]

Some Revision History

Note that the story now online (and in print) was revised in 1997 and reads somewhat differently in style, though not in content, from the original. But the a.s.f.s archives from the early 90’s are now defunct, and that presentation of “Turning Point” is gone unless saved privately by individual readers. With the help of Google Groups search and a bit of patience, pieces of the original version can be found in alt.startrek.creative and alt.startrek.creative.erotica. [4]
The much-awaited sequel to “Turning Point,” “Full Circle” came out in 1997, allowing readers to let out a collective breath, with the first story having left Kirk and Spock separated and in very unhappy places. Note that “Turning Point” is on the award contender list for 1997 year as well, having been substantially revised and resubmitted. This highlights another difference over paper publishing; the electronic format meant that stories could be fairly easily fixed, changed or added to even after Web publication. On the down side, stories could be erased—often permanently, as is the case with the first edition of “Turning Point,” where the writer’s own file was lost in a computer crash—unless an end user had thought ahead to print out or save a copy for herself. Says Killa, “You know what’s funny is, I suspect the original version was a better story. I don’t think the extant version is an improvement at all. But I’m not reading either of them again, so I’ll never know.” [5]

A Gateway Story

The story is a classic that continues to be read by succeeding waves of new fans discovering K/S slash on the internet.[6] Also, it was mentioned and linked to in the Salon.com article Gay "Trek" in 2001.

Many fans cite it as the story that introduced them to K/S fiction and/or slash in general. One fan writes: "Whatever K/S one reads first does have a lasting impact on the person. It's interesting nowdays that that first story for the folks coming to K/S on-line is Killashandra's "Turning Point"... that first certainly seems to hold a place in one's heart." [7]

A fan remembers: "... oh happy day, my dearly beloved bought a modem and I discovered the joys of browsing the web... Before long I was avidly reading the fan fiction posted on the Alt.startrek.creative groups. There isn't much K/S up there, or even TOS gen fan fiction. Fortunately for the TOS fans, writers such Killashandra and several others have posted some superb stories. Killashandra's "Turning Point" was one of the first K/S stories I read, and though I've read many K/S stories since then, "Turning Point" remains one of my favorites." [8]

Another fan points out that two of Killa's seminal stories, while influential, were simply following along a great path of K/S history: "Thank you for your review of Killashandra's "Turning Point" and "Full Circle." While I appreciate the impact these stories have had on web fandom, you also need to realize that K/S encompasses 23 years of material, literally thousands of stories from hundreds of authors. There are many seminal stories and authors in this group, many of which set some of the conventions and style types we work with today. In fact the range is so large that there literally schools of conventions (such as the bond-mates-die-at-the-same-time school, the Spock-as-introvert school, the bond-as- guaranteed-monogamy school) and styles (hurt/comfort, comedic, PWP, action-adventure- romance, etc.) So, while Killa's vision and style are welcome in the mix, she's not likely to have as profound an impact on those of us who have read more widely and have had other conversion experiences." [9]

The Author Speaks

Killa describes her discovery of K/S and the history of her creation of "Turning Point."

In 1994, I came across alt.sex.fetish.startrek. I remember making a post or two asking about Kirk/Spock (which I had heard of, but never seen), and I think one or two people wrote back saying, essentially, yes, it exists, but I don’t know anyone who’s interested in that. I knew what zines were, but had never read one.

Convinced that I’d missed the train on that one, it eventually occurred to me that I might try writing something and posting it, and maybe some people who were interested in K/S would respond. So, I opened up the newsgroup posting window in AOL and started typing.

When I got to what seemed like a good stopping point, and was about to hit “send,” it occurred to me that I ought to put some kind of pen name on it. So I did that, and then, clickity, away into the ether.

I can’t describe how it felt to read the emails I got in response to that first post. There were perhaps ten, all wonderfully encouraging. It never occurred to me that I ought to ask for someone to help edit the story, or that it might benefit from revision.

I was writing “under the table”—concealing it even from my husband. I borrowed shamelessly from the one erotic novel I’d ever liked (Anne Rice’s Exit to Eden), and wrote with an almost total lack of self-consciousness or restraint. Having virtually no experience of K/S, or with writing fiction, all my preconceptions about it came from the subtext in the Trek pro novels like Killing Time and Dwellers in the Crucible. Della Van Hise was, now that I think about it, probably much more of an influence on me than I realized.

As I posted more of the story, the feedback became more enthusiastic, and also lengthier, and I found exactly what I’d hoped for—more people who wanted to talk about K/S! A lot! You could not pry me away from my AOL mailbox with a crowbar. I remember being in a state of complete distraction; when I wasn’t thinking about the story, I was thinking about the people I was “meeting” and the things they had to say, the things I needed to ask them and discuss with them. K/S was burning up my brain. I was desperately in love with my story, and had no perspective about it at all; beyond the fact that Kirk, in a bad emotional place, should seduce Spock and they should have lots and lots of sex that would end badly, I had no story outline or concept of developing themes, characterization, or a dramatic structure. Writing the early part of that story, before the first time they actually have sex, was like falling in love at fifteen. Dizzy, heady, totally insane. Like the first time you read K/S, I imagine. Because it was, for all intents and purposes, the first time I’d read any.

By the time the story was finished, I think I’d received well over 300 emails and newsgroup comments, possibly as many as 400. Certainly, it was much more than I could have imagined or hoped for. I can’t honestly remember whether I discussed the story in progress with anyone. I don’t have any recollection of doing so. The way I remember it, that first version flowed, without any interruption or attempt at critical thought, from my fevered brain to my keyboard.

At some point, and I’m not sure if it was before or after the story was finished, T. Jonesy asked for my phone number. I was sort of panicky about it, as I’d heard horror stories about those people you meet on the Internet, but she seemed harmless. Little did I know. In any case, it was at that point that the names on my screen became people I started to know in real life, and for that reason alone, I have a huge soft spot for “Turning Point.”

Just don’t ask me to ever read it again. [10]

Reactions and Reviews

1997

First printed in Kathy Resch's printzine T'hy'la, this story was immensely successful on the 'net as well. A long, lyrical, bittersweet and emotional story set in New Orleans, where both the characters seem to do their best to ruin any attempt at happiness. [11]
One thing's clear: Killa caused a sensation and helped inspire a whole bolus of K/S writers and fans. That and scifi channel running the unedited TOS eps. K/S went from zero to damn near taking over ASCEM for a while. [12]
Someone should rename this the Ecstasy and the Agony. Yes. I have got that in the right order for this story and you get both in spades. Ihe most deliciously drawn out seduction/foreplay which starts when I couldn't tell, hot loving, then...bam! Pain overload, especially Kirk's acute pain of self-knowledge, so often the worst that James T. Kirk, Galactic user extraordinaire, had done it again. "What's wrong with me, Spock? Why can't I stop hurting people I care about?" And Spock's pain—this is pain I can go with, the heart's pain, far worse than the body's.

"Everything had been said and nothing...Spock could not beg, could not answer him, could not say the words which would make him understand. Could not say the words which were lodged in his throat. 'Parted from me, and never parted, oh, t'hy'la, please." Ohhh. Emotionally I was in there with them. Objectively, I wanted to shake them! But the self-knowledge, the honesty, the pride and stubbornness were real, not fairy tale.

