Canon fodder (updated)

One of my favorite ongoing debates within slash is whether K/S is “canon” or not. There seems to be a real desire among some slashers (neatly summed up in the image above) for Kirk and Spock’s romantic relationship to be read as part of Star Trek canon: an immutable, irrefutable “fact” about the ST universe, like dilithium crystals or McCoy’s Southern accent.

Dude!–this argument goes–it’s clearly evident in the text (of canon) that Kirk and Spock totally love each other and/or totally had a complicated and acrobatic sexual relationship. On the one hand, then, K/S is already canon in these slashers’ minds; on the other, only Paramount (who still owns ST, right?) can make K/S “official” (and thus legitimate? Easier to talk about with friends and family? Facilitating slashers’ ability to come out of the textual/sexual closet, as it were? I don’t know).

This desire is complicated, I think, by the presence of Star Trek (2009), which reboots Kirk and Spock and makes an overt case for Spock’s heterosexuality (or penchant for humans, depending upon your perspective). However, the movie also recognizes the most important material object of the original Star Trek–Spock’s body–and carefully retains and protects that object and transports it safely to the new 23rd century. (I went on about Spock’s body-as-object in an earlier post here.)

[The question of K/S in the 2009 new-verse is an interesting one that I need to work with further–as a researcher. As a reader, I don’t buy 2009 K/S, but that’s a long story that has as much to do with where I went to college as my opinions on the film.] Continue reading “Canon fodder (updated)”

Standing at attention

I’ve come back to slash again, and so, of course, I need to write about it. Perhaps this is just a cheap attempt to stay away from my @#$@#$ thesis–most certainly–but, as a reader, I’ve found that I get something from writing about some of the stories that I’ve read.

As usual, a warning: the links below will lead you to K/S writings. What is seen cannot be unseen; although, as Spock would say, there are always possibilities, that doesn’t mean that you have to look at all of them.

Here are two of the best:

Tired” by JackHawksmoor

Here’s why I love this story: I didn’t understand it the first time I read it. It’s sleek and fast moving and demands that you read every damn word, and I got lazy. A lot of the story’s action occurs offstage–there are pretty strong inferences in the text, but the story requires a close reading to follow it through.

As the action begins, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are involved in tricky negotiations with many unpleasant people, and no one is happy about it. Kirk, in particular, begins to act strangely. When Spock inconveniently picks up on his captain’s apparent distress, Kirk has to resort to semi-desperate measures to keep the trains running on time.

To me, this story proved once and for all that good slash = good writing. It’s easy to write an impersonal sex scene; it’s much harder to build a complex and interesting story in which the sex is a key part of the plot. “Tired” is proof that fan fiction in general and slash in particular is a legitimate genre.

Full Circle” by Killa

I love this story. It’s the polar opposite of “Tired”–it’s lush, it takes its damn time, and it’s worth every minute. “Full Circle” picks up where the story “Turning Point” (*sniff*) left off. [Check out my review of “Turning Point” here.] K/S must live with the consequences of their choices (and their dumb-assery) in the previous story: Spock goes off to Gol to kill part of himself, and Kirk gets married, like you do when you’ve just had your heart broken.

One night, his panic attacks–which have been haunting him since he and Spock parted–take on a different turn, and he dreams of Spock in a way that he can’t hide (damn human plumbing!) and that his wife, Lori, can’t ignore. Soon, V’gr gets the band back together, and Kirk and Spock must figure out how to reconnect. To be honest, a big part of this story’s appeal for me is that it helps salve the wounds inflicted in “Turning Point.” It’s nice to see our boys get a happy ending–at least for now.

My favorite scene in this story has nothing to do with sex–instead, it’s an extended conversation between McCoy and Kirk in which James tries to articulate what’s happened between he and Spock. After V’gr is–defeated? sent to another plane of existence? whatever.–Kirk hides in the observation lounge and broods over the “this simple feeling” moment in Sickbay. Leonard (gods bless him) tracks him down and finally gets James to tell him what the hell is going on between Kirk and Spock.

