Type Source
Date 1973-09
Tags nonfiction

Fan Writing Panel; or, Don't Make Him Say That!

A panel discussion at the 1972 Trek convention discussing fan writing, fanzines, etc. Very interesting.

Included is some discussion about James Blish's adaptations. The panelists are generally displeased with it, for sensible reasons. "Hideous Blish", he is called.

On characterization:

Devra: You have to remember, when you're writing about STAR TREK characters, they are real, established people. Unless you explain something and give them an excuse for acting weird, they have to act like themselves.

Sherna: I've developed a minor principle called "The Minimum Necessary Distress". If something happens to them, if somebody gets hurt, or the ship is in trouble, they're very resilient men; they're going to show "The Minimum Necessary Distress." They're not going to go into hysterics.

On Spock:

Debbie: I'm going to interrupt for a minute, because it leads directly into the cult of stories that popped up about "Let's get Spock into bed."

Sherna: The 'lay-Spock' stories.

Debbie: Right, the 'lay-Spock' stories. And as fanzine editors, if we've seen one, we've seen six dozen of them.

Sherna: We've written a couple of them too.

Debbie: Right. And this is not to say that it's not a valid story line. But, that's only an idea, as Joyce was saying. If you want to get Spock into bed, that's only one part of the idea. You have to have a plot to go around it. Otherwise, you might be able to sell it to a good porno house. But to a STAR TREK fanzine, in general, you're going to have to think up a reason why, and you're going to have to make it logical, and make it follow, and make it work.

Joyce: Our genres of Spock stories....yeah, two kinds of Spock stories, namely, murder the bastard, or get him in bed. "Get-Spock" and "Lay-Spock": these are the two genres. And of course, the better you get, the more you can combine the two; torture the guy, and then get him into bed with your head torturer, whatever - and all sorts of funny things like this.


Joyce: Jacqueline Lichtenberg again is a prime example of creating minor furors wherever she goes. She opens her mouth and says some weird thing, and everybody goes, "AHHHH!" you know, and starts immediate fights and everything.

Devra: It's like a cross-fertilization, especially in magazines where people read, each other's stories and then send each other stories to be published.

Fourth Person: Would you care to elaborate on your opinion of James Blish?

Debbie: Well, my personal opinion is...

Devra: Don't get vulgar.

Debbie: My personal opinion is I dislike what he has done to most of the STAR TREK stories. I don't like most of his characterization. I think that he does some very poor things with the characters, and when I'm reading it, every once in a while I'll say, "I can't understand where he got that from." It doesn't sound as though he understands them.

Sherna: I sometimes think that it's harder for an established writer to write someone else's characters than it is for a new writer. Blish said to an audience at Lunacon, some years ago, before the first book came out, that the reason he was writing these books was that they offered him too large a contract; he couldn't afford to turn it down. I think that he has become more interested in it as time went on and he got so many, many letters, enthusiastic letters, about the books. He doesn't handle the characters right; on the other hand, he knows his science. And he has corrected a few faults, and I think that it's a good idea to take what is available in his stories and just not worry about the characterizations,

Name Role
Deborah Langsam Interviewee
Devra Michele Langsam Interviewee
Joyce Yasner Interviewee
Sherna C. Burley Interviewee


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