"To homecomings, Spock,' Kirk whispered fiercely against the Vulcan's neck, his fingertips still buried in the shining hair, his hands shaking. He didn't let himself look at what answer might be in the other's face. *You know where I'll be.'"

'Nuff said. Read this. [13]
They say that nothing's perfect. I guess that's true. However, Killashandra's Turning Point is so close to perfection that it hurts to know it's not.

Turning Point is the story of the "why" of Gol. This is the Trek story that I have been searching for literally for years, the one to truly explain what happened at the end of the five-year mission between Kirk and Spock so catastrophic that it drove Spock to expunge all of his emotions, to turn from the elegant, self-possessed creature that we last saw in Turnabout Intwder-so drawn to protect his captain-into the burnt-out shell we saw come aboard the Enterprise in Star Trek; The Motion Picture.

On the surface, Turning Point is a love story-of the most intimate kind-gone wrong, an emotional train-wreck played out in sublime slow-motion--so realistic that we readers become party first to the pleasure of sexual discovery between Kirk and Spock and then to their most private suffering, that of a profound love undermined by a careless act.

Turning Point is written as a series of scenes, each one numbered and labeled with a short title, an effective technique for controlling the timing and theme of the story. The story begins with the following sentence, which elegantly sets the stage for all that follows: James Kirk stood gazing at his ship. Simple and yet telling, this sentence lulls us immediately into the atmosphere that is pure Star Trek, reminiscent of both the series and the first movie. It is the end of the successful five-year mission, and Kirk has been deservedly promoted, a happy occasion-but, no, of course, that is not what has happened. Kirk has lost his ship, and this immense and personal loss is the catalyst for his later emotional bravery, his willingness to offer Spock a choice to truly "be" with him. Now is the time.

Much of Turning Point is set in the Garden District of New Orleans, and the evocative details of that old, atmospheric city-from the thick and humid vegetation to the watchful stone-cast cherubs to the garlic and cayenne pepper of the dinner faire—contribute to the fertile domain in which the love that is already at the heart of these characters can find a place for expression.

Trust, not sex, is the foremost theme that wends its way through Tuning Point and it is first expressed when Kirk invites Spock to have dinner with him at an exclusive supper club. "I know just the place," Kirk says of his initial restaurant selection. "Do you trust me?" he later casually asks Spock as he orders them wine. But the story's sexual identity begins to emerge as the dinner is served by a young Deltan male that Kirk can't help but be turned on to, and it fully emerges when the after-dinner entertainment turns out to be a sensual dance between two males-one dark, one fair. The erotic dancers send Spock the unmistakable message that Kirk wants their relationship to move from only friendship to a different realm. Later the threads of trust and sexual expression cris-cross, entwining the two with simple and, for the moment, satisfying results.

The story is beautifully paced, and the two characters artfully rendered. This is a mature but still extraordinarily beautiful James Kirk extrapolated forward from the series or perhaps backward from the first movie, matured by all that has gone before and saddened by the profound loss of his beloved ship. He feels adrift, and Spock is his lifeline. Spock, although less vividly rendered, responds agreeably to all of Kirk's subtle (or not so subtle, depending on your point of view) hints; before long, Kirk skillfully leads Spock to become his lover just as he skillfully led Spock on a hundred potentially dangerous but successful missions. In the end, however, it is Spock who casts both of them adrift.

Throughout the story, the writing is as sublime as the pain of what eventually happens is exquisite. The sex scenes are delivered seemingly in real time as each touch, reaction to that touch, and reciprocation is as intensely experienced by the reader as they are by Kirk and Spock. I felt as though I were watching the love scenes through a magnifying glass that allowed me to zoom in on each skin pore, each drop of sweat, each sigh of love. The scene where they make love in the bath is riveting, and I held my breath, never wanting it to end.

Of course, we know the outcome of the situation. We already know that Spock and Kirk will part, that Kirk becomes Chief of Operations, marries Lori Ciani for a whole year, and ultimately stoops to steal another man's ship behind his back. And that Spock will return to Vulcan to erase, by far, the best part of himself-or try to. So what is it that marks that terrible separation, the turning point of the title? What happens to pull the two men, so suited for each other, so unmistakably apart? It seems that during one of the love-making scenes, Spock instigates a mental bond with Kirk without Kirk's knowledge or consent. After Spock confesses what he's done to Kirk, their relationship begins its inexorable decline.

A fearful Kirk's first reaction is to ask Spock if the bond can somehow be broken. Later, although Kirk seems tentative and worried, he then moves them away from wanting to break the bond to a much more positive "What if we didn't break it?" At that point, Kirk seems willing to make a go of it. However, it is Spock who ultimately makes the decision-out of guilt or betrayal, I'm not sure which-to turn away: I will go, he had said. I have no choice. He had not spoken the Vulcan word for the hell he would consign himself to. Then it is over between them, from Spock's failure to control himself and Kirk's disappointment in that failure. Not abruptly, of course, for this Kirk and Spock are nothing if not civilized men.

As with the failure of the very relationship that the story is about, Turning Point here too fails. I could see their disintegration and I even understood that the source was the secret, unsolicited bond. But neither from the dialogue nor the exposition, could I determine why that was such a dire problem. Of course, the original theme of trust resurfaces, and it must be resolved or fail as a theme. But the emotional betrayal just isn't there on paper to warrant Spock's extreme decision, and his betrayal is presented in such an understated way that parting becomes an intellectual decision, whereas the story demands an emotional one, especially from Kirk, the one who is betrayed. We never get to see Kirk's emotional devastation or ultimate distrust of Spock in a specific way (he does not actually express it), so that when he lets Spock go, one can only wonder why. Yes, Spock has bonded them without Kirk's permission, but it is not clear how that fact automatically dooms the relationship. To have such intimacy, to be so close to success and happiness and yet, in the end, lose everything they had striven towards for five long years is still a mystery to me. There was a coming together here of the most profound kind-and then a painful, halting parting, the actual source of which still escapes me in my gut, even though I have just explained it.

Yet, without fail, every paragraph in Turning Point contains a wonder of language and image. The writing is so compelling, so beautifully crafted that both dialog and description are bonded as seamlessly as you would suppose that Kirk and Spock must also be. There is such tenderness in the tone that when it all goes awry, one can't help but wonder: Can't deep friendship and years together and, most of all, desire overcome a misjudgment, however complicated, incurred in the heat of passion? Isn't that what Kirk wanted all along? At this point, the dialogue fails to create concrete statements from the interior monologues, and communication between both the characters and the readers and between the characters and each other slips from all our grasps. I thought I might unearth the moment of the turning point if I read between the lines, but I never did. However, I did find an elegance of description and sense of character that is profoundly right and true and solid. A real work of art, this woman's writing is. Touching and touched.

They say that nothing's perfect, my friends, but Killashandra's Turning Point is so good, it doesn't have to be. [14]
Erotic, sensual, gorgeously written sex. I have only two questions. How did Mirror Kirk get into the mainline universe and where the hell is the real Captain Kirk? [15]
Wow, what a downer of a story.

