Who wrote the first slash fanfiction about the Kirk / Spock couple? The story of some of the most significant writings for the Star Trek fandom
Be quiet ... We are absolutely not setting a precedent
For sure, setting a precedent was not Diane Marchant's intention when, in 1974, she published her short story about the fanzine Grup. Yet today A Fragment Out of Time seems to have been the first explicit homoerotic fanfiction to be distributed in a magazine, although circulating only among a handful of people.
There was nothing popular about slash
It might seem small to the rest of us, now accustomed for years to read or see stories written by fans focused on gay couples, who today circulate freely in the major fanfiction archives. However, for the early XNUMXs and under Nixon's conservative policy, making a story with homosexual protagonists public was not a trivial choice, especially if you consider the pressure that other authors of slash stories would then have suffered in the same fanzines.
One example was the stories with the main couple Han Solo and Luke Skywalker who tried to circulate in the eighties: the directors of the fanzines, in fact, tended to boycott this kind of stories, circulating the rumor (never confirmed, however) that George Lucas himself was against the Han / Luke.
But also within the same fandom as Star Trek criticism rained, especially from female fans, who made up the vast majority of people involved in the development of the fanzines. The debate over the possibility of writing Kirk / Spock (want for homophobia, want for simple will to stick to the canon) it became particularly hard in '77, when it was discussed even during some conventions and brooches began to circulate with the initials K / S crossed out.
Then we are amazed at the toxicity of certain fandoms of today, like those of Steven Universe or Dragon Age, spreading a pitiful veil on the bullying of certain fans of Star Wars.
A Fragment Out of Time: 1974
But let's get back to talking about A Fragment Out of Time. It is a fanfiction of a few hundred words, typed on two sides of Grup #3 of 1974, the first fanzine on Star Trek dedicated to adults (the name is in fact an abbreviation of grownup, as well as a Trekkian quote). In fact, history today could almost be called a PWP (Plot? What plot?), Since it tells a sexual encounter between Spock and Kirk, although the tones used make everything very delicate and not very graphic.
In reality, the identity of the two protagonists of this short erotic essay is left implied, since we refer to the two lovers without ever calling them by name, although the mention of the "logical mind" of the one and the "blond hair" of the other leave little doubt to an attentive reader. However, at the time the few readers of the magazine needed a letter of clarification from Diane Marchant, the author of the fanfiction. But yet, A Fragment Out of Time was accompanied by well two designs, always made by the fanwriter and who unequivocally portrayed the two officers of the Enterprise.
Su Group # 4in fact, Marchant argued his thesis on the possibility and coherence of a romantic relationship between Spock and Kirk, officially starting a larger-scale debate, involving an ever larger slice of the fandom of Star Trek. Definitely, generating much more echo than the author had initially intended with her short story.
Alternatives: The Epilog to Orion: 1976
Before the discovery of the very short A Fragment Out of Time, the first slash fanfiction published in Kirk and Spock was believed to be Alternatives: The Epilog to Orion by Gerry Downes, who is famous for creating the first fanzine entirely dedicated to Kirk / Spock, Stardate: Unknown.
Alternatives was published in 1976 and it's a real short 50-page story, in which Spock must undertake a metaphysical journey into Captain Kirk's mind, so as to free him from the mental influence of an alien creature. But this prolonged contact will make both protagonists discover many things.
Despite A Fragment Out of Time was the catalyst for the slash debate and Alternatives had inaugurated a magazine completely dedicated to Kirk / Spock, a fundamental role in the following years was played by another homoerotic fanfiction, the third published on fanzine. We are talking about Shelter, of Leslie Fish and Joanne Agostino, exit on Warped Space # 20 in 1976, to which there was also a sequel, called poses.
In this case, we are faced with a non-explicit fanfiction, which focuses much more on the psychological analysis and emotionality of the protagonists. Despite this (or perhaps also for this reason), Shelter had great success among fans and Leslie Fish was one of the most active champions in defending freedom of expression within the fandom of Star Trek.
In fact, during a debate on Kirk and Spock's sexual relationship at the 1978 August Party, Fish had no hair on the tongue: "It's natural: animals do it, so Kirk and Spock can do it too." And, to be honest, even a banal statement like this made us discuss at length.
The Ring of Soshern: 1968. The first Kirk / Spock fanfiction ever (or maybe not?)
The story of the fanfiction slash on Star Trek seems to go further and further back in time, until it lands outside the fanzine, in the manuscripts secretly passed from hand to hand by lovers of the series. So although there are probably older ones, the first known Kirk / Spock honor (but never distributed on fanzines) actually goes to The Ring of Soshern di Jennifer Guttridge, probably written in 1968.
It is a story based on some of the most typical narrative gimmicks used by fans to motivate a sex scene with Spock: the crash of a shuttle, the discovery of a makeshift refuge and the sudden arrival of the pon farr, the neurochemical imbalance that produces an irresistible urge to mate in Vulcans. However, from what can be recovered on the net, The Ring of Soshern it's a well-written story, which manages to evoke the characters' personality very well.
Despite this, this fanfiction was never published by Jennifer Guttridge, since the latter she feared that Star Trek actors could sue her: wanted to meet Nimoy, but not in court. This then did not stop the fanzine Alien Brothers to publish The Ring of Soshern without the complete permission of the author.
Did Kirk and Spock clear the slash fanfictions?
As the fan culture scholar also said Henry jenkins in Fans, bloggers and videogamers. The emergence of participatory cultures in the digital age (2008):
Fans writers have great creative freedom and can therefore not only promote a wide range of interpretations of the original work, but also manipulate its plot, settings and characters to better reflect the values, meanings and personal interests of users. It is no coincidence that "marginalized subcultural groups" (women, young people, gay men and so on) have a great resonance in fandoms.
It is therefore significant that slash was written and read in an age when homosexuality was a taboo, and that the first homoerotic fanfictions were not only more or less contemporary to Stonewall's movements, but also based on one of the literary genres that most talked about inclusion and new horizons for humanity. In this sense, Star Trek qualifies just like the central work of this thought.
That Kirk / Spock paved the way for modern homoerotic couples is difficult to prove. More likely, the first slash stories, which timidly appeared in the fanzines, were the result of a more general awareness: that the love stories between characters are more based on narrative alchemy than on genre, And that fans (and fans) were allowed to express their world view.
A series of statements that should still be emphasized today, from time to time.
Cover image by Gayle F