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Book: Star Trek: The New Voyages

The Book: Star Trek: The New Voyages, edited by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath

The Review: This is a collection of short stories written by fans that was professionally published with a foreword by Gene Roddenberry and individual story introductions written by the TOS cast members. The quality is a bit up and down, but the better pieces are well worth a read, and not only for the enormous amounts of slashy content that made it into publication :D

The Fannish Stuff: I just can't get past how fantastic it is that the Trek folk embraced fandom and fanfiction in this way. As someone who has been involved with fandom for over a decade but who came to the Trek fandom extremely late, it's hard to believe that this precedent was set right back in the beginning and thoroughly ignored by so many copyright holders ever since. Fandom makes money, not takes money, and it's about time that this message should sink in.

The Story: Ni Var, by Claire Gabriel

The Details: Okay, this one is pretty slashy. Spock is divided into two versions of himself in a way reminiscent of "The Enemy Within" – only this time the division is along species lines, with the result being a human Spock and a Vulcan Spock. Slash-wise, there's nothing overt, although Spock does mention the L-word, but it takes the usual subtext from the show and heightens it. You can read this as a short story about Jim and Spock's friendship, but it's extremely easy to read more into it as well. Hell, to me it's kinda blatant :D

The Story: Intersection Point, by Juanita Coulson

The Details: Nowt much in this one. The story's pretty ordinary too. Typical Enterprise-encounters-trouble story, and not one of the best I've read.

The Story: The Enchanted Pool, by Marcia Ericson

The Details: Ohgod, this was terrible. Ridiculous prose, bad characterisation and a stupid story.

The Story: Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited, by Ruth Berman

The Details: Dude, not only does is this book officially printed fan-fiction but it's also officially-printed RPF. I was really not expecting that. Interestingly enough, this is one of the picks from the collection. Shatner, Nimoy and Kelly are all transported onto the Enterprise for real and mistaken for their characters. I have no idea whether the actors are well-characterised, but the story itself is really amusing and a pleasant read.

The Story: The Face on the Barroom Floor, by Eleanor Arnason & Ruth Berman

The Details: This one works as an episode-like story. It's not fabulous, nor fabulously slashy, but there are a few nice Kirk/Spock-ish moments and Bones is very Bones-like.

The Story: The Hunting, by Doris Beetem

The Details: I didn't think much of this one. The characterisation was a bit iffy, and the writing quality was pretty ordinary. Spock/McCoy shippers might find something to play with in there, but for me it was really a non-event.

The Story: The Winged Dreamers, by Jennifer Guttridge

The Details: This piece was quite definitely better than most in this collection in terms of writing, and the characterisation is great as well. It's an interesting, authentic story as well, where most of the Enterprise's crew are 'trapped' on a planet by the realisation of their own greatest desires.

Of course, that's not the reason I liked it. This is the reason I like it:

Kirk looked at him and shook his head again. Not believing. Not wanting to believe.

Spock stared into his face. "Jim, have I ever lied to you? Believe me! Now, of all times, believe me!"

Kirk gazed into the dark alien eyes. The Vulcan seemed to see into him, into his very soul, and the bond between the two men asserted itself. Kirk believed. He relaxed and let Spock go."

And this is the reason I love it:

Spock reached for the computer, and then his hand hesitated. He turned in his seat and looked down at Kirk. In the depths of his eyes something was kindling. His face was intent with what was almost a dawning joy.

Kirk stared back at him with mild alarm. "Mr. Spock?"

"Jim," Spock said in a whisper, "why do we have to leave here? We can stay. Just you and I. We don't need those others."

"He's off his head." McCoy grunted. "He's finally cracked."

"No. The thing's finally got to him," Kirk said, climbing out of the command seat. "It's offering him the one thing..." He stopped abruptly, realizing that he was giving too much away. He ignored McCoy's startled look and went up to the Vulcan.


"We can go down to the planet," Spock explained reasonably. "We can be together, always..."

There's also a scene in which Jim's hallucinated nightmare involves Spock dying. And this is an official, published novel. Oh fandom ♥

The Story: Mind-Sifter, by Shirley S. Maiewski

The Details: 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.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 9th, 2009 12:34 am (UTC)

The scene in Ni Var between the two Spocks during the diplomatic mission was added to the story by Marshak and Culbreath, despite the fact that the story had to be cut drastically to meet the anthology's wordcount requirements. The uncut story retitled The Thousandth Man can be found among a collection of the author's Star Trek works here. (The balance of the author's Star Trek works are here.)

Aug. 9th, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
Ooh, lovely, thank you! I always really appreciate links to the earlier writing in the fandom, because it's so daunting knowing where to start as a latecomer like myself :)
Aug. 9th, 2009 11:40 am (UTC)
Followed the link from trek_news

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.'..."