Even if I were one of the few K/Sers who hadn't heard something of this story since it was posted on the Internet in early 1996(7), I would still have known from the first page that this was not one of those stories I would finish reading with any sort of satisfied glow in my heart. For one thing, the author skillfully imbues every page with a sense of despair and hopelessness. You can't miss it. Even setting the story in New Orleans, where the air is naturally heavy and the rain and clouds are omnipresent, is a brilliant stroke that adds to the foreboding atmosphere.

And I am the type of reader that so many authors abhor. If I have even a hint that we're approaching an unhappy ending in a K/S story, I unabashedly read the last page. That way, at least I can brace myself.

Normally, I'm not emotionally affected by pre-Gol stories. After all, we all know what happens after Gol. But an excellent writer like Killashandra can make the pain of that time come alive. It's impossible to think of the future that might be; we are stuck solidly in the present, living through emotional torture with Kirk and Spock.

Although Turning Point is not the type of story I enjoy, I know that many K/Sers do like this particular approach to K/S, and I also believe that Killashandra is an excellent writer who deserves my full attention, so I attempted to read this story with as open a mind as I could. Please take the rest of this review with a grain of salt, and know that, whatever my personal enjoyment of this story, this kind of detailed review could only be written about a truly complex, mature work of art.

Here's what I found. A mature, interesting approach to a period of our characters' lives that really hasn't been granted much close scrutiny, (maybe because so many folks like me would rather not live through that pain!) The close-in, snapshot examination worked well, although I wasn't too crazy about the titles to the sections. It seemed somewhat patronizing, as if the reader had to be told what was going on. Also, the titles foretold some of the emotional response expected by the reader, which hindered my honest response to what I was reading. Fifteen of these sections in a 47 page story, which comes to about one every three pages, created some jumpiness. Too many sections.

Much vivid writing, especially in description and setting of scene. I wish I could write like this! Here's an example: "A warm breeze whispered softly across the open square, carrying with it the scent of the ocean. Midafternoon sunshine filtered intermittently through the sullen clouds, struggling for dominance of the skies, the clouds painting their shadows on the ancient bricks at Spock's feet." Wow! Wonderful. I could absolutely see the New Orleans I know in these words. I was also able to "see" the club Kirk and Spock visited, and the little cottage to which they retreated. They came alive in my mind's eye. (However, I was distracted by the dizzying changes in pov, especially through the seduction and then the sex scenes.) An excellent use of trust as a theme. Twice Kirk asks Spock if he trusts his captain, more often non-verbally, and every move Spock makes proves that trust. He puts himself totally in his friend's hands, following him without words, trusting him as they move from San Francisco to New Orleans, from the streets to a club to a four-poster bed. Trusts him as he time and again whispers "Jim" as they make love, asking, pleading for physical stimulation and completion. The story is ultimately about the fact that neither one of them trusts the other enough to speak the truth, to speak at all, really. They don't trust enough to go beyond the merely physical, which is all they'd really shared. The relationship, such as it is, which isn't much, founders on a misunderstanding and silence and lack of true trust.

Great sex scenes! Geez, this author writes them hot and believable. (I especially liked the kissing parts — I am a great advocate of foreplay!) I was getting really bothered by Spock's passivity and Kirk's pure "taking," when at last in the tub scene the author turns the tables by having Kirk get in touch with the theme of the story. (As well as his need to feel physical pain to match the unspoken emotional turmoil which is propelling all his actions, and the need to punish himself because of the betrayal he's perpetrating upon his best friend — very subtle and excellent points. Wonderful!)

Another very exciting image occurred to me as I was thinking about this story, which I did a lot. In the beginning,

page 3, Spock prevents Kirk from having a third drink. There's a phrase that naturally comes to mind, considering how upset Kirk is at the time. "Drowning his sorrows." The whole rest of the story is really Kirk drowning his sorrows, in Spock, in his atypical behavior.

I also really liked the visit to the above-ground cemeteries in New Orleans, although physically I couldn't place one of these near where they were walking, at least in present-day twentieth century New Orleans! It carried the ambiance of the story one step further while presenting more believable local color.

The Turning Point of the title occurs when neither man can properly express himself concerning the bond which inadvertently forms during their lovemaking. Spock doesn't say how much he wants the bond with Kirk, Kirk seems to unsuccessfully search for words on page 38, saying he doesn't want their friendship to end — "after this is all over." The truth of why he seduced Spock finally becomes clear to the Vulcan on page 38, second column, and frankly it was as much a surprise to me as it seems it was to him.

There are a few reasons why the turning point of miscommunication didn't work, in my opinion. Number one is that misunderstanding is such a K/S cliche. This story is so sophisticated in so many ways, that it really breaks down for me when simple silence and stupidity becomes its pivot point.

Number two reason is that the story goes to great lengths to show how flawless the communication between the two men really is. When you've just spent the past 30 odd pages proving how much the two men can wordlessly exchange — how Spock waits for Kirk in Nogura's anteroom and when Kirk emerges and they leave together, "Neither of them had spoken;" when the seduction in the nightclub takes place with barely a word; the understated exchange on page 7 with layers of unspoken meaning, I about "Why are you here with me?" which really sets up the whole story — then the story appears to point in an entirely different direction than it ultimately takes. (Page 21, after Spock has simply said, Jim. "Spock didn't say anything more, couldn't. But the communication passed between them, sent and received with crystal clarity.") Exceptional communication followed by sudden and unexplained miscommunication simply doesn't make sense, especially when you consider their ability to make contact is now enhanced by the bond and the exceptional physical experiences they've recently shared. Frankly, I got quite annoyed, and didn't really believe that this was the pivot point on which the story turned. I kept flipping forward to see how many pages were left, convinced that something else would occur that would drive Spock to Gol.

I'm not sure what was needed to make this work. It seemed that Killashandra had to twist or force the dialogue and reactions of her characters to fit the end she wanted to achieve, and thus the emotional truth of the story was lost. Perhaps if there had been another example of miscommunication, a blatant one? Or another example of betrayal by Kirk? I don't think so, but at least it would have shored up what seemed a very troubling inconsistency. (This appears to me to be akin to a structural problem, a flow and consistency problem in plot development.)

There is another part of the story that really bothered me, but this is a purely personal reaction. It was really hard for me to believe that Kirk would be so completely selfish, so uncaring of the hurt he was inflicting on Spock, so stupid as not to think about the future for the two of them after the night of seduction, and so incredibly not-self-aware. He acts throughout the story as if he is not aware that he is using Spock as a way to distract himself from his own pain, and certainly Spock allows himself to move and act in a daze, simply following Kirk around, and not attempting to put any other interpretation on their actions except the obvious ones; love and desire.

This is not a very pleasing characterization of Kirk, it's not one that I can simply accept unless it is supported by other elements of the story. Basically, Kirk betrays Spock and forces him to go to Gol. I don't see the bond problem as performing this function in the story, but rather Kirk's callousness does. (I agree with Michele's discussion of how the presence of the bond is not a sufficient motivation alone to cause their parting. It's part of the miscommunication and cliche analysis I've made above.)

