Kirk/Spock

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"It had been building all these years…no one set of circumstances was the cause…now, it seemed it had been inevitable from the outset."

A Fragment Out of Time by Diane Marchant, published in Grup III in 1974,


Contents

Picture of Kirk and Spock from the episode The Trouble with Tribbles

Introduction

Kirk/Spock is considered by many to be the "origin" pairing of modern media-based slash fandom. Thousands of stories, works of art, fanzines, fanvids, and every other type of fanwork imaginable has been produced in the four decades since Star Trek first aired in 1966. While many fans were originally drawn to Kirk and Mr. Spock's deep friendship as evident in the series, some Star Trek fans soon began to speculate on a deeper, sexual element to their relationship, as evidenced by what some considered to be homoerotic undertones in gestures, eye contact, and words exchanged between the two.

What began as a rather quiet, underground movement of those writing fiction exploring this idea eventually blossomed into a widespread fandom of its own, though not without considerable controversy. The use of the "/" mark in denoting "Kirk/Spock" homoerotic works as different from "Kirk-Spock" gen fiction would be embraced in other media fandoms to follow, leading to the development of the term "slash" to denote all such similar fiction.

Kirk/Spock still has an active following today, both on-line and continuing in fanzine and art production. The release of the 2009 Star Trek film has brought about a resurgence of interest in the pairing as well, both from new and old fans alike.

Terminology

Below is a list of terms and their definitions that are used in this shipping community.

  • K/S - a shorthand abbreviation for Kirk/Spock
  • T'hy'la - a term used in both gen and slash stories for affection between Kirk and Spock.[1]


Official positions on Kirk/Spock

I was never aware of this 'lovers' rumor, although I have been told that Spock encountered it several times. Apparently, he had always dismissed it with his characteristic lifting of his right eyebrow, which usually connoted some combination of surprise, disbelief, and/or annoyance. As for myself... I have always found my best gratification in that creature called woman. Also, I would not like to be thought of as being so foolish that I would select a love partner who came into sexual heat only once every seven years. (Roddenberry, Gene. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Pocket Books, 1979.)

Gene Roddenberry, Leonard Nimoy, and William Shatner have been asked many times over the years for their opinions on Kirk/Spock. They said it was not something the did intentionally but that they don't object to the Kirk/Spock subculture.

At times, however, Gene Roddenberry seemed concerned—as were many fans—that exposing Kirk/Spock to the mainstream could hurt the Star Trek franchise. Gene Roddenberry was reported to have remarked that there would be trouble if "the mothers of America" were to discover the existence of sexually explicit Kirk/Spock zines.

Gene Roddenberry on K/S:

"Yes, there's certainly some of that—certainly with love overtones. Deep love. The only difference being, the Greek ideal—we never suggested in the series—physical love between the two. But it's the—we certainly had the feeling that the affection was sufficient for that, if that were the particular style of the 23rd century." (Shatner, William, et al. Where No Man... The Authorized Biography of William Shatner, Ace Books, 1979, pp. 147-8)

The Subtext and the Maintext

Numerous moments in the canon source of Star Trek are pointed to by Kirk/Spock fans as evidence for the pairing.

  • In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Spock comes to the realization that emotions "play an important part in the richness of life". In one scene from the film favored by Kirk/Spock fans, Spock is lying down in the sickbay, clasps Kirk's hand and says that he understands "this simple feeling".

Timeline of events

Below is a partial timeline of events in this fan fiction community.

1960s

It is generally believed that the origins of Kirk/Spock came out England in the late 1960s, just around the time the show was being canceled. The idea of Kirk and Spock having a loving relationship that had sexual or romantic elements was discussed and circulated around small groups of fans in the United Kingdom quietly for several years.[2] A few authors have claimed to have written and circulated stories through these groups from the late 1960s through the early 1970s. Some of these stories would eventually be published in later Kirk/Spock fanzines, but not for several years to come.

Early 1970s

By the early 1970s, the idea of Kirk/Spock was beginning to make its way across the Atlantic to Star Trek fans in North America.