It’s a great scene because Killa nails the Bones/James relationship, one that’s central to ST but one that we don’t see often enough. In this moment, it’s easy to understand why Kirk needs McCoy (The “I need you, Bones! Badly!” line from STMP not withstanding. Hee!), and what Bones gets from his friendship with both Jim and Spock. Looking back on it, it’s a hint of what Killa’s able to do in her angsty, emotional, but not-really-slashy novella Bitter Glass.

Both of these stories pay off, not only in terms of sex (though that’s there, too), but in terms of plot, structure, and character. It’s been hard for me to find stories that strike this balance just right, which makes these stories all the more laudable and impressive.

There’s no room for “logic” in “physiological” responses to PWP

…and how could I write about texts that inspire a physiological response without mentioning K/S? Damn it.

I’m not sure how I missed that connection earlier. Perhaps the thesis part of my brain is sheltering itself rather desperately from the part of my brain that’s interested in slash.

To that end, I’d recommend these very short K/S stories whose sole purpose, it seems, is to engender a very particular kind of physiological/emotional response in the reader. Each of these is an exemplar of  the “PWP”sub-genre of slash,”PWP” being  either “Porn Without Plot” or “Plot? What Plot?,” depending on your fancy.

Strong Medicine by Killa
Kirk’s been ill, but he’s feeling better. So much better, in fact, that he goes to the bridge to see how far he can push Spock to physiologically respond in public. As always, Killa gets the interplay between James and Spock just right. And there’s just enough plot here to make the reader feel as though you’ve done enough to earn the very hot (if all too brief) sex. A fine example of a “sex in a turbolift” story.

Master and Commander by Aconitum-Nappellus
This story has an utterly ridiculous premise: there’s very little hot water left on the Enterprise, so Kirk and Spock have to share a shower! Oh noes! But there’s enough steamy sex within and without said shower to make you forget about the silly way that the men come together. There’s a lot of focus on Kirk’s body in this one, which is a bit unusual; in most of the stories that I’ve read, the reverence is saved for Spock’s…body.

Feast or Famine by pepperlandgirl
Hee! I can’t think about this story without giggling. When the Enterprise is on a boring mission, having sex with Spock is the only way that James can expel all of his nervous energy. And the mission that they’re on is •really* boring. It’s understandable, though–who’d want to stare at a starfield when you could be staring (among other verbs) at Spock?

The Berriesby Jesmihr
This story is longer than the others that I’ve listed here, as it actually includes a plot. I’ve chosen to include it, however, because said plot centers on Kirk seducing Spock during a camping trip (don’t ask). But Spock screws things up by getting drunk on the titular berries–and Spock’s a fun drunk. There’s a lot of lovely hot sex and an emotionally satisfying and believable conclusion (if you care about such things). Plus, we get the great image of Spock as a wild, woodland god. Yes.

Having and Wanting by Varoneeka
A pair of stories whose titles come from one of my favorite quotes from TOS, a line of Spock’s from “Amok Time”: “You may find that having is not so satisfying a thing as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often so.” Basically, Kirk is so hot that he’s screwed up Spock’s seven-year pon farr cycle. Spock becomes consumed with having Kirk, Kirk figures it out, and, as Eddie Izzard would say, sex is on, yeah? The only annoying thing to me in these stories is that we waste time dicking around with the “James and Spock are bonded” crap, which, for my money, is something that doesn’t belong in a PWP. But that’s me.

At the intersection of two triangles

Now a brief dissection of Jane Carnall’s story “Yesterday.”

This story builds on the events of the TOS episode “All Our Yesterdays” (AOY).  The premise is two-fold: what if Kirk had not rescued Spock and McCoy from Sarpeidan’s ice age? and what if Spock and McCoy were bonded? As a kid, I hated “AOY”; I remember my brother and I chucking pillows at the TV in protest as Spock did very un-Spocky things like eat meat and mack on Zarabeth (though I was bothered more by the latter than the former). The episode’s position within TOS’ mess of a third season did not encourage me to watch it again. However,  A.C. Crispin’s very excellent ST novels “Yesterday’s Son” and its sequel, “Time For Yesterday,” rescued and thoroughly rehabilitated the episode for me. Like the very best ST fiction, her novels are clearly written with love and, just as importantly, the stories she tells are tightly and logically contextualized within the established bodies of canon and fanon.