Adding to my distaste was the revelation that the whole scenario with Spock had been a duplication of an experience already shared with Gary Mitchell. This Kirk is a cad and an SOB, not someone I would want to know. It's hard to believe that this is the man who captured his second-in-command's admiration through the previous five years. However, if someone wants to write Kirk this way, fine, (I'm thinking of some very fine Anne McClean stories that certainly lean in this direction), but it's got to be supported within the story. I didn't think it was, because Killashandra uses the language of the typical K/S first time encounter, sex and desire, to lure the reader and Spock into by something quite different. Something more was needed here, I think; otherwise, Kirk comes off as a strong, mature, more typical characterization through the details of the story, but as a weak, contemptible individual across the over-arching theme of the story. Again, the lack of consistency in tone and plot that I've already mentioned seems to appear here in characterization.

Most of what I've been talking about here are really subtle points. And the sex scenes are hot, which is definitely a point in the story's favor! I really appreciate its maturity and sophistication, but felt that it ultimately failed to convince me of its truth. And geez, I personally don't like reading such a downer of a story.

I really, really hope Killashandra continues to write K/S, and I really, really hope that I don't have to sneak a peak at the last page of her next story! [16]
This LOC is from my wounded heart, so take it as that.

But first, about the writing itself: It's really wonderful. However, I'm not sure if I like the chapter titles. Maybe I don't want to have a one-word overview of what's coming; and also, it seems so purposeful, in the sense that it's an assertion of the writer herself. Not that this is a bad thing; but I was overly aware of it. And in the same way, although the style of the writing is gorgeous, intoxicating, it almost (only almost) got old by the end, in such a long story. Maybe a style that calls attention to itself is better suited to a shorter story. However, my engagement in the story didn't suffer because of this, that's for sure.

I know I'm like a broken record about this, but I don't love that we were in both Kirk's and Spock's heads at the same time, back and forth and back and forth. Sometimes I'd have to re-read a paragraph to see which of them was feeling what was being expressed.

Kind of on that subject, along the way I had the sense that we were getting more of Spock than of Kirk in the story as a whole. I can see how if we're going to be in both POVs, they need to have equal time.

I adore the slowness of the story, the tension before they ever even say anything overt to each other. And I like the timing, how we learn slowly where things stand for each of them and between them. I love the setting being on Earth; and choosing New Orleans was magical, made even more imaginatively so. Though I'm not commenting on all the details of setting and story-line, they were unquestionably appreciated by me. From the first paragraph, a rich, heady atmosphere was evoked. And so many gorgeous, long, drawn-out moments, including the pregnant silences between them. I could feel that silence. Absolutely electric; I was charged, and breathless. And so many exquisite, poetic/vivid passages and turns of phrase. There are quite a number of places I would quote, or just mention, but I can't say them all, nor pick just one or two. Stunning language, yet simple.

We're talking deep, deep feelings here. And moment by moment, things are revealed between them, and to us. Yet we were not overtold things, by having the significance of it all spelled out for us.

The dialogue is so spare, that what is said is very impactful. And the inner-dialogue between what is said is likewise not overdone. These passages tell us, but not ad nauseam, what is not being said, rather than explaining what had just been said.

I wonder about this: This Spock is almost pathologically not at ease expressing his feelings to his captain. So in their five years they hadn't yet gotten very close just on a friendship level? Be that as it may, this makes it so that when Spock does say something revealing, it's so powerful. And we learn Spock had never allowed himself to honestly look at his feelings, or imagine he could ever get close to Kirk. Yet at the same time, he has this fascinating deluded optimism, that in all the past five years he had never admitted to himself there would be a time when he would not be on the ship at Kirk's side.

Not to mention, their not having yet gotten anywhere near acknowledging their attraction to each other before this, makes every moment of this first time truly, beautifully overwhelming. I was undone. Okay now.... This is the wounded heart speaking. This story takes place at the end of the five-year mission. Now I never mind a sad story about Spock departing for Gol, because we know they come together again. But why imply, as this story does, that they can never be together fully?? They both end up saying the wrong things about this happening between them, about their intentions. Certainly this is a gorgeously written pain. Certainly I felt it the moment when Spock begins to harden already, after having only just begun to give himself so fully.

But it sounds like they can never truly be one, that Spock feels Kirk can never be enough for him?? I felt impatient with Spock, for not spilling all his feelings to Kirk, about the link that has developed and has now blossomed between them. For saying he must now leave. Spock thinks this new intimacy is not forever to Kirk. He doesn't give Kirk the choice to say yes, you may have all of me, I give you my soul. If I was Kirk I would want to beat the shit out of Spock right there. I didn't sympathize with Spock's anger. As achingly painful as his Vulcanness can be vis-avis this human, I still didn't sympathize.

And certainly their anger was superb drama, as was their dramatic, painful parting.

But why, emotionally, did you want to write this seemingly unredeemable pain? Or is there some hope in there that I missed? Or do you feel hope isn't necessary?

Especially after such a gorgeous story that seeped into my heart, that I surrendered to as surely as did Kirk and Spock to each other...then I felt betrayed by you. Why did you do this? Okay, so I'm being somewhat dramatic here, but...how dare you!? Or is that precisely what you wanted to do: open my heart and then spill my blood?

Did it leave you satisfied, writing this? I'd love to know where you were at about this. Is it because you don't have a visceral sense of mortality yet, of the fragileness of life? Or perhaps you don't have the feeling that the K/S relationship is "sacred."

So now you've explored the darkness overcoming the light; I would wish you dont need to see unredeemable futility in their relationship anymore. [17]
I approached this story with much trepidation. I had heard all kinds of things about it—things like a sad ending and not Kirk and Spock and you will love it and sad ending and things like that.

So I really tried to read it without all the preconceived notions. It was difficult at first, but the story turned out totally different than I had thought. Some better, some not so better.

We are introduced to Kirk and Spock at the end of the five-year mission. They are shown as never having expressed their true feelings to each other during the entire time together and, in fact, are still withdrawn and unable to communicate. It is an especially trying time for Kirk, who must step down as captain and step up as admiral.

They go to New Orleans together and the atmosphere was very nicely drawn. Except even at this early point in the story, when Kirk asks Spock: "Why are you here with me?" I was wondering the same thing. They say a few tame innuendoes to each other, but that vast distance still remains between them. Which I realize was purposeful, but instead of engaging me emotionally, it seemed to hold me continually at arms' length. I never felt I understood what was going on with either of them emotionally.

Then they go to a sex nightclub and seemingly out of the blue, Kirk prepares himself to seduce Spock. Which is fine, but there wasn't any build-up to it. It was made clear that they had never, ever had anything remotely sexual between them. I have a really hard time accepting the premise that nothing personal transpired between them in all those years together. Even to the point when Kirk asks "Do you trust me?" I wanted to say: I don't know—I don't even know you.

Let me say now that the writing is superior, and terrific writing like this lends a legitimacy. In lesser hands it probably wouldn't have.

