Killing Time. Literally. Introduction

Let me introduce Killing Time. Since I fell into watching Star Trek: TOS (I almost said, fell into the fandom, but that’s not really what happened) I’ve been picking up the old series of books about those characters written in the eighties. About a year ago I joined Bookmooch, which is a website that allows you to give books away, and request books from others. That gave me a cheap way to get a hold of cheap, old paperbacks. Like this one:

In which there is an alternate universe (so unique in Star Trek ‘verse!) wherein Spock is captain of well, not the Enterprise, but an equivalent starship, and Kirk is a random, drug-addicted, convicted-murderer, draftee ensign.

So Killing Time had pretty good reviews on Amazon, by well-spoken reviewers (uh, well-articulated? I think I’m just getting worse). Anyway, because though most of the reviews were short one liners, one of the positive was three paragraphs and well-written. Generally that’s good enough.

When he mentioned that it was renounced by Gene Roddenberry, it merely provoked a slight curiosity.

It should have been more a warning for further research. See, I have been under the impression—I’m not sure how, or how long, or why—that Roddenberry is, well, just a little crazy. At least after Star Trek became famous. I still don’t know much about him, but after I heard he disowned the fifth movie from canon, because it wasn’t “plausible” I kinda disowned him. Because seriously? You made the movie. It’s official whether you like it or not. Even if it wasn’t approved by him in the first place, he’s irrelevant. As soon as it became a television show, it wasn’t strictly his creation anymore. And anyway, Star Trek was never plausible, so I don’t know what he was thinking.

Like when my brother made fun of me for getting mad at current fantasy movies for explaining their ‘magic’ systems through science.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

I don’t call Star Trek’s effects science. I call it the parameters given by the show as to what they were able to do. It never really was consistent, and routinely changed per plot demands. While that might bother me in a serious show, Star Trek: TOS is, frankly, campy. Again, the episode “Spock’s Brain”. Indeed, my favorite fan fiction turned the events into an April Fool’s Day joke on Spock.

Anyway, Killing Time. So the throwaway line of the Amazon review eventually got me hunting for the whole story. Far too late to do any good, of course…

Turns out, whether or not Roddenberry dismissed it, the real problem came when the publisher used the wrong manuscript in the first printing. Della Van Hise was a slash fic writer! Who used her position in writing an “official” fanfic to try to advance the slashers’ cause. And had the manuscript sent back for rewriting, only to have the slashy one published. Yeah. That’s the one I got.

Actually, at first I didn’t think this would be a problem for me. I like my fan fiction gen, so I’m in such a minority, I have learned to read even fics labeled “pre-slash” as gen. I keep my eyes as open as possible (many fics are labeled ‘slash if you squint’).

Killing Time is a little slashy, as far as I’ve read.

Some people see it...

Its problems are so much worse.

For the first thirty pages are so, I just powered through. It’s not like I would have expected great literature even if I hadn’t known the story. But right after Kirk referred to his connection to Spock as, first, a literal thread. And second, no less than a “silver thread.” I had to write down my one question:

Why are mental connections always silver?

And then I kept writing, and between page 33 and page 83, I took three pages of notes. Just notes—and almost 1200 words.

As my brother called it: my most epic blog post ever.

Well, at least epically long.


My Parents are Trekkies

Which for many years guaranteed I wasn’t.

And when I say “Trekkies” I mean mostly that  my dad can watch the same episodes over and over and over and over and over and over and over again without difficulty, and gives my mom a Star Trek calendar every Christmas, and my mom watched the series, and therefore I knew all the character names, the general ‘universe’ of the series, and the theme song from the very first note. This also helped ensure my indifference.

After the new movie came out, however. Well, lets just say I’ve never had an objection to expanded universes.

When I find something I like, I never really want to give it up, which lead me to fan fiction, which in an indirect way made me a perfect fan for fan fiction. Much like Star Trek, fan fiction is one of those things that is unbearably geeky in popular culture. But I’m not really that fan either. I haven’t a clue what those “star dates” are supposed to be, know little to nothing about the later series, couldn’t care less about when the uniforms changed, and inconsistencies abounded–you know, like all the time. Nor do I know the difference between a trekkie and a trekker, which is apparently important.

That’s my personal theory as to why Star Trek spawned the era of fan fic, by the way. Because it has so many inconsistencies within its own universe, but such great characters you keep watching. Of course, this reason just occurred to me after I started this post, so forgive me some inconsistency of my own. It came to mind, though, because I recently read an claim that Trek evolved fan fiction because it had character potential that would not have been acceptable in the time period: specifically, Kirk and Spock slash. Slash when characters on a show are given a non-canonical relationship. Canon, in this context, means the accepted ‘truth’ of this universe, in this case the TV shows and movies. The ‘pairing’ of Kirk and Spock actually gave name to the term slash because warnings for it apparently followed a progression of Kirk/Spock, to K/S, to /, which of course is “slash”. Or so I’ve heard.

The explanations of which has completely derailed my point.

So. Kirk and Spock. Well, I don’t see it. Then again I rarely do. However, it also bothers me because claiming people did see it and were simple drawn to make it fact almost sounds like an argument that they were simply oh so progressive. That’s problematic to me because so many people who write slash are women, and it really isn’t a way of standing up for gay rights. If anything, it could be called exploitive. It’s a well-established phenomenon though, and it’s on the internet and can’t be stopped.

I think the sheer randomness of the so-called canon though might be what really got it going. Obviously people enjoy writing things like slash or what have you, but when there are so many holes in the storyline, it makes you question what might fit to fill them. Some people really like relationships.

My favorite part of Star Trek though, is that it never seemed to take itself as seriously as the fans–and for that matter, the creators–did. Take, for instance, the episode of “Spock’s Brain”. It’s practically canon crack!fic! Spock’s brain is stolen by beautiful, brainless females who need a new one to run their world. Hilariousness!  And so many of the lines are so over the top–if you watch the original series, the only one I’m referring to–that I can’t imagine the actors didn’t realize it when delivering them. Now, I can’t say anything  about what happened after the fame…because in current Trek fandom, the only thing you can’t say about them is that they don’t take themselves seriously.

Especially the sequel series. Much as I love Data and Picard, the Next Generation is so studious dramatic, half the episode I’m cringing in sympathy for the over-acting. IS SERIOUS BUSINESS people!

Star Trek 2009 was fun for the lens flare and explosions, and I don’t think meant to be taken entirely seriously either. And the score is awesome. I just watched it again a few hours ago, and it really doesn’t translate as well to the small screen, but that music just grabs your spinal cord and shakes you, yelling “it’s exciting dammit!” Also, considering they blew up Vulcan, it’s positively warm and fuzzy at the end. It’s almost as good as The Voyage Home and saving the whales and sending Chekov to look for nuclear veapons in the eighties. How I love that movie.

Popularly, Star Trek seems to be the absolute height of geekiness. Like there’s nothing to recover from: you either love it all or you don’t. Which in some ways makes it very hard to be a casual fan. Especially a casual fan who likes the eighties book series and The Animated Series (hey, they had non-humanoid aliens!). But don’t try to get the original series on DVD because even though it only ran three seasons they’re even higher priced than some current series, which makes no sense to me. So I can’t have them. Other than, you know, watching them free online, where they are hosted by the owners, with really irritating commercials. So I’ll just keep up my whine of “it’s not fair!” and enjoy my (gen) fan fic.