That's very reminiscent of what happened at the end of Search for Spock, when Spock remembered Jim's name after the fal-tor-pan. <3

And that bit from Winged Dreamers? It really said that? Seriously? And this was encouraged by GR AND the cast members? ...How can there be any question that they wanted there to be slash?
Aug. 9th, 2009 12:14 pm (UTC)
It really said that. I almost dropped the book when I read it :D

I don't know how much it was encouraged, but they all wrote forewords for the book and individual stories, and the cast bits at least sound like they read the pieces that they precede. If nowt else, it definitely shows that they were happy with the Kirk/Spock relationship being presented as the most important in their lives, whether it be platonic or not-so-platonic ;)
Aug. 9th, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC)
"It's offering him the one thing..." He stopped abruptly, realizing that he was giving too much away.

It could just be my slash goggles, but I'm not seeing a platonic interpretation there...
Aug. 9th, 2009 12:34 pm (UTC)
Me neither, but I'm willing to admit that my brain is not always the most objective thing when it comes to K/S ;)
Aug. 9th, 2009 01:02 pm (UTC)
Cause it's not like Kirk & Spock can't be "together always" as friends right where they are, right?
Aug. 9th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
"... just can't get past how fantastic it is that the Trek folk embraced fandom and fan fiction in this way."

In the beginning, yes...however, that changed with time.

When the franchise was just taking off, TPTB (powers that be) were desperate for stories to publish, so they drew on fan fiction authors as well as known sci-fi authors to get novels out there for purchase. It is pretty easy to tell which books were written by genuine fans of the show, and which ones were from sci-fi writers who really knew very little about the show and were hired mainly for name recognition. They tended to write characters acting in ways that the readers finds puzzling at best, and often physical descriptions were just plain wrong.

As the franchise solidified, TPTB became much more restrictive about what could be published. RULES were put into place - RULES which restricted a lot of the authors' creativity and IMO sucked the life out of some of the later stories. Personally, I loved the earlier books written by those with a genuine appreciation of the show.... even if they tended to be a bit "campy" at times. The author's true respect and love for the characters and the Trek universe is so obvious. But as the years passed, too many of the stories started seeming more like generic sci-fi with the characters being plugged in to roles that could have been filled by anyone. I have seen this happen very often with tie-in books, which is why I tend to prefer fan fiction. I started finding the books boring. They became more plot oriented and less character driven. Since I had always been attracted to the show for the characters, this bothered me, and eventually I stopped buying the books and focused solely upon the fan fiction.

Now, I have only read in the TOS universe, so there may be really good books from the other series out there - but I do wish I knew about some more recent TOS novels that were worth reading for good character interaction. If anyone does - let me know.
Aug. 10th, 2009 12:12 pm (UTC)
I did read somewhere that they changed things up in the mid-eighties and had editors ensuring that nothing remotely slashy made it into print.

It's sad, however, that putting more rules into place took all of the love out of the books. I agree that most tie-ins tend to be quite generic, so it was lovely to be able to read published ST fiction that seemed to portray the characters with the same kind of love that you find in fanfiction.

Most of the books I've picked up have been early TOS novels, but I did enjoy Starfleet Academy: Collision Course by Shatner & his co-writers.
Aug. 10th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
"...but I did enjoy Starfleet Academy: Collision Course by Shatner & his co-writers. "

Oh! I'll have to check that one out. I actually LIKE Shatner's Trek books, but that is probably because I don't mind how he treats Picard as I am not necessarily a Picard fan. It is not that I have anything against him; I just never got into TNG so the fact that Picard comes across as rather inept is irrelevant to me - but I suspect it would bother Picard fans! LOL~!
Aug. 12th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
This is the only one I've read so far, but I rather like the idea of all the ones where he saves the day with Picard - it'll be a nice change from Wesley being the one to save the TNG crew from disaster ;)
Mar. 22nd, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
While you wrote this comment a long time ago and might have broadened your horizon considerably by now, and while I really have no place in this conversation, I still would like to butt in and recommend Roddenberry's novelisation of the Motion Picture.

It's decently written, it is very slashy (Spock hears Kirk's thoughts while the one is on Vulcan and the other is on Earth, among other wonderful things), and it makes the movie seem much more watchable once you know what the characters are thinking.

My two cents. :P
Mar. 22nd, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. Actually, I have read the Motion Picture adaptation. I read most of the TOS novels that came out through the mid 80's or so... after that, not so much. Any suggestions for good character driven TOS novels from the 90's and on?
Mar. 23rd, 2010 12:20 am (UTC)
No, sorry. I'm relatively new to the fandom and haven't been able to catch much of the published writing yet (except fanfiction. Boy have I read a lot of fanfiction).
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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