One major difficulty for me was the beautiful poetic writing. That may sound weird, but too much of a good thing is too much. The poetic images were so dense—that is, every single moment was described in a flowery manner. I needed a moment or two just to relax and just read. It became somewhat of a struggle to continually get through all the images, metaphors, analogies and poetry. As an example: they don't just get out of a taxi. They: "He turned, as the passenger door slid open, and caught the breath of sweet humidity which swept into the antiseptic interior of the taxi, washing it clean." And they dont just walk to their rented cottage. They: "...came out into a second, smaller courtyard, an overgrown pool at its center. Ancient cherubim observed their approach with wise, knowing expressions." And they don't just speak: 'The words came out of him like wild, winged things released from captivity."

When so much rich, poetic language is used consistently even for simple, ordinary things, it lessens the drama when it comes time for something special, such as theirfirst kiss, then it'd have more of an impact.

I realize that by themselves, here, these phrases sound beautiful. And I'm not saying they're not. But almost every single sentence was just as densely poetic.

Along this same line, after they have their very first kiss, and they're completely blown away and overcome, they still have the energy to notice a great deal of detail about the decor such as "the Spanish tile of the entryway". If Spock kissed you, would you notice the furniture? The sex scene was terrifically sexy and beautifully immediate. And I liked the story element that they made love on the eve of Kirk's relinquishment as captain. But the lovemaking didn't seem to matter at all and Kirk woke up as morose and depressed as before. In fact, none of the intimacy seemed to matter to either of them. Spock still withholds and Kirk is still depressed.

Then just a minor moment that jarred me—I didn't understand Kirk's acute embarrassment when Spock saw him masturbating in the tub. Goodness—they had just had wild sex.

And I honestly did not fully understand the significance of the problem of it having been the same cottage as with Gary Mitchell. I still don't understand what difference that makes.

At this point, the whole story became quite frustrating. It seems that nothing is understood between them—they say something and the other one takes it all wrong. I don't mind the misunderstanding scenario in K/S at all—indeed, I like it. But here I couldn't understand exactly what was Toward the end, when they leave the cottage and they can't look or speak to each other (what else is new?): "For the first time in five years, Spock found himself utterly unable to read him." It seems to me that Spock never could read Kirk, or visa-versa for that matter.

So as a result, I didn't feel the appropriate sadness at the end when they couldn't be together. First, I never understood exactly why, and second, there wasn't one moment of true connection between them in the entire story. It needed that for something to compare to. If they never had an understanding, then why bother with the relationship at all?

I want to state categorically, without question, that Killashandra is an extraordinary talent. That is one of the reasons why this story demands close scrutiny and deserves a much more critical response than most. I won't soon forget this story. [18]
I love this darkly beautiful account of how Kirk and Spock spend the hours immediately following the end of their five-year mission. Killashandra's poetic style and the exotic setting she has chosen combine to create an almost hypnotic effect. The story is told from both Kirk's and Spock's point of view, but I was never confused about whose thoughts I was reading and I feel that it was important, in this story, to hear from both men. Killashandra's descriptions of the surroundings summon up very vivid mental pictures, helping to draw the reader into the story. But what I like most is Killashandra's complex and interesting portrayal of Kirk and Spock and the dynamics of their relationship. (Warning; if you don't want to know details of the plot, then stop reading now!)

The story begins in the officers' club overlooking the hangar bay in which the Enterprise is docked. Kirk has just learned of his promotion to admiral; Spock realizes what has happened even before Kirk tells him about the promotion. Spock also realizes that he has been "childishly optimistic" in imagining that he would always be on the Enterprise and at Kirk's side, "...as if five years was not a finite measurement of time." Kirk is sad, bitter, confused, and weary. His instinct is to run...and to take Spock with him. And Spock's instinct is to follow, blindly and loyally.

They go to New Orleans, a location chosen by Kirk, who explains that he thought that Spock "...might appreciate someplace warm for a change." Ah, but this is not the dry, sterile heat of a Vulcan desert; this is the wet, rich heat of New Orleans, in which gardens can quickly become "snarled green jungles" and the high water table affects even the dead, who must be buried aboveground. When a gentle rain begins to fall, Spock views the phenomenon as "...a kind of scandalous excess." It is, for him, an alien setting and he is in over his head. By the time he thinks to ask Kirk "Why am I here with you?" it's already too late: the seduction has begun. And it works. In the darkened club where Kirk has taken Spock to make his intentions clear, there is, at last, a moment of unmistakable surrender:

Spock's eyes closed There was a slackening in the Vulcan's rigid form then, a kind of shudder passing through him. Kirk felt it touch something vital in him. Spock leaned back, very slightly, pressing his body against the velvet cushion; his face turned imperceptibly toward the human, lips parted. Kirk felt as though he was going right out of his head.

Although Kirk feels like "ravishing" Spock right there in the club, he manages to get them both to a more private setting: a secluded, vine-covered cottage surrounded by a garden complete with an "overgrown pool" and "ancient cherubim." It is the perfect setting for a fairy-tale encounter. But the real strength of this story, as I see it, is that the fairy tale does not last for long. There is a great deal of insight here into the characters of these two men. There are also some valuable lessons about trust, friendship, and the dangers inherent in acting without thinking about the consequences.

Onboard the Enterprise, Kirk and Spock had well-defined roles. But with the mission at an end, they are indeed at a turning point, both professionally and personally. They are also in no shape to make any major decisions. In the opening scene, while they are still in the officers' club, Kirk is described as "...looking suddenly weary to his soul." And soon after they arrive in New Orleans, we are told that Spock "...was wholly exhausted, and he realized that it had been a month since either of them had gotten two consecutive nights of uninterrupted sleep." One might well imagine that Nogura was taking advantage of Kirk's weariness, promoting him almost as soon as he stepped off his ship rather than allowing him some leave time to recover his full mental and physical strength.

There is a point in the first scene, when Spock tells Kirk that he does not want to take over command of the Enterprise, that he wishes, instead to remain at Starfleet Command, with Kirk. Had Spock been thinking more clearly, he might have gone on to suggest that they both get a good night's sleep (separately), get their debriefings over with, and then meet for a long, honest discussion about their future plans—both personal and professional. Instead, Spock gives Kirk the chance to jump up and ask "You wanna get out of here?" Spock then compounds his error by following Kirk, no questions asked. Instead of stopping to think about what Kirk really needs at this juncture, Spock automatically falls into the role of the loyal first officer following his captain's lead. On the surface of things, it seems as if Spock is doing exactly what Kirk needs him to do. But instead of helping Kirk temporarily escape his problems, Spock should have offered to help him face them.

And Spock is not the only one who falls into a familiar role. James T. Kirk has many admirable characteristics and talents, but the ability to initiate and sustain a long-term intimate relationship is not one of them—at least not at this point in his life. But when it comes to seduction, Kirk is stunningly competent. And so, as he leads Spock to New Orleans, Kirk falls into a role he knows he can handle, taking on the challenge of getting Spock into bed and conveniently forgetting that if things go wrong, he'll be hurting the best friend he's ever had. This is not really an evil act: it's a human one. Kirk is wounded, tired, and lost and he wants, very badly, to do something to put his life (and Spock's) back on track. He also wants to simply forget his problems for a while—to live, if only for one night, in a fantasy, with Spock. It is the wrong reaction to the stress he's suffering, but it is, still, an understandable reaction.