1974

  • "A Fragment Out Of Time" is the first known Star Trek Slash to be published in fanzine. The author was Diane Marchant. The vignette was published in Grup #3. The language was highly coded and did not refer to Spock and Kirk by name but rather referred to them as he and him. (Langley) The first line of this story contained the rather ironic line of "we're by no means setting a precedent" spoken by Kirk. (Sir Bob)

1975

  • In 1975, "Ring of Shoshern" by Jennifer Guttridge was circulating privately in Great Britain. This story was not published until 1987 in Alien Brothers. Some sources say the story was circulated among fans earlier than 1975, perhaps as early as 1968.[3]
  • Star Trek Lives!, edited and written by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Sondra Marshak and Joan Winston, was published. This book contained a chapter at the end of the book which examines Star Trek fan fiction and the Kirk/Spock relationship in fan fiction. This book is important because that last chapter helped formed a lot of the modern thought on Slash communities. Scholars still cite this source today.
  • While the first Kirk/Spock story may have been published the previous year, more material was out there and not getting published. The general community did not seem overly receptive to romance and in particular, that pairing. Diane Marchant would defend this pairing in an essay in Grup #4 entitled "Pandora's Box...Again". There was a follow-up discussion to this essay in the Star Trek letterzine, Halkan Council. This did not lead to a glut of these stories being privately circulated being published in fanzines. Rather, many would continue their trips underground, in some cases not being published for another ten to fifteen years.

1976

1977

1978

Cover of Naked Times 1, a long-running Kirk/Spock anthology fanzine.
  • Between January and March, Thrust is the first Star Trek anthology fanzine published to contain only Kirk/Spock slash in the early part of this year. It contained "Beyond Setarcos" and "Night of the Dragon", the first two sequels to "Desert Heat". This fanzine, along with the first of the Companion trilogy of zines which was also published in 1978, are credited as setting the standards for Kirk/Spock fan fiction which still stand today.
  • The first issue of Naked Times was published in 1978. This Kirk/Spock fanzine series would continue to run for 32 issues.
  • There began to be a drop off in the number of Star Trek fanzines being published as some were leaving the fan fiction community because of the prevelance of Kirk/Spock material.

Late 1970s

  • During the late 1970s, fandom rumor claims that women were not actively sought to write professional Star Trek novels because many of the ones who they had used had connections to the slash community. Paramount was worried that these female writers would try to work in more Kirk/Spock material and other homoerotic material, which they were uncomfortable publishing because that was not the way they wanted the franchise to go.

1970s and 1980s

"The same thing happened in ST fanfic. Mary Sue’s abounded in the early years after the series ended and when I was following it in the early 70’s, they were practically non-existent. In their place was Kirk/Spock – the only form of self-insertion fic that the ‘establishment’ of ST fandom would tolerate. These types of fics grew rampant and it got to the point were you couldn’t find any other kind of Star Trek story. The people who would have written anything else weren’t being read and those who might have wanted to read anything else had long before found that nothing was being written (or at least published) in ST fanfic that wasn’t slash. It gave ST fanfic a very bad reputation and when SW fandom started up, Lucasfilm was VERY insistent that fanfic in it’s genre would not end up going in the same direction. I published a fanzine in that era, and you were supposed to send a copy of your ‘zine to Lucasfilm’s Fan Club – it was said to be for archiving purposes, but I knew from others in the fandom that if you had questionable stories in your publication, you would be pressured not to publish again. Lucasfilm was very active in monitoring it’s fandom while I was part of it (until 83) but I have no idea what happened afterwards."

1984

  • The convention of using both K&S and K/S to designate a story featuring the Kirk/Spock relation was still in use; the use of just the slash had not yet been standardized.
  • Usenet gained more exposure in 1984 with a presentation by Alice Greene. In June, she showed Star Trek fans net.startrek and explained some of the advantages to using this medium for fannish communications. Archives from net.startrek during that period show that discussion of slash, referenced as K&S was happening on the group, along with advertisements for various Star Trek fanzines.

