Virginia Tilley

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Name: Virginia Tilley
Type: fanwriter
Fandoms: Star Trek
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Virginia Tilley was a Star Trek fan writer and fanzine publisher.

She created the Lightfleet saga with Daphne Hamilton, Anna Mary Hall and Shirley Maiewski. Crossing several state lines, these four ladies used the US mail and telephone long-distance service to write the popular series of stories affectionately dubbed "AU-4".[1]

In 1975, Virginia wrote of her fannish roots:

It all began back in those black depths of puberty known as 9th grade, in the city of Decatur, Illinois, Soybean Capitol of the World. I was 13 years old, and typically desperate. The year was 1967.

I had already written, in study halls and such boring moments, an atrocious 108-page epic about flying horses in a mythical land called "Faria", and was in the process of creating a one-dimensional character named "Aaron" who bore a vague resemblance to Napoleon Solo and who fumbled into Middle Earth and my high school in turns. I remember he was always getting wounded in the shoulder. ... At any rate, it was no great loss when I finally stayed up 'til midnight one Saturday night to watch a show called "Star Trek", and Aaron and Faria were swept out of my mind into deserved oblivion. That first episode was "The Apple", and I hadn't the faintest idea what was going on. Transporters, pointed ears, all that foliage, all those painted people, force-fields, phasers .... I was lost by the first beam-down effect, but I was entranced. I clipped everything, including the blurbs in TV Guide. I was learning to touch-type, and I began pounding out episode synopses on my ancient black manual. And somehow or other, during homeroom and English class, I began to jot down the first ideas about Lightfleet. The Lightfleet of 1967 bore little resemblance to the Lightfleet of 1975. I blush to recall some of the details, in fact; it was run by a president, and . . . well, never mind. It bore a great resemblance to Starfleet, but it was more powerful, and was run by a dark-eyed race called the "Feanorians", a name I took straight from Tolkien (and which for the purposes of Alternate Universe 4 I changed to "Velonians"). There were nine cruisers, and nine captains — all male — to run them. I wasn't sure what the Ships did — the patrol nature of Lightfleet was only a foggy seed of thought in my mind — but they were fast and beautiful, so who cared? I fiddled with the idea for the rest of Star Trek's 2nd season, developing crucial factors like the names of the redels and the color of uniforms, until I met a kindred spirit and Star Trek fan, Cathy Minks. Within a day she was an ardent Lightfleet creator, and within three days we had created characters for ourselves: Commander T'Ares Halon (me) and her captain, Sharna Colbon (Cathy). We not only talked about them but acted then out by the hour, to the consternation of ice-cream shop owners and book store proprietors, and when my family moved to New York City in 1968 we continued to act them out through letters.

The Halon/Sharna letters — written totally in character -- were the vehicle for the real fleshing-out of Lightfleet, its purpose and nature, limitations and goals and history. During the next five years of letter-writing Lightfleet attain its raison d'etre; the preservation of peace in the galaxy. Kedals and uniforms were forgotten by stages, the male dominance crumbled and fell, the militarism faded to a loose chain-of-command. By trying to imagine ourselves as command officers, we began to glimpse what it meant to be a command officer, to be tied to a ship or to a mission, to be responsible for other lives. Halon and Sharna consequently began to grow, reflecting the burden of responsibility we began to understand them to have. It was almost hard to keep up with them, though we controlled them; their experiences and growth required so much insight from us, which we often lacked and had to search for in other literature and sometimes never found, Hallon and Sharna went through adventure after adventure, mission after mission, and by the fall of 1972, when I was a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts, Malon and Lightfleet had gone from being simple images of Spock and Starfleet to being unique in their own right. In fact, in some ways, they had grown beyond my own understanding -- and I'd created them, damn it -- when I met Shirley Maiewski.[2]


  1. ^ njpax (2008-07-14). "Farewell, Dear Fen: In Memorium". LiveJournal. Archived from the original on 2012-11-29. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  2. ^ Interphase #3