Once Kirk and Spock have realized that things are far from perfect, they compound their problems by failing to communicate effectively. It might seem, at first, that this lack of communication is the problem; I certainly think that it makes things worse, yet I felt that there was a bigger underlying problem. When Spock asks Kirk what he wants, his answer is "I don't know!" Kirk suggests that they could "...try for a while and see where it goes." It's a big step for Kirk—far bigger than the physical surrender which he gives Spock during their lovemaking. But Spock has needs which transcend human experience—a fact which both men should have considered before they jumped into bed together—and Kirk's offer is not enough. (One observation; I found the mental bond which accidentally forms during their lovemaking more mysterious and interesting than the sort of bond which allows them to carry on mental conversations and to sense one another's motivations and emotions with perfect clarity.)

The title of the first section of the story is "Homecomings." Yet, it becomes clear as the story unfolds, that, while the Enterprise may have returned home, Kirk and Spock have a long way to go. Kirk's final words to Spock are: "To homecomings, Spock. You know where I'll be." I see, in that parting, a good deal of hope. It is clear that these two still love one another. And, after the painful lesson they have just learned, one might imagine that when they find themselves together again, they will proceed with a bit more caution, thus increasing their chances of forging a healthy and lasting relationship.

I realize it can be disturbing to see your heroes portrayed as less than perfect. But if Kirk and Spock didn't have character flaws, they wouldn't be nearly as interesting as they are. One of the main reasons I never became deeply involved in TNG is that the characters were all so well-adjusted that they were downright boring. It seems to me that, in order to be a hero, a person has to overcome his or her own personal weaknesses. And before those weaknesses can be attacked, they have to be recognized. It is that painful process of recognition which we see in this story. In "Turning Point," Killashandra has given us a plausible account of how Spock ended up at Gol and Kirk ended up at Starfleet Command. She has also given us an unforgettable account of one pivotal night in the lives of these two men. [19]
This is a lush, dramatic work, good for fans who like to have their emotions tied up in knots, who love/hate it when they reach the point where they just want to grab the characters and say "No, no, you don't *understand*!", and explain it all to them so everything will be happy.

Oh, and there's also a lot of *really* sensational sex. The Kirk of TP is at his reckless best, throwing caution to the winds in the wake of the devastating blow of losing his ship. Spock, caught up in Kirk's irresistable wake, is at his most conflicted, with first his desires going against everything he believes himself to be, and then his willing giving in to something that will leave them both forever changed. Spock's caution is unable to stand against Kirk's intensity. It is a story of the enticer and the enticed; of seduction and submission. The prose, while a bit purple at times (kind of like this review), fits the hot and steamy atmosphere of New Orleans, and the intense emotions of two strong and passionate men.

The characters are complexly written; the reader is allowed to see inside both men, and to experience how their building desire, disbelief, and acknowledgment of their mutual passion lead to an overwhelming coming together. You are privy to each man's reaction to each new discovery of the other, and carried away by their refusal to think about tomorrow because of the pain that waits. Then, you see how misunderstandings, of each other and themselves, build seemingly insurmountable barriers between them.

What overwhelmed me about this story was how well I felt Killashdra understood each man, and how believable she made each twist in the story. Both men are portrayed as proud and stubborn, listening to the words that are spoken, but not really ~hearing~, while I, as poor impotent reader, was left knowing the hearts of each. [20]
If the essence of tragedy is that good men do evil, then 'Turning Point" is tragedy in its highest classic sense. In this exquisitely written story, Kirk and Spock become lovers and, in the process, do harm to each other. That harm is tragic since they are both good men each of whom in his own way loves each other deeply and generously. The tragedy is that each man knows only his own way of loving. The two men approach a passionate first time with such radically different backgrounds and expectations of love that those expectations drive them apart.

For those who can't bear such a sad scenario even in a pre-Gol story, rest assured that the sequel has already appeared on alt.startrek.creative, and it is a reunion story to end all reunion stories.

The story's basic plot has been recounted often enough on these pages, with interesting variations-it seems that different readers read the story somewhat differently—that I do not think I will be giving anything away if I give my own summary and analysis. Kirk and Spock have just returned from the five-year mission, and the shock of Kirk's promotion and loss of the Enterprise puts the future of their relationship squarely at issue. They go to New Orleans, and in the sensuous surroundings of the French Quarter, their buried sexual feelings for each other begin to surface. In an exchange that is wonderfully subtle yet brimful of meaning, they talk about why they are here with each other; Kirk invites Spock to dinner and Spock understands what is at stake; "It was a crossroads, one he did not fully comprehend one he had never, in any forbidden corner of his most deeply buried imaginings, anticipated." At the dinner theater, Kirk struggles with his resolve but carries out his rather impulsive decision to seduce Spock. It's a ravishingly sexy, but also a very standard seduction, the kind you might expect of Kirk in search of a one-night stand. It is clear that Kirk, however well-meaning, is acting according to a well-established pattern.

They spend a gorgeous, lush, incredibly sensual night together. Spock places himself utterly in Kirk's hands. In a moment of extraordinarily intense passion and intimacy, Spock cannot stop himself from reaching for Kirk's mind and bonding them. The ethical question, how could Spock do such a thing-force an involuntary bonding on Kirk—is answered fully in a passage that describes how Spock's control gives way beneath the relentless pull of their minds toward each other:

"The electric awareness of Kirk's essence stabbed deeply into the Vulcan's soul, an ecstasy even more intense than the incredible wet heat enclosing his sex. It struck him like an inner explosion, sudden, critical overload...He could not even struggle against it, the undertow was so strong. It shattered him."

And later; "More than half-joined already, how could their minds fail to reach for each other, intertwining as surely, as irrevocably, as their willing flesh?" How, indeed?

As Spock struggles with what he has done, Kirk faces some inner demons of his own. Years earlier, he had gone to the same dinner theater with Gary Mitchell, with whom he had had a brief affair. Sex had ruined their friendship, and he is terrified that he will lose his friendship with Spock in the same fashion: "He kept thinking of Gary, of that awful scene in his quarters and what it had done to their friendship. The memory was paralyzing him." Kirk asks Spock to promise him that they will still be friends "after this is all over," and those words drive home to Spock how different their sexual needs are. He tells Kirk that he has bonded them. Kirk is both thrilled and afraid of this strange Vulcan link: "His heart was suddenly pounding, impossibly loud against his breastbone. He didn't know if it was in terror, or excitement." But he hears Spock say it was not intentional, and suddenly he feels tremendously unworthy of Spock. Although he is willing to keep the bond, Spock concludes that it must be broken, and they part.