1985

  • The following is a post to net.startrek from 1985 to give people an idea of the climate at the time:
Aug 14 1985, 7:09 pm
Newsgroups: net.startrek
From: s...@uoregon.UUCP
Date: Wed, 14-Aug-85 19:09:00 EDT
Subject: Re: Requested information on K/S

Feminists who are interested in erotica written by women for women should find themselves very able to "stomach" K/S. They should check out the rave review of K/S written by SF feminist author Joanna Russ in a fanzine namec NOME, "Another Addict Raves about K/S." Natrually there is a spectrum of material-from mild to X-rated, from well-written to total trash. This material is widely circulated, but not "Published" in the ordinary, or profit-making sense, and is in fact underground material of great interest to the participants-the writers, readers and editors. Unfortunately, attention paid to K/S for its feminist importance, may be damaging to fandom as a whole, if Paramount gets too interested in it. Starsky/Hutch and Star Wars fandoms were severely restricted by paranoid producers. Joanna has refused to supply the names of K/S editors and writers to the editors of Penthouse FORUM--but FORUM is interested. As for the writers involved, writing fan material is wonderful fun, and may just provide the impetus for writers to break into publication, as a number of fan writers have. While it is true that REAL SF writers look ascance at Trek as formula
fiction, the first item of importance to most aspiring writers is GETTING PUBLISHED. Trek is a "hungry" market.

1987

  • An examination of Datazine 48 looking at Star Trek fanzines published this year shows that there were 47 non-Kirk/Spock zines compared to 30 Kirk/Spock zines. Universal Translator, looking at the same year, lists 144 non-Kirk/Spock zines to 58 Kirk/Spock fanzines.

1992

>Sure, what do you want to know? K/S is a sub-genre of Trek fan lit in
>which Kirk and Spock are in love. It is a highly feminist and female
>phenomenon. The love affair is definitely between men, as far as bodies
>go, but it bears more than a passing resemblance to a female ideal of love.
>Basically, K/S stories are about everlasting love between equals and
>heroes, a thing almost impossible in more mundane love stories. [6]

1994

  • Killashandra has stated that as of 1994, there "wasn't much" Kirk/Spock to be found on-line yet.[7]

1995

A discussion of Star Trek pairing codes and name abbrevations was posted by Aleph Press to rec.arts.startrek.current on November 30, 1995. It said:

B/G *is* Bashir and Garak. There are only two commonly accepted fan slash
acronyms in Trek-- K/S (Kirk/Spock) and P/C (Picard/Crusher.) You never
see S/K or C/P. Other orthographies exist for B/G, though (I've also seen
it G/B, and even G/J! A side note-- a lot of fans have taken up using
people's first names in their orthographies, for instance referring to
Dax/Bashir fiction as J/J, despite the fact that neither character is
commonly called by their first name on the show. I think this is
annoying. If I see J, I expect it to be Janeway, not Dax or Bashir.)

1996

1997

  • The following characterization of the community dates to 1997 and was written by JPayne:
K/S Fiction: Stories written by Star Trek fans, based on the premise that Captain James T. Kirk and his Vulcan First Officer, Mr. Spock, are sexually involved with each other. The idea was first promoted in a story by Leslie Fish, printed in The Obs'zine. At the same time, Gerry Downes used it as the basis for a novel, The Alternative, in 1977. Since then, the premise has been extended to include other male bonding pairs.
The bulk of K/S fiction is written by women, leading to the assumption that the stories are not written about gay men but about gay women. Some very prominent and vocal leaders of feminist SF have decried this practice, stating that writers of K/S should come out of ther literary closest and be honest about what they are doing. Another school of thought holds that the stories are written about male/female relationships, with one of the characters standing in for the author herself. (Rogow, 174)[10]

1999

  • In a 1999 interview with Killashandra, the author discussed the rift which existed at the time between longtime Kirk/Spock supporters and the new wave of fans discovering the 'ship through on-line fandom.[11] She stated, "It's been very disheartening to me to see the way these two groups work so hard at defending themselves from one another. Those of us who came into fandom just as K/S was beginning to be seen online are left with friends on both sides, and no way to bridge the gap."