Anyway. Continue reading “At the intersection of two triangles”

Spock’s Body

In ST III: The Search for Spock, there’s an interesting battle between absence and presence, especially where Spock/Nimoy is concerned. Nimoy himself is pointedly absent from the film until the last ten minutes or so; though as the film’s director, he’s a constant, unseen presence who is guiding the audience’s gaze.

By contrast, “Spock” is present in much of the film in the form of his tortured boy-selves. The foregrounding of the Spock-lings underscores the absence of”our” Spock; that is, none of these actors are Nimoy, so none of these characters are Spock. As a reader, it feels to me that Nimoy is making a very deliberate choice here–as a director, he’s very conscious of the absence of his body in the film, and of the power that this deliberate withholding gives him over his audience.

When he does give us his body (so to speak), it’s done in a teasing way: having re-minded Spock walk past James and his other crewmmates at first (though the perspective of the camera tells us that it’s his snubbing of James that’s significant); then that pause on the stairs with his back to James and to us, surrounded by men in similar robes, of similar build; then a slow turn and a very careful removing of his hood–only then do we see “our” Spock again, only then do we (and James) possess his body once more. It’s a lovely, very carefully designed and well–executed sequence. It’s Spock’s body, and Nimoy knows how to use it.

Only one of each of us

In K/S slash, there’s a lot of talk about drowning; Spock drowning in Kirk’s kisses, or Kirk drowning in Spock’s pleasure, etc. etc.

I started to read slash this week, intending only (expecting only?) to duck my head beneath the waves and bob up better informed.

However–

My mouth is full of saltwater, my eyes are stinging from the sand, and, oh, please keep that life preserver to yourself.

I suppose what’s bothering me here is that I did not expect to like slash–to find it intellectually interesting, yes; as a fascinating embodiment of de Certeau’s notion of “making do” (per Henry Jenkins), yes. But to enjoy it as writing? Not possible.

However. Continue reading “Only one of each of us”

This isn’t what it looks like.

I have much love for the TOS episode “Amok Time”: it’s Spock-centric, we learn cool stuff about Vulcan, and McCoy gets to be a drug-wielding hero.

And it features T’Pau, who spits out more good lines in this episode than Chekov gets in two seasons–
“Are thee Vulcan, or are thee human?’

However–

Up until now, I’ve managed to overlook what seems now to me to be a huge leap (or absence) in the episode’s logic:

Spock doesn’t get laid. Continue reading “This isn’t what it looks like.”

Slash is the sugar that helps ST: TMP go down

So I watched Star Trek: The “Motion” Picture last night at an outdoor showing with 100+ of my fellow ST dorks. Watching it for the umpteenth time didn’t change my basic take on TMP: it’s not a good, entertaining, or even particularly smart film (sorry, ADF, but you’ve done better). It’s tedious, repetitive, and really fucking dull. Also? Everyone in Starfleet other than the Enterprise and her crew are apparently morons who just stare at alien probes as they absorb Klingon birds-of-prey and show no sense of urgency in letting Earth know that they’re about to be attacked yet AGAIN by some alien killing machine that’s wandering lonely as a cloud.

[Look, at least the Federation *tries* to do something about the whale Probe in ST: TVH–they have a command center and everything! Here, nada. It makes me wonder what Starfleet would have done if Kirk hadn’t “volunteered” (i.e. demanded) to take back the Enterprise. Would they have let Will “don’t call me Riker” Decker and co. try to face it? Yikes–I hope Vulcan was ready to become the “capital” of the Federation because Section 001 would have been a pile of angst-y, air-brushed ash.]

But– Continue reading “Slash is the sugar that helps ST: TMP go down”