What elevates this story above the myriad "involuntary bonding" stories in K/S fiction with somewhat similar plots is the clear-sightedness with which the author traces the problem to real differences in the two men. Obviously, this is not a simple romantic story in which Kirk gushily accepts the bonding, even though it's light-years distant from anything he is culturally or personally familiar with. Nor is it a story that trivializes Kirk's difficulty with the bonding. Here, Kirk cares deeply for Spock, and wants to go on loving him physically, but he has the typical human male's ability to dissociate sex from friendship and love. Spock does not. His needs are vastly different. He realizes that Kirk is offering him all he can give-"offering, in all probability, more than he had ever been able to give another living soul"—but it is not enough. "Spock knew ... that it would not be enough, would never be enough, that he would never stop wanting to possess this man with all that he was, body and soul and mind. There would be no refuge in friendship or in physical passion, no loving him by half-measures. He had spoken the name t'hy'la, and he could not take it back. "Drink deep, or taste not."

I feel ambivalent knowing that some readers found unconvincing the "misunderstanding" that begins when Kirk, remembering Gary Mitchell, asks Spock to remain friends with him "after this is all over." Perhaps, like much great fiction, this story does not yield its secrets easily. Perhaps it demands more from the reader than we are used to giving to fan fiction. I know that it took me several readings before I felt I'd fully explored its depths. I note that the story first appeared on the internet, where stories are published in segments, often over a period of days or weeks.(This helps explain the chapter headings-some writers make a virtue of necessity and structure their stories in chapter headings within the size limit for a newsgroup post.) Perhaps this leads to more careful reading, or more frequent re-reading-l don't know.

Perhaps the facts of the misunderstanding could have been spelled out in greater detail-but I'm not sure I would have wanted them to be. For I do not believe that the misunderstanding is the core of the story, the essence of what drives the two men apart. Rather, the essence of the conflict is summarized by Spock when he thinks angrily, "Why did you let this flame burn between us, when you could not be what I needed you to be?"

This discussion reminds me of an essay by author John Gardner called "Aesthetic Law and Artistic Mystery." In it, Gardner tackles the issue whether it's an aesthetic absolute that "a work should answer every question it raises," that everything in a story should be explained adequately. Gardner says no. He notes that great writers have often disregarded this principle because of a "refusal to be led off to the trivial." Using an example from Hamlet, he concludes that Shakespeare didn't fully explain a certain point because he "saw by a flash of intuition that the whole question was unimportant, off the point; and so like Mozart, the white shark of music, he snapped straight to the heart of the matter, refusing to let himself be slowed for an instant by trivial questions of plot logic or consistency."

Although I don't think 'Turning Point" lacks a logical or consistent plot, I do think that something of the same principle applies to the "misunderstanding" between Kirk and Spock over Gary Mitchell and the bonding. In a sense it's trivial, off the point. The truth that this story explores is a far deeper barrier between the two men. I feel somewhat as I do about that business with the poison and the suicide in Romeo and Juliet; I don't know if I've ever been convinced by it, but on a fundamental level it doesn't matter, because those odd mistakes are not what the story is really about. Just so here. As Gardner says, "though there may be rules(formulas) for ordinary, easily publishable fiction—imitation fiction-there are not rules for real fiction, any more than there are rules for serious visual art or musical composition." And this story is not "imitation fiction"—it's the real thing.

So, in the end, the story is not about a passionate love relationship derailed by a misunderstanding, but about two men who come together having learned to love in radically different ways. In a poignant piece of parallelism, each man says to the other, in the scenes toward the end, "I had not intended this"--referring to the seduction and bonding, respectively. In a profound sense, neither could help doing what he did. Each of them did what he did because of who he is, because he is the product of his experience, because of what he has learned to be. Fortunately for our heroes, however, learning is lifelong, and the two men have some growing ahead of them. For that story, you'll just have to read the sequel.

I disagree with only one dramatic choice in this story. I don't think Kirk should have chosen a Beaujolais to go with the shrimp creole and Altairan truffles. For the shrimp Creole, a vivid, fruity Alsace Gewurztraminer would have been a fine match. With the Altairan truffles, I'd recommend a crisp white Burgundy, perhaps a Macon-Villages. [21]

1999

Killashandra's work -- especially Turning Point, originally published on the 'Net in 1995, and Full Circle, copyright 1997 -- have had an effect on web Treksmut fandom that is difficult to overestimate. I guess that the majority of people who got interested in K/S via the web are here because reading "Turning Point" was a conversion experience.

It's not just the "Oh my gosh, I'm not the only one who sees their relationship that way" feeling. What Killa did is prove, by demonstration, that there is no limit to how good K/S (or fan fiction) can get. She has raised the bar all the way. We can no longer say: "It's only fan fiction," or "It's only Star Trek."

I'm a professional book reviewer, and it is my professional opinion that the 80,000-word novel made up of these two stories is the best piece of erotic fiction ever written in English. One reason for my high opinion is that every sexual act in the story is both maximally sexy *and* important to the plot, the plot being development of the characters. There is almost no other plot; very little noncanonical "happens" except inside the character's heads. Yet none of the sex scenes is there just "for fun" (NOT that there's anything wrong with that): the sex is there as part of their psychology. It is sex with a purpose, while being some of the hottest stuff ever written. It's supremely hot because everything the guys do is foreplay, and then when the moment comes each touch, every kiss, is profoundly significant.

On the web "Turning Point" and its sequel have set the standards. The things Killa does are things we all, on some level, try to do. Killa's use of language is without peer, but her example at least gives us something to aim at. And a whole generation has been infected with her goal: unflinching emotional truth. It's a style that allows, sometimes wallows in, angst, but I don't think of it as h/c because the hurts do not come from external sources. All wounds are self-inflicted.

Some specific things Killa does have become part of web K/S convention. "Full Circle," for instance, is deeply engaged with canon -- much of it is interstitial to "ST:TMP." I know I am not the only person who now has great difficulty seeing that movie except through Killa's eyes. Killa also has the habit of taking her titles from popular songs and using them as epigraphs, which is common practice on the web.

There are also things Killa does *not* do that have influenced web K/S. In none of her stories are the words "I love you" the turning point. The feelings, oh definitely yes, but the words tend to be used, if at all, long after the first time they have sex. She also never uses adjectives of size to describe genitals, which I find a boon -- there's nothing like a 9.6 inch erection to spoil the mood for me (stay away from me with that thing!).

And if there is a happy ending, it's not unadulterated. Kirk and Spock come to their relationship from pain and grief, and they know that there will be pain and grief in their future. Their happiness, their love, is mortal, and so is both bitter and sweet.

It gives the story a weight, a heft: like life. [22]

>>One thing I wonder about this story is how necessary the Trek is to its impact. I suspect that unless the characters are people who have an existence outside the story, it will not have all that much oomph.

This statement really astounds me. That is exactly what I thought when you posted your review of Killa's TP/FC, in which you said those two stories were the most erotic piece of fiction in the English language, or words to that effect. I figured it was just you going over the top,but I wondered about exactly what you expressed above. Would someone who has no Trek experience or isn't into Kirk and/or Spock respond as you do to those stories, or, for that matter, as any of us do to our beloved Treksmut?

Doubtful, on this count.

Hell, I'm into Trek, Kirk, and Spock, and I don't react that way to those particular stories, although I'm extremely fond of at least one of them.

Anyway, that's what made that whole TP/FC review seem so strange to me. It seemed like you were mixing your "crit self" with your "Trekkie" self. If you love Trek the way you've told me you do, then I wonder how you manage to keep any sort of objective distance from those stories. I think it may be well-nigh impossible.

Feedback is a highly personal thing, as is writing. Readers reveal things to us in feedback, just as we do in our writing. That's why writing and feedback seems like a dialog to me.

To my ear, pro crit depersonalizes the response. The crit is standing back from the story and trying to assess it objectively. That's what sets it apart from other feedback, IMO. So I'm just wondering how one can use "pro crit tools" on something that one responds to on such a deeply personal level. Not saying you shouldn't view stories in a crit way or share those views, just really puzzled about how possible that is. I realize that all feedback (pro fic included) is subjective to some extent, but it seems to me that pro book reviews are less so. There's more objectivity. So I'm wondering: Can you really shut off your personal reaction to the extent necessary to be semi-objective? -- Jungle Kitty [23]

2001

Ok, so the last reviewer just posted a story by Killa, but I had to start off the month with my absolute favorite Kirk/Spock story. The author describes this as a "shameless melodrama", but boy is it satisfying! It begins as the Enterprise returns to Earth after its 5-year-mission, and Kirk and Spock suddenly realize that things are never going to be the same. In more ways than one.

If you know the story of the movies, you know what's coming, but you still find yourself rooting for that happy ending. The setting in New Orleans is lushly evoked - the city is practically a third major character in the story. Killa's attention to details is stunning (what would Spock, from a dry desert planet, think of the lush, humid climate of somewhere like New Orleans?).

And luckily, when you get to the end and realize you can't stave off the inevitable, you realize there's a sequel, "Full Circle", which the author describes as "Killa makes it all better". And boy does she! [24]
I knew this selection had to include a story by Killashandra, but it was difficult to decide which one, until I decided to go with the first one I ever read, Turning point. The mood is dreamy, but the smut is very immediate and intense, and maybe a little purple in places, but who cares? These guys should always be so sexy. "Yes," Kirk said finally. "I wondered." [25]

2004

I love all Killashandra's writing. It has an emotional intensity that I love and she writes some of the hottest sex in fandom. I love this Spock and the atmosphere of New Orleans is captured effortlessly . [26]

2005

Having read this some time ago, I knew it to be a landmark K/S story in tandem with its sequel, “Full Circle”, but as is the norm for me, I couldn’t remember the details. What better excuse to read it again. I am so very glad I did.

The five year mission is over and Kirk meets Spock in the lounge overlooking the docked Enterprise to tell him the news, “They’ve taken her from me, Spock.” From there, Kirk takes Spock to New Orleans, where they explore the city and at Kirk’s direction enter an exclusive club. We know from Kirk’s thoughts that he has planned this interlude and that he harbors a certain amount of apprehension about it, but with his usual determination, he follows through. Killa has an amazing talent for drawing you into the world of Kirk and Spock, giving you the ability to feel what they are feeling and to be a part of their thoughts. As an erotic floor show is unveiled, so are their innermost desires and passions. Both have just the right amount of concern for where they are going and just the right amount of courage to see it through. It is a fine blend that makes for some of the best reading ever.

The seduction is feathery-light, sparkling with tension and trepidation. And slow. So very sweet and slow. Both men want it, and yet they are able to let their feelings build at a deliciously unhurried pace, though their hearts are racing. Their first kiss is a work of art, drawn with both precision and flair. It is unbelievably erotic – and they haven’t even reached the sanctuary of their room. To envision every touch from this point on, to capture every feeling with exquisite detail, seems impossible, but somehow Killa manages it. The result will sweep you completely off your feet and into steamy New Orleans and their bed with incredible ease.

Even in paradise there are questions too difficult to answer. Spock senses an underlying truth about the site of their first time and Kirk senses something different in Spock’s touch, the prelude to a bonding link. Confessions of those truths shadow the beauty of their awareness of each other and of their incredible affinity. What has happened until now is so astonishingly beautiful it is difficult to imagine that the next chapter in their lives is that awful separation and Spock’s retreat to Gol. However, neither can bear the impact of the bond that Spock has inadvertently initiated between them. Neither are ready. The decision that will change their lives forever is made: “ I will go, (Spock) had said. I have no choice. He had not spoken the Vulcan word for the hell he would consign himself to.”

As we know, they are both consigned to their own particular hell by this decision. [27]

2009

I simply cannot find the words, without quoting many more passages of this stunning drama, this compelling love story, to tell you what these two interlinked writings do for me. They are quintessential K/S and quite possibly the most entertaining and completely believable adaptation of the missing three years between TOS and STTMP ever written. [28]
Now let me preface these recs by saying that everything Killa writes is so fabulous that she should be elevated to the level of fanfic goddess, but this series is my personal favorite. I think I've read "Full Circle" at least five times, lol. Such a good read. "Turning Point" takes place at the end of the first five year mission, and "Full Circle" takes place just before, during and directly after ST:TMP. I think I'm going to go reread them again after I finish this post. [29]
A shameless K/S Melodrama: "Do you trust me?" he said aloud, for the second time that day. He had spoken casually--had referred only to the selection of the evening's repast. But when the words were out he heard the vulnerability in his voice, the search for some unnamed reassurance." The Location, the imagery, the mystery, and the tenderness mix all to together makes this Kirk/Spock story something special. I don't even mind the ending because it felt so real. This story hits home for me. [30]

References

  1. The ASFS group was succeeded by ASCEM.
  2. Details of publication come from author notes on the series at AO3 and the K/S Archive.
  3. from The Legacy of K/S on the Internet: The Source of the Mississippi
  4. from The Legacy of K/S on the Internet: The Source of the Mississippi
  5. The Legacy of K/S on the Internet: Online K/S Fiction
  6. Turning Point rec post on crack-van LiveJournal community, dated 9/01/2004; accessed 8/24/2010.
  7. from The K/S Press #27
  8. from The K/S Press #13
  9. from The K/S Press #33
  10. from The Legacy of K/S on the Internet
  11. 2002 rec by Predatrix
  12. from Hypatia Kosh at The Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive|K/S archive
  13. from The K/S Press #12
  14. from The K/S Press #13
  15. from The K/S Press #13
  16. from The K/S Press #13
  17. from The K/S Press #14
  18. from The K/S Press #14
  19. from The K/S Press #15
  20. review by Ellen Ross, 1997 at alt.startrek.creative
  21. from The K/S Press #15
  22. by Mary Ellen Curtin, originally in a 1999 issue of The K/S Press, posted to alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated in April 1999, see On "Turning Point" and "Full Circle" for reactions to this fan's comments
  23. comment by Jungle Kitty at alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated, May 20, 1999
  24. a 2004 comment on Crack Van
  25. the flambeau factory: recommendations 2001
  26. Madrigal's Fanfiction Recs: Star Trek: The Original Series., Archived version (2004)
  27. from The K/S Press #116
  28. the last paragraph of a much, much longer review of both stories in The K/S Press #69
  29. from The Caffeinated Neurotic, posted December 30, 2009, accessed March 25, 2013
  30. Rec: Get away from the bar, 2009