2000

  • K/S fiction, which has blossomed online after Sci Fi Channel's decision to rerun the series in the late 1990's, peaks at nearly 900 story posts. (Some stories were posted in multiple parts, so the total number of individual stories is somewhat lower.)

Kerfluffles

This section needs more information.

The Internet

Many fan-run Kirk/Spock websites have sprung up all around the internet. Sites such as KSArchive.com archive some written fan fictions, as well as other sites that include artwork, poetry, and other things regarding Kirk/Spock.

Another well-known source of Kirk/Spock material is Laura Goodwin's "Proof of Love" in which she provides insight on any episode showing any hint of Kirk and Spock being romantically involved.

YouTube

When YouTube first launched in 2005, it seemed that the amount of fan videos, or fanvids posted on the site also rose rapidly. A lot of the Kirk/Spock fanbase has sprung up through YouTube and the infamous "Closer" video was the first and still holds the place of most popular K/S video on YouTube.

LiveJournal

There has been a small but active LiveJournal community around the pairing for many years. Many of the postings were original done on individual LiveJournals. It took a while for a community to form around LiveJournal communities. The new movie helped spur additional community creation. Below is a timeline of communities created dedicated to the pairing.

Mailing Lists

One of the central mailing lists for all Star Trek-related adult fiction, het and slash, is ASCEML, the yahoogroup formed on December 13, 1998 based on the alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated newsgroup. Kirk/Spock has been heavily featured there along with other pairings, and as of May 26, 2009, ASCEML had 2202 members.[19] The "stories-only" version of the list, ASCEM-S, was formed on June 17, 2000 and as of May 26, 2009, it had 1161 members.[20]

Other mailing lists specific to Kirk/Spock include the following:

Influential fanworks

Fan fiction

Some early, influential Kirk/Spock stories would include:

Fanzines

The cover of The Price and the Prize, an important Kirk/Spock fanzine.

A list of fanzines which have been recommended as influential and important "must reads" for Kirk/Spock fans[26] includes the following:

Fanvids

  • "Closer"[27] by t. jonsey and killashandra. Using digital imaging effects and with advanced, sharp editing skills, the creators of this fanvid managed to create an intense, dark mood for a Kirk/Spock video which was quite different from the more standard romanticized visions presented of the couple.

Ship members

There are a number of influential shippers who have shaped this pairing's history. They include:

See Kirk/Spock fans for a directory of shippers.

Ship size

This section needs more information.


See also

Sources

  • Alexander , A., & Harris, C. (Eds.). (1998). Theorizing Fandom: Fans, Subculture and Identity. Hampton: Hampton Press.
  • Bacon-Smith, C. (1992). Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth. Pittsburg: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Brown, Scott. "Scott Brown on Sherlock Holmes, Obsessed Nerds, and Fan Fiction." Wired 20 Apr. 2009. 28 Apr. 2009 <http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17-05/pl_brown>.
  • Byrd, Patricia. "Star Trek Lives: Trekker Slang." American Speech, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Spring, 1978) , pp. 52-58.
  • Cherny, L., & Weise, E. R. (Eds.). (1996). Wired women : gender and new realities in cyberspace. Seattle: Seal press.
  • Constant, Paul. "Where No Man Has Gone Before." Newsweek 5 May 2009. <http://www.newsweek.com/id/195963>
  • Curtin, Mary Ellen. A Bibliography of Early K/S. Foresmutters Project. Copyright 2000. Bp <http://foresmutters.org/earlyKS.html>
  • Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers Television Fans & Participatory Culture. New York: Routledge, 1992.
  • Penley, Constance. NASA / Trek: Popular Science and Sex in America. New York: Verso. 1995.
  • Russ, J. (n.d.). Another Addict Raves About K/S. Nome, 8.
  • Sir Bob. "Re: Coolest Fantasy Villain." rec.games.frp.dnd. 1 Jul